Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart is stepping down, US Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed.
Members of the US House Oversight Committee gave Leonhart a vote of “no confidence” last week after an Office of the Inspector General report revealed that senior DEA officials had participated in sex parties arranged by Colombian drug cartels and had also received weapons and cash from cartel members. None of the agents involved were fired by director Leonhart.
Michele Leonhart began serving as the agency’s acting director in November 2007 before being confirmed as DEA administrator in 2010.
Leonhart had consistently taken a hardline stance against any change in marijuana policy. Early in her tenure she oversaw dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers and producers in states that had legalized the plant. She set aside a verdict from the agency’s own administrative law judge that sought to expand and facilitate clinical research into marijuana as a medicine and she rejected an administrative petition calling for marijuana rescheduling hearings. She openly criticized remarks made by the President acknowledging cannabis’ relative safety compared to alcohol, and criticized the administration’s efforts to allow states to implement limited regulatory schemes for the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults. In public testimony, Leonhart refused to acknowledge whether she believed that crack cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin posed greater risks to health than marijuana — instead opining, “All illegal drugs are bad.”
Ms. Leonhart also actively opposed hemp law reform during her time as DEA director. She criticized a decision to fly a hempen flag over the Capitol, saying it was “her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA.” Last year, her agency unlawfully seized 250 pounds of legal hemp seeds destined for Kentucky’s state Agricultural Department.
Always a true believer in the drug war no matter what the costs, in 2009 she described increased southern border violence as a sign of the “success” of her agency’s anti-drug strategies.
Michele Leonhart is expected to leave the agency in mid-May.
The majority of Americans say that marijuana is safer than alcohol and believe that its use should be legal, according to nationwide polling data compiled by CBS News.
Fifty-three percent of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Should marijuana use be legal?” That is the highest level of support ever recorded by CBS pollsters since they began posing the question in 1979. Forty-three percent of respondents opposed legalization.
Males, younger voters, and Democrats were most likely to support marijuana’s legalization. Seventy-four percent of those who acknowledged having tried marijuana said that the plant ought to be legalized, compared to just 35 percent who have never used it.
The majority of respondents (51 percent) agreed that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol. Only 12 percent of respondents said they believed that marijuana was more harmful than booze, while 28 percent said that both substances were equally harmful.
Forty-three percent of respondents acknowledged having consumed marijuana, an increase of nine percent since 1997. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that it would not matter to them if a Presidential candidate admitted having tried it.
On the question of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, 84 percent of respondents supported allowing physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to their patients.
The CBS News poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support for legalizing and regulating marijuana.
Study: Oral Cannabis Extracts Associated With Seizure Control In Children With Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy
The administration of oral cannabis extracts is associated with the mitigation of seizures in adolescents with epilepsy, according to clinical data published this month in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
Researchers from the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver performed a retrospective chart review of 75 children provided cannabis extracts. Authors reported that 57 percent of subjects showed some level of improvement in seizure control while 33 percent reported a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency.
Researchers also reported “improved behavior/alertness” in one-third of subjects and improved motor skills in ten percent of treated patients. Adverse events were reported in 44 percent of subjects, 13 percent of which reported increased seizure activity. Overall, however, authors concluded that the extracts were “well tolerated by children.”
Separate clinical trial results publicized last week at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology reported that the administration of a proprietary form of CBD (cannabidiol) extracts decreased seizure frequency by 54 percent over a 12-week period in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Survey data compiled by Stanford University in 2013 reported that the administration of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis decreased seizures in 16 of 19 patients with pediatric epilepsy.
Last February, the Epilepsy Foundation of America enacted a resolution in support of the “rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana.”
An abstract of the study, “Parental reporting of response to oral cannabis extracts for treatment of refractory epilepsy,” appears online here.
