AlterNet.org: Phillip Smith http://www.alternet.org/authors/phillip-smith en 4 Nasty Ways Federal Prohibition Hurts Pots Smokers—Even Where It's Legal http://www.alternet.org/drugs/four-outrageous-ways-federal-prohibition-hurts-pot-consumers-even-legal-states <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1072217'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072217" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Marijuana may be legal where you live, but it remains illegal under federal law.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/darrin_harris_frisby_group-adults-marijuana-watching-movie_7515.jpg?itok=mL3LMAl_" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>With the ascension of California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada to the ranks of the legal marijuana states after last November's election, nearly a sixth of the country now lives in places that have freed the weed.</p><p>Still, even though it may be legal under state law, marijuana remains prohibited under federal law. Pot smokers in California or Colorado don't have to worry about a DEA agent breaking down their doors and taking them off to federal jail—there just aren't enough DEA agents to actually enforce prohibition on the individual level. But the fact is, they are using a federally illegal substance, and there can be consequences to that.</p><p><strong>1. Jobs</strong></p><p>Most employment in the U.S. is "at will," meaning employers can fire employees for any reason they like—or no reason at all—unless it violates anti-discrimination laws. That means employers can fire or refuse to hire marijuana users even where marijuana is legal, just as some companies have done with tobacco users.</p><p>For many employers, having a "no marijuana" provision is merely a choice, one that can be changed by changing norms and attitudes or, perhaps, by a paucity of applicants willing to work for a company that intrudes on their personal liberties. But for other employers, federal marijuana prohibition means they must bar marijuana use. That includes all federal agencies, many companies that contract to do federal work and sectors like the transportation sector, where federal law mandates drug testing and the firing of people who use federally illegal drugs.</p><p><strong>2. Housing</strong></p><p>Federal marijuana prohibition means no one living in Section 8 or other federally subsidized housing can use marijuana. Typically, housing authorities do not drug-test or otherwise attempt to screen residents or applicants for marijuana use, but they do see and act on reported violations or arrests reported to them, and the pot-using residents get evicted.</p><p>And residents don't even have to be using marijuana themselves. There are many federal housing horror stories of long-time, elderly residents being evicted from their homes because their children or grandchildren got caught using or possessing pot on the premises. Young stoners: Do not get your grandma thrown out on the street by getting caught with weed at her place!</p><p>But it isn't just residents of public housing. Renters, condo owners and mobile home park residents can all be subject to codes or codicils that no local, state, or federal law be violated. And smoking pot in a legal state is still a violation of federal law.</p><p><strong>3. Gun Ownership</strong></p><p>A federal appeals court has ruled that marijuana users do not have a Second Amendment right to gun ownership because federal law does not allow selling guns to "illegal" drug users. That ruling came in a case involving a medical marijuana patient, but it applies to all marijuana consumers because Congress thinks that marijuana use "raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated." (Alcohol, which certainly fits that criteria far more closely than marijuana does, is not included in the ban because it is a federally legal substance.)</p><p>The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms wrote that decision into its rules last month, adding a new line to the gun ownership application form that states that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. For some reason, the National Rifle Association has not bestirred itself over this particular assault on gun owner rights.</p><p>Under current law and federal pot prohibition, would-be gun buyers face a dilemma: Lie about marijuana use and be able to get a gun, or be honest about marijuana use and be barred from buying one.</p><p><strong>4. Military Service</strong></p><p>Though marijuana has shown promise in treating conditions such as PTSD and chronic pain, active military members can't use it without jeopardizing their careers. Facing social reality, some branches of the service are no longer barring recruits with a history of marijuana use, even if current, but it will still get service members in trouble and possibly booted from the service. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1072217'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072217" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:08:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1072217 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana marijuana prohibition medical marijuana guns second amendment section 8 military service Trump Goes Full Nixon on Law-and-Order Executive Orders, Vows 'Ruthless' War on Drugs and Crime http://www.alternet.org/drugs/trump-goes-full-nixon-law-and-order-executive-order-vows-ruthless-war-drugs-crime <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1072084'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072084" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;We have no choice&quot; but to double down on failed crime-fighting strategies, the president claims. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_police_swat.jpg?itok=JUBhdQxF" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a sharp break with the Obama administration, which distanced itself from harsh anti-drug rhetoric and emphasized treatment for drug users over punishment, President Trump this week reverted to tough drug war oratory and backed it up with a series of executive orders he said are "designed to restore safety in America."</p><p>"We're going to stop the drugs from pouring in," Trump told law enforcement professionals of the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Wednesday. "We're going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We're going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice. And we're going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence."</p><p>Trump also lambasted the Obama administration for one its signature achievements in criminal justice reform, opening the prison doors for more than 1,700 drug war prisoners who had already served sentences longer than they would have under current, revised sentencing guidelines. Obama freed "record numbers of drug traffickers, many of them kingpins," Trump complained.</p><p>And in a sign of a return to the dark days of drug war over-sentencing, he called for harsher mandatory minimum prison sentences for "the most serious" drug offenders, as well as aggressive prosecutions of drug traffickers and cracking down on "shipping loopholes" he claimed allowed drugs to be sent to the U.S. from other countries.</p><p>In a New Hampshire <a href="https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-remarks-in-portsmouth-nh" target="_blank">campaign speech</a> during the campaign, Trump called for more treatment for drug users and more access to overdose reversal drugs, but there was no sign of that side of the drug policy equation in Wednesday's speech.</p><p>On Thursday, Trump backed up his tough talk with action as, at the Oval Office swearing in of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he rolled out three executive orders he said were "designed to restore safety in America," but which appear to signal an increasingly authoritarian response to crime, drugs, and discontent with policing practices.</p><p> <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-task-force-crime-reduction-and-public">The first</a>, which Trump said would "reduce crime and restore public safety," orders Sessions to create a new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Policy, which will come up with "strategies to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime," propose legislation to implement them, and submit a report to the president within a year.</p><p><a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-federal-law-respect-transnational">The second</a>, regarding "transnational criminal organizations and preventing drug trafficking," directs various federal law enforcement agencies to "increase intelligence sharing" and orders an already existing inter-agency working group to submit a report to Trump within four months describing progress made in combating the cartels, "along with any recommended actions for dismantling them."</p><p>"I'm directing Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to undertake all necessary and lawful action to break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth and other people," Trump said Thursday.</p><p><a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-federal-law-respect-transnational">The third</a> directs the Justice Department to use federal law to prosecute people who commit crimes against police officers, even though they already face universally severe penalties under existing state laws.</p><p>"It's a shame what's been happening to our great, truly great law enforcement officers," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "That's going to stop as of today."</p><p>The tough talk and the executive orders provoked immediate alarm and pushback from human and civil rights advocates, drug reformers, the Mexican government, and even the law enforcement community. The apparent turn back to a more law-and-order approach to drugs runs against the tide of public health and public policy opinion that the war on drugs has been a failure.</p><p>In a <a href="http://lawenforcementleaders.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/LEL_Agenda_for_a_New_Administration.pdf">report released Friday</a>, dozens of senior law enforcement officials warned Trump against a tough crackdown on crime and urged him instead to continue the Obama administration's efforts to reform the criminal justice system. The report was co-authored for Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration by former Dallas police chief David Brown, who won wide praise for his response after a gunman killed five of his officers last year.</p><p>"Decades of experience have convinced us of a sobering reality: Today’s crime policies, which too often rely only on jail and prison, are simply ineffective in preserving public safety," the report said.</p><p>The president's crime plan would encourage police to focus on general lawbreaking rather than violent crime, the report said. The Justice Department already spends more than $5 billion a year to support local police, much of it spent on "antiquated law enforcement tools, such as dragnet enforcement of lower-level offenses" and Trump's plan would "repeat this mistake," the officials wrote. "We cannot fund all crime fighting tactics."</p><p>Drug reformers also sounded the alarm.</p><p>"This rhetoric is dangerous, disturbing, and dishonest," said Bill Piper, senior director for national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We have had a war on drugs. It has failed. Tough talk may look good before the cameras, but history has taught us that cracking down on drugs and building walls will not stop the supply or use of drugs. It mostly causes the death and destruction of innocent lives. Trump must tone down his outrageous rhetoric and threats, and instead reach out to leadership from both parties to enact a humane and sensible health-based approach to drug policies that both reduce overdose and our country’s mass incarceration crisis."</p><p>Most public health experts argue that the prohibitionist approach to drugs has been a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/19/war-on-drugs-statistics-systematic-policy-failure-united-nations" target="_blank">failure</a>. They point to research such as a <a href="http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/9/e003077" target="_blank">2013 study</a> in the <em>British Medical Journal</em>that found that despite billions spent on drug prohibition since 1990, drug prices have only decreased and purity increased, making getting high easier and more affordable than ever before.</p><p>"These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing," the authors conclude.</p><p>Public health analysts also point to research showing that between 1991 and 2001, even when the drug war was in full effect, <a href="http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/16data/16drfig1.pdf" target="_blank">rate of illicit drug use</a> among teens rose sharply, while their cigarette smoking rate fell off a bit and their alcohol use dropped sharply. The substances that are legal for adult use were less likely to see increases than ones that are prohibited, the analysts point out.</p><p>Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mexican-official-blames-cartels-on-us-demand-for-narcotics/article/2614456">Luis Videgaray also chimed in</a> to note that there wouldn't be any Mexican drug cartels without American demand for drugs and to remind Washington that it's not just what's being exported from Mexico that is a problem, but what's being imported.</p><p>"For years, from the Mexican perspective, people say, OK, the problem with drugs — that it's creating so many violence, so many deaths of young people in Mexico — is because there's demand for drugs in the U.S.," Videgaray said. "We happen to be neighbors to the largest market for drugs. From the American perspective, it's just the other way around," he said, adding that both countries need to get past "the blame game."</p><p>If the U.S. is serious about helping Mexico disrupt the cartels' "business model," it needs to stop the southbound traffic in cash and guns.  </p><p>"We need to stop illegal weapons flowing from the U.S. into Mexico," Videgaray said. "We always think about illegal stuff moving through the border south to north, but people forget that most guns — and we're not talking small guns, we're talking heavy weapons — they get to the cartels and create literally small armies out of the cartels."</p><p><a href="https://www.hrw.org/blog-feed/trump-administration-first-100-days#blog-299867">Human Rights Watch reacted</a> to a comment from Attorney General Sessions at his swearing-in ceremony that crime is a "dangerous permanent trend that places the lives of American people at risk," by noting that crime is down dramatically by all measures over the past 20 years despite a slight increase in violent crimes between 2014 and 2015. "There is no 'dangerous permanent trend' in violent or non-violent crime," it noted.  </p><p>And <a href="http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/executive-order-on-police-does-not-address-problems-in-the-criminal-justice-system">Amnesty International swiftly reacted</a> to the executive order calling for new federal penalties for crimes against police.</p><p>“Law enforcement officers face unique hardships and challenges due to the nature of their work," said Amnesty's Noor Mir. "Authorities are already able to vigorously prosecute crimes against law enforcement officers, and there is no history to suggest that officers are not fully protected by current laws. This order will not protect anyone, and instead it creates additional penalties that could cause people to be significantly over-prosecuted for offenses including resisting arrest. </p><p>There is a better way, said Mir, but that would require going in a radically different direction than where the Trump administration is headed.</p><p>"This order does nothing to address real and serious problems in the U.S. criminal justice system," he said. "Relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve could instead be improved by investing in reform of the criminal justice system and better training for officers. Police already have laws protecting them, but there is no federal standard for the prosecution of officers who unlawfully kill civilians. Implementing a standard for lethal force in line with international standards will protect both police and civilians."</p><p>The Trump administration has outlined an approach to drugs and criminal justice policy with dark Nixonian and Reaganite underpinnings, promising more, more, more heavy-handed policing, more swelling prison populations, and more—not less—distrust and suspicion between police and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.</p><p>In typical Trump fashion, his brash, draconian approach to the complex social problems around crime and drugs is creating a rapid backlash. Whether the rising opposition to Trump can rein in his authoritarian impulses and regressive policy approaches to the issue remains to be seen, but a battle to stop the slide backward is brewing. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1072084'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072084" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 11 Feb 2017 00:44:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1072084 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics donald trump barack obama crime criminal justice drugs border cartels mexico public health VIDEO: Rare 'Marijuana Sasquatch' Shows Up for Massachusetts Snowstorm http://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-rare-marijuana-sasquatch-shows-massachusetts-snow-storm <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1072074'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072074" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">You can&#039;t make this up. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_sasquatch.jpg?itok=UxRXIkli" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The darnedest things have been known to happen during Massachusetts snowstorms, but certainly nothing like this: During a live report from a local TV station meteorologist, a previously unknown creature made an unscripted appearance.</p><p>That's right, Marijuana Sasquatch, a creature so reclusive it has never been spotted in the wintry wild before, came out to frolic right in the middle of WWLP meteorologist Jennifer Paglieli's report on Thursday's storm from Springfield.</p><p>Sasquatch may have been lured from pot-friendly Canadian climes by recent political events. Last November, Massachusetts voters approved marijuana legalization, with pot being legal to possess and grow as of December 14. But since Marijuana Sasquatch made no comments for the record, his (or her?) motives remain hazy. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y7afWRBNXwQ" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1072074'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1072074" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 15:01:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1072074 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video massachusetts marijuana legalization marijuana sasquatch wwlp jennifer paglieli Why Republicans in Congress Are Suddenly at the Epicenter of Marijuana Reform http://www.alternet.org/drugs/time-trump-can-congress-take-lead-marijuana-policy <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1071967'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071967" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Capitol Hill still has a major role to play in advancing—or retarding—further advances toward legalization.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/united_states_capitol_-_west_front.jpg?itok=aFqiJC-f" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>While the marijuana community—consumers, industry and advocates alike—eyes with trepidation the reign of avowed anti-pot Republican Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, the Trump executive branch isn't the only game in town when it comes to making marijuana policy. Congress is back in session, and after last November's legalization and medical marijuana victories at the polls, the pot state delegation is larger than ever.</p><p>At least some of those senators and Congress members representing the 28 states (and the District of Columbia) that have embraced medical marijuana and the eight states (and D.C.) that have so far gone for adult legalization, are gearing up to fight for pot law reform at the Capitol.</p><p>A nascent congressional Cannabis Caucus formed in December is preparing a plethora of bills for the current session, and its members say they are optimistic about their chances, even in the time of Trump, with Republicans holding every committee chair in both houses. It's because Congress is riding the marijuana wave, too, said caucus founder and co-chair Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).</p><p>“This Congress is going to be a little better than last Congress, and last Congress was better than the one before that,” he said in an interview this week with <em><a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/02/06/congress-marijuana-legislation-cannabis-caucus/72897/">The Cannabist</a></em>. “It’s very interesting watching the momentum build.”</p><p>That momentum derives from public opinion polls consistently showing nationwide majorities favoring legalization, and more importantly, the actual victories at the polls in November, where legalization went four for five and medical marijuana went four for four.</p><p>“It’s easier for people to embrace much of what we’re doing legislatively,” he said. Fixing industry-critical concerns such as the lack of operating expense deductions or access to financial services for state-legal businesses or barriers to medical marijuana research are now mere "housekeeping" issues, he added.</p><p>Nonetheless, fixes still have to get through the Congress. They haven't so far, and it's a long way between filing a bill and seeing it signed into law.  Still, Blumenauer and colleagues will be pushing harder than ever.</p><p>He is joined in the Cannabis Caucus by co-chairs Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Don Young (R-AL). The bipartisan grouping is notably made up of representatives from vanguard legalization states, but by no means all of them—California alone has 53 House members—and there is certainly room for more to come on board.</p><p>“I’m more hopeful than ever before that we can move legislation like the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” Polis told <em>The Cannabist</em>, referring to last session's <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1013/text">H.R. 1013</a>, which picked up 19 cosponsors and was referred to a slew of subcommittees, but never even got a hearing.</p><p>That bill was one of about two dozen pot-related proposals filed in the last session, and they're already starting to pile up again this session. While Blumenauer told <em>The Cannabist</em> more were to come, here's what's on the table so far:</p><ul><li> <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/331?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22marijuana%22%5D%7D&amp;r=1" target="_blank">H.R. 331</a>—Filed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the States' Medical Marijuana Rights Protection Act would block federal civil asset forfeiture aimed at the owners of state-legal medical marijuana operations.</li><li> <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/714?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22marihuana%22%5D%7D&amp;r=2" target="_blank">H.R. 714</a>—Filed by Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marihuana Act would move marijuana to the Controlled Substance Act's Schedule II, opening the door to more research and, potentially, doctors' ability to prescribe (as opposed to recommend) marijuana for patients. It would also bar the use of that act or the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to interfere with medical marijuana in states where it is legal.</li><li><a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/715?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22marihuana%22%5D%7D&amp;r=1" target="_blank">H.R. 715</a>—Also filed by Rep. Griffith, the Compassionate Access Act would reschedule marijuana, provide for its medical use under state laws, and remove CBD (cannabidiol) from the definition of marijuana.</li><li><a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr975" target="_blank">H.R. 975</a>—Filed by Cannabis Caucus co-chair Rep. Rohrabacher, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act would exempt people and entities from certain provisions of the Controlled Substances Act if they are acting in compliance with state laws. Rohrabacher authored similar legislation in the last Congress, garnering 20 cosponsors, including seven Republicans.</li></ul><p>There is no outright federal marijuana legalization bill out there yet this session, but expect to see Rep. Polis come back with his bill or perhaps Bernie Sanders reviving his bill to end federal pot prohibition, or both. Given political realities on the Hill, though, the Cannabis Caucus will likely save its political capital for fights it might be able to win, such as fixing the tax and banking problems facing the industry.</p><p>Another key battleground—and won where marijuana advocates have actually won before—is the appropriations process. The Justice Department and the DEA can't go after marijuana in legal states if Congress bars them from spending any federal funds to do so, and that's exactly what Congress did when it approved the <a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/tag/rohrabacher-farr-medical-marijuana-amendment/">Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Marijuana Amendment</a> last session. If a similar amendment were to succeed again, even if Attorney General Sessions wants to call out the cavalry, he can't buy the horse feed, and it won't matter how many nasty memos his deputies write. While his past pronouncements are indeed worrisome, he was quite coy at his nomination hearings, saying that he "won't commit to never enforcing federal law," but adding that enforcement priorities are "a problem of resources for the federal government."</p><p>Sessions did add later in the hearings that it's not "the attorney general's job to decide what laws to enforce," but suggested that his former colleagues could settle things once and for all.</p><p>"I think one obvious concern is that the United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act," he said. "If that something is not desired any longer, Congress should pass the law to change the rule."</p><p>Then there's Sessions' boss, President Trump. While he projects a law-and-order image and has campaigned against drugs, the drugs he seems most concerned about are heroin and the prescription opioids, not pot. He's also suggested in the past a willingness to let states experiment on marijuana policy, and he has a lot of other things on his plate. It's not at all clear he would let Sessions unleash a war on weed even if he wanted to.</p><p>Earl Blumenauer doesn't think Trump wants to charge into this particular melee.</p><p>"This is a struggle and will continue to be, but this is something where I honestly don’t think the new administration, which has probably enough controversy on its hands, is going to knowingly pick a fight with what, almost without exception, was approved by local voters,” Blumenauer said.</p><p>To ensure that Sessions doesn't strike out, "we need to make the case directly to Trump" about the economic potential of the marijuana industry, said Polis. But until federal marijuana prohibition is ended, "the industry really exists at the discretion of the president and the attorney general, and that's a dangerous place to be," he added.</p><p>Well, and Congress, too. It holds the purse strings, after all.  </p><p>Marijuana policy is going to be at play in the 115th Congress. Ending federal pot prohibition remains the Holy Grail, but in the meantime, there are concrete actions Congress can take to protect medical and legal marijuana and the industry it's creating. Now, let's see if the Cannabis Caucus can lead the way to some victories. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1071967'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071967" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:18:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1071967 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana marijuana legalization medical marijuana donald trump jeff sessions earl blumenauer jared polis dana rohrabacher cannabis caucus How the Stroke of a Pen by a Governor Can Completely Change a Prisoner's Life—Just Ask Tony Papa http://www.alternet.org/drugs/anthony-papa-side-freedom-book-review <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1071809'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071809" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The power to commute prison sentences is rarely exercised, but can generate powerful results when it is, as Papa shares in his new book.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/papa_high_res.jpg?itok=xbZJF4Aj" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em><strong><a href="https://www.amazon.com/This-Side-Freedom-After-Clemency/dp/153073164X">This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency</a> by Anthony Papa (2016, CreateSpace, 271 pp., $12.99 PB)</strong></em></p><p>After decades of the war on drugs and other "tough on crime" policies, America seems finally to have begun to come to its senses. The imprisonment rate has leveled off, and we're no longer seeing year after year after year of ever-increasing numbers of people behind bars in the land of the free.</p><p>We've seen that change at the federal level, with the Fair Sentencing Act, softening of the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, and Justice Department instructions to prosecutors to avoid hitting bit players with mandatory minimum sentences. We've seen that at the state level, with sentencing reforms in dozens of states leading to an actual reduction in the number of state prisoners. And we've even seen it at the local level—the nation's system of city and county jails—through things like marijuana decriminalization and reforms in bail practices.