By Steve Elliott
Congressional Republicans on Thursday criticized Colorado and Washington state for legalizing marijuana, claiming pot causes automobile accidents.
Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, claimed stronger federal laws against marijuana were needed in light of the wave of states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational uses, reports Marina Fang at The Huffington Post. Rep. Mica made the remarks during a hearing entitled "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Operating While Stoned."
Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) couldn't resist joining in, attacking Colorado voters for their recent decision to legalize weed. Fleming pointed to a study by the University of Colorado at Denver purportedly showing an increase in traffic fatalities in the state since voters legalized medical marijuana, implying that further loosing the marijuana laws is dangerous.
Interestingly, Fleming didn't mention another study, by University of Colorado Denver professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University professor D. Mark Anderson, which found that traffic fatalities drop nearly 9 percent in states after the legalize medical marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
Uruguay earlier this year became the first nation in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana. Now one German researcher is alleging that billionaire speculator George Soros supported legalization in that South American country as part of a plan for corporate agribusiness giant Monsanto to move into the cannabis trade.
Engdahl alleges, on the website of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) that Monsanto is already quietly at work on a project to patent a genetically modified cannabis plant in Uruguay. Since Soros played a pivotal role in Uruguay's legalization drive (he sits on the board of the Drug Policy Alliance), and also owns considerable Monsanto stock, Engdahl believes those two things are connected, and they point towards Monsanto involvement.
Soros' Open Society organization distributed $34 million last year, according to Engdahl, nearly $3.5 million of which was dedicated to marijuana legalization. Open Society funded the group Regulacion Responsable ("Responsible Control") in Uruguay; the group ran a nationwide advertising campaign for the successful legalization drive.
By Steve Elliott
Delegates of a regional federation of unions in Northwest Oregon met a two-thirds majority vote to recommend that statewide labor organizations support the New Approach Oregon measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
"The Northwest Oregon Labor Council is proud to recommend support for the New Approach measure," said Jeff Anderson, first vice president of the council and executive secretary of UFCW 555. "The measure would create more family-wage jobs in Oregon, keep workers safe by retaining current workplace drug laws and generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for crucial public services like education and police."
Officials with the New Approach campaign were happy with the news.
"It's rare to win support from Oregon workers so early in a campaign," said New Approach campaign manager Dan Mahr. "This reflects the fact that the New Approach measure will improve the lives of workers in all corners of the state."
The recommendation from the "union of unions" comes a week after the New Approach Measure qualified for the ballot. The Northwest Oregon Labor Council is the largest central labor committee in the state, representing more than 50,000 workers in 100 union locals.
By Steve Elliott
Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.
“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”
“This report reflects what is actually happening on the ground here in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado initiative campaign. "The state is proving that regulating marijuana works. It explains why the new law is experiencing just as much public support now as it did when voters approved it in 2012.
Broad Coalition Comprised of Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Racial Justice, Human Rights Organizations
A diverse coalition of more than 80 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, racial justice, human rights, libertarian and religious organizations are joined by notable figures such as Michelle Alexander in calling for an end to the War On Drugs in the name of protecting children both in Latin America and here in the United States.
The supporters of the letter -– which include the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Center for Constitutional Rights, Institute of the Black World, Presente.org, Students for Liberty, United We Dream, William C. Velasquez Institute, and the Working Families Organization -– are notable for their diversity in cause and focus, yet this issue unites them all.
In their letter of support for new policies, the coalition states:
"In recent weeks, the plight of the 52,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border since last October, many of whom are fleeing drug war violence in Central America, has permeated our national consciousness. The devastating consequences of the drug war have not only been felt in Latin America, they are also having ravaging effects here at home. All too often, children are on the frontlines of this misguided war that knows no borders or color lines."
By Steve Elliott
Eighty percent of the marijuana citations issued by the Seattle Police Department during the first half of this year were written by just one pot-hating cop -- and now that officer has been reassigned.
Staff reviewing data to prepare the department's first biannual report on marijuana enforcement found that 66 of 83 citations for public cannabis use were given out by just one officer, according to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, reports Eric M. Johnson at Reuters.
"In some instances, the officer added notes to the tickets," Chief O'Toole said.
In one case, she said, "the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite." In another, he referred to the voter-approved legalization of marijuana as "silly." Washington voters in 2012 approved Initiative 502, a limited legalization measure, but public pot use still isn't allowed.
Some of the notes written on tickets by the officer in question requested the attention of City Attorney Pete Holmes -- a vocal supporter of legalization -- and were addressed to "Petey Holmes."
The officer's conduct was reported to the police's Office of Professional Accountability, according to O'Toole, who added that he won't be performing patrol duties during the investigation.
