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The Most Politically Important Marijuana Dispensary In The Nation


The first dispensary in D.C. is set to open soon, only blocks away from federal legislators who have been tasked, by a bill from Democrats Polis of Colorado and Blumenauer of Oregon, to overturn decades of poorly thought out and wrongly-enacted prohibition legislation.

“I’ve talked to people all over the country about marijuana,” said Corey Barnette, a principal at District Growers, the cultivation facility that will service the center. “Everyone is highly focused on what happens in Washington, D.C. We are a city on top of the feds, and with Congress right here. If we can make it work, it can work anywhere.”

...regardless of what individual states do, the use or cultivation of marijuana remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substance Act. This means that even if state law enforcement allows for use of the drug, federal officials do not. In the eyes of the federal government, there is no such thing as “medical marijuana.”

This is where Polis and Blumenauer come in. The duo has dropped a series of bills to end the federal prohibition on the drug, impose federal tax on sale of legal pot, and protect the rights of patients using medical marijuana. At this point, especially in a Republican-run House of Representatives, these bills have an upward climb toward becoming law. But the way things have been shifting, that could change rapidly.

In this sense, the congressmen and the dispensary can help each other out. District pot sellers need the protection of a federal law, and the congressmen could use a place to show to their skeptical colleagues what it really looks like and it’s impact on a community.

Nate Silver, the guy who correctly predicted the Presidential election, in spite of Republican insistence that their views had popular support, suggested Republicans could find some relief among disgustipated voters by returning to their conservative principles and undo prohibition.

I think some of the current crop of Republicans are too stupid to "get it," but, as Polis and others have demonstrated, undoing prohibition laws - by removing cannabis from the drug schedules and moving it to regulation under the Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms bureaucracy - is a winning and correct position. This is the aim of H.R. 499, introduced by the Democratic legislator, Polis.

Who is leading the way to saner and more just law? People like Chellie Pingree, from Maine. A Democrat.

Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, is currently the only member of Congress from New England to sign on in support of H.R. 499, titled the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013. The only Republican co-sponsor is U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California.

“It makes no sense to punish individuals for using a substance less harmful than alcohol,” David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement Thursday. “Instead, we should allow adults to use marijuana legally while regulating the production and sale of the substance. We will not only better control production and sales, but we will also create new jobs and generate tax revenue.”

“The alcohol industry has become manageable. We’ve been able to reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed by teenagers and we’ve been able to hold people responsible for their actions, and that’s what we’d want to do with marijuana,” Marshall said. “Marijuana is undoubtedly America’s No. 1 cash crop, and all that [money is] going untaxed and it’s going to people who are not running legitimate businesses in the eyes of the law.”


THANK YOU to Democrats who are working to create a more egalitarian nation based upon the rational examination of actual evidence.

Thomas Paine and the American tradition

Even tho the American Revolution had already begun, Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is considered a pivotal work of the era. It was not universally loved among the American Revolutionaries. Adams hated it because it called for the right to vote even for those who did not own property! How dare Paine extend this right to those who were not rich enough to buy it!

Loyalists hated it because they knew that, without monarchy, government would degenerate into...democracy.

Yet it was a best seller in the colonies. Pamphlets were cheap to produce and easy to disseminate. They were the revolutionary era version of a blog or a discussion board and their intent was to reach people and change their opinions.

Paine claimed that monarchies and aristocracies were ancient tyrannies and that revolutionaries should oppose these tyrannies. He used the rhetoric of religion to tell the revolutionaries they were "twice born" - once in their religious convictions and a second time in their political ones.

He opposed all European aristocratic institutions, most especially monarchies, yet he also met with the French King to gain financial support for the revolution in the states (and this support a huge factor in the French financial crisis that led to the French Revolution because aristocrats did not want to pay taxes to support their govt's actions, while they continued to receive their benefits because they were born into wealth.)