Our friends at High Times have launched a new campaign to call national attention to the next logical step in the country’s progression towards marijuana legalization: Freeing America’s Pot Prisoners
While the federal government has relaxed its stance on marijuana, allowing states to implement their own laws and no longer prosecuting businesses running in accordance with these laws, the status of those persecuted under old laws remains ignored. High Times’ petition calls for a rectification between the United States’ past marijuana laws and the current situation.
“President Obama recently commuted 20-odd prisoners serving life for a first time drug offense,” says CEO of Trans High Corporation and volunteer lawyer for “Lifers for Pot” Michael Kennedy. “Nineteen of them were convicted of coke and meth crimes… clearly much more serious misdeeds than pot dealing, but the big O only commuted one marijuana lifer. While we at High Times totally support these commutations, we have to press the President to look more closely at our Lifers For Pot and free them forthwith!”
The petition urges Attorney General Holder, as well as the Attorney General Designate, to recommend for the immediate release of all non-violent marijuana offenders and to provide new sentencing guidelines to give law enforcement other options besides imprisoning non-violent offenders. In 2013, 693,482 people were arrested for a marijuana law violation and of those, 609,423 (88 percent) were charged only with possession.
Even in California, where marijuana prisoners are beginning to be released, 482 non-violent marijuana offenders remain in prison, which is not only a high human cost but a huge cost to taxpayers. For this reason, High Times is soliciting Attorney General Kamala Harris to act as an example for the other 49 states by immediately releasing these prisoners and recommending alternatives to incarceration for the use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana.
Some non-violent marijuana prisoners, such as Antonio Bascaró and Jeff Mizanskey, have been imprisoned for non-violent offenses for much of their lives. Both fear perishing in prison without seeing a country swept with marijuana reform. High Times hopes this petition can change the fates of these two men and the others still imprisoned for non-violent marijuana crimes.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in four states and the District of Columbia, medical use is legal in 24 others and 58 percent of Americans are in favor of legalized, regulated marijuana. This change in American perspective on marijuana, High Times argues, is the exact reason why non-violent offenders should be released.
High Times’ petition is found at http://bit.ly/420Freedom.
Signers are asked to spread word of the petition using #FreePotPrisoners across social media.
As Joe Cocker famously pleaded in 1969 at Woodstock, "Let’s go get stoned."
Happy 4/20 to marijuana smokers throughout the land. Today is our annual holiday, an occasion to celebrate all things related to marijuana and marijuana smoking.
I am delighted to be spending my day at the High Times Denver Cannabis Cup, the largest of all the cannabis celebrations each April 20th, where NORML has a booth each year, and where we have the opportunity to meet and greet thousands of other marijuana aficionados. If you are in Denver, please do stop by our booth today and introduce yourself.
Legalizing marijuana is serious business, and it requires the cumulative, ongoing effort of thousands of hard-working, committed citizen-activists to end prohibition and change state and federal policies that have been in place for more than 75 years. More than 700,000 Americans continue to be arrested each year on marijuana charges, needlessly damaging the lives and careers of these otherwise law-abiding citizens who prefer to smoke marijuana when they relax in the evening, just as millions of other Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine when they relax. And certainly the need to stop arresting responsible marijuana smokers must remain our top priority.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of NORML publicly celebrating the now international ‘cannabis consumers day of celebration‘ known as ‘420.’
With a remarkable degree of cultural and media penetration April 20 is now a well recognized day in America for celebration and/or protest regarding cannabis laws; in states where cannabis has been legalized (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State) this day marks an opportunity to celebrate hard fought victories. In the other forty-six states that unfortunately have not yet shifted from cannabis prohibition to tax-and-regulate, NORML members and supporters will be protesting or engaging in community service activities to bring attention to the need for marijuana law reform.
NORML Advisory Board member Bill Maher had some fun with Monday’s festivities by calling for April 20 to become a national holiday via a change.org petition online, as well as to poke some good fun at fellow Advisory board members Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson.
