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Old 04-21-2014, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/19/benefits-legalizing-weed-by-the-numbers_n_5173785.html




If You Support Legal Marijuana, Memorize These 13 Stats



Regardless of your feelings about legalizing marijuana, it's hard to deny that legal weed would be a bonanza for cash-strapped states, just as tobacco and alcohol already are.

With Colorado and Washington starting to tax and regulate recreational weed sales, and medical marijuana legal in 18 other states, we can finally start to put some hard numbers on the industry's value.

Numbers like:

$1.53 billion: The amount the national legal marijuana market is worth, according to a Nov. 2013 report from ArcView Market Research, a San Francisco-based investor group focused on the marijuana industry.

$10.2 billion: The estimated amount the national legal marijuana market will be worth in five years, according to that same ArcView report.

$6.17 million: The amount of tax revenue collected in Colorado on legal marijuana sales in just the first two months of 2014.

$98 million: The total tax revenue that Colorado could reap in the fiscal year that begins in July, according to a recent budget proposal from Gov. John Hickenlooper.

$40 million: The amount of marijuana tax revenue Colorado is devoting to public school construction.

7,500-10,000: The estimated number of marijuana industry jobs that currently exist in Colorado, according to Michael Elliott, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association that advocates for responsible marijuana regulation.

$190 million: The amount in taxes and fees legal marijuana is projected to raise for the state of Washington over four years starting in mid-2015, according to the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, an independent agency that advises the state government on the budget and tax revenue.

$105 million: The estimated annual sales tax revenue generated by medical marijuana dispensaries in California, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports legalization.

$142.19 million: The estimated size of the medical marijuana market in Arizona in 2014, according to the ArcView Market Research report, up from $35.37 million last year. Arizona has a record 80 medical pot dispensaries currently open, with more expected to open this year, according to AZMarijuana.com.

$36 million: The amount of estimated tax revenue Maine would earn every year if it legalized and regulated marijuana, according to a 2013 estimate from the Marijuana Policy Project. Portland, Maine's largest city, voted to legalize weed in November, and a grassroots campaign to get state legalization on the ballot in 2016 is underway.

$21.5 to $82 million: The amount of estimated tax revenue Rhode Island would earn every year if it legalized and regulated marijuana, according to an April 9 report from the non-profit organization Open Doors. Rhode Island legislators are considering a bill this session that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

$134.6 million: The amount of estimated tax revenue Maryland would earn every year if it legalized and regulated marijuana, according to a 2014 estimate from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a law legalizing medical marijuana on April 14, and state lawmakers are considering a bill this session to legalize weed for recreational purposes, too.

$17.4 billion: The estimated total amount that marijuana prohibition costs state and federal governments every year, according to a 2010 study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:38 PM   #2
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2014/04/photos_nj_weedman_marijuana_legalization_activists _protest_outside_statehouse_in_trenton.html


N.J Weedman, marijuana legalization activists protest outside Statehouse in Trenton



TRENTON— At 4:20 p.m. on 4/20, Ed "N.J. Weedman" Forchion and marijuana legalization protesters held a public "smoke-out" outside the Statehouse in Trenton to draw attention to marijuana policies.

Forchion lead the group today in a protest for full legalization of marijuana as participants lit up joints and ate weed brownies on West State Street.

An inflatable Gov. Chris Christie doll was propped next to signs that read "Kids Who Need Medical Marijuana Live in Colorado or Die in New Jersey," criticizing the governor's stance on medical marijuana.

Forchion, a marijuana activist for nearly 20 years, asked Christie in November to grant executive clemency and waive his unusual staggered prison term for marijuana use that prevents him from receiving medical treatment for cancerous tumors.

He reported to the Burlington County Jail to serve a 270-day staggered jail sentence earlier last year, with 20 20-day periods of incarceration separated by 10-day periods of release in order to allow Forchion to receive treatment for cancerous giant cell tumors in his legs.

Forchion said he needs medical marijuana to ease his pain, and he'll go to California if he can to get it legally.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:49 PM   #3
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/20/the-year-in-marijuana_n_5169420.html




Marijuana Has Come A Long Way Since Last 4/20



What a difference a year makes. From 4/20, 2013, to 4/20, 2014, marijuana has taken big steps out of the shadows of the black market and into the light of the mainstream -- from record high popular support and the first legal recreational sales, to an entire country legalizing marijuana.

