AlterNet.org: Phillip Smith http://www.alternet.org/authors/phillip-smith en What a Shocker: Study Finds Alcohol Makes You Aggressive; Pot, Pretty Much the Opposite http://www.alternet.org/drugs/what-shocker-study-finds-alcohol-makes-you-aggressive-pot-pretty-much-opposite <!-- 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">Hold the presses.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bar_fight.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Pot heads are mellow, drunks can be mean. That's the common wisdom, and now, thanks to a group of researchers from the Netherlands, it has some scientific validation. In a just-published <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-016-4371-1" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal <em>Psychopharmacology</em>, they found that—doh!—people on  booze act out, while people on pot peacefully space out.</p><p>"The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression," the researchers concluded.</p><p>The study itself sounds like fun. In a random, controlled trial, the researchers recruited 21 heavy pot smokers (at least three times a week), 20 heavy drinkers (at least three drinks a day for men, two for women), and a control group of 20 who used neither substance heavily.</p><p>They then had the drinkers drink until they were too drunk to legally drive (0.08% blood alcohol level) and the tokers vape up 300 micrograms of THC per kilogram of body weight, enough to get them nicely baked. The control group, being the control group, missed out on the intoxicants.</p><p>Then all three groups completed a number of tests designed to get people wound up. In one, subjects played a computer game in which the object was to win money by pressing buttons, but players' efforts were undermined by an "adversary" that took money from them. The adversary was actually part of the computer program. In a second test, known as a "single category implicit association test," subjects were shown images of violent and aggressive behavior and asked to match positive and negative words to the photos.</p><p>The researchers measured aggression by asking the subjects to rate how aggressive they felt on a 100-point scale, and weighed that against a baseline score established by asking them the same question before they had gotten wasted. And they ran the tests one more time a week later, with the same subjects, but <em>without</em> getting them high or drunk.</p><p>"Alcohol intoxication increased subjective aggression in the alcohol group," the researchers found, but pot smokers became <em>less</em> aggressive when baked.</p><p>It wasn't just subjective. While alcohol drinkers rated themselves as more aggressive when drunk, they were also found to be objectively more aggressive, as measured by their willingness to undermine their opponents in the computer game.</p><p>We already know that marijuana is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/04/02/americans-finally-understand-that-marijuana-is-less-harmful-than-alcohol/" target="_blank">a less harmful drug</a> than alcohol, being both <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/23/marijuana-may-be-even-safer-than-previously-thought-researchers-say/" target="_blank">far less toxic</a> and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/09/no-marijuana-is-not-actually-as-addictive-as-heroin/" target="_blank">less addictive</a> than booze. And now we get some scientific backing for something else that was already patently obvious. </p><p> </p> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 00:26:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1060666 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana alcohol aggression journal psychopharmacology Will California Go All in on Legalizing Recreational Weed? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/california-post-marijuana-legalization-era <!-- 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 Golden State is quite likely to legalize marijuana on election day. What then?</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/california_marijuana_template.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Twenty years ago, California led the way on weed, becoming the first state in the nation to approve medical marijuana. Now, while it's already lost the chance to be the first to legalize recreational use, the Golden State is poised to push legal pot past the tipping point this November.</p><p>Although voters in Colorado and Washington first broke through the grass ceiling in 2012, with Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC following suit in 2014, if Californians vote to legalize, they will more than triple the size of the country's legal marijuana market in one fell swoop.</p><p>It's not a done deal until election day, of course, but the prospects are very good. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) legalization initiative is officially on the ballot as <a href="http://www.yeson64.org/pdfs/AUMA.Amended.12.7.15.Final.pdf">Proposition 64</a>, it has cash in the bank for the campaign (<a href="http://www.sos.ca.gov/campaign-lobbying/cal-access-resources/measure-contributions/marijuana-legalization-initiative-statute/">more than $8 million</a> collected so far), it has <a href="http://www.yeson64.org/endorsements">broad political support</a>, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and at least four California U.S. representatives, and it has popular support, with the <a href="http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_516MBS.pdf">latest poll</a> showing a healthy 60 percent of likely voters favor freeing the weed.</p><p>It's also that the surfer's paradise is riding a weed wave of its own creation. Thanks in large part to the "normalization" of the pot business that emerged out of California's wild and woolly medical marijuana scene, the national mood on pot has shifted in recent years. Because of California, people could actually see marijuana come out of the shadows, with pot shops (dispensaries) selling it openly to anyone with an easily obtained doctor's recommendation and growers turning parts of the state in pot cultivation hotbeds. And the sky didn't fall.</p><p>At the same time, the shift in public opinion has been dramatic. According to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/186260/back-legal-marijuana.aspx">annual Gallup polls</a>, only a quarter of Americans supported marijuana legalization when California voted for medical marijuana in 1996, with that number gradually, but steadily, increasing to 44 percent in 2009, before spiking upward ever since then to sit at 58 percent now.</p><p>California isn't the only state riding the wave this year; legalization will also be on the ballot in Maine and Nevada and almost certainly in Arizona and Massachusetts. But California is by far the biggest, and it will help the state regain its reputation as cutting edge on social trends, while also sending a strong signal to the rest of the country, including the federal government in Washington.</p><p>But what kind of signal will it send? What will legalization look like in the Golden State? To begin, let's look at what Prop 64 does:</p><ul><li>Legalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to six plants (per household) by adults 21 and over.</li><li>Reduces most criminal penalties for remaining marijuana offenses, such as possession or cultivation over legal limits or unlicensed distribution, from felonies to misdemeanors.</li><li>Regulates the commercial cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of marijuana through a state-regulated licensing system.</li><li>Bars commercial "mega-grows" (more than ½ acre indoors or 1 acre outdoors) until at least 2023, but makes provisions for licensed "microbusinesses" (grows smaller than 10,000 square feet).</li><li>Allows for the licensing of on-site consumption premises, or "cannabis cafes."</li><li>Allows cities and counties to regulate or even prohibit commercial marijuana activities, but not prohibit personal possession and cultivation.</li><li>Taxes marijuana at 15 percent at the retail level, with an additional $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax imposed at the wholesale level.</li></ul><p>In other words, pot is largely legalized and a taxed and regulated market is established.</p><p>Some changes would occur right away, advocates said.</p><p>"The criminal justice impact will be huge and immediate, and it will start on November 9," said Lynne Lyman, California state director for the <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/">Drug Policy Alliance</a>, which is backing Prop 64 not only rhetorically, but also with its checkbook through its lobbying and campaign arm, Drug Policy Action.</p><p>California arrests about 20,000 people a year for marijuana felonies and misdemeanors, currently has about 10,000 people incarcerated for pot offenses, and has as many as half a million with pot convictions on their records. Things are going to change in a big way for all these people.</p><p>"Those marijuana arrests will stop," said Lyman. "And everyone currently sitting in jail or prison will be eligible to apply for release. They will have to file a petition, but like Prop 47 [the sentencing reform initiative passed in 2014], unless there is a compelling reason to deny it, the court must grant it. Similarly, all those people who have had marijuana offenses will be eligible to have their record reclassified."</p><p>To be clear, it will still be possible to be arrested for a marijuana offense in California after Prop 64. Possession of more than an ounce (or more than four grams of concentrate) will be a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and possession of less than an ounce can be a misdemeanor offense if it is on school grounds during school hours.</p><p>Similarly, cultivation of more than six plants without being a permitted medical marijuana patient or without a license is still a crime, but typically only a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months in jail. There are some exceptions: Illegal growers could be charged with a felony if the person has prior violent offenses or violates state water or environmental laws.</p><p>Minors get special treatment. Kids under 18 who get caught with pot are hit with an infraction punishable by drug education, counseling, or community service, but no fines. People between 18 and 21 get an infraction with a maximum $100 fine. And while adults who possess pot on a school grounds during school hours get a misdemeanor, kids under 18 will only be hit with an infraction.</p><p>"We want to reduce the number of young people getting into the system, and this will really dial down the firehose into mass incarceration," said Lyman.</p><p>The state's largest marijuana consumer group, <a href="http://www.canorml.org/">Cal NORML</a>, certainly likes those provisions, but it only gives Prop 64 one thumb up and foresees some issues down the road.</p><p>"We're supporting the AUMA with reservations," said the group's long-time head Dale Gieringer. "It's not the best initiative ever written—it has some problems that will have to be addressed—but it is an important step. The huge thing it does is legalize adult possession of an ounce and adult cultivation of up to six plants. That's big. And it turns cultivation and possession with intent felonies into misdemeanors, or at worst, wobblers," meaning prosecutors could only in limited cases charge them as felonies.</p><p>"The AUMA is very long and complicated, with unnecessary hang-ups and restrictions," Gieringer complained, citing bans on public smoking and vaping as examples.</p><p>"In places where there are bans on smoking in apartments or residences, in public is about the only place you can smoke. If it's illegal to smoke pot in a public place, people will be hard-pressed to find<em> any</em> place," he said. "You can't even vaporize in a public place, and that's totally out of line with the existing science. They just caved in to the powerful anti-smoking lobby on that, and we can't endorse that."</p><p>The Cal NORML membership also includes pot farmers, of which the group estimates there are some 30,000 in the state. They are nervous, Gieringer said.</p><p>"We have a lot of small growers and they have a lot of issues," he explained. "They are concerned about regulatory provisions they fear could quickly push small growers out of the business. AUMA requires you to be an in-state resident, and we're already growing more than we need, yet we have out-of-state sponsors lining up behind in-state sponsors."</p><p>Earlier this month, the state industry's largest membership group, the <a href="http://www.calgrowersassociation.org/">California Growers Association</a>, <a href="http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5816099-181/state-pot-growers-association-stays">voted to remain neutral</a> on Prop 64—at least for now—after its membership split almost down the middle on whether to support it. Growers, including association head Hezekiah Allen, worried that big-money investment and consolidation of the industry impelled by huge "mega-grows" could wipe out the now generations-old traditional pot farming scene in the state's North Coast.</p><p>Allen warned in a report to the group's board that such consolidation could "result in a catastrophic economic collapse for huge swathes of California," including the North Coast's Emerald Triangle.</p><p>Stoners may have to fight for the right to toke and pot farmers for their place in the market, but some of the communities most buffeted by drug prohibition should see benefits. Prop 64 contains language that will direct revenues to minority communities, and also opens the door for localities themselves to take proactive steps toward racial justice.</p><p>"The AUMA has a community reinvestment fund with the first revenues available in 2019," said DPA's Lyman, adding that it will be $10 million the first year and up to $50 million a year in the future. "This is going to communities most impacted by the drug war, black and brown communities, and will include everything from legal services, to public health and economic development. The communities will be able to decide."</p><p>Localities will also be deciding on how to implement regulation of the legal market, and that is another opportunity, Lyman said.</p><p>"Hopefully, we will see things like what happened in Oakland, where under the new regulations, 50 percent of the new licenses have to be from the community," she said. "We hope other cities will do that to mitigate racial discrimination and the injustice of the past by prioritizing people of color and women, so we don't end up with a bunch of white men getting rich off what black and brown people have endured. DPA will be very involved in this."</p><p>Somebody is going to be making money, though. The state's marijuana market, estimated at $2.7 billion for medical last year, could quickly hit <a href="https://www.merryjane.com/news/cannabis-by-the-numbers-how-much-money-will-states-bring-in-from-marijuana-in-2016">$7 billion</a> under legalization.</p><p>"I see tremendous potential for a blossoming of cannabis opportunities," said veteran California marijuana activist, author, and historian Chris Conrad, who has become a pro-Prop 64 spokesman under the rubric of <a href="http://www.auma2016.com/">Friends of Prop 64</a>. "Of course, the size of the industry will be impacted by the need to limit the market to intra-state rather than national or international. Given that California is the world's sixth largest economy and has the largest appetite for cannabis in the world, the state's nonmedical market is going to be sizeable."</p><p>Legalization will bring changes from price reductions to changing product lines, he said.  <br /><br />"Overall marijuana production is expected to soar, prices to come down and probably a lot more cannabis will be converted into extracts and expand or open new markets for personal hygiene products, topical remedies and essential oils," Conrad predicted. "There will be large-scale cannabis production that is homogenized with relatively low to medium potency, but still of better quality than Mexican brick weed. But we will never replace the boutique markets any more than Budweiser has eliminated microbreweries or 'Big Wine' has wiped out California's family vintners." </p><p>And it's not just marijuana, but pot-related businesses that will boom, said DPA's Lyman.</p><p>"Formalizing regulations for the first time will expand the industry, and there will be lots of ancillary industries, such as marketing, packaging, and tracking, that should all thrive in post-legalization California," she said.</p><p>"There will be new ancillary markets for products such as locking stash boxes for people to carry their cannabis while driving, toking stations near entertainment venues and discrete, low-wattage, six-plant cultivation tents specialized for use in condos and apartments," added Conrad.</p><p>Conrad said he expected counties and cities will opt in to the revenues from allowing pot commerce instead of locking themselves out with bans.</p><p>"The distribution around the state will likely be porous, some areas more saturated and others with less access," he said. "Since towns will be licensing lawful businesses and no longer will be at the mercy of the county prosecutors' discretion, I expect to see a general spread of retail sites and onsite consumption shops around the state. Not in every town, not as obnoxious and omnipresent as liquor stores, but not too far away, either."  </p><p>We shall see.</p><p>"You can't predict the future," said Gieringer. "It will be a new situation. Medical marijuana here evolved through several different stages, and I expect the same process to unfold here with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. On balance, the AUMA is an important step, but it's not the end game, and it leaves us with unresolved problems."</p><p>You may not be able to predict the future, said Lyman, but you can influence it.</p><p>"This will be a work in progress," she said. "The long-term work of implementation starts on November 8. We have to be there. To continue to be engaged will be critical."</p><p>But even under state level legalization in California, as long as there is pot prohibition somewhere in America, there will be Golden State growers ready to supply the market.</p><p>"The one thing everyone needs to recognize is that this does not end the problem of illegal marijuana growing in California," said Gieringer. "The industry has been well-entrenched for generations and is currently supplying the rest of the country, too. That market isn't going to disappear. The more expensive and difficult it is to become legal, the more people will likely participate in that black market." </p> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 01:07:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1060285 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs california cannabis marijuana legalization adult use of marijuana act auma proposition 64 Trump VP Pick Mike Pence Is Bad News on Pot, Drug Policy http://www.alternet.org/drugs/trump-vp-pick-mike-pence-bad-news-pot-drug-policy <!-- 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">Surprise! The Tea Party governor is extremely retrograde when it comes to drugs, 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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/pence.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Republican nominee's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate means Trump has selected a man who is the very embodiment of last century's "tough on drugs" prohibitionist attitudes.</p><p>Pence's anti-drug reform stances are part and parcel of his overall social conservative, Tea Party positions. He has also been a strong opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights and a strong supporter of "religious freedom."</p><p>Indiana has <a href="http://norml.org/laws/item/indiana-penalties-2">tough marijuana laws</a>, with possession of even the smallest amount of pot worth up to six months in county jail and possession of more than 30 grams (slightly more than an ounce) a felony punishable by up to 2 ½ years in prison. Selling any amount more than 30 grams is also a felony, again punishable by up to 2 ½ years in prison.</p><p>Mike Pence is just fine with that. In fact, three years ago he successfully blocked a move in the legislature to reduce some of those penalties, saying that while he wanted to cut prison populations, he didn't want to cut penalties to achieve that end.</p><p>"I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties," <a href="http://www.wthr.com/story/21752467/pence-questions-proposal-to-decrease-marijuana-penalties">he said</a>. "I think this legislation, as it moves forward, should still seek to continue to send a way strong message to the people of Indiana and particularly to those who would come into our state to deal drugs, that we are tough and we're going to stay tough on narcotics in this state."</p><p>Pence did sign <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/Governor/Mike_Pence_Drugs.htm">emergency legislation</a> allowing for needle exchange programs in some Indiana counties last year, but only after initial resistance, during which more than 150 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in one county alone. His hesitance was in line with his anti-drug values, as evidenced by <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/Governor/Mike_Pence_Drugs.htm">his 2009 vote</a> as a US representative to keep intact a federal ban on funding for needle exchanges.</p><p>Pence is also a gung-ho drug warrior when it comes to <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/Governor/Mike_Pence_Drugs.htm">the Mexican border</a>, having voted to support billions in funding for Mexico to fight drug cartels and for using the US military to conduct anti-drug and counter-terror patrols along the border.</p><p>Bizarrely enough, there is one drug Pence has no problems with, but it's a legal one: nicotine. That's right, the drug warrior is <a href="http://marijuanapolitics.com/mike-pence-wrong-marijuana-wrong-tobacco-wrong-america/">an apologist and denier for Big Tobacco</a>.</p><p>"Time for a quick reality check," he said in 2000. "Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill."</p><p>Pence has been <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/07/14/3798417/mike-pence-tobacco-money/">handsomely compensated</a> by tobacco companies for his advocacy against anti-smoking public health campaigns, even though they have proven wildly successful in driving down smoking rates. Mike Pence is a man who rejects proven public health interventions for one dangerous substance while insisting on failed punitive, prohibitionist policies for another, less dangerous, substance. That's so last century. </p><p> </p> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 12:43:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1060360 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics mike pence donald trump tea party drug policy marijuana needle exchange cigarettes tobacco Making Ultra-Cool Cannabis Cocktails (Video) http://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-making-ultra-cool-cannabis-cocktails <!-- 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">Okay, they won&#039;t get you high, but these weed-infused libations look scrumptious. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-07-15_at_12.17.29_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Pots fans and cocktail connoisseurs alike can take pleasure in some new advances in experimental mixology, with creative bartenders coming up with new concoctions combining the best of both worlds.</p><p>One example comes from a recent episode of <em><a href="http://www.eater.com/consumed" target="_blank">Consumed</a></em> on the everything-foodie website Eater. Host Kat Odell checked out LA's ultra-hip <a href="http://la.eater.com/venue/gracias-madre">Gracias Madre</a>, "the 100% vegan organic Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood with a bit of a trail-blazing cocktail program," and let us in on its secret. </p><p>The man behind that program is beverage director Jason Eisner, who has now come out with a line of cocktails with a special twist: a little bit of CBD, or cannabidiol. He adds the product of the pot plant in the form of an oil-based tincture, creating libations like the Stoney Negroni or the Rolled Fashioned.</p><p>It's THC, not CBD, that gets marijuana users high, but CBD is known for soothing and medicinal qualities, and Eisner says it has a calming effect, as well as adding an herbal note.</p><p>"It's going to make you feel fantastic, but it's not going to mess with your mental state of being," the earnest, tattooed Eisner explains.</p><p>But the very notion of imbibing a weed-infused drink was enough to give Odell something like a contact high. With just one sip, she was off.</p><p>"It's super-buttery and smooth, and you have a very subtle hint of that, like, herbalness from the uh… uh," Odell searches before bursting out laughing.</p><p>Here, you can watch Eisner work his magic and get a mini-lesson on CBDs in the bargain:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="388" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S8Wjj2d28rA" width="560"></iframe></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 22:18:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1060165 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Food Video cannabis marijuana cocktails alcohol Eaters Gracias Madre Kat Odell Were Bronze Age Weed Dealers the Founders of Western Civilization? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/bronze-age-weed-dealers-founders-western-civilization <!-- 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">New research says that&#039;s entirely possible. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/alternet_year_one.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Ever since Herodotus, we've been aware that the nomadic pastoralists of Asia Minor known as the Scythians burned marijuana as part of religious rituals and ceremonies. Now comes evidence that not only does human commerce with the pot plant extend back even further, it could have helped stimulate the rise of Western civilization.</p><p>At the end of the last Ice Age, roughly 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, Stone Age people on both sides of the Eurasian land mass independently discovered and made use of marijuana, according to <a href="file:///C:/Users/Owner/Documents/10.1007/s00334-016-0579-6">new research</a> published in the academic journal <em>Vegetation History and Archaeobotany</em>. That same research also links an upsurge in marijuana use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the beginning of the Bronze Age, some 5,000 years ago.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="469" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B3vlONgNFbo" width="560"></iframe></p><p>While the traditional view has been that cannabis was first used and possibly domesticated in China or Central Asia and then spread westward, a new database tracking the academic literature on trends and patterns in prehistoric pot use suggests that marijuana showed up in both Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between 9,400 BCE and 8,100 BCE.</p><p>"The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier," said database compiler Tengwen Long of the Free University of Berlin.</p><p>While it appears that different groups of people across the Eurasian landmass began using the plant around this time, it is not clear just what they were using it for. Perhaps for its psychoactive properties, but also maybe as a source of food or medicine or to make textiles from its fibers.</p><p>But the database suggests it only people in western Eurasia made regular use of the plant. Early records of its use in East Asia are rare, Long said, at least until about 3,000 BCE.</p><p>At that time, marking the beginning of the Bronze Age, East Asian use picked up again, and the researchers think nomadic pastoralists like the Yamnaya people, thought to be one of <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730282-900-the-three-ancestral-tribes-that-founded-western-civilisation/">three key tribes</a> that founded European civilization, played a key role.</p><p>By the beginning of the Bronze Age, the nomads on the steppe had mastered the art of horse riding, which allowed them greater geographical scope and led to the formation of trade networks along the same Eurasian route that would become famous as the Silk Road several millennia later. The Bronze Road facilitated the spread of all sorts of commodities between East and West, possibly including marijuana.