Yet he was not revolutionary enough for the leaders of one faction that held power (many did, for a time, until they were executed) and was jailed in France and came close to execution himself. He was one of the most important English-language voices in support of the French Revolution until he was imprisoned. While in England, he had written "Rights of Man" in support of France, and in opposition to liberals (classic liberals, not the current American usage) like Edmund Burke, who recoiled at the excesses of the French when they deposed their king. He faced arrest in Britain for this pamplet. The poet, William Blake, encouraged him to go to France. The anarchist William Godwin and others faced trial in Britain for publication of Paine's work.

When he was imprisoned in France, he published the first part of Age of Reason. He critiqued revealed religion (that same religion he appealed to in his "twice born" rhetoric.) He attacked organized religion and presented questions about the validity of the bible.

He was writing about ideas that had long been part of the conversation about religion among the educated British, French and American populations. But his pamphlet brought those ideas into a form that was accessible, and, as was his style, it was written without jargon. He argued that reason, rather than revelation, was the real work of god, because he, like many of the founders, was a deist who thought that god was just as subject to the working of the natural world as any other process found within it.

Deists argued that superstition was harmful and ritual and claims of miracles and the ornamentation that was part of religion was a seduction away from the use of reason and rational thought which the founders used as the basis for their claim to independence, and which the French Revolutionaries used to depose a king and the aristocrats and the religious leaders who upheld that system of spoils to the rich.

Paine claimed that original sin was the worst of the teachings of religion because such a claim was meant to hold people in psychological bondage by telling them they were not capable or worthy before they even had an opportunity to prove their ethical actions. This claim was akin to abuse - to hear from birth that you are somehow unworthy simply by the existence of your being.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

Paine claims all have the right to their belief, yet he attacks beliefs such as divine revelation. He attacks the history of the church - both its historical validity and its actions. He attacks the very foundations of Christianity - no matter the variation.

This is part of the history of democracy and the history of religious/political thought in the U.S. and it continues today.

Fact Check: Bergoglio, the torture of two priests, and the hiding of political prisoners

I am posting this in GD b/c the discussion of Bergoglio's role related to the Argentinian military junta was mentioned in GD several times in the past few days. Both those of us who accused him of actions and those who defended him have the story wrong, it seems.


From Horacio Verbitsky (an investigative journalist and head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, an Argentine human rights organization and the author of The Silence: From Paul VI to Bergoglio: The Secret Relations Between the Church and the ESMA.

(ESMA was the naval military group that was implicated in stealing the children of women dissidents, giving those children to military and other fascist friendly families and then throwing those mothers to their deaths in the Atlantic Ocean. The leader of the military junta admitted, in 2011 that the junta had given the children of dissidents to "good families" but denied, in opposition to Truth Commission testimony, that the Navy had murdered the mothers... tho they are still "disappeared" - which was the fascist's term for political murder.)

The two priests who were tortured by the Argentine government were the ones who claimed Bergoglio knew about and participated in their torture because the torturers knew about doctrinal issues within the church that were part of their interrogation...When the military coup overthrew the Isabel Perón government, he (Bergoglio) was in touch with the military that ousted this government and asked the Jesuits to stop their social work. And when they refused to do it, he stopped protecting them, and he let the military know that they were not more inside the protection of the Jesuits’ company, and they were kidnapped.

(Regarding Bergoglio)
...During the research for one of my books, I found documents in the archive of the foreign relations minister in Argentina, which, from my understanding, gave an end to the debate and show the double standard that Bergoglio used
(regarding those two priests.)

...His message is absolutely conservative. He was opposed to abortion, to the egalitarian matrimony law. He launched a crusade against the evil when Congress was passing this law, and in the very same style that John Paul II. This is what I consider the main feature on the new pope.
Verbitsky also talks about Bergoglio as the leader of the opposition to the Argentinian govt. that sought to liberalize laws.

Regarding hiding prisoners from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -

No, in this episode, Bergoglio has no intervention. The intervention was from the cardinal that in that time was the chief of the church in Buenos Aires. That is the position that Bergoglio has in the present. But in that time, he was not archbishop of Buenos Aires. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights came into Argentina to investigate allegations of human rights violations, the navy took 60 prisoners out of ESMA and got them to a village that was used by the Cardinal Aramburu to his weekends. And in this weekend property were also the celebration each year of the new seminarians that ended their studies. In this villa in the outskirts of Buenos Aires were the prisoners during the visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. And when the commission visited ESMA, they did not find the prisoners that were supposed to be there, because they were— ...Bergoglio has no intervention in this—in this fact. Indeed, he helped me to investigate a case. He gave me the precise information about in which tribunal was the document demonstrating that this villa was owned by the church.