Here’s a look at the last 12 months of marijuana milestones:

Colorado Sold Legal, Recreational Marijuana For The First Time

The first month of legal sales generated $14 million. Those millions were brought in by only 59 marijuana businesses that were able to get through the application process, and represent just a fraction of the approximately 550 outlets in the state eligible for retail licenses.

Now, as the fourth month of sales winds to a close, Denver has still not descended into the crime-filled hellscape that some members of law enforcement predicted. In fact, overall crime in Mile High City appears to be down since legal pot sales began.

And as time passes, more Coloradan voters are happy with legalization. A recent survey from Public Policy Polling showed that 57 percent of Colorado voters now approve of marijuana legalization, while 35 percent disapprove. Amendment 64, the measure that legalized recreational marijuana in the state, passed by only a 10-point margin.

The Promise Of Medical Marijuana Continued To Grow

"Charlotte's Web" isn't just a classic children's story. It's also the name of a coveted medical marijuana strain used to treat children with epilepsy.

Over the last year, hundreds of families uprooted themselves and moved to Colorado to take advantage of the state's expansive medical marijuana laws, and in search of Charlotte's Web -- a strain of pot high in CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient, and low in THC, which causes users to feel "high." The strain was developed by the Colorado Springs-based Realm of Caring nonprofit.

The pot strain is named after 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, who used to have hundreds of seizures each week. Charlotte now controls 99 percent of seizures with her medical marijuana treatment, according to her mother Paige.

Also this year, the Food and Drug Administration moved forward with an orphan drug designation for a cannabis-based drug called Epidiolex to fight severe forms of childhood epilepsy. The Epidiolex maker still must demonstrate efficacy of the drug in clinical trials to win FDA approval to market the medicine, but the orphan drug designation represents a tremendous step for cannabis-based medicine.

The federal government signed off on a study using medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, another sign of shifting federal policy.

Study after study demonstrated the promise of medical marijuana since last 4/20. Purified forms of cannabis were shown to be effective at attacking some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use has also been tied to better blood sugar control, and to slowing the spread of HIV. The legalization of the plant for medical purposes may lead to lower suicide rates.

The Return Of Hemp

A flag made of hemp flying over the U.S. Capitol in July may have been a sign that hemp was going to have a banner year.

Just months later in Colorado, farmer Ryan Loflin planted 55 acres of hemp -- the first legal hemp crop planted in the U.S. in nearly 60 years.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 70 bills related to hemp have been introduced in more than half of U.S. states. That's more than triple the number of hemp bills introduced during the same period last year, and nearly double the number hemp bills introduced in all of 2013.

Added to that is the recent passage of the Farm Bill, which legalizes industrial hemp production for research purposes in states that permit it.

Support For Pot Surges

An October Gallup poll showed for the first time that a clear majority of Americans want to see marijuana legalized. Gallup noted that when the question was first asked in 1969, only 12 percent of Americans favored legalization.

Americans also want an end to the long-running war on drugs. A recent survey from Pew found that 67 percent of Americans say that government should provide treatment for people who use illegal drugs. Only 26 percent thought the government should be prosecuting drug users.

Americans regard marijuana as relatively benign. In that same Pew poll, 69 percent of Americans felt that alcohol is a bigger danger to a person's health than marijuana, and 63 percent said alcohol is a bigger danger to society than marijuana.

Of all the vices a person can indulge in, Americans told NBC News/The Wall Street Journal that marijuana may be the most benign substance -- less harmful than sugar.

More States Approved Progressive Pot Laws

While the title of third state to legalize marijuana is still up for grabs, lawmakers around U.S. the have been scaling back harsh anti-weed laws. Maryland recently became the latest state to officially decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Washington, D.C., awaits congressional approval of a similar measure. New Hampshire appeared poised to pass a similar law, but it was recently rejected by state lawmakers. Other states, including Illinois, are considering legislation to decriminalize low-level possession.

Medical marijuana has also made some strides since last year's 4/20. Maryland this month became the 21st state to legalize marijuana for medical use. A new trend has appeared in conservative and Deep South states, as bills to legalize medicine derived from marijuana have found surprising support in places like Alabama, where a measure was signed into law this year.

Uruguay Makes History

At the end of 2013, Uruguay became the world's first country to legalize a national marketplace for marijuana. Citing frustrations over failed attempts to stem the drug trade, President Jose Mujica signed a law handing the government responsibility for overseeing the new industry.

