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Insight and analysis from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
In a three-part installment of Baker Institute Viewpoints that starts today, experts examine possible regulatory frameworks for legalized marijuana. Leading off for Viewpoints is guest writer Tom Heddleston, Ph.D., whose dissertation examined the formation and development of the medical marijuana movement in California.
...Colorado has taken a contrasting approach by centralizing dispensary regulations and their enforcement in the Department of Revenue. Although cities have the option of banning or allowing dispensaries, the same state regulations tie the Colorado dispensary system together. Colorado’s uniform guidelines contribute to the legitimization and transparency of dispensaries in the state.
...Amendment 64 and I-502 will allow state and local governments the ability to actively regulate the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis. By restricting use and sale to those over 21, limiting public advertising and signage, and specifying labeling and quality control, policymakers will increase their capacity to shape who consumes cannabis and how it is produced and taxed. Such policy outcomes are unavailable when the criminal law is used exclusively. Criminalization channels the cannabis economy into the illicit market, where age and quality control limits are nonexistent and inflated profits fuel violence and corruption.
It appears that federal law enforcement agencies may allow the states to enact their policies with minimal interference. According to the Seattle Times, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee expressed his commitment to implementation in a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. It is difficult, however, to forecast whether federal law enforcement agencies will work against the implementation of the new laws over the long term. If they do it begs two questions: Whose interest is served when federal law enforcement agencies work to undermine state and local efforts to increase their capacity for regulation? Why do federal agencies seek to maintain an approach that criminalizes a large segment of otherwise law abiding citizens and burdens ethnic minorities with a disproportionate share of criminal penalties?
Posted by RainDog | Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:34 PM (5 replies)
the reality is that abortions occur at the same rate, pretty much, whether they are legal or not.
So, the GOP has announced its latest war - because no one will vote for them unless they can join together in yet another hatefest.
They're doing this, also, in hopes that they can appeal to Hispanic voters, whom, they assume, share this hatred of women.
The GOP, in the person of their speaker, has stated that one of their top priorities is to make sure more women die than live if they have an abortion.
GOP- I would say fuck you, but I wouldn't come near anyone with this hateful attitude toward women.
I will tell you, however, that I hope it's not one of your daughters who dies from a botched abortion. Oh wait - we know that won't happen because you'll use the privilege that money brings to make sure your daughter has a safe abortion - because that's how you function - you'll support something if you think it will get you votes from the unreconstructed assholes of this nation because you know yu won't be held to the same law.
Go to hell, GOP.
Posted by RainDog | Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:53 PM (8 replies)
Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and legal analyst for 60 Minutes. He is also chief analyst and legal editor for CBS Radio News and has won a Murrow Award as one of the nation's leading legal analysts and commentators...He is the winner of the American Bar Association’s 2012 Silver Gavel Award for his Atlantic commentary about the death penalty in America and the winner of the Humane Society’s 2012 Genesis Award for his coverage of the plight of America’s wild horses.
And he says:
Nowhere is the divide between Washington and America more evident than in this one court ruling on this one topic. (Medical Marijuana) The law may not permit the use of this drug to ease pain. Our government's tribunes may not yet trust the science that supports it. But the people have long since rendered their own judgment. For them, peer review begins at home.
The Federal govt continues to insist that everyday Americans are criminals when the majority of Americans know the Federal govt is full of shit on this issue. Whether their blindness is racially motivated, class motivated - who knows. What Americans know is that, in this case, the Federal govt is the problem, not the solution, and, in fact, has become the enemy of people in regard to this issue.
But here's what we could do to make sense of this issue: remove marijuana, entirely, from the drug schedules and admit that it is not a drug. Cannabis is a plant, an herb, not a drug. Simply remove it from the drug schedules and the problem of a jurassic agency that wants to protect its turf will no longer be the issue.
Herbal supplements to other medications are also part of America's medicine cabinet, from valerian root to echinacea.
The AG could do this tomorrow.
But, of course, he won't.
And the Federal govt continues to target one group of people, harassing them, threatening them with prison, destroying their businesses, keeping cancer patients in jail for using and growing cannabis and, ultimately, killing those patients in more than one incidence. That's what the ultimate outcome of this intransigence really is - harm and death to otherwise law-abiding citizens.
thanks for the good work, feds! beat up on cancer patients. it makes you look tough.
Posted by RainDog | Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:50 PM (21 replies)
Lost in this fray is the fact that marijuana is medicine.
