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RainDog

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National Black Caucus Of State Legislators Calls For Liberalizing MJ Penalties

The National Black Caucus of State Legs. represents more than 650 legislators from 45 states.

http://blog.norml.org/2014/02/26/national-black-caucus-of-state-legislators-calls-for-liberalizing-marijuana-penalties/

Members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators recently resolved at their Annual Legislative Conference in favor of decriminalizing marijuana.

“Whereas state and local governments could potentially stand to save billions of dollars that they currently spend regulating marijuana use by decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, therefore be it resolved that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators recognizes the decision of the Administration to not challenge the choice made by citizens of these states, and urges the continued respect of state law, and encourages other states to consider decriminalization,” the Caucus resolved.

It added, “ NBCSL supports the states’ authority to make a determination as to what age, at or above 18, qualifies as a “legal adult” who may purchase, possess, or consume marijuana … urges the federal government to reduce the penalties associated with the use and simple possession of marijuana.”

The 2014 resolution is LJE-14-40: Supporting States’ Rights to Decriminalize Marijuana Use.

Recreational marijuana proposal certified for Alaska ballot

Their proposal is a lot like CO's.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/27/us-usa-marijuana-alaska-idUSBREA1Q0A420140227

Alaska voters will decide this summer whether America's Last Frontier will become the third U.S. state to legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana for adults under a proposal that officially qualified on Wednesday for a statewide ballot.

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell formally certified that a petition campaign for the measure had gathered more than 36,000 valid signatures from registered voters, nearly 6,000 more than legally required to qualify.

The marijuana initiative, and a separate measure to raise the state's minimum wage by $2 an hour to $9.75 by January 2016, will be placed on the state's primary election ballot on August 17.

Passage of the marijuana initiative would permit adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana for private personal use and to grow as many as six cannabis plants for their own consumption.

The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert

Epilepsy Foundation Calls for Increased Medical Marijuana Access

http://www.epilepsy.com/newsfeeds/press_release/1002788

Published on: Thu, Feb 20 2014 by Philip M. Gattone, President & CEO, Epilepsy Foundation, and Warren Lammert, Chair, Epilepsy Foundation Board of Directors, with Commentary from Orrin Devinsky, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Director, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Member of Epilepsy Foundation National Board of Directors

As parents and as advocates, we feel an urgency to respond and take action on an issue that has been brought to the Epilepsy Foundation from individuals we serve across the country-- the use of marijuana to treat epilepsy. We write this with advice and support from Nathan Fountain, Chairman of our Professional Advisory Board, and with advice and support from a range of other leading epilepsy professionals and board members.

2.3 million Americans live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that includes recurring seizures. More than 1 million of them live with uncontrolled seizures. Some of these people may be helped by surgery or other non-drug treatments, but for many, no answers have been found yet. People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life.

The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now -- not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side. This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their healthcare team.

The Epilepsy Foundation calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy. We applaud recent decisions that have allowed clinical trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, to begin in several states. Certain components of medical marijuana, including CBD, have shown effectiveness in animal studies, and there have been encouraging anecdotal reports from patients. But further research and unbiased clinical trials are needed to establish whether and in what forms medical marijuana is or is not effective and safe. Restrictions on the use of medical marijuana continue to stand in the way of this research.

Kleiman Admits Marijuana Rescheduling Would Help States

Kleiman, the author of the article further down this page, was an advisor for Washington State's marijuana laws and is a professor of Public Policy at UCLA.

Mark Kleiman continues to insist that I am “talking through hat” on the subject of rescheduling marijuana, but the reason he gives for saying so has changed. At first he claimed I had exaggerated the impact of rescheduling, which was weird, since the post he was criticizing said nothing about the impact of rescheduling, focusing instead on the question of whether the Obama administration has the authority to reclassify marijuana without new legislation from Congress. As Kleiman conceded, the answer to that question is yes, although President Obama suggested otherwise in a CNN interview. In any case, Kleiman was clearly wrong to say that the “practical effect” of moving marijuana out of Schedule I would be “identically zero”—or, as he put it on Twitter, that “rescheduling does nothing.” He has since retreated from that position without acknowledging that he has ceded any ground. Now he says rescheduling marijuana would be “mostly pointless” and/or that its effects would be “ mostly symbolic.” These clams are more defensible, although advocates of rescheduling might nevertheless take issue with them (especially the first one).