The move drew some derision from the international community, including the United Nations, but also applause. Mujica was nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, in part for his work legalizing the plant.

In an effort to undercut the black market, the Uruguay government has set the starting price around $1 a gram. Legal weed in the U.S., including at legal pot shops in Colorado, can cost around $20 for the same amount. There are also limits on the amount residents can buy or grow. But with marijuana already accessible in Uruguay before legalization, many pot reformers have hailed the move as an alternative to prohibition that will ultimately give the government more avenues to help protect public health and safety.

Obama Says Pot Is No More Dangerous Than Alcohol

The president was an admitted pot user in his youth. And while he now regards his experiences as foolish, he revealed earlier this year that he didn't believe his behavior was particularly dangerous.

"I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol," President Barack Obama told The New Yorker's David Remnick in a January interview.

The president said that would discourage people from using it, but his comments led to a much bigger question: If marijuana is as dangerous as alcohol, why does Obama's administration insist that it is rightfully considered an illegal Schedule I substance, alongside heroin and LSD? The irony of this wasn't lost on Congress. A month after the interview, a group of representatives a called on Obama to drop pot from Schedule I. The administration has resisted the request.

Eric Holder Is ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Legal Weed

Some of the biggest advances in pot policy over the last year have come thanks to action -- or perhaps inaction -- by the Justice Department. Last August, it decided that it would allow legalization laws in Colorado and Washington proceed. And this month, Attorney General Eric Holder told The Huffington Post that he was cautiously optimistic about how those state laws were proceeding.

Holder has said the Justice Department would be happy to work with Congress to reschedule marijuana and has been clear that the administration won't push the issue without action from lawmakers.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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Angry MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/21/proposed-initiative-in-montana-seeks-to-ban-all-marijuana/




Proposed initiative in Montana seeks to ban all marijuana



HELENA, Mont. – A Billings car-dealership owner is proposing a ballot measure to completely ban marijuana in Montana.

Steve Zabawa's proposal would change state law to say any Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act "may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported or used in Montana."

The proposal says the aim is to eliminate the disparity between federal and state law in possessing and using marijuana.

Montana allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. About 8,300 medical marijuana users are registered with the state.

Zabawa tells Lee Newspapers of Montana that if the federal government considers it an illegal drug, it should be illegal in Montana.

Federal authorities have not interfered in Washington state and Colorado, where voters legalized recreational use of the drug.
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"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
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“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:21 PM   #5
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/ithaca_mayor_debate_marijuana_legalization.html





Ithaca mayor debates in favor of marijuana legalization... And wins



Last Wednesday, 27-year-old Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick participated in a debate at Cornell University over the decriminalization of marijuana. Svante argued in favor of legalization and, according to the Cornell Daily Sun, he won.

A story last week in the Daily Sun said over 100 people showed up to watch the debate between Mayor Myrick -- a 2009 Cornell graduate -- and two current Cornell students, forensics society debaters Srinath Reddy and Enting Lee.

At the end of the debate, the audience voted in support of Myrick's stance.

The 27-year-old mayor has made no secret of his stance on marijuana. In 2012 he urged New York's leaders to legalize marijuana for medical use. Marijuana possession is illegal in New York State, but there is legislation pending that would decriminalize medical marijuana.

During the debate Wednesday, Myrick compared marijuana use to alcohol consumption and argued that drunk driving is a larger social problem than driving while high on marijuana.

"The truth is marijuana is bad for you, but it is not that bad for you... We lose zero people from marijuana overdoses" Myrick said, according to the Daily Sun. "We have 18-year-olds who get drunk -- they think they're invincible and drive 80 miles an hour, [and] we have 18-year-olds who get stoned, they get paranoid and drive 15 miles an hour to Taco Bell."

Myrick's opponents argued that marijuana is dangerous for health reasons and has the potential to be leveraged as an addictive substance by large corporations.

"Corporations have a profit motive to not only get people addicted, but to keep people addicted," said Reddy.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:23 PM   #6
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.wtsp.com/story/news/local/2014/04/20/marijuana-firm-sarasota-bradenton-international-airport/7934315/




Marijuana firm buys buildings in Florida



BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - A publicly traded firm that appears to be positioning itself in advance of a medical marijuana vote in Florida later this year has acquired a trio of industrial buildings just north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

The Herald-Tribune reports that Cannabis Rx is believed to have recently paid roughly $1.2 million for the 9.26-acre property.