As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama emphatically stated that medical marijuana use was an issue best left to the states. One of the first promises he made as the newly elected president was that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." This was even reiterated formally in the so-called Ogden memo of 2009, in which the Department of Justice instructed U.S. attorneys that federal enforcement should apply only to medical marijuana operations that were not in clear compliance with state law.
Obama has since "clarified" those promises, but it still makes no sense that Matthew R. Davies, a business school graduate who set out in 2009 to create a medical marijuana dispensary that would be in full compliance with California law, is facing up to 15 years in prison — with a mandatory five-year sentence.
This is just one more puzzling incident in the history of a president who not only made these promises but has also admitted to heavy recreational use of marijuana himself in his youth. As a second-term president, with little to lose, why is he continuing his odd campaign on a state-approved industry that employs people, pays taxes and distributes a safe and clinically useful product?
Lost in this fray is the fact that marijuana is medicine. My son is autistic and has an autoimmune gastrointestinal problem for which, at my suggestion, his doctor prescribed him Marinol (a synthetic THC drug). When that proved ineffective, the doctor agreed to prescribe medical cannabis, which is legal in Rhode Island where we were living and, unlike in some states, such as California, is approved for pediatric use.
The medical cannabis stopped this behavior that was hurting the author's son. She goes on to explain the process of finding the right strain for various medical issues and asks a question that so many of us are asking: Why does Obama deny the reality that he knows from his own life, that marijuana is not a harmful drug that deserves the kind of treatment the federal govt. continues to force on Americans who have voted to change bad law.
Posted by RainDog | Wed Jan 23, 2013, 02:41 PM (7 replies)
Now on tape. Had such an effect on me, I had to write him a letter.
Dear Paddy -
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you are the face for liberals who don't want to admit they oppose allowing people who use marijuana to have the same rights as those who use alcohol or tobacco. Because, face it, that's inequality; this is what people like you, Paddy, are marketing to the public...unequal application of the law.
But you do it under the guise of care about the general population, and most especially, as with all the right wing attacks over the years.. the emotional appeal is "think of the children"... as though everything that might somehow not be right for children should be prohibited to adults.
That's a stupid fucking argument. But that's the argument that's being made, basically, because any time marijuana opponents want to argue with fact, they lose.
Because the reality is that in every issue that you, Paddy, bring up, the argument has no merit.
(Paddy is worried because marijuana is on the way to legalization. He's suddenly paying attention after more than a decade of changes that the American people have voted for - in 18 states that allow regulated medical marijuana - and 2 that now intend to have legal marijuana.)
To your claim that "we don't need a new legalized drug," Patty.
Tell the truth. You don't really mean this. You don't really mean that pharmaceutical cos should not do research and create drugs intended to help others (tho, in reality, the side effects of these many, many legal drugs are far, far, far more harmful than anything related to marijuana...) but, tell the truth.
The truth is that you were addicted to a pharmaceutical drug, not marijuana. The truth is that you don't know the first thing about the lives of those who are not addicts. Why don't you focus on making pain killers illegal? Oh, because some people use them responsibly. So everyone shouldn't have to suffer because a few have a problem with addiction. That's common sense - that you seem to be unable to supply when it comes to the issue of marijuana. You don't oppose bringing new drugs onto the market, even if they cause addiction, because, at least in that case, you can recognize that not everyone reacts to things in the same way. But you seem unable or unwilling to apply this same common sense to marijuana. It's almost like...madness. Reefer Madness. redux.
The truth is - You are targeting marijuana - not all drugs. The truth is that marijuana isn't even a drug. It's a plant. It's not processed, like poppies, to make a drug. It's a plant in its natural form.
You want to keep a plant illegal, Paddy, not a drug.
The basic dishonesty begins with the claim that marijuana is a drug. Nutmeg isn't a drug, nor are bananas. Both have psychotropic properties. Not illegal. Poppies that are used to make heroin are legal to grow in the U.S. It's illegal to make heroin. The plant is not illegal. You support the idea that a plant should be illegal. Not a drug. Of course, Paddy, you didn't begin this basic dishonesty. It started with Nixon and his desire to get rid of his enemies (those enemies included your dad, while those who have consistently been pro reform of marijuana law were also those who supported your family members when they ran for office.)
Your reasoning is faulty because it is marinated in right-wing ideology.
But let's talk about illegality and what it means. What happened when alcohol was illegal?
