MJ News for 07/30/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/opinion/high-time-federal-marijuana-ban-is-rooted-in-myth.html




The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia


The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason.

The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home.

Within 15 years or so, it was plentiful along the Texas border and was advertised openly at grocery markets and drugstores, some of which shipped small packets by mail to customers in other states.

The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of “immoral” populations who were promptly labeled “fiends.”

As the legal scholars Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread explain in their authoritative history, “The Marihuana Conviction,” the drug’s popularity among minorities and other groups practically ensured that it would be classified as a “narcotic,” attributed with addictive qualities it did not have, and set alongside far more dangerous drugs like heroin and morphine.

By the early 1930s, more than 30 states had prohibited the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The federal push was yet to come.

The stage for federal suppression of marijuana was set in New Orleans, where a prominent doctor blamed “muggle-heads” — as pot smokers were called — for an outbreak of robberies. The city was awash in sensationalistic newspaper articles that depicted pushers hovering by the schoolhouse door turning children into “addicts.” These stories popularized spurious notions about the drug that lingered for decades. Law enforcement officials, too, trafficked in the “assassin” theory, under in which killers were said to have smoked cannabis to ready themselves for murder and mayhem.

In 1930, Congress consolidated the drug control effort in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, led by the endlessly resourceful commissioner, Harry Jacob Anslinger, who became the architect of national prohibition. His case rested on two fantastical assertions: that the drug caused insanity; that it pushed people toward horrendous acts of criminality. Others at the time argued that it was fiercely addictive.

He may not have actually believed his propaganda, but he fed it by giving lurid stories to the press as a way of making a case for federal intervention. This narrative had a great effect at Congressional hearings that led to the enactment of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which tried to eradicate the use and sale of the drug through heavy taxation.

Mr. Bonnie and Mr. Whitebread report that the witness list for those hearings contained not a single person who had done significant research into the effects of cannabis. Mr. Anslinger testified that even a single marijuana cigarette could induce a “homicidal mania,” prompting people to want to kill those they loved. The bill passed handily; President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law.

Cannabis Fluid Extract, 1933 Credit National Museum of American History
It was not until 1951, when Congress again took up the issue, that a reputable researcher was called to testify. Dr. Harris Isbell, director of research at the Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Ky., disputed the insanity, crime and addiction theories, telling Congress that “smoking marijuana has no unpleasant aftereffects, no dependence is developed on the drug, and the practice can easily be stopped at any time.”

Despite Dr. Isbell’s testimony, Congress ratcheted up penalties on users. The states followed the federal example; Louisiana, for instance, created sentences ranging from five to 99 years, without parole or probation, for sale, possession or administration of narcotic drugs. The rationale was not that mairjuana itself was addictive — that argument was suddenly relinquished — but that it was a “steppingstone” to heroin addiction. This passed largely without comment at the time.

The country accepted a senselessly punitive approach to sentencing as long as minorities and the poor paid the price. But, by the late 1960s, weed had been taken up by white college students from the middle and upper classes. Seeing white lives ruined by marijuana laws altered public attitudes about harsh sentencing, and, in 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse released a report challenging the approach.

The commission concluded that criminalization was “too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use,” and that “the actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.” The Nixon administration dismissed these ideas.

During the mid-1970s, virtually all states softened penalties for marijuana possession. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have made medical use of some form of the drug legal. The Justice Department’s recent decision not to sue states that legalize marijuana — as long as they have strong enforcement rules — eases the tension between state and federal laws only slightly but leaves a great many legal problems unresolved.

The federal government has taken a small step back from irrational enforcement. But it clings to a policy that has its origins in racism and xenophobia and whose principal effect has been to ruin the lives of generations of people.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.clarionledger.com/story/dailyledes/2014/07/28/mississippi-marijuana-laws/13268245/




Miss. among 14 states with progressive marijuana laws


The New York Times on Sunday called for Congress to decriminalize marijuana and turn control of the substance over to the states.

This is a significant move to some extent in that they become the first major newspaper to endorse such a move. But what I'm sure most

Mississippians would find most striking is that the Magnolia State is among 35 states that allow some form of medical marijuana and 18 states that have decriminalized possession of marijuana to some extent. In fact, Mississippi is one of only 14 states that have done both.

