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RainDog

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In God We Must: Why won’t the U.S. accept its atheists?

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/ft/2012/02/atheism_in_america_why_won_t_the_u_s_accept_its_atheists_.single.html

....David Silverman, president of American Atheists...: “We challenge the whole concept that you can’t be good without God. We challenge the idea that religion is important in the first place, and that really makes them uncomfortable.”

...Psychotherapist Marlene Winell, who practises in Berkeley, California, specialises in “recovery from harmful religion” and advocates religious trauma syndrome as a psychological diagnosis. “There are so many places in the US that are just saturated with religion. Everything is interwoven – their families, their schools, their business – so that if you were not part of the club, part of the group, you get ostracised and people go through really horrible experiences of not belonging any more.” If that sounds like the experience of leaving a cult, perhaps that’s because, as Winell argues, “in its raw form, fundamentalist Christianity that believes that the Bible is the word of God is basically a giant cult.”

...A now famous University of Minnesota study concluded that Americans ranked atheists lower than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society”. Nearly 48 per cent said they “would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group” (many more than the next most unpopular category, Muslims, at 33.5 per cent). No wonder atheist groups talk of modelling their campaigns on the civil rights, gay and women’s liberation movements. It is not that they claim their persecution is on the same level but that they suggest the way forward requires a combination of organising and consciousness-raising. “We want people to realise that some of their best friends are atheists, some of their doctors, and lawyers and fire chiefs and all the rest of them are atheists,” says Dennett.

...There’s another reason why atheists might be better off out than in. Researching his PhD, the sociologist Chris Garneau of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that, although people who self-identify as atheists are more likely to experience stigma than other seculars, such as agnostics and humanists, those who are out are significantly less likely to report psychological distress than those who struggle to keep their dissent silent.

52% of Rhode Island Voters Support Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol

http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/2012/02/03/52-of-rhode-island-voters-support-legalizing-and-regulating-marijuana-like-alcohol/

In addition, the poll found an impressive 65 percent of the state would support dropping the penalty for marijuana possession down to just a modest civil fine. That is even a greater level of support than the 62.8 percent yes vote by which voters in Massachusetts, RI’s neighbor to the north, approved ballot initiative Question 2 that decriminalized marijuana possession in 2008. From MPP:

Of those polled, an overwhelming 65% supported decreasing the penalties for simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by removing the possibility of jail time and making the offense a civil citation. Such a change received support from across the political spectrum, with 73% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 60% of independents in favor of the measure. Two bills, H 7092 and S 2253, have been introduced in the Rhode Island House and Senate to remove the threat of arrest and jail for personal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

A majority of Rhode Islanders would like to go beyond the reforms proposed by H 7092 and S 2253. Of those polled, 52% would like to see all penalties for personal possession and use of marijuana removed and marijuana treated in a manner similar to alcohol, where it would be taxed, regulated, and sold in state-licensed stores to adults over the age of 21. This idea also received bipartisan support and was backed by 55% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans. Legislation to establish such a system will likely be introduced in Rhode Island this year.


As a country we are quickly approaching a critical cultural and political tipping point on this issue.

62% of California Voters Support Regulating Cannabis like Wine

http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/2012/02/01/62-percent-of-california-voters-support-regulating-marijuana-like-wine/

A new poll found that 62 percent of likely California voters would support a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like wine. From the Regulate Marijuana like Wine campaign:

A recent poll reveals that California voters, by a 62% to 35% margin, with 3% unsure, support a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like wine. The statewide poll, by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, Inc. surveyed 800 likely voters and found that 80% of the respondents agreed to the statement, “State and federal drug laws are outdated and have failed, therefore, we need to take a new approach that makes sense for today.”


The Field poll from April 2009 found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use and taxing the proceeds. The SurveyUSA poll from Apirl 2010 found that 56 percent of California adults thought the state should legalize marijuana while 42 percent thought the state shouldn’t. Polling of all adults instead of just registered voters tends to find more liberal results.

In 2010 California Proposition 19 only failed by a vote of 46.5% yes – 53.5% no. That was a non-presidential year that also had an unusually conservative turnout, a very unfavorable climate for the initiative. Given that the general trend in the country has been towards more acceptance of marijuana legalization, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the voters in California approve a marijuana legalization ballot initiative before the end of this decade.

Cannabis Science Research Co. (Robert Melamedes) promotes cancer-curing cannabis claims

The images that go with the series of three pictures of various types of cancer are graphic. I'm not going to post the ones concerning brain cancer, but they're available at this link:

http://www.cannabisscience.com/news-a-media/breaking-news.html - go to "breaking news" on the right-hand of the page and you can open three different documents.