A lot of crooks made a lot of money smuggling alcohol. You may have known one of them. One of them was your grandfather. That's why anyone cares to hear anything you say, because your grandfather made money smuggling alcohol. He bought legitimacy with his money and sent his kids to good schools. But, face it, he made his money off of alcoholics, some of them, and, if you are so up in arms about this issue, why don't you give away your inherited wealth and ask your family members to do the same?
Otherwise, it's like you're complaining about the competition.
But back to reason. The first nationwide organized crime syndicates came into being because of prohibition. Women began to drink, more than ever before, because alcohol was illegal and with that came a certain cache. More people died from poorly made alcohol. Government corruption was rank and file since ALL WASHINGTON POLITICIANS had access to booze IN THEIR OFFICES. After alcohol was made legal, crime plummeted. The prohibition was the cause of the crime.
But, you are proposing to maintain another two-tier quasi-legality - those who have money don't have to worry and can do whatever they wish regarding bad law. Those who are everyday folks have to face consequences those in your social set will never know.
That's just wrong. It was wrong when Dan Burton's son got off after caught transporting LSD. Wrong when Mitch Daniels was given a slap on the hand for dealing drugs in college. It will still be wrong when a black guy on the street is targeted and given an arrest record while your children's friends can indulge as they wish with no consequences at the private homes and private pool that privilege bring.
That's not the kind of Democrat I want to see speaking about any subject, one that supports a two-tier version of justice, whether it's based upon the substance (alcohol vs. marijuana), or the citizen (a poor kid vs a rich one.) That's like the Jim Crow South Democrat during segregation. Don't be that person, Paddy.
You conflate the problems of alcohol with marijuana. Marijuana is not related to incidences of domestic abuse. That's your family's brand, son, not the effect of marijuana.
If you're worried about "big marijuana," like big tobacco, as an entity in American society... and, so interesting, isn't it, that the heir of big alcohol worries about this... but anyway, if you're worried about that - limit the number of acres that can be used for recreational marijuana, or make it a product that may only be grown by farmers who live on their land - give them something to grow that the agri-bizzes can't. Obviously regulation isn't the issue - you want marijuana regulated to the point of keeping it illegal.
Let agri-biz grow hemp, instead, and compete with the petrol industry over plastic products. Wow. What a great p.r. stunt for agri-biz - to grow something that requires little to no pesticides, that can be used for virtually any petrol-based product... now that would be something worth talking about.
Here's the truth, Paddy, and all you other Democrats who oppose legalization. Anslinger is dead. thankfully. And the American people are burying his corpse with the repeal of laws that were then and are now based upon lies.
Reactionaries are not going to rule this day.
Posted by RainDog | Sun Jan 20, 2013, 06:07 PM (15 replies)
An overwhelming majority wants to decriminalize - but a majority also supports flat out legalization and regulation. AND a politicians stance on this issue influences voter opinion. Hope the feds can tell which way the wind blows - cause it ain't toward blowing off this issue.
Polling data released this week by Public Policy Polling shows a large base of support for marijuana law reforms in New Hampshire. Not only is there majority support from New Hampshire voters for the medical use of marijuana and decriminalizing its possession, but more than half support regulating and taxing marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
When asked if they would support or oppose changing New Hampshire law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, where stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older, 53% responded they would support this law and only 37% were opposed.
62% stated that they would support a change in the law to provide for a fine of up to $100 without jail time or the threat of arrest for those who possess an ounce or less of marijuana and 68% support allowing for its physician supervised use. Even more enlightening, 52% stated an elected official’s support of medical marijuana made them more likely to support them.
Fortunately for New Hampshire lawmakers, they have the opportunity to capitalize on this groundswell of support for sensible marijuana laws. Legislation has already been introduced to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and a separate measure has been introduced to allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. The incoming governor has even voiced her support for legalizing medical use.
Posted by RainDog | Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:55 PM (24 replies)
Earlier this week I posted about Kennedy's alignment with David Frum (former Bush staffer) and their attempts to FORCE people who are found in possession of ANY amount of marijuana to go into a treatment program. SAM is the group he's shilling for.
Then Patrick went to Colorado to tell people there they didn't know what they were doing when they made their historic votes to legalize cannabis in November, 2011.
op in the Denver Post -
In Denver on Thursday, the former Rhode Island congressman and son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, made an absurd claim. According to The Denver Post, he said marijuana legalization “slipped under the radar” both in Colorado and Washington and that organizations bent on countering the idea didn’t have time to mobilize. As a result, voters “didn’t know what their stake was in the debate.”