Here's what The New York Times said:

Allowing states to make their own decisions on marijuana — just as they did with alcohol after the end of Prohibition in 1933 — requires unambiguous federal action. The most comprehensive plan to do so is a bill introduced last year by Representative Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado, known as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. It would eliminate marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, require a federal permit for growing and distributing it, and have it regulated (just as alcohol is now) by the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. An alternative bill, which would not be as effective, was introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, as the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. It would not remove marijuana from Schedule I but would eliminate enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act against anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law.

Congress is clearly not ready to pass either bill, but there are signs that sentiments are changing. A promising alliance is growing on the subject between liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans. In a surprise move in May, the House voted 219 to 189 to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from prosecuting people who use medical marijuana, if a state has made it legal. It was the first time the House had voted to liberalize a marijuana law; similar measures had repeatedly failed in previous years. The measure's fate is uncertain in the Senate.



Mississippi only this year allowed the use of medical marijuana, and even then it is for strictly controlled use-cases. House Bill 1231 allowed the use of "processed cannabis, plant extract, oil or resin" for the treatment of "debilitating epileptic condition or related illness." The medicine is limited to that which is made at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and must be dispensed by the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

That was a big victory for proponents of medical marijuana. Considering that Ole Miss has one of the nation's only legal marijuana farms and a research university, it's almost surprising that we've not done it sooner.

Decriminalization, however, took place much earlier in Mississippi. We first decriminalized marijuana in 1978, making possession of less than 30 grams to be no more severe than a traffic ticket. This year, non-violent drug arrests — including those for marijuana — were included in a criminal justice reform package that helped further decriminalize drug arrests and push for treatment over incarceration.

But while Mississippi may be among the states leading the partial legalization of marijuana and its overall decriminalization, it's hard to imagine the state adopting any kind of legalization strategy anytime soon. However, as the use of medical marijuana continues to expand, it would not be surprising to see Mississippi lawmakers turn toward the studies at Ole Miss as they carefully consider expanding those laws here.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...ument-is-at-odds-with-a-mountain-of-research/





Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research


Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

But opponents still have one trick up their sleeves, and it's proven to be a powerful and effective one: the notion that relaxed regulations on marijuana will lead to a rise in marijuana use among children and teens. Florida voters, for instance, will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana this November. Organizations opposing the measure have built their campaigns around fears about underage use.

The group Don't Let Florida Go To Pot greets visitors to its Web site with the above image, warning that medical marijuana will turn your child into a hoodie-wearing, pot-smoking thug.

Vote No On 2 features another hoodie-clad youngster on its home page, no doubt contemplating the depravity of his existence after medical marijuana. Florida voters don't seem to be buying any of this, though: Medical marijuana currently enjoys nearly 90 percent support in the state.

More to the point, the notion that medical marijuana leads to increased use among teenagers is flat-out wrong. A new study by economists Daniel Rees, Benjamin Hansen and D. Mark Anderson is the latest in a growing body of research showing no connection -- none, zero, zilch -- between the enactment of medical marijuana laws and underage use of the drug.

The authors examined marijuana trends in states that passed medical marijuana laws. They tracked self-reported pot use by high school students in the years leading up to and following the enactment of these laws. They conclude that the effects of medical marijuana on teen use are "small, consistently negative, and never statistically distinguishable from zero."

The chart above shows the trend in teen marijuana use, as measured by state Youth Risky Behavior Surveys, in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Vermont. The x-axis is standardized to track the three-year periods before and after each state passed its medical marijuana law. The lines are essentially flat.

I asked study co-author Daniel Rees if there were any significant changes within individual states. He told me that "no single state stood out -- the effect of massing a medical marijuana law on youth consumption appears to be zero across the board." These results are consistent with earlier research showing little change in youth pot consumption in Los Angeles after marijuana dispensaries opened there.

The authors verified their work by running a number of regression tests and examining youth drug use data from other sources, too. They found that, if anything, passage of medical marijuana laws had a slight negative effect on teen use. In a forthcoming paper, Rees and Anderson hypothesize that this might be because "legalization allows suppliers to sell to adults with some assurance of not being prosecuted, while selling marijuana to a minor is still a risky proposition even with the legalization of medical marijuana."

There's little doubt that, like alcohol or tobacco, marijuana use can potentially be harmful to teens, particularly to heavy users. But this paper, like others before it, provides straightforward evidence that there is no link between medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use. If Florida's concerned citizens are truly worried about teen drug use, according to this paper they'd be better off advocating in favor of legalizing medical marijuana there.
 

