By Steve Elliott
Legendary actor James Garner, who portrayed two of television's most memorable characters in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," died on Sunday at the age of 86. Garner was a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, and in his memoir said he'd used cannabis for 50 years, even adding "I don't where I'd be without it."
"I started smoking marijuana in my late teens," Garner wrote in his memoir,
"Grass is smooth," Garner wrote, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle PI. "It had the opposite effect from alcohol; it made me more tolerant and forgiving."
"I smoked marijuana for 50 years," Garner wrote. "I don't know where I'd be without it. It opened my mind to a lot of things, and now its active ingredient, THC, relaxes me and eases my arthritis pain.
"I've concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol should be illegal," Garner wrote. "But, good luck with that."
Friday Panel: Marijuana Arrests: The Gateway to Mass Incarceration
Marijuana arrests and mass incarceration will take center stage at Netroots Nation 2014 this week in Detroit.
On Friday, July 18 at 4:30 p.m., the ninth annual gathering of progressive voices will feature a panel, “Marijuana Arrests: the Gateway to Mass Incarceration.” The panel will feature Kassandra Frederique, a policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
Frederique is currently organizing with groups around the state of New York to address bias policing practices, unlawful marijuana arrests and collateral consequences of criminalization.
“I’m thrilled to see Netroots Nation examine the failed war on drugs and how marijuana arrests fuel mass incarceration,” Frederique said. “Netroots Nation is a cutting-edge incubator of ideas and I’m excited to have a rich discussion during the panel and action from folks afterwards.”
Every 48 seconds someone is arrested for marijuana possession in the United States. Most of these arrests are of people of color, despite the fact that white people use and sell marijuana at higher rates. In this panel they will explore how the Drug War and biased policing practices fuel marijuana arrests and, in turn, mass incarceration.
By Steve Elliott
The president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) on Tuesday said that America's marijuana laws are total failures. John Dixon III, police chief in Petersburg, Virginia, speaking at the NOBLE's annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said law enforcement is too concerned with busting people for minor marijuana offenses.
"We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts," Dixon said, reports Ryan Smith at MPP. "We are locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint.
"They're put in the criminal justice system which pretty much ruins the rest of their lives," Dixon said, adding that medical professionals should be in charge of dealing with drug use. "Why do I have to lock you up for that? What benefit am I giving you, then? We have to get out of the businesses. That should be the focus of the medical field."
"Sometimes, we've got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn't going to say," Dixon said.
The ACLU has released a study showing that the marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities across the United States, despite the fact the blacks and whites use cannabis at similar rates.
Kush Bottles, an American supplier of child-resistant packaging and compliant bottles for the marijuana industry, on Monday commented on a recent press release by a competitor claiming that marijuana dispensary packaging made in China was "outperforming domestic manufactured dispensary supplies."
The press release stated, "Chinese manufacturing had helped to keep packaging prices low. The fact that these lower-priced options exceed domestic quality standards in the last few years is why [they are] proud of [their] business partnerships in China."
Ben Wu, CEO of Kush Bottles strongly disagrees with that statement. "I am keenly familiar with the production quality of bottles and packaging coming from China, and I can unequivocally state that they are far inferior to the product coming from American factories, which use FDA-approved materials and have been independently tested and certified to meet and exceed the standards for child-resistance set by the specific requirements of Title 16 CFR 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act."
Moreover, the bottles and containers made in China do NOT meet the standards for child resistance in states with child resistant packaging regulations, according to John Kovacevich, vice president of Kush Bottles.
A marijuana industry job board website, 420careers.com, has reached out to Mike Boyer, the first Washington state citizen to purchase recreational marijuana and to get fired for using recreational marijuana, find a new job in the marijuana industry.
Boyer was the first person to purchase recreational marijuana in Washington’s new marijuana industry and was fired hours later after his employer recognized him on multiple TV stations that aired interviews of him and the historic moment.
Boyer said he’s “been officially terminated for violation of the drug use policy,” but that he hopes he can “spin this and get a job in the marijuana industry… It’s a new industry, they need qualified people.”
“The marijuana industry is one of the few industries creating large quantities of job opportunities in the US, and businesses are in need of qualified, law-abiding employees like Mr. Boyer," said Dan Kingston, president of 420careers.com.
"More than 10,000 marijuana industry jobs have been created in Colorado alone," Kingston said. "And hundreds, if not thousands, of more jobs will be created in Washington and other states that legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use."
Currently trending marijuana jobs offered on 420careers.com range from marijuana writers to advertising sales people, budtenders to cultivation experts, security to administrative positions, and more. Presently, marijuana jobs are in the highest demand in Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, where the marijuana industries are booming.