Kennedy is free to claim that Colorado voters didn’t understand the issues as well as they should, because that’s a matter of opinion. But “slipped under the radar”? Amendment 64 got huge amounts of publicity precisely because its favorable polling prompted the media to take it seriously.
...as Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project reminded me today, parts of Colorado have “been having a pretty significant discussion about marijuana policy” even longer, at least since “Denver became the first city in the world to approve a measure removing all penalties for marijuana possession” in 2005. Tvert estimates “there have literally been upwards of 1,000 print and TV news stories in the state in just the past few years.”
This was not an isolated claim by Kennedy, either. He earlier told the Boston Globe much the same thing in explaining why he was now committed to opposing pot legalization. “I can’t stand by and let this move forward without any kind of debate or questioning,” he said. “This thing could pass right underneath the radar and we will wake up one day and say what were we thinking?”
Before former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy Jr. could introduce his new national initiative to educate the public and policymakers about the health risks of pot use, he was asked to step down as head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
"If Patrick Kennedy and his new organization want people to be educated about marijuana, he should start with himself," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project and a leader in the successful campaign to legalize recreational pot use in Colorado . "The evidence is clear — marijuana is far less addictive and less harmful to the body than alcohol."
Tvert said that anyone attempting to be a public educator about the health risks associated with marijuana must openly and honestly address how much more dangerous legal controlled substances like alcohol and tobacco are to public safety.
"Like everyone else who woke up after Election Day and saw that (marijuana legalization) was moving fast in states like Colorado, I realized it looked as though the domino effect could move to other states quicker," Kennedy said. "I want to slow this train down and begin a discussion before other states rush to judgment."
So, Kennedy wants to pretend his actions are warranted because others are too stupid to know what they were doing. What a conservative pov - to think you know better and must force your view on others who disagree.
Again, I cannot state how ironic it is to have a kid whose inherited wealth rests upon smuggling alcohol attempt to prevent others from choosing another source of intoxication. Maybe his vision has been distorted. Maybe it's a problem with the northeastern US and their long association with alcohol via rum running, immigrants and urban life. Who knows. All I know is that this stance and action by Kennedy is a joke to anyone who has followed this issue for any length of time.
Posted by RainDog | Tue Jan 15, 2013, 04:09 PM (42 replies)
Less than two months into his first term, the new Democratic mayor of San Diego is coming out big for medical marijuana.
In a series of announcements last week, Mayor Bob Filner sent memos to the city’s zoning and code compliance officers calling for an end to all code enforcement actions against medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
According to The Los Angeles Times, he’s also preparing to direct the city council to take up the issue of formal zoning rules that incorporate medical marijuana.
Dispensaries in San Diego have been struggling to obtain land use ordinances, which have not been formally adopted for businesses that profit off a drug that is technically illegal under federal law. A prior attempt to create zoning rules for medical marijuana was dropped in 2011 after the industry opposed it.
This is how you implement the law that people have voted to allow.
Posted by RainDog | Mon Jan 14, 2013, 12:35 PM (3 replies)
Matthew Davis has an MBA. He decided to start a business in an emerging market - medical marijuana cultivation. He paid his taxes, his staff, he got his permits. Yet the U.S. Justice Dept. indicated Mr. Davis 6 months ago for cultivating marijuana.
The United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, a 2009 Obama appointee, wants Mr. Davies to agree to a plea that includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, calling the case a straightforward prosecution of “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.”
At the center of this federal-state collision is a round-faced 34-year-old father of two young girls. Displaying a sheaf of legal documents, Mr. Davies, who has no criminal record, insisted in an interview that he had meticulously followed California law in setting up a business in 2009 that generated $8 million in annual revenues. By all appearances, Mr. Davies’ dispensaries operated as openly as the local Krispy Kreme, albeit on decidedly more tremulous legal ground.
“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” Mr. Peters wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”
The case illustrates the struggle states and the federal government are now facing as they seek to deal with the changing contours of marijuana laws and public attitudes toward the drug. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use last year, and are among the 18 states, and the District of Columbia, that currently allow its medical use.
For anyone who wants to claim the current Democratic administration has only gone after those who were not in compliance with CA law over the last 5 years - well, you're wrong. or you're lying.
How anyone can enact such clearly biased application of the law... well, it reminds me of Adam Swartz and the recent observation that judicial overreach can be a bad thing.