</p><p>"It’s a hypothesis that requires more evidence to test," Long said, noting that marijuana's high value would have made it an ideal exchange item. He called it "a cash crop before cash." While it's unclear whether people were trading buds in order to obtain a Bronze Age high, there is some support for that idea. Burned marijuana seeds at archaeological sites suggest that the Yamnaya carried the idea of smoking cannabis with them as they spread <a href="https://archive.org/stream/horsewheelandlanguage#page/n369/mode/2up/search/cannabis">across Eurasia</a>.</p><p>David Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, who studies the Yamnaya, told the <em><a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2096440-founders-of-western-civilisation-were-prehistoric-dope-dealers/">New Scientist</a></em> the proto-nomads may have reserved weed for special occasions.</p><p>"The expansion of cannabis use as a drug does seem to be linked to movements out of the steppe," he said. "Cannabis might have been reserved for special feasts or rituals."</p><p>And archaeologist Barney Warf of the University of Kansas noted that the people whom the Yamnaya preceded, the post-Bronze Age Scythians, regularly used marijuana as a drug.</p><p>"People talk about Herodotus' accounts of hanging out in the Crimean peninsula smoking with the Scythians," he said, adding that he thinks that only scratches the surface. "I think there’s a largely untold story of cannabis in Europe from the Bronze Age up until the Renaissance," he said.</p> Wed, 13 Jul 2016 15:44:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1060033 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video World Bronze Age stone age tegwen long david anthony barney warf cannabis marijuana scythians yamnaya nomads In Surprise Reversal, Democrats Call for 'Pathway' to Marijuana Legalization http://www.alternet.org/drugs/surprise-reversal-democrats-call-pathway-marijuana-legalization <!-- 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">Last week, the Democrats shied away from mentioning rescheduling or legalization in their marijuana platform plank. Now, they&#039;ve gone a bit bolder. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/democraticlogo.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Meeting in Orlando Saturday ahead of the Democratic National Convention later this month, the party's platform drafting committee dropped a moderate marijuana plank it had adopted only days earlier and replaced it with language calling for rescheduling pot and creating "a reasoned pathway to future legalization."</p><p>Bernie Sanders supporters had pushed earlier for firm legalization language, but had been turned back last week and didn't have any new language going into this weekend's platform committee meeting. But on Saturday afternoon, the committee addressed an amendment that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, as Sanders supporters had earlier sought in vain, with Tennessee Sanders delegate David King arguing that pot was put in the same schedule as heroin during a political "craze" to go after "hippies and blacks."</p><p>That amendment was on the verge of being defeated, with some committee members worrying that it went "too far" and that it would somehow undermine state-level legalization efforts, but then committee members proposed merely rescheduling—not descheduling—marijuana and added the undefined "pathway" language.</p><p>The amendment was then adopted on an 81-80 vote, leading to a period of contention and confusion as former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the committee co-chair, entered a complaint that at least one member may not have been able to vote. That led to arguments between committee members and between members and non-voting observers, most of whom were Sanders supporters. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/07/09/democrats-call-for-pathway-to-marijuana-legalization" target="_blank"><em>The Washington Post</em> reported</a> that one Clinton delegate complained loudly that Sanders delegates "wanted 100% of everything."</p><p>But the new language prevailed when former Arkansas U.S. senator Mark Pryor, a Clinton delegate, announced that while opponents of the language were unhappy that the earlier compromise language had been replaced, they weren't going to fight it.</p><p>"We withdraw the objection," Pryor said.</p><p>The marijuana amendment adopted by the platform committee reads:</p><blockquote><p>"Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization."</p></blockquote><p>The earlier language had cited disparate racial enforcement of marijuana laws and urged support for state level "marijuana decriminalization," but only stated support for "policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty."</p><p>Bernie Sanders supporters didn't get the descheduling language they wanted, but they did get a commitment to rescheduling and they got the word "legalization" in there, even if the phrase "a reasoned pathway for future legalization" is a bit mealy-mouthed.</p><p>And the Democratic Party now has marijuana legalization as part of its platform.  </p><p> </p> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 21:19:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059866 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics democratic party democrats marijuana legalization rescheduling decriminalization Vape Pens and Edibles Are Trendy Ways to Consume Pot, But Good Old Rolled-Up Joints Are Still #1 http://www.alternet.org/drugs/who-still-smokes-their-weed-most-consumers <!-- 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 venerable joint is still a long way from the dustbin of history.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_7.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>One of the fringe benefits of marijuana legalization is the availability of actual hard data about what is being grown, smoked or otherwise consumed. Marijuana industry companies like <a href="http://www.newcannabisventures.com/tag/bds-analytics" target="_blank">BDS Analytics</a> and <a href="http://www.newcannabisventures.com/tag/headset" target="_blank">Headset</a> are busily gobbling up and aggregating point-of-sale data from pot shops to allow industry participants to see what is being bought, how much and at what price, and we're seeing some interesting things.</p><p><a href="http://headset.io/blog/washington-state-industry-overview-june-2016">New reports</a> from Headset on data from Washington state support suggestions that marijuana consumers are increasingly turning to non-smoked marijuana products, such as edibles, vaping, tinctures, and oils. According to the Headset data, total marijuana sales grew from just under $40 million in April to just over $50 million in May, with increased bud sales accounting for 22% of the increase, but with increased sales of vapor pens and concentrates accounting for 42%.</p><p>By product category, bud sales grew by the smallest percentage at about 5%, while sales of vape pens were up 30%, tinctures and creams were up more than 50%, and topicals were up about 70%. Pre-rolled joints, edibles, concentrates, beverages, and capsules also were all up by double-digit percentages.</p><p><a href="http://headset.io/blog/washington-state-industry-overview-june-2016" target="_blank"><div alt="" class="media-image" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid;"><img alt="" class="media-image" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid;" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/5769dbdceee627fa593fcd12_screen_shot_2016-06-21_at_5.28.52_pm_for_web.png" width="1407" height="939" /></div></a></p><p>So, why the switch from smoking? The increasing acceptance of marijuana use (as witnessed by spreading legalization) is changing the demographics of the market, bringing new consumers into the game. Many of them don't want to smoke anything or have to deal with smoke smell or associated problems, such as burn holes in their clothes. For these consumers, eating or drinking a pot product is just cleaner and more desirable than smoking it.</p><p>Also, the fact that the marijuana industry is now operating in an increasingly legal environment means that entrepreneurs are more willing to experiment with innovative products and have channels to bring them to market. As the Headset data shows, the newer product categories have higher profit margins, making them more attractive for entrepreneurs. With more options before them, consumers find it easier to look for and find non-smoked pot products.</p><p>But contrary to Quartz, which headlined an article on the phenomenon "<a href="http://qz.com/725151/nobody-smokes-their-weed-any-more/">Nobody Smokes Their Weed Anymore</a>," lots of people still smoke their weed. Buds for smoking make a declining percentage of total marijuana sales, but still account for more than half of all marijuana sales. That's down from about 80% at the beginning of Washington's legal era, but the decline seems to be slowing, with bud sales making up 60.9% of all sales in January and dropping only slightly to 56.7% in May.</p><p><a href="http://headset.io/blog/washington-state-industry-overview-june-2016" target="_blank"><div alt="" class="media-image" style="width: 640px; height: 389px; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid;"><img alt="" class="media-image" style="width: 640px; height: 389px; border-width: 2px; border-style: solid;" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/5769dc1e893412c71f2d1068_screen_shot_2016-06-21_at_5.30.03_pm.png" width="2170" height="1318" /></div></a></p><p>Who still smokes their weed? Most marijuana consumers, that's who. But clearly, there is growing demand for pot products that don't require rolling papers, a pipe or a lighter. </p> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:36:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059857 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Marijuana Industry legalization smoking cannabis edibles tinctures vape pens cannabis oils Too Much of a Good Thing? Colorado Pot Glut Prompts Wholesale Price Plunge http://www.alternet.org/drugs/too-much-good-thing-colorado-pot-glut-prompts-wholesale-price-plunge <!-- 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">Everybody wants to get rich growing pot in Colorado, and that&#039;s turning into a problem for the growers. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_co.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Colorado's green goldrush is turning into something of a bummer for some would-be marijuana-growing mavens, as an oversupply of pot is causing wholesale pound prices for the state's booming recreational market to drop dramatically. But with retail prices not following suit, it's pot shops, not consumers, who are making bank on the price drop.</p><p>The wholesale price is the price paid to growers by pot shops, edibles manufacturers and others.</p><p>According to Cannabase, an online wholesale marketplace, the average monthly asking price <a href="http://cl.ly/3g1o3T0R120Y" target="_blank">per pound</a> for wholesale buds has declined by a full third so far this year. In January, the average price was $2,106 per pound; by June, it was $1,402.</p><p>In a further sign of distress in the wholesale weed market, the <a href="http://cl.ly/2m2A3x450G3p" target="_blank">lowest monthly asking price</a> fell even more dramatically, from $1,800 in January to $750 in June.</p><p>Producers who are selling pot for $750 a pound are probably losing money. In an analysis of the Colorado pot industry in the recently published <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Narconomics-How-Run-Drug-Cartel/dp/1610395832">Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel</a>,</em>Tom Wainwright pegged the production cost of industrial indoor marijuana at $2 a gram, or just under $1,000 a pound.</p><p>"It is an eerily simple problem," Cannabase CEO Jennifer Beck told the <em><a href="https://mjbizdaily.com/colorado-wholesale-recreational-cannabis-prices-tumbling/">Marijuana Business Daily</a></em>. "Capital is attracted to grows. Everyone wants to be the Bud Light, the Coors, the Bob Marley, the defining brand, and there aren’t enough people in Colorado to buy up all this product in real time. I’m concerned that we’re going to have way too much overproduction."</p><p>"We all knew it was coming, because more and more production capacity is coming online," said Jay Czarkowski, an industry consultant at Boulder-based Canna Advisors. "Medical is hanging in there, but rec is really finally starting to plummet. I’ll use that word—plummet. Probably 30% in the last four or five months."</p><p>Czarkowski is correct about capacity. According to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the number of licensed recreational growers has jumped 20% in the last year, from 465 last June to 554 this June. The number of licensed medical growers, by contrast, has increased only 3% over the same period, from 764 to 788.</p><p>The medical marijuana market is much smaller than the recreational one, accounting for about a quarter of <a href="http://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/colorado-breaks-monthly-marijuana-sales-record/">all sales</a>, but prices have remained steady there with the average asking price for a pound of <a href="http://cl.ly/1Z0d0n3I1H3P" target="_blank">medical buds</a> going for $1,850 in June, down only slightly from $1,900 in January.</p><p>That's in part because of the smaller jump in medical growers, and that's because dispensaries are still required to grow at least 70% of the buds they sell. That "in house" requirement serves to limit overproduction in the medical marijuana sector.</p><p>"Medical is staying stable because more and more grows have been really just focusing on rec. So the supply is short enough on the medical side that prices for wholesale have remained stable, up in the $1,800 to $2,200 (range), if not even $2,500 for super-top-shelf," Czarkowski said.</p><p>But it could be hard times ahead for less competitive recreational market growers. Indoor growers with older, less efficient equipment could be especially squeezed as they try to compete with more heavily capitalized and technologically advanced operations.</p><p>"There’s a general sense of concern, if not downright panic," Cecilia Gilboy of Tradiv.com, another Colorado pot price watchdog, told <em>Marijuana Business Daily</em>. "One business owner told me, ‘When your product is as good as ours and you still can’t sell it, that’s a pretty clear sign it’s time to get the f**k out.'"</p><p>While declining wholesale pot prices should be a boon to consumers, that has not proven to be the case yet. Average retail marijuana prices have declined only slightly this year, which means it's high times for pot shops that are pocketing the difference. </p> Thu, 07 Jul 2016 23:41:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059633 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana legalization colorado marijuana wholesale price cannabase medical marijuana Where the Stoners Are: America's Top 10 Marijuana-Using States http://www.alternet.org/drugs/where-stoners-are-americas-top-10-marijuana-using-states <!-- 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">Hint: It&#039;s not the Plains states or Dixie. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_17.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Acceptance of marijuana seems to have reached a tipping point in the United States. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized it, half the states have medical marijuana laws now (two-thirds if you count the CBD-only states), and as many as a half dozen states, including California, could vote on legalization in November.</p><p>Public opinion polls now consistently report majority support for legalization nationwide, and pot is increasingly moving from newspapers' crime pages to the finance and culture sections.</p><p>It may seem like everybody is smoking (or eating or drinking) pot these days, but that's not the case. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/population-data-nsduh">National Survey on Drug Use and Health</a> (2013-2014 edition), only slightly more than 13% of Americans age 12 and over reported using marijuana in the past year.</p><p>But the annual use rates are significantly higher in some states, particularly those that have moved to loosen restrictions on marijuana over the years. Marijuana law reforms have been centered in two regions of the country, the West and the New England states, and that's precisely where the highest annual use occurs. Of the top 10 pot-smoking states, only Michigan is not in one of those two regions, tying with New Hampshire for 10th place.</p><p>Somewhat surprisingly, California, which will vote on legalization in November and which has had a wide-open medical marijuana scene for years, didn't crack the top 10. It came in number 12, with 14.9% reporting past year pot use. The Golden State can take some solace in winning the prize for the largest number of annual marijuana users, with more than 4.6 million.</p><p>So where are the stoners? Here are the top 10 marijuana consumption states, based on SAMHSA's numbers.</p><p><strong>1. Colorado, 21.6%</strong></p><p>What a surprise. The first state to legalize weed also has the highest annual use rate. Colorado was an early medical marijuana state as well, suggesting a Rocky Mountain openness to the pleasures of the herb that predates recreational legalization. Do they like weed in Colorado because it's legal, or is it legal in Colorado because they like weed? Marijuana isn't the only popular substance there; the state also ranks first in past month use of any drug other than pot.</p><p><strong>2. Oregon, 19.9%</strong></p><p>Another legalization state and another early medical marijuana state. Nearly 650,000 Oregonians lit up the previous year, which is not too surprising in a state where people are among the least likely to have a negative perception of weed. While 28% of Americans perceive a great risk in using pot once a month, only 18% of Oregonians do.</p><p><strong>3. Vermont, 19.8%</strong></p><p>Heck, even the governor wants to legalize weed in Vermont. It got blocked in the legislature this year despite Democratic governor Peter Shumlin's best efforts, but the state has decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce, and at least the cultivation of a couple of plants is a misdemeanor, not a felony, as in most states. And this is the home of Bernie Sanders, the only major party candidate to call for an end to federal pot prohibition.</p><p><strong>4. Alaska, 19.5% </strong><strong>(tie) </strong></p><p>Alaska legalized it in 2014, but had an even earlier experience with pot law liberalization in the 1980s, after the state Supreme Court ruled people had the right to possess some pot at home. Anti-drug crusaders got that overturned by popular vote in the early 1990s, but the prohibitionists' victory was temporary, with the voters now embracing the herb.</p><p><strong>4. Washington, 19.5% </strong><strong>(tie) </strong></p><p>In a dead heat with Alaska, Washington joined Colorado in legalizing marijuana in 2012 and has had medical marijuana in place since 1998. More than 1.1 million Washingtonians toked up in the previous year, and the state is happily counting pot tax revenues of over $200 million so far.</p><p><strong>6. Maine, 19.4%</strong></p><p>Another New England pot hotbed, Maine has had medical marijuana since 1999 and possession of up to 2.5 ounces is decriminalized. Cultivation of up to five plants is a crime, though only punishable by up to six months in jail. The state is also set to become one of the legal states; a legalization initiative will be Question 1 on the November ballot.</p><p><strong>7. Rhode Island, 18.7%</strong></p><p>Rhode Islanders don't worry too much about marijuana, with only one in five perceiving negative health consequences from pot use. Efforts to get legalization through the statehouse have been stymied so far, but the state has decriminalized possession of up to an ounce and has been medical marijuana-legal since 2006.</p><p><strong>8. Massachusetts, 17.6%</strong></p><p>The Bay State likes its buds, with nearly a million (989,000) previous year pot smokers, and like neighboring Rhode Island, residents don't worry about it too much, reporting a similarly low number believing pot use has negative health consequences. Up to an ounce is already decriminalized, but Massachusetts is on a path to join the legalization states this year. An initiative to do that is just one last hurdle away from being officially on the November ballot.</p><p><strong>9. New Hampshire, 17.1% </strong><strong>(tie) </strong></p><p>New Hampshire is the only state in the region that has not decriminalized pot possession, but that hasn't stopped Granite Staters from firing up with enthusiasm. They also like other drugs; the state came in ninth for illicit drug use other than marijuana, with 3.7% reporting past month use.</p><p><strong>9. Michigan, 17.1% </strong><strong>(tie) </strong></p><p>The Great Lakes State is pretty relaxed about pot, with most of its major cities, including Detroit, having voted for local legalization/decriminalization initiatives. An effort is underway to get a legalization initiative on the November ballot, but it faces an uphill fight as it battles adverse election official rulings and a new state law that put a strict time limit on signature gathering. </p> Mon, 04 Jul 2016 12:31:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059411 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana SAMSHA national survey on drug use and health colorado oregon washington alaska new hampshire vermont maine massachusetts michigan california Marijuana Makes It Into Dem. Platform, but Party Fails to Address Obscene Scheduling of Pot as a Very Dangerous Schedule I Drug http://www.alternet.org/drugs/democratic-party-platform-committee-endorses-marijuana-reform-language <!-- 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">Still, seeing the inclusion of pot for the first time marks progress.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_426165082.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>For the first time, a major U.S. political party has embraced a strongly reformist platform plank on marijuana. Members of a panel of the Democratic National Committee Platform Drafting Committee approved the language last weekend.</p><p>Though it's not as forthright as the position sought by committee members appointed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who wanted language calling for the complete removal of marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, it is still a major step forward for a major political party.</p><p>Sanders supporters, led by environmentalist Bill McKibben, proposed a plank that read: "We will refocus our drug policy by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing states to set their own policies."</p><p>But that language was quickly tabled, and after some discussion, the panel unanimously adopted the following language:</p><blockquote><p>"We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for African Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates."</p></blockquote><p>The language is not yet set in stone—it must be approved by the full Platform Drafting Committee on July 8-9 and then by the Democratic convention, set for July 25-28—but given that it reflects the stance of presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, it's unlikely to change much between now and then.</p><p>The national Democratic Party is reflecting broader pot reform currents in the party. According to an <a href="http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/06/state-democratic-parties-push-marijuana-law-reform/">analysis by Marijuana.com</a>, 12 state Democratic Party platforms, including California's, are now calling for marijuana law reform and Democratic lawmakers in the Congress are beginning to step up and support similar moves in Congress.</p><p>The Greens and the Libertarians have had good marijuana and drug policy platforms for years, but now, finally, a party that can actually win national elections is stepping up to the plate, if a bit timidly.</p> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:42:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059341 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana marijuana legalization democratic party bernie sanders hillary clinton bill mckibben It's Official—California Will Vote on Legalizing Marijuana in November http://www.alternet.org/drugs/its-official-california-will-vote-legalizing-marijuana-november <!-- 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 Golden State is going to have a chance to go green. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/california_marijuana_template.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A broadly-backed initiative to legalize marijuana in the country's most populous state will be on the California ballot in November. The secretary of state's office <a href="http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/initiative-and-referendum-status">made it official</a> Tuesday afternoon, certifying that a random sample of more than 600,000 signatures turned in showed there were enough valid signatures to qualify the measure.</p><p>"Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself," said Jason Kinney, spokesperson for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).<br /><br />"This measure reflects years of hard work, diverse stakeholder input and broad, bipartisan public support, Kinney continued.  "A growing majority of Californians support a smarter approach to marijuana and we’re gratified that voters will finally have the opportunity in November to pass comprehensive, common-sense policy that protects children, local control, public health and public safety, saves state and local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, funds critical local programs, and serves as a model for the rest of the nation."</p><p>California joins Maine and Nevada among states that have qualified marijuana legalization initiatives for the fall ballot. In two more states—Arizona and Massachusetts—legalization initiative campaigns are overcoming final hurdles and are almost certain to join them, but a valiant effort in Michigan faces an uphill battle, forced to rely on the courts to overturn a new state law and unfavorable election board rulings.</p><p>Pot is already legal in four states, voted in by residents in Colorado and Washington in 2012 and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. Washington, DC, approved possession and cultivation, but not a legal marijuana market, that same year.</p><p>Seeing more states go green in 2016 is one thing, but California is the Big Enchilada. With a population of 38 million, its market is more than twice the size of all the legal pot states combined, and it represents more than 10% of the entire country. What is currently a legal pot industry generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales will easily tick over into multi-billion dollar territory once California joins in.</p><p>And it looks like that's likely to happen. A <a href="http://na06.mypinpointe.com/display.php?M=56944043&amp;C=cf73b2c7a98e5cfd3d04ffa9bf363a2f&amp;S=41465&amp;L=735&amp;N=16961">Probolsky Research poll</a> in February had support for legalization at 59.6%. A <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/05/26/california-poised-to-legalize-marijuana-in-2016-election/">Public Policy Institute of California poll</a> in May had support at 55%, but at 60% among likely voters.</p><p>Poll numbers like these are encouraging for proponents, but skeptics can point to the failed Proposition 19 effort in 2010, which came up short with 47% of the vote after polling above 50% for months that year.</p><p>This year should be different, though. The AUMA has <a href="http://www.letsgetitrightca.org/endorsements">broad support</a>, beginning with charismatic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), and including the state Democratic Party, at least three members of the California congressional delegation, a number of state assembly members and other elected officials, the state NAACP, the state ACLU, the California Cannabis Industry Association, and the California Medical Association, as well as prominent figures in law enforcement.