Need for Emergency Access is Clearer than Ever with Recent Deaths
Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo and Urge His Continued Leadership and Action to Ensure Critically Ill Patients Receive Immediate Access to Medicine
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called for swift implementation of New York’s recently passed medical marijuana law. Since the medical marijuana bill was signed into law on July 7, three children who suffered from severe seizure disorders have already died.
These deaths have made even clearer what we already knew – the 18-month or longer timeline for implementing New York’s medical marijuana law is simply too long for some patients who face life-threatening or terminal illnesses.
The Governor’s letter follows Monday’s meeting between the Governor’s office, the Department of Health, patients, and advocates from across New York State. In his letter, Governor Cuomo acknowledges the importance of expediting the implementation process, as well as exploring any options that might provide immediate relief for patients from across the state who are in pain and suffering.
“I applaud the Governor for recognizing the urgency around implementing New York’s medical marijuana law, so that patients can obtain access to potentially life-saving medicine,” said Wendy Conte of Buffalo, whose daughter recently died following a severe seizure. “We are looking to the Governor now for his continued leadership to ensure that our children receive the medicine that they need.
By Steve Elliott
Most of us would appreciate such a warning, but an Australian airline on Wednesday is apologizing for a flight attendant's tip to passengers that there were drug-detecting dogs waiting for them at a Sydney airport.
Many of the 210 passengers on a Sunday night Jetstar Australia flight from Canberra were coming home from the "Splendour in the Grass" weekend music festival at Byron Bay, reports Jonathan Pearlman at the Daily Telegraph.
"We have been told there are sniffer dogs and quarantine officers waiting in the domestic terminal," the flight attendant reportedly told passengers via the Airbus A320's public address system. "If you need to dispose of anything you shouldn't have, we suggest you flush it now."
The advice reportedly prompted a rush on the airliner's bathrooms -- one passenger said several others aboard "suddenly made for the toilets with things clenched in their hands" -- and later resulted in expressions of gratitude on social media from some who had been passengers on the flight.
"I was shocked. Why would you tip off people about this?" the ill-tempered passenger complained. "If they have got something illegal, let them get caught."
But the response on Jetstar's Facebook page was overwhelmingly positive.
"What a good Samaritan, Jetstar Australia this guy deserves a promotion," posted Rohit Dwivedi.
By Steve Elliott
The United States and Canada should be proud of themselves. According to an annual United Nations report on global drug use, they rank among the highest in the world, when it comes to marijuana use. Nigeria and Australia join the U.S. and Canada as the highest nations on Earth.
Each of the Top 4 marijuana countries has more than 10 percent of its population, ages 15 to 64, admitting to using cannabis, reports Janissa Delzo at the Medical Daily. Western Europe also has high rates of marijuana use, but didn't rank in the top category.
Countries with the lowest rates of cannabis use in the world are Ecuador, Paraguay (ironically, listed as a top cannabis producer), Turkey, and Romania.
Although Mexico has, for decades, exported large amounts of commercial marijuana to the United States, it has a surprisingly low rate of cannabis use, according to the report. The U.N. said that the lower perceived risk of cannabis use in the U.S. has led to an increase in its use, even as global marijuana use has decreased, particularly in Western and Central Europe.
The World Drug Report 2014 reveals the cultivation and production of cannabis remains widespread, with hashish production concentrated in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.
U.S.: Dr. Carl Hart Awarded For His Book Which 'Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society'Submitted by steveelliott on Wed, 07/30/2014 - 18:17
Columbia University Neuroscientist’s Book Blends Personal History with Leading Addiction Science and Alternatives Counterproductive Drug Policies
High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013), the groundbreaking memoir/big science book written by neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, Dr. Carl Hart, won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, the organization announced Wednesday morning.
At the time of the announcement, the author and professor was in Zurich studying how that nation balances social justice drug policy. “I am deeply honored and humbled to have been awarded the prestigious PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award,” Dr. Hart said. “I recognize that High Price outlines many uncomfortable ideas and facts about topics we'd rather avoid such as race, poverty, and drugs.
"So, I am particularly grateful to the award selection committee, to everyone who has read High Price, to those who have interviewed me about High Price, and to many people who have sent me their personal stories or letters of support.”
By Steve Elliott
Members of Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration this week met with about a dozen medical marijuana advocates as some New York lawmakers called on Cuomo to speed up the process of making cannabis available to patients in need.
Meeting with the advocates on Monday were Deputy Secretary of Health Courtney Burke and Howard Zucker of the New York Department of Health, reports Jon Campbell at PressConnects. Last week, bill sponsors wrote to Gov. Cuomo, urging him to consider different ways to get medical marijuana to terminally ill patients more quickly.