</p><p>That's all well and good, but we're still the world's leading jailer, in both absolute and per capita term, with more than two million people locked up (China only has 1.5 million). Tens of thousands of them are non-violent drug offenders sentenced under draconian laws enacted before the fever broke—confined not for years, but for decades--and writing less brutal sentencing laws now isn't much help to them.</p><p>In his waning days in office, President Obama struck a bold blow for justice and made modern presidential history by granting clemency to more than 1,700 federal drug prisoners. Let's be crystal clear here: These were not pardons granted to people who had finished their sentences and long ago returned to society and now wanted their records wiped clean; Obama's commutations meant that people currently spending their lives behind prison walls walked free—years or decades before they otherwise would have. Hundreds, mostly third time drug offenders serving life sentences, would have died in prison.</p><p>But the president can only grant pardons or commutations to people in the federal system, and the vast majority of American's prisoners are in state prisons. Each state governor holds a pardon power similar to the federal chief executive's, but it is used sparingly, some might even say stingily, and has certainly never been wielded in a mass fashion to achieve a social justice end like Obama did at the federal level.</p><p>That's a crying shame—and a potential focus of reform organizing—because a governor's signature can liberate a human being who not only deserves a chance to breathe the air of freedom, but who may actually make our world a better place by being in and of it instead of being locked away from it—and us.</p><p>Ask Tony Papa. He was a young New York City family man with his own business who, short on cash, who took an offer to make a few hundred bucks by delivering some cocaine back in the 1980s, when New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws were still in full effect. It was a sting, and Papa got popped. Like thousands of others, the luckless he quickly entered the state's drug war gulag, sentenced to 15 years to life.</p><p>In an earlier work, <em>15 to Life</em>, Papa told the story of his bust, his seeming eternity behind bars, his slammer-honed artistic talent, and how an anguished self-portrait that seemed to encapsulate the horror and madness of crushing drug prohibition resulted in some high-placed interest, followed by media attention, a public campaign on his behalf, and his release after 12 years when he was granted clemency by then-Gov. George Pataki. It is a remarkable tale of punishment, perseverance, and redemption.</p><p>And now, he's back with the rest of the story. In <em>This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency</em>, the personable Papa tells the tale of his life after rebirth—and makes achingly clear how the trauma of years-long incarceration lingers in the psyche of the freed. There is a clear public policy moral buried in these pages, too: Getting out of prison is only the first step, re-entry into society is hard, society itself seems to make it even harder, a virtual obstacle course for people taking the baby steps of freedom, but if we as a society are smart, we will make the effort, for our own collective sake as well as out of a humanitarian impulse.</p><p>Compared to most newly freed prisoners, Papa had it good. The campaign for his release had made him connections, he could find work, he could revive his familial ties, yet still he struggled, and understandably so. When you've spent a dozen years being told what to do, freedom isn't easy.</p><p>Papa had his demons, and part of the way he fought them was by resolving not to forget the prisoners he left behind. Within a year of his release, inspired by the courageous years-long struggle of the Argentine Mothers of the Disappeared, those survivors of the thousands taken and killed by the military dictatorship of the 1970s, he and comic/political gadfly Randy Credico formed the New York Mothers of the Disappeared along with family members of the thousands imprisoned under the Rockefeller laws.</p><p>Papa, Credico, and the Mothers played a critical role in early efforts to overturn the Rockefeller drug laws, and his tales of feckless politicians, preening celebrity intervenors, and back room double-dealing are the inside dirt on the glacial process of bringing some sanity to the state's drug laws. It ain't pretty, but reform did happen—eventually—and Papa got his social justice payback. If that isn't redemption-worthy, I don’t know what is.</p><p><em>This Side of Freedom</em> is one part memoir, one part social history, one part heart-felt manifesto. Papa is an effective, engaging writer who tells his story in discrete episodes and has a knack for jumping from the personal to the political like a quivering quantum particle. You'll meet a range of colorful characters and experience the gamut of human emotion—the highs, the lows, the ennui—as you follow Papa's path.</p><p>His is one portrait of life in turn-of-the-21st Century America: mindless cruelty and brutality, mixed with racial injustice, but leavened with the will to resist. Read and ask yourself: How many other Tony Papas are out there, watching their lives tick away as they're locked in the cells, when they could be out here helping the rest of us make our world a better, more just and humane place?</p><p> </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1071809'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071809" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 23:57:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1071809 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Books Drugs anthony papa tony papa war on drugs rockefeller drug laws clemency pardon commutation president obama sentencing reform Will Trump Crush the Modest Progress in Fighting Mass Incarceration? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/imprisonment-justice-time-trump-interview-sentencing-project-marc-mauer <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1071603'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071603" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Now what? An Interview with the Sentencing Project&#039;s Marc Mauer.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/prison_11.png?itok=cPMg5y3-" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>For nearly half a century, America has been in the grip of incarceration fever. Beginning with the "law and order" campaigns of Richard Nixon, reprised by Ronald Reagan's "war on drugs," and seemingly carried on by inertia through the Bush-Clinton-Bush era, the fever only began to break in the last few years.</p><p>For the first time in decades, we have not seen an uptick in the number of people behind bars in the United States. After the incredible expansion of imprisonment that made the land of the free the unchallenged leader in mass incarceration, the U.S. prison population may have finally peaked. Small declines have occurred in state prison populations, and the federal prison population, fueled largely by drug war excess, is stabilizing.</p><p>Much of the progress has come under the Obama administration, but now, there's a new sheriff in town, and he doesn't seem remotely as reform-friendly as Obama. What's going to happen with sentencing reform and criminal justice under Trump and the Republicans?</p><p>To try to find some answers, we turned to someone who's been fighting for reform for decades now, Marc Mauer, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, the <a href="http://www.sentencingproject.org/">Sentencing Project</a>.</p><p><strong>Phillip Smith: When it comes to sentencing reform, we're likely in for a rough ride these next few years with tough-talking Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. But before we look forward to what may come, it's worth looking back at where we've been and what's been accomplished in the last eight years. How did sentencing reform do under Obama?</strong></p><p>Marc Mauer: I think we saw very substantial reform, both in terms of actual policy changes that have made a real difference, but also in terms of a change in the political environment, which is really critical for long-term reform.</p><p>We saw substantial changes coming out of Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission. In Congress, probably the most substantial piece of legislation was the Fairness in Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced, but didn't eliminate, the crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparity.</p><p>But changes put in place by the Sentencing Commission have had the largest impact. It amended the sentencing guidelines to reduce punishments for drug offenders, which affected an estimated 46,000 people currently serving federal drug sentences. Of those, about 43,000 have seen their cases reviewed, with 29,000 getting sentence reductions and 14,000 getting denied. These are going to be rolling reductions—for people who might have had three years left, the guidelines change might knock that down to six months; for people doing 30 years, it might knock it down to 27. They still have a long way to go, but not as far as before. This is having and will have the most significant effect.</p><p>The Obama White House was very active on sentencing reform, too. Obama commuted more than 1,700 federal prison sentences, a third of those life sentences, typically for third-time drug offenses, and that has a very significant effect. They've also done a number of initiatives around re-entry, collateral consequences, "ban the box" policies, and the like.</p><p>The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued guidance to employers about when it is and isn't appropriate to use prior criminal records when considering employment applications. The administration set up an interagency re-entry council that brought together a number of cabinet agencies to see what they could do to have an impact on easing reentry.</p><p>There's been a congressional ban on inmates using Pell grant education funds, which only Congress can overturn, but the Obama administration created a pilot Pell grant program and was able to restore some funding on a research basis. The estimate is that about 12,000 incarcerated students will be able to take advantage of that.</p><p><strong>PS: Now, it's a new era, and Jeff Sessions appears set to become our next attorney general. He was something of a player on criminal justice issues in the Senate; what's your take on what to expect from him on sentencing and criminal justice reform?</strong></p><p>MM: I'm not overly optimistic. He's been supportive of some criminal justice reform in the past, most notably the Fair Sentencing Act and the Prison Rape Elimination Act, that involved a left-right coalition that felt prison rape was a bad thing, and provided money for research, training, and oversight as ways to reduce prison rape and sexual assault.</p><p>But in other areas, he's pretty much a hardliner. He was one of a handful of Republicans who vocally opposed sentencing reform legislation that was moving through Congress last year. He's one of the reasons the bill never got a Senate floor vote, even though it had passed out of the Judiciary Committee.</p><p>He's expressed skepticism about the work of the Civil Rights Division at Justice, particularly toward the consent decrees that it has imposed on cities and police departments making them agree to try to deal with tensions police law enforcement and African-American communities. That wasn't a pro- or anti-law enforcement approach; we have a real problem, and we need to get the parties working together. Getting law enforcement and local officials to agree that we have a problem is a very important tool to address a very serious problem.</p><p>To just say as Sessions does that he supports law enforcement doesn't get us very far. What do we do when law enforcement isn't doing the right thing, when it’s violating people's rights? This will be very problematic.</p><p>And he continues to express support for harsh sentencing. It will be very interesting to see what perspective he has on what federal prosecutors should do. Eric Holder directed U.S. attorneys to change their charging practices in low-level drug cases so that people with minimal criminal histories wouldn't be hit with mandatory minimum sentences when possible. We haven't heard from Sessions whether he will keep that in place, or overturn it, or come up with something else. That will be critical. Attorneys general have swung back and forth on this.</p><p><strong>PS: That sentencing reform bill died last year, in part because of election year politics. Now the campaigns are over, but the Republicans control Congress. What are the prospects for anything good happening there?</strong></p><p>MM: There is some hope for sentencing reform. Among the Republican leadership, both Sen. Chuck Grassley, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and House Speaker Paul Ryan have publicly expressed a desire to see criminal justice reform go through this Congress. It's not entirely clear what that would look like—would it look like last year's bill or only contain some aspects?</p><p>But it is encouraging that they're voicing support for moving in that direction. Clearly, the big question is how the White House responds.</p><p><strong>PS: That is the big question. So, what about Trump? What do you foresee?</strong></p><p>MM: Well, during the campaign, Trump called himself the law-and-order candidate, and he's been a vocal proponent of the death penalty and other tough measures, so that isn't encouraging. And if Sessions becomes attorney general, he would be involved, too, and that doesn't bode well for sentencing reform. Whether he makes this a priority issue or lets his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill take the lead will tell us a lot about the prospects.</p><p><strong>PS: With Trump and a Republican Congress you're facing a different political constellation than you were last year. How does that change your work, or does it?</strong></p><p>MM: It doesn't change much in the day-to-day work. To make criminal justice reform work, we've always needed to make it bipartisan. It's been too sensitive and too emotional for so long that it's just not going to work unless it's bipartisan. That worked with crack sentencing and some other sentencing reform measures moving through Congress, and we are just going to continue the work. We meet regularly with congressional offices.</p><p>When it comes to justice reform issues, the political environment has shifted from the days of just "lock 'em up." There is growing and substantial support for reform from the right, not uniformly, but there is enough commonality of purpose that there is a good base for some kind of legislative change. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, though.</p><p><strong>PS: Our conversation has focused so far on the federal level, but it’s the states, not the feds, who hold the vast majority of prison inmates. How are things looking at the state level, and what impact do you thing the new order in Washington will have at the statehouse?</strong></p><p>MM: Unlike issues like health care, criminal justice is primarily a state and local issue, and over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been significant forward momentum. Overall, the state prison population has declined modestly, but in a handful of states they have achieved reductions of 25% or 30% over this period. And they did it on their own; this wasn't inspired by Washington.</p><p>And this wasn't just a blue state phenomenon. The state with the most substantial prison reduction was New Jersey with 31%, under Christ Christie, who was generally supportive. Other states that saw big reductions were California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, but also Mississippi. We've also seen reforms enacted in places like Georgia and South Carolina, and Republican governors have been supportive.</p><p>It's quite likely the momentum we see at the state level will continue to a significant extent. At that level, policymakers are closer to the issue, and money issues are more relevant—states actually have to balance their budgets. And by now, a number of states have had good experiences with reducing prison populations, with no adverse effects on public safety. The public has been supportive, or at least not opposed.</p><p><strong>PS: So, where do we go from here?</strong></p><p>MM: Our goals and our strategy largely remain the same. We have to speak to broad audiences and work both sides of the aisle. Most importantly, we have to remember that criminal justice reform has never been easy. For several decades, we spent a good part of our careers trying to explain why tough on crime policies are counterproductive. It's been a long battle, but it's come to the point where the public environment has been shifting in a more rational, compassionate direction.</p><p>We have to build on the hard work that's been done. Now, we have Black Lives Matter and related grassroots activity, which has really spread quite quickly, creating a broader demand for change from the ground up. Some political leaders lead, but many follow; the more active support there is around the country, the more politicians have to respond. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1071603'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071603" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 23:41:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1071603 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics mass incarceration prison marc mauer sentencing project donald trump barack obama richard nixon ronald reagan war on drugs sentencing reform Is Microdosing Marijuana the Next New Thing? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/microdosing-marijuana-weed-next-new-thing <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1071440'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071440" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Is it a new phenomenon or a marketing ploy?</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_edibles_back_yardigans_marijuana_leaves_cookies_flickr.jpg?itok=rgdXCzuX" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Microdosing—ingesting tiny amounts of LSD or other psychedelics to experience almost subliminal effects—has been a thing for a while now (<a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/microdosing-new-low-key-way-use-psychedelics">AlterNet wrote</a> about in mid-2015, and we certainly weren't the first). It's been getting a modicum of renewed attention thanks to the recent publication of Ayelet Waldman's memoir, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2017/01/24/511404052/a-really-good-day-recaps-a-month-long-adventure-of-microdosing-lsd">A Really Good Day</a>, which extols the benefits of the practice.</p><p>But when it comes to microdosing mania, there's a new kid on the block: marijuana. Beginning about mid-2016, <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=microdosing+marijuana&amp;rlz=2C1TSNF_enUS0536US0537&amp;oq=microdosing+marijuana&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60l2.4716j0j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">references to microdosing weed</a> began popping up in the pot press. Consuming very small amounts of marijuana, or more precisely, its main psychoactive ingredient, THC, can give one the benefits of weed without the drawbacks sometimes associated with actually being stoned, such as paranoia, anxiety, or lethargy, enthusiasts claim. As one purveyor of products designed for microdosing put it, one can be "<a href="http://mashable.com/2016/11/11/marijuana-microdosing/#QnhCAmlbkSqu">body functional and mind free</a>."</p><p><strong>How Much is a Microdose of Marijuana?</strong></p><p>Ten milligrams of THC is considered a safe dose for a novice, but also appears to be considered something like an upper limit for microdosing. How much is 10 milligrams? Consider that a high-potency marijuana flower could be 25% THC, so one gram of that good bud would contain 250 milligrams. A nice fat joint is about half a gram, or 125 milligrams, so 10 milligrams would be the rough equivalent of one medium-sized toke of strong weed.</p><p>But even many veteran pot smokers will tell you that they can get high off a single hit of good weed, so perhaps that 10 milligram level is too generous to be considered real microdosing. Maybe 1 milligram? The goal is to obtain an effect somewhere on the spectrum between undetectable and stoned; the amount that does the trick will undoubtedly vary, but it would seem if the desire is to really enjoy the benefits without the conscious high, one would start on the low end and go from there.</p><p><strong>How to Microdose  </strong></p><p>As mentioned above, you can do it by smoking or vaping the buds, and taking only a single tiny hit. But it's difficult to be precise with joints or bowls, and it's hard to tell how much you're sucking in with each toke. And it goes against that whole "mind free" thing to try to precisely weigh out measured mini-hits of bud fragments.</p><p>Edibles would appear to be much more suited for microdosing, mainly because (thanks to legalization and regulation) they are labeled with precise dosage amounts. Still, it's likely going to require some slicing and dicing. For instance, Kiva Confections' mildest single dose chocolate bar boasts 15 milligrams of THC, so you'd have to cut it in thirds (5 mg), fifths (3 mg), of even fifteenths (1 mg), if you want to go really micro.</p><p>Kiva offers espresso coffee beans or blueberries coated in marijuana-infused chocolate, each containing only 5 milligrams of THC. One, or better yet, half of one of a similar low-dose product could be a convenient way to go.</p><p>There are a couple of caveats with edibles, though. Many edible products contain a whole lot more than that Kiva chocolate, so really pay attention to the labeling and make sure you do your division properly, otherwise you may end up far from "body functional" and instead suffering a severe case of couch lock. And edibles take time to have an effect, the standard admonition being to wait at least half an hour after ingesting before deciding it isn't working. You can end up macrodosing instead of microdosing if you get too impatient.</p><p><strong>Mass Phenomenon or Marketing Ploy?</strong></p><p>Microdosing weed is "reportedly favored by everyone from Silicon Valley coders to SoCal creatives," Mashable gushed, but that hipster cachet may reflect marketing dreams more than any actual trend. Most of the talk about microdosing seems to be coming from people who want to sell the products with which to do it.</p><p>"In the same way we take vitamin C and zinc to avoid getting sick, we will be taking cannabis to stay healthy and safely manage stress and anxiety," Kiva Confections spokesperson Christie Strong told Mashable as she talked up a new product, Petra, a blend of California cannabis, green tea, and "zesty, exciting flavors."</p><p>"Petra really embodies the concept of responsible, healthy cannabis usage," she enthused. "We believe that in a couple years microdosing is going to be the most popular way people use cannabis."</p><p>A Kiva competitor, To Whom It May Chocolates, came up with that "body functional and mind free" microdosing mantra. It is peddling products with doses as low as 2.5 milligrams.</p><p>"It was very important to have a chocolate that would fit a person who had never tried cannabis before, and would allow them to have a pleasant experience and not have to take only a small bite," the company's Tomer Grassiany told Mashable.</p><p>And then there's Défoncé Chocolatier, which also offers low-dose edibles, but with an eye toward the high-end market.</p><p>"When we explored branding and packaging, one of the requirements was that the end-product would be something that you would see at Whole Foods," he said. "Though, realistically, we will likely not see cannabis (in any form) at major grocery outlets for quite some time." </p><p>There may well be real benefits to microdosing marijuana—and who would argue that using less of a psychoactive substance is a bad thing?—but from here, microdosing looks mainly like a way for pot companies to sell people on low-dose weed products. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1071440'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071440" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 23:50:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1071440 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana microdosing cannabis lsd thc Kiva Chocolatiers edibles Gorsuch on Grass: Where Does Trump's Supreme Court Pick Come Down on Marijuana? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/gorsuch-grass-trump-supreme-court-pick-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1071501'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071501" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The record is relatively sparse, but the Denver-based jurist is aware of the contradiction in state and federal pot policy. He also goes easy on police.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_31.jpg?itok=aZde3wdf" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Where does Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court come down on weed? The record is pretty sparse.</p><p>Neil Gorsuch hasn't made any known public pronouncements about marijuana policy, and despite his tenure on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, he hasn't ruled in any cases that directly take up the issue.</p><p>But he has ruled on some marijuana cases, and he didn't go out of his way to support freeing the weed in them. And there's at least one marijuana-related case he's ruled on that demonstrates a disquieting deference to law enforcement.</p><p>In <em><a href="http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/15/15-1333.pdf">Feinberg et al. v. IRS</a></em>, Gorsuch ruled against a Colorado dispensary that sought not to report data about its operation to the IRS because marijuana remains illegal under federal law and it feared incriminating itself. But in passing, he offered some commentary on the legal weirdness of state-legal but federally illegal marijuana commerce.</p><blockquote><p>"This case owes its genesis to the mixed messages the federal government is sending these days about the distribution of marijuana. Officials at the Department of Justice have now twice instructed field prosecutors that they should generally decline to enforce Congress’s statutory command when states like Colorado license operations like THC. At the same time and just across 10th Street in Washington, D.C., officials at the IRS refuse to recognize business expense deductions claimed by companies like THC on the ground that their conduct violates federal criminal drug laws. So it is that today prosecutors will almost always overlook federal marijuana distribution crimes in Colorado but the tax man never will."</p></blockquote><p>And he marveled at the federal government's contortions as it sought to accommodate commerce in a substance it considers illegal.</p><blockquote><p>"Yes, the Fifth Amendment normally shields individuals from having to admit to criminal activity. But, the IRS argued, because DOJ’s memoranda generally instruct federal prosecutors not to prosecute cases like this one the petitioners should be forced to divulge the requested information anyway. So it is the government simultaneously urged the court to take seriously its claim that the petitioners are violating federal criminal law and to discount the possibility that it would enforce federal criminal law."</p></blockquote><p>Gorsuch also pointedly noted the provisional nature of the Obama administration's decision to work with—instead of against—the states experimenting with marijuana legalization.</p><blockquote><p>"It’s not clear whether informal agency memoranda guiding the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by field prosecutors may lawfully go quite so far in displacing Congress’s policy directives as these memoranda seek to do. There’s always the possibility, too, that the next...Deputy Attorney General could displace these memoranda at anytime."</p></blockquote><p>This is, of course, something of which the marijuana industry and legalization advocates are painfully aware and explains much of the movement's agonizing over the nomination of pot foe Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). A single signature on a new policy memorandum at the Justice Department could throw the industry into chaos.</p><p>As Tom Angell notes at the <a href="https://massroots.com/blog/trumps-supreme-court-pick-on-marijuana">MassRoots blog</a>, Gorsuch ruled in a 2010 case, <em><a href="http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/09/09-2013.pdf">US v. Daniel and Mary Quaintance</a></em>, that a couple charged with federal marijuana distribution offenses couldn't use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense because their claims weren't sincere.</p><blockquote><p>"Numerous pieces of evidence in this case strongly suggest that the [couple's] marijuana dealings were motivated by commercial or secular motives rather than sincere religious conviction..."The record contains additional, overwhelming contrary evidence that the [couple was] running a commercial marijuana business with a religious front."</p></blockquote><p>In other words, if you're trying to run a real marijuana ministry, don't be selling weed.</p><p>But it's a 2013 case, <em><a href="http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/11/11-1403.pdf">Family of Ryan Wilson v. City of Lafeyette and Taser International</a></em> , that raises disturbing implications that go beyond marijuana policy into the broader realm of police use of force. In that case, Gorsuch held that a police officer's fatal tazing of Wilson, who was fleeing a marijuana arrest, was "reasonable."