NORML’s chapter network serves as national hub for 420-related activities across the country. Also, this Monday, NORML and our chapters will be converting our respective webpages to reflect the #GoGreen2015 social media campaign.
Also, one of the more significant fundraising projects for NORML occurs today when the organization makes available a collector’s item t-shirt reflecting this unique celebration, on this unique day, at this specific time at the end of cannabis prohibition (i.e., this year’s design highlights the four states that have thus far legalized cannabis). This year’s shirt design is also available in a hemp and cotton blend too.
With as many as half a dozen or more states expected to pass legalization initiatives in 2016, and survey after survey showing an increasing majority of Americans favoring legalization, this is by any measure the most exciting time ever in cannabis law reform!
When NORML was founded in 1970 about 10% of the population supported cannabis legalization, today most polls indicate 55% plus.
Please make a charitable donation to NORML on this April 20th to help the organization keep the momentum rushing forward towards legalization, and away from nearly eighty years of a failed cannabis prohibition policy–and receive a one-of-a-kind NORML ‘420’ t-shirt for 2015.
Thanks for supporting NORML’s longstanding public advocacy for cannabis law reform, have a safe and fun 4/20!!
Four down, forty-six more to go…
-Allen St. Pierre
Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Federal District Court in Sacramento, California issued her oral ruling during a 15-minute court hearing today. Judge Mueller heard closing arguments in the case in early February but had postponed her decision on several occasions. Her written opinion is not yet available but is expected to be posted publicly by week’s end.
“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Judge Mueller said from the bench. “But this is not the court and not the time.”
Defense counsel intends to appeal the ruling.
In October, defense counsel and experts presented evidence over a five-day period arguing that the scientific literature is not supportive of the plant’s present categorization. Lawyers for the federal government countered that it is rational for the government to maintain the plant’s prohibitive status as long as there remains any dispute among experts in regard to its safety and efficacy. Defense counsel — attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke of the NORML Legal Committee — further contended that the federal law prohibiting Justice Department officials from interfering with the facilitation of the regulated distribution of cannabis in over 20 US states can not be reconciled with the government’s continued insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.
Paul Armentano, NORML’s deputy director who served as the principal investigator for defense counsel in this case said: “We applaud Judge Mueller for having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves. While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little. We always felt this had to ultimately be decided by the Ninth Circuit and we have an unprecedented record for the court to consider.
“In the interim, it is our hope that lawmakers move expeditiously to change public policy. Presently, bipartisan legislation is before the House and Senate to recognize cannabis’ therapeutic utility and to reschedule it accordingly and we encourage members of Congress to move forward expeditiously to enact this measure.”
In a brief filed with the court by the federal government, it contended: “Congress’ decision to treat marijuana as a controlled substance was and remains well within the broad range of permissible legislative choices. Defendants appear to argue that Congress was wrong or incorrectly weighed the evidence. Although they failed to prove even that much, it would be insufficient. Rational basis review does not permit the Court’s to ‘second guess’ Congress’ conclusions, but only to enjoin decisions that are totally irrational or without an ‘imaginable’ basis.”
They added: “Congress is not required to be ‘right,’ nor does it matter if the basis on which Congress made its decision turns out to be ‘wrong.’ All that is required is that Congress could rationally have believed that its action — banning the production and distribution of marijuana — would advance its indisputably legitimate interests in promoting public health and welfare. Because qualified experts disagree, it is not for the Courts to decide the issue and the statute must be upheld.”
Said Armentano, “The continued Schedule I classification of cannabis, in 2015, in self-evidently ridiculous. But unfortunately, the law may be ridiculous and still pass constitutional muster.”
He added, “The judge in this case missed a golden opportunity to demand that federal law comport with available science, public opinion, and common sense.”
Legal briefs in the case, United States v. Schweder, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM, are available online here.
Fifty-three percent of Americans say that the “use of marijuana should be legal,” according to nationwide survey data published today by the Pew Research Center.
“Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition,” pollsters opined, acknowledging that Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana has risen some 10 percentage points over the past five years. Forty-four percent of respondents oppose legalization in the 2015 poll and three percent are undecided.
The poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support for legalizing and regulating marijuana.
Millennials (68 percent) are most likely to support legalization while most of those age 70 or older do not (29 percent). Most Republicans (39 percent) and Hispanics (40 percent) also remain opposed to legalizing marijuana.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) oppose the use of marijuana in public. By contrast, most respondents (57 percent) said that they would not be bothered if a “business selling marijuana” opened in their neighborhood.
While we now enjoy the support of a majority of the American public to end marijuana prohibition, 64 percent of those same people nonetheless still have an overall negative impression of marijuana smokers. All to often they see us as slackers who fail to live up to our full potential, and whose primary interest in life is getting stoned.
While much of that disconnect is likely the result of decades of “reefer madness” propaganda, some of it also results from careless conduct on the part of some marijuana smokers that reinforces those negative stereotypes. We can’t change the past, but we do have the ability to demonstrate by our conduct that marijuana smokers also have full, rich lives filled with family and friends, and influenced by our intellectual and professional pursuits. We are about more than just getting high.
In fact, those of us who smoke marijuana are otherwise indistinguishable from other Americans. We come in all shapes and sizes, with a full range of political beliefs and lifestyles and professional goals. For the vast majority of smokers, our use of marijuana does not define our lives; it is but one factor, including family, work, education, sports, literature, music and faith, that taken together, define who we are as individuals.
Of course, those of us who smoke enjoy the benefits of marijuana, from its relaxing qualities to its ability to allow one to become more creative, and expansive, in our thinking. I do believe that marijuana smoking plays a very positive role in my life and in my work, and I am sure many other smokers feel the same.
Everyone needs some private time, and getting “high” — like sex — is not a dirty word. There are times when we can lay aside our responsibility for a time, and enjoy the freedom of just getting high with friends. But that does not suggest that marijuana smoking should become the center of one’s life, or that one should be stoned all waking hours. Most jobs and educational pursuits require a clear mind and a steady focus that are not possible if one is experiencing the short-term memory loss that is an integral part of the marijuana “high.”
And a healthy family life requires shared experiences and interactions that depend on a degree of personal communication that is frequently interrupted if one of the parties is stoned. And, frankly, like most other activities in life, getting “high” is more pleasurable when experienced in moderation.
Principles of Responsible Marijuana Use
Here are a few common sense suggestions for enjoying marijuana in a responsible manner, which will, over time, help persuade the non-smokers that those of us who do smoke are nonetheless good, productive citizens. Many of these are based on The Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, adopted by the NORML board of directors back in 1996, and found on the NORML website.
1. Be sensitive to the set and setting before lighting-up. A responsible marijuana consumer should be vigilant to the conditions – time, place, mood, etc. – and should not hesitate to say “no” when those conditions are not conductive to a safe, pleasant and/or productive experience. And we must always respect the rights of others.
The responsible marijuana smoker does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid marijuana entirely. Regardless of the legal status of marijuana, responsible users should adhere to emerging tobacco smoking protocols in public and private places. It is important politically that non-smokers do not feel as if those of us who smoke are forcing our personal preferences on them.
2. No driving while impaired with marijuana. A responsible marijuana consumer should not operate a motor vehicle or use other dangerous machinery while impaired by marijuana or other substances (including alcohol and some prescription medications).
Public safety requires that impaired drivers be kept off the roads, and that objective measures of impairment be developed to detect marijuana impairment; not simply testing for the presence of THC.
3. Resist abuse. Most marijuana use is essentially harmless; some is not. The use of marijuana, to the extent it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse and should be resisted.
For example, the concept of “wake and bake” needs to disappear from our lexicon. It is a variation on the “stupid stoner” stereotype of a smoker who sits home on his couch all day and stays stoned from morning until night. That image feeds the prejudice that exists among non-smokers towards those of us who smoke.