...Which brings us to the letter that Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and 17 other members of Congress sent the president last week. Blumenauer et al. argue that marijuana does not meet the criteria for Schedule I and urge Obama to “instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II.” Kleiman says these legislators do not understand the law either, but it is not clear why he says that. “It’s not as simple as someone saying, ‘Gee, I’d like to reschedule cannabis this morning,’” Kleiman writes, since the CSA lays out a process to follow, including consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services. That is true, but I do not see where Blumenauer et al. claim otherwise. Although rescheduling would not happen instantly, even beginning the process could help advance the debate about marijuana prohibition by calling attention to the questionable distinctions drawn by our drug laws.

Kleiman emphasizes that the attorney general’s rescheduling power is “not arbitrary.” That’s true in the sense that his power is constrained by the statute in certain ways. For example, the CSA’s reference to treaty obligations seems to preclude removing marijuana from the schedules entirely. But as Alex Kreit notes, the CSA gives the attorney general (and therefore the DEA) a great deal of discretion in interpreting and applying the scheduling criteria, since it leaves key terms such as “potential for abuse” and “accepted medical use” undefined. The DEA has bent over backward to justify keeping marijuana on Schedule I, and nothing in the statute requires it to do that.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/02/17/mark-kleiman-admits-that-rescheduling-marijuana-would-have-an-impact-after-all/


The current impasse is because of an entrenched bureaucracy that has views akin to creationists in its denial of reality. To wit:

The DEA says marijuana meets the second criterion—no currently accepted medical use—not because the drug is ineffective at treating symptoms such as nausea, pain, and muscle spasms (in fact, the Obama administration concedes the medical utility of cannabinoids) but because such uses have not gained wide enough acceptance within the medical community. Given the subjectivity of that judgment, it amounts to saying that marijuana has no accepted medical use because the DEA deems medical use of marijuana unaccceptable. The agency likewise does not accept that marijuana can be used safely, although it obviously can, as Obama conceded when he observed that alcohol is more dangerous.

The DEA clearly is bending over backward to keep marijuana on Schedule I, and nothing in the CSA requires it to do that. It could easily apply the CSA's criteria in a way that would make marijuana less restricted, and the decision not to do so is ultimately Obama's. He is the one who appointed the current DEA administrator, a hardline holdover from the Bush administration who is so committed to prohibitionist orthodoxy that she recoils in horror at the thought of a hemp flag flying over the Capitol and could not restrain herself from openly criticizing Obama, notionally her boss, for his scientifically uncontroversial statement about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol. He is the one who, despite his avowed commitment to sound science and his own statements to the contrary, allows the DEA to insist marijuana is so dangerous that it must be more tightly restricted than cocaine, morphine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine.

"It's very unfortunate that President Obama appears to want to pass the buck to Congress when it comes to marijuana laws," says Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "If the president truly believes what he says about marijuana, he has a moral imperative to make the law match up with his views and the views of the majority of the American people without delay. He should initiate the long overdue rescheduling of marijuana today."

http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/31/obama-who-evidently-has-not-read-the-con


Yet there is another way rescheduling could be accomplished - by directing the DEA to an interpretation of policy that implements rescheduling of marijuana to, ideally (if it's going to be scheduled at all) to Schedule V, or the least dangerous of substances within the Controlled Substances Act.

Alex Kreit, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego who studies drug policy, notes that the CSA leaves undefined phrases on which scheduling hinges. The DEA therefore "has enjoyed incredibly broad discretion to interpret and define 'potential for abuse' and other scheduling criteria," Kreit writes on the Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog. Just as it could adopt a less demanding definition of "accepted medical use," the DEA could take a narrower view of "abuse," which it equates with any nonmedical use. By that standard, marijuana, by far the most popular illegal drug, does indeed have a high potential for abuse. But that judgment seems peculiar if abuse is defined as problematic use, in which case potential for abuse might be measured by the percentage of users who become addicted or suffer serious harm.

In truth, as Lester Grinspoon observes, marijuana does not fit any of the schedules very well. It is not the sort of medicine the FDA is used to approving. But it clearly can be used safely, as Obama conceded when he noted that it is less dangerous than alcohol. Back in 1988, when he urged the DEA to reschedule marijuana, Administrative Law Judge Francis Young called it "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." And while marijuana surely can be abused (what can't?), its potential for abuse seems lower than that of many pharmaceuticals, not to mention alcohol and tobacco, which the CSA specifically excludes from its schedules.