By Steve Elliott
Stephen Gaskin, the tie-dye wearing hippie philosopher who founded The Farm commune in Tennessee and authored books including "Cannabis Spirituality," died Tuesday morning at his home in Summertown, Tennessee after a lengthy illness.
Gaskin, an ex-combat Marine and self-described "hippie priest and freelance rabble rouser," had led a caravan of hippies across the United States in the early 1970s from San Francisco eventually to the hills of Tennessee, where they founded a commune based on utopian ideals. It became one of the world's oldest surviving intentional communities.
"We have been freethinkers for generations," Gaskin wrote of his family. "And, as is provided for in the Constitution, I have passed my philosophical and religious ways on to my children, who are very proud of their heritage and ancestors."
Gaskin's teachings inspired not only those who followed him across the country to found The Farm. His ideas also changed forever the way a generation thought about changing society and making the world a better place in which for us to live.
He spent two years teaching English and creative writing at San Francisco State College after earning his master's in 1964. In 1967, he began an informal philosophy seminar that became the Monday Night Class, in which the hippie guru would discuss religion, politics, sex and drugs.
Citizens Take to the Streets on June 26 to Protest Current Drug Policies and to Call for an End to the Senseless Criminalization of Drug Users
Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities on Thursday, June 26, to fight harmful drug laws that have caused health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.
Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in New York, London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions include peaceful demonstrations, street performances, public meetings and workshops, social media campaigns and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.
The events are scheduled to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is also June 26. The U.N.’s anti-drugs day is used by many governments to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been marked with public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.
The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.
Conference hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, focused on cannabusiness professionals; more than 800 expected to attend
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will hold its first ever Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, June 24 – 25.
The event is expected to draw more than 800 cannabis industry leaders, entrepreneurs and service providers to discuss best practices, technological advances, evolving regulatory environments, opportunities, and responsibilities surrounding the rapidly growing legal cannabis industry.
“The Cannabis Business Summit will be one of the largest and most professional gatherings of cannabis industry leaders in the country,” said Taylor West, deputy director of NCIA. “It’s a must-attend event for anyone trying to understand the legal cannabis industry and where it’s headed.
“It’s also an incredible opportunity for cannabusiness people, investors, policy reformers, and media to all meet, talk, and learn from each other,” West said.
Those attending are expected to be new and experienced dispensary owners and operators, cultivation professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, regulators, infused product specialists, attorneys, industry consultants and cannabis-related service providers. The summit’s agenda covers:
· Cannabusiness 101
· Advanced Cannabusiness
· Ancillary Services and Products
· Cannabis Policy and Reform
· Emerging Topics and Roundtable Discussions
In a Show of Support for Fellow Cancer Survivors and Other Patients, Etheridge Helps Advocates as They Enter the Final Days of the Legislative Session With Still No Action from Senate Leadership
Legendary rock star and cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge -– who is in the state capital for a concert on Saturday at The Egg theater -- called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the leaders of the New York Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act.
Etheridge also arranged for patients and caregivers from Compassionate Care NY -- a coalition of patients, caregivers and organizations working for passage of the bill -- to collect signatures in support of the legislation at her concert. The Compassionate Care Act, A.6357-C (Gottfried) / S.4406-C (Savino), would alleviate the suffering of thousands of New Yorkers with serious and debilitating conditions -- such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS -- by allowing them access to a small amount of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
"Tonight, I am calling on Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to stand with patients across New York and pass the Compassionate Care Act without further delay," Etheridge said. "As a cancer survivor, I know the ravages of a serious illness, and patients who are suffering deserve access to a medication that can provide them relief.
By Steve Elliott
Americans believe it's worse to drive after drinking than after smoking marijuana, according to a new survey.
Querying 1,000 Internet users nationwide in a Google Survey during the month of April, just over 84 percent of those polled answered "alcohol" to the question, "Which is worse, driving after drinking or driving after smoking marijuana?"
"What's interesting about these findings is that despite the public's wide acceptance of drinking alcohol, especially wine and beer, there's a conflict in attitudes about how it impacts behavior," said international performance and learning trainer Shawn Lock, who conducted the survey. "While there's little stigma towards drinking in public versus smoking marijuana in public, there's a very different opinion when it comes to alcohol versus marijuana."
An avid wine enthusiast and president of winecraftsman.com, Lock focuses on how certain choices impact human behavior. He said he's been fascinated by the public's debate on issues surrounding alcohol versus marijuana.
Attitudes toward marijuana and driving were related to age, according to the survey. Nearly twice as many respondents over 65 felt marijuana was worse than did respondents in the 18 to 24 age range. "These findings are interesting in that states with younger populations might be more accepting towards legalizing marijuana whereas states with older populations might have a challenge," Lock said.