“Wake and bake” might work on an occasional camping trip, or a day spent walking in the woods, but it should not be a regular part of one’s life.
4. Be careful with edibles and concentrates. When consumed as an edible, the THC in marijuana requires up to 90-minutes, or even longer, to take effect, and it is therefore difficult to titrate the dosage. 10 milligrams is generally considered a single dose for an experienced user, and perhaps 5 milligrams for a novice user.
One who consumers too much of an edible will likely have a frightening, unpleasant experience, similar to a bad acid trip, which sometimes ends up in an emergency room. Those incidents are not life threatening or fatal, but they do reinforce negative views of marijuana smoking by non-smokers, and complicate our task of moving legalizing forward.
And the same warning applies to concentrates. Novice users especially need to go slowly when using concentrates, to avoid an unpleasant overdose; and even experienced smokers frequently are surprised by the strength of concentrates. Just as alcohol drinkers learn to use far less if they are drinking hard liquor than if they are drinking beer, those who use edibles and concentrates must acknowledge the distinction from regular marijuana and adjust their intake.
5. Moderation in all things. Just as alcohol drinkers learn that moderation is necessary to insure a pleasant experience, and to avoid an unpleasant one, so too with marijuana smoking. Getting as high as possible should not be the goal. The purpose of marijuana smoking should be to reach a nice, comfortable, pleasant high that permits enjoyable social interaction with others, and enhances the experience of activities such as eating, listening to music, walking in the woods, having sex, etc.
In fact, sometimes marijuana smokers prefer a mild level of intoxication, which has resulted in the arrival of many low-THC strains and edibles in states in which it is legal.
If those of us who smoke marijuana can generally follow these basic guidelines, we will begin to overcome the negative impression of recreational marijuana smokers that persist among nearly two out of three non-smokers, which in turn will permit us to make the remaining cultural and legal changes required to end unfair discrimination against responsible marijuana smokers.
A new and well done public service announcement in favor of ending cannabis prohibition was just released by Green Flower Media. Producers hope that this advertisement is the first in a series.
Voters in Wichita Kansas approved a municipal measure yesterday that seeks to reduce first-time marijuana possession penalties within the city.
Fifty four percent of local voters approved the initiative, which reduces penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses (up to one ounce) to a civil infraction punishable by a $50.00 fine. Under state law, marijuana possession is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Despite majority support for the measure, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt has called the language unlawful and has threatened to sue the city if the provision goes into effect. The city is seeking a declaratory judgment from the courts in regard to whether they can move forward with enacting the new, voter-approved law.
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart filed paperwork today announcing that the agency is seeking to increase its marijuana production quota for the year 2015 by nearly three-fold.
Federal regulations permit a farm at the University of Mississippi to cultivate set quantities of cannabis for use in federally approved clinical trials. Regulators at the DEA, the US Food and Drug Administration, PHS (Public Health Service), and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse must approve any clinical protocol seeking to study the plant’s effects in human subjects.
The agency says that the increased production is necessary because “research and product development involving cannabidiol is increasing beyond that previously anticipated.” The agency further acknowledges having received increased requests from NIDA “to provide for ongoing and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana.”
Vaporized cannabis mitigates pain intensity in diabetic subjects in a dose-dependent manner, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Pain.
Investigators at the University of California, San Diego assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 16 patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).
Authors reported: “This small, short-term, placebo-controlled trial of inhaled cannabis demonstrated a dose-dependent reduction in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain in patients with treatment-refractory pain. … Overall, our finding of an analgesic effect of cannabis is consistent with other trials of cannabis in diverse neuropathic pain syndromes.”
A series of clinical trials conducted by investigators affiliated with the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego previously reported that the inhalation of whole-plant cannabis is efficacious in the treatment of various types of treatment-resistant neuropathic pain, including HIV-associated neuropathy and spinal cord injury. According to the findings of a 2014 clinical trial published in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, “At least 10 randomized controlled trials, lasting for more than 1000 patients, have demonstrated efficacy of different types of cannabinoids for diverse forms of neuropathic pain.”