In light of these inconsistencies, could the DEA take marijuana off of the CSA's schedules altogether? Probably not. "I think it is very unlikely that the attorney general could remove marijuana from the schedules entirely," Kreit says. Although the CSA gives the attorney general the power to "remove a drug or other substance entirely from the schedules," it also says that "if control is required by United States obligations under international treaties, conventions, or protocols in effect on October 27, 1970, the Attorney General shall issue an order controlling such drug under the schedule he deems most appropriate."

http://reason.com/archives/2014/02/11/why-reschedule-marijuana/singlepage


This article notes Republicans are attacking Obama and Holder for "schizophrenic" actions related to marijuana, including Obama's claim that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, and Holder's statement that states can work out their laws without federal interference as long as certain points of the law (export, association with illegal drug organizations, zoning laws, etc. are enforced.)

As a matter of law, Section 873 of the Controlled Substances Act orders the attorney general to "cooperate with local, State, tribal and Federal agencies concerning traffic in controlled substances and in suppressing the abuse of controlled substances." Most states have drug laws that track federal prohibitions. But the voters in Washington state and Colorado chose regulation over prohibition as a means of dealing with cannabis abuse; if the state regulatory systems succeed, there will be less drug abuse than if they fail.

A straightforward reading of the law would therefore seem to require the attorney general to cooperate with those state efforts rather than trying to disrupt them, if in his judgment doing so promotes the purposes of the law in controlling drug trafficking and drug abuse. It is Holder's critics who seem to be selective about which laws they want to pay attention to.

As a matter of fact, federal drug law enforcement is a relatively small part of the national drug enforcement effort; about 80 percent of the 500,000 drug offenders behind bars in the U.S. are in state prisons and local jails. The Drug Enforcement Administration has fewer than 5,000 agents worldwide; Colorado and Washington state between them have more than 22,000 state and local police.

The Justice Department could easily have shut down the licensed growers and sellers in Washington and Colorado, but it would simply not have had the capacity to control strictly illegal production in those states without the help of state and local police. Letting the reasonably regulated Colorado and Washington systems operate while going after participants in California's virtually unregulated "medical marijuana" business creates the right incentives for state officials and industry participants; if you don't want federal attention, keep things under control.

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25201454/dont-blame-holder-confusing-pot-policies#ixzz2uGDApmBk

The Politics of Hemp in Kentucky

The Farm Bill included a provision for state-controlled hemp production for 10 states.

This link is a GREAT read about the way politics and patronage and power impact the legislative decisions of this nation.

Apropos to nothing...Kentucky got a big damn project financed (the Olmsted Dam) as part of the deal brokered by Republicans when they were threatening to shut down the govt. - and when their partial shut down took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy, and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.

McConnell is facing a challenge from both the Democrats and the teabaggers.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/mitch-mcconnell-kentucky-hemp-021214#comments

When President Obama signed the Farm Bill in Michigan on Friday afternoon, the "McConnell Hemp Provision" became the first Congressional action to roll back the prohibition on marijuana since World War II. That's right. Mitch McConnell might have accidentally taken the first step toward ending the Drug War.

How did Sen. McConnell become eponymous with language that permits pilot plots of the plant that until 2:45 eastern time on Friday were considered by the federal government to be indistinguishable from marijuana, a drug that remains classified by the Obama administration as Schedule I? It has left more than a few people scratching their heads.

The vacuum of democratic leadership on this issue (with the exception of Yarmuth) is what led to the opening that allowed McConnell to seize upon a popular issue that democrats had not claimed as their own. But the question remains for a national audience trying to make sense of Kentucky politics from the outside: If hemp is so popular, why are Kentucky democrats so afraid of it?

Hemp's original sin was to be born to a parent of the wrong party because James Comer, Kentucky's agricultural commissioner, is a republican. Last year, Comer shepherded a hemp bill through the Kentucky legislature by overcoming every obstacle thrown at him by the speaker of the general assembly, the governor, and the attorney general -- all democrats.


The McConnell Hemp Provision added to the existing bill included hemp growing for James Comer's Kentucky (and the other ten states) agricultural depts.

The magazine contacted the DEA to find out if farmers are going to be allowed to sell hemp they grow. The DEA referred the magazine to the DOJ.

Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, so, as far as growing it, or selling it, it's not going to be useful as an intoxicant. HOWEVER, it has been included in the drug schedule since it was created by Nixon in order to avoid any legal cannabis plant, no matter the use.

So, does Congress or the AG's office have to deschedule hemp in order to allow the law to be implemented?