Cannabis Science is a for-profit cannabis research outfit. They have posted pictures of 3 different people who have self-treated cancerous lesions and demonstrated cannabis has done what Rick Simpson and others also claimed in "Run From the Cure" Simpson was threatened with arrest. Cannabis Science will likely make millions if they bring a product onto the market to treat cancer.

Anyway, all the info and pictures are in .pdf format on the site so I've created some jpgs from those so that I can post them here.

PROCEDURE AND RESULTS
The series of photos below documents the disappearance of a biopsied squamous cell tumor after self-administration of topical cannabis extracts over a 3 month period. After treatment with cannabis extract, the tumor was expelled from below the surface, killed, and healed.




You can compare this lab research with Rick Simpson's experience...the video looks, as it is, entirely amateur.





The American people are on to this bullshit

So, I was just scrolling thru digg, something I do occasionally, and saw a top news thread from live science titled "Marijuana Mouth Spray: Will Cancer Pain Reliever Be Abused?" and read it, then saw it was from another source, a sister site, MyHealthDailyNews - the sort of infotainment Yahoo and other provider sorts of sites pick up and yes, der google showed that this same link had been picked up by Scientific American - an outfit with a stellar reputation. The originating site for the article is tech media network - a "new media" journalism group that creates feeds for various sites.

all fwiw.

The article is about Sativex, the whole-plant cannabis product that will be introduced to the American market, projections from this article state, in 2014. Here's the subtitle for the article:

It takes longer for people to get high from this oral form of marijuana, so there is little potential for abuse

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marijuana-mouth-spray

Scientific American? really? You're really publishing this? Because sativex is ingested, like cannabis edibles, you're buying into the propaganda that this makes Sativex different than cannabis?

Really?

A poison expert states there is no doubt Sativex will be abused. What, exactly, constitutes abuse? Using cannabis in the form of Sativex to get high? So, is taking a drink the same as alcohol abuse too? I'm so confused. Maybe I'm supposed to be.

...because the drug is delivered through ingestion, rather than smoking, it would take much longer to have an effect — at least an hour, compared with the minutes it takes to get high after smoking marijuana, said Margaret Haney, a professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University. This means drug users seeking a high would be less likely to abuse it. "Smoking is a really effective way to get a chemical into the brain," Haney said. The mouth spray "is a far safer administration,"she said.

And Marinol and Cesamet, which are also administered orally, have a low rate of abuse. "We don’t see a lot of problems from ," Bernstein said.

(that's Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, director of the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.)

okay. so, we don't see a lot of problems with synthetic THC, except 4 deaths have been attributed to Marinol (I don't know the circumstances of those, I'm just taking the information provided on overall cannabinoid stats from the govt.) and NO deaths have EVER been attributed to whole-plant cannabis, even when smoked - but the problem is... abuse, as in, using cannabis to get high, or more to the point, using cannabis recreationally, like someone might choose to have a glass of wine in the evening.

Surely Haney, who has excellent credentials, is aware of many people who choose to ingest rather than smoke cannabis...to get high, not for medical purposes. But Sativex is better because it's less effective, slower acting? And, therefore...magically not the same as edible cannabis? But the same is true for cannabis that is eaten rather than smoked.

But then there's some truth - couched in a little fear.

"Marijuana, in the scheme of things, is a relativity safe drug," Bernstein said. "Even as a smokeable drug of abuse, it's relatively safe…compared to cocaine or heroin."

Not only compared to cocaine and heroin! Also compared to COFFEE, ALCOHOL and CIGARETTES. all legal and unregulated by the Controlled Substances Act, btw. oh yeah, and aspirin, as the DEA itself noted.

We can even compare legal and illegal substances and find that... why, legal substances are more harmful than quite a few illegal ones.



Or, we can see that cannabis compares to coffee more than any other common or illegal substance and, therefore, such a comparison would have been a more honest evaluation of its safety - I guess "smokeable" is the issue? I don't know anyone who bothers to smoke coffee beans, tho I suppose it could be done.



Isn't it interesting how it is possible to frame an issue by, first, ignoring the dependency/harm of a legal substance compared to an illegal one (both smokeable) or to other legal substances that demonstrate greater harm - and yet... are legal. Coffee doesn't have quite the "shark week" frisson of heroin or cocaine when discussing something that's illegal, even if it's the most comparable substance in terms of danger, addiction potential, withdrawal... and I also have to wonder if anyone has ever entered a substance abuse program for coffee dependency. I don't know - I kind of doubt insurance would pay for such a thing.