In this case, I have to wonder how a man who thanked his pot dealer in his high school senior class note can turn around and go after people who are legally operating within state law.
Obama knows the war on marijuana is a lie. He needs to get on the right side of this issue and stop pandering to the anti-science goon squad that fears their jobs will be in danger if they have to focus on real criminals - like the drug cartels that were laundering money through those banks that got a slap on the hand.
IT IS TIME TO SET THIS RIGHT.
No more prosecution of ANYONE for marijuana-related charges.
Decriminalize at the federal level and remove marijuana from the drug schedule. That's the right thing to do.
Posted by RainDog | Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:47 AM (6 replies)
SAM "Sane Approaches to Marijuana" is the organization.
Their name, however, is just the first lie in their crusade against reasonable approaches to marijuana. This organization follows the lead of former Bush Drug Czar minions who have gone on to lobby to make pharmaceutical marijuana legal while keeping inexpensive personal use/growth marijuana illegal. It's more than a little ironic that someone whose family made their fortune dealing in illegal alcohol during prohibition now seeks to make another, SAFER substance MORE DIFFICULT to acquire than alcohol. Or maybe it's not ironic, since the alcoholic beverage industry has poured money into anti-marijuana campaigns for years.
From the SAM website:
“Opium has medical value, and it is called morphine. Marijuana has medical value, too — but just as we don’t smoke opium to receive beneficial effects, we need not smoke marijuana to get its medical value.” — Project SAM
This statement is an almost VERBATIM regurgitation of the talking point from the Sativex lobbyist. Sativex, btw, is a product created by GW Pharmaceuticals and they have a vested interest in continuing the war on drugs against those who would grow their own cannabis for medical use because their product is NO DIFFERENT than marijuana grown in someone's backyard. But they have to pretend it is different in order to justify paying for their business investment in Sativex (GW Pharma is partnered with Bayer in the U.S.)
As Americans For Safe Access note - if Sativex works for any particular health issue - so does unregulated marijuana. Marijuana does not have to be smoked to obtain medical benefits, either, which is a talking point of SAM. Vaporizers remove most particulants and allow patients to titrate doses appropriate for their level of pain.
Here's how propaganda works, tho. Marijuana is NOTHING like an opiate medicine, in terms of the effects on the brain and body. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, in terms of recreational use of any substance. However, in order to maintain a FEAR in the minds of uninformed citizens, the lobbyists and now the political lobbyists on both the right and left seek to identify marijuana regulation with a substance that can kill, that can shut down the autonomic nervous system and that has levels that may cause an overdose.
Again, they should be talking about alcohol, if they were honest, because alcohol, not marijuana, has these properties, like opium. Marijuana, on the other hand, is better compared to a cup of coffee, in terms of its danger to society.
Marijuana, however, IS a SAFE SUBSTITUTE for opiates. People have used marijuana to reduce their reliance on addictive opiate drugs and, even, to help them overcome a substance abuse problem with alcohol by moving from far more dangerous drugs like Rush Limbaugh's favorite, or the Kennedy clan's money-maker, to an affordable and safe substitute which is much easier to decrease in use. Our own government places marijuana on the same level as coffee in terms of addictive properties. No one needs to go to rehab to stop using coffee (well, most of us, anyway.)
When I read up on the issue in the past, one stickler for legalizing Sativex as a medicine was the desire to limit patient access by only allowing the spray to work after x number of hours. Because marijuana has no known overdose, such efforts again demonstrate the useless hoops created by a willfully ignorant bureaucracy.
However, SAM wants to institute a court/clinic money-making scam for marijuana (that already exists in more draconian form) by FORCING people into mandatory health screenings and drug rehab programs for simple possession.
The need for this is not established. It's simply another way to punish people who chose marijuana rather than alcohol, for instance. If someone purchases a six pack of beer and drives home, gets pulled over and beer is found in the car - that person is not subject to medical intrusion into their lives by the govt. There is NO NEED for this intrusiveness with cannabis users, either.
If you want sane approaches to marijuana, you need to stop pretending it's more harmful than opiates (according to the CSA Drug Schedules) or this organization with its mandatory (and expensive) forced rehabilitation for a substance, again, that is on par with coffee in terms of its harm to society.
Here's a petition to let SAM know you do not want marijuana treated more harshly than alcohol.
Posted by RainDog | Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:16 PM (0 replies)
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