</p><blockquote><p>"[T]he illegal processing and manufacturing of marijuana may not be inherently violent crimes but, outside the medical marijuana context, they were felonies under Colorado law at the time of the incident... And Officer Harris testified, without rebuttal, that he had been trained that people who grow marijuana illegally tend to be armed and ready to use force to protect themselves and their unlawful investments."</p></blockquote><p>As Angell noted, that ruling in particular had the National Urban League <a href="https://twitter.com/NatUrbanLeague/status/826606160212008960">tweeting its concern</a> and calling for close scrutiny of Gorsuch's record within hours of Trump's announcement of his selection.</p><p>Overall, Gorsuch hasn't provided a whole lot of hints about how he might rule on cases revolving around the conflict between state and federal marijuana, although he has shown he's aware of it. Any members of the Senate Judiciary Committee representing states where medical or recreational marijuana commerce is legal might want to be asking for some clarification when his confirmation hearings come around. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1071501'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1071501" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 00:21:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1071501 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Neil Gorsuch us supreme court donald trump Will Jeff Sessions Start a War on Pot Smokers? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/will-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-start-war-pot-smokers <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070925'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070925" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jeff Sessions is cool with asset forfeiture, however.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/sessions.jpg?itok=_od4rXGO" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions will, barring divine intervention, soon become the next attorney general of the United States, the highest law enforcement office in the land. It's not a happy prospect for Cannabis Nation, and the video below encapsulates why. </p><p>Filmmaker Craig Atkinson, who brought us last year's  documentary on police militarization, <em><a href="http://www.donotresistfilm.com/">Do Not Resist</a></em>, has released this seven-minute video about Sessions' attitudes toward marijuana, pot smokers and marijuana legalization, as well as his laissez faire approach to asset forfeiture. The video also includes a real-world pot bust. Guess what happens to the money in the young man's pocket.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="474" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hY5o6vN1xZ4" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070925'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070925" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:38:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070925 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video jeff sessions marijuana marijuana legalization asset forfeiture VIDEO: How Not to Dispose of that Marijuana Crop You Just Busted http://www.alternet.org/drugs/how-not-dispose-marijuana-crop-just-busted <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070692'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070692" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Can you say blow back?</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_35.jpg?itok=GI2Xazrz" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Somewhere in Eastern Europe (Albania? Russia?) a police man is reconsidering his marijuana destruction tecniques. </p><p>The video below, just released on <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c2c_1484601596">Live Leak</a>, shows what happened in the middle of a field when the cop attempted to set a pile of freshly eradicated marijuana plants on fire. It didn't just blow his mind, it blew his hat right off. </p><p>He might have been better off taking it home, drying it out, and burning it the old-fashioned way: one joint at a time. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=bf01f4bec8a3" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070692'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070692" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:03:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet Staff 1070692 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video marijuana North Americans Are Spending Nearly as Much on Weed as They Do on Wine http://www.alternet.org/drugs/north-americans-spending-weed-wine <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070911'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070911" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Would you like a nice, fruity indica to pair with that chardonnay?</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_27.jpg?itok=wIrX7RFI" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">Move over, Napa Valley, there's a new kid on the block. When it comes to spending on mind-altering substances, Americans and Canadians are shelling out just about as much for weed as they do for wine.</p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">In its <a href="https://www.arcviewmarketresearch.com/free-cannabis-research-report">executive summary</a> of a yet-to-be-released report, Arcview Marijuana Research pegs the size of the North American marijuana market—legal and illegal—at $53.3 billion, which puts it roughly even with the market in wine. According to <a href="https://www.statista.com/topics/1541/wine-market/">Statista</a>, US retail wines sales sit at $55.8 billion, and <a href="http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/processed-food-and-beverages/canadas-wine-industry/?id=1449859691976">Canadian government figures</a> put sales there at $3.2 billion.</p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">Weed has not yet overtaken wine, but it's damned close. And this is happening in a marijuana market that is still mostly illegal. Yes, Canada will legalize marijuana, but it hasn't done so yet. And yes, more than half the states allow medical marijuana and eight of them have legalized it for adults, but illegal sales still account for 87% of the market, according to Arcview. </p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">For Arcview CEO Troy Dayton, the huge illegal market is not a bane, but a boon.</p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">"The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history," he explained. "In contrast to comparable markets with fast growth from zero to tens of billions in recent decades such as organic foods, home video, mobile, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesn’t need to create demand for a new product or innovation - it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels."</p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">As the adult use markets in the newest legal US states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) and Canada are established, Arcview predicts the illegal market's share of total sales to decline. The legal market should grow from $6.9 billion last year to $21.6 billion by 2021. But even then, Arcview says, the black market will still account for two-thirds of all sales. </p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">That's because black market operators in states that have not legalized even medical marijuana, not to mention recreational weed, will continue to thrive on an "illegality premium" or "prohibition tax" built into black market prices with no competition from legal operators. </p><p class="m-5887073988773855675m622504385864762840p3">The marijuana market is huge, and it's not going away—despite what happens in Washington, DC. That's something to ponder as you sip your Chablis. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070911'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070911" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:27:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070911 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana wine weed Arcview Marijuana Research Troy Dayton This Is the Future of Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/past-future-pot-john-hudak-marijuana-short-history <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070706'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070706" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If you need a quick read to get up to speed on weed, John Hudak&#039;s book is a great place to start.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/cannabis_0.jpg?itok=pn3oGgVR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><strong><em>Marijuana: A Short History</em> by John Hudak (2016, Brookings Institution Press, 217 pp., $14.95 PB)</strong></p><p>Marijuana is going mainstream, as evidenced by the spread of medical marijuana and now outright legalization, not to mention its pervasive and increasingly favorable position in popular culture. In the past 20 years, support for legalization has grown from a distinct minority position to a majority one, and now, after November's elections, more than half the states have approved medical marijuana and nearly one out of six Americans lives in a state where it is legal.</p><p>Marijuana is now also big business, with industry watchers estimating the size of the legal market at around $20 billion by 2020. There's one problem with such rosy scenarios, though: Pot remains illegal under federal law.</p><p>That's a big problem for John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution with a keen professional interest in public policy implementation, legislative-executive relations, and marijuana policy. In <em>Marijuana: A Short History</em>, Hudak takes marijuana legalization as pretty much a given—provided it isn't screwed up too badly in implementation—and sees federal marijuana prohibition largely as an obstacle to getting pot policy right.</p><p>He sketches out the strange place we now find ourselves, with a booming industry enriching state tax coffers at the same time it remains federally illegal, and a federal government largely turning a blind eye to the violations of federal law—at least for now—while at the same time refusing to allow that industry the banking privileges and tax breaks provided to legal businesses. Meanwhile, marijuana sellers become Chamber of Commerce members in some states and prison inmates in others.</p><p>Hudak describes the growing tension between legalization in the states and federal prohibition as challenging federal authority while also hampering the efficient functioning of the marijuana industry. In his view, we're now in a sort of "worst of both worlds" status quo:</p><blockquote><p>The resulting situation in the United States may be worse than either national legalization or national prohibition. Legal realities are loosely defined by executive branch guidance and suggestions from the administration. This guidance fails to answer important questions and oftentimes creates new ones. States are constantly asking the federal government how to deal with many of the problems they face; the answers are almost always insufficient. Members of Congress have proposed solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing states, industry actors, and consumers, but that legislation is not acted on.</p><p>The reality is that the state of American law at the start of 2016 is absolutely untenable and is inconsistent with American principles of fairness and equal treatment. Federal officials must commit themselves to coherent, comprehensive, and sensible marijuana policy. Until they do, the system will be arbitrary and unjust, and policy will be ineffective.</p></blockquote><p>Now, at the start of 2017, the tensions Hudak highlights are even more acute, and the November elections brought them to the fore. At the same time the legal recreational market quintupled in size with victories in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, the nation elected Donald Trump, whose attorney general pick, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is an avowed foe of legalization and drug law reform in general.</p><p>Trump himself has said he favors letting the states experiment, but the billion-dollar question is whether Trump is going to set pot policy or leave it to his minions. If it's the latter, legal marijuana may be in for a bumpy ride, but even if it's the latter, that's just the political status quo.</p><p>That isn't enough for Hudak. He wants things settled at the federal level through congressional action, not left to the administrative whim of some office-holder. Whether the next few years is going to bring us any closer to Hudak's prescription for pot policy perfection is an open question, and it's sure to be contested political terrain.</p><p>Hudak raises the right questions about marijuana's future, but make no mistake, <em>Marijuana: A Short History</em> is by no mean all pot policy wonkery. After all, Hudak is writing a history, and he does just that in a concise and lively manner, concentrating on the 20th century in the U.S., a period that saw the long arc of pot prohibition peak before the decline it now faces in the early years of the 21st century. Of special interest is his section on the rise of a successfully reform movement, as he zeroes in on the people and strategies that made it happen.</p><p>Okay, <em>Marijuana: A Short History</em> is pretty wonky. It's serious stuff with a serious purpose: getting us down the path to a sane and effective marijuana policy nationwide. People with an interest in marijuana and marijuana legalization need to be thinking about these things, and Hudak is going to reward a serious reader. And he isn't going to make you slog through 400 pages of academic prose along the way. Read it; it'll make you think. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070706'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070706" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 23:31:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070706 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Books Drugs John Hudak marijuana marijuana legalization decriminalization medical marijuana cannabis sativa indica Kratom Krazed: One Florida Lawmaker's Lonely, Wacky Crusade to Ban the Herb http://www.alternet.org/drugs/kratom-krazed-florida-lawmaker-lonely-wacky-crusade-ban-herb <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070541'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070541" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">She calls kratom a &quot;scourge on society.&quot;</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/kratom_project_cbd.jpg?itok=7cCOptC0" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Florida state Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) is a woman on a mission, albeit a strange and misinformed mission. For the last three years, Jacobs has waged a lonely crusade in Tallahassee to ban kratom, the herb derived from a Southeast Asian tree and widely used for pain relief, withdrawal from opiates and as a less harmful alternative to opiates.</p><p>She's at it again this year, having just introduced a measure, <a href="https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/0183/BillText/Filed/PDF">House Bill 183</a>, that would add mitragynine and hydroxymitragynine, the active constituents of kratom, to the state's controlled substances list. And she's invoking the specter of Hitler as she does so.</p><p>Saying the kratom ban was a "fall on the sword issue" for her, Jacobs railed against the people who have opposed her prohibitionist efforts, accusing them of Goebbels-like propaganda.</p><p>"They have a story," she told the <a href="http://saintpetersblog.com/kristin-jacobs-kratom-lobby-just-like-hitler/">St. Peters Blog</a>. "Just like Hitler believed if you tell a lie over and over again, it becomes the truth."</p><p>Portraying herself as bravely challenging a "lie machine…a powerful lobby with lots of money," Jacobs warned against an entity she called, "Big Kratom." "It's not just what they're doing here," she said. "They're doing the same thing around the country.</p><p>"They" would be the American Kratom Association and the Botanical Education Alliance. The former was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/us/kratom-an-addicts-alternative-is-found-to-be-addictive-itself.html">founded by Susan Ash</a>, a 46-year-old who began taking kratom while being treated for dependence on prescription pain relievers and now takes a small dose daily to ease chronic pain and depression. She was so impressed with the results, she founded the group in 2015 to represent kratom consumers. The group now has more than 2,000 members and lobbies against efforts to ban the drug.</p><p>The Botanical Education Alliance is a small, non-profit organization that aims to educate the public about kratom. Its stated mission is, "to increase understanding in order to influence public policy and protect natural supplements. Our vision is to create a society where every adult has the right to access safe and effective natural supplements."</p><p>According to the American Kratom Association, "Kratom is not a drug. Kratom is not an opiate. Kratom is not a synthetic substance. Naturally occurring Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that’s more akin to tea and coffee than any other substances. Kratom behaves as a partial <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22133323" target="_blank">mu-opioid receptor</a> agonist and is used for <a href="http://www.eurekaselect.com/87838/article" target="_blank">pain management</a>, energy, even depression and anxiety that are so common among Americans. Kratom contains no opiates, but it does bind to the same receptor sites in the brain. Chocolate, coffee, exercise and even human breast milk hit these receptor sites in a similar fashion."</p><p>Unsurprisingly, Jacobs disagrees. She calls the herb a "scourge on society" and declares it's an opiate, breezily lumping it in with heroin and pain pill mills.</p><p>In Jacobs' dystopian vision, she foresees babies born with withdrawal symptoms, emergency room doctors treating strung-out kratom junkies in the throes of withdrawal, and "addicts with glassy eyes and shaky hands" lurking about until the dreaded kratom overdose gets them. "How many more are going to die?" she asks.</p><p>Well, not many, actually. Like opiates, kratom relieves pain, slows bowel activity, produces euphoric feelings, and creates physical addiction and a withdrawal syndrome. But unlike opiates, it causes a pleasant, caffeine-type buzz in small doses, and more significantly, it is apparently very difficult, if not impossible, to overdose on it. The few deaths where kratom is implicated include <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23082895">poly-drug use</a>, or as in a case reported by the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/us/kratom-an-addicts-alternative-is-found-to-be-addictive-itself.html?_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, suicide by a young kratom user who was also being treated for depression.</p><p>"Direct kratom overdoses from the life-threatening respiratory depression that usually occurs with opioid overdoses have not been reported," Oliver Grundmann, clinical associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida, told journalist Maia Szalavitz at <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/why-banning-the-controversial-painkiller-kratom-could-be-bad-news-for-americas-heroin-addicts">Vice</a>. Grundmann should know; he just <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26511390" target="_blank">reviewed</a> the research on kratom for the <em>International Journal of Legal Medicine</em>.</p><p>Szalavitz also consulted Mark Swogger, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who with his colleagues analyzed 161 "experience reports" posted by kratom users on the drug information site Erowid.org for a recent <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26595229" target="_blank">study</a> in the <em>Journal of Psychoactive Drugs</em>.</p><p>"I think it's pretty safe to say that kratom has at least some addiction potential. The data is fairly strong on that and our study also found that people are reporting addiction," but "overall, we found that it's really mild compared to opioid addiction and it didn't seem to last as long."</p><p>Jacobs' inflammatory and ill-founded comments generated a quick and strong reaction from kratom advocates. Kendra Jowers, who sits on the advisory board of the Botanical Education Alliance, didn't mince any words.<strong></strong></p><p>"It’s difficult to know how to respond to what Representative Jacobs said, because what she said was borderline lunatic," Jowers told the <a href="http://floridapolitics.com/archives/230061-godwins-law-makes-bad-law-claims-kratom-advocate">Florida Report</a>. "And I think any sane, rational person could recognize it as such, whether they have personal ties to kratom or not," she said.</p><p>"When Representative Jacobs feels the need to compare an advocacy organization like the Botanical Education Alliance to the Third Reich, she’s already lost the argument. She’s already shown that she has no winning hand; that’s why she resorts to such absurd and outrageously dishonest appeals to emotion and irrationality. We are a group of professionals from across the country who have volunteered our time to fight for people’s right to use a natural supplement to curtail their pain and wean off of addiction to opioids and alcohol. To liken us to Hitler is reprehensible and entirely unprofessional," Jowers continued. "That is not to mention how abhorrent and obscene it was for her to trivialize one of the worst atrocities in human history."</p><p>Jowers wasn't done. She also took umbrage at Jacobs' portrayal of kratom users.</p><p>"She may not have named names, but those were personal attacks. Because when she characterizes kratom users this way — glassy-eyed, shaking, helpless addicts who aren’t competent to understand what they’re fighting for here — she is personally attacking the tens of thousands of Floridians who use kratom to responsibly manage their health conditions," Jowers noted.</p><p>"Kratom users are mothers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, and notably, veterans suffering from PTSD, pain, and addiction that may have resulted from what they’ve endured in the course of their service to this country. I guarantee, you encounter kratom users all the time, and you would have no idea that they are using it unless they were to tell you — contrary to Representative Jacobs’ histrionic and inaccurate characterization," Jowers added.</p><p>The American Kratom Association and the Botanical Education Alliance have led the charge against the DEA's move to federally ban kratom, a pushback that resulted in the agency's unprecedented decision to delay or possibly even undo the proposed ban. Now they are leading the charge to push back against Rep. Jacobs and her war on the herb.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070541'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070541" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 13:11:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070541 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs florida Rep. Kristin Jacobs kratom Susan Ash Kenrdra Jowers American Kratom Association Botanical Education Alliance 5 Ways to Avoid Freaking Out on Pot http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-ways-avoid-freaking-out-pot <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070138'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070138" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Getting too high takes the fun out of getting high. Here are some tips for avoiding &quot;too high&quot; and how to mitigate it if you 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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/panic.jpg?itok=YxELQb3H" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Being too high is no fun. Getting stoned on weed is supposed to be a chill, relaxing thing, but even experienced cannabis consumers can get to the point where their dreamy buzz takes on some nightmarish aspect, whether it's couch-locked immobility, fear of impending overdose death (the Maureen Dowd syndrome), or just plain old panic and anxiety.</p><p>It's not hard to overindulge. A big honking hit of some demon dabs could get you much higher than you ever imagined possible on pot, especially if you're not used to it, or maybe you ate an edible, waited awhile, ate another one because you weren't getting off, then—blammo!—the combined effects hit you like a donkey-kick to the gut. Or maybe you were upset or worried about something before you got high, and you find yourself spiraling down into a cycle of paranoia and anxiety fueled by cannabis consciousness run amok.</p><p>Being overwhelmed by weed is not pleasant, but it's not the end of the world either. And there are some handy things you can do to avoid it in the first place and mitigate it if you do find yourself in over your head.</p><p><strong>Be smart on dosing.</strong> The easiest way to avoid getting way too high is—duh—not consuming too much THC. A good rule of thumb for new users is only to consume about 10 milligrams of THC and waiting awhile to see how it affects you. If you're smoking or vaping it, you will know within a few minutes how high you're going to get; if you're using edibles, wait at least an hour and better yet, two, to judge whether you're sufficiently high.</p><p>So, what's 10 milligrams of THC? If you're using high-grade buds, they probably have a THC content of between 20% and 30%, so that means that one-gram bud you have in your hand contains between 200 and 300 mg of THC. For your test run, you don't want to smoke any more than a couple of tokes of that gram, then wait and see how you feel.</p><p>If you're doing dabs, beware! That's the cannabis equivalent of doing shots of Everclear. One gram of dabs is going to be 900 mg of THC or higher, so a single, restrained toke may be enough, or more than enough for a novice user.</p><p>And if you're doing edibles or concentrates, you are going to have to rely on dosing information on the packaging (if it's coming from a legal state). If a pot brownie is labeled as containing 100 mg of THC, you better start by just nibbling one-tenth of it.</p><p><strong>Don't Panic! You're Not Going to Die.</strong>Okay, so you ignored the advice above and find yourself in a bad way. Your thought processes are funny, you feel like you can't breathe, you're frightened you're losing your mind or even your life. It happens, and it happens with increasingly frequency as new users make their way into the world of weed. Hospital ERs are reporting increased marijuana-related visits, what they are reporting is anxiety reactions and panic attacks, not overdoses—because you can't OD and die on weed. No one is losing their lives because they ingested too much pot, nor are they suffering systemic organ failures, or any other life-threatening issues.</p><p>So, if you do find yourself starting to freak out, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are just reacting to the drug, that it's not going to kill you, and that it is going to wear off in a little while. In a few hours, you're going to be back to normal. Maybe that can take the edge off the anxiety.</p><p><strong>Drink plenty of water.  </strong>Water—it does a body good. Keep plenty of cold liquids on hand to ensure that you stay hydrated. This will also fight off the dreaded cotton mouth, and with your heightened cannabis consciousness, you can concentrate on the cool, soothing liquid sliding down your throat instead of picking at that nagging fear that you're going to die or get busted or get yelled at or whatever other terrifying notion is eating at you.</p><p><strong>Fight back with black pepper!</strong>Say what? Yep, black pepper. Canadian rocker Neil Young is <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/lifestyle/this-everyday-household-item-could-counteract-your-cannabis-induc">hip to this tip</a>, advising shock jock Howard Stern, who said he hadn't touched weed in years because it makes him paranoid, to just "Try black pepper balls if you get paranoid. Just chew two or three pieces."</p><p>It's true. As cannabis researcher Ethan Russo reported in the <em><a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/" target="_blank">British Journal of Pharmacology</a></em>, both pot and pepper impact the body's endocannabinoid system, and peppercorns have a "<a href="http://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(13)00302-7/abstract" target="_blank">phytocannabinoid-terpenoid effect</a>," which is known to help with anxiety (as well as pain, depression, and addiction).</p><p>Combining the terpenoids in peppercorns with the THC in marijuana creates a synergistic effect on cannabinoid receptors in the brain, with the double-binding to the receptors creating a calming, anti-anxiety effect.</p><p><strong>Fight back with CBD!</strong>If that big, bad THC is beating you up, consider hanging out with its more gentle-natured little sister. Cannabidiol (CBD) is highly-touted <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/can-cbd-undo-the-anxious-side-effects-of-thc/">anxiety-fighting compound </a> that many patients find desirable not only for its medicinal effects,  but because it doesn't get them high. Keeping some low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil or edibles around can come in handy for fighting the pot jitters. It works by modulating the cannabinoid receptor signaling associated with THC, and if you're too high, modulated is the state you're seeking.</p><p>You can get too high for you own comfort on marijuana, but it's not going to kill you or seriously injure you, it's a temporary state, and you can take actions to make it go away without freaking out and showing up at a hospital with a "marijuana overdose emergency."