The company's chief executive says the property would serve as an ideal location for a licensed grow facility and/or distribution center.

In November, Florida voters will consider whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would legalize marijuana for medical use with a prescription from a physician.

Based on recent polls of registered voters, the amendment stands a good chance of passing by the required 60 percent majority.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:24 PM   #7
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Thousands-Expected-to-Attend-4-20-Marijuana-Celebration-at-Golden-Gate-Park-255933111.html




Thousands Attend 4/20 Marijuana Celebration at Golden Gate Park



Thousands of people filled up Golden Gate Park Sunday to celebrate what is still an illegal recreational substance in California: marijuana.

April 20, or 4/20, has become kind of a de facto holiday in the United States, and this year, it falls on Easter Sunday.

San Francisco police said a year ago there were fights, traffic jams, and drug-dealing, so this year, officers will be on-hand to make sure everyone is safe.

"Behind you, you can see not more than one, two, three, four, five, six, seven police cars," said a man attending the celebration, who chose to remain anonymous. "So, I believe there's a heightened police presence, yes."

"Good for safety, but bad when it comes to police harassment," he added. "I mean, it's just people sitting here celebrating something that we all believe in, that we all have faith in."

The cost to clean up last year's event was about $15,000.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:26 PM   #8
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2014/04/20/casual-marijuana-use-linked-with-brain-abnormalities-study-finds-n1825682




New Study of Young Adults Finds Link Between Casual Marijuana Use and Brain Abnormalities



There are plenty of studies out there demonstrating the effects long-term marijuana use has on users, but for the first time, researchers at Northwestern University looked into the relationship between casual marijuana use and brain changes. What they discovered, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is significant. The researchers found that young adults who used marijuana even once or twice a week showed “significant abnormalities in two important brain structures,” Fox News reports.

“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Dr. Hans Breiter, co-senior study author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory. It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”

FoxNews.com has the details:

For their most recent study, Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape.

According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

“For the NAC, all three measures were abnormal, and they were abnormal in a dose-dependent way, meaning the changes were greater with the amount of marijuana used,” Breiter said. “The amygdala had abnormalities for shape and density, and only volume correlated with use. But if you looked at all three types of measures, it showed the relationships between them were quite abnormal in the marijuana users, compared to the normal controls.”

Because these brain regions are central for motivation, the findings from Northwestern help support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to a condition called amotivation. Also called amotivational syndrome, this psychological condition causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life, as well as seem less focused in general.

Since the results were alarming, Breiter stressed that more studies need to be done examining a larger study sample, to see what happens longitudinally, to determine what the effects on the brain are if users quit, and so on.

“This study is just a beginning pilot study, but at the same time, the results that came out are the same as a canary in a coal mine,” Breiter told FoxNews.com. “...The interaction of marijuana with brain development could be a significant problem.

As many states consider following Colorado and Washington’s lead in legalizing recreational marijuana use, more research in this area is especially critical.

Update: Are Colorado legislators already having second thoughts?
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:40 PM   #9
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Default MJ News for 04/21/2014

hMPp://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/were-not-amsterdam-marijuana-tourism-colorado-myth-n83321


'We're Not Amsterdam': Is Marijuana Tourism in Colorado a Myth?




America’s most mammoth party this weekend may well be Denver’s 420 rally on Sunday, but Colorado’s legal pot law, so far, has not lured a sustained surge of out-of-state weed lovers, say trade advocates for the state’s hotels and restaurants.

“Marijuana tourism,” as some media members have dubbed it, may prove to be an urban myth or just an overblown concept, experts assert.

“We’re not Amsterdam,” said Deborah Park, spokeswoman for Visit Denver, the city’s tourism office. “This law was (passed) because the people who live here wanted it for their own use. The thought process behind the law wasn’t really for tourists.

“So that’s our question: Where is this marijuana tourism?” Park added. “In Denver, you can’t smoke in public. You can’t smoke in a hotel. You can’t smoke in parks. We don't have cafes. So there’s just not a location for anyone who’s coming in for that as tourists.”

“We’re not Amsterdam .... This law was (passed) because the people who live here wanted it for their own use. The thought process behind the law wasn’t really for tourists."

But that on-the-ground reality has not curbed some outsiders or some locals from maintaining that weed is indeed feeding the Mile High City's tourism machine.