Here's the "tagline" for this infotainment content provider for their various articles that are picked up by various websites:
Pass it on: Because it takes longer for people to get high from an oral form of marijuana, there is little potential for abuse of a marijuana-based mouth spray.


Here's my version:

Pass it on: Because Sativex and cannabis are virtually the same, there is little potential for abuse for either and neither should be illegal.


But, you know what's great about this article that is appearing on various websites? The comments from readers. People are LAUGHING at this attempt to pretend Sativex is not simply cannabis that has been packaged and intends to be sold by a pharma and people KNOW that cannabis prohibition is bullshit.

I think that the internet is going to kill prohibition. I hope it's soon.

HISTORIC REQUEST: 42 Members of WA legislature request cannabis rescheduling

http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/01/42_members_of_wa_legislature_ask_dea_to_reschedule.php

History was made on Wednesday as 42 members of the Washington Legislature petitioned the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule marijuana from its current Schedule I status to a less restrictive classification to allow for its medical use.

Among the lawmakers signing the letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was Rep. Timm Ormsby, brother of federal prosecutor Michael Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington. Ormsby, along with Western Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, last year oversaw a federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

...it is clear that the long-standing classification of medical use of cannabis in the United States as an illegal Schedule I substance is fundamentally flawed and should be changed," the lawmakers wrote. "The federal government could quickly solve the issue if it were to reclassify cannabis for medical use from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug so that it can be prescribed, which we believe the petition provides substantiated peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support.

"The solution lies ultimately with the federal government," the letter reads. "We urge the DEA to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reclassify medical cannabis as a Schedule II drug so qualifying patients that follow state law may obtain the medication they need through the traditional and safe method of physician prescribing and pharmacy dispensing."


Reform of Marijuana Laws Again Dominates President's Online Forum

http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/2012/01/30/marijuana-again-dominates-president-obamas-online-forum/

According to the Whitehouse Youtube page, with voting currently closed, 18 of the top 20 most popular question are about marijuana/drug policy. Seven of the top 20 question are directly related to questions created by NORML and its unusual removal from the page. NORML’s original question was:

“With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, on marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up marijuana users, isn’t it time to regulate and tax marijuana?”


The second most popular question on the page is from LEAP’s Stephen Downing, a former LAPD deputy police chief. His question is:



So far every attempt by Obama to directly reach out to young voters through some form of online question and answer system has resulted in young adults overwhelming voting to confront the President with questions about our government’s marijuana policies. It happened with his transitional website Change.gov, his first Youtube townhall and with the White House’s new “we the people” petition site.

D.C. to Make Medical Marijuana Available in Spring 2012 (x-post)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/franklin-garcia/dc-medical-marijuana_b_1209629.html

In 1998, 69 percent of the citizens in Washington, D.C. voted to legalize medical marijuana. But the Republican Congress at that time blocked implementation of the law by withholding funding to implement the program.

In an effort to revive the old law, on May 4, 2010, over a decade later, the D.C. Council approved amendments to the old law. After a 30-day Congressional review period expired on the amended law, the amended law became law. With this law, Washington, D.C. joins 16 other states in the nation with laws allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes; an additional 12 states are considering adding similar laws in support of using the plant for medical treatment. Recent data shows that over 77 percent of Americans favor laws in support of medical marijuana.

Under the new D.C. law, D.C. doctors can write medical marijuana prescriptions for patients who suffer from conditions such as, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other serious conditions. One of the biggest promoters of the use of marijuana for medical treatment is TV personality Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 13 years ago and uses the plant for his condition.

...The new law in Washington calls for 10 sites that will be authorized to grow the plant (cultivation centers). 28 applicants applied to compete for one of these 10 sites; nearly all of the applicants are for sites in Ward 5. The law also calls for five distribution centers (dispensaries), where people can obtain medical marijuana with a D.C. doctor's prescription. The public will know on March 2 the 10 sites that qualify to be cultivation centers, and on March 30 the five dispensaries. By mid to late spring, the program is expected to be in full operation in the nation's capital.

Va lawmaker urges study on revenue impact of legal mj (x-post)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-lawmaker-urges-study-on-revenue-impact-of-marijuana-sales-at-state-controlled-liquor-stores/2012/01/23/gIQAGdAGLQ_story.html

A Virginia lawmaker wants to study the possibility of selling marijuana through state-run liquor stores, but even the resolution’s sponsor thinks the provocative idea will likely go up in smoke.