</p><p>It also has money, and a winning initiative campaign in California will need millions. The AUMA has some <a href="http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1381808&amp;view=received">deep pockets</a> behind it, including tech billionaire Sean Parker and Weedmaps founder Justin Hartfield, both of whom have dropped million dollar chunks of change into the campaign. The Drug Policy Action Network, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, has also kicked in at least $500,000.</p><p>The AUMA's campaign fundraising committee has raised $3.7 million so far this year, which is a good start and dwarfs the amount raised by the opposition Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, composed of law enforcement and health groups such as the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, and the California Hospital Association. The cops and docs have only managed a paltry $125,000 so far, thanks to donations from groups such as the Association of LA Deputy Sheriffs and the LA County Professional Peace Officers Association.  </p><p>And it isn't 2010 anymore. Since Prop 19 failed, marijuana legalization has now won in every state where it's been on the ballot, and the whole national atmosphere around seems to have relaxed. And unlike 2010, this is a presidential election year, with higher turnout, especially among young voters, than is seen in off-year elections. The omens are good.</p><p>So what would the AUMA do? According to the <a href="http://www.letsgetitrightca.org/about">campaign website</a> (read the complete initiative text <a href="http://www.letsgetitrightca.org/pdfs/AUMA.Amended.12.7.15.Final.pdf">here</a>):</p><ul><li>Adults aged 21+ will be allowed to possess marijuana, and grow small amounts at home for personal use. Sale of marijuana will be legal and highly regulated to protect consumers and kids. <em>[Possession of up to an ounce and cultivation of up to six plants]</em></li><li>This measure brings California’s marijuana market out into the open – much like the alcohol industry.  It will be tracked, controlled, regulated and taxed, and we will no longer be criminalizing responsible adults or incarcerating children.</li><li>Includes toughest-in-the-nation protections for children, our most vulnerable citizens.  </li><li>Protects workers, small businesses, law enforcement and local communities.  </li><li>According to the independent Legislative Analyst and Governor’s Finance Director, these reforms will save the state and local government up to $100 million annually in reduced taxpayer costs – and raise up to $1 billion in new tax revenues annually.</li><li>Majority of revenues will be allocated to teen drug prevention and treatment, training law enforcement to recognize driving under the influence of drugs, protecting the environment from the harms of illegal marijuana cultivation, and supporting economic development in communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition</li><li>AUMA includes strict anti-monopoly provisions and protects small farmers, so California’s marijuana industry isn’t overrun by mega-corporations.</li><li>The measure builds on the bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Brown to control and regulate California’s medical marijuana industry, and is modeled after national best practices, lessons learned from other states, and the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy.</li></ul><p>Whether the AUMA is the best way to go about legalizing marijuana in California is certainly debatable, and it does have its critics within the state's cannabis culture, but this is what's going to be before the voters in November. </p><p> </p> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 22:57:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1059198 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics california marijuana legalization adult use of marijuana act auma sean parker Justin Hartfield drug policy alliance Watch What Happens When a Portrait Artist Takes LSD http://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-what-happens-when-portrait-artist-takes-lsd <!-- 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">Before LSD was criminalized, it was used in thousands of research experiments. Here&#039;s a time-lapse snapshot of its effect on one artist.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/lsd_nine-drawings-experiment2.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">In the 1950s, while the CIA and the military were doing <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/cloak-dropper-twisted-history-cia-lsd">secret LSD experiments</a> in hopes of gaining some advantage over the Soviets, others were researching the novel psychedelic with more benign aims. One of the pioneering scientists was Dr. Oscar Janiger, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and psychotherapist.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">Beginning in 1954 and continuing through 1962, Janiger conducted a series of experiments to examine the effects of LSD. Having obtained the drug from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, which held the patent on LSD and manufactured it, he administered monitored doses of Sandoz LSD to some <a href="http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v09n1/09107jan.html">900 subjects</a>, including many professional artists.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">Through the experiments, Janiger sought to "illuminate the phenomenological nature of the LSD experience," and he did so using relatively moderate doses, typically between 100 and 200 micrograms.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">Here we see the effects of LSD on the work of a portrait artist. He was given two 50-microgram doses of LSD an hour apart, then encouraged to draw portraits of Janiger. The unknown artist drew nine portraits over eight hours after ingesting the mild-altering drug. Read his comments below:<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/n4Sb8jCJUTw" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><p></p></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><p> </p></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">20 minutes after first dose: The artist reports, "Condition normal…no effect from the drug yet."</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">85 minutes: "I can see you clearly, so clearly. This…you…it's all…I'm having trouble controlling the pencil. It seems to want to keep going"</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">2 hours and 30 minutes: "I feel that my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that's now active—my hand, my elbow, my tongue."</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">2 hours and 45 minutes: "I am…everything is…changed…they're calling…your face…interwoven…who is…"</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">4 hours and 25 minutes: "This will be the best drawing, like the first one, only better. If I'm not careful, I'll lose control of my movements, but I won't, because I know. I know. I know. I know…</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">5 hours and 45 minutes: "I think it's starting to wear off. This pencil is mighty hard to hold."</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">8 hours: "I have nothing to say about this last drawing. It is bad and uninteresting. I want to go home now."</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><p></p></p><p> </p> Sat, 25 Jun 2016 00:14:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058988 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs lsd portrait artist oscar janiger cia psychedelics psychiatry Dividing California's Mendocino County Into Marijuana-Growing Appellations http://www.alternet.org/drugs/dividing-california-mendocino-county-marijuana-growing-appellations <!-- 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">Pot farmers in the Emerald Triangle are taking a page from the wine industry.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_purple_credit_unknown.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Before too long, when you sit down to enjoy your 2014 vintage Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, you'll be able to pair your wine with a nice South Mendocino County Sour Diesel or maybe a Mendocino Covelo/Dos Rios OG Kush for a sip and smoke that hits all the high notes.</p><p> </p><p>Pot farmers in one of California's Emerald Triangle marijuana-growing counties are about to follow their brethren in the wine industry by seeking to capitalize on its reputation as a pioneer and still cutting-edge presence in American cannabis cultivation. As with Bordeaux in France or the Napa Valley nearby, the Mendocino Appellations Project wants the county's marijuana brand protected and promoted by designating denominations of origin that reflect both the county provenance and the distinct pot-growing microclimates Mendo offers. </p><p> </p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image"><img alt="" class="media-image" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/mendo_appellations_swami_select_2.jpg" /></div><p> </p><p>The first-of-its-kind project is riding a tide of local optimism not only about the future—legalization is set to be on the ballot in California this year—but also the present, now that the state legislature has belatedly passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). Twenty years after voters first approved medical marijuana, the act will finally bring some clarity to an endeavor that has operated with many grey areas. It defines marijuana cultivation as an agricultural activity, creates state licensing requirements, and also makes it a crime to label or sell medical marijuana as grown in a county if it actually isn't.</p><p> </p><p>These rules are similar to the ones that protect the state's wine regions, whose global reputations for fine wines are zealously guarded. But unlike wine, which is regulated by the federal government, California's pot's regulation defaults to the state under federal marijuana prohibition.</p><p></p><p> </p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"You have a product coming out of prohibition, essentially. Marijuana growers are caught in a very difficult situation. It’s a bit of a ‘catch-22’. Even though it’s legal at the state level, it’s not legal at the federal level. They can’t operate in the normal way by creating bank accounts and the like. Appellations will help show the legitimacy of what they are doing," wine legal expert Richard Mendelson told the <a href="http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/northbay/mendocinocounty/5702907-181/mendocino-cannabis-appellations">North Bay Business Journal</a>.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">Mendelson has played a key role in the development of Napa County's wine appellations for more than 30 years, and he's now lending his expertise to the Mendocino Appellation Project. </p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"Appellations can be really powerful because they can be a means to protect everything from the intellectual property, to the labor force, to the culture and history. They can be very rich vehicles for promotion, protection, and rural development," he added.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"Mendocino is the Napa Valley of cannabis. It is by far the most conducive place for outdoor cultivation," said project founder Justin Calvino. "Mendocino is a growing culture you won’t find anywhere else."</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">Calvino began the project last year with a topographical map of the county, then proceeded to listen to growers and others in the industry. After surveying local farmers last fall, he created the appellation map, with 11 different micro-regions based on ecological factors, such as watershed and microclimate.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext"></p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext"></p><div alt="" class="media-image"><img alt="" class="media-image" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/mendo_appellations_project.jpg" /></div><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">The proposed appellations are: Spyrock-Bell Springs, Covelo-Dos Rios, Long Valley-Branscomb-Leggett, Willits, Comptche, Ukiah Valley, North Mendocino Coast, South Mendocino Coast, Anderson Valley South Mendocino, Potter Valley, and Mountainhouse South Mendocino County.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"I like the way he’s gone about it, because he’s factored in not just the natural elements, he’s gone out and spoken to growers, asking the old-timers what they think, and is making revisions. He’s being true to the history. This is a template for the future, creating a dossier of physical and human, historical factors—I applaud him for that," Mendelson said.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">There are issues yet to be resolved, including whether to brand the name Mendocino or focus on smaller areas, the setting of environmental standards and the thorny philosophical question of whether marijuana grown indoors can lay claim to terroir, a wine term that means the specific environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, that give a wine its unique characteristics. Can a crop grown with hydroponics in a controlled indoor environment have a terroir? </p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">In any case, the adoption of appellations should be good for consumers and good for the industry.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"This is what makes wine so much fun for consumers, to experiment and to be able to go from the larger country and regional levels all the way down to the specific vineyard designation, and see, as a consumer if you can spot those differences and understand the effect of terroir on the final product," Mendelson said.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">"Tourism is big. We want people to come out and visit our tasting rooms. We want the debate and the talk about our appellations, and which one does it better than another," he said.</p><p class="bodytextstyles-bodytext">Calvino also sits on the board of the California Growers' Association and has been asked to lead a group working on developing appellations statewide. He said he is looking a neighboring Humboldt County next. </p> Thu, 23 Jun 2016 14:16:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058913 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana wine Mendocino County california appellations California Growers Association Mendocino Appellations Project Video: In an Exercise They Know Is Futile, Danish Cops Raid Pusher Street (Again) http://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-danish-cops-raid-pusher-street-exercise-they-know-futile <!-- 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 avenue of hash and weed sellers in Copenhagen just picks up the pieces and resumes sales before the cops are even gone.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/pusher_street_pinterest.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Last Friday, <a href="%2Ehttp:/www.thelocal.dk/20160621/new-debate-on-cannabis-legalization-after-christiania-raid">more than a hundred Danish police</a> swept into Copenhagen's hippy enclave of Christiania to attack the hash and weed sellers of the community's infamous Pusher Street. They tore down 37 stalls and arrested 18 people, carrying off nearly 10 kilos of cannabis by the time they were done.</p><p>But it was an exercise in futility. Before police had even left the scene, new stalls had been constructed and new drug sales had taken place.</p><p>The raid, coming after previous raid after fruitless raid on Pusher Street, has reignited the ongoing debate about legalizing cannabis in Denmark, with members of law enforcement and parliament speaking out.</p><p>"I personally believe we should legalize the sale of cannabis because this is a fight we cannot win," said senior prosecutor Anne Birgitte Stürup from the Copenhagen Public Prosecutor Office (Statsadvokaten). "We’ve tried fighting this for so many years and have gotten nowhere. We cannot stop the use of cannabis by outlawing it. It is expensive and is of very little use," she continued. </p><p>The debate on cannabis legalization is nothing new. Pusher Street was for decades the center of the city's weed trade as Christiania, a former military base invaded by hippies in 1971, enjoyed existence as an autonomous community within greater Copenhagen. But conservative national governments in recent years have both ended Christiania's special status and regularly attacked Pusher Street, sending the weed trade to street corners around the city.</p><p>Copenhagen itself has repeatedly sought a trial program to legalize the trade in the city, with sales handled by public authorities, only to be blocked by the parliament. It's time to move forward with such plans, said former Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Per Larsen.</p><p>"The money is going into the wrong hands today and I think it could be used for something much more positive, for example preventative measures and rehab for those suffering from cannabis psychosis," Larsen said. </p><p>Another former public prosecutor, Erik Merlung, agreed it was time to change course and accused members of parliament of "shutting their eyes to reality."</p><p>"You make huge raids on Christiania in which all of the stalls are torn down in the afternoon and then up and running again the next morning  – if not in Christiania, then other places in the city," he said, adding that the current prohibitionist strategy is "hopeless."</p><p>Even the cops involved didn't seem particularly enthused about their mission, as the video below from the scene makes clear. The video was shot by the Christiania-based documentary group Cadok:</p><p> </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="263" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k7JKN3vzmPM" width="468"></iframe></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:47:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058740 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video World denmark copenhagen Christiania hash marijuana police raids cannabis Pusher Street Supreme Court Bummer: Justices Open Door to More Lawless Police Searches http://www.alternet.org/drugs/drug-case-supeme-court-opens-door-more-lawless-police-searches <!-- 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 Supremes green-light more invasions of privacy.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/scotusbuilding_1st_street_se.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a pair of decisions released Monday, the US Supreme Court again demonstrated its deference to law enforcement priorities, in one case by expanding an exception to the long-standing ruling requiring that unlawfully gathered evidence be discarded and in another by holding that drug dealers, even those engaged only in street-corner sales, are engaged in interstate commerce.</p><p>The two decisions expand the ability of local police to skirt the law without effective punishment on the one hand, and allow prosecutors to use the weight of the federal criminal justice system to come down on small-time criminals whose cases would normally be the purview of local authorities on the other. Taken together, the decisions show a high court that once again give great deference to the demands of law enforcement.</p><p>In the first case, <em><a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-1373_83i7.pdf">Utah v. Strieff</a></em>, the Supreme Court held that evidence obtained from the illegal stop of Strieff should not be thrown out under the exclusionary rule, which requires that illegally seized be suppressed as "<a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fruit_of_the_poisonous_tree">fruit of the poisonous tree</a>." The exclusionary rule, which dates back to 1920 and values the rule of law even at the expense of seeing a guilty suspect go free, has <a href="https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2199&amp;dat=19830302&amp;id=BF0yAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=oegFAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=5180,708973&amp;hl=en">long been a bane</a> of judicial conservatives, who have been trying to chip away at it since at least the 1980s.</p><p>In <em>Strieff</em>, a Salt Lake City police officer investigating possible drug activity at a residence stopped Strieff without "reasonable cause" after he exited the home. During his encounter with Strieff, the police officer found that he was wanted on a traffic warrant, arrested him, then searched him subsequent to arrest. The police officer found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, then charged him with drug and paraphernalia possession.</p><p>Strieff argued to suppress the evidence, arguing that it was derived from an unlawful investigatory stop. He lost at the trial and appeals court levels, but the Utah Supreme Court <a href="http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/supopin/Strieff150116.pdf">overturned his conviction</a>, holding that an exception to the exclusionary rule known as the "attenuation doctrine" did not apply. The US Supreme Court disagreed.</p><p>The attenuation doctrine holds that unlawfully obtained evidence may be used even if "the fruit of the search is tainted by the initial, unlawful detention…if the taint is dissipated by an intervening circumstance," as the Utah Supreme Court described it. In other words, if police acting in good faith violate the law and don't do it flagrantly, they should be able to use any evidence found as a result of that violation in court.</p><p>The Supreme Court divided 5-3 on the case, with Chief Justice Roberts joining justices Alito, Breyer, and Kennedy joined Justice Clarence Thomas in his majority opinion. Thomas held that the police misconduct was not bad enough to warrant suppression of the evidence and, besides, police probably aren't going to abuse their powers to do mass searches.</p><p>"[The officer's] purpose was not to conduct a suspicionless fishing expedition but was to gather information about activity inside a house whose occupants were legitimately suspected of dealing drugs," Thomas wrote. "Strieff conflates the standard for an illegal stop with the standard for flagrancy, which requires more than the mere absence of proper cause. Second, it is unlikely that the prevalence of outstanding warrants will lead to dragnet searches by police."</p><p>The Supreme Court's liberal minority was not nearly as sanguine. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, with Justice Ginsberg concurring, cut right to the heart of the matter:</p><p>"The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights," she wrote in her dissent. "Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent."</p><p>In the second case, <em><a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-6166_o7jp.pdf">Taylor v. United States</a></em>, the high court upheld the ability of federal prosecutors to use federal law to prosecute people who rob drug dealers, even if the dealers are dealing only in locally-grown marijuana with no evidence of interstate sales. That 7-1 decision is in just the latest in a long line of cases upholding the ability of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution's "commerce clause" and to protect it from robbery or extortion under the 1951 Hobbs Act.</p><p>It was the "commerce clause" line of cases that led to the 2005 <em><a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1454.ZS.html">Gonzales v. Raich</a></em> decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the ability of the federal government to move against marijuana cultivation and sales even in states where it is legal. In that case, the high court ruled that California medical marijuana patient Angel Raich's cultivation of marijuana plants at her home in California for her use in California implicated interstate commerce and was therefore liable to federal jurisdiction.</p><p>In <em>Taylor</em>, Taylor was part of a Virginia gang known as the "Southwest Goonz" who targeted and robbed marijuana growers and dealers. He was charged under the Hobbs Act with two counts of "affecting commerce or attempting to do so through robbery." In his first trial, which resulted in a hung jury, Taylor offered evidence that the dealers targeted only trafficked in locally-grown marijuana. In his second trial, prosecutors convinced the court to exclude that evidence, and Taylor was convicted on both counts. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that conviction, "holding that, given the aggregate effect of drug dealing on interstate commerce, the Government needed only to prove that Taylor robbed or attempted to rob a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds to satisfy the commerce element."</p><p>In an opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court agreed.</p><p>"[T]he Government met its burden by introducing evidence that Taylor’s gang intentionally targeted drug dealers to obtain drugs and drug proceeds," he wrote. "That evidence included information that the gang members targeted the victims because of their drug dealing activities, as well as explicit statements made during the course of the robberies that revealed their belief that drugs and money were present. Such proof is sufficient to meet the Hobbs Act’s commerce element."</p><p>Only Justice Thomas dissented, arguing that the whole line of "commerce clause" cases granted too much power to the federal government.</p><p>"The Hobbs Act makes it a federal crime to commit a robbery that 'affects' 'commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction," Thomas wrote. "Under the Court’s decision today, the Government can obtain a Hobbs Act conviction without proving that the defendant’s robbery in fact affected interstate commerce— or any commerce. The Court’s holding creates serious constitutional problems and extends our already expansive, flawed commerce-power precedents. I would construe the Hobbs Act in accordance with constitutional limits and hold that the Act punishes a robbery only when the Government proves that the robbery itself affected interstate commerce."</p><p>Two cases, two distinct lines of legal precedent, one outcome: Drug cases continue to provide a basis for the expansion of state law enforcement power. </p><p> </p> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 13:29:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058652 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics supreme court utah v. stieff taylor v. US drugs exclusionary rule Hobbs Act Commerce Clause Gonzalez v. Raich Help Wanted: The 8 Most Popular Jobs in the Marijuana Industry http://www.alternet.org/drugs/help-wanted-8-most-popular-jobs-marijuana-industry <!-- 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">So, you want to get in on the green gold rush. Here&#039;s where the opportunities are. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_27.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Pot is a big business and only destined to get bigger. Legal sales last year reached $5.7 billion, up more than a billion dollars over the previous year. Sales this year are expected to top $7.1 billion.</p><p>This fall, we're likely to see marijuana legalization initiatives win in a handful of states—Arizona, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts—which would more than triple the size of the legal marijuana market in the county. The combined population of the legal states so far is about 16 million; the population of California alone is more than 38 million. If all five initiative states vote for marijuana this year, the size of the legal market would grow to more than 55 million.</p><p>The already existing growth in the marijuana market combined with the prospect of a huge expansion in the near future is making pot a very hot industry. And that means job opportunities for people thinking about breaking into the field.</p><p>A number of marijuana industry job hunter websites have popped up in recent years to take advantage of the booming sector, and one of them has now put out a list of the hottest pot jobs. The website, <a href="http://420careers.com/" target="_blank">420careers.com</a>, bills itself as "the marijuana industry's job listing site," and here's its list of the most popular jobs in pot:</p><ol><li><strong>Budtenders – assist dispensary customers with purchasing marijuana.