That rhetoric reached new volume ahead of Denver’s annual 420 festival –- previously held to generate support for marijuana legalization but billed this year as “a celebration of legal status for its use in Colorado.”

Hotels.com, a room-booking site, reports Denver is likely to see a deluge of 420-minded visitors based on a 73 percent spike in online hotel searches for stays April 18-20 this year as compared to similar searches conducted at the site for those dates last year.

Searches for Denver hotels also were 25 percent higher during the first three months of 2014 as compared to the first three months of 2013, according to Hotels.com

“The search increase could be attributed to a number of factors, but the data does suggest that more people are planning to visit Denver this coming weekend due to the number of festivities and events that are planned,” said Taylor Cole, who handles public relations for Hotels.com North America.

In Denver, FOX affiliate KDVR cited those metrics, reporting on its website: “The evidence is anecdotal, but strong: Legal pot seems to be attracting tourists’ attention to the Centennial State, especially during the 4/20 weekend.”

For that event, held at Civic Center park downtown, organizers say they are anticipating huge crowds although Denver officials have mandated that rally leaders broadcast to all attendees that marijuana consumption at the site is illegal.

“We’re estimating about 80,000 people per day,” said top organizer Miguel Lopez, adding that based on internal “polling” and Facebook posts, the expected composition of that throng will be “10 percent foreign, 40 percent out of state, and 50 percent in state.”

To Lopez, marijuana tourism is entirely real.

“Absolutely -– if you look at how filled the hotel rooms are this weekend, and they’re pretty full,” Lopez said. “Whether or not the tourism industry wants to acknowledge it or not, that’s what they look at and that’s what we’re looking at. People are having a hard time findings rooms this weekend.”

Two hotels Lopez cited as being “sold out” included the Comfort Inn Downtown and the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel.

But both hotels still have rooms –- at least 10 remained available at each Thursday, the businesses told NBC News.

“I believe we may gain some ‘marijuana tourists,’ or people coming to our state to buy marijuana, but we may also lose tourists and business groups who don't want to expose their entourage to marijuana in Colorado.”

Visit Denver spokeswoman Park checked as well on occupancy rates this weekend: “I wanted to see if our hotels were completely booked. They're not at all. You can get a room anywhere downtown at this point.”

In total, Denver offers 44,000 hotel rooms.

Further, Denver has hosted a series of large conventions this year, gathering dermatologists, physicists, and storm chasers, among others. Those gatherings plus a healthy, late-running ski season and two Denver Broncos playoff games in January are likely fueling much of the online hotel searching, Park said.

Restaurants across Colorado similarly are not reporting noticeable bumps in patrons that can be attributed to marijuana-seeking visitors, said Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

“Until someone does an actual survey on ‘marijuana tourism,’ we won't know what effect it has had, or hasn't had,” Meersman said. “I believe we may gain some ‘marijuana tourists,’ or people coming to our state to buy marijuana, but we may also lose tourists and business groups who don't want to expose their entourage to marijuana in Colorado.”

One Colorado tourist attraction is aiming to seize the 420 moment -– albeit in a split-personality fashion that might make some heads spin. On Sunday at dawn, Red Rocks Amphitheater just west of Denver will host its annual Easter sunrise service. The event usually draws some “regional tourists,” Park said.

Sunday night, the same outdoor venue holds a concert featuring Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, billing it as “the first ever Snoop’s Wellness Retreat,” and inviting fans to “turn up your zen.” The concert is sold out.

Will Lopez have time to breakaway from the 420 festival to catch the show?

“I haven’t been invited,” he said. “Do you know anybody with tickets?”
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:42 PM   #10
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hMPp://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/04/19/lifestyle/cannabis-the-fiber-of-japan/




Cannabis: the fabric of Japan



An increasing number of states in the U.S. are easing policies on cannabis prohibition but little discussion has taken place in Japan on the potential benefits of adopting a similar approach. As various locations around the world celebrate annual April 20 marijuana festivals, we examine the country’s historical and cultural links to the much-maligned weed.

When Junichi Takayasu was 3 years old, a picture book about ninjas changed his life forever. What fascinated him most, however, wasn’t the assassins’ stealthy skills or secret gadgets but their usage of a very special plant.

“The book showed how ninjas trained by jumping over cannabis plants,” Takayasu says. “Every day they had to leap higher and higher because cannabis grows very quickly. I was so amazed that I told my mom I wanted to grow cannabis when I was older.”