Marijuana policy organization makes maximum financial contribution to challenger of former congressman that called medical marijuana a ‘sham’
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) PAC on Wednesday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Igor Birman and contributed $5,000 to his campaign, the maximum allowed under federal law. Birman is challenging former Congressman Doug Ose in a hotly contested Republican primary race in California’s 7th Congressional District, which consists of eastern Sacramento County.
MPP PAC attributed the endorsement to Birman’s strong support for ending marijuana prohibition and his ability to work with members of all parties to enact much-needed changes to federal law. The endorsement was also motivated by the radical anti-marijuana views of former Congressman Ose, who once said during a radio interview that medical marijuana is “a sham that was foisted on the people of [California].”
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones endorsed Ose last month, citing the former Congressman’s opposition to regulating and taxing marijuana — an idea supported by 55 percent of California voters, according to a Field Poll released in December.
“Igor is among the growing number of Republicans with common sense views on marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and other thinking conservatives, he recognizes the wasteful and counterproductive nature of marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
Activist Alan Gordon has demanded "immediate amnesty" for people who grow cannabis for gravely ill patients in Bermuda, saying that patients can't afford to wait.
“There is only one way to allow the immediate medical cannabis called for by the CRC Report,” said Gordon. The activist said he spoke on behalf of an unofficial collective of nearly two dozen Bermuda growers, reports Bernews.
“We need to just do it instead of just shuffling paperwork," Gordon said. "Eighty small medical grade cannabis trees are available to start, and over 50 medical cannabis strains are currently on the island."
Gordon said he has a “stack of cancer and MS patients’ letters discussing a life-or-death need for medical cannabis in some cases, or in other cases discussing ailments so debilitating that many readers would be moved to tears.”
“Some patients are stuck in Bermuda, where affordable medicine is non-existent, and some Bermudian patients are stuck in America, doing remarkably well, but unable to come home with life-saving medicine,” Gordon said.
“Life-saving medicine should not be delayed by bureaucracy and forms -– cancer patients shouldn’t wait one more day, nor be asked to break the law,” he said, calling delays a result of “Bermuda dawdling and taking too long to emerge from the Victorian era.”
By Steve Elliott
The FBI's long-standing policy of no tolerance for marijuana use has forced the law enforcement agency to turn away the very best computer hackers -- and now the agency is looking at letting in cannabis users.
"I have to hire a great workforce to compete with these cyber criminals, and some of those kids smoke weed on the way to the interview," said FBI Director James Comey, reports Charles Levinson at The Wall Street Journal.
Congress has funded the FBI to add 2,000 new jobs this year, and many of those recruits will be assigned to the rapidly expanding cybercrimes unit. And that's where the problem arises, according to Comey, who said a lot of the nation's top computer programmers and hackers really like cannabis.
Comey said the FBI is currently "grappling" with how to change its marijuana policies.
The agency last changed its pot policy back in 2007 when it got rid of requirements that excluded anyone who had used cannabis more than 15 times in their entire lives. That absurd rule was chucked in favor of a three-year limit; if more than 36 months had passed since you last toked up, you've been good to go to be a G-Man for the past seven years.
By Steve Elliott
Cats are known to give such gifts as dead mice to their owners. But a cool kitty in New Zealand brought a bag of weed home; too bad the clueless owner called the cops.
Police received a call from a woman in Halfway Bush, N.Z., on Sunday, saying her cat had left "a bag of drugs" on her doorstep, reports John Lewis at the Otago Daily Times.
"It was approximately 5 grams of cannabis, which has a street value of between $100 and $150," said Sergeant Reese Munro of Dunedin.
The cat's owner wanted those horrid drugs removed from the premises; Sgt. Munro wouldn't identify the cat or its owner.
"You hear of cats bringing dead birds and rats home but certainly in my career I've never seen anything like this before," Sgt. Munro said. "We will continue our investigation and look at having the plastic bag fingerprinted."
Racing fans might wonder whatever happened to one the world’s most exciting young stars, 1986 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Randy Lanier. These days, Lanier can be found at Coleman Federal Prison in Florida where he is in his 26th year of incarceration serving a sentence of life without parole for a first time, nonviolent marijuana offense.
At the time of his indictment, Lanier was poised to become one of racing’s all time greats. In 1980 he had four wins in his own, self-financed 1957 Porsche Speedster. In 1984 he earned the IMSA GTP Championship and was named “Most Improved Driver.” His 1986 Vanderbilt Rookie of the Year award preceded his 1986 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year nod. By 1987, the United States federal government had put an end to his racing dreams.
Lanier had no prior offenses, and no weapons were involved in the “continuing criminal enterprise” he was accused of running, While others were indicted and incarcerated, only Lanier and one other remain behind bars.
Like most prisoners serving life sentences for marijuana Lanier’s refusal to “cooperate,” in other words indict others, helped bring about his sentence of “natural death” in prison.