</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070138'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070138" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 07 Jan 2017 13:20:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070138 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana overdose anxiety panic reaction panic attack CBD peppercorn black pepper thc The Top 10 International Drug Policy Stories of 2016 http://www.alternet.org/drugs/top-10-international-drug-policy-stories-2016 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070077'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070077" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There was a lot of good drug reform news last year, but also some really ugly stuff. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/drugs_un_meeting-apha-120815.jpg?itok=8Q_kdYKU" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The year that just ended saw a serious outbreak of bloody violence against drug users and sellers in one country; drug offenders hanged by the hundreds in another; efforts to fight the spread of drug-related HIV/AIDS falter for lack of funding; and the tenacity of the prohibitionist apparatus in the halls of the United Nations. But there was also good news emanating from various corners of the world, including advances in marijuana legalization in Canada, the U.S. and Europe and the flouting of the proscription against the coca trade in the U.N. anti-drug treaties. And speaking of treaties, alhough we didn't include it this year because the drug policy implications remain unclear, the fruition of years'-long peace negotiations between Colombia and the leftist rebels of FARC, bringing an end to the Western hemisphere's longest-running guerrilla war, is certainly worth noting. </p><p>Here are the 10 most notable international drug policy events of 2016, the good, the bad and the ugly.</p><p><strong>1. The U.N. General Assembly Special Session on DrugsTakes Place. </strong>The global prohibitionist consenus was under growing strain at the UNGASS on Drugs, as civil society pressed the U.N. bureaucracy and member states for reforms as never before. But change comes at a glacial pace at the level of global diplomacy, and the vision of UNGASS as a platform for discussing fundamental issues and plotting a new course ran up against the resistance of drug war hardliners like Russia and China, and the studied indifference of European governments, which preferred that the U.N. drug policy center of gravity remain at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.</p><p>While the U.S. delegation advocated for some good stances, it opposed any meddling with the trio of U.N. conventions that form the legal backbone of global drug prohibition. Still, there were some incremental victories. U.N. agencies submitted their own position papers, many highly progressive, as were the submissions from some countries and international organizations. EU states and others fought hard for language opposing the death penalty for drug offenses, though unsuccessfully. And while the UNGASS Outcome Document avoids most big issues, it puts strong emphasis on treatment and alternatives to incarceration. It acknowledges the importance of human rights and proportionate sentencing; has support for naloxone (the overdose antidote), medication-assisted treatment (e.g. methadone and buprenorphine) and safe injecting equipment (though avoids the term "harm reduction"); and calls for addressing obstacles to opioid availability.</p><p><strong>2. Global Harm Reduction for AIDS Remains Tragically Underfunded.</strong>  Despite the repeatedly proven positive impact of harm reduction measures in reducing the spread and prevalence of HIV/AIDS, donors continue to refuse to <a href="https://www.hri.global/files/2015/02/16/GSHR2014.pdf">pony up</a> to pay for such measures. The UNAIDS program estimates that $2.3 billion was needed to fund AIDS-related harm reduction programs last year, but only $160 million was actually invested by donors as most member states cut their aid levels. That's only 7% of the requested funding level. That's after 2015 saw reductions in funding for AIDS efforts in low- and middle-income countries. The world spends an estimated $100 billion a year fighting drugs, but can't come up with 2.3% of that figure to fight drug-related AIDS harms.</p><p><strong>3. America's Most Populous State Legalizes Marijuana, and So Do Several More. </strong>You know the global prohibitionist consensus is crumbling when the rot sets in at home, and that's what happened in November's U.S. elections. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts all voted to legalize marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, which led the way in 2012 and 2014. Now, some 50 million Americans live in pot-legal states, and that's going to mean increasing pressure on the government in Washington to end federal pot prohibition. </p><p><strong>4. Europe's Prohibitionist Consensus on Pot Begins Crumbling Around the Edges. </strong>No European nation has legalized marijuana, but signs are increasing that somebody is going to do it soon. If 2016 was any indication, the best candidates may be Italy, where a broadly supported <a href="http://www.cannabislegale.org/proposta-di-legge/">legalization bill</a> got a parliamentary hearing this year before surprise election results upset the country's political apple cart; Germany, where "<a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/2d5b7fad0f404efcb9ab6084bc8b787e/germans-demonstrate-berlin-legalization-marijuana">legalization</a> is in the air" as Berlin moves toward allowing cannabis coffee shops and Dusseldorf moves toward total marijuana legalization; and Denmark, where Copenhagen is trying yet again to <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/copenhagen-legalise-cannabis-marijuana-fourth-attempt-reduce-gang-warfare-a7484746.html">legalize weed</a>. In Denmark and Germany, legalization isn't currently favored by the central governments, while in Italy, legalization is in limbo after Europe's populist uprising swept the prime minister out of office. Still, the pressure is mounting in Europe.</p><p><strong>5. The Dutch Are Finally Going to Do Something About the 'Back Door Problem.' </strong>The Dutch have allowed for the sale of marijuana at "coffee shops" since the 1980s, but never made any provision for a legal pot supply for retailers. Now, after 20 years of blocking any effort to decriminalize marijuana production, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD party has had a change of heart. At a <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/largest-dutch-political-party-wants-overhaul-cannabis-laws">party conference in November</a>, the VVD voted to support "smart regulation" of marijuana and "to redesign the entire domain surrounding soft drugs." The full text of the resolution, supported by 81% of party members, reads: "While the sale of cannabis is tolerated at the front door, stock acquisition is now illegal. The VVD wants to end this strange situation and regulate the policy on soft drugs in a smarter way. It's time to redesign the entire domain surrounding soft drugs. This redevelopment can only take place on a national level. Municipalities should stop experiments with cannabis cultivation as soon as possible." The opposition political parties are already in support of solving the long-lived "back door problem."</p><p><strong>6. Canada's Move Toward Marijuana Legalization Continues Apace.</strong>Justin Trudeau and the Liberals swept the Tories out of power in October 2015 with a platform that included a clearcut call for marijuana legalization. Movement toward that goal has been slow but steady, with the task force charged with clearing the way calling for wide-ranging legalization in a report report <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-task-force-advises-wide-ranging-legalization-of-recreational-marijuana/article33307322/">issued in December</a>. The Liberals say they expect to file legalization bills in the parliament this spring, and Canada remains on track to free the weed.</p><p><strong>7. Bolivia Ignores U.N. Drug Treaty, Agrees to Export Coca to Ecuador. </strong>Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca grower union leader himself, opened the year campaigning to decriminalize the <a href="http://www.laprensasa.com/309_america-in-english/3541019_bolivia-to-push-for-decriminalization-of-coca-trade.html">coca trade</a> and closed it without waiting for the U.N. to act by <a href="https://panampost.com/ysol-delgado/2016/11/22/despite-un-ban-bolivia-will-export-coca-based-products-to-ecuador/">inking an agreement</a> with Ecuador to export coca there. The agreement would appear to violate the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which bans the export of coca leaf because it contains the cocaine alkaloid, but neither Bolivia nor Ecuador seem to care.</p><p><strong>8. Mexico Marks a Decade of Brutal Drug Wars. </strong>In December 2006, President Felipe Calderon sent the Mexican army into the state of Michoacan in what he said was a bid to get serious about fighting the drug trade. It didn't work, and led to the worst prohibition-related violence in the country's history, with an estimated 100,000-plus killed and tens of thousands more gone missing. Attention to the cartel wars peaked in 2012, which was a presidential election year in both the U.S. and Mexico, and the level of killing declined after that, but has now risen back to those levels. Calderon's replacement, Enrique Pena Nieto, has publicly deemphasized the drug war, but has not substantially shifted the policy. The arrest of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has weakened his cartel, but that has only led to more violence as new competitors vie for supremacy.</p><p><strong>9. Iran Has Second Thoughts About the Death Penalty for Drugs. </strong>The Islamic Republic is perhaps the world's leading drug executioner, with drug offenders accounting for the vast majority of the over 1000 people it executed in 2015 (2016 numbers aren't in yet). There are increasing signs the regime is set to change course, however. In November, the parliament <a href="https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/11/executions-for-minor-drug-charges-could-end-in-iran">agreed</a> to expedite deliberations on a measure that would dramatically limit the number of people facing execution for drugs. Now, the proposal will get top priority in the Legal and Social Affairs Committee before heading to the full parliament. The measure would limit the death penalty to "organized drug lords," "armed trafficking," "repeat offenders," and "bulk drug distributors."</p><p><strong>10. The Philippines Wages a Bloody War on Drug Users and Sellers. </strong>With the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the country descended into a veritable bloodbath, as police and vigilantes seemingly competed to see who could kill more drug users faster. President Duterte has brushed off criticism from the U.S., the U.N. and human rights groups, and even insulted his critics, although he did have kind words to say about Donald Trump, who had kind words to say about him. As of year's end, the death toll was around 6,000, with the vigilantes claiming a slight lead over the cops.  </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070077'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070077" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:58:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1070077 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs World ungass drug prohibition aids hiv marijuana legalization mexico philippines iran death penalty drugs netherlands dutch canada Marijuana Monster Money: California Makes More from Cannabis Than the Next 5 Largest Crops Combined http://www.alternet.org/drugs/california-six-largest-cash-crops-marijuana-monster <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069878'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069878" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">$24 billion is no joke. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/california_marijuana_template.jpg?itok=ne__MAsL" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>California's agricultural bounty is fabled, from the endless olive and almond groves of the Central Valley to the world-class grapes of the Napa Valley to the winter vegetables of the Imperial Valley to the garlic fields of Gilroy, and beyond. But the biggest item in California's agricultural cornucopia is cannabis.</p><p>According to report last week from the <em><a href="http://www.ocregister.com/articles/infographic-739746-marijuana-california.html">Orange County Register</a></em>, California's marijuana crop is not only the most valuable agricultural product in the nation's number one agricultural producer state, it totally blows away the competition. </p><p>Using cash farm receipt data from the state Department of Food and Agriculture for ag crops and its own estimate of in-state pot production (see discussion below), the <em>Register</em> pegs the value of California's marijuana crop at more than the top five leading agricultural commodities combined.</p><p>Here's how it breaks down, in billions of dollars: </p><ol><li>Marijuana—$23.3</li><li>Milk—$6.28</li><li>Almonds—$5.33</li><li>Grapes—$4.95</li><li>Cattle, calves—$3.39</li><li>Lettuce—$2.25</li></ol><p>That estimate of $23.3 billion for the pot crop is humongous, and it's nearly three times what the industry investors the <a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/08/23/california-marijuana-market-report/61494/">Arcview Group estimated</a> the size of the state's legal market would be in the near post-legalization era. So, how did the <em>Register</em> come up with it, and what could explain it? </p><p>The newspaper extrapolated from seizures of pot plants, which have averaged more than two million a year in the state for the past five years, and, citing the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, used the common heuristic that seizures account for only 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs produced. That led it to an estimate of 13.2 million plants grown in the state in 2015 (with 2.6 million destroyed), based on the high-end 20 percent figure. </p><p>It then assumed that each plant would produce one pound of pot at a market price of $1,765 a pound. Outdoor plans can produce much more than a pound, but indoor plants may only produce a few ounces, so the one-pound average figure is safely conservative. </p><p>The $1,765 per pound farm gate price is probably optimistic, though, especially for outdoor grown marijuana, which fetches a lower price than indoor, and especially for large producers moving multi-dozen or—hundred pound loads. </p><p>And maybe law enforcement in California is damned good at sniffing out pot crops and seizes a higher proportion of the crop than the rule of thumb would suggest. Still, even if the cops seized 40 percent of the crop and farmers only got $1,000 a pound, the crop would still be valued at $8 billion and still be at the top of the farm revenue heap. </p><p>And it would still exceed the estimate of what the state's legal marijuana market would look like—in 2020. Arcview estimated revenues of $6.5 billion by then under legalization. For 2015, the year the <em>Register</em> is looking at, Arcview pegged the state's legal (medical) market at $2.8 billion. </p><p>Even making conservative assumptions about the value of the pot crop, it's clear that California pot producers are growing billions of dollars' worth of marijuana that is not accounted for by the state's legal market. Where does it all go? Ask any of those state troopers perched like vultures along the interstate highways heading east out of California. </p><p>That's a phenomenon that's not going to stop when California's legal marijuana market goes into full effect. It's not going to stop until people in states like Illinois and Florida and New York can grow their own. In the meantime, California pot growers are willing to take the risk if it brings the green. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069878'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069878" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 23:53:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069878 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy california agriculture marijuana grapes milk cattle almonds cannabis Dozens of People Died Last Year Directly Because of Our Pointless War on Drugs http://www.alternet.org/drugs/2016-another-year-futile-drug-war-killings <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069831'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069831" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A spate of December drug war deaths brought the year&#039;s total to 49, in line with recent years that saw people killed at the rate of about one a week. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/police_8.jpg?itok=LyzptjcK" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>With 2016 now behind us, it's time for some year-end accounting, and when it comes to fatalities related to drug law enforcement, that accounting means tallying up the bodies. The good news is that drug war deaths are down slightly from last year; the bad news is that people are still being killed at the rate of about once a week, as has been the norm in recent years. There were 49 people killed in the drug war last year.</p><p>This is the sixth year the <em><a href="http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle">Drug War Chronicle</a></em> has tallied drug war deaths. There were <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/231">54 in 2011</a>, <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/242">63 in 2012</a>, <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/252">41 in 2013</a>, <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/252">39 in 2014</a>, and <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/258">56 in 2015</a>,  That's an average of just a hair under one a week during the past five years.</p><p>The <em>Chronicle's</em> tally only include deaths directly related to US domestic drug law enforcement operations -- full-fledged, door-busting, pre-dawn SWAT raids, to traffic stops turned drug busts, to police buy-bust operations. Some of the deaths are by misadventure, not gunshot, including several people who died after ingesting drugs in a bid to avoid getting busted and two law enforcement officers who separately dropped dead while.</p><p>Many of those killed either brandished a weapon or actually shot at police officers, demonstrating once again that attempting to enforce drug prohibition in a society rife with weapons is a recipe for trouble. Some of those were homeowners wielding weapons against middle-of-the-night intruders who they may or may not have known were police.</p><p>But numerous others were killed in their vehicles by police who claimed suspects were trying to run them down and feared for their lives when they opened fire. Could those people have been merely trying to flee from the cops? Or were they really ready to kill police to go to avoid going to jail on a drug charge?</p><p>Which is not to underestimate the dangers to police enforcing the drug laws. The drug war took the lives of four police officers last year, one in a shoot-out with a suspect, one in an undercover drug buy gone bad, one while doing a drug interdiction training exercise at a bus station, and one while engaged in a nighttime drug raid over a single syringe. That's about par for the course; over the six years the <em>Chronicle</em> has been keeping count about one cop gets killed for every 10 dead civilians.</p><p>Here are December's drug war deaths:</p><p><strong>On December 7, in Dallas, Texas,</strong> <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2016/12/17/man-died-downtown-dallas-drug-raid-shot-officials-say">Keelan Charles Murray</a>, 37, shot and killed himself as local police operating as part of a DEA drug task force attempted to arrest him for receiving a package of  synthetic opioids. Police said they were clearing the apartment when they heard a gunshot from upstairs. A Duncanville police officer then shot Murray in the shoulder, and Murray then turned his own gun on himself. Murray was locally notorious for having sold heroin to  former Dallas Cowboy football player Matt Tuinei, who overdosed on it and died in 199. Dallas Police are investigating.</p><p><strong>On December 11, in White Hall, West Virginia</strong>, Marion County police attempting to serve a drug arrest warrant shot and killed <a href="http://wvmetronews.com/2016/12/14/suspect-identity-released-in-fatal-white-hall-police-shooting/">Randy Lee Cumberledge</a>, 39, in the parking lot of the local Walmart. Police said they spotted Cumberledge's vehicle, but when they approached and ordered him to show his hands, he put his vehicle into gear and "drove aggressively" toward a deputy. Both the deputy and a White Hall police officer opened fire, killing Cumberland. There was no mention of any firearms recovered. The West Virginia State Police are investigating.</p><p><strong>On December 12, in Byron, Georgia</strong>, member of a Peach County Drug Task Force SWAT team shot and killed <a href="http://www.albanyherald.com/news/local/suspect-who-wounded-byron-police-officers-killed/article_ed90e35e-f5fb-546e-b176-ee640f96e28a.html">Rainer Smith</a>, 31, when he allegedly opened fire on them with a shotgun as they forced their way into his home to arrest him. Smith wounded two Byron police officers before return fire from police killed him. Police said no one answered the door when they arrived, so they forced their way in, and were immediately met by gunfire. Smith's live-in girlfriend and infant daughter were in the home with him. They were uninjured. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.</p><p><strong>On  December 21, in Knox, Indiana</strong>, Knox Police shot and killed <a href="http://www.abc57.com/story/34137687/names-of-officers-involved-in-knox-shooting-released-mayor-speaks-out">William Newman</a>, 46, as they attempted to arrest him for possession of methamphetamine, failure to appear for dealing meth, and violating parole. Police said Knox attempted to flee, almost running down an officer, and they opened fire. He died in a local hospital hours later. The Indiana State Police are investigating. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069831'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069831" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 02 Jan 2017 12:52:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069831 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drug prohibition war on drugs Hallucinatory Himalayan Honey Creates a Buzz http://www.alternet.org/drugs/hallucinatory-himalyan-honey-creates-buzz <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069112'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069112" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;ll blow your mind, but first it&#039;ll blow your insides out.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bees.jpg?itok=PJN_O-uR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>High in the Himalayas, there's a kind of honey that can get you high, but you might have to fend off outraged Himalayan honey bees while hanging off a 300-foot cliff to get it. And it's kind of rough stuff; you'll go through intense physical purging before the mental weirdness kicks in.</p><p>Still, the stuff is going for as much as $166 a pound on the black market because of the high, according to the <a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/explorer/videos/hallucinogenic-honey-hunters/">Hallucinogenic Honey Hunters</a> episode of National Geographic's Explorer documentary series. The episode chronicled an average day of Himalayan honey hunting, the hunter climbing a rope through clouds of smoke hundreds of feet up the cliffside, swatting away swarms of angry, oversized bees as he successfully steals his sticky treasure.</p><p>The Himalayan honeybee is the largest bee in the world, but its diet is what makes its honey so special. These bees happen to browse on local rhododendron trees that bloom on north-facing hillsides each spring, and the nectar from the flowers contain gryanotoxins that alter mental states and produce hallucinations by binding to sodium channels in your cell walls.</p><p>The Food and Drug Administration is hip to hallucinatory honey with a web page describing <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/CausesOfIllnessBadBugBook/ucm071128.htm">honey intoxication</a> (also known as mad honey intoxication or rhodendendron poisoning). It doesn't sound that fun:  </p><blockquote><p>The intoxication is rarely fatal and generally lasts for no more than 24 hours. Generally the disease induces dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting shortly after the toxic honey is ingested. Other symptoms that can occur are low blood pressure or shock, bradyarrhythima (slowness of the heart beat associated with an irregularity in the heart rhythm), sinus bradycardia (a slow sinus rhythm, with a heart rate less than 60), nodal rhythm (pertaining to a node, particularly the atrioventricular node), Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (anomalous atrioventricular excitation) and complete atrioventricular block.</p></blockquote><p>The FDA doesn't mention the fun part. But Jenge, the local Kulung trader who manages the Sadhi honey hunters, provides a fuller account to filmmaker Renan Ozturk.</p><p>Within a few minutes of eating the honey, he says, you are overcome with an urgent need to defecate, urinate and vomit. "Normally we see a doctor to have bad things taken out of our bodies, but the honey does this for us. That's why we take it," he explains.</p><p>Then things get interesting. After purging, "You alternate between light and dark. You can see and then you can't see," Jenge says, adding that a sound of "jam jam jam" pulses in your head like the droning of a beehive. Then you lose all motor function.</p><p>"The paralysis lasts for a day or so," he says.</p><p>Still not interested? It's supposed to enhance sexual performance, too. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/explorer/videos/hallucinogenic-honey-hunters/embed/" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069112'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069112" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 23:14:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069112 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video World honey himalayan honey bee gryanotoxins national geographic Renan Ozturk nepal fda Can You Get Stoned in Space? A New Study Says Maybe Not http://www.alternet.org/drugs/stoned-space-new-study-maybe-not <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069322'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069322" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This is some high science. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/an_artists_impression_of_planet_in_the_hd_131399_system.tif_.jpg?itok=N0kCXz87" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Pot smoking astral adventurers have been making appearances in science fiction since at least as far back as William Gibson's space-Rastas in the cyberpunk classic <em>Neuromancer</em>, but any reefer hounds planning on getting red-eyed on their way to the Red Planet might have to rethink.</p><p>A new study that examines the effects of cosmic radiation on neurotransmission suggests that its high-energy protons, or "subatomic speedballs," affect signaling in the brain precisely in a way that should be harshing the mellow of would-be space stoners: It screws up the endocannabinoid system.</p><p>That's the part of the neural system that responds to marijuana and gets you high. In other words, you might not be able to get stoned in space.</p><p>The study, published in the journal <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00429-016-1345-3" target="_blank">Brain Structure &amp; Function</a></em>, explored the effects of low-dose proton irradiation on mice, but it has implications both for getting high and for interplanetary pot policy.</p><p>"On a long trip to Mars, recreation and medical marijuana use will likely become a highly controversial issue, so I stand by the importance of this study," Stanford neuroscientist and study co-author Ivan Soltesz told <a href="https://scienceblog.com/490756/space-travelers-beware-high-speed-solar-protons-may-mess-hashish-high">ScienceBlog</a>.</p><p>In the study, after researchers exposed the mice to the protons, they then used biochemical, electrophysiological, and imaging techniques to examine the effects on two types of cells found in the hippocampus. One of them was cannabinoid type 1 receptor expressing basket cells.</p><p>The researchers found that the radiation did affect those receptor cells. And anything messing up endocannabinoid receptors could mess up your high.</p><p>So why are scientists worrying about getting high in space? They're not, really, but they are very interested in the effect solar radiation can have a harmful effect on brain processes, including neurotransmission.</p><p>"In the not too distant future, humankind will embark on one of its greatest adventures, the travel to distant planets," the authors explained. "However, deep space travel is associated with an inevitable exposure to radiation fields. </p><p>Previous research had shown that cosmic radiation did create disruptions in cognition and neuronal structure, but its role in altering neurotransmission is murky, and this study sought to begin to clear the waters.</p><p>"These results demonstrate that energetic charged particles at space-relevant low doses elicit surprisingly selective long-term plasticity of synaptic microcircuits in the hippocampus," the authors wrote.</p><p>The good news is that these findings may help find a way to mitigate cognitive damage during space travel.</p><p>"The magnitude and persistent nature of these alterations in synaptic function are consistent with the observed perturbations in cognitive performance after irradiation, while the high specificity of these changes indicates that it may be possible to develop targeted therapeutic interventions to decrease the risk of adverse events during interplanetary travel," they noted.