</strong>Basically pot shop sales clerks. Knowledge about different pot strains and products and their effects will be helpful, but it's still not likely to pay too much above minimum wage. Some listings offer hourly wages of $11-12 an hour; others put annual salaries in the mid-20s.</li><li><strong>Sales Reps – sell products (vapes, technology, edibles, etc.) to dispensaries.</strong>Go freelance or get paid on commission for peddling products. A classic sales gig where how much you make depends precisely on how much you can sell. Willie Loman, call home.</li><li><strong>Extraction Technicians – make marijuana concentrates.</strong>These jobs involve working in laboratory-type conditions and operating sophisticated CO2 or butane extraction systems to turn weed into cannabis oil. Job listers tend to be coy about pay offered in this field, but it requires some skills that should make it more remunerative than selling buds.</li><li><strong>Edibles Makers – make marijuana-infused foods and drinks.</strong>This is an entrée to the industry for people with culinary skills, such as cooks, bakers, and nutritionists. Relatively low-skilled work like being a line baker isn't going to pay very well, but there are also openings for food scientists, food chemists, and managers, with salaries of $60,000 to $80,000 and beyond</li><li><strong>Dispensary Security – patrol dispensaries for illegal activity.</strong>Wear a spiffy uniform, maybe even carry a gun, and get paid low wages. Median security guard salaries in Los Angeles are around $30,000 a year, but at least one LA dispensary was looking for guards willing to work for less than $20,000.</li><li><strong>Marijuana Growers – cultivate marijuana for dispensaries.</strong>These are not independent farmers, but employees of the dispensary, and the money is good. "Master Growers," the folks in charge of big-time grow operations, are being offered $100,000 a year and more. The folks doing the grunt work of maintaining and harvesting the plants don't get nearly as much, with hourly wages of $15 to $20 or so.</li><li><strong>Trimmers – trim and package marijuana flowers for dispensaries.</strong>Snip, snip, snip, all day long. Trimmers are being offered relatively low wages, around $15 to $20 an hour, in the legal marijuana industry. In the black or gray market, however, they tend to get paid piece rate (50 cents a gram or thereabouts), and a good trimmer can make $200 a day or so. Tax free.</li><li><strong>Dispensary Managers – manage all or various aspects of dispensaries.</strong>Doing essentially the same work as any other retail store manager, except for the exotic product. The job requires extensive management skills, as well as pot knowledge, with compensation linked to the size of the operation. A part-time manager job was being offered at $25,000 in Scappoose, Oregon, while a full-time in Sacramento was going for $60,000. Dispensaries with larger volumes will pay even larger salaries.</li></ol><p>There are also openings for marijuana-related businesses and professionals. The five most popular auxiliary jobs in the US marijuana industry are::</p><ol><li><strong>Consultants (cultivation, business management, etc.)</strong></li><li><strong>Lawyers</strong></li><li><strong>Accountants</strong></li><li><strong>Marketing</strong></li><li><strong>Web Developers/Designers</strong></li></ol><p> </p> Sat, 18 Jun 2016 13:43:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058562 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana legalization budtender trimmer marijuana grower edibles cannabis oil dispensary Microsoft Enters the Marijuana Business http://www.alternet.org/drugs/microsoft-enters-marijuana-business <!-- 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">While legal weed has excited all kinds of entrepreneurial interest, the big corporate players have shied away. That just changed. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/microsoft.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a move that is a harbinger of increased corporate acceptance of and interest in marijuana legalization and the legal marijuana industry, tech giant Microsoft Thursday announced it is becoming partners with a marijuana industry software company, Kind Financial. That makes Microsoft the first major tech company to lend its name to the growing but still—in some quarters—controversial industry.</p><p>Microsoft won't be growing or selling dope, but it will work with Kind Financial on the company's "seed to sale" tracking services for marijuana cultivators. The services allow growers to track inventory, handle transactions, and navigate legal hurdles in what is becoming a highly regulated legal pot industry.</p><p>Marijuana is legal in four states and the District of Columbia, and California's wide open medical marijuana scene is already a multi-billion dollar business, and tech start-ups with dollar signs in their eyes have been flocking to the industry in hopes of raking in some of that green gold. But the big corporate players have, up until now, shied away, citing concerns about the industry's legal status and worries that stockholders will see their involvement as something shady.</p><p>"[My company ]has stayed away from investing in the cannabis industry because it’s like investing in the porn industry," Zach Bogue, a venture capital investor, told <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/17/business/dealbook/microsoft-following-the-clouds-to-offer-marijuana-tracking-software.html">The New York Times</a></em>. "I’m sure there's a lot of money to be made, but it’s just not something we want to invest in."</p><p>But now Microsoft has broken through the grass ceiling.</p><p>"Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will," Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of marijuana data company Green Wave Advisors, told <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/17/business/dealbook/microsoft-following-the-clouds-to-offer-marijuana-tracking-software.html">The New York Times</a></em>. "It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business."</p><p>Microsoft and marijuana is a natural, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. (<a href="http://www.norml.org/">NORML</a>).</p><p>"If you are trying to go big macro strategy at a company like Microsoft, and you want a super diverse portfolio, and you’re located largely in a place where you can visibly see the marijuana commerce happening, and of course maybe your employees and others are engaged in that commerce, why wouldn’t the company invest in it?” he told <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/06/16/microsoft-becomes-the-first-big-tech-company-to-get-into-the-legal-weed-industry/">The Washington Post</a></em>.</p><p>What's next? General Motors getting behind a hempmobile? Stay tuned as marijuana goes mainstream. </p><p> </p> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 14:25:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058535 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy microsoft marijuana legalization corporations business seed to sale Kind Financial You Don't Have to Take LSD to Hallucinate: This Fish Will Make You Trip http://www.alternet.org/drugs/meet-fish-can-give-you-lsd-hallucinations <!-- 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 phrase fishing trip takes on a whole new meaning. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/sarpa_salpa_.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Adventurers seeking new, terrifying hallucinogenic experiences might want to head for a nice seafood restaurant in the Mediterranean. There's a fish there, and along the Atlantic Coast of Africa, that may not impress their palates, but could blow their minds.</p><p>The fish is <em>Sarpa salpa</em>, commonly known as the salema porgy, a rather unremarkable specimen recognizable by the gold racing stripes it boasts. But don't let that benign appearance deceive—the sea bream can induce vivid, LSD-like hallucinations.</p><p>It's been known as a party fish for a while. According to that wonderful compendium of oddities, <em><a href="http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/meet-the-hallucinogenic-fish-that-can-give-you-lsdesque-nightmares">Atlas Obscura</a>,</em>it was used as a recreational drug in the Roman Empire and it is known in Arabic as "the fish that makes dreams."</p><p>Recent reports of tripping on salema are rare, but two contemporary case studies were reported in a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7163931_Hallucinatory_Fish_Poisoning_Ichthyoallyeinotoxism_Two_Case_Reports_From_the_Western_Mediterranean_and_Literature_Review" target="_blank">2006 article</a> in the journal <em>Clinical Toxicology</em>. Neither subject had a great time, but they certainly had a psychedelic time.</p><p>In the first case, from 1994, a 40-year-old man enjoyed fresh baked <em>Sarpa salpa</em> at a restaurant while vacationing in the French Riviera. After a couple of hours, he developed nausea, followed by blurred vision, muscle weakness and vomiting. When his symptoms persisted the next day, he attempted to drive home. He didn't make it. Instead, he reported that he couldn't drive because of all the screaming animals, of which the giant arthropods were the most distracting. He did manage to make his way to a hospital, where he made a full recovery after 36 hours. Well, almost—he couldn't actually remember the experience.</p><p>Eight years later, another case popped up, in St-Tropez, also in France. A 90-year-old man bought, cleaned, cooked and ate a salema, then reported hallucinating squawking birds and screaming people. Without telling anyone because he feared he was going crazy, he endured two nights of nightmarish hallucinations before the fish high wore off.</p><p>The auditory and visual hallucinations are typical of ichthyoallyeinotoxism, a rare poisoning linked to eating certain fish, according to Catherine Jadot, a marine biologist at the Reef Ball Foundation. Jadot, who focused on <em>Sarpa salpa</em> in her doctoral research, said it can produce nervous system disturbances and LSD-like effects.</p><p>Or are they DMT-like effects? Although the research is not settled, one school of thought is that DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the drug found in the South American spiritual healing compound ayahuasca, is responsible for the trippy time. Another explanation is that alkaloids of the indole group, chemically similar in structure to LSD, that occur naturally in certain algae and phytoplankton consumed by the fish are the cause.</p><p>It's unclear just when the fish can and can't produce psychoactive effects, although it seems that the fish head contains the toxins. The season when the fish is caught may play a role, with some suggestion that the levels of toxins are highest in the fall. But the cases in the literature occurred in late spring and summer.</p><p>In any case, it seems to be a rare occurrence. Still, next time you're on the French Riviera and you are attacked by screaming spiders after a sea bream dinner, you'll know why. Bon appetit!</p> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 23:43:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058350 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Environment sarpa salpa sea bream salema porgy lsd dmt hallucinations Neurotoxins Leading California Medical Marijuana Oil Maker Busted http://www.alternet.org/drugs/leading-california-medical-marijuana-oil-maker-busted <!-- 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 legal landscape for medical marijuana in the Golden State remains unsettled, and now cops in Sonoma County have swooped down on a major player. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/police_4.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Police, including DEA agents, raided five properties associated with a well-known medical marijuana products manufacturer in Northern California's Sonoma County Wednesday morning, detaining at least nine people and arresting one on suspicion of felony drug manufacture for his role in cannabis oil production.</p><p>Although medical marijuana has been legal in the state since voters approved it two decades ago, it was only last year that the legislature moved to bring state-wide regulation to the rapidly growing industry, and that won't actually happen until 2018. In the meantime, medical marijuana businesses are operating in a sphere of unsettled legality where, as <a href="http://www.canorml.org/">California NORML</a> put it in an email alert about the raids, "there’s plenty of gray area to generate busts between now and then.</p><p>The operation raided was <a href="https://www.cbd.org/cannabis-sublingual-sprays-tinctures">Care By Design</a> (CBD Guild), which produces CBD-rich cannabis oils for use in sprays, gels, and cannabis oil cartridges for vaporizers. The company offers products with five different ratios of CBD to THC so "patients can adjust their cannabis medicine to suit their specific conditions and personal preferences."CBD (cannabidiol) is more sought after for medicinal purposes; THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid that gets you high.Santa Rosa Police spokesman Lt. Mike Lazzarini told the <em><a href="http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5740175-181/sonoma-county-agencies-coordinate-raids">Santa Rosa Press-Democrat</a></em> that a hundred Santa Rosa police, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies, and DEA agents raided the operations because they were using illegal and hazardous production methods—producing the oil with the use of butane, which is a fire and explosion hazard, and which is forbidden under state law.</p><p>"From a law enforcement standpoint this is not a legal process when it involves processes that are dangerous," Lazzarini said.</p><p>The police spokesman also said that Care By Design's facilities were in violation of Santa Rosa municipal codes and not properly permitted.</p><p>Care By Design, which is organized as a non-profit collective under the rubric of the CBD Guild, flatly rejected law enforcement assertions that it was illegally using butane to make the cannabis oil.</p><p>"Contrary to initial press reports, none of the Care By Design facilities are involved in the production of hash; nor is butane used in the company’s extraction process," it said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "Care By Design utilizes a non-volatile supercritical CO2 extraction method, and does not produce any hash, rosin, wax, shatter or similar products that are popular amongst recreational users."</p><p>And it was not pleased with the raids, in which police seized equipment, computers, product, payroll, and financial paperwork.  </p><p>"This law enforcement action is unprecedented, unfortunate, and has the potential to deprive thousands of profoundly sick patients of much needed medicine," said collective spokesman Nick Caston. "We will cooperate fully with law enforcement in an effort to resolve this as quickly as possible, and hope to have our several dozen employees in Sonoma County back to work this week."</p><p>Later Wednesday, CBD Guild attorney Joe Rogoway, a veteran Santa Rosa marijuana attorney, reiterated the charge that police were mischaracterizing the business, which he said was above board and operating lawfully.</p><p>"They weren’t using butane, they use a process that includes CO2 which is a flame retardant; CO2 is what’s in fire extinguishers," Rogoway told the <em>Press-Democrat</em>. "It’s not criminalized in California law."</p><p>But Lazzarini continued to maintain that it was a butane-based operation, even as he appeared to back track just a bit on the legality</p><p>"This is one of those areas where the courts are going to have to decide," Lazzarini said. "From a law enforcement standpoint this is not a legal process when it involves processes that are dangerous."</p><p>The Guild suspects a disgruntled former employee provoked the raids by making false claims to law enforcement, Rogoway said.</p><p>Police attempted to play up the criminal element in their description of the man jailed in the sole major arrest during the raids. They described operations manager Dennis Franklin Hunter as a criminal with a history of evading arrest, justifying the $5 million dollar bail on which he is being held.</p><p>But what he had been busted for was—wait for it—growing marijuana in Humboldt County in 1998. But the feds couldn't find him until 2002, when he was sentenced to 5 ½ years in federal prison. On a second occasion, Hunter was the subject of a manhunt in Arkansas after US Homeland Security asked Little Rock authorities to detain him because they suspected he had drugs on his plane. But he took off after refueling as deputies approached and only later met with authorities.</p><p>Caston said Hunter's history was one of being a pioneer in California's marijuana industry.</p><p>"They’re the folks that have been leading the way, breaking down the stigma, breaking down the misconceptions," he said. "He’s really a visionary, along with the other folks in our company, trying to bring practices that are safe. This (law enforcement) action is very surprising."</p><p>And while this all gets sorted out, thousands of patients in dispensaries across the state who rely on Care By Design's products will just have to tough it out. </p><p> </p> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 00:21:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058410 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health medical marijuana cannabis CBD thc Care By Design CBD Guild Dennis Franklin Hunter dea Santa Rosa Sonoma County california Joe Rogoway One Out of Four U.S. Senators Is a Pot Prohibitionist—Is Yours One of Them? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/one-out-four-us-senators-pot-prohibitionist-yours-one <!-- 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 U.S. senators are beginning to come around on marijuana, but there&#039;s still a sizable contingent of old-school weed warriors. Here are the worst. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/capitol.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Marijuana legalization now consistently scores <a href="http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/american-attitudes-toward-substance-use-in-the-united-states.aspx">majorities</a> in national public opinion polls, marijuana is already legal in four states and the District of Columbia and likely to be legal in a handful more, including California, before year's end, and the Obama administration has effectively thrown federal pot prohibition to the wind in the legal (and medical marijuana) states, yet Congress remains to a large degree stuck in the last century when it comes to marijuana policy.</p><p>Granted, there are some small signs of progress, some nibbling around the edges of pot prohibition, through bills and spending amendments that seek to stop the feds from interfering in  legal and medical marijuana states, but <a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s2237">Bernie Sanders' bill</a> to end federal marijuana prohibition doesn't sport even a single cosponsor. When it comes to fixing marijuana policy, Congress is going to have to be dragged crying and screaming into the 21st Century.</p><p>One reason is a sizeable contingent of senatorial prohibitionists. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (<a href="http://www.norml.org/">NORML</a>), which just released its  <a href="http://norml.org/congressional-scorecard">2016 Congressional Scorecard</a>, more than a quarter of US senators received a failing grade when it comes to supporting progressive marijuana policy reforms. A failing grade indicates "that this member expresses significant and vocal opposition to marijuana law reform."</p><p>The marijuana consumers' lobbying group arrived at the grades based on the member's 2015 voting records on three amendments to appropriations bills: the <a href="http://www.thedailychronic.net/2015/49524/us-senate-approves-funding-bill-that-allows-veterans-to-access-medical-marijuana/" target="_blank">Daines/Merkley amendment</a> (would have allowed VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal), the <a href="http://www.safeaccessnow.org/senate_committee_approves_mikulski_medical_marijuana_amendment_with_strong_bipartisan_support" target="_blank">Mikulski amendment</a> (would block the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana programs), and the <a href="https://www.merkley.senate.gov/news/press-releases/appropriations-committee-passes-merkley-amendment-to-provide-access-to-banking-services-for-legal-marijuana-businesses" target="_blank">2015 Merkley amendment</a> (would have blocked the Treasury Department from punishing banks providing services to legal marijuana businesses).</p><p>NORML also weighed whether the member has sponsored or cosponsored federal marijuana reform bills, and his or her public statements or testimony. Legislators were assigned letter grades ranging from "A" to "F."</p><p>Before going on to NORML's hall of shame, it’s worth taking a moment to salute the class valedictorians: Only two senators got "A" grades—Sanders and Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, author or co-author of two of the amendments, who also supported the successful 2014 Oregon legalization initiative and has sponsored and cosponsored other progressive marijuana reform bills.</p><p>Merkley is the only one of the eight senators representing states where the electorate has already voted to legalize marijuana to earn an "A" grade. The other legalization state senators at least mostly earned "B" grades ("this member has publicly declared his/her support for the ability of a state to move forward with cannabis law reform policies free from federal interference"), demonstrating that they are at least that in tune with their publics.</p><p>The good news is that with two senators winning "A" grades, 28 earning a "B," and 28 managing a "C" (supports medical marijuana or decriminalization), there seems to be a senatorial majority in favor of some pot reform legislation, even if not full legalization.</p><p>But there is still a sizeable and obstinate anti-marijuana minority, with 20 senators saddled with a "D" grade ("no support for any significant marijuana law reform"), and 26 ingloriously awarded the big "F."</p><p>Not surprisingly, 22 of them are Republicans, mostly from that great, L-shaped mass of red states that runs from North Dakota down to Texas and then across the South. But four of them are Democrats.</p><p>Without any further ado, here's the list of the Senate's most intransigent and recalcitrant pot prohibitionists (click on the <a href="http://norml.org/congressional-scorecard">scorecard</a> for the individual particulars):</p><p><strong>Alabama</strong></p><p>Sen. Jeff Sessions (R)</p><p>Sen. Richard Shelby (R)</p><p><strong>Arkansas</strong></p><p>Sen. John Boozman (R)</p><p>Sen. Tom Cotton (R)</p><p><strong>Delaware</strong></p><p>Sen. Tom Carper (D)</p><p><strong>Florida</strong></p><p>Sen. Marco Rubio (R)</p><p><strong>Idaho</strong></p><p>Sen. Jim Risch (R)</p><p><strong>Illinois</strong></p><p>Sen. Mark Kirk (R)</p><p><strong>Indiana</strong></p><p>Sen. Dan Coats (R)</p><p>Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)</p><p><strong>Iowa</strong></p><p>Sen. Charles Grassley (R)</p><p><strong>Kentucky</strong></p><p>Sen. Mitch McConnell (R)</p><p><strong>Louisiana</strong></p><p>Sen. David Vitter (R)</p><p><strong>Nebraska</strong></p><p>Sen. Deb Fischer (R)</p><p><strong>New Hampshire</strong></p><p>Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R)</p><p><strong>Ohio</strong></p><p>Sen. Rob Portman (R)</p><p><strong>Oklahoma</strong></p><p>Sen. Jim Inhofe (R)</p><p>Sen. James Lankford (R)</p><p><strong>Pennsylvania</strong></p><p>Sen. Bob Casey (D)</p><p><strong>South Carolina</strong></p><p>Sen. Tim Scott (R)</p><p><strong>South Dakota</strong></p><p>Sen. Mike Rounds (R)</p><p>Sen. John Thune (R)</p><p><strong>Tennessee</strong></p><p>Sen. Bob Corker (R)</p><p><strong>Texas</strong></p><p>Sen. Jon Cornyn (R)</p><p><strong>Virginia</strong></p><p>Sen. Tim Kaine (D)</p><p><strong>Wyoming</strong></p><p>Sen. John Barasso (R)</p><p> </p> Mon, 13 Jun 2016 23:36:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058297 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana legalization cannabis norml senate bernie sanders jeff merkley The Tragic Killing of Ollie Lee Brooks Is Exhibit A in the Case for Ending America's Drug War http://www.alternet.org/drugs/tragic-killing-ollie-lee-brooks-exhibit-case-ending-americas-drug-war <!-- 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">Predatory policing in Tulsa results in one man&#039;s demise—and raises questions about how, and for whom, the criminal justice system works. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ollie_lee_brooks.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A poor, elderly black man with a heart condition was sitting in his room in a Tulsa, Oklahoma motel the night of May 28, using his drug of choice and minding his own business when police arrived at his door. Now he's dead, and his death raises questions not only of law enforcement's use of force, but of race, class and predatory policing.</p><p>As the <em><a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/crimewatch/man-dies-after-tulsa-police-officer-pepper-sprays-">Tulsa World</a></em> reported, Ollie Lee Brooks, 64, died at the Oklahoma State University Medical Center after a pair of Tulsa police officers tased and pepper spayed him during an arrest attempt at a Super 8 Motel in east Tulsa. Police said he struggled when they tried to arrest him after spotting drug paraphernalia "in plain sight" in his motel room.</p><p>He "immediately resisted arrest by actively fighting officers," their report said. Pepper spraying him didn't "have the desired effect," so one officer tased Brooks, who "continued to fight," so he tased him again. At one point, Brooks broke free and ran down the stairs, but the officers tackled and cuffed him, then called medics to the scene.</p><p>The officers were <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/family-of-man-fatally-tasered-by-police-retain-attorney-to/article_6455c5d7-2756-5a4f-b4cd-d6dd1483ed5c.html">not wearing body cams</a>, and there is no surveillance video to verify their account. But there is no reason to doubt their explanation for why they went to his room in the first place: They had gone to the motel "to search the register for guests with outstanding warrants, police spokesman Leland Ashley said."</p><p>You read that right: Police in Tulsa are going around to motels and hotels and checking guest lists against their lists of people wanted for warrants. Or at least they're going to <em>some</em> motels and hotels. There are no reports of police running warrant checks at the Tulsa Hilton Garden Inn or the Tulsa Marriott Courtyard.</p><p>This looks to be a race- and class-based predatory policing practice, targeting the poor, who often have arrest warrants not just for alleged crimes but for the crime of being unable to pay fines for past offenses. It has the same sort of stench about it as the now well-known <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/08/25/343143937/in-ferguson-court-fines-and-fees-fuel-anger">predatory policing</a> in Ferguson, Missouri that culminated in massive civil unrest after the killing of Michael Brown nearly two years ago.</p><p>A list of outstanding warrants for dangerous felons is one thing, but that's not what the Tulsa police officers were carrying. Instead of keeping society safe from criminals, the officers were essentially acting as bill collectors.</p><p>Ollie Lee Brooks was on the list not for being an escaped fugitive or a dangerous criminal, but for a <a href="http://www1.odcr.com/detail?court=056-&amp;casekey=056-CRM+9100529">$874 bench warrant</a> in connection with an DUI/open container charge from Okmulgee County in 1991. (It was a $642 warrant, but a $201 "collections fee" and other fees were added in 2012.) That DUI/open container charge was never prosecuted, and Brooks had had several run-ins with the law since then (he was last arrested in 1999). Yet somehow that warrant was still on the books, was reissued in 2005, and had never been served. (In a <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/family-of-man-fatally-tasered-by-police-retain-attorney-to/article_6455c5d7-2756-5a4f-b4cd-d6dd1483ed5c.html">Friday press conference</a>, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said it wasn't the Okmulgee warrant, but a 2015 Tulsa warrant for failure to pay a jaywalking fine.)