Understandably, Takayasu’s mother was rather distressed by her son’s aspiration. Japan’s anti-cannabis laws are among the strictest in the world, with possession of even small amounts punished by five-year prison sentences and illicit cultivation earning growers seven years behind bars.

However, Takayasu refused to let this put a damper on his dreams. Today, more than 40 years later, he is one of Japan’s leading experts on cannabis and the curator of Taima Hakubutsukan — the nation’s only museum dedicated to the much-maligned weed. Opened in 2001 in the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, approximately 160 km north of Tokyo, the museum’s mission is to teach people about the history of cannabis in Japan — a past that, Takayasu believes, has been denigrated and forgotten for far too long.

“Most Japanese people see cannabis as a subculture of Japan but they’re wrong,” Takayasu says. “Cannabis has been at the very heart of Japanese culture for thousands of years.”

According to Takayasu, the earliest evidence of cannabis in Japan dates back to the Jomon Period (10,000-200 B.C.), with pottery relics recovered in Fukui Prefecture containing seeds and scraps of woven cannabis fibers. “Cannabis was the most important substance for prehistoric people in Japan,” he says. “They wore clothes made from its fibers and they used it for bow strings and fishing lines.”

It is likely that the variety of cannabis from which these Jomon Period fibers originated was cannabis sativa. Tall-growing and valued for its strong stems, it is from sativa strains that today’s specially bred industrial hemp is derived.

In the following centuries, cannabis continued to play a key role in Japan — particularly in Shintoism, the country’s indigenous religion. Cannabis was revered for its cleansing abilities so priests used to wave bundles of its leaves to bless believers and exorcise evil spirits. This significance survives today with the thick ceremonial ropes woven from cannabis fibers that are displayed at shrines. Shinto priests are also known to decorate their wands with strips of the gold-colored rind of cannabis stalks.

Cannabis was also important in the lives of ordinary people. According to early 20th-century historian George Foot Moore, Japanese travelers historically used to present small offerings of cannabis leaves at roadside shrines to ensure safe journeys. He also noted how, during the summer Bon festival, families burned bundles of cannabis in their doorways to welcome back the spirits of the dead.

Until the mid-20th century, cannabis was cultivated all over Japan, particularly in Tohoku and Hokkaido, and it frequently cropped up in literature. As well as references to cannabis plants in ninja training, they also feature in the “Manyoshu” — Japan’s oldest collection of poems — and the Edo Period (1603-1868) book of woodblock prints, “Wakoku Hyakujo.” In haiku poetry, too, key words describing the stages of cannabis cultivation denoted the season when the poem is set.

“Cannabis farming used to be a year-round cycle,” Takayasu says. “The seeds were planted in spring then harvested in the summer. Following this, the stalks were dried then soaked and turned into fiber. Throughout the winter, these were then woven into cloth and made into clothes ready to wear for the next planting season.”

With cannabis playing such an important material and spiritual role in the lives of Japanese people, one obvious question arises: Did people smoke it?

Takayasu, along with other Japanese cannabis experts, isn’t sure. Although historical records make no mention of the practice, some historians have speculated that cannabis may have been the drug of choice for commoners. Whereas rice — and the sake brewed from it — was monopolized by the upper classes, cannabis was grown widely and was freely available.

Some scientific studies also suggest high levels of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis plants in Japan. According to one survey published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 1973, cannabis plants from Tochigi and Hokkaido clocked THC levels of 3.9 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. As a comparison, the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project revealed that average THC levels in marijuana seized by U.S. police in the 1970s were only around 1.5 percent.

Nor are Japanese people averse to taking advantage of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Long an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, cannabis-based cures were available from Japanese drug stores to treat insomnia and relieve pain in the early 20th century.

However, the 1940s — in particular, World War II — marked a major turning point in the story of Japanese cannabis production.

At first, the decade started well for farmers. “During World War II, there was a saying among the military that without cannabis, the war couldn’t be waged,” Takayasu says. “Cannabis was classified as a war material, used by the navy for ropes and the air force for parachute cords. Here in Tochigi Prefecture, for example, half of the cannabis crop was set aside for the military.”

Following the country’s defeat in 1945, however, the U.S. authorities occupying Japan brought with them American attitudes toward cannabis. Washington had effectively outlawed cannabis in the United States in 1937 and now it moved to ban it in Japan. In July 1948, with the nation still under U.S. occupation, it passed the Cannabis Control Act — the law that remains the basis of anti-cannabis policy in Japan today.