True Detective (here be SPOILERS)

I have to say this somewhere and I don't want to register on some site to talk about this show - but I've been trying to figure out where this will go - and this is what I've come up with. It's pure speculation, but if you haven't seen the first 4 episodes, there be spoilers here.

Oookay, so, after rewatching the episodes - I think Cohle is maybe in Louisiana as a "freelance" undercover cop - but maybe that's a stretch.

In any case, when he talks about the "paraphilic love" whatever - I think he's coming to realize that the murder from 1995 is staged to look like satanic ritual murder because the local pols and religious leaders use the fear of this to control the population and to keep them in line.

Hart doesn't realize how much he goes along with that pov - keeping people in line - tho he says it - because he's also so blind to his own justifications for what he does.

So, I think Hart murders LeDoux, or whatever the giant guy's name is, when they track him to his hide out, without due process - I think they could've brought the guy in, but, instead, Hart kills him.

Cohle is loyal to Hart, just as Hart is loyal to him about the lie about the dad with leukemia, because they both did things outside the lines of the law.

But I think they find out that LeDoux was just the criminal the politicians, etc. used because it allowed them to create a panic and the guy was a criminal anyway, so what did it matter to anyone if he was killed.

The murder in the present day - that may be Hart, but I'm inclined to think it's just another criminal put into service for a political/religious goal.

This is kinda sketchy, but it's been on my mind and I have to say it somewhere.

Listen to Cohle's interviews with the present day detectives, thinking that he has been working undercover - ever since he and Hart split, even - he's trying to find out what they know as much as they are.

His mind is a "locked box" because he can't tell about what really happened - out of loyalty, and because the powers that be are too powerful to really do anything about the situation that exists. But he hopes the current detectives will ask him questions so that he can talk about what he can't say.

Italy Overturns Strict Cannabis Law

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26159049

Italy's constitutional court has overturned a law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating and possessing cannabis, declaring it "illegitimate".

Prison rights group Antigone say the law has caused prison overcrowding, with 40% of all inmates serving sentences for drug crimes.

It could affect some 10,000 people who may be released from jail as a result.

The law went into effect in 2006 under the conservative government led by the then-Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.


Italy is second only to Palau for adult consumption of cannabis - 15% of the population is estimated to consume cannabis in Italy.

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to solve overcrowding of prisons - calling the Italian system a violation of human rights.

Possession of cannabis, under Berlusconi's govt., increased sentences for possession from 2 to 6 years to 6 to 20 years.

Alessia Morani, an MP with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) called the ruling the end of the most absurd laws parliament has passed in recent years.

Cohen (D-TN): Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Bill

http://blog.mpp.org/prohibition/new-bill-in-congress-would-make-drug-czar-respect-science/02122014/

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced a bill Tuesday that would change federal law so that the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), commonly known as the “drug czar,” is no longer prohibited from studying the legalization of marijuana and no longer required to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana for medical or broader adult use.

Specifically, H.R. 4046, the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014, would amend the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 to remove the following language from the obligations of the director:

(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of and.take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that –

(A) is listed in schedule I of section 812 of this title; and

(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

Texas Gov. Rick Perry links marijuana to murder

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/11/not-joining-the-pot-parade-texas-gov-rick-perry-links-marijuana-legalization-to-murder/

Perry insisted he didn’t want to join the marijuana “parade.”

“I think the fact is it is very important for science to keep playing a most important role in this before we jump to some conclusion, before we run out and get in the front of a parade that is going somewhere because we think it is where the public opinion is,” he said.

“And I want to share just one thing — or make a response to about Portugal and the legalization of drugs there. In the five years since that has occurred there, 40 percent increase in the murder rate in that country. Anecdotal, I totally understand that, but the fact is we need to look at all of the data, the science.”

“The question for me is if the economics of this is what really drives this, and we as a society and government say it is OK for you to smoke marijuana — we have decriminalized it — basically say that it is OK for you to use, be thoughtful about it, here are the bad things that come from it, what is that going to cost society? I mean, what is the medical cost to this world when we send that message, when influential men and women stand up in front of these young influenceable young people and say it is OK.”


First - a TEXAS REPUBLICAN saying science plays the most important role... LOL... this is the same Republican Party in that state that wanted support for creationism in its party platform.

The Portugal remark is reefer madness.

And, funniest of all - since when did Americans look to the government and think they really care about the person who is most likely to be negatively influenced by marijuana's illegal status? (That person most likely to be negatively impacted, btw, is a young African American male.)
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