</p><p>The comments section of the initial <em>Tulsa World</em> article contains numerous messages from Tulsans who knew Brooks as a sometimes homeless man who frequented a custard shop and who also picked up occasional work doing landscaping and odd jobs.</p><p>Here's one comment:</p><blockquote><p>I knew this man as "Richard." He slept behind a dumpster at 61st and Sheridan several years ago when I worked for my parents business, Custard King Frozen Custard. I used to give him free custard and talk to him. I even bought him a pair of shoes and some clothes one time. Actually he's a pretty nice guy! This is very sad news indeed and serves as a warning that police have no hesitation about shocking the hell out of you and killing you. I was told that he had just gotten out of the hospital a few weeks ago with a heart condition. My father talked with him recently. He would occasionally stop by their business. Several years ago, I tried to help this guy out. I am totally shocked because I never knew him as a violent guy. He just frequented our area sometimes. He told us he had a son which he helped with tree work sometimes. He was always very friendly to us.</p></blockquote><p>Another comment:</p><blockquote><p>Ollie used to come to our store and buy a sirloin steak with all the fat on it. We wouldn't see him for awhile and he would just show up. Friendly guy, mannerly, sometimes you could tell he had been drinking and sometimes he appeared to be under the influence but before he got sick he had a tree trimming business and did some landscaping on the side so he wasn't a complete bum. It is sad that this is how he left this Earth and how he will be remembered.</p></blockquote><p>Let's recap: An older black man living on the margins of society manages to scrape together enough money to get a motel room to do his thing in peace, the police run a warrant check on the guests at the motel, they find a trivial warrant, discover evidence of another criminal offense (drug possession), a struggle ensues, and Ollie Brooks is dead.</p><p>Police Chief Jordan said Friday that the two officers involved had been suspended with pay, but were returned to active duty the day before and had done nothing wrong. But there's something very wrong indeed with a criminal justice system that generates results like this.</p><p>Speaking of things being wrong, just a few days ago, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/may-bad-month-drug-war-deaths">AlterNet published</a> "May Was One of the Worst For Drug War Deaths in Recent Memory," which listed seven people killed by police enforcing the drug laws that month. Ollie Lee Brooks wasn't on that list, not because he didn't deserve to be, but because the Tulsa police didn't bother to publicly announce his death.</p><p>News of his death came only when the <em>Tulsa World</em> ran a story after an affidavit for a search warrant for his room was officially filed last Wednesday, after his death. When asked by a reporter whether the department should have notified the media and the public that someone had died after an encounter with police that involved physical force, Jordan said, "In hindsight, after today, yeah, I probably would. Yes, sir."</p><p>Brooks' family has retained legal counsel.</p> Sun, 12 Jun 2016 12:14:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057803 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs war on drugs Should We Feed Pot to the Cows We Eat? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/grass-fed-beef-have-place-pots-culinary-future <!-- 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">This would mean a very different kind of grass-fed beef.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1331829918_cow.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, pot people are growing more and more creative in novel uses for the plant. We've seen edibles of all stripes, oils and tinctures, cannabis beers and spirits, super-potent THC oils, and more. We've even seen stems and leaves used as pig feed, but whether pot as hog slop—or any other animal feed, for that matter—has a future remains to be seen.</p><p>In Washington state, a marijuana grower looking for a way to get rid of the stems and fan leaves of the plants after harvest, a hog farmer looking for innovative, interesting and cheap feed stock, and a butcher/restaurateur with a taste for the cutting edge got together and created <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/05/17/184848204/washington-state-butcher-adds-weed-in-the-pig-feed">cannabis-fed pork</a>. Susannah Gross, who farms north of Seattle, supplemented the diet of four pigs with plant leavings courtesy of medical marijuana grower Matt McAlman during the last four months of their lives, and she said they ended up 20 to 30 pounds heavier than other pigs from the same litter that didn't get the "special" feed.</p><p>"They were eating more, as you can imagine," <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-marijuana-pigs-idUSBRE94J0PL20130520">Gross said</a>.</p><p>Gross wasn't the only one imputing special qualities to the grass-fed pigs. William von Schneidau of Bill the Butcher, an upscale shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market, butchered and cooked up the hogs, holding a "Pot Pig Gig" at the market, where he served up the pork as part of a five-course meal.</p><p>"Some say the meat seems to taste more savory," he said.</p><p>The bacon had a "smooth and mellow" taste, said Gross's husband, Jeremy.</p><p>And grower McAlman was having visions of pot-fed everything. "We can have pot chickens, pot pigs, grass-fed beef," he dreamed.</p><p>Alas, it has yet to materialize. The Pot Pig Gig was in 2013 and turned out to be a one-off event, Bill the Butcher <a href="http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20141107/closure-of-butcher-shops-leaves-growers-unpaid">went broke</a>, and all seems to be quiet on the marijuana-as-animal-feed front.</p><p>Part of the reason is fear the practice won't pass muster with health authorities. Neither the FDA nor USDA made any noise about the pot-fed pigs, but that's most likely because it was a one-time deal. But either the feds or state authorities could step in to prevent the use of pot grow leftovers as animal feed if the practice appeared to be taking off.</p><p>That's because they can point to research suggesting that THC contained in the grow leftovers could, in theory, be passed on to the consumer. The folks in Seattle certainly suggested as much with comments alluding to porcine munchies, and <em><a href="http://www.hightimes.com/read/grass-fed-beef-coming-burger-near-you-0">High Times</a></em> reported that even the leavings from high-potency pot could have THC levels as high as 6 percent.</p><p>And the European Food Safety Authority <a href="http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2011" target="_blank">has found</a> that adding even small amounts of hemp seeds or leaves can cause enough THC to accumulate in the milk of dairy cows to pass it on to consumers. The finding seems bizarre, but it has led EFSA to first <a href="http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-cows-banned-from-eating-grass/4385896" target="_blank">ban Swiss farmers</a> from using hemp feed for their dairy cows, and then to ban hemp feeds for cattle destined to end up as steaks and hamburgers. That leaves American cattle farmers <a href="http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/35415/could-feeding-livestock-hemp-contaminate-food-with-cannabis/" target="_blank">skittish</a> about using even hemp seed, let alone marijuana grow leftovers.</p><p>Will we ever see cannabis-fed carne asada or bud-derived bacon? Only the fullness of time will tell. Meanwhile, consuming the weed first should make the meat all the tastier, even if it isn't from pot-fed livestock. </p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:13:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1058020 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Food marijuana cannabis hemp grass-fed fda usda EFSA cooking animal feed Michigan Pot Legalization Initiative Takes Double Blow, But Vows to Fight On http://www.alternet.org/drugs/michigan-pot-legalization-initiative-takes-double-blow-vows-fight <!-- 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 state&#039;s political establishment is pulling out the stops in its bid to block it, but the fat lady hasn&#039;t sung just yet. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_purple_credit_unknown.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Efforts to let Michiganders vote on legalizing marijuana this year suffered a one-two punch from the state's political establishment today, but organizers are unbowed and are vowing to keep up the fight to get their initiative on the ballot.</p><p>The campaign is led by the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee, also known as <a href="http://www.milegalize.com/" target="_blank">MI Legalize</a>.</p><p>First, <a href="http://www.wzzm13.com/news/politics/michigan-politics/state-marijuana-legalization-group-short-106000-signatures/235561524" target="_blank">the state election board ruled Tuesday</a> that the initiative was at least 106,000 signatures short of qualifying after throwing out 137,000 signatures that were gathered more than 180 days before the signatures were handed in. Last week, the campaign handed in more than <a href="http://www.milegalize.com/" target="_blank">345,000 raw signatures</a>. It needed 252,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.</p><p>The campaign hopes to take advantage in ambiguities in the state's initiative and referendum laws that left an opening for getting older signatures validated, but that hope took another hit later on Tuesday when Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(aw3nxt5omiw3flm2kmvwq2dh))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&amp;objectname=2016-SB-0776" target="_blank">Senate Bill 776</a>, which limits signature gathering to a strict 180-day window.</p><p>"Establishing reasonable time limits on when signatures can be collected helps ensure the issues that make the ballot are the ones that matter most to Michiganders," Snyder said in<a href="http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277--386394--,00.html" target="_blank">a statement</a>.</p><p>The law passed both the House and Senate with only Republican support, and opponents have said the law will impede the ability of the people to have a voice in government and challenge laws passed by the legislature.</p><p>MI Legalize said it is considering legal challenges.</p><p>"We're alive and well," MI Legalize spokesman Jeffrey Hank told AlterNet Tuesday afternoon. "We expected this, and in the next few days, we'll be filing a lawsuit. We will continue to run our campaign as we go through litigation."</p><p>But the upstart campaign needs some help, Hank said.</p><p>"We've raised over $1.1 million without any big national money," he said. "If we win, this would be the second or third largest marijuana market in the county (after California), but we need people to continue to support us financially."</p><p>People can make donations through the <a href="http://www.milegalize.com/">MI Legalize</a> website.</p> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 13:49:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057927 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana legalization initiatives mi legalize michigan Gov. Rick Snyder A Marijuana Land Rush Is Underway in Northern California http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-land-rush-northern-california <!-- 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">Cannabis capitalism is flexing its economic muscle in California&#039;s pot growing heartland, and not everybody is sure that&#039;s such a good thing. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/california_marijuana_template.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The voter initiative that would legalize marijuana in California isn't even officially on the ballot yet, let alone approved by the voters, but the prospect of legal weed is already driving a real estate bubble from the San Francisco Bay on up to the state's pot cultivation heartland in Northern California's Emerald Triangle.</p><p>The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (<a href="http://www.letsgetitrightca.org/">AUMA</a>) would open up the nation's single largest marijuana market, and investors with dollar signs in their eyes are moving fast to snap up rural properties up north, as well as Bay area warehouses and office space.</p><p>The boom is also driven in part by the state legislature's belated passage of statewide medical marijuana regulations, bringing clarity and new opportunities to what has been a chaotic, clouded, albeit highly profitable, medical marijuana industry.</p><p>And now it has long-time growers, conservationists and others worried that it could threaten the local culture and increase the environmental damage already being wrought by greedy growers who steal water, pollute streams, level off hill-tops, poison the soil with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and otherwise trash the area in pursuit of pot profits.</p><p>That's especially true among the redwoods and the pot grows of the Triangle, consisting of rugged and sparsely populated Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties, the ancestral home of California's booming marijuana industry.</p><p>Pot's already big business up north: There were an estimated <a href="http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v15/n376/a04.html?2875">8,000 to 10,000 pot growers</a> in Humboldt County (pop. 134,000) in 2012—a number that has almost certainly increased since then—while in Mendocino County (pop. 88,000), a <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/36331495">county commission report</a> in 2010 estimated that marijuana accounted for an astounding two-thirds of the economy.  </p><p>Now a lot of people think it's going to get a lot bigger, and they want in on the action. According to the <em><a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Allure-of-legal-weed-is-fueling-land-rush-in-7948587.php">San Francisco Chronicle</a></em>, land speculators in Humboldt and, to a lesser degree, Mendocino, are snapping up every rural property that comes on the market, from old ranches to logging tracts and remote forested parcels.</p><p>"It’s like a gold rush," Kevin Sullivan, a Humboldt County real estate broker with several recent large ranch sales under his belt told the <em>Chronicle</em>. "People are coming from all over the place, from different states, and they’re all buying to grow or to split the land up for multiple people to grow. It’s pot on crack, and it’s driving prices up."</p><p>Big ranches are especially desirable properties, said real estate agent Jim Redd, who specializes in such sales in both counties. Those ranches, which can run to 5,000 acres or more, are attracting consortia of buyers, who seek to subdivide them into a dozen or more grow sites. The interest has driven prices up from $1,500 an acre to $4,000.</p><p>"There are not many large ranches that go on the market, but if they do they are gone within a week," Redd said. He cited one on the remote Humboldt coast that got 25 offers in a week. It went to a marijuana grower.</p><p>Humboldt is especially fertile country for pot growing. Not only is it by now home to multi-generational growing families, the county government was the first in the state to adopt a commercial marijuana cultivation ordinance. County officials have to a large degree embraced the local economic mainstay, but that doesn't mean everybody's happy with what's going on.</p><p>Robert Sutherland, founder of the Humboldt Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project, is one of them. His group has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the ordinance, claiming it will encourage environmental damage.</p><p>"We’re talking to a very large degree about absentee owners trying to get in on the ground floor," Sutherland said. "The county in their policies of non-enforcement and overly liberal allowances has waved a green flag at the world and said, ‘Come here.’ As a result, we’ve had a huge influx of people snapping up land and showing no respect for the environment, for the community or for the law."</p><p>"The way people are behaving is like multinational corporations in Third World countries," said Sunshine Johnston, 43, who runs a growers' cooperative called Sunboldt Grown that sells medicinal and "artisanal" weed. "There’s a feeling of a free-for-all and of people taking advantage of the local community."</p><p>And taking over the natural patrimony. The Wildlands Conservancy, which through years of work has bought 150,000 acres of forest and coastal wildlands, creating 15 nature preserves, told the <em>Chronicle</em> it had recently lost out to pot growers in an effort to buy a 6,500-acre ranch on the Eel River.</p><p>"It’s extremely unfortunate," said David Myers, the group's executive director. The Conservancy was ready to sign a purchase agreement for $15 million when the growers offered $20 million and got the property.</p><p>The Conservancy is trying to make a deal on another property, but it only has a month to raise $2.3 to finalize it, and the pressure is on.</p><p>"We have to close this deal, or else it goes to pot growers. That’s the sad truth," Myers. "We’re trying to make a last run at some of these properties before they’re split up and sold off to pot growers. I see it as the last chance to preserve some of these great spaces."</p><p>In between San Francisco and the Emerald Triangle lies Sonoma County, a land of vineyards and organic farms, but also a significant player in the pot industry. Its largest city, Santa Rosa (pop. 157,000) is the last urban outpost of the Bay Area megalopolis on the highway headed north.</p><p>It's seeing a pot-related real estate boom, too, with private equity firms, venture capitalists, and experienced industry operators are moving fast to gobble up commercial properties, although the <em><a href="http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/northbay/sonomacounty/5609260-181/santa-rosa-cannabis-real-estate">North Bay Business Journal</a></em>, credits it more to the coming into effect of statewide medical marijuana regulation than to looming legalization.</p><p>Marijuana industry buyers looking to grow or produce pot products such as edibles or oils have snapped up 200,000 square feet of industrial and commercial properties in southwest Santa Rosa recently. The light industrial vacancy rate is down to 3% and competition is getting tough, growers' advocates and real estate agents told the <em>Journal</em>. That's because the county's location makes it great potential hub for the industry.</p><p>"The scale of it is phenomenal," veteran Santa Rosa marijuana attorney Joe Rogoway told the industry newsletter. "It’s more dynamic climate than it ever has been. Cities and counties are working to permit these activities the quickest. Just for Santa Rosa, we’re seeing people who have always been here formalizing what they’re doing. By regulating what’s happening, then they can collect taxes."</p><p>"Sonoma County is set up to be the biggest player in producing the raw product in Northern California," said Tawny Logan, executive director of Sonoma County Growers Alliance.</p><p>Meanwhile, an hour's drive to the south, the big cities on the bay are already well into the bubble. As the <em><a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/03/16/marijuana-real-estate-bubble-inflates-in-california/">San Francisco Chronicle</a></em> reported last month, in Oakland, "bubble prices are already baked into the real estate values inside the city's waterfront industrial zone," where the city's first licensed marijuana grows are set for this year or next.</p><p>And in San Francisco, already one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, one Financial District landlord is reportedly charging <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/03/10/san-francisco-medical-pot-dispensaries-in-bloom-a-new-marijuana-don-the-apothecarium-swells/" target="_blank">$1 million in application fees</a> just to lease a small, licensed medical marijuana delivery "co-working space" for <em>$15,000 a month</em>.</p><p>The new gold rush is on. </p><p> </p> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 00:44:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057759 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana medical marijuana humboldt county Mendocino County Sonoma County california real estate cannabis auma May Was One of the Worst for Drug War Deaths in Recent Memory http://www.alternet.org/drugs/may-bad-month-drug-war-deaths <!-- 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 prohibition isn&#039;t a war on drugs, but on drug users and sellers—and every war has its casualties.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/police_6.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="permalinkable">At least seven people were killed by police doing drug law enforcement last month. Four were armed and two of them engaged in shoot-outs with police. Two were killed by police after vehicle chases where police claimed they were trying to run them over. One was killed during a physical struggle with police.</p><p class="permalinkable"></p><p class="permalinkable">Four of the victims were white, two were black and one was a Pacific Islander. The ethnicity of one, Eugene Smith, remains undetermined. </p><p class="permalinkable">May's drug war killings bring the <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/260">Drug War Chronicle's count</a> of drug law enforcement-related deaths this year to 21. The Chronicle has been tallying such deaths since 2011, and they have occurred at a rate of roughly one a week over that period. The Chronicle's count includes only people (police and civilians) who died as a direct result of drug law enforcement activities, not, for example, people who died in conflicts between drug sellers or people who died because they ingested bad drugs. </p><p class="permalinkable">In May, drug war deaths occurred at a rate nearly twice the five-year average. The seven killings in May accounted for one-third of the killings tallied so far this year. Let's hope last month was an aberration and not a harbinger of a long, hot summer. </p><p class="permalinkable">It's worth emphasizing that more than half the people killed last month were carrying firearms, and two of them turned them on police. Attempting to enforce widely flouted drug prohibition laws in a society as heavily armed as this one is a recipe for violent encounters, as we saw last month. When the war on drugs intersects with the Second Amendment, the combination is combustible and the bullets fly. </p><p class="permalinkable">Here are May's drug war deaths.</p><p class="permalinkable"></p><p><strong>1. On May 1, in Alamo, Tennessee</strong>, police finishing up a 3am drug raid at a private residence shot and killed Army veteran <a href="http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/crime/2016/05/02/officer-involved-shooting-suspect-had-multiple-handguns/83826370/">Ronald Branch</a>, 28, when he arrived at the home carrying "multiple handguns." Two Crockett County opened fire on Branch, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Police said Branch knew the homeowner, but they didn't know why he went to the house. The homeowner wasn't home, but police arrested another man on drug, drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession charges. The officers involved were placed on administrative leave pending a review by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.</p><p><strong>2. On May 5, in Gretna, Louisiana</strong>, police chasing a man who fled from them in a vehicle shot and killed <a href="http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2016/05/2_women_arrested_in_drug_raids.html">Corey DiGiovanni</a>, 36, who was the target of an ongoing heroin distribution investigation. DiGiovanni spotted narcotics officers outside a residence in Gretna and took off in his pickup truck, leading police on a high-speed chase through the city. Police said they opened fire on him after he rammed several police cars and accelerated toward officers at an intersection.</p><p><strong>3. On May 9, in St. Martin, Mississippi</strong>, police called to a Ramada Inn to investigate "possible drug activity" in a guest room shot and killed <a href="http://www.wdam.com/story/31924393/mbi-investigating-fatal-officer-involved-shooting-in-jackson-co">Christian Bowman</a>, 23, after he became "aggressively combative" toward a deputy on the scene. One of the two deputies on the scene shot him in the chest, killing him. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident.</p><p><strong>4. On May 11, in San Diego</strong>, police shot and killed <a href="http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/12/police-shooting-encanto-chase">Thongsoune Vilaysane</a>, 30, at the end of a car chase that began when officers investigating drug and weapons activity at a Pagel Place residence followed the car he was driving as it left the home. Police learned it had been reported stolen and pursued the driver during a short pursuit before he crashed into a parked car. Police said officers with guns drawn ordered Vilaysane to get out of the car, but he instead put it in reverse, nearly striking two officers, police said. "In defense of their (lives), four officers fired multiple rounds at the driver to stop the threat of the moving vehicle," Homicide Lt. Manny Del Toro explained in a statement. He was hit multiple times and died at the scene. The officers were wearing body cams, and San Diego DA Bonnie Dumanis has announced the videos will be released to the public after her office reviews whether the shooting was legally justified.</p><p><strong>5. On May 19, in Miami</strong>, gang unit detectives on a narcotics investigation shot and killed <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/florida-police-officer-kills-man-confrontation-39241967">Kentrill Williams</a>, 22, after he allegedly grabbed a gun from his waistband. Carraway was shot by Detective George Eugene and died at a nearby hospital.</p><p><strong>6. On May 24, in Park Forest, Illinois</strong>, FBI agents serving a search and arrest warrant on a high-ranking member of the Black P Stone Nation gang found him dead inside the home after a shoot-out that left two agents wounded. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-park-forest-fbi-shootout-update-0526-20160525-story.html">Melvin Toran</a>, 50, committed suicide after the shoot-out, the medical examiner said. The raid was part of a federal sweep targeting drug trafficking by members of the Black P Stone Nation.</p><p><strong>7. On May 26, in St. Paul, Minnesota</strong>, police doing a drug investigation at a residence shot and killed <a href="http://www.twincities.com/2016/05/27/stpaul-man-killed-shootout-police-identified">Eugene Smith</a>, 29, after he allegedly fired at them from a bedroom. Police had been called to the home a week earlier on a drug complaint and had found meth, marijuana and a rifle. When they returned the following week, they said Smith opened fire on them after they shot and killed a pit bull in the house. Smith died of multiple gunshot wounds. </p> Fri, 03 Jun 2016 12:24:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057653 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drug war war on drugs police killings guns drugs Big Pharma in the Crosshairs: Senator Seeks Fed Investigation of OxyContin Long-Term Pain Relief Claims http://www.alternet.org/drugs/purdue-pharma-oxycontin-senator-fed-investigation-long-term-pain-relief-claims <!-- 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">Purdue Pharma claims the drug is effective for 12 hours. The LA Times just reported that it isn&#039;t. Now, Sen. Ed Markey wants the feds to take a look. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/oxycontin.