Under New York's new medical marijuana law, the Department of Health has 18 months to get the state's system up and running.
The purpose of Monday's meeting was to keep the lines of communication open with advocates as the state begins to implement the program, Westchester County resident Kate Hintz, whose daughter Morgan, 3, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy.
"I'm pleased that they have opened a dialogue with advocates and parents, such as myself," Hintz said. "I think that there are ways that we can safely and efficaciously provide medicine sooner than an 18-month time period."
By Steve Elliott
An ordinance which would impose fines and even possible jail time for growing medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of Riverside County, California will get a public hearing on September 23 before the Board of Supervisors decides whether to enact it into law.
The 5-0 decision by the board on Tuesday came after a protest by medicinal cannabis advocates outside the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside, reports Jeff Horseman at The Press Enterprise. Supporters carried signs reading "Respect Patients' Rights!" and "Help Keep Marijuana Safe!"
Growing marijuana for any reason remains illegal in Riverside County, despite the fact that California voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana back in 1996. Riverside County also bans medical marijuana dispensaries, leaving patients with no safe access.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries is sponsoring the ordinance to crack down on marijuana grows in the county. Jeffries claimed "hundreds" of marijuana crops are growing in his district, and he fears they are connected to "drug cartels."
Jeffries claimed his goal isn't to punish legitimate medical marijuana patients. He noted his ordinance would impose $10 fines for anyone who grows six or fewer plants, indoors or outdoors. The current first-offense fine for growing any amount of marijuana is $100.
"I do not want public safety resources spent going after a handful of plants," Jeffries claimed.
By Steve Elliott
The New York Times this week, in what is widely seen as an epochal event, called for marijuana legalization in an editorial. But The Times drug tests its own employees, including for cannabis, despite its strong stance against marijuana prohibition.
The online dispensary-finding company WeedMaps has just launched a petition on Change.org which calls out the newspaper for its hypocritical policy.
"Whether we're going to continue testing for marijuana or not, I don't know," Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal said last night on MSBNC. "If they ask me, I'll stop."
Drug policy experts believe the petition stands a good chance of impacting the newspaper's drug testing policy, at least to the extent of convincing them to remove marijuana from the list of substances on the test.
"If The New York Times believes it is wrong to discriminate against people for using marijuana, then they should stop doing so. Full stop," said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "Forward-thinking companies in the emerging legal marijuana industry, such as WeedMaps, are leading the way toward a post-prohibition approach to hiring and human resources by focusing on job performance and not on the content of their employees' urine.
Colorado: Food Safety Training For Marijuana Edibles Makers, Responsible Selling For Budtenders LaunchedSubmitted by steveelliott on Tue, 07/29/2014 - 18:14
Edibles makers to learn proper hygiene, prevention of food contamination, emergency procedures, and more
“Budtenders” to learn responsible selling practices based on lessons of alcohol industry
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Tuesday announced that it will launch the first ServSafe© Food Safety Basics course specifically for cannabis industry professionals. Participants in the course, based on a curriculum developed originally by the National Restaurant Association, will learn about the significance of food-borne illness, proper personal hygiene, time and temperature control, how to prevent cross-contamination, cleaning, sanitizing and emergency procedures, and more.
“The interest in edibles and other infused products keeps growing,” said NCIA deputy director Taylor West. “We know our industry is under a microscope, and we want to make sure cannabis product-makers continue developing the highest quality and safest products possible.”
NCIA also announced a new Sell-SMaRT™ Responsible Cannabis Vendor course that will teach marijuana dispensary employees, or “budtenders,” responsible selling practices, such as how to check ID, educate customers about responsible consumption, and handle tricky situations.
These courses are developed and facilitated by Maureen McNamara, founder of Cannabis Trainers™, an NCIA member business. McNamara has been teaching the ServSafe© course to traditional food industry professionals for the last 18 years, but this will be her first course geared solely for makers of marijuana edibles.
By Steve Elliott
As Floridians get ready to vote on medical marijuana in November, months of campaigning by both sides hasn't moved the numbers at all. A new poll shows 88 percent support for medicinal cannabis, the exact same level of support shown in May.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's numbers are significant, reports Dan Sweeney at the Sun Sentinel, because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll -- "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot," a disinformation campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No On 23, a project of Drug Free Florida.
As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass in November.
An incredible 95 percent of voters age 29 and younger support the measure in the new poll.
Notorious anti-pot activist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, claims the amendment would result in an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, shady doctors authorizing it for almost any ailments, and access for minors. But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana, and that there are already state laws in place which would require parental consent before minors could be authorized.