</p><p>Bottom line: More research is needed before we can determine whether pot will get you spaced in space. And while we ponder the implications, those of you who have read this far deserve a little something to get you in the mood:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VmB1b087qVQ" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069322'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069322" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 23 Dec 2016 00:05:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069322 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana endocannaabinoids hippocampus cosmic radiation solar radiation neurotransmission The 5 States (and One City) Where You Can Legally Give Weed as a Christmas Present http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-states-one-city-legally-give-weed-christmas-gift <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069313'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069313" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Hey, what&#039;s in your Christmas stocking?</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/christmas_pot_stockings.jpg?itok=mVMfiDip" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="contained">The days are ticking down toward Christmas, but last-minute gift-givers in a handful of legal marijuana states (and Washington, DC) have an option most of the rest of us don't: legally giving theirs friends and loved ones a gift of marijuana.</p><p class="contained">There are some caveats: These gifting rules are for adults only—meaning 21 and over—and there are limits on how much can legally be given away, usually an ounce. Also, the laws allowing for gifting mean true gifting, not "You can have this bag of pot for free, but the baggie costs $200." Still, the rules aren't so onerous, and by following them, you can give that special someone a unique and very dank Christmas present. </p><p class="contained">Not all of the states that have legalized weed are on this year's list. Maine and Nevada both legalized it in November, but the laws won't go into effect until mid-January in Maine and January 1 in Nevada. And although Washington state legalized it in 2012, the nation's harshest marijuana legalization regime—it doesn't allow personal grows, it makes possession of an ounce and a half a felony—doesn't allow for gifting, either. Bah, humbug.</p><p class="contained">But if you live in one of the following places, you have that extra Christmas option:</p><p class="contained"><strong>1. Alaska</strong></p><p class="contained">Alaska legalized marijuana via the ballot box in 2014, with the new laws going into effect in February 2015. Under the state's <a href="http://norml.org/states/item/alaska-penalties?category_id=844">legalization law</a>, it is perfectly legal to give away up to an ounce. Heck, you can even give away up to six pot plants, too. </p><p class="contained"><strong>2. California</strong></p><p class="contained">Golden State voters approved the pot-legalizing Proposition 64 in November 8, and its possession and cultivation provisions went into effect the next day. Under the <a href="http://www.canorml.org/news/what_will_be_legal_and_what_wont_after_Prop_64">new regime</a>, you can give away up to an ounce. Of course, since no legal marijuana has been planted and harvested since November 9, you have to have a medical marijuana card to legally have any to give away, but you can still give it away. </p><p class="contained"> 3. <strong>Colorado</strong></p><p class="contained">The first state to legalize it back in 2012 (beating Washington by a couple of hours), Colorado's <a href="https://www.inverse.com/article/25169-colorado-legalized-marijuana-revenue-billion-taxes">pot law</a> also allows for the gifting of up to an ounce. And with a billion dollars in legal marijuana sales this year, there's definitely room for a little giving. </p><p class="contained"><strong>4. Massachusetts</strong></p><p class="contained">The Bay State legalized it last month, and the <a href="https://www.civilized.life/articles/have-questions-about-cannabis-in-massachusetts-like-can-it-be-given-as-a-gift/" target="_blank">new law</a> went into last week, just in time for the holidays. You can give away up to an ounce with no legal problem. In an interesting twist, since the new law allows people to possess up to 10 ounces at home, you could also legally get 10 friends to gift you an ounce each. Sweet!</p><p class="contained"><strong>5. Oregon</strong></p><p class="contained">Oregon legalized it in 2014, and you can give away up to an ounce. </p><p class="contained"><strong>6. Washington, D.C.</strong></p><p class="contained">The nation's capital legalized pot possession and cultivation, but not sales, in 2014. It also legalized the gifting of up to one ounce. But since the possession limit is two ounces, two different people could give you an ounce and you'd still be street legal. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069313'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069313" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 15:06:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069313 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana marijuana legalization gifting christmas alaska california colorado massachusetts oregon washington dc The Top 10 Drugs People Are Overdosing and Dying On in the U.S. http://www.alternet.org/drugs/top-10-drugs-overdose-dying-us <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069269'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069269" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The overdose death toll keeps rising. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/addiction.jpg?itok=k355D9zV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As the wave of heroin and prescription opioid use sweeps across the US, leaving an ever-growing pile of bodies behind, the folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are digging into the data. In a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p1218-drug-overdose.html">new report</a> on the 2014 numbers, they rank the drugs most often reported in overdose fatalities.</p><p>That report put the number of drug overdose deaths that year at 47,055, jumping 23% in four years. Heroin and prescription opioids accounted for 61%, but the use of the stimulants cocaine and methamphetamine also killed thousands, and a few thousand more died from benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam).</p><p><em>[The CDC just released <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p1216-continuing-opioid-epidemic.html">2015 overdose death figures</a>, and they show more of the same. Overall overdose deaths jumped another 5,000 to more than 52,000, with heroin and prescription opioids accounting for 63%. But this latest report doesn't provide a breakdown on deaths by drug categories like the report on 2014 does.]</em></p><p>Here, in rank order of deaths, are the 10 drugs Americans are ODing on:</p><ol><li>Heroin—10,863</li><li>Cocaine—5,856</li><li>Oxycodone—5,435</li><li>Alprazoloam—4,217</li><li>Fentanyl—4,200</li><li>Morphine—4,022</li><li>Methamphetamine—3,727</li><li>Methadone—3,895</li><li>Hydrocodone—3,274</li><li>Diazepam—1,279</li></ol><p>This CDC report didn't include alcohol overdose deaths, but if it had (and the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2015/dpk-vs-alcohol-poisoning.html">CDC has the numbers</a>), booze would have come in at number 10, with 2,200 overdose deaths a year. </p><p>The CDC identified two main causes of the continuing increase in drug overdose deaths: A 15-year increase in prescription opioid deaths as a result of misuse and abuse and a more recent surge in heroin deaths. The former can be associated with the loosening of restrictions on opioid prescribing and the introduction of Oxycontin in 1996, while the latter can be associated with the tightening of restrictions on opioid prescribing in the face of a rising prescription pain pill death toll.</p><p>The 2014 death figures reveal changing trends in death-risking drug use as well. Compared with just four years earlier, heroin deaths more than tripled and fentanyl deaths more than doubled, while prescription pain pill ODs actually declined and the benzos stayed relatively stable. But meth deaths had nearly tripled, and cocaine deaths increased by about 25%.</p><p>The CDC isn't too pleased about the situation.</p><p>"The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders. This report also shows how important it is that law enforcement intensify efforts to reduce the availability of heroin, illegal fentanyl, and other illegal opioids."</p><p>Frieden's final recommendation, though—more drug war—seems to ignore that this entire phenomenon is occurring precisely under a regime of intensive drug law enforcement that has been going on for more than 40 years. Why more of the same would change the outcome is a question that remains unanswered. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069269'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069269" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 23:07:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1069269 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health drugs cdc overdose heroin cocaine oxycodone alprazolam xanax valium diazepam fentanyl morphine methamphetamine Tom Frieden The Six Biggest Drug Stories of 2016 ... Some Very Good News and Some Very Bad News http://www.alternet.org/drugs/6-biggest-drug-policy-stories-2016 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068781'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068781" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The future for legal pot and drug reform is very much in doubt.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_279013319.jpg?itok=S3zm422J" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As 2016 comes to a tumultuous end, we look back on the year in drugs and drug policy. It's definitely a mixed bag, with some major victories for drug reform, especially marijuana legalization, but also some major challenges, especially around heroin and prescription opioids, and the threat of things taking a turn for the worse next year. </p><p>Here are the six biggest stories from the year on drugs.</p><p><strong>1. Marijuana legalization wins big. </strong>Pot legalization initiatives won in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, losing only in Arizona. These weren't the first states to do so—Colorado and Washington led the way in 2012, with Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., following in 2014—but in one fell swoop, states with a combined population of nearly 50 million people just freed the weed. Add in the earlier states, and we're now talking about around 67 million people, or more than one-fifth of the national population.</p><p>The question is, where does marijuana win next? We won't see state legalization initiatives until 2018 (and the conventional wisdom is to wait for the higher-turnout 2020 presidential election year), and most of the low-hanging fruit in terms of initiative states has been harvested, but activists in Michigan came this close to qualifying for the ballot this year and are raring to go again. In the meantime, there are the state legislatures. When AlterNet looked into the crystal ball a few weeks ago, the best bets looked like Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.</p><p><strong>2. Medical marijuana wins big. </strong>Medical marijuana is even more popular than legal weed, and it went four-for-four at the ballot box in November, adding Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota to the list of full-blown medical marijuana states. That makes 28 states—more than half the country—that allow medical marijuana, along with another dozen or so red states that have passed limited CBD-only medical marijuana laws as a sop to public opinion.</p><p>It's worth noting that Montana is a special case. Voters there approved medical marijuana in 2004, only to see a Republican-dominated state legislature gut the program in 2011. The initiative approved by voters this year reinstates that program, and shuttered dispensaries are now set to reopen.</p><p>The increasing acceptance of medical marijuana is going to make it that much harder for the DEA or the Trump administration to balk at reclassifying marijuana away from Schedule I, which is supposedly reserved for dangerous substances with no medical uses. It may also, along with the growing number of legal pot states, provide the necessary impetus to changing federal banking laws to allow pot businesses to behave like normal businesses.</p><p><strong>3. Republicans take control in Washington. </strong>The Trump victory last month and looming Republican control of both houses of Congress has profound drug policy implications, for everything from legal marijuana to funding for needle exchange programs to sentencing policy to the border and foreign policy and beyond. Early Trump cabinet picks, such as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) to lead the Justice Department, are ominous for progressive drug reform, but as with many other policy spheres, what Trump will actually do is a big unknown. It's probably safe to say that any harm reduction programs requiring federal funding or approval are in danger, that any further sentencing reforms are unlikely and that any federal spending for mental health and substance abuse treatment will face an uphill battle. But the cops will probably get more money.</p><p>The really big question mark is around pot policy. Trump has signaled he's okay with letting the states experiment, but Sessions is one of the most retrograde drug warriors in Washington. Time will tell, but in the meantime, the marijuana industry is on tenterhooks and respect for the will of voters in pot legal states and even medical marijuana states is an open question.</p><p><strong>4. The opioid epidemic continues. </strong>Just as the year comes to an end, the CDC announced that opioid overdose deaths last year had topped 33,000, and with 12,000 heroin overdoses, junk had overtaken gunplay as a leading cause of death.</p><p>The crisis has provoked numerous responses, at both the state and the federal levels, some good, and some not. Just this month, Congress approved a billion dollars in opioid treatment and prevention programs. The overdose epidemic has also prompted the loosening of access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone and prodded ongoing efforts to embrace more harm reduction approaches, such as supervised injection sites.</p><p>On the other hand, prosecutors in states across the country have taken to charging those who sell opioids (prescription or otherwise) to people who die of overdose with murder, more intrusive and privacy-invading prescription monitoring programs have been established, and the tightening of the screws on opioid prescriptions is leaving some chronic pain sufferers in the lurch and leading others to seek out opioids on the black market.</p><p><strong>5. Obama commutes more than 1,000 drug war sentences. </strong>In a bid to undo some of the most egregious excesses of the drug war, President Obama has now cut the sentences of and freed more than 1,000 people sentenced under the harsh laws of the 1980s, particularly the racially biased crack cocaine laws, who have already served more time than they would have if sentenced under current laws passed during the Obama administration. He has commuted more sentences in a single year than any president in history and more sentences than the last 11 presidents combined.</p><p>The commutations come under a program announced by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who encouraged drug war prisoners to apply for them. The bad news is that the clock is going to run out before Obama has a chance to deal with thousands of pending applications backlogged in the Office of the Pardons Attorney. The good news is that he still has six weeks to issue more commutations and free more drug war prisoners.</p><p><strong>6. DEA gets a wakeup call when it tries to ban kratom. </strong>Derived from a Southeast Asian tree, kratom has become popular as an unregulated alternative to opioids for relaxation and pain relief, as well as withdrawal from opioids. It has very low overdose potential compared to other opioids and has become a go-to drug for hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.</p><p>Perturbed by its rising popularity, the DEA moved in late summer to use its emergency scheduling powers to ban kratom, but was hit with an unprecedented buzzsaw of opposition from kratom users, scientists, researchers, and even Republican senators like Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who authored and encouraged his colleagues to sign a letter to the DEA asking the agency to postpone its planned scheduling.</p><p>The DEA backed off—but didn't back down—in October, announcing it was shelving its ban plan for now and instead opening a period of public comment. That period ended December 1, but before it did, the agency was inundated with submissions from people opposing the ban. Now, the DEA will factor in that input, as well as formal input from the Food and Drug Administration before making its decision.</p><p>The battle around kratom isn't over, and the DEA could still ban it in the end, but the whole episode demonstrates how much the ground has shifted under the agency. DEA doesn't just get its way anymore. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068781'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068781" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 18 Dec 2016 16:03:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068781 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana medical marijuana marijuana legalization kratom orrin hatch dea opiates opioids heroin overdoses sentencing commutations president obama There Were 7 More Totally Preventable Deaths Over the Last 3 Months, Thanks to Our Disastrous War on Drugs http://www.alternet.org/drugs/seven-more-drug-war-deaths <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068530'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068530" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">People get killed in wars, and people are getting killed in the war on drugs—at a rate of about one a week. Here are the latest.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/police_5.png?itok=EpC9n48L" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>When police in Charlotte, North Carolina, shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in September in an incident that began when they spotted him rolling a joint in his car, the city was shaken by angry protests. Part of it was that he was another black man gunned down by police; part of it was undoubtedly because video taken by Scott's wife as her husband was killed went viral.</p><p>Most drug war-related deaths don't get so much attention, but they happen with depressing regularity. The <em>Drug War Chronicle</em> has been <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/260">tallying them since 2011</a>, and throughout that period, drug war deaths have remained fairly constant, averaging about one a week throughout that period.</p><p>The good news is that this year it looks like we're not going to reach that one a week threshold. The bad news is we're still going to get close. With less than a month to go, the Chronicle's tally this year has reached 45.</p><p>Here are the seven people killed by police enforcing drug laws since the Scott killing. At least three of them were killed as they attempted to flee police in their vehicles, including one where a bystander video shows police opening fire after he posed no obvious immediate danger to police.<p></p></p><p><strong>On September 27 in Phoenix, Arizona</strong>, a Phoenix police officer shot and wounded <a href="http://www.azfamily.com/story/33324528/man-dies-after-being-shot-by-phoenix-police-officer">John Ethan Carpentier</a>, 26, who died of his wounds a week later. Police were tailing Carpenter as part of a drug investigation and had arranged a drug deal with him. He pulled up to a convenience store parking lot next to an undercover cop who was part of the investigation, and other officers then blocked his vehicle in with a marked police cruiser. When officers approached on foot, Carpentier reportedly pulled a hand gun and pointed it at them. When they retreated, he put his vehicle in reverse, ramming the police cruiser, and the undercover narc then "feared for the safety of his fellow officers" and opened fire. Drugs were found in the vehicle. Carpentier had previously done prison time for aggravated assault and drug paraphernalia (!?).<em><p></p></em></p><p><strong>On October 19, in Willoughby, Ohio</strong>, a Willoughby police officer shot and killed <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/crime/index.ssf/2016/10/victim_unknown_in_fatal_willou.html">Frank Sandor</a>, 38, as he attempted to speed away from two officers questioning him in the parking lot of a Lowe's Home Improvement store. Sandor was wanted on drugs and escape warrants and first gave officers false information when they stopped him, then put his vehicle in reverse, striking a police motorcycle parked behind him before driving off. A YouTube video posted shortly after the incident shows the motorcycle officer shooting three times at Sandor's vehicle as it fled—after the officer was no longer in any immediate danger. That video showed the officer limping after he fired the shots. Sandor's vehicle rolled to a halt a few yards away. The Ohio Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation of the shooting.</p><p><span class="credit"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AaCpLreKtgo" width="560"></iframe></span></p><p><strong>On October 25, in Elkton, Maryland</strong>, state police attempting to serve a Delaware drugs and guns arrest warrant at a local motel shot and killed <a href="http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/crime/2016/10/25/wil-cecil-county-delaware/92720052/">Brandon Jones and Chelsea Porter</a>, both 25, when,  instead of surrendering to the dozens of police surrounding the motel, they came out of their motel room with guns pointed at police. Jones came out first, refused demands to drop the weapon, and was shot. Then Porter did the same thing. The shooting will be investigated by Maryland State Police, as is protocol when any police action results in a death.<p></p></p><p><strong>On November 3, in Salisbury, North Carolina</strong>, a member of the Salisbury Police's SWAT-style Special Response Team shot and killed <a href="http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article112267557.html">Ferguson Laurent</a>, 23, as the team executed a "no-knock" search warrant looking for drugs, guns, and stolen property. "One subject fired at least one shot at the officers," said an official statement from the department. "Officers returned fire and struck the subject who has since passed away at the hospital." The officer who shot Laurent was identified as K. Boehm. Boehm shot and killed another suspect in 2008; that killing was found to be justified. Word of the killing spread rapidly and a "tense" crowd gathered at the scene, leading Police Chief Jerry Stokes to warn that while people had a First Amendment right to protest, "if you start becoming violent and damaging property, then that is the problem." The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.</p><p><p></p></p><p><strong>On November 15, in Webster, Texas</strong>, members of the nearby Alvin Police Department Street Crimes Unit shot and killed <a href="https://www.facebook.com/152654684756440/photos/pb.152654684756440.-2207520000.1479452338./1279769475378283/?type=3">Robert Daffern</a>, 37, after locating the wanted drug felon at a motel. Police said they approached Daffern, but that he didn't comply with commands to surrender and instead brandished a pistol and aimed at one of the officers. The Alvin Police investigators then fired several rounds, leaving Daffern dead at the scene. Police found a second pistol in his pocket, and a "significant amount" of drugs and cash. The incident is being investigated by the Webster Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s office and will be reviewed by a grand jury.<p></p></p><p><strong>On November 28, in Hickory, North Carolina</strong>, a Catawba County sheriff's deputy with the narcotics division shot and killed <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/deputy-fatally-shoots-suspect-narcotics-investigation-43839948">Irecas Valentine</a>, 41, during a "narcotics investigation." The sheriff's office said "an altercation occurred involving the unidentified suspect's vehicle and an undercover deputy's vehicle" and "shots were then fired by at least one deputy." Valentine died after being transported to a local hospital. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.<p></p></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068530'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068530" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 15:23:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068530 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video war on drugs police shootings John Ethan Carpentier Frank Sandor Irecas Valentine Brandon Jones Chelsea Porter Robert Daffern In Legal Pot States, People Are Turning to Buds over Beer http://www.alternet.org/drugs/legal-pot-states-consumer-turning-buds-over-beer <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068485'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068485" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Maybe it&#039;s time to talk about the public health benefits of marijuana legalization. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/beer.png?itok=9GsPYC-n" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A new industry study says access to legal marijuana is having a negative impact on beer sales. That's bad news for the brewing industry, but good news from a public health perspective.</p><p>According to the industry site <a href="http://www.brewbound.com/news/report-beer-volumes-declining-markets-recreational-cannabis-legal">Brewbound</a>, the research firm Cowen &amp; Company analyzed the beer industries in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, three states that have recreational pot shops, and found that their beer markets have "collectively underperformed" in the past two years.</p><p>The "magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably" as beer volumes have dropped more than 2% year-to-date in the trio of pot states, with big mainstream brewers like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev seeing the biggest declines, with volumes down 4.4%. Craft beers have done a little better, but are down too, seeing a 2.2% drop.</p><p>"While [marijuana] retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016," wrote Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst.</p><p>That's not exactly a shock, Azer wrote, since government survey data has shown "consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds" in those three states at the same time that age group has seen declines "in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use)." The change is most evident in Denver, one of the centers of the legal pot culture, where beer volumes have dropped 6.4%.</p><p>Numbers like these are bound to soothe the concerns of public health advocates and academics who worried that legal marijuana would complement alcohol use instead of substitute for it. Would legal pot mean more drinking or less? If legal pot meant increased alcohol consumption, with all its dangers, that would be a bad thing from a public health perspective. But if legal pot leads to less alcohol consumption, such problems can be alleviated.</p><p>And this bad news for the brewing industry suggests it does. It's not the only evidence suggesting a substitution effect, either.</p><p>In a <a href="///C:/Users/Owner/Documents/the%20Journal%20of%20Policy%20Analysis%20and%20Management,%20Montana%20State%20University%20economist%20D.%20Mark%20Anderson%20and%20University%20of%20Colorado%20economist%20Daniel%20Rees%20find%20that%20%22studies%20based%20on%20clearly%20defined%20natural%20experiments%20generally%20support%20the%20hypothesis%20that%20marijuana%20and%20alcohol%20are%20substitutes.%22%20Increasing%20the%20drinking%20age%20seems%20to%20result%20in%20more%20marijuana%20consumption,%20for%20instance,%20and%20pot%20smoking%20drops%20off%20sharply%20at%20age%2021,%20%22suggesting%20that%20young%20adults%20treat%20alcohol%20and%20marijuana%20as%20substitutes.%22%20Another%20study%20found%20that%20legalizing%20marijuana%20for%20medical%20use%20is%20associated%20with%20a%20drop%20in%20beer%20sales%20and%20a%20decrease%20in%20heavy%20drinking.%20These%20results,%20Anderson%20and%20Rees%20say,%20%22suggest%20that,%20as%20marijuana%20becomes%20more%20available,%20young%20adults%20in%20Colorado%20and%20Washington%20will%20respond%20by%20drinking%20less,%20not%20more.%22">review</a> in the <em>Journal of Policy Analysis and Management</em>, Montana State University economist D. Mark Anderson and University of Colorado economist Daniel Rees reported that "studies based on clearly defined natural experiments generally support the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes."</p><p>They pointed to one study that found a higher drinking age increases teen pot consumption and that pot smoking drops off sharply at 21, when alcohol becomes legal, "suggesting that young adults treat alcohol and marijuana as substitutes."</p><p>Maybe we need to start talking about the public health benefits of marijuana legalization. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068485'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068485" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:56:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068485 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs alcohol marijuana legalization beer Brewbound Cowen & Company colorado oregon washington denver public health Weed-Infused Coffee Pods, Anyone? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/get-pot-coffee-keurig-compatible-pod <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068345'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068345" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">You can sip your weed instead of smoking it, at least in states where it&#039;s legal. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/brewbudz.jpg?itok=obCTK6ps" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>What pot smoker hasn't enjoyed a nice bowl and a cup of coffee? Well, now you can get your high in your coffee, and your THC-infused coffee in disposable Keurig coffee pods.</p><p>The marijuana edibles—and potables—market is exploding as more and more states embrace either medical marijuana or full-blown pot legalization. <a href="https://www.merryjane.com/health/your-own-canna-cafe-2-ways-to-make-cannabis-infused-coffee">Marijuana-infused coffee</a> has been a thing for a while, but now, thanks to the ganjapreneurs at Brewbudz, it's available in those handy, disposable pods. </p><p>Brewbudz is offering a mixture of Arabica coffee beans and 10 milligrams of THC, which is enough to get a novice user pretty well stoned, but probably beneath the notice of veteran stoners. Hardcore heads would likely have to gulp down two or three or even four cups to get their buzz on.</p><p>Not only is pot-infused coffee tasty and stony, it's good for you, Brewbudz says.</p><p>"Ingesting or consuming hot beverages is a very healthy alternative to smoking which has a high impact on the health of your lungs," says the <a href="http://brewbudz.us/">website</a>. "Best of all, our product is lifestyle integrated which is important to a regular consumer."</p><p>Not sure what "lifestyle integrated" is, but okay.</p><p>Maybe Brewbudz is referring to the fact that it matches stimulant caffeine with stimulating "sativa-dominant" weed, the kind that gives users that "up" high as opposed to the narcotized couch-lock associated with indica strains.</p><p>Brewbudz currently offers a West Coast Roast, in both caffeinated and decaffeinated versions. (Do they offer the decaf infused with no-THC ditch weed?) And they say they're working on French Vanilla and Hazelnut, too. They also offer a weed-infused Decadent Dark Chocolate cocoa and a Breakfast Blend tea, with Green Tea and Chamomile coming down the pike.</p><p>Brewbudz now has a West Coast Roast available, but is working on expanding to include French Vanilla and Hazelnut as well. The coffee comes in both caffeinated and decaf.</p><p>And for all you environmentally conscious caffeine and cannabis consumers, rest assured that your old, tired pods aren't going to end up in a landfill, like Keurig's. These pods are compostable. </p><p>Brewbudz is rolling out its product line between now and March 2017 in legal marijuana states. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068345'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068345" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:32:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068345 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Food marijuana coffee Keurig coffee pods Brewbudz thc Trump Gets Behind Philippines Drug War Mass Murderer http://www.alternet.org/drugs/trump-gets-behind-philippines-drug-war-mass-murderer <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068251'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068251" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Duterte has lived up to his vow to kill thousands of drug users and sellers, and Trump is okay with it. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/duterte-486x350_the_influence.jpg?itok=EYVvsanw" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Donald Trump's seat-of-the-pants pre-inaugural telephone diplomacy is causing shock waves in diplomatic circles and world capitals around the globe. But the president-elect outdid himself with a Friday call to Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte. The Filipino strongman took office earlier this year with a promise to unleash mass murder on Philippine drug users and dealers, and he has lived up to that vow, leaving the streets running with the blood of more than 5,000 <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/11/28/503579840/in-philippines-drug-war-death-toll-rises-and-so-do-concerns-about-tactics">killed so far</a>, either directly by his police, or in a more shadowy fashion by "vigilantes."</p><p>Duterte's bloody campaign has drawn scathing criticism from <a href="https://www.hrw.org/tag/philippines-war-drugs">human rights groups</a>, the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte-un-idUSKCN10W05W">United Nations</a>, and the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/719a579d1e394e3ba5e8499667e60a3b/us-philippine-drills-open-uncertainty-are-they-last">Obama administration</a>, with Duterte responding to the latter by calling Obama a "<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/sep/06/rodrigo-duterte-calls-barack-obama-a-son-of-a-whore-video">son</a> of a whore."</p><p>But in his phone call with the Filipino strongman, Donald Trump was singing a different tune. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/world/asia/philippines-rodrigo-duterte-donald-trump.html">Duterte said</a> Saturday that Trump had endorsed his bloody antidrug campaign, telling him the Philippines was doing it "the right way" and that Trump was "quite sensitive" to "our worry about drugs."</p><p>In a Philippines government summary of the call between Trump and Duterte, the Filipino president said the pair had spoken only briefly, but touched on many topics, including the antidrug campaign.</p><p>"He wishes me well, too, in my campaign, and he said that, well, we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way," Duterte said.</p><p>"I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump, and he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem," Duterte said. "He understood the way we are handling it, and I said that there’s nothing wrong in protecting a country. It was a bit very encouraging in the sense that I supposed that what he really wanted to say was that we would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country."</p><p>"I appreciate the response that I got from President-elect Trump, and I would like to wish him success," Duterte said. "He will be a good president for the United States of America."</p><p>Duterte, who rose to national political prominence as the death squad-supporting mayor of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/before-duterte-was-the-philippines-president-he-was-the-death-squad-mayor/2016/09/28/f1d1ccc4-800b-11e6-ad0e-ab0d12c779b1_story.html?utm_term=.4fde729ee897">Davao City</a>, is among the most brutal of the crop of right-populist political leaders and movements that have emerged around the globe this year, but concern about human rights or the lives of drug users don't appear to be on Trump's radar. Trump has more pressing concerns in the Philippines, like the Trump-branded <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/world/asia/donald-trump-philippines-jose-antonio.html">residential tower</a> going up in metropolitan Manila. Duterte has just named the Filipino businessman who is Trump's partner in the project, Jose E. B. Antonio, a special envoy to the U.S.</p><p>The Trump team has yet to comment on the call or Duterte's characterization of it.</p><p>As Buzzfeed News <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/meghara/us-aid-dollars-phillipines">reported</a>, despite U.S. statements of concern from the Obama administration about the mass drug war killings, the State Department continues to send millions of dollars in aid to the Philippines National Police. The Obama administration requested $9 million in aid for antidrug and law enforcement programs for this year. The State Department says the funds are no longer being used for antidrug training, but funds continue to go to the police.</p><p>The State Department also said police units found to be involved in extrajudicial killings would not get U.S. assistance, but Buzzfeed News found that "officers at police stations receiving support from the U.S. have played a central role in Duterte’s bloody campaign. By comparing Philippine police data with internal State Department records, it is clear that many of the stations—especially those in the capital city of Manila—are collectively responsible for hundreds of deaths."</p><p>The continued State Department funding of police linked to the drug war killings subverts the Obama administrations rhetoric of concern about Duterte's bloody crusade, but if Trump's first chat with Duterte is any indication, even rhetorical concern about human rights in the Filipino drug war is about to go out the window. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068251'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068251" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:24:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068251 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs World donald trump rodrigo duterte war on drugs extrajudicial executions human rights president obama The Next 5 States to Legalize Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/next-5-states-legalize-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068060'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068060" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Somebody&#039;s got to be the first state to free the weed through the legislature. Here are the most likely prospects. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_purple_credit_unknown.jpg?itok=hWVGlm_I" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Four states, including California, the nation's most populous, voted to legalize marijuana on November 8. That doubles the number of legal states to eight, and more than quadruples the number of people living in legal marijuana states, bringing the number to something around 64 million.</p><p>Every one of those states legalized marijuana through the initiative process, but we're not going to see anymore initiatives on state ballots until 2018, and perhaps 2020. That means that if we are to make more progress on spreading marijuana legalization in the next couple of years, it's going to have to come at the state house instead of the ballot box.</p><p>That's the same pattern we saw with medical marijuana. California led the way via the initiative process in 1996, with several other states following in 1998 and 2000 before Hawaii became the first state to okay medical marijuana via the state legislature.</p><p>The election of Donald Trump is causing great uncertainty about the future of legal marijuana, and will act as a drag on legislators until his stance is clarified. Just as governors hesitated to implement medical marijuana programs in the face of federal hostility a decade ago, legislators will hesitate to move toward legalization in the face of uncertainty, or worse, outright hostility from a Trump administration.</p><p>Still, efforts to legalize marijuana through the legislative process have been underway for several years in a handful of states and have already come close to passage in some of them.  And now, especially in New England, the pressure of neighboring states having already embraced legalization is fueling legalization fervor. But it's not just New England. The marijuana legalization message is resonating across the land.</p><p>Getting a bill through a state legislature is a long, multi-stage process, with too many opportunities for getting derailed, from obstinate committee chairs to skeptical governors wielding the veto pen. Despite the obstacles, here are five states that could get it done before the 2018 mid-terms:</p><p><strong>1. Connecticut</strong></p><p>Connecticut already has medical marijuana and decriminalized pot possession in 2011 with the support of Gov. Dannel Malloy (D). Malloy had said that decriminalization was as far as he wanted to go, but he's hinting at changing his tune after marijuana's big victory on Election Day. "We might have to reexamine our legal position, our position of enforcement, based on what some surrounding states are doing," <a href="http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2016/11/16/malloy-reopens-legalizing-pot" target="_blank">Malloy said three days later</a>.</p><p>For veteran legislators such as state Reps. Juan Candelaria (D–New Haven) and Toni Walker (D–New Haven), Malloy's softening couldn't come soon enough. They've authored legalization bills in past sessions, but they haven't gotten much traction. Look for them to be back at it again next year, with the changed New England political landscape smoothing the road.</p><p><strong>2. Maryland</strong></p><p>Maryland approved medical marijuana in 2014 (although the long-delayed program has yet to see any actual dispensaries open) and decriminalization last year under then Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.</p><p>The bad news is that O'Malley is gone now, replaced by anti-marijuana Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The good news is that the legislature has already demonstrated a willingness to override Hogan's vetoes when it comes to pot policy; it did that this year with a housekeeping bill that decriminalized the possession of pot paraphernalia (an oversight in the 2015 decriminalization bill).</p><p>Reform-minded legislators last year filed a legalization bill, the <a href="http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=01&amp;id=hb0911&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2015rs" target="_blank">Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015</a>, in both houses, but they were stymied by unfriendly committee chairs. They're going to be back next year, backed by a carefully-built coalition of drug reform, social justice, and public health groups, and with the support of a healthy majority of Marylanders, according to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/marylanders-support-longer-summers-and-legal-marijuana/2016/10/06/b864a2be-88de-11e6-b24f-a7f89eb68887_story.html" target="_blank">recent polls. </a></p><p><strong>3. New Mexico</strong></p><p>Eying next door neighbor Colorado, New Mexico is another state ripe for marijuana legalization. Two polls this year had popular support for legalization at <a href="https://www.abqjournal.com/863530/pot-legalization-has-widespread-growing-support.html">61%</a>, and Democrats have now won control of the state legislature. That means two different moves toward legalization could occur: Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Mesilla Park) has filed a legalization bill the last two years, and <a href="http://nmpoliticalreport.com/123683/with-new-leadership-dems-aiming-for-legalization/">says he will do it again</a> next year. "It's not an academic exercise anymore," he said. And Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) also says he will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would take the issue to a popular vote.</p><p>But like Maryland, legalizers face an anti-marijuana Republican governor in Susana Martinez. Either Martinez is going to have to have a pot epiphany or the legislature is going to have to have enough votes to override a probable veto.</p><p><strong>4. Rhode Island</strong></p><p>This may be the best prospect of the bunch. Medical marijuana is well-established in the state, decriminalization has been in effect for four years, and now, in the wake of the legalization victory in neighboring Massachusetts, Gov. Gina Raimundo (D) says she's ready to more seriously consider doing the same in Rhode Island, although <a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/11/16/east-coast-marijuana-legalization-next/67699/">she has concerns</a> about public safety and how any legislation is drafted.</p><p>Democrats control both houses of the legislature, and both House Speaker Thomas Mattiello and Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio say they are ready to take up legalization bills. That would be a pleasant change: For the past six years, legalization bills have been filed, but never voted on.</p><p>Rhode Island's political leaders finally look ready to catch up to their constituents, 55% of whom supported legalization in a<a href="https://news.brown.edu/articles/2016/04/taubman-poll" target="_blank"> recent poll from Brown University</a> and who smoke pot at the <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/headlines/where-are-the-cannabis-consumers-not-where-youd-expect">highest rate</a> of any state, reporting a 16% past month use rate.</p><p><strong>5. Vermont</strong></p><p>Vermont very nearly became the first state to legalize weed through the legislative process this year. A legalization bill, <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2016/S.241" target="_blank">S. 241</a>, was supported by Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and passed with strong support in the Senate, only to die in the House.</p><p>Now, <a href="http://digital.vpr.net/post/vermont-lawmakers-will-push-legalize-pot-against-gov-elect-scotts-urging">a pair of key lawmakers</a> said they are ready to try to get legalization through the legislature again. Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said legalization votes in Maine and Massachusetts are forcing the state's hand. "For me, that's a game-changer, that Massachusetts has voted to legalize," Sears said.</p><p>Sears' counterpart in the House, Judiciary Committee chairwoman Rep. Maxine Grad, is also ready to go, saying the Maine and Massachusetts votes will make lawmakers more amenable to moving forward.</p><p>There's just one problem: Shumlin is gone now, replaced by incoming Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who is not a big fan of government regulation, but is not a big fan of marijuana legalization, either. "I can appreciate the discussion around ending the prohibition of marijuana," he said, but had many, many concerns about this year's bill. Still, it's possible legislators will have heard those concerns and will come up with a bill that Scott can live with—or a majority that can override a veto.  </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068060'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068060" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 22:28:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068060 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana legalization connecticut maryland new mexico rhode island vermont As Clock Ticks Down, Pressure Mounts on Obama to Free More Drug War Prisoners http://www.alternet.org/drugs/clock-ticks-down-pressure-mounts-obama-free-more-drug-war-prisoners <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068049'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068049" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Barack Obama has already commuted the sentences of more prisoners than the last 11 presidents combined. But there is still a backlog of thousands. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_black_prisoner.jpg?itok=4RqWBy5k" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>President Obama has commuted the sentences of more than a thousand federal drug war prisoners, but thousands more have applications in the pipeline, and now, faced with an incoming Trump administration exceedingly unlikely to act on those petitions, scholars, activists, and at least one US congressman are calling on Obama to expedite clemency efforts  while he still can. </p><p>In a <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3227218/Clemency-Letter-to-POTUS-Final.pdf">Tuesday letter</a>, more than 50 scholars and advocates, including Van Jones and performer John Legend, as well as representatives from the NAACP and the Southern Center for Human Rights, not only called on Obama to ramp up the pace of commutations, but also to consider granting clemency to entire categories of drug war prisoners without case-by-case review. </p><p>In a 2014 Justice Department move, the Obama administration called on prisoners still doing time for offenses whose sentences were reduced under the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act to seek sentence cuts and set out <a href="https://www.justice.gov/pardon/clemency-initiative">criteria</a> spelling out who was eligible. While thousands have applied, a strict vetting process and problems in the Office of the Pardons Attorney means that thousands of clemency requests have yet to be acted on. </p><p>Time is too tight to just continue as before, the advocates said, especially given the "law and order" proclivities of the next administration.</p><p>"While your administration continues to review individual petitions, we urge you to also determine that nonviolent offenders in certain extremely low-risk categories either deserve expedited review or should be granted clemency absent an individualized review," the group wrote.</p><p> </p><p>"We do not know whether the next president will support clemency efforts or criminal justice reform," the letter concluded. "But we do know that until January 20, you alone have the power to deliver both mercy and justice to those who deserve it."</p><p> </p><p>The group suggested that instead of a time-consuming individualized assessment of inmates' prison behavior, the administration use "prison placement (to a minimum security camp or a low- or medium-security facility) as a surrogate for how an individual has behaved in prison" in order to speed up the process. Another suggestion was to grant clemency to those labeled "career offenders" based solely on drug convictions. And the group suggested that Obama need not "commute entire sentences," but could instead provide partial "tiered relief" to reduce some sentences. </p><p>The scholars and advocates weren't the only ones putting Obama on notice that the clock is ticking. US Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice also sent the president a <a href="https://cohen.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cohen-urges-president-obama-expedite-clemency-review-process">Tuesday letter</a> urging expedited action on commutations. </p><p> </p><p>"I would urge you to summon the maximum manpower at your disposal to vet commutations and pardons so that as many sentencing wrongs as possible may be corrected as thousands of incarcerated Americans who are serving unjust sentences may receive justice," wrote Cohen.</p><p> </p><p>While much of the attention has been focused on people sentenced to decades in prison over small amounts of crack cocaine—an injustice only partially redressed in the Fair Sentencing Act—Cohen also <a href="https://cohen.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-cohen-welcomes-president-obama-s-grant-commutations-79" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">recently urged</a> Obama not to forget pot prisoners. </p><p> </p><p>"President Obama should be commuting the prison sentences of those serving time for non-violent marijuana-related convictions," said Cohen. "Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states as well as the District of Columbia, and more than 63 million Americans live in states that have now approved recreational marijuana. The President should increase clemency review staff and work overtime to free as many of these individuals as possible before he leaves office. Every day that someone continues to serve an unjust sentence is a day justice is denied. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so rightly noted, ‘Justice too long delayed is justice denied.’"</p><p> </p><p>The clock is ticking. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068049'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068049" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:34:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1068049 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs president obama war on drugs drug sentences naacp fair sentencing act commutations pardons paroles van jones Rep. Steve Cohen How Trump's Experience with His Brother's Fatal Struggle with Alcohol Could Set the Country Back Decades on Drug Reform http://www.alternet.org/drugs/will-trump-dead-alcoholic-brother-haunt-approach-drugs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067868'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067868" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Living with his older brother&#039;s addiction to booze turned Trump into a teetotaler. How that will affect his drug policies is anybody&#039;s guess. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/trump_butthole_mouth.jpg?itok=uYLqusMg" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As incoming president, Donald Trump will be, among other things, the man in charge of the nation's drug policy. Whether he takes a hand-on, direct approach to policy-making or whether he delegates decision-making authority on drug matters to subordinates—think Attorney General Jeff Sessions and shudder—the buck ultimately stops with Donald.</p><p>What a Trump administration will do with states that have legalized marijuana is a huge burning question, but the drug policy horizon extends well beyond weed. The Obama administration has championed federal drug sentencing reform, and the president is now commuting the sentences of dozens of drug offenders each week as the clock ticks down on his tenure. Will Trump reverse course?</p><p>There's also a huge cry for drug treatment in response to increasing heroin and prescription opioid use. Will a Trump administration be sympathetic? And what about harm reduction—needle exchanges, supervised consumption sites, and the like—do such programs have a future under Trump?</p><p>The short answer is: Who knows? Trump is proving day by day that how governs will not necessarily have much correlation with anything he said on the campaign trail. And, as with his approach to many policy areas, what he has said about drugs, both during the campaign and in his earlier life, sounds both spur-of-the-moment and self-contradictory.</p><p>But Trump is not just a rather unpredictable president-elect; he's also a person with his own personal and family history, and that history includes a close encounter with substance abuse that sheds some light on his attitudes towards drugs and may influence his drug policy decision-making.</p><p>Donald Trump's older brother, and his overbearing father's namesake, "Freddy, Jr.," was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/us/politics/for-donald-trump-lessons-from-a-brothers-suffering.html">a full-blown alcoholic</a> by his mid-20s (and Donald's teens) and drank himself into an early grave at the age of 43 in 1981. Freddy wasn't ready to take over the family business and instead became a fun-loving airline pilot, but his descent into the bottle had a traumatic—and lasting--impact on his little brother.</p><p>"I learned a lot from my brother Fred's death," Trump told <em>Esquire</em> in a <a href="http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/interviews/a1939/esq0104-jan-ceos/">2004 interview</a>. "He was a great-looking guy. He had the best personality. He had everything. But he had a problem with alcohol and cigarettes. He knew he had the problem, and it's a tough problem to have. He was ten years older than me, and he would always tell me not to drink or smoke. And to this day I've never had a cigarette. I've never had a glass of alcohol. I won't even drink a cup of coffee. I just stay away from those things because he had such a tremendous problem. Fred did me a great favor. It's one of the greatest favors anyone's ever done for me," he recalled.</p><p>Trump's experience with his brother turned him into a teetotaler, although he does swill Diet Coke instead. And he admits to one other "vice" in revealing terms. In a <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/online/watch-in-2007-trump-said-hot-women-are-his-alcoholism-especially-beautiful-17-and-18-year-olds/">2007 video</a>, he said that hot women are his "alcoholism," especially "beautiful" teens.</p><p>"I never understood why people don't go after the alcohol companies like they did the tobacco companies," he continued in the <em>Esquire</em> interview. "Alcohol is a much worse problem than cigarettes."</p><p>Still, the free-wheeling free marketeer wasn't ready to reinstate Prohibition because of Freddy, and that attitude extended to drugs. In the early 1990s, <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Donald_Trump_Drugs.htm">Trump repeatedly talked about drug legalization</a>, calling drug law enforcement "a joke" and saying "You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profits away from these drug czars."</p><p>But Trump was singing a different tune on the campaign trail, especially in New Hampshire, which has been hit hard by the opioid wave. In a <a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/2015_ABC.htm">November 2015 interview</a> with ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Trump backtracked.</p><p>"Well, I did not think about it," he confessed. "I said it's something that should be studied and maybe should continue to be studied. But it's not something I'd be willing to do right now. I think it's something that I've always said maybe it has to be looked at because we do such a poor job of policing. We don't want to build walls. We don't want to do anything. And if you're not going to want to do the policing, you're going to have to start thinking about other alternatives. But it's not something that I would want to do."</p><p>That suggests that he thinks if we just enforce drug laws more vigorously, we could solve the problem. But it also suggests that he hasn't really been paying attention to the last 40 years of the war on drugs. Still, he has also said that marijuana legalization "<a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Donald_Trump_Drugs.htm">should be a state issue, state by state</a>," suggesting that he will not try to roll back pot legalization in the eight states that have now voted to free the weed.</p><p>And in an <a href="https://www.donaldjtrump.com/media/donald-j.