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A U.S. senator has <a href="http://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senator-markey-calls-for-investigation-of-purdue-pharma-and-potentially-false-and-deceptive-claims-about-oxycontin">called for a federal investigation</a> of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, in the wake of reports that the money-making pain reliever wears off early in many patients, leaving them exposed to pain and increased risk of addiction. </p><p>Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) Friday sent letters to the Justice Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission urging them to begin probes of the Connecticut-based drug maker. </p><p>The move comes in the wake of a <a href="http://static.latimes.com/oxycontin-part1/">Los Angeles Times investigation</a> into Purdue Pharma's claim that OxyContin relieves pain for 12 hours, which was one of the drug's main selling points. But the Times found that the effects often wore off before that, leaving patients cycling between relief and intense pain and suffering from opiate withdrawals before their next scheduled pill.</p><p>The Times also found that Purdue knew about the problem since OxyContin first appeared in1996, but continued to claim that it worked for the full 12 hours in part to protect its revenues. The newspaper reported that when faced with the problem, Purdue instructed doctors to prescribe stronger doses, not more frequent ones. Stronger doses of opioid pain relievers are more likely to implicated in overdose deaths. </p><p>"These are serious allegations," Markey wrote in his <a href="http://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/DOJ%20Purdue%20Oxy%20investigation%20letter.pdf">letter</a> to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "They raise questions about ongoing deception by Purdue, harm to the public, continued costs to the United States, and the availability of further judicial recourse against Purdue. If upon investigation these allegations are substantiated, the Department should take legal action" against the drug company. </p><p>Purdue has <a href="http://static.latimes.com/purdue-response/" target="_blank">rejected the Times’ findings</a>, noting that the FDA had approved OxyContin as a 12-hour drug. </p><p>"We promote our medicines only within the parameters approved by FDA and, given FDA has not approved OxyContin for eight-hour use, we do not recommend that dosing to prescribers," the statement said.</p><p>That's not good enough for Markey, who represents a state hard-hit by problems with prescription opioids and heroin. More than 1,300 people died from opioid overdoses in the state last year, according to the state Department of Public Health. </p><p>In his <a href="http://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/FDA%20FTC%20Purdue%20Oxy%20letter%20.pdf">letter</a> to the FDA and FTC, Markey called Purdue "the leading culprit in the current opioid and heroin overdose epidemic" and accused it of making "false and misleading claims about the longevity of OxyContin's pain-relieving properties."</p><p>The FDA and FTC should "investigate these claims and take action to protect patients and consumers from the harm caused by Purdue Pharma's deceptive marketing materials."</p><p>Justice, FDA, and FTC all say they are studying Markey's letter. </p> Tue, 31 May 2016 12:47:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057501 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Personal Health purdue pharma oxycontin addiction overdose sen. ed markey justice department fda ftc Legal Pot? Imagine What a Trump Presidency and a Christie AG Might Do to Marijuana Laws http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-mogul-newbies-guide-cannabis-industry <!-- 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 administration hostile to marijuana and a new memo from the Justice Department could crash the pot movement.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_farmer.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Legal marijuana is a big deal and it's only getting bigger. It's already a billion dollar-plus industry in the medical marijuana and legal states, and with California and a handful of other states poised to go legal in November, it's only going to get bigger.</p><p>With growing legality comes growing acceptance. Marijuana is insinuating itself deep within popular culture, and more and more people are getting interested. Pot use is on the increase among adults, especially seniors. In fact, it seems to be gaining popularity with just about everybody—except kids.</p><p>Some folks have been pot people for decades. They've been smoking it, growing it, selling it, agitating for its legalization. They have an intimate understanding of the plant and the issues around it. Still, there are many more people who are not cannabis aficionados, but are becoming curious about marijuana or the pot business. Will marijuana ease my aches and pains? If I start smoking pot, won't I get addicted? How do you grow the stuff? Can I make a million bucks growing weed? How do I start a pot business?</p><p>Chris Conrad and Jeremy Daw, authors of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Newbies-Guide-Cannabis-Industry/dp/0794843751/177-8488016-9511749?ie=UTF8&amp;*Version*=1&amp;*entries*=0"><em>The Newbie's Guide to Cannabis and the Industry</em></a> (Reset.Me Press, 2016; $19.95) are well-positioned to provide some answers. Conrad has been around pot since forever—he's a certified expert witness on marijuana cultivation, curated the Amsterdam Hemp Museum back in the 1980s, formed the Business Alliance for Cannabis Hemp in the 1980s, too, and has been politically active in California (and national) pot politics the whole time. Daw is the up-and-coming publisher of <em>The Leaf Online</em>.</p><p>With <em>The Newbie's Guide to Cannabis and the Industry</em>, the pair of pot pros provides a compendium of marijuana-related information sure to be invaluable to interested novices and likely to hold some hidden treasures for even the most grizzled veteran of the weed wars.</p><p>The guide begins with a quick but detailed look at cannabis botany before shifting gears from the natural sciences to the social ones with a thumbnail history of pot prohibition and the last half-century's increasingly successful efforts to undo it. Conrad and Daw take up through political developments into this year, noting the spread of medical marijuana, with outright legalization now following in its footsteps.</p><p>And they make one critically important point here (and repeatedly in the business sections of the book): Despite how swimmingly legalization may be going in Colorado and Washington and Alaska and Oregon, pot remains illegal under federal law. All it would take is a new administration hostile to marijuana in the White House and a new memo from the Justice Department to bring the entire edifice crashing to the ground.</p><p>That's certainly something for would-be ganjapreneurs to ponder, but it should behoove the rest of us to remember that the job of freeing the weed remains unfinished business. As long as federal marijuana prohibition remains on the books, the prospect of a reefer rollback remains. Admittedly, the prospect seems unlikely: We are pretty far down the path of acceptance in the early legalizing states, and any return to harsh federal enforcement could have the paradoxical result of criminalizing or at least paralyzing state-level taxation and regulation while leaving pot legal, untaxed, and unregulated at the state level—because while the federal government could try to block the states from acting to tax or regulate pot, it can't force them to make it illegal again. It could attempt to enforce federal prohibition, but it doesn't have enough DEA agents to effectively do that. Still, imagine what an Attorney General Christie or Cruz might try to do. </p><p>Conrad and Daw also delve more deeply into the botany of marijuana, addressing questions that will face consumers: edibles or smokables? Indica or sativa? High THC or high CBD? They also drill down into the precise roles played by cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids (oh, my!) in creating marijuana highs, tastes, smells, and colors.</p><p>It's worth taking a moment to note the high production values of <em>The Newbie's Guide</em>. The book has an illustrated cover (not dust jacket) and is filled with with hundreds of color photographs of the plant, its users, marijuana production and sales, and more. It's also printed on glossy, high-quality paper stock. This thing isn't going to turn yellow in a few years.</p><p>Conrad and Daw devote a large chunk of the book to getting in the pot business, or more accurately, what people need to be thinking about if they're thinking about getting into the pot business. They accurately lay out the obstacles—legal, political, financial—awaiting anyone hoping to navigate the nascent industry, and they explore the manifold opportunities within the industry.</p><p>As they make clear, there's more to the pot business than growing and selling weed (although they certainly devote ample material to covering those basics) and there are employment and business opportunities far beyond growing, trimming, or budtending. Marijuana is spinning off all sorts of ancillary businesses, from edibles and cannabis oil manufacture to advertising and public relations to paraphernalia production to business services and beyond.</p><p><em>The Newbie's Guide</em> is a most excellent handbook for marijuana consumers and potential consumers. It should also be required reading for anyone who is thinking about making a career in the industry. There is money to be lost as well as money to be made, and Conrad and Daw could well help stop you from throwing good money down a rat hole.</p><p>Perhaps as important, they demand that people wanting to get into the business do a thorough self-examination. Just why, exactly, do you want in? What is it you seek? Honest answers to those questions will help people make the right choices for themselves. If you're seriously thinking about using marijuana or getting into the business, you should read this book. </p> Mon, 30 May 2016 13:43:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057435 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Books Drugs marijuana cannabis Chris Conrad Jeremy Daw Town Becomes Hysterical at Thought of Stoned Sheep Running Around http://www.alternet.org/drugs/beware-psychotic-stoner-sheep-wales <!-- 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">Be afraid. Be very afraid. Or laugh out loud.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/706px-ewe_sheep_black_and_white.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The alarm has been raised. Residents of Wales's Swansea Valley are on the look-out for a flock of hipster sheep that could be rampaging through the quaint countryside after being driven loco by eating the dumped remnants of a suspected marijuana grow.</p><p>Really. The British tabloid press and even some international media outlets are all over the story:</p><p>The local <a href="http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Concerns-psychotic-sheep-rampaging-Swansea/story-29314245-detail/story.html">South Wales Evening Pos</a>t broke the news with the relatively restrained "Warning sheep high on cannabis could cause havoc in Swansea Valley village" on Monday.</p><p>By Tuesday, the tabloids were running with it, and the possibility of pot-crazed sheep had become the reality, at least in the headlines: "'Stoned' Sheep Go on 'Psychotic Rampage' After Eating Cannabis Plants Dumped in Welsh Village," blared the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/25/stoned-sheep-go-on-psychotic-rampage-after-eating-cannabis-plant/">Daily Telegraph</a>, while the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3609322/Stoned-sheep-went-psychotic-rampage-eating-cannabis.html">Daily Mail</a> offered essentially the same header, but thoughtfully added some explanatory bullet point sub-heads:</p><blockquote><ul><li>Sheep went on a 'psychotic rampage' after accidentally eating cannabis</li><li>The Class B drugs were dumped in a quiet Welsh village and eaten by flock</li><li>Locals say the sheep have been 'roaming the village' causing havoc</li><li>Councillor: 'One even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom'</li></ul></blockquote><p>Scary stuff. After all, who wants to have deal with a flock of psychotic sheep hopped up on reefer? Thankfully, though, we can all relax. It didn't happen and it isn't going to happen.</p><p>A couple of facts have been established: Somebody dumped a couple of dozen pots of potting soil and root balls discarded at the end of an apparent marijuana grow, and there is a flock of sheep wandering around the area and stirring up mischief.</p><p>All the rest is turning a speculative comment from a local official into fodder for the British tabloids, which have a long and inglorious history of demonizing marijuana and <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=daily%20mail%20cannabis%20psychosis">a particular fondness</a> for linking cannabis with psychosis—even, apparently, in sheep.</p><p>Here, from the South Wales Evening Post's original story is county councilor Ioan Richard from Rhydypandy complaining mainly about garbage dumping, or "fly-tipping" in the local tongue, and about those darned sheep. He worries that they could eat "cannabis plants," as he refers to the grow remnants:</p><blockquote><p>"There is already a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance. They are getting in people's gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.</p><p>"I dread to think what will happen if they eat what could well be cannabis plants – we could have an outbreak out of psychotic sheep rampaging through the village."</p></blockquote><p>And there you have it. There is nothing more to this story than Mr. Richard's rather vivid imagination—and lack of basic knowledge about the marijuana plant.</p><p>First, the debris soil and root balls from the finished grow contain no THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you high. Second, even if the sheep were to be munching on actual living pot plants with THC-laden buds, they still wouldn't get high. Raw marijuana doesn't contain THC but the THC precursor, THCA, and must be heated through a process called <a href="http://www.marijuanagrowershq.com/decarboxylating-cannabis-turning-thca-into-thc/">decarboxylation</a> to turn that THCA into mind-melting THC (smoking it does the trick quite nicely, though).</p><p>So, worry not about Welsh woolies on weed. Ponder instead rural litterbugs, rogue flocks of sheep, fly-tipping, Rhydypandy, and tabloid reefer madness. How ineffably twee. </p><p> </p> Wed, 25 May 2016 23:36:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057200 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Media World wales tabloid press daily mail marijuana cannabis psychosis sheep It's Not the Kids Turning on to Weed; It's Grandma and Grandpa http://www.alternet.org/drugs/not-kids-turning-weed-grandma-grandpa <!-- 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">Baby boomers have discovered (or rediscovered) the bud. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/male-female-couple-marijuana-bed_7628_darrin_frisby_harris_dpa.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">The growing acceptance of and access to legal marijuana has some people worried that the youth are going to start using it more frequently, but that's not the demographic where pot has really taken off. Instead, it's senior citizens.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">Whether it's wide-open medical marijuana states like California or fully legal states like Colorado, the gray-haired set is increasingly turning to pot, and not just to ease their aches and pains With a half-dozen more states likely to have legalization on the ballot (and win) this year and medical marijuana coming to more, grandma and grandpa are set to become even more interested.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9"><p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">Last week, <i>CBS This Morning</i> reported on the phenomenon of senior marijuana use, and the numbers are striking. Citing data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the program reported that the number of pot users over 55 jumped from 2.8 million in 2013 to 4.3 million in 2014, a 55% increase in a single year. Watch the video <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VneCaYJUHNE">here</a>.<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">Correspondent Barry Petersen took viewers inside Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the world's largest medical marijuana dispensary, where the senior demographic was well-represented. His footage shows people in their 50s and 60s describing how marijuana treats what ails them.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">"Seniors account for only 14% of the population, but they use more than 30% of all prescription drugs, including some highly addictive pain killers," Petersen reported. "So pot is fast becoming a pill alternative."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">One Harborside patient, an 80-year-old woman who uses marijuana to help with mobility got right to the point:</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9">"Every medication has a risk," she said. "I've made my choice."</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.75pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;background:#F9F9F9"><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Meanwhile, what about the kids? New research suggests that visions of legions of stoned teens as the inevitable results of not sending adults to jail for smoking pot are unfounded. Contentions than teen marijuana use would increase have not been proven.</span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><p></p></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline">"A survey of more than 216,000 adolescents from all 50 states indicates the number of teens with marijuana-related problems is declining," according to a <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/wuso-ams052416.php">research report</a> released Tuesday. "Similarly, the rates of marijuana use by young people are falling despite the fact more U.S. states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use and the number of adults using the drug has increased."</p><p style="margin: 3.75pt 0in 11.25pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"><p></p></p><p style="margin: 3.75pt 0in 11.25pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">The researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis examined survey data from 2002 to 2013 on drug use among young people aged 12 to 17. They found that the number of kids with marijuana-related problems was down 24% at the end of that period and that annual use fell 10% as well. <p></p></p><p style="margin: 3.75pt 0in 11.25pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">The declines came alongside reductions in other behavioral problems, including fighting, property crimes, and drug selling. According to the researchers, the two trends are connected, with reductions in problem behavior associated with reductions in problematic marijuana use.<p></p></p><p style="margin: 3.75pt 0in 11.25pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">"We were surprised to see substantial declines in marijuana use and abuse," said Richard A. Grucza, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and the study's first author. "We don't know how legalization is affecting young marijuana users, but it could be that many kids with behavioral problems are more likely to get treatment earlier in childhood, making them less likely to turn to pot during adolescence. But whatever is happening with these behavioral issues, it seems to be outweighing any effects of marijuana decriminalization."<p></p></p><p style="margin: 3.75pt 0in 11.25pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">We are still in the early years of the great social experiment with marijuana legalization. It's too soon to tell what the long-term impacts will be, but so far, the sky is yet to fall. Despite increased legal access, the kids are still alright, and seniors are finding some surcease for their woes. <p></p></p><p> </p> Tue, 24 May 2016 23:46:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1057120 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana medical marijuana legalization senior citizens baby boomers harborside health center teen marijuana use Green Machine: Meet the Sports Car Made From Cannabis Hemp http://www.alternet.org/drugs/green-machine-sports-car-made-cannabis-hemp <!-- 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 Florida environmentalist hopes his hemp car could lead the charge in making carbon neutral vehicles.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/hemp_car_barcroft.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Commercial marijuana production, both legal and illegal, has drawn increasing <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts">criticism on environmental grounds</a>, but one Florida man wants to use another variety of the plant to make a carbon-neutral car that would help the environment.</p><p>Bruce Michael Dietzen of <a href="http://www.renewsportscars.com/">Renew Sports Cars</a> in Florida has built a stylish sportster with a body made of cannabis hemp, marijuana's country cousin whose cultivation is an <a href="http://hempbenefits.org/environmental-benefits-of-hemp/">environmentally friendly means</a> of producing biomass fuels, paper, foods, and fiber-based industrial products. This "green machine" is made from three plies of woven hemp, making it lighter than cars made with fiberglass bodies.</p><p>"The body of the car uses about 100 pounds of woven hemp," Dietzen explained.</p><p>The car is also surprisingly strong. Dieztsen estimates the body is at least 10 times more dent-resistant than steel.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="543" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kgg0zpckGRU" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Dietzen said he was inspired to create the hempmobile after learning about Henry Ford's 1941 "hemp car." The vehicle was real enough, and actually ran on hemp fuel, but hemp only constituted <a href="http://theangryhistorian.blogspot.com/2010/10/hemp-car-myth-busted.html">about 10 percent</a> of the material in the paneling. The rest was pine fiber, straw, and ramie, the stuff ancient Egyptians used to encase mummies.</p><p>Dietzen's sports car also runs on biofuel, which will allow it to have a much lower carbon footprint than even electric-powered cars when it goes into mass production. Although Diezten is taking pre-orders, it's anyone's guess as to when that will be. He said he sunk $200,000 into making his prototype.</p><p>Like the pot people like to smoke, cannabis hemp is classified as cannabis sativa, even though it contains negligible levels of the high-producing cannabinoid THC and won't get anyone stoned. It's cultivated for fibers, seeds and oils, not psychoactive flowers. Cannabis hemp and recreational marijuana are the same species of plant, just as Rottweilers and Chihuahuas are both species of dog. They may be in the same family, but no one is going to mistake one for the other.</p><p>Except, that is, for the DEA. The drug control agency maintains that cannabis hemp is marijuana and is thus illegal under federal law. It formally considers hemp cultivation to be the same criminal offense as marijuana cultivation. The DEA even attempted to ban the import of hemp products, only to be shot down by the federal courts a decade ago.</p><p>But Congress has been <a href="http://www.votehemp.com/legislation.html">nibbling at the edges</a> of the hemp cultivation ban. The 2014 Agricultural Act defined hemp as having less than 3 percent THC and authorized research crops in states that allowed them. Language is included in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act that bars the expenditure of federal funds to interfere with hemp production in line with the 2014 act.</p><p>Florida, home of Bruce Michael Dietzen, isn't one of <a href="http://www.votehemp.com/legislation.html">those states</a>.</p><p>"Hemp is still illegal to grow so I had to import the woven material all the way from China because we still don’t have the facilities that can make hemp fabrics," the auto-enthusiast said. "Cannabis hemp is still considered a dangerous drug according to the government. It’s considered as dangerous as heroin or cocaine—it’s insane!"</p><p>The DEA considers hemp to be marijuana, which is a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin. Even cocaine, a Schedule II drug, is considered less dangerous than hemp. But change is on its way, and Dietzen wants to put you behind the wheel. </p> Mon, 23 May 2016 23:59:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056923 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Environment cannabis hemp marijuana Bruce Dietzen Renew Sports Cars henry ford Is POLITICO at War With the Marijuana Industry? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/politico-war-marijuana-industry <!-- 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">Or, the problem with click-bait headlines.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_co.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Does POLITICO have it in for marijuana? One could be forgiven for thinking so after it published a piece Thursday with the blaring headline "<a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/what-works-colorado-denver-marijuana-pot-industry-legalization-neighborhoods-dispensaries-negative-213906">The Marijuana Industry's War on the Poor</a>."</p><p>The article, written by Denver Post reporter Jon Murray, examines concerns among some residents of some poorer Denver areas about the impact of the legal pot business on their neighborhoods. The communities, once home to smelters, stockyards, brickyards, and packing houses, are now bedeviled by the smell of weed. Or, at least, that's what a couple of people quoted in the article said.</p><p>The piece is actually fairly good reporting, laying out tensions between a trendy new high-growth industry and the communities it is impacting.  But even though legal weed is a new industry, what is going on is not a new story; it's the same old story of poorer communities feeling run over by high-energy commerce, complete with the familiar issues around quality of life, real estate prices, and gentrification.</p><p>That's a legitimate—if somewhat overstated—concern, but it's not evidence of the pot industry's "war on the poor." At worst, one could say the industry (and elected officials) were heedless of community concerns—driven by profit considerations, they didn't think too much about local impacts—but it is probably even more accurate to say they were just slow to respond to unforeseen and emerging issues.</p><p>Still, Murray's piece gives the impression the he is trying hard to find something—anything—negative to say about marijuana legalization in Colorado:</p><blockquote><p>"Two years after legal sales of recreational marijuana began in Colorado, the biggest fears that once preoccupied Denver city officials—higher crime, more drug use among teens and a drag on tourism—have not come to pass. Instead, the expanded industry, with 21-and-over recreational sales joining a longer-sanctioned medical marijuana trade, has pumped millions of dollars into government coffers. It's swathed the city in a trendy glow that likely attracts as many outsiders as it repels.</p><p>"But in lower-income neighborhoods of Denver, the explosion of smelly commercial cultivation operations, which crank out tons of high-priced weed for sometimes-chic, sometimes-earthy dispensaries in more fashionable parts of town, has rekindled long-standing grievances about being ignored by City Hall. And residents are beginning to demand big changes."</p></blockquote><p>Some of those residents appear to just not like marijuana.</p><blockquote><p>“One of the things that we thought was going to happen when [recreational] marijuana was legalized was that drugs would be taken out of our community,” said Candi CdeBaca, an education and community activist whose longtime family home is steps from a commercial grow operation in Elyria-Swansea. “What happened was that the drugs stayed—and the drug dealers changed.”</p></blockquote><p>Referring to state-licensed retail marijuana outlets as "drug dealers" provides some indication of where Cdebaca is coming from. But it's still within her rights to act as she sees fit to protect her community, and she is doing so.</p><p>And both city officials and the pot industry are listening. The city council last month approved a new law to limit industry growth by capping the number of commercial grow and retail shops, as well as barring grow operations within 1,000 feet of residential zones. Another responsive ordinance will require businesses seeking new licenses or renewals to submit "good neighbor" outreach plans, and next year, grow ops will have to present odor-control plans to the city.