7greeneyes

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http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/prnewswire/LA79301.htm





CBIS Very Excited Over Federal Cannabis Legalization Efforts in U.S. House and Senate to Change Medical Cannabis Laws


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., July 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Cannabis Science, Inc. (OTC: CBIS), a U.S. Company specializing in cannabis formulation-based drug development and related consulting, is extremely excited to report federal cannabis legalization efforts in U.S. House and Senate to change medical cannabis laws across the country. This can be a major game changer for Cannabis Science's efforts to commence its cannabis treatments nationwide for a number of targeted critical ailments.
U.S. Representative Scott Perry's introduction of a bill, H.R. 5226, yesterday to remove therapeutic, low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil from the relevant definitions of the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby permitting treatment throughout the United States of seizure disorders with cannabis, while Cannabis Science has multiple formulations for multiple critical ailments to begin nationwide distribution through its state by state partners and ultimate FDA clinical trials. ( www.cannabisscience.com )

These are significant steps towards federal legalization with a widespread impact on the national status of medical cannabis use, which will enable Cannabis Science to move swiftly into a position of great strength to bring its proprietary cannabis formulations to market.

The three other sponsors of the bill include Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Representative Paul Broun, MD (R-GA).

The Company also commends U.S. Senator Rand Paul's new announcement to introduce a bill to reschedule cannabis from its Schedule 1 status under the Act and his recent legislative efforts to protect states that have legalized medical cannabis.

"After many successful medical cannabis initiatives on the state level, we are seeing federal lawmakers of both parties actively legislating for medical cannabis reform on a federal level to help patients. Cannabis Science supports these federal efforts and calls on Members of Congress to examine and expand patient-based research and support these critical bills," said Chad S. Johnson, Esq., Director, COO and General Counsel, Cannabis Science, Inc.

These lawmakers add additional, active voices in Congress pressing for medical cannabis reform on a federal level.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.thelocal.de/20140729/should-germany-legalize-cannabis




Should Germany legalize cannabis?


The anti-marijuana lobby has lost a few battles recently.

Recreational users over the age of 21 in the US states of Colorado and Washington are now free to consume the drug in public and buy it from licensed shops. Medical cannabis is now legal in a further 23 US states.

On Sunday, The New York Times published a surprise editorial in support of nationwide legalization.

The ban was not working, it said, cost millions to police and drew law enforcement's attention away from harder drugs.

The health dangers in comparison to alcohol or tobacco for example had been overplayed in the past, it said, a sentiment shared by US President Barack Obama.

In Germany, where an estimated three million people use marijuana on a regular basis, a recent court ruling allowing "seriously ill" patients to grow their own cannabis has sparked a similar debate about the benefits of the ban.

Although cannabis is still technically illegal in Germany, possession is hardly ever followed up by police.

In most areas officers turn a blind eye to "small amounts" for personal use, although what is considered "small" varies widely depending on the area of Germany.

Some politicians, such as Green Party veteran Hans-Christian Ströbele, have called for an outright end to the ban.

Pro-legalization feeling is notably widespread in the German capital Berlin, where the 18th annual Hanfparade march - Europe's largest legalization demonstration - is set to be held in August.

A Berlin district mayor Monika Hermann has even suggested that one way to deal with a local dealer problem would be to open up Amsterdam-style coffee shop cafés in the city's Kreuzberg area selling cannabis over the counter.

But the suggestion was shot down by the city's Senate, above all by the capital's health senator Mario Czaja of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

"I think this plan is unrealistic and false. Cannabis is not a harmless substance," he told Berlin's parliament in November. Its use increased risks of psychosis, depression and heart problems, he added.

Some supporters of the ban have gone even further, claiming that cannabis can cause death.

Ex-Bayern state premier and one-time leader of the the CDU's Bavarian sister party (CSU) Edmund Stoiber told legalization supporters in the early 1990s that "anyone supporting free enjoyment of cannabis is irresponsibly accepting the deaths of thousands of young people".

Earlier this year, the Hanover-based German Association for Drugs and Addiction (FDR), told The Local the dangers of the drug were sometimes "exaggerated" after two doctors claimed to have found Germany's first fatal marijuana overdose cases.

Yet the majority of Germans remain nervous about the prospect of lifting the ban, as a survey carried out in January shows.

Sixty-five percent of Germans said they would reject relaxing laws restricting the production, sale and consumption of marijuana, according to the study conducted by opinion pollsters Forsa for Stern magazine.

Just under a third of those asked (29 percent) would like to see the drug legalized, while six percent said they have no opinion on the issue.
 

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