-trump-remarks-on-ending-the-opioid-epidemic-in-america">October 15 speech</a> in New Hampshire, where he made his most coherent remarks about drug policy, he was mainly about building the wall on the Mexican border to stop the flow of heroin from Mexico. But in that speech, he at least sketched the outlines of response that included increased access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, increased reliance on drug courts, and increased access to the silver bullet of drug addiction, "abuse-deterring drugs." But he didn't say anything about how much he would be willing to spend on treatment and recovery (Hillary Clinton rolled out a $10 billion plan), nor how he would pay for it.</p><p>As with many policy areas, Trump's positions on drug policy are murky, seemingly only half-developed, and full of potential contradictions. Will having a teetotaler with a dead alcoholic brother in the White House make for better drug policies or an administration more understanding of the travails of addiction? As with many things Trump, we shall have to wait for his actions. Nominating drug war hardliners like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to head the Justice Department and <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/1/policy-prescriptions-clinton-and-trump-on-drug-add/">giving Vice President-elect Mike Pence props</a> for enacting mandatory minimum drug sentences aren't good omens, though. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067868'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067868" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 11:48:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1067868 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs donald trump Freddy Trump Jr. drugs alcoholism drug treatment marijuana legalization harm reduction mandatory minimums Global Commission on Drugs Calls for Worldwide Drug Decriminalization http://www.alternet.org/drugs/global-commission-drugs-worldwide-drug-decriminalization-call <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067618'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067618" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The report argues that no penalties at all should attach to simple drug possession.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/opium_poppy_valley_unodc.jpg?itok=hB4Fb3EL" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a report released Monday, global leaders denounced harsh responses to drug use, such as the mass killing of drug users in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, and called for worldwide drug decriminalization.</p><p>The report, <a href="http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/reports/advancing-drug-policy-reform/">Advancing Drug Policy Reform: A New Approach to Drug Decriminalization</a>, is a product of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a high-level commission that includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland, and British philanthropist Richard Branson, among others.</p><p>Since its inception in 2011, the Commission has consistently called for drug decriminalization, but this year's report goes a step further. Unlike existing decriminalization policies around the world, where drug users still face fines or administrative penalties, the report argues that no penalties at all should attach to simple drug possession.</p><p>"Only then," the report says, "can the societal destruction caused by drug prohibition be properly mitigated."</p><p>The report breaks more new ground by calling for the decriminalization of other low-level players in the drug trade, including small dealers who sell to support their habits, drug mules, and people who grow drug crops. Many of those people, the report notes, engage in such activities out of "economic marginalization…a lack of other opportunities…or coercion," yet face severe sanctions ranging from the destruction of cash crops to imprisonment and even the death penalty.</p><p>Unlike people caught with drugs for personal use, however, the Commission envisions such low-level players being subjected to civil penalties, though not criminal ones.</p><p>"After years of denouncing the dramatic effects of prohibition and the criminalization of people that do no harm but use drugs on the society as a whole, it is time to highlight the benefits of well-designed and well-implemented people centered drug polices," said former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, chair of the Commission. "These innovative policies cannot exist as long as we do not discuss, honestly, the major policy error made in the past, which is the criminalization of personal consumption or possession of illicit psychoactive substances in national laws." </p><p>"At the global, regional or local levels, drug policies are evolving," added César Gaviria, former president of Columbia and Global Commission member. "However, in order to build solid and effective policies to mitigate the harms of the last 60 years of wrong policies, and to prepare for a better future where drugs are controlled more effectively, we need to implement the full and non-discretionary decriminalization of personal use and possession of drugs." </p><p>The new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy issues the following recommendations: </p><blockquote><p>1. States must abolish the death penalty for all drug-related offenses. </p><p>2. States must end all penalties—both criminal and civil—for drug possession for personal use, and the cultivation of drugs for personal consumption. </p><p>3. States must implement alternatives to punishment for all low-level, non-violent actors in the drug trade. </p><p>4. U.N. member states must remove the penalization of drug possession as a treaty obligation under the international drug control system. </p><p>5. States must eventually explore regulatory models for all illicit drugs and acknowledge this to be the next logical step in drug policy reform following decriminalization. </p></blockquote><p>"People who use drugs have paid a huge toll to the current drug control system; they faced alone and without any legal protection the ravages of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, as well as many non-communicable diseases," said Michel Kazatchkine, former executive director of the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. "Now we have the scientific and medical tools to provide all the services they need, but we mostly lack the political leadership to implement an enabling legal environment. This starts by the complete decriminalization of drugs."</p><p>The Global Commission on Drug Policy was established in 2010 by political leaders, cultural figures and globally influential personalities from the financial and business sectors. The Commission currently comprises 23 members, including nine former heads of states and a former Secretary General of the United Nations. The high-level group's mission is "to promote evidence-based drug policy reforms at international, national and regional levels, with an emphasis on public health, social integration and security, and with strict regard for human rights."</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067618'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067618" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 15:33:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1067618 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drugs decriminalization kofi annan richard branson Global Commission on Drugs human rights mules drug couriers 3 Reasons Why Trump Might Hesitate to Go After Legal Pot http://www.alternet.org/drugs/3-reasons-trump-unlikely-go-after-legal-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067425'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067425" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There&#039;s a lot of worry that the incoming president will try to reinstate reefer madness in states where pot is already legal. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_516213286.jpg?itok=WoptKlwY" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The election of Donald Trump is sending chills down the spine of the nation's nascent marijuana industry. Could he and a Republican Congress try to roll back the clock and force federal pot prohibition down the throats of states that have, via the popular vote, gone down the path toward legalization?</p><p>Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Trump and the Congress could, in theory, try to put the genie back in the bottle. Undoing a Justice Department memorandum and failing to renew laws that ban the Justice Department from interfering in pot-legal states could open the door to a renewed, regressive federal offensive on reefer.</p><p>But is that actually going to happen? I don't think so, and here are three reasons why.</p><p><strong>1. The feds can roll back legal marijuana regulation and taxation, but they can't roll back legal marijuana.</strong></p><p>The federal government could make it impossible for states to tax and regulate the marijuana industry and could theoretically drive the industry back underground by reversing the Obama administration's <a href="https://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf">Cole memorandum</a> basically turning a blind federal eye to state-legal marijuana programs and by the Republican Congress refusing to extend laws that bar the use of federal funds to go after state-legal marijuana programs. But—and this is a huge but—the federal government cannot force the states to make marijuana illegal nor can it make them enforce federal marijuana prohibition.</p><p>Ponder what would happen if the feds clamped down on the states: The states could be enjoined or threatened into dismantling their marijuana regulation and taxation apparatuses, crippling marijuana businesses and hurting state coffers. But state laws allowing pot possession and personal cultivation would remain on the books. We would then have marijuana legalization without regulation or taxation, a real Wild West situation. And, of course, it would be up to the federal government to enforce federal marijuana laws in those states. The DEA doesn't have an army big enough to effectively do that.</p><p>Barring popular votes to overturn initiatives—not presidential diktats or congressional interference—marijuana is going to remain legal in the states that have voted for it, even if the feds try to go after pot businesses. And given that doing so would result in marijuana legalization without regulation, it seems unlikely that even the most dedicated drug warrior will want to go down that path.</p><p><strong>2. Marijuana legalization is popular, more popular than Trump.</strong></p><p>Legalization has won in every state where's it been on the ballot, with the exception this year of red-state Arizona, where a multi-million-dollar "no" campaign managed to barely defeat it. And it is an increasingly popular position nationwide, with public opinion polls the last couple of years consistently reporting majorities in favor. The <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/196550/support-legal-marijuana.aspx">latest Gallup poll</a>, from October, has support at an all-time high of 60%, including 70% of independents, 67% of Democrats and even 42% of Republicans. Trump supporters undoubtedly include people who support marijuana legalization.</p><p>Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn't win a majority of the popular vote, even though he won the electoral college. According to the <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clintons-popular-vote-victory-is-unprecedented-and-still-growing/">latest counts</a>, he got 47.0% of the popular vote, while Hillary Clinton got 47.8%. Does a new president favored by less than half the voters want to take on an issue favored by well over half of them? Trump can choose where he expends his political capital, and if he chooses wisely, going after legal marijuana won't be a fight he picks.</p><p><strong>3. Trump himself has said leave it to the states.</strong></p><p>Okay, Trump said lots of things on the campaign trail, many of them contradictory. His positions are little more than sketches and he's hard to predict. But he has made clear statements about his position on marijuana legalization.</p><p>"I think it certainly has to be... a state decision," <a href="http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2016/03/08/donald-trump-on-wwj-7-things-to-know-before-casting-your-ballot/">he told WWJ Newsradio 950</a> last March. "There seems to be certain health problems with it, and that would be certainly bothersome. I do like it... from a medical standpoint—it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that should be up to the states. Certainly, from a medical standpoint, a lot of people are liking it."</p><p>That position is precisely in line with the Obama administration's approach and would keep the status quo intact.</p><p>Trump is a teetotaler who has no use for alcohol, cigarettes or coffee, let alone marijuana, and he's shown an inclination to talk tough about drug dealers, but in the past—before he decided to run for president as a Republican—he also talked about how the war on drugs has failed and the only response is legalization. Don't expect Trump to emerge as the champion of drug legalization while in the White House, but do expect him to live up to his word on the campaign trail.</p><p>There has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the possibility that Trump will appoint a hardline anti-marijuana conservative as attorney general, and that an Attorney General Giuliani or Sessions could unleash the hounds of federal pot prohibition on the legal states. But attorneys general serve at the whim of their bosses, in this case, Trump. If Trump is not down with trying to restore federal pot prohibition in states that don't want it, his attorney general is not likely to go up against his boss.</p><p>This doesn't mean we should rest easy. There are gains to be defended and campaigns to be mounted to ensure that he doesn't try to interfere. Trump needs to know that he's in for a tough and futile battle if he goes after weed, but I suspect he knows that already, and he's got other battles to fight. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067425'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067425" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 19 Nov 2016 15:26:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1067425 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs donald trump marijuana legalization Cole memorandum gallup poll taxation and regulation 4 of the Most Dangerous Things Trump's Pick for Attorney General Has Said About Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/4-most-ridiculous-things-trump-ag-pick-jeff-sessions-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067454'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067454" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Just for starters, he thought the Ku Klux Klan was cool until he found out they smoked pot. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/768px-jeff_sessions_official_portrait.jpg?itok=pVQpRFWm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>President-elect Donald Trump announced Friday that he will nominate U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for the position of attorney general. Sessions is a true Southern conservative with a legacy of racial controversy and hardline positions on everything from immigration and national defense to criminal justice reform.</p><p>He is especially odious when it comes to marijuana policy. Sessions has a history of making outrageous statements about marijuana and is a dedicated foe of legalization. His nomination is undoubtedly sending shivers down the spine of the nation's nascent legal marijuana industry, and for good reason. This guy hates weed. But that doesn't mean the end times are upon us. As Tom Angell of <a href="http://www.marijuanamajority.com/">Marijuana Majority</a> noted in an email responding to the pick, pot is popular, and Trump himself has said he would not interfere with state marijuana laws.</p><p>"While the choice certainly isn't good news for marijuana reform, I'm still hopeful the new administration will realize that any crackdown against broadly popular laws in a growing number of states would create huge political problems they don't need and will use lots of political capital they'd be better off spending on issues the new president cares a lot more about," Angell wrote.</p><p>"A clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana and supermajorities across party lines believe that states should be able to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference. The truth is, marijuana reform is much more popular with voters than most politicians are, and officials in the new administration would do well to take a careful look at the polling data on this issue before deciding what to do," he continued.</p><p>"During the campaign the president-elect clearly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, and he should keep his word—both because it’s the right thing to do and because a reversal would be a huge political misstep," Angell concluded.</p><p>Still, Trump is nominating an avowed weed-hater to be the nation's top cop. And Sessions isn't just your ordinary anti-marijuana politician, he's a true believer of the Nancy Reagan "Just say no" school. In fact, he's more down with the Ku Klux Klan than with weed, as the first in our list of his outrageous statements on marijuana and marijuana policy makes clear.</p><p>The competition was tough, but here are four of Sessions' most ridiculous (and worrisome) remarks on marijuana.</p><p>1. During hearings on his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986, which failed in part because of accusations of racism against him, one of his co-workers <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1986/03/20/us/senator-urges-withdrawal-of-judicial-nomination.html">testified</a> that Sessions said he thought members of the KKK "were okay until I found out they smoked pot." Sessions didn't deny the remark, but said he was only joking.</p><p>2. At a 2014 <a href="http://www.westword.com/news/ag-nom-jeff-sessions-thought-kkk-was-okay-until-he-learned-they-smoked-pot-8515997">forum</a> where Sessions angrily criticized the Obama administration for not enforcing the federal pot ban in Colorado and other legal states, Sessions got to the nub of it: "Good people don't smoke marijuana," he said.</p><p>3. In a <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/alabama-senator-uses-lady-gaga-to-oppose-marijuana-reform-1e8630eb1525" target="_blank">hearing</a> with then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Sessions used a comment from a pop star to argue that the Obama administration was underplaying marijuana's harms. "Lady Gaga said she is addicted to it and it is not harmless," he said. "I hope that you will talk with the president, you’re close with him, and begin to push back, or pull back, on this position that I think is going to be adverse to the health of America."</p><p>4. In a <a href="https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2016/3/7/senate-section/article/s1303-3#COMPREHENSIVE%20ADDICTION%20AND%20RECOVERY%20ACT%20OF%202015" target="_blank">Senate floor speech</a> this year, Sessions insisted that marijuana was worse than alcohol or tobacco and slammed President Obama for telling the truth about his own drug history. "You have to have leadership from Washington. You can’t have the president of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink, saying I used marijuana when I was in high school and it is no different than smoking," he said. "It is different. And you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this."</p><p>There is more where this came from, but you get the idea. This is the man President-elect Trump wants to run the federal criminal justice system and oversee the federal response to medical marijuana and legal marijuana at the state level. But while Sessions and Trump may share some personal attitudes about drug use, Trump's campaign pronouncements on pot—that he would leave it to the states—suggest he may have to rein in his nominee if he wants to stay true to his word. The marijuana industry has real reason to be nervous. </p><p>Here's a bonus clip of Sessions badgering Attorney General-to-be Loretta Lynch about marijuana policy during her confirmation hearings:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="419" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/c0KJSwgzP64" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067454'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067454" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:37:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1067454 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Video jeff sessions donald trump loretta lynch president obama eric holder attorney general marijuana lady gaga colorado Legal Weed in California: Who Benefits? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/legal-weed-california-who-benefits <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067362'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067362" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Some growers will win big. Others fear they will be squeezed out. A new Vice News video talks to both sides. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_36.jpg?itok=w6k7Jph1" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>With the pot-legalizing Proposition 64 cruising to easy victory in California last week, the Golden State is poised to become the world's leading marijuana marketplace. <a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/08/23/california-marijuana-market-report/61494/">According to the Arcview Group</a>, legalization will more than double the size of the state's pot market, from $2.8 billion last year to $6.5 billion by 2020.</p><p>Given that the state already has tens of thousands of black and gray market growers, as well as would-be entrepreneurs rushing in with dollar signs in their eyes, there are going to be winners and losers among the pot-growing community.</p><p>In a new segment of <em>Vice News Tonight</em>, correspondent Dexter Thomas met with two marijuana growers in distinctly different situations to get a sense of how this might all shake out.</p><p>On the one hand, he talks with Steve DeAngelo, the executive director of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, already a medical marijuana powerhouse with three dispensaries, its own growing and manufacturing facilities, and 200 employees. For DeAngelo, "legalization in California is not just a victory for me; it is, in many ways, the culmination of my life's work." And Harborside is well-situated to take advantage of full-on legalization.</p><p>Things are a bit different for Sacramento grower "Trip," whose black and gray market business could be pushed right out of the emerging legal marijuana market. "Trip" says he's going to stay in the game—there are still black markets in marijuana in 42 other states—but that he's worried the big boys are going to squeeze him out. "That's my biggest concern," he said.</p><p>Watch the video below to get a fuller sense of the contradictions emerging with legal marijuana in California.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/g_1GrvpmbhE" width="560"></iframe>.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067362'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067362" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 16 Nov 2016 14:39:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1067362 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video marijuana legalization california harborside Steve DeAngelo ArcView Group Vice News Marijuana Wins Big! http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-wins-big <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066891'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066891" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In the closest thing ever to a national referendum on pot, the people have spoken.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/cannabis_0.jpg?itok=pn3oGgVR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Donald Trump wasn't the only big winner on Tuesday. Marijuana law reform also had a stellar night, with medical marijuana winning in all four states it was on the ballot and marijuana legalization winning four out of five.</p><p>Pot legalization won in California (<a href="///C:/Users/Owner/Documents/yeson64.org/about">Prop 64</a>), Maine (<a href="https://www.regulatemaine.org/#feature-panel-1">Question 1</a>), Massachusetts (<a href="https://www.regulatemassachusetts.org/question4/">Question 4</a>), and Nevada (<a href="https://www.regulatemarijuanainnevada.org/question2/">Question 2</a>), losing only in Arizona (<a href="https://www.regulatemarijuanainarizona.org/prop205/">Prop 205</a>), where a deep-pocketed opposition led by a hostile sitting governor managed to blunt the reform thrust. Medical marijuana won overwhelmingly in Florida (<a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016)">Amendment 2</a>), the first state in the South to embrace full-blown medical marijuana, as well as in Arkansas (<a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Arkansas_Medical_Marijuana_Amendment,_Issue_6_(2016)">Question 6</a>), Montana (<a href="http://sos.mt.gov/elections/2016/BallotIssues/assets/I-182.pdf">I-182</a>), and North Dakota (<a href="https://www.ndmedcan.com/">Measure 5</a>).</p><p>This week's election doubles the number of legal marijuana states from four to eight and brings the number of full-fledged medical marijuana states to 28. It also means some 50 million people just got pot-legal, more than tripling the number of people living in states that have freed the weed.</p><p> "This is one of the most significant days in the history of marijuana prohibition and this movement," said Rob Kampia, long-time head of the <a href="http://www.mpp.org/">Marijuana Policy Project</a> (MPP), which was behind the legalization initiatives in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada and which also backed the California initiative. "When four states legalize it, it's a big deal, and California is an even bigger deal. The next time we'll see a day as important as yesterday is when a president signs a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition."</p><p>A major question is whether Donald Trump might be that president. During the campaign, he suggested that he would follow President Obama's lead and not interfere with state-level marijuana legalization and regulation (roughly the same position as Hillary Clinton). But his political alliances leave some reformers less than sanguine about a Trump administration.</p><p>"Marijuana reform won big across America on Election Day - indeed it's safe to say that no other reform was approved by so many citizens on so many ballots this year," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the <a href="///C:/Users/Owner/Documents/This%20is%20one%20of%20the%20most%20significant%20days%20in%20the%20history%20of%20marijuana%20prohibition%20and%20this%20movement,%22%20said%20Rob%20Kampia,%20long-time%20head%20of%20the%20Marijuana%20Policy%20Project%20(MPP),%20which%20was%20behind%20the%20legalization%20initiatives%20in%20Arizona,%20Maine,%20Massachusetts,%20and%20Nevada%20and%20which%20also%20backed%20the%20California%20initiative.%20%22When%20four%20states%20legalize%20it,%20it's%20a%20big%20deal,%20and%20California%20is%20an%20even%20bigger%20deal.%20The%20next%20time%20we'll%20see%20a%20day%20as%20important%20as%20yesterday%20is%20when%20a%20president%20signs%20a%20bill%20to%20end%20federal%20marijuana%20prohibition.">Drug Policy Alliance</a>, which was involved in the California campaign.  "But the prospect of Donald Trump as our next president concerns me deeply.  His most likely appointees to senior law enforcement positions - Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie - are no friends of marijuana reform, nor is his vice president.</p><p> "The momentum for ending marijuana prohibition took a great leap forward with the victories in California and elsewhere, but the federal government retains the power to hobble much of what we've accomplished," Nadelmann continued. "The progress we've made, and the values that underlie our struggle - freedom, compassion, reason and justice - will be very much at risk when Donald Trump enters the White House."</p><p>MPP's Kampia had a more optimistic take.</p><p>"The positions of Clinton and Trump were very similar," he said. "We have no reason to believe Trump would escalate the war on nonviolent marijuana users in states where it is legal. States will continue moving forward, and we will see a string of successes in the future, as well as being able to implement the laws passed yesterday."</p><p>That remains to be seen, as does the chance that a Republican Congress will move in a positive direction on marijuana. In a Wednesday tele-conference, marijuana reform stalwart Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), pointed to three areas where congressional action is needed: reforming the IRS's 280-E tax code provision that bars marijuana businesses from getting normal business tax breaks, reforming Treasury Department regulations that bar financial institutions from doing business with pot businesses, and removing barriers to research on marijuana's medical efficacy.</p><p>"I believe the next administration will follow the policy of the Obama administration," he said. "We had strong support for legalization in nine diverse states, with more support for these legalize, regulate, and tax policies than for either presidential candidate. The people have spoken, and that will make it easier for us in Congress to build bipartisan support for this legislation. There are now 28 states where there are state-legal businesses having to pay their taxes with shopping bags full of $20 bills. We have growing support in the House and Senate to stop this insanity," Blumenauer said.</p><p>"I believe we will see action within the next two years to stop this discrimination against state-legal marijuana businesses," he prophesied. "Now that the playing field has expanded dramatically, including that overwhelming vote in Florida, which will become the second largest state marijuana market in the country, there is even more incentive. Some representatives are ambivalent or even opposed to marijuana legalization, but will serve their constituents."