</p><p>A marijuana industry war on the poor? Not hardly. Another tale of the tensions between American capitalism and the communities it impacts? Absolutely. The issues are important, but they can and are being handled by the community, the industry, and elected officials.</p><p>Shame on POLITICO for taking a decent article that raises important issues and saddling it with an inflammatory, bogus headline. </p><p>It's even sadder that POLITICO used that headline for an article in its <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/what-works/" target="_blank">What Works</a> portfolio, "A year-long reported series from POLITICO magazine featuring innovative ideas--and how they spread--from cities across the United States at a time of unprecedented urban reinvention." It seems that what is working here is Denver moving to embrace the marijuana industry while addressing community concerns, not that headline. </p> Sat, 21 May 2016 13:28:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056940 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Media politico marijuana legalization colorado denver gentrification Jon Murray Another Big Step: Congress Moves to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana to Veterans http://www.alternet.org/drugs/house-moves-allow-va-docs-recommend-medical-marijuana-veterans <!-- 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 move is intended to ease access to medical marijuana for veterans suffering from PTSD, serious injuries, and other debilitating conditions.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/veteran_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The House on Thursday approved an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill that should ease access to medical marijuana for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), serious wounds, and other debilitating conditions.</p><p>The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure in its version of the appropriations bill last month. And later on Thursday, the Senate as a whole passed the appropriations bill. </p><p>Authored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Joe Heck (R-NV), the measure would bar the spending of federal funds to enforce a Veterans Health Administration policy that prohibits VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana, even in states where it is legal. Once the measure becomes law, VA docs would no longer face penalties for discussing medical marijuana with patients or for providing recommendations for patients to participate in state-legal medical marijuana programs.</p><p>With the ban in place, even in states with medical marijuana laws, veterans must go outside the VA system to get a recommendation or even discuss medical marijuana with their doctors. That VA policy actually expired at the beginning of this year, but would remain in force without congressional action. And Congress has acted.</p><p>"Today is a monumental day for us vets," said TJ Thompson, a disabled U.S. Navy Veteran (’98-’04) who lives in Virginia. "Congress has recognized our right to heal, allowing us access to medical cannabis within the VA."</p><p>Marijuana policy reformers, who have long fought to remove obstacles to veterans' use of medical marijuana, were pleased, too. </p><p>"Prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana does nothing to help our veterans," said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the <a href="http://www.mpp.org/">Marijuana Policy Project</a>. "Current VA policy is preventing physicians from thoroughly monitoring patients’ medication decisions and engaging in frank conversations about available treatment options. It dramatically undermines the doctor-patient relationship."</p><p>"It’s looking like this could finally be the year the federal government stops making veterans jump through costly, time-consuming hoops just to get legal access to medical marijuana," said Tom Angell, head of <a href="https://www.marijuanamajority.com/">Marijuana Majority</a>. "Cannabis has shown great promise in helping veterans deal with PTSD and treat chronic pain, and it's an increasingly attractive alternative to opioids. There’s absolutely no reason the VA. should be preventing its doctors from helping veterans who served our country find relief with medical marijuana."</p><p>"We are delighted to lift this outdated, discriminatory policy, which has negatively impacted the lives of so many veterans." said Michael Collins, deputy director for the <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/">Drug Policy Alliance’s</a> Office of National Affairs. "We need all options on the table to treat veterans, and finally Congress has seen sense and will allow veterans to be on an equal footing to other residents of medical marijuana states."</p><p>After today's votes, the two chambers will take up reconciling and differences between the two versions of the appropriations bills before sending them to the president.</p><p> </p> Thu, 19 May 2016 13:49:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056838 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Personal Health congress house senate medical marijuana veterans ptsd veterans affairs Marijuana Crusaders Are Taking Their Legalization Protest to Obama's Front Porch http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-crusaders-are-taking-their-legalization-protest-obamas-front-porch <!-- 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">Marijuana activists are set to protest pot prohibition at the White House Friday. They want Obama to deschedule it, but that&#039;s just for starters.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/dc_adam_eidinger_twitter.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A demonstration headed by the <a href="http://www.dcmj.org/">DC Cannabis Campaign</a> and <a href="http://wfwproject.org/">Weed for Warriors</a> is set for the White House Friday after the Obama administration failed to respond to the groups' requests for "higher level consultations" following an initial meeting with White House staffers last month. Ralliers are meeting at the White House at 5:20 PM (on 5/20). </p><p>Headed by longtime DC political gadfly Adam Eidinger, the DC Cannabis Campaign is the group behind the District's successful 2014 marijuana legalization initiative. The campaign's White House <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/bill-maher-inspired-protest-smoke-out-white-house">demonstration last month</a> led to that initial meeting and to the campaign's call for further meetings.</p><p>Weed for Warriors is a group dedicated to working with the Veterans Administration to ensure that vets "have the freedom to use medical marijuana as a recognized medical alternative to harmful psychiatric drugs."</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image"><img alt="" class="media-image" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/dc_president_obama_we_need_a_higher_level_meeting.jpg" /></div><p>Organizers are saying the event won't be a smoke-in, but it will come close. "This will be an unpermitted event with mass cannabis consumption and escalated civil disobedience," demonstration promotional materials say.</p><p>"Support veterans risking arrest!" the groups say. "They will lead a mass die-in calling for an end to the war on drugs."</p><p>The groups are calling on the Obama administration to deschedule—not reschedule—marijuana before the president leaves office in January. But they are also clear that the ultimate goal is ending pot prohibition.</p><p>"You should understand our protests are not just for medical research into cannabis, but ending cannabis prohibition once and for all," the DC Cannabis Campaign said in its <a href="http://dcmj.org/our-formal-request-for-a-higher-level-meeting-at-the-white-house/">letter to the White House</a> earlier this month. "You have the opportunity to heal the national wound of unjust cannabis policies that have always targeted minorities, hurt patients and corrupted policing in America for nearly 80 years."</p><p>The date, May 20, is no accident. It's the birthday of arch-prohibitionist <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_J._Anslinger">Harry J. Anslinger</a>, who, as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for decades in the mid-20th Century, was a founding father of the modern war on drugs. The protestors note that Anslinger built support for pot prohibition by resorting to racist and xenophobic justifications, as Anslinger's own words make clear:</p><blockquote><p><em>“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”</em></p><p><em>“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”</em></p><p><em>“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”</em></p><p><em>“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”</em></p><p><em>“Marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.”</em></p><p><em>“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”</em></p><p><em>“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”</em></p></blockquote><p>The bigotry and racism behind Anslinger's attack on marijuana have remained embedded in pot prohibition, with black people being arrested at a rate nearly four times that of whites. And five million people have been arrested on marijuana charges since President Obama has been in office—nearly 90% of them for simple possession.</p><p>"Given the compelling and staggering facts as to why these failed cannabis policies harm Americans, we are sure you can understand why we cannot tolerate your inaction on these important issues any longer," the groups said in their letter to the White House. "We simply cannot stand on the sidelines and watch while everyday more Americans are harmed by what is clearly racist and unconstitutional failed drug policies. This is why we are requesting a formal response regarding the above from your administration before May 20th."</p><p>That formal response didn't happen, so Friday's demonstration at the White House <em>is</em> happening. </p><p> </p> Thu, 19 May 2016 12:58:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056832 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Activism Drugs marijuana prohibition DC Cannabis Campaign president obama adam eidinger Weed for Warriors Harry Anslinger 7 Ways to Reduce the MDMA Hangover http://www.alternet.org/drugs/7-ways-reduce-mdma-hangover <!-- 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">If you&#039;re going to be rolling on molly this summer, we have some suggestions for dealing with morning-after woes. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/hangover2.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>MDMA has been a massively popular party drug for 30 years, since first escaping into the wild in the dance club scenes in Dallas and Austin in the mid-1980s (and promptly being criminalized by the DEA).</p><p>The drug is very appealing for people who want to really get into the music and party all night long. An amphetamine-type stimulant, MDMA produces energy, enthusiasm and glowing, lovey-dovey feelings, and it makes those beats feel just right. It can make for a great night out. But leaving aside the possibility of overdose and death, which is rare, but can happen—especially because people don't always know what they're taking—MDMA users still face the dire prospect of the morning after.</p><p>The comedown can be brutal. After a hard night of rolling, the day after Ecstasy is sometimes lethargic, depleted and even depressed. The phenomenon is very common for first-time and regular users.</p><p>The biochemical reason is rooted in what happens when you take MDMA; it releases large amounts of feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine—that provide users with sensations of empathy, energy and well-being, but in so doing, also depletes the supply of those neurotransmitters in the user's system. With low levels of these substances in their bodies, people feel washed out, tired and mopey. </p><p>But it's not just the biochemistry of MDMA. People who are using Molly tend to stay up all night, engage in vigorous, even frantic activities—i.e. dancing for hours to 130-160 beats per minute—and may be using other drugs and/or alcohol as well. It's no wonder people on MDMA don't feel so hot the next day.</p><p>There is no instant cure, but there are steps users can take to reduce the pain and get over the hangover. Be advised that it helps to do these things before as well as after taking MDMA.</p><p><strong>1. Know what you are taking.</strong> MDMA is illegal, thus unregulated. There are many pills being sold as MDMA that don't contain MDMA or contain other drugs as well as MDMA. The first step toward not feeling like crap the morning after is not ingesting crap the night before. Check with pill-testing websites such as <a href="https://www.ecstasydata.org/">Ecstasy Data</a> or <a href="http://www.pillreports.net/">Pill Reports</a> for warnings about adulterated or otherwise bad pills. Better yet, test the stuff yourself with kits like <a href="https://dancesafe.org/product/complete-adulterant-screening-kit/">those offered by DanceSafe</a>.</p><p><strong>2. Replenish the body's supply of neurotransmitters.</strong> You had your fun, and now it's time to pay the piper. You've splurged on a gusher of neurotransmitters and now you have to replenish. To re-up your serotonin supply, the best thing is to take tryptophan or <a href="http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-794-5-htp.aspx?activeingredientid=794">5-HTP</a>, both of which are chemical precursors to serotonin. To re-up your dopamine supply, take Velvet Bean (mucuna pruriens), which contains the dopamine precursor levodopa.</p><p><strong>3. Fight oxidative stress.</strong> MDMA can cause <a href="https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/mdma/mdma_article3.shtml">oxidative stress</a>. While oxidation is a normal metabolic process in the body as it uses energy, metabolizes proteins and nutritive chemicals, and breaks larger molecules into smaller ones using enyzmes, oxidation can go into overdrive when using MDMA. That means potentially neurotoxic free radicals (or "oxidative radicals") are produced at a faster rate than the body can generate or replenish antioxidant molecules. People using MDMA should be ingesting antioxidants, both before and after rolling. <a href="http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20-common-foods-most-antioxidants">Antioxidants are common</a> in dark colored fruits and vegetables—think berries, cherries, some apples, red and black beans, russet potatoes—but someone who is doing or recovering from MDMA probably doesn't have the appetite for downing a lot of food. Another means of ingesting antioxidants is by taking vitamins, particularly Vitamins A, C, and E. The vitamins can be taken with other supplements; the experiental drug website Erowid has a couple of <a href="https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/mdma/mdma_article3.shtml">examples</a> (scroll to bottom of page).</p><p><strong>4. Drink plenty of liquids, especially fresh juices, but not alcohol.</strong> MDMA's dehydrating effects are well-known. Users should compensate by staying well hydrated while under the influence and the following days. Water is fine, but fresh juices are going to have those nutrients and antioxidants the body needs. Alcohol won't. And it's probably wise not to drink alcohol while on MDMA. Users are already looking at one hangover; why double down?</p><p><strong>5. Eat well</strong>. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is just plain good for you. And it will make you better able to cope with whatever morning-after effects you're dealing with. You may not have much of an appetite the next day, but being well-nourished before you start will ease the suffering later.</p><p><strong>6. Sleep.</strong> If you've been up all night, this seems obvious. And it's going to give your body a chance to reenergize.</p><p><strong>7. Do less MDMA, less often.</strong> As the existence of the hangover suggests, MDMA is hard on you. Take only as much as you need to reach your desired state, and try to define your desired state as something less than bouncing off the wall. If you're taking two pills, try taking just one. And the longer the interval between doses, the more time you have to recover. If you're taking MDMA on Friday night, don't do it on Saturday night. If you’re taking it once a week, try to cut back to once a month. Savor the experience; don't run it (and yourself) into the ground.</p> Wed, 18 May 2016 15:42:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056702 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health mdma ecstasy molly Hangover antioxidants serotonin dopamine raves clubbing festivals electronic dance music 6 Steps to Growing Your Own Backyard Pot Plant http://www.alternet.org/drugs/six6steps-growing-backyard-pot-plant-marijuana <!-- 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">With a little nurture, nature can let you produce your own marijuana supply and keep your money in your own pocket. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_19.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It's not that hard. They call it weed for a reason. And if you threw a bunch of pot seeds out in a field and did nothing else, you'd probably get a pot plant—scraggly, runty, thirsty, starved of nutrients, but a living plant. You might even get a few buds off it, if it happened to be a female plant.</p><p>But you can do much better than that with just a little bit of care, effort and common sense.</p><p>You know you want to, at least if you're one of the 44.5 million adult Americans a <a href="http://www.ocweekly.com/news/surveys-say-home-cannabis-gardening-cheered-driving-while-high-laws-jeered-7166820">new Harris Poll</a> says would grow their own if it were legal. That's nearly one out of five adults nurturing a would-be green thumb for the green stuff.</p><p>It's not legal everywhere—in fact, not in most places—but that isn't stopping a lot of people. If it's illegal to grow pot where you live, that's something to take very seriously. Growing even a single plant can be a felony in some states. Factor that into your calculations, budding gardeners. But for those people who live in grow-legal states and people who don't but who are willing to take their chances, here's a brief sketch of how to grow your own outdoor pot plant from a clone.</p><p>You can, of course, grow from seeds, but that involves a couple of complications (germination, and later, sexing to get rid of unwanted male plants) we want to avoid in this simple introduction. And you can grow your plants indoors with electricity, but that too adds whole new levels of complications, so we're going to stick with plants from clones, grown outdoors in the sunlight.</p><p>That means we are bound by the seasons. Planting time will soon be upon us. It's time to take action now to ensure you enjoy the fruits of your own garden come fall. Here's what you need to do.</p><p><strong>1. Find a location.</strong> There are two prime considerations here: privacy and sunlight. If growing pot is illegal, you want privacy for obvious reasons. But even if it isn't, you want privacy to protect yourself from prying eyes, whether those of disapproving busybodies or larcenous teen night-stalkers.</p><p>If you're not isolated from neighbors, an eight-foot fence would be preferable. Within your space, be it backyard or isolated garden plot, you can also make your plant less obvious by planting amid other greenery, but keep in mind that your plant is going to grow and grow. Low shrubs that camouflage it early on aren't going to hide it when it's four, five, six feet tall.</p><p>You want a spot with as much sunlight as possible. Observe at different times of day to see where the shade goes, then try to avoid those spots.</p><p><strong>2. Find a clone.</strong> Clones are nothing more than cuttings from a "mother" pot plant, so they are genetically identical to mom, and unlike seeds, guaranteed to be female, which is what you want. If you're in a grow-legal state, just go down to the pot shop. If they carry clones, they will have a nice selection. They typically go for $10-15 each. If you're not in pot-friendly territory, you will have to know somebody who knows somebody. They are out there, but it might take some detective work to find them.</p><p>You will be looking for a clone from a strain that fits your needs and desires. Do you want the stoniest weed? Look for high-THC strains. Do you want an "up" high? Look for sativas or sativa-dominant strains. Are you seeking narcotized couchlock bliss? Look for indicas or indica-dominant strains. Are you seeking medically active strains? Look for high-CBD strains.</p><p><strong>3. Plant it.</strong> Okay, you've obtained your clone. They typically come in two- or three-inch cubes and should be around a foot tall with several sets of leaves on them. Your clone will need to be repotted before it outgrows its cube. You're going to need some good potting soil (I mix in perlite for an airier soil mix) and an 8-inch pot. Put some small rocks in the bottom of the pot so water can drain more easily through the holes in the bottom. Fill it with potting soil, wet it down thoroughly, then scoop out enough to make a hole big enough for the base of the clone to fit in. Put the clone in, tamp soil down around it, and voila!</p><p>Keep your new clone shaded for the first few days. They need to adjust to being out in the bright sun after their cloistered indoor existence. That eight-inch pot is only good for a few weeks; after that, the roots will want more room to expand and suck up nutrients. You must then decide whether to replant it in a bigger pot or in the ground. Pots have the advantage of mobility—you can move them to stay out of the shade if necessary, or if your mother-in-law is coming over. Plus, you don't have to dig a hole in the ground.</p><p>But pot size will limit how big your plant will get and how much it produces. A five-gallon pot might get you a few ounces, while a 25-gallon pot might get you a pound or more. The same principle applies to holes in the ground: The bigger the hole you make and fill with potting soil, the bigger the plant. A 2' x 2' x 2' hole—about enough to empty a bag of potting soil—will grow you a respectable plant. Do a hole twice that size, and you can grow a 10- or 12-foot, multi-pound-yielding monster.</p><p><strong>4. Feed it.</strong> Plants need nutrients to grow and thrive. It's up to you to see that your plant is well fed, and that means applying organic—please!—fertilizer on a regular basis. To keep it simple: Early on, you want fertilizers that encourage leafy, vegetative growth; as flowers begin to form mid-summer, you want to switch to a fertilizer for blooming or flowering. Use liquid organic fertilizers. You can use a gallon milk jug for diluting them properly. Just follow the instructions and you should be good to go. Don't give your plant more fertilizer than called for; that can burn it. Quit fertilizing about October 1, or three weeks or so before you plan to harvest.</p><p><strong>5. Water it.</strong> It's not that tough. If you have a plant in a pot, water it every day until water starts running out the holes in the bottom. Then wait a few minutes and repeat to ensure that the soil is thoroughly moist. If you have a plant in the ground in a two-foot hole, give it a gallon a day, jacking it up to two gallons a day during flowering. That will produce a healthy harvest. Bigger pots or holes, more water, more buds in the fall.</p><p>Be careful not to overwater your clone when you first get it. You want to keep it moist, but not sopping. Apply the finger test: Stick your finger in the top of the pot, and if the soil is dry more than a half-inch down, water. If not, don't.</p><p><strong>6. Let nature take its course.</strong> Now you have all the ingredients to grow a nice, productive marijuana plant. By midsummer (August), flowers should be forming; by mid-October or so, they will be ready to harvest. Wait until about half the little white hairs on the buds start turning brown. Some varieties take longer to flower than others. Try to have some idea when yours should be ready.</p><p>You shouldn't have a lot to do other than watering and fertilizing your plant and basking in the gratification of growing your own buds. You can prune the tops of the shoots if you want a bushier plant with more buds, and/or you can prune the bottom branches (small buds and all) later in the year if you really want to concentrate on the bigger buds on top. If you're lucky, you might have to tie up branches that become so laden with buds they want to flop over.</p><p>This is growing a pot plant in a nutshell. Anyone who is actually going to try this should go further in depth. There are numerous how-to books out there, including offerings from longtime cultivation experts like Ed Rosenthal or Jorge Cervantes. There's a load of stuff online, too. Take advantage of the information that's out there. You don't have to be a master horticulturist to grow a pot plant, but it can't hurt to listen to what they can tell you.</p><p>What you do when you harvest the plant will have a big impact on how good it is when it's ready to smoke. We'll save the harvest how-to for this fall, closer to harvest time. In the meantime, if you're going to put a plant in the ground (or in a pot), you should act now. You want them in the ground by around June 1. You can put them in later, but they're not going to be as productive if you wait.</p> Mon, 16 May 2016 00:10:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056493 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana cannabis sativa indica cultivation fertilizers Light Years Ahead of the US on Drug Reform, Canada Will Allow Prescription Heroin http://www.alternet.org/drugs/canada-will-allow-prescription-heroin <!-- 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 was first in North America with safe injection sites and heroin maintenance studies. Canada plows ahead</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/diamorphine_ampoules.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Health Canada <a href="http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1065009&amp;tp=1">announced Friday</a> that it is proposing new regulations to allow access to prescription heroin under its Special Access Program (SAP). That program allows for emergency access to drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional treatments have failed or are unsuitable.</p><p>"A significant body of scientific evidence supports the medical use of diacetylmorphine, also known as pharmaceutical-grade heroin, for the treatment of chronic, relapsing opioid dependence. Diacetylmorphine is permitted in a number of other jurisdictions, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland, to support a small percentage of patients who have not responded to other treatment options, such as methadone and buprenorphine," the statement said.</p><p>The move is yet another reversal of hardline Conservative drug policies by the Liberal government headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which was elected last fall. The Trudeau government has pivoted sharply away from Conservative positions in favor of mandatory minimum drug sentences and against marijuana legalization, and now is moving to undo Conservative efforts to block the limited use of prescription heron.</p><p>Canadian scientists had laid the groundwork for prescription with the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2587648/">NAOMI</a>), which first tested "heroin-assisted maintenance" in Vancouver a dozen years ago, and which was followed by the Study to Assess Long-Term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness (<a href="http://www.providencehealthcare.org/salome/about-us.html">SALOME</a>) between 2005 and 2008. SALOME examined whether giving hard-core heroin users heroin was more effective than giving them methadone.</p><p>SALOME showed that the users in the study were more likely to stay in treatment, reduce other illegal drug use, engage in fewer other illegal activities and have better physical and mental health outcomes if given heroin than if given methadone. But when that study ended in 2008, researchers were faced with the ethical dilemma of cutting off the patients whose lives were being improved by prescription heroin.