There has been back and forth here about the two priests and the hiding of political prisoners. They are two separate incidents, and in the second one, Bergoglio was not the archbishop who colluded with the fascists to hide political prisoners from the Human Rights organization.

He helped the investigative reporter identify the church property that was used to hide the prisoners.

Heart thank you

Very kind and sweet of you, whoever you are.

U.S. Representative Massie Introduces Industrial Hemp Bill


Today, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced federal legislation that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the growing of industrial hemp. H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) is a co-sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) are supporting a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.

“Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers,” said Rep. Massie. “My wife and I are raising our children on the tobacco and cattle farm where my wife grew up. Tobacco is no longer a viable crop for many of us in Kentucky and we understand how hard it is for a family farm to turn a profit. Industrial hemp will give small farmers another opportunity to succeed.”

Massie, a Republican, is the third member of the House of Representatives to introduce legislation this week to address the gross misapplication of federal law. Two Democrats introduced legislation to remove cannabis from the controlled substances act and to provide a framework for taxation on recreational cannabis production. Those two bills were introduced by Democrats, including Jared Polis, who noted in an interview with a reporter at TruthOut,

"Congress is a lagging indicator for public opinion; public opinion is leading, public opinion is there on this issue that it should be left up to states and local governments how to deal with marijuana," Polis said. "It's just a question of Congress catching up, and I think it's a question of when, not if."


I think 40 years is enough time for Congress to buy a clue, personally.

Polis also acknowledges something I have noted here repeatedly, which is the fact that Congress is not really part of the cutting edge of anything. Those who are are quickly excoriated by the press and their fellow politicians. I totally understand why Al Gore, for instance, would not want to be in govt. when climate change is such an important issue for him.

It's time for Congress to join the 21st century.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis: Remove Cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act


Polis’ measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it’s legal to one where it isn’t.

The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul of Texas.

The legislation created by Frank and Paul was left to die in the office of Texas Republican Representative Leland Howard, who claimed it would never get out of his committee. It didn't. Do not let this happen again. Call your Representative to encourage them to do the correct thing regarding the increasing estrangement between Congress and the American people regarding cannabis' legal status in the US.

It is important to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act because Nixon's organization has created intractable conditions for a plant to meet the standards of a human-manufactured drug. (BTW, Nixon's own commission recommended cannabis not be included in the CSA but Nixon wanted a way to punish his enemies so he ignored the legal and scientific evidence, as has the rest of the Federal govt for the last 40 years.

Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer introduced legislation to create a tax structure for cannabis that would be reviewed after two years, and then five, to tax the commercial production of cannabis for both recreational and industrial use.

CO and WA were the tipping point. We're beyond that moment and moving into a major shift in cannabis law in the U.S. Hopefully Congress will not keep itself mired in racist law and will acknowledge the will of the American people sooner rather than later.

Two Legislative Measures Introduced by Polis and Blumenauer (NORML)


Representative Polis’ legislation, The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, transfer the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, require commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, and ensure federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.

Speaking on the bill, Rep. Polis stated, “This legislation doesn’t force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the 18 other jurisdictions that have chosen to allow marijuana for medical or recreational use deserve the certainty of knowing that federal agents won’t raid state-legal businesses. Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war.”

Representative Blumenauer’s legislation is aimed at creating a federal tax structure which would allow for the federal government to collect excise taxes on marijuana sales and businesses in states that have legalized its use. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor. These regulations are similar to those that now exist for alcohol and tobacco. The bill will also require the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that, and to issue recommendations to Congress to continue improving the administration of the tax.

“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Public attitude, state law, and established practices are all creating irreconcilable difficulties for public officials at every level of government. We want the federal government to be a responsible partner with the rest of the universe of marijuana interests while we address what federal policy should be regarding drug taxation, classification, and legality.”