An abstract of the study, “Efficacy of inhaled cannabis on painful diabetic neuropathy,” appears online here.
The question was intriguing, and caused me to revisit in my mind the areas of public policy in which marijuana smokers continue to be treated unfairly, even in states that have legalized marijuana, and to consider why these problems remain so difficult for us to correct.
I have discussed in previous columns the continuing problems we face as smokers dealing with employment discrimination, child custody and related issues, and charges of driving under the influence of marijuana. Simply put, marijuana smokers continue to be treated as people who, because of their marijuana smoking, can be fired from their job without the slightest indication they have ever gone to work in an impaired condition; continue to be presumed by the state child welfare agencies to be unfit parents, without any evidence to suggest that conclusion; and continue to face DUID charges without any showing of driving while impaired.
Most Americans are decent, fair-minded people who would generally want to treat their fellow citizens in a fair manner, just as they would want to be treated. But because of the impact of decades of “reefer madness” propaganda and widespread misinformation about marijuana and marijuana smokers, once the factor of marijuana smoking enters the equation, these same Americans are largely willing to allow – or even encourage – policies that needlessly and unfairly harm the families, careers and lives of people who are good, hard-working individuals who happen to enjoy marijuana smoking when they relax in the evening, just as tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine when they relax in the evening.
Two out of Three Americans Have an Unfavorable Impression of Marijuana Smokers
This is true despite the fact that a majority of the American public now support full legalization. They have concluded that prohibition is a failed public policy that causes far more harm than the use of marijuana itself; but they are certainly not pro-marijuana. This is an important distinction. These citizens were dubbed the “marijuana middle” by the Third Way, a Washington, DC think tank that recently released polling data showing, somewhat shockingly, that while a majority of the country now favor full legalization, 64 percent of those same people have a negative impression of recreational marijuana smokers!
They believe that those of us who smoke marijuana are doing something wrong, and harmful, regardless of the legal status of marijuana. Thus in every policy area that arises, including especially employment, child custody and driving, they continue to presume the worst-case scenario, and, in their minds, to “err on the side of caution” to protect the non-smoking public from the perceived dangers of marijuana smoking and marijuana smokers.
This is largely the result of the “stupid stoner” stereotypes that too many Americans continue to embrace for recreational users. While many of us who smoke have learned to laugh at those stereotypes when they appear in the popular culture, apparently too many of our fellow citizens fail to see the humor, and take them seriously. They see us as slackers who fail to live-up to our potential, and whose primary interest in life is getting stoned. And until we correct this misimpression, it will be impossible to put in place policies that treat responsible marijuana smokers fairly.
And that brings me back to the question I was asked regarding what the new generation of legalization advocates could do to leave their mark on the legalization movement. My answer is that the latest generation of advocates must come out of the closet in far greater numbers – to stand-up tall and proudly announce that you are a responsible marijuana smoker, as well as a good, productive citizen.
It is only by demonstrating that marijuana smokers are hard-working, middle class individuals who raise families, pay taxes and contribute in a positive manner to our communities, that we can finally overcome those negative stereotypes that persist. And until we overcome those stereotypes, we cannot achieve full equality with our fellow citizens. We will continue to be treated unfairly both legally and culturally.
In earlier decades, it took real courage to acknowledge your use of marijuana, as one might find yourself shunted by friends or colleagues, or even worse, targeted by law enforcement. And even today, the Third Way polling results clearly demonstrate there remains a stigma to marijuana smoking, and we must overcome that stigma if we are to avoid these unfair policies, even after legalization.
It is the younger generation of smokers who must face this final challenge. We have, after decades of effort, begun the long process of redefining the responsible use of marijuana as a legal activity. Over the next several years, we should succeed in ending the practice of arresting marijuana smokers all throughout the country.