</p><p>The doctors began applying for, and receiving, permission under the Special Access Program, and Health Canada approved those applications in 2013. But that infuriated the Conservatives, and then-Health Minister Rona Ambrose introduced new regulations to bar doctors from prescribing "dangerous drugs" such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD.</p><p>Former SALOME participants launched a constitutional challenge to the ban and in 2014 won a temporary injunction giving them the right to continue to receive prescription heroin while the case was being decided. Now, with Health Canada's move, the federal government will no longer attempt to block prescription heroin.</p><p>That was good news for the <a href="http://www.pivotlegal.org/">Pivot Legal Society</a>, which argued the case for continuing the prescriptions, and for <a href="http://www.providencehealthcare.org/salome/about-us.html">Providence Health Care</a>, in whose Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver's Downtown Lower East Side the heroin was administered.</p><p>"Allowing access to diacetylmorphine, or medical heroin, to patients who need it, ensures that life-saving treatments get delivered to vulnerable people suffering from chronic opioid use," the two groups said in a joint statement.</p><p>Canada is leading the way on cutting edge responses to heroin addiction in North America. In addition to the groundbreaking NAOMI and SALOME studies, which cannot be replicated in the US under current law and regulations, Canada has also had safe injection sites operating in Vancouver for more than a decade. We still don’t have any of those in the US. </p><p> </p> Sun, 15 May 2016 23:45:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056550 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs World canada heroin methadone diacetylmorphine NAOMI SALOME Health Canada How Obama's Efforts to Free Drug War Prisoners Are Being Stymied by His Own Bureaucrats http://www.alternet.org/drugs/obama-effort-free-drug-war-prisoners-bureaucratic-roadblocks <!-- 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 applications of thousands of federal drug war prisoners are bottlenecked, and the clock is ticking. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/prisoner_5.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>With the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/30/president-obama-grants-commutations">sentence commutations</a> announced last week, President Barack Obama has now cut more than 300 harsh drug war prison sentences, besting the previous six presidents combined. Thousands more could be eligible for commutations, but bureaucratic obstacles inside the Justice Department mean the clock is likely to run out before Obama gets a chance to free them.</p><p>As part of the Obama administration's emphasis on criminal justice reform and reducing the federal prison population, then Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Cole called on nonviolent federal drug war prisoners to <a href="https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-holder-justice-department-set-expand-clemency-criteria-will-prepare-wave">seek clemency</a> in April 2014.</p><p>“In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing unfair disparities in sentences imposed on people for offenses involving different forms of cocaine, but  there are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime—and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime," said Holder at the time. "This is simply not right."</p><p>Holder noted that Obama had granted commutation to eight people serving time for crack offenses the previous December.</p><p>“The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety.  The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences," Holder said.</p><p>Under Holder's criteria for clemency, low-level drug offenders who had served at least 10 years, had good conduct in prison, no significant criminal history or connection to gangs, cartels or organized crime, and who would probably receive a "substantially lower sentence" if convicted of the same offense today would be eligible for sentence cuts.</p><p>Of roughly 100,000 federal drug prisoners—nearly half the entire federal prison population—more than 36,000 applied for clemency. Many of them did not meet the criteria, but the Justice Department has reviewed nearly 9,500 who did. Of those, only the 306 have actually been granted clemency; applications are still pending for 9,115 more. (An additional 8,000 pending applications are being handled by a consortium of private attorneys, the <a href="https://www.clemencyproject2014.org/">Clemency Project</a>.)</p><p>Many of those might not make it to Obama's desk before the clock runs out on his term because the Justice Department has stumbled in administering the program. Thousands of prisoners doing harsh drug war sentences could lose their chance for early freedom because Justice didn't get around to hiring enough people to handle the flood of applications it generated. The situation so infuriated Office of Pardons attorney Deborah Leff, who was hired to oversee the project, that she quit earlier this year. Her <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2777898-Deborah-Leff-resignation-letter.html">resignation letter</a> to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates made it clear why.</p><p>Despite her "intense efforts" to do her job, Justice had "not fulfilled its commitment to provide the resources necessary for my office to make timely and thoughtful recommendations on clemency to the president," she wrote. "The position in which my office has been placed, asking us to address the petitions of nearly 10,000 individuals with so few attorneys and support staff, means that the requests of thousands of petitioners seeking justice will lie unheard."</p><p>In addition to Justice failing to adequately staff the pardons office (it had a total of 10 staff attorneys), Yates was overturning the pardons attorney's recommendations and blocking the office's traditional access to the White House, Leff complained.</p><p>“I have been deeply troubled by the decision to deny the Pardon Attorney all access to the Office of the White House Counsel, even to share the reasons for our determinations in the increasing number of cases where you have reversed our recommendations,” Leff wrote in her resignation letter to Yates. "It is essential that this groundbreaking effort move ahead expeditiously and expand," she wrote, implying that the Justice Department was stalling the process.</p><p>The staffing problems were apparent early on, which is why the Department turned to the Clemency Project to help out last year. But that effort, which involved some 4,000 attorneys from 30 law schools, 70 large law firms, and more than 500 small firms and solo practitioners doing pro bono work, has also been slow to get rolling. </p><p>Now, with the days slipping away and freedom for thousands in the balance, both the Justice Department and the Clemency Project are feeling the heat. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston told the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/lack-of-resources-bureaucratic-tangles-have-bogged-down-obamas-clemency-efforts/2016/05/06/9271a73a-1202-11e6-93ae-50921721165d_story.html?wpmm=1&amp;wpisrc=nl_headlines">Washington Post</a> last week that many more petitions will be granted in Obama's final months and that the Justice Department has doubled the number of lawyers at the pardon office. And administration officials said that President Obama wants to see more petitions on his desk.</p><p>"The President is deeply committed to the clemency initiative. That is evident not only by the historic number of commutations he’s granted to date, but by his wholesale approach to revamping the way the government approaches commutations," White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in a statement.</p><p>The Justice Department said it was working hard, too.</p><p>"The Justice Department has dedicated the maximum amount of resources allowed by Congress to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, and we have requested additional funds from Congress for each year the initiative has been in place," spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement.</p><p>But it may be too little, too late for the thousands of men and women behind bars who could see freedom being waved in front of them only to vanish when the clock runs out.</p> Wed, 11 May 2016 23:48:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056183 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics war on drugs sentencing sentence commutations drugs federal prison 10 Athletes' Outrageous Excuses for Failing Drug Tests http://www.alternet.org/drugs/10-athletes-outrageous-excuses-failing-drug-tests <!-- 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 vanishing twin? Penis-enhancement medications? You ain&#039;t heard nuthin&#039; yet. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ben_johsnon_1988_olympics.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Drug testing, whether for performance-enhancing drugs or just plain recreational ones, is part of top-level athletic competition, both in professional leagues and international amateur competition. But too many athletes seem oblivious to that fact, as the constant stream of positive drug tests in sports attests.</p><p>Houston Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown got caught up in the drug testing trap last fall, when he was suspended for 10 games by the NFL for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy. But he beat the rap, getting the suspension <a href="http://www.chron.com/sports/texans/article/Texans-Duane-Brown-wins-appeal-of-PED-7391332.php" target="_blank">overturned on appeal</a> by claiming he ate too much meat on a trip to Mexico.</p><p>Yeah, right, Mexican meat made him test dirty. Well, actually, maybe it did. Brown had tested positive for the steroid-like substance clenbutrol, but won his appeal by presenting evidence that some meat produced in Mexico and China was contaminated with the substance. He produced receipts showing he ate at least 10 hamburgers and two steaks during his weeklong vacation there last fall.</p><p>Now, that was a good excuse. Other athletes have tried creative excuses for positive drug tests, but unlike Brown, they didn't have any evidence to support their claims. Here are 10 world-class athletes with really whack excuses for testing dirty and no receipts to back them up.</p><p><strong>1. Mark Bosnich</strong>. The goalkeeper for Chelsea's soccer team was suspended for nine months in 2002 after testing positive for cocaine. He explained that, yes, he had used the drug, but only to teach his wife a lesson. "I told her that for every line of cocaine she took, I would take two, and that's exactly what I did." Years later, he admitted he had a bad cocaine habit.</p><p><strong>2. Melky Cabrera</strong>. The San Francisco Giants outfielder tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2012, was suspended for 50 games, and went to extraordinary lengths to explain it away. Cabrera paid someone $10,000 to create a fake website selling fake products, then claimed he accidentally ingested performance-enhancing drugs via a fictional product obtained on the website. Major League Baseball and the FBI managed to trace the website back to Cabrera.</p><p><strong>3. Richard Gasquet</strong>. The French tennis player tested positive for cocaine in May 2009 and dropped out of a tournament because of the positive test. But that didn't stop him from trying to claim he came up dirty because he made out with a woman who had snorted some at a local nightclub.</p><p><strong>4. Ben Johnson</strong>. The Canadian sprinter won Olympic gold in 1988 only to see it stripped away after he tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. He claimed someone had spiked his energy drink. He was suspended for three years, during which time he admitted injecting steroids, and was later hit with a lifetime ban after failing a drug test again in 1993.</p><p><strong>5. Tyler Hamilton</strong>. The U.S. cyclist was nailed for blood doping in 2004, but tried to blame the foreign blood on a "vanishing twin" he had absorbed into his own body before birth. Tyler tested positive for blood doping numerous times. The cycling teammate of Lance Armstrong eventually admitted to doping and wrote a book about its prevalence in the world of cycling.</p><p><strong>6. Floyd Landis</strong>. Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but was disqualified after testing revealed high levels of testosterone. First he blamed the test results on drinking too much whisky the night before, but when doctors said that was impossible, he went full brazen: "The levels that I've had during the tour and all my career are natural and produced by my own organism." Landis later 'fessed up to continual doping and also outed Lance Armstrong and other top riders as dopers.</p><p><strong>7. LaShawn Merritt</strong>. Merritt won Olympic gold as a sprinter in 2008, but was suspended for two years after failing three drug tests in 2009 and 2010. He blamed a penis-enhancement medication called ExtenZe. "Any penalty I may receive for my actions will not overshadow the embarrassment and humiliation that I feel inside." Indeed.</p><p><strong>8. Dennis Mitchell</strong>. The American sprinter and 1992 Olympic gold medal winner as part of the 400-meter relay team tested positive for high levels of testosterone in 1998. His defense was that his maleness was up because he had five beers and had sex with his wife five times the night before. "It was her birthday. The lady deserved a treat," he explained.</p><p><strong>9. North Korea Women's Soccer Team</strong>. At the 2011 World Cup, five members of the team tested positive for steroids. Their handlers' explanation was that the players had been struck by lightning and had to resort to a traditional Chinese remedy involving deer musk glands to recover. The authorities weren't buying it; the players were suspended and the team was banned from the 2015 World Cup.</p><p><strong>10. Javier Sotomayor</strong>. The Cuban high jumper won the gold at the 1999 Pan American Games, but was stripped of his prize after testing positive for cocaine. Sotomayor suggested he was set up by someone trying to make Cuba look bad, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro seconded that notion, blaming the "Cuban-American mafia." Sotomayor was suspended for a year, then tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2001, effectively ending his career.</p> Tue, 10 May 2016 14:54:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1056040 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs athletes drug testing Ben Johnson floyd landis Melky Cabrera tyler hamilton lawshawn merritt north korea soccer team steroids cocaine How I Got the $84,000 Hepatitis C Drug For $1500 by Buying It From India http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/84000-hep-c-drug-only-1500 <!-- 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 I got around one of the most obscene examples of Big Pharma overreach. </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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/hepcinat_some_cyrillic_page.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>When I went in for my annual physical in 2011, I knew something was up when the physician's assistant who usually dealt with me deferred to the actual doctor. It was up to him to take on more serious issues, and as he soon explained, I had one. My blood work had come back showing I was infected with the hepatitis C virus. Hep C is a serious, life-threatening illness that attacks the liver and can result in fatty liver, cirrhotic liver and liver cancer. One out of five people carrying the hep C virus will die of liver disease within 20 years. And a lot of people have it—at least 3 million, and perhaps as many as 7 million, in the United States alone.</p><p>When I was diagnosed five years ago, there was no effective cure. The interferon-based treatments weren't successful half the time, and the side effects were so debilitating few patients could endure the months-long punishing protocol. But hope was on the horizon. Pharmaceutical companies were working frantically to create new hep C drugs that were more effective, with fewer nasty side effects. Gilead Science was first out the gate, bringing the new hep C drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi to market in 2014 and 2015, respectively. And they worked great: More than 90 percent of patients taking the new drugs saw the hep C virus wiped out in three months, and without the side effects that made interferon treatments so intolerable.</p><p>But there was one big problem: Gilead wants $1,000 a pill for the 12-week treatment, or $84,000 for Harvoni and only slightly less for Sovaldi. In the United States, there is nothing stopping pharmaceutical companies from charging whatever they think the market will bear. Martin Skreli, the infamous "Pharma Bro," may be the poster child for pharmaceutical price-gouging, but the executives at Gilead certainly deserve at least a (dis)honorable mention. Gilead has grown fat off of hep C drug profits, generating billions in sales each quarter and sitting on a <a href="http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/04/23/3-things-to-watch-in-gilead-sciences-incs-first-qu.aspx?source=eptfxblnk0000004">$26 billion pile of cash</a> at the end of last year, with hepatitis C sufferers, insurance companies and state Medicaid plains generating the wealth of Croesus for the company.</p><p>For me, as for millions of others, buying the pills was financially out of the question. My Affordable Care Act insurance plan would, for a time, cover the treatment—but only if my liver were already diseased. In other words, I had to let the disease progress to the point that it actually threatened my life before the insurance company would pay to treat the disease. (Just last month, under pressure from the state government, seven New York state <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-insurers-to-change-coverage-of-hepatitis-c-drugs-1461636001">insurance companies</a> agreed to cover the drugs for all hepatitis C patients, not just those with advanced liver disease.)</p><p>There was another problem: Because I had a low-premium, high-deductible health insurance plan, even if my insurance company paid for the drugs, I still faced $6,000 in out-of-pocket costs. But that was something of a moot point, since my insurance company required I wait for my liver to be damaged before it would pay a cent. So there I was, infected with a potentially life-threatening virus, but unable to afford the drugs that could cure it. It was not a happy place to be, and I was determined to find a solution. It came from India.</p><p>Last year, Gilead entered into <a href="http://www.gilead.com/~/media/files/pdfs/other/hcv%20generic%20agreement%20fast%20facts%2072815.pdf">an agreement with India</a> that would allow Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce generic versions of Harvoni and Sovaldi and sell them in 101 developing countries at "a significantly reduced flat price." The medicines are urgently needed in those countries, where an estimated 103 million people have the hep C virus.</p><p>I did some internet sleuthing, found that Harvoni from Indian pharmaceutical house Natco is sold as Hepcinat LP, and quickly discovered dozens of online vendors ready, willing and eager to sell it to me. I made my inquiries in the heady days of rollout last fall and got price quotes ranging from $500 to $2,500. I eventually decided to go with a company called <a href="http://www.buygenericdrugonline.com/search.html?ss=Hepcinat%20LP">Care Exim</a>, which offered the pills for $1,500. (The cost is significantly lower now. In searches I made while writing this, some quotes were around $500 for the complete course of treatment. Care Exim now says it can provide Hepcinat for $1,050 for the full course of treatment.)</p><p>It felt kind of sketchy, however. I was dealing with unknown online drug purveyors based on the other side of the planet. They didn't take credit cards—payment took the form of a bank transfer—and didn't require a prescription. They were happy to ship to the United States even though doing so violated U.S. customs regulations and they were quick with assurances that it would get through with "no problem." Was it a scam? Was I buying counterfeit drugs? Those were the questions I weighed, balanced against the possibility of being cured at a cost I could (barely) afford.</p><p>I paid my money and I took my chances. The package arrived in nine days, untouched by customs. There were indeed three bottles of pills labeled as Hepcinat LP manufactured by Natco, with seals and even a folded paper insert with all the drug information on it. I took the pills for 83 days (saving one for possible testing just in case), waited a couple of weeks, then went to my doctor and had my blood drawn. The following week, he reported that my hepatitis C viral load was now zero. I was cured.</p><p>I'm quite pleased about that, but the whole experience leaves me feeling rather bilious about the U.S. health-care system in general and the role of privately owned pharmaceutical companies in particular. I had health insurance, yet it proved useless. Hell, I could have flown to India and stayed for three months and taken the pills for less than what it would have cost me to get Harvoni through my insurance company, if it would cover it at all, if I waited for my liver to be damaged first.</p><p>And then there's Gilead. It didn't even develop Harvoni itself; it made a business decision to <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=buy+harvoni+india">pay $11 billion</a> to buy the company that did so it could be first to market and reap the rewards, $26 billion worth. There is something obscene about that. A billion-dollar profit would have been a very respectable return on investment, but Gilead is getting much, much more than that, and all the rest of us are paying for it, one way or another, whether through higher insurance premiums, higher Medicaid costs, or like me, out of their own pockets, just so Gilead's stockholders can see their dividends double. If you buy Hepcinat from India, Gilead still makes a profit as part of its licensing arrangement, but it doesn't make the unholy profits the U.S. government allows it to get away with. And you save thousands of dollars, and you get cured of hepatitis C. </p> Thu, 05 May 2016 23:28:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1055900 at http://www.alternet.org Personal Health Personal Health hepatitis c harvoni sovaldi Hepcinat Gilead natco india Major Victory for America's Marijuana Revolution: Feds Give Up Trying to Seize Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary in U.S. http://www.alternet.org/drugs/feds-give-effort-seize-nations-largest-medical-marijuana-dispensary <!-- 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 Justice Department&#039;s war on medical marijuana in California seems to be ending not with a bang, but a whimper in its collapsed case against Harborside.</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="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/harborside.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a stunning victory for California's marijuana industry, federal prosecutors have agreed to end their years-long effort to close and seize Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest dispensary with more than 200,000 patients.</p><p>Harborside broke the news with a press release Tuesday, followed up by a press conference attended by Oakland officials who have stood by the dispensary since then-U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag went after it in 2012.</p><p>The effort to shut down Harborside was part of a broader offensive against the state's medical marijuana industry. Prosecutions and threats of prosecutions forced more than 500 dispensaries to shut down, but Harborside stood firm, didn't fold and fought hard against the federal moves to seize its properties.</p><p>"When U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag first filed suit to seize the property Harborside is located in, I vowed we would never abandon our patients ... and predicted Harborside would outlast the efforts to close us down," Harborside executive director Steve DeAngelo said in the statement. "Today, thanks to the deep support of our community and our elected officials, and the skill and determination of our legal counsel, that prediction has come true."</p><p>"It’s a great day for Oakland and for all of California," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at the press conference. "The federal government isn’t going to waste tax dollars trying to frustrate the desires of Californians to have safe access to medical cannabis."</p><p>Harborside also stood firm because it had the money to do so. The dispensary, which also operates a facility in San Jose, brings in about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/harborside-melinda-haag-appeal_n_6608768.html">$25 million</a> a year from medical marijuana sales and was able to hire the finest legal talent in attorney Henry Wykowski.</p><p>"We are gratified that the government has finally seen fit to lay down its arms against Harborside in this case," Wykowski said. "The will of the people is for medical cannabis dispensaries to operate free from federal threats of closure. We hope we are on the cusp of a policy change and that the Department of Justice will no longer target state-legal dispensaries for forfeiture."</p><p>But Harborside's success also made it an appealing target for U.S. Attorney Haag. In July 2012, she filed a civil forfeiture action against Harborside, claiming it violated federal drug laws. "The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need," <a data-beacon="7}}" href="http://blog.sfgate.com/bottomline/2012/07/11/u-s-attorney-why-im-busting-harborside-health-center/" target="_blank">Haag wrote</a>. </p><p>Still, Harborside counted on local support, and got it in spades. In October 2012, the city of Oakland sued the federal government in a bid to block the Justice Department from seizing the dispensary's properties. The city argued that shutting down Harborside would harm its patients and force them into the black market to get their medicine.</p><p>Between then and now, Harborside won a series of legal victories that allowed it to stay open and avoid eviction, but the city's lawsuit was ultimately rejected by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals last August. In the meantime, though, developments at the federal level worked in Harborside's favor. In 2014, Congress approved an amendment by California Congressmen Sam Farr (D) and Dana Rohrabacher (R) that blocks the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana programs in states where it is legal. That amendment was reauthorized last year.</p><p>The U.S. Attorney's Office for Northern California has not commented on the decision to drop the case, but the different federal landscape most likely played a key role.</p><p>Oakland politicians praised the move.</p><p>"Today’s decision by the U.S. attorney is a victory for health care access," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who represents Oakland and <a data-beacon="17}}" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/congress-medical-marijuana_n_6702128.html">pressed</a> for the DOJ to drop the case against Harborside. "For decades, Harborside has helped ensure members of our community can access their medicine. It’s past time for the federal government to stop standing between these patients and their medicine."</p><p>"Harborside Health Center has been a strong positive presence in Oakland, both for the patients they serve, the workers they employ, and for the vital public services that are supported by their tax revenues," said Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. "I am glad that Oakland’s work on the federal case helped keep Harborside open during this dispute, and heartened to know that the threat against them is now removed."</p><p>The federal war on medical marijuana in California appears to be ending with a whimper, not a bang. </p> Wed, 04 May 2016 12:44:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1055873 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Personal Health medical marijuana california oakland Steve DeAngelo Henry Wykowski harborside health center melinda haag Mayor Libby Schaaf Rep. Barbara Lee