New Reason/Rupe Poll: 72% say don't interfere in CO and WA legalization


Asked if the feds should arrest people who use marijuana in the states that have legalized it, 72 percent of respondents said no. More strikingly, by a margin of 2 to 1, the respondents said the federal government should not arrest newly legal growers or sellers either. President Obama has said there are no plans to go after pot smokers, which the federal government almost never does anyway, but he has not said how state-licensed suppliers will be treated.

Opposition to federal interference was even stronger than support for legalization. While 47 percent favored "legalizing marijuana for recreational use" and 53 percent said "the government should treat marijuana the same as alcohol," 68 percent said the feds should leave state-legal growers alone and 64 percent said the same about state-legal sellers. These results indicate that some people who oppose marijuana legalization nevertheless believe the choice should be left to the states, as a consistent federalist would. Reflecting that tendency, most Republicans and self-identified conservatives supported marijuana prohibition, but most also said the federal government should not try to impose that policy on Colorado and Washington. These findings are similar to those of a CBS News poll conducted last November, except that poll found even stronger federalist preferences among Republicans, 65 percent of whom said states should determine whether marijuana is legal within their borders, compared to 55 percent of Democrats, even though Democrats were more likely to say pot should be legal (51 percent vs. 27 percent). Overall, 59 percent of respondents in that poll said the feds should mind their own business, compared to around 66 percent (averaging the responses for growers and sellers) in the Reason-Rupe poll.

...As surveys generally find, support for legalizing marijuana in the Reason-Rupe poll was stronger among Democrats (57 percent of whom said it should be treated like alcohol) than among Republicans (35 percent), among progressives (72 percent) and libertarians (86 percent) than among conservatives (39 percent), and among people younger than 65 (whose support ranged from 53 percent among 45-to-54-year-olds to 58 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds) than among people of retirement age (41 percent). The generational divide is clearly not just a matter of people getting more conservative as they get older, since overall support for legalization has been rising more or less steadily since the 1960s (with a dip in the '80s), breaking through 50 percent in the Gallup poll for the first time last year. Allowing legalization experiments like those in Colorado and Washington to proceed, as a large majority of Americans want, is apt to accelerate this trend.

A link to the poll is at the article.

What is the best regulatory framework for legalized marijuana? (Baker Institute Series)


Gary J. Hale, the nonresident fellow in drug policy at the Baker Institute, authors the second of a three-part Baker Institute Viewpoints series on the regulatory framework for legalized marijuana. Hale is the former chief of intelligence for the Houston Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The best manner by which to deal with the issue of legal marijuana is to provide context to the meaning of “legal.” The “legality” of marijuana must be addressed in terms that define the movement of the drug from the source to the street, or in this case, from the land to the lip.

In the case of persons who choose to become wholesalers of the drug, and there will be many, there is a business model that will be followed to commercialize the production, transportation, sale and profits made from marijuana. First, the plant had to be cultivated, then, in some cases moved from its place of origin to market for distribution. As a result, new rules, regulations and/or laws will have to take into account the profits that will be generated from the sale of marijuana. The difference between whether an individual becomes a wholesaler, or is characterized as a personal user, will determine whether the federal government steps in to enforce laws that several states have chosen to liberalize through legislative change, or whether the federal government decides to not enforce the laws at all.

...It is also likely that the U.S. attorney general’s office is waiting to see what Congress does in the wake of state laws legalizing personal use of marijuana before it develops policy at the Department of Justice. Full legalization of the possession and use of user-quantities of marijuana will only be reached if and when the Congress changes marijuana from its current designation as a prohibited substance under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

...Congress will have to carefully examine whether these criteria (the CSA Schedule I definitions that are currently used to classify cannabis) as well as the definitions and application of verbiage such as “high potential for abuse,” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment” and “lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug” are terms that have become obsolete, or overcome by events — or whether they still apply to marijuana as a drug when alcohol abuse could easily be defined with these same criteria. These definitions are certainly open for discussion by Congress, especially because they can easily be argued by both proponents and opponents of legalization, depending on which side of the debate they may take.

...more at the link.

A bold new path: Moving beyond prohibition in Colorado and Washington


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?
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