The proposal by Democratic Del. David Englin of Alexandria to look at the potential revenue impact of selling marijuana at the more than 330 ABC stores in Virginia joins a growing list of recommendations across the country to reform laws regarding the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S.

Englin, who also has filed a resolution asking the governor to petition the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to move marijuana from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II, cites other states with medical marijuana laws and societal changes. He said he’s aiming to bring in more money for the state amid moves to cut funding for core services across Virginia.

“There are respectable members of society out there, secretly smoking marijuana on the side, and the money that they use to buy that is going to criminals,” said Englin, who said he has not smoked and does not use marijuana. “Seems to me that it’d be a better idea to take that money that’s already being spent and use it to benefit the commonwealth.”


kudos to the state legislators who are increasingly stepping up to ask states to end the failed war on cannabis.

The Lancet has an article about international drug use (you have to register to see the full text)

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2961138-0/fulltext

Here's a summary from a NORML email:

"Over the past 50 years international drug treaties have neither prevented the globalization of the illicit production and non-medical use of (illicit) drugs"

Eleven Percent of North Americans Use Cannabis.

Sydney, Australia: An estimated 11 percent of North Americans between the ages of 15 and 64 consume marijuana yearly, according to a research report published in the January 7th edition of the scientific journal The Lancet.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne in Australia assessed the global extent of illicit drug use and its impact on health. Authors reported that an estimated 10.7 percent of North Americans consume cannabis annually. By contrast, fewer than five percent of the global population were estimated to have used marijuana in the previous year. Australians reported the highest levels of cannabis use, according to the study.

Regarding the impact of illicit drug use on health, researchers wrote, "On the basis of available evidence, most of the disease burden attributable to illicit drugs is concentrated in problem or dependent drug users, especially people who inject drugs."

Authors recognized, however, that only "a minority of individuals who use illicit drugs become dependent on or inject them" and acknowledged "he risks of cannabis use are much smaller than those of other illicit drugs."


http://www.prohibitioncosts.org/mironreport.html

Cannabis Prohibition Costs

Using 2002 data, Miron states the federal govt (that's just federal) spends 2.4 billion on cannabis prohibition - that's just cannabis, nothing else.

Expenditure on Marijuana under Current Prohibition

The first step in determining the tax revenue under legalization is to estimate current expenditure on marijuana. ONDCP (2001a, Table 1, p.3) estimates that in 2000 U.S. residents spent $10.5 billion on marijuana. This estimate relies on a range of assumptions about the marijuana market, and modification of these assumptions might produce a higher or lower estimate. There is no obvious reason, however, why alternative assumptions would imply a dramatically different estimate of current expenditure on marijuana. This report therefore uses the $10.5 billion figure as the starting point for the revenue estimates presented below.

This report assumes there would be no change in the demand for marijuana. This assumption likely errs in the direction of understating the tax revenue from legalized marijuana, since the penalties for possession potentially deter some persons from consuming. But any increase in demand from legalization would plausibly come from casual users, whose marijuana use would likely be modest. Any increase in use might also come from decreased consumption of alcohol, tobacco or other goods, so increased tax revenue from legal marijuana would be partially offset by decreased tax revenue from other goods. And there might be a forbidden fruit effect from prohibition that tends to offset the demand decreasing effects of penalties for possession. Thus, the assumption of no change in demand is plausible, and it likely biases the estimated tax revenue downward.

Under the assumption that demand does not shift due to legalization, any change in the quantity and price would result from changes in supply conditions. There are two main effects that would operate (Miron 2003a). On the one hand, marijuana suppliers in a legal market would not incur the costs imposed by prohibition, such as the threat of arrest, incarceration, fines, asset seizure, and the like. This means, other things equal, that costs and therefore prices would be lower under legalization. On the other hand, marijuana suppliers in a legal market would bear the costs of tax and regulatory policies that apply to legal goods but that black market suppliers normally avoid. This implies an offset to the cost reductions resulting from legalization. Further, changes in competition and advertising under legalization can potentially yield higher prices than under prohibition.

It is thus an empirical question as to how prices under legalization would compare to prices under current prohibition. The best evidence available on this question comes from comparisons of marijuana prices between the U.S. and the Netherlands. Although marijuana is still technically illegal in the Netherlands, the degree of enforcement is substantially below that in the U.S., and the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is officially tolerated. The regime thus approximates de facto legalization. Existing data suggest that retail prices in the Netherlands are roughly 50-100 percent of U.S. prices.


ACLU & Elon James White: Just Say NO to the War On Drugs



june, 2011
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