There are a number of different theories as to why the U.S. outlawed cannabis in Japan. Some believe it was based upon a genuine desire to protect Japanese people from the evils of narcotics, while others point out that the U.S. allowed the sale of over-the-counter amphetamines to continue until 1951. Several cannabis experts argue that the ban was instigated by U.S. petrochemical interests in a bid to shut down the Japanese cannabis fiber industry, opening the market to man-made materials such as polyester and nylon.

Takayasu locates the cannabis ban within the wider context of U.S. attempts to reduce the power of the Japanese military.

“In the same way that U.S. authorities discouraged kendo and judo, the 1948 Cannabis Control Act was a way to undermine militarism in Japan,” he says. “The wartime cannabis industry had been so dominated by the military that the Cannabis Control Act was designed to strip away its power.”

Whatever the motivation, the U.S. decision to prohibit cannabis created panic among Japanese farmers. In an effort to calm their fears, Emperor Hirohito visited Tochigi Prefecture in the months prior to the ban to reassure farmers they would be able to continue to grow in defiance of the new law — a surprisingly subversive statement.

For several years, the Emperor’s reassurances proved true and cannabis cultivation continued unabated. In 1950, for example, there were approximately 25,000 cannabis farms nationwide. In the following decades, however, this number plummeted. Takayasu attributes this to a slump in demand caused by the popularity of artificial fibers and the costs of the new licenses cannabis farmers were required to possess under the 1948 act.

Nowadays, Takayasu said, there are fewer than 60 licensed cannabis farms in Japan — all of which are required to grow strains of cannabis containing minimal levels of THC. With the number of farmers so low, Takayasu fears for the future of cannabis in the country. As far as he knows, there is only one person left in the nation versed in the full cycle of seed-to-loom. That person is 84 years old and when she dies, Takayasu fears, her wisdom will disappear with her.

Faced with this danger of extinction, Takayasu is determined to preserve Japanese cannabis culture. He organizes annual tours to the legal farms near his museum to show visitors how space-intensive cannabis cultivation is and how it requires few — if any — agricultural chemicals. Additionally, Takayasu runs monthly workshops to teach people about weaving cannabis fibers. On display in the museum are a variety of clothes made from cannabis; the soft cream-colored material is warm in winter and cool in summer — perfectly suited to the Japanese climate.

Among the museum’s fans are members of the local police department, who praise his efforts to revitalize the rural economy and sometimes visit to learn more about the outlawed weed.

All of this is testament to Takayasu’s ongoing enthusiasm for the special plant he first encountered as a 3-year-old boy.

“Japanese people have a negative view of cannabis but I want them to understand the truth and I want to protect its history,” he said. “The more we learn about the past, the more hints we might be able to get about how to live better in the future.”

Information on Taima Hakubutsukan, including driving directions and opening hours, is available at www . facebook.com/taimamuseum.
What’s in a name?

Botanists usually divide the cannabis family into three broad categories: tall cannabis sativa, bushy cannabis indica and small cannabis ruderalis.

However, this simple taxonomy is often frustrated by the interfertility of these three types that allows them to be crossbred into limitless new varieties.

The desired properties of these hybrids tend to determine the name by which they are commonly known.

Marijuana, for example, usually refers to cannabis plants that are grown to be ingested for medical or recreational uses. Cannabis sativa is said to give users a feeling of energetic euphoria and can be prescribed for depression, whereas cannabis indica is apparently more sedating so can be used as a muscle relaxant or to treat chronic pain.

Hemp is the name often applied to tall plants from the cannabis sativa category that are primarily grown for their strong fibers — but may also contain significant levels of THC.

Most recently, the term industrial hemp has been coined in the U.S. to refer to cannabis plants that have been specially bred to contain very low levels of THC (less than 1 percent) in order to conform to current drug laws.

Today, many of Japan’s licensed cannabis farms grow a low-THC strain called Tochigi shiro that was first developed in the postwar period.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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Legal or not, marijuana is a huge cash crop. Now, thanks to the state's increasingly liberal medical marijuana laws, more of that money, than ever before, is being spent legally. This is creating a demand for many new administrative, legal support and book-keeping businesses, which are rapidly stepping up to cash in on this new and growing industry.
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