But we will continue to be treated unfairly until we overcome this persistent cultural bias. So long as 65% of the public have an unfavorable view of those of us who smoke, we simply cannot achieve full equality. To do that we must convince the majority of the non-smokers that marijuana smokers are just average Americans – good people –who just happen to enjoy smoking marijuana. We need to move the “marijuana middle” to a place where they are emotionally more comfortable with those of us who smoke. This is a necessary cultural shift.
That is the challenge for our younger colleagues in the legalization movement.
The majority of voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania support permitting adults to possess marijuana legally, and super-majorities in all three states endorse allowing doctors to recommend cannabis therapy, according to survey data published today by Quinnipiac University.
Fifty-five percent of Florida voters say that they support allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” (Forty-two percent oppose the idea.) In Ohio, voters back legalization by a margin of 52 percent to 44 percent. In Pennsylvania, 51 percent of voters favor legalizing marijuana versus 45 percent who oppose doing so.
Voters sentiment in favor of legalizing the plant’s availability for therapeutic purposes is even stronger. Pollsters reported that voters in all three states back medical marijuana legalization by margins of five to one: 84 percent to 14 percent in Florida, 84 percent to 15 percent in Ohio, and 88 percent to 10 percent in Pennsylvania.
Legislation seeking to regulate the plant’s use and retail sale is pending in both Florida and Pennsylvania, though to date, lawmakers have yet to hold hearings on either bill. Legislation to permit regulatory access to medical cannabis is also pending in both states.
The administration of the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) leads to improvement in bone fracture healing, according to preclinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Investigators at the Hebrew University Bone Laboratory in Israel assessed the ability of CBD administration to promote healing in rats with mid-femoral fractures. Researchers reported, “CBD markedly enhanced the biomechanical properties of the healing femora after 8 weeks.”
Authors also evaluated the administration of THC and CBD together, but reported that this combined preparation was “not advantageous” over CBD alone — indicating that the plant’s potential bone-stimulating properties are primarily specific to cannabidiol.
They concluded: “CBD alone is sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing. … Multiple experimental and clinical trials have portrayed CBD as a safe agent suggesting further studies in humans to assess its usefulness for improving fracture healing.”
Researchers have previously acknowledged that endogenous cannabinoids stimulate bone formation and inhibit bone loss, potentially paving the way for the future use of cannabinoid drugs for combating osteoporosis.
While it may not be apparent to casual observers of the current drive to legalize marijuana in America, we are truly the beneficiaries of political reforms adopted during what is generally referred to as the Progressive Era.
This period of social activism and political reform in America is generally defined as beginning in 1890 and running through 1920.
The principal objective of the Progressive movement was eliminating corruption in government, and to accomplish that goal, proponents sought ways to take down the powerful and corrupt political bosses and to provide access to ordinary Americans in the political system – a concept called direct democracy, as contrasted to representative democracy.
On the national level, progressivism gained a strong voice in the White House with the election of Teddy Roosevelt as president in 1901. Other national proponents included Robert La Follette and Charles Evans Hughes on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson and Al Smith on the Democratic side.
It was during this period that the concept of direct primaries to nominate candidates for public office, direct election of US senators, and universal suffrage for women gained traction; and most important to our work, the procedures know as referendum and initiatives began to be adopted in several states.
To read the balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.
I attended a progressive event with MPP’s Morgan Fox in D.C. last Tuesday, where Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) and Barney Frank (D-MA) both spoke.
Unsolicited — in front of the 60 or 70 activists and opinion leaders in attendance — Rep. Conyers made an off-handed criticism of the drug war, which was nice to hear.
And Rep. Frank spent most of his time at the microphone talking about the marriage-equality victories on November 6 in four states, saying a few times that the gay-rights community “must press our advantage.”
In other words, if the political momentum is on your side, you should use that momentum.