</p><p>But, as DPA's Nadelmann noted, even if Congress is favorably disposed to move in a positive direction on marijuana, the Trump executive branch is likely to feature staunch foes of marijuana law reform. Will advisors and possible appointees such as Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Pence push Trump to try to undo the spreading marijuana legalization movement? And will Trump listen if they do? We will know the answer to these questions only in the fullness of time.</p><p>In the meantime, voters in initiative and referendum states and legislators in states without the initiative process can work to create more facts on the ground, more legalization states. National public opinion polls—and this week's elections—show that marijuana legalization is a winning issue. And the more states that legalize it, the more ridiculous, or as Obama put it this week, "untenable," federal marijuana prohibition becomes. Even a Trump victory, with all the frightening prospects that brings, may not be able to stop the marijuana juggernaut. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066891'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066891" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 09 Nov 2016 11:48:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066891 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 marijuana legalization donald trump earl blumenauer rob kampia marijuana policy project ethan nadelmann drug policy alliance california arizona arkansas florida maine massachusetts montana nevada north dakota Massachusetts Legalizes Marijuana; Maine Still Too Close to Call http://www.alternet.org/drugs/massachusetts-legalizes-marijuana-maine-still-too-close-call <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066842'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066842" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">At least three states legalized marijuana Tuesday, and now the Reefer Revolution has spread to the East Coast. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/boston_wikim.jpg?itok=fXTO7yql" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>New England has become the first region of the country outside the West to embrace marijuana legalization, with voters in Massachusetts approving an initiative Tuesday, while as of early Friday morning, a similar measure in Maine was still too close to call.</p><p>At this juncture in the vote count, with 84% of the vote counted, Maine's <a href="https://www.regulatemaine.org/#feature-panel-1">Question 1</a> initiative was winning with 51% of the vote, while Massachusetts' <a href="https://www.regulatemassachusetts.org/question4/">Question 4</a> initiative has won with 53% of the vote. The <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/08/pot/nn0rImK95SxMkC9Y0GaKsI/story.html">Associated Press called the Massachusetts victory</a> late Tuesday night</p><p>The Maine initiative allows people 21 and over to possess and transport up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana, along with associated paraphernalia. They may also "gift" up to 2 ½ ounces to other adults. Individuals may also grow up to six flowering plants and 12 immature ones at their residences and keep the fruits of their harvest, which could be considerably more than 2 ½ ounces. They can also purchase up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana at a time at licensed marijuana retail stores.</p><p>If it squeaks through, the Maine initiative will create a thoroughly regulated and licensed system of marijuana cultivation, production, processing, and retail sales, with a 10% tax on retail sales. Tax revenues beyond program costs will go to the state's general fund.</p><p>Cities and towns will have the right to regulate and even prohibit marijuana businesses, and the initiative offers no protection against employer drug testing.</p><p>The Massachusetts initiative allows people 21 and over to possess an ounce in public and up to 10 ounces at home, as well as the fruits of their harvest of up to six plants. It also legalizes the possession of pot paraphernalia.</p><p>And it creates a commission similar to an Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to oversee and regulate licensed marijuana cultivation, production, testing, and retail facilities. Retail marijuana sales will be subject to the sales tax of 6.25% and an excise tax of 3.75%, or a 10% tax. Cities and counties could add another 2%.</p><p>They can also regulate marijuana businesses, or opt out altogether. The initiative offers no protection against employer drug testing. </p><p>Legalization initiatives also won in California and Nevada Tuesday. A legalization initiative in Arizona appeared to be losing early Friday morning. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066842'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066842" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 21:26:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066842 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 marijuana legalization california nevada arizona maine michigan California Legalizes Marijuana! http://www.alternet.org/drugs/california-legalizes-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066839'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066839" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The nation&#039;s most populous state has just freed the weed. Now, the pressure mounts on Washington. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_12.jpg?itok=WV7B0wie" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>California voters approved the <a href="http://www.yeson64.org/about">Prop 64</a> marijuana legalization initiative Tuesday, more than tripling the number of Americans who live in weed-legal states. Although four other states had legalized marijuana before this year's election, legalization in the nation's most populous state will provide momentum for nationwide legalization like never before.</p><p>"This is the most important moment in the history of the marijuana legalization movement," said Tom Angell, chairman of <a href="https://www.marijuanamajority.com/">Marijuana Majority</a>. "California is the sixth-largest economy in the world and is hugely culturally influential. Most importantly, this vote will dramatically accelerate the end of federal marijuana prohibition."</p><p>Only 13% of the votes had been counted by 8:30 p.m PST, but the measure never trailed and the trend is clear. As of now, Prop 64 is cruising toward victory with 55% of the vote. The <a href="http://www.ktvn.com/story/33664560/california-voters-pass-recreational-marijuana">Associated Press called the race</a> at 8:13 p.m., less than a quarter-hour after the polls closed.  </p><p>The victory in California, along with other marijuana victories Tuesday, will greatly increase the pressure on Congress to consider repealing pot prohibition, Angell said.</p><p>"California alone has just added 53 more U.S. House members to the list of federal lawmakers who represent places where marijuana is legal. Last year we came only nine votes shy of winning an amendment to stop federal interference with state marijuana laws. Do the math," he said.</p><p>"With California’s huge vote and other results tonight, our movement is in perfect position to increase our already strong momentum," Angell continued. "Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws. And in an interview last week, President Obama said federal marijuana prohibition would be ‘untenable’ if California legalized marijuana. He was right, and it’s time for Congress to get to work passing legislation to get the DEA out of the way of full and effective implementation of these state laws."</p><p>Under Prop 64, people 21 and over can possess up to an ounce of weed and grow up to six plants at home and keep the harvest. The new law also creates a system of state-regulated and –licensed marijuana cultivation, processing, manufacturing, testing, transporting, and retail licenses, and includes provisions designed to protect small ma-and-pa cultivators—the people who made California the marijuana mecca it is today. The new law also sets a 15% excise tax on retail marijuana sales.</p><p>State-regulated marijuana commerce won't go into effect until January 1, 2018, but the personal possession and cultivation provisions go into effect now. Forty million people just got legal weed.</p><p>Twenty years after California opened up the contemporary marijuana revolution with the passage of the Prop 215 medical marijuana initiative in 1996, the Golden State is now prepared to take legal marijuana to a whole new level. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066839'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066839" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 20:58:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066839 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 california marijuana legalization prop 64 congress marijuana prohibition Medical Marijuana Wins Big in Florida! http://www.alternet.org/drugs/medical-marijuana-wins-big-florida <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066831'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066831" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The South now has its first state with a full-blown medical marijuana law. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_16.jpg?itok=3yI_djkF" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Florida voters easily passed a constitutional amendment to approve the use of medical marijuana Tuesday. A number of Southern states, including Florida, have in recent years passed limited, CBD-only medical marijuana laws, but passage of <a href="http://www.unitedforcare.org/ballot_language">Amendment 2</a> means the South has its first full-blown medical marijuana law.</p><p>With returns 90% complete at 8 p.m. on election night, Amendment 2 was winning with 71% of the vote. Under Florida law, constitutional amendments not need a simple majority but 60% of the vote.</p><p>The second time was the charm for attorney John Morgan and <a href="http://www.unitedforcare.org/">United for Care</a>, which led the charge for Amendment 2. Their first effort in 2014 came up just short, winning 57.6% of the vote, a solid majority, but enough votes to overcome the 60% hurdle. The 2014 effort also had to fight headwinds generated by a "no" campaign financed to the tune of $5 million, primarily thanks to prohibitionist zealot and Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.</p><p>Amendment 2 overcame that electoral hurdle and another multi-million dollar "no" campaign, again with significant contributions from Adelson, as well as Florida arch-prohibitionist Mel Sembler. It also benefited from strong presidential election year turnout and two more years of attitudinal shifts toward tolerance of marijuana in general and medical marijuana in particular.</p><p>Under the measure, patients with "debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician" will be able to buy weed legally through state-regulated dispensaries. But they won't be able to grow their own. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066831'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066831" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 18:10:00 -0800 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066831 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 medical marijuana florida Amendment 2 sheldon adelson Mel Sembler John Morgan United for Care The Surprising Way Aging Pain Patients Can Get Off Opiates http://www.alternet.org/drugs/surprising-way-aging-pain-patients-can-get-opiates <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066566'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066566" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It won&#039;t kill you or get you strung out, but it can ease your aches and pains. You know what it is. </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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/male-female-couple-marijuana-bed_7628_darrin_frisby_harris_dpa.jpg?itok=ZLXhEQS3" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Pain is a drag. And chronic pain is a never-ending drag. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we can expect to increasingly suffer its torments. Half of older adults who live on their own report suffering from chronic pain. For people in elderly care facilities, that figure jumps to somewhere around 80%.</p><p>An aging population with its associated aches and pains is one reason opioid pain prescriptions have increased so dramatically this century. Opiates are a very popular pain management technique, despite the well-known problems with them, primarily addiction and lethality. They can ease your pain, but they can also kill you or get you strung out. And opiate users report other problems less severe, but still affecting quality of life, such as constipation and foggy-headedness.</p><p>In recent years, we have seen increasing evidence that one substance can reduce both pain and the reliance on opioids to treat it, and that its use can have a positive impact on fatal opioid overdoses. That substance is marijuana.</p><p>As the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health <a href="http://hub.jhu.edu/2014/08/26/medical-marijuana-prescription-drugs/">reported</a> in 2014, "In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25% lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal."   </p><p>Now, <a href="https://www.cbd.org/research-2/survey-cannabis-pain-care-by-design">new research findings</a> from Care By Design, one of California's leading medical marijuana producers, add more evidence of the positive role marijuana can play in treating chronic pain and reducing dependence on opioid pain medications. The study surveyed 800 patients, mostly between 50 and 70, more than 80% of whom reported suffering from chronic pain, half of whom reported suffering from acute pain, and more than 40% of whom reported suffering from both.</p><p>These patients were in a world of hurt and had tried a number of pain management tools—opiates, medical marijuana, anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS), nerve blockers, exercise/physical therapy, and surgery—with respondents reporting trying an average of four of them. A quarter of patients reported having tried all six.  </p><p>The patients reported that marijuana was very effective for pain, with few negative side effects.  That was in striking distinction to opiates, which patients also said were effective for pain, but had a significant negative impact on quality of life for a significant number of them. In fact, the differences between the two substances in terms of quality of life were so dramatic they led to dramatic changes in patient behavior.</p><p>"This survey brings some very important information to light," said Care By Design spokesman Nick Caston. "We see here in our patient data that cannabis is improving the quality of life of our patients—particularly elderly patients suffering from age-related pain—and that it does so without the dangerous side effects of other pain management modalities. </p><p>"The study’s most striking finding was cannabis’ apparent impact on opiate reliance: Ninety-one percent of survey respondents reported that they decreased the amount of opiates they were taking or eliminated them altogether," Caston continued.</p><p>The study also found while marijuana, opiates, exercise/physical therapy, and NSAIDS all provided noticeable pain relief in more than half the patients, marijuana was the only pain management tool where there were no reports of worsening pain. And half of the patients using opiates reported that they had a negative impact on overall well-being, interfering with mood, energy, sleep, and functional abilities.</p><p>More than half of the patients reported using both marijuana and opiates to manage pain. But as noted above, nine out of 10 reduced or eliminated their opiate consumption after beginning to use marijuana. And nearly two-thirds (63%) said they were now off opiates altogether.</p><p>Over half of respondents reported that they had used both cannabis and opiates for pain management. Of great interest was the impact of cannabis therapy on opiate usage: Ninety-one percent of this subgroup reported that they used fewer or no opiates after beginning cannabis therapy. Sixty-three percent said that they went off opiates altogether.</p><p>"A tenet of healthcare in the United States is 'First, do no harm,'" the study concluded. "Patient reports of cannabis’ efficacy together with its low side effect profile suggest that it should be considered as a first-line treatment for pain and/or as an adjunct treatment to opiates rather than as a medication of last resort."</p><p>In other words, if we want to reduce the reliance on opioids, with all their negatives, for the management of pain in an aging population, we should be easing access to medical marijuana. With medical marijuana legal in 25 states, we're halfway there. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066566'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066566" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 03 Nov 2016 19:09:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066566 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health medical marijuana cannabis opiates opioids senior citizens elderly pain chronic pain acute pain aging nsaids Why Donald Trump's Agenda for the Drug War Is the Dopiest Thing You've Ever Seen http://www.alternet.org/drugs/trumps-dopey-drug-policies <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066468'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066468" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A frightening mix of cruel and superficial.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore_2_6.jpg?itok=Y-Bj_WTi" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>One means of judging the competing presidential candidates is to examine their actual policy prescriptions for dealing with serious issues facing the country. When it comes to drug policy, the contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn't be more telling.</p><p>The country is in the midst of what can fairly be called an opioid crisis, with the CDC reporting 78 Americans dying every day from heroin and prescription opioid overdoses. Both candidates have addressed the problem on the campaign trail, but as is the case in so many other policy areas, one candidate has detailed proposals, while the other offers demagogic sloganeering.</p><p>Hillary Clinton has offered a <a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/addiction/">detailed $10 billion plan</a> to deal with what she calls the "quiet epidemic" of opioid addiction. Donald Trump's plan consists largely of "build the wall."</p><p>That was the centerpiece of his <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/flailing-trump-pivots-drug-policy-hillary-drug-test">October 15 speech</a> in New Hampshire where he offered his clearest drug policy prescriptions yet (though it was overshadowed by his weird demand that Hillary Clinton undergo a drug test). To be fair, since then, Trump has also called for expanding law enforcement and treatment programs, but he has offered no specifics or cost estimates.</p><p>And the centerpiece of his approach remains interdiction, which dovetails nicely with his nativist immigration positions.</p><p>"A Trump administration will secure and defend our borders," he said in that speech. "A wall will not only keep out dangerous cartels and criminals, but it will also keep out the drugs and heroin poisoning our youth."</p><p>Trump did not address the failure of 40 years of ever-increasing border security and interdiction policies to stop the flow of drugs up until now, nor did he explain what would prevent a 50-foot wall from being met with a 51-foot ladder.</p><p>Trump's drug policy also takes aim at a favorite target of conservatives: so-called sanctuary cities, where local officials refuse to cooperate in harsh federal deportation policies.</p><p>"We are also going to put an end to sanctuary cities, which refuse to turn over illegal immigrant drug traffickers for deportation," he said. "We will dismantle the illegal immigrant cartels and violent gangs, and we will send them swiftly out of our country."</p><p>In contrast, Clinton's detailed proposal calls for increased federal spending for prevention, treatment and recovery, first responders, prescribers, and criminal justice reform. The Clinton plan would send $7.5 billion to the states over 10 years, matching every dollar they spend on such programs with four federal dollars. Another $2.5 billion would be designated for the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program.</p><p>While Trump advocates increased border and law enforcement, including a return to now widely discredited mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, Clinton does not include funding for drug enforcement and interdiction efforts in her proposal. Such funding would presumably come through normal appropriations channels.</p><p>Instead of a criminal justice crackdown, Clinton vows that her attorney general will issue guidance to the states urging them to emphasize treatment over incarceration for low-level drug offenders. She also supports alternatives to incarceration such as drug courts (as does Trump). But unlike Trump, Clinton makes no call for increased penalties for drug offenders.</p><p>Trump provides lip service to prevention, treatment and recovery, but his rhetorical emphasis illuminates his drug policy priorities: more walls, more law enforcement, more drug war prisoners.</p><p>There is one area of drug policy where both candidates are largely in agreement, and that is marijuana policy. Both Clinton and Trump have embraced medical marijuana, both say they are inclined to let the states experiment with legalization, but neither has called for marijuana legalization or the repeal of federal pot prohibition.</p><p>If Clinton's drug policies can be said to be a continuation of Obama's, Trump's drug policies are more similar to a return to Nixon's. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066468'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066468" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 02 Nov 2016 11:16:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1066468 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 donald trump hillary clinton drug policy marijuana heroin opiates opioids drug courts interdiction mandatory minimums Trump Brings Up the Madness of the Drug War in the Weirdest Way Possible http://www.alternet.org/drugs/flailing-trump-pivots-drug-policy-hillary-drug-test <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1065573'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1065573" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Donald briefly took up drug policy over the weekend, but his proposals went almost unnoticed in the midst of his bizarre drug test demand.</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="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/trump_teeth_bared.jpg?itok=_TftHI67" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Reeling from allegation after allegation of sexual misconduct, Republican presidential contender Donald Trump tried to go on the offensive on drug policy over the weekend, but in a manner typical of his campaign, he touched only briefly on the topic before flying off on new tangents.</p><p>He began his drug policy interlude with a bizarre attack on Hillary Clinton. At a <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-turns-focus-issues-drugs-criminal-justice-reform-n666956">speech</a> at a Toyota dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Saturday, the GOP candidate claimed that Clinton was on performance-enhancing drugs before their last debate and suggested drug tests were in order.</p><p>"Why don't we do that?" he demanded, adding that Clinton was likely "getting pumped up" as she prepared for the debate.</p><p>"We should take a drug test prior cause I don't know what's going on with her. But at the beginning of last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end it was like, oh take me down. She could barely reach her car," he claimed.</p><p>The claim didn't come out of nowhere. Trump was echoing an ad from two weeks ago from the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Number 1 that showed Clinton coughing and then stumbling to her van on the morning of September 11, when she was suffering from pneumonia. The super PAC is bankrolled by Trump backer and bigtime conservative donor Robert Mercer, who dropped $2 million on the PAC in July.</p><p>Donald Trump's unfounded allegation that Clinton was on drugs during the last debate and his demand for a drug test <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=hillary+trump+drug+test&amp;rlz=2C1TSNF_enUS0536US0537&amp;oq=hillary+trump+drug+test&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.3563j0j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=hillary+trump+drug+test&amp;tbm=nws">grabbed media attention</a>. But if Trump was attempting to turn a corner and shift the campaign's focus away from his peccadillos, his strange accusation only served to raise more questions about his temperament and suitability for the nation's highest office.</p><p>It also virtually smothered any discussion of actual drug policy proposals Trump made during the speech. While Trump has obliquely addressed the heroin and prescription opioid problem in the past, Saturday's speech was the first time he tried to put any flesh on his proposals for dealing with it.</p><p>If anyone were paying attention to the policy details amidst all the racket about the drug test challenge, they would have heard drug policy proposals rooted squarely in the failed drug war strategies of the last century. Trump would, he said, block drugs from coming into the U.S. by—you guessed it—building a wall on the Mexican border. He would also seek to tighten restrictions on the prescribing of opioids and he would reinstitute mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.</p><p>"We have 5 percent of the world's population but use 80 percent of the prescription opioids," Trump said, eerily echoing former rival Jeb Bush, who used the same language while campaigning in the state earlier this year.</p><p>That statistic is aimed at showing that the U.S. is overprescribing narcotic pain killers, but <a href="His%20surprising%20claims%20mimicked%20a%20pro-Trump%20super%20PAC%20Make%20America%20Number%201%20ad%20from%20last%20week%20that%20proposed%20a%20drug%20test%20for%20candidates,%20interspersed%20with%20sound%20of%20Clinton's%20coughs%20and%20imagery%20of%20her%20stumbling%20to%20her%20van%20on%209/11.">according</a> to the World Health Organization, the actuality is that in much of the rest of the world, they are underprescribing them. In fact, WHO said that in more than 150 countries with 83 percent of the global population, there is virtually no access to prescription opioids for relief of pain.</p><p>The undertreatment of chronic pain isn't just a problem in India, China and Africa. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than <a href="http://americanpainsociety.org/about-us/press-room/nih-study-shows-prevalence-of-chronic-or-severe-pain-in-u-s-adults">50 million Americans</a> suffer significant chronic or severe pain. An opioid policy that focuses only on reducing prescriptions without addressing the need for access to pain-killing opioids for actual pain is only half a policy.</p><p>When it comes to the border, Trump correctly <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/sep/13/donald-trump/trump-right-heroin-coming-through-southern-border/">asserts</a> that Mexico is the source of most of the heroin in the U.S. (it produces 45% and another 51% comes from Latin America, mostly Colombia and Guatemala, often through Mexico), but relies on a hyper-interdiction policy ("build the wall") to thwart it. Interdiction—blocking the flow of drugs into the country—has been a pillar of U.S. drug policy for decades, but despite massive border build-ups and the doubling of the number of Customs and Border Patrol agents in the past 15 years, the drugs still flow. </p><p>Interdiction hasn't done the trick so far, and there is no indication that even a Trumpian wall would make a difference. The creativity of drug smugglers is legendary, and the economic incentives under drug prohibition are great. As the saying goes, "Build a 50-foot wall, and they'll bring a 51-foot ladder" (or tunnel).</p><p>The third component of Trump's drug policy is a Reaganesque "lock 'em up." In his New Hampshire speech, he saluted running mate Mike Pence for increasing mandatory minimums for drug offenders as governor of Indiana.</p><p>"We must make similar efforts a priority for the nation," Trump said.</p><p>That position flies in the face of a growing bipartisan consensus that the use of mandatory minimums for drug offenses is draconian, ineffective and harms mainly minority populations. During the Obama administration, mandatory minimum sentences have been reduced with congressional assent, and Obama himself has granted commutations to hundreds of drug war prisoners serving those draconian sentences, with little dissent.</p><p>Trump's drug policy is but a sketch, but even its vague outlines reflect outdated approaches and a quickness to resort to cheap demagoguery on the issue. Still, while there is plenty of room for discussion of his approach, Trump has apparently already left the issue behind, barely mentioning it since Saturday as he tilts furiously at other windmills. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1065573'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1065573" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 17 Oct 2016 12:58:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1065573 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 donald trump mike pence drugs heroin prescription opioids mandatory minimums chronic pain