After their remarks, I chatted with Rep. Frank one-on-one. (This would surely be the last time I speak to him before he retires from the U.S. House in January.) After congratulating me on our wins in Colorado and Washington on November 6, he said to me, “We must press our advantage.”
In fact, that’s what we’re going to do with a new slate of ballot initiatives for November 2016, as well as congressional legislation to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference.
I want to thank Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul (R-TX) for their service in the U.S. House; both men are retiring on the same day, as it turns out. They’ve made a wonderful contribution to the marijuana-policy-reform movement through their legislative leadership over the last three decades.
I’ve been organizing and advocating for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire since 2007, and some of the successes have been very gratifying. After two near-victories on the medical marijuana issue (the governor vetoed bills in both 2009 and 2012), it now appears very likely that New Hampshire will pass an effective medical marijuana law in 2013.
However, I have often wished I could do something to help seriously ill patients in my home state of West Virginia. Sadly, medical marijuana legislation hasn’t been seriously considered in the Mountain State, despite the best efforts of Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor), who introduced bills in both 2011 and 2012.
The situation in West Virginia changed dramatically for the better this week, as Delegate Manypenny hosted a successful public forum Tuesday in the House of Delegates chamber. The forum was called “Should West Virginia Reform its Marijuana Laws?” and generated positive media coverage, including this article in the Charleston Gazette.
Featured speakers included an emergency room physician, the president-elect of the West Virginia Nurses’ Association, and a retired police lieutenant and FBI unit chief. This impressive line-up laid to rest once and for all the notion that marijuana policy reform supporters are merely self-interested marijuana users rather than conscientious, civic-minded advocates interested in improving public policy.
I was truly honored to be included in this forum and given the opportunity to speak about marijuana policy in the House chamber — a chamber I had last visited in the 1980’s as a student in the Wood County school system.
With strong, credible advocates like these supporting medical marijuana in West Virginia, patients in the Mountain State finally have reason to be optimistic about the future.
In New Hampshire, I’ve often argued that decision-makers should consider the state’s motto — Live Free or Die — when considering whether patients should be free to follow their doctors’ advice without fear of arrest. West Virginia’s state motto — Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free) — seems equally relevant to this issue.
May both states live up to their mottos by passing effective medical marijuana laws, and may they do so soon!
In an interview released today, President Obama said that going after marijuana consumers will not be a priority of the federal government in states such as Colorado and Washington, where voters approved ballot measures this November making marijuana legal for adults. He also highlighted the need for a conversation about how to reconcile state and federal marijuana laws.
Marijuana officially became legal in Colorado on Monday after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the voter-approved initiative into law. The measure adopted by voters in Washington went into effect last week. The initiatives also direct the legislatures of both states to create regulations in order to establish a legal market for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.
While it is heartening to see Obama reiterating his position on not spending federal resources going after individuals, this does not represent a significant change in policy. Federal policy has not focused on them for some time, as most possession cases are dealt with at the state and local level.
The question is how the implementation of market regulations will be treated. It is time for the Obama administration and the governments of Colorado and Washington to determine how to work together to advance those state-based systems without frustrating legitimate federal interests. We look forward to having this conversation with White House and Department of Justice officials.
It seems like such a conversation is more possible than ever before, and supporters of reform should be cautiously optimistic. As Dominic Holden at The Stranger put it:
Obama is, if nothing else, encouraging more conversation about marijuana legalization instead of promising to shut it down. And the more people talk about this issue, the more it wins.
News & Information
A very well built documentary about cannabis and drug prohibition. Does the drug prohibition work? Have a look and think for yourself.
The term medical marijuana took on dramatic new meaning in February, 2000 when researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
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Cannabis sativa (hemp) is a flowering annual that has been in use as a structural material (cordage, cloth, paper) and in medicine for thousands of years.5–7 Reference to the psychoactive effects of its phytochemical products have been found in writing throughout the ancient world.
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