Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News Editorials & Other Articles General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


RainDog's Journal
RainDog's Journal
July 22, 2014

James Garner supported legalization of cannabis


From his memoir:

“I started smoking marijuana in my late teens. I drank to get drunk but ultimately didn’t like the effect. Not so with grass. Grass is smooth. It had the opposite effect from alcohol: it made me more tolerant and forgiving. …

“I smoked marijuana for 50 years. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It opened my mind to a lot of things, and now its active ingredient, THC, relaxes me and eases my arthritis pain. I’ve concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol should be illegal. But, good luck with that.”

Garner mentions he gave up alcohol, except for occasional social drinking, at 30.
July 22, 2014

Why America Lost the Vietnam War

Two incidents: the first violent student protest and an ambush that the army lied about, the media lied about... but that was the direct result of pressure for results and a culture that does not allow questioning higher-ranking officers. Both follow events of Oct. 17, 1967 - the Battle of Ong Thanh and the University of Wisconsin protest of Dow (maker of Napalm) recruitment on campus.

I thought this doc was interesting for a few reasons.

1. It highlights issues that are still issues - class-based opportunities and how that forms views of people - the college kids had nice cars, were not looking at going to war, some of them were "other" - i.e. Jewish/New Yorkers, not from Wisconsin. They thought they needed to stop any show of support for anyone associated with the war.

The police - and the kids who went to Vietnam, were working class, did not have an expectation of college after high school - and the privilege of those in college seemed like an insult to the working-class "choices" in life.

2. The anger of the soldiers - at their commanding officers, at the "choices" they didn't have as soldiers - and the anger toward those who were in college who never knew what those soldiers faced.

All this contrasted with what the North Vietnamese thought about the battle, and the truth that is the first casualty of war.

Based upon the book, They Marched Into Sunlight (Pulitzer nominee in 2004), by David Maraniss.
July 19, 2014

This is the only response to this week that I can share

Just this. - with none of the fancy guitar pyrotechnics, the walls of guitars, without the show. Just this simple dirge carried by a rhetorically profound irony ... With every mistake we must surely be learning. Surely. Gently weep.

July 19, 2014

Why Congress needs to address federal marijuana law

Occasionally people here have argued that it doesn't matter, as a political issue, whether Congress addresses marijuana prohibition because it's simple to obtain cannabis if you're in a legal or decriminalized state. This claim was always strange to me, considering Louisiana law, among other states, still allows for a conviction of life in prison for three simple possession arrests.

But this was said more often back when others here were criticizing Obama for the federal govt's. actions in places like CA. in regard to dispensaries, and not quite so often now that the executive branch has signaled its willingness (at least now, while Obama is in office) to change marijuana law by Obama's statement marijuana is a "vice" like alcohol and by Holder's suggestion the DEA and the DoJ talk about rescheduling, along with the passage of CO and WA state legalization laws.

Decriminalization presents a problem because this applies to possession of amounts intended for personal use (whatever the law may designate) and ignores the reality that personal use marijuana generally comes from someone who, at some point, possesses a large amount of marijuana that is distributed for personal use.

Decriminalization is like the religious idea of Limbo - or, more to the point, liminality - the intermediate state between the ritual of the drug war and the ceasefire of legalization. What states have offered, to varying degrees, is the establishment of the ritual of ceasefire. Yet federal illegality stands as a higher power that, by the nature of its power, will seek to enforce it.

That's how we get the following situation in which a man operated a medical marijuana dispensary which he also used as a front to ship large amounts of cannabis to the northeast. His actions were, without doubt, illegal at both the state and federal level. Yet his jury of peers did not want to convict him because they have already joined the ceasefire in this nation.

Yet Congress continues to be unwilling to call an end to the war on marijuana.

This tension between the citizens of the nation and the legislative and judicial branches of government is not a good thing. The judiciary looks petty and Congress looks inept and farcical, as if Congress suddenly turned into one of those bands of abandoned soldiers, left in a remote outback, still fighting the cause of the axis powers - stragglers, the Congressional Holdout, who have lost communication with the wider world.

The judiciary must uphold the farce that Congress insists on performing. The following trial account demonstrates this. While the judge insists on upholding the law, the lawyer for the defendant notes an apparatus of the law called the "safety valve" that would allow the judge to apply a sentence lesser than the mandatory minimum. (The lawyer noted this in comments for this article.)

The comments by people on the LA Times site speak against the judge, comparing the application of such law to the application of Jim Crow laws in the past, and the excuse of the good German to uphold the law, no matter how wrong the law may be.

No one argues the defendant is innocent - they argue the law itself is the crime. They also argue the money wasted on these trials is yet another example of poor management of taxpayer funds. Taxpayers don't want to prosecute marijuana cases. The prosecutors in a state like CA cannot easily find enough jury members who are willing to consider convictions for "marijuana crimes."

Yet Congress continues to fail the American public regarding this issue, day after day, month after month, year after year. They are cut off from the very public they are supposed to represent.


Shemitz — a 57-year-old soft-spoken, self-described "nice Jewish girl" from a liberal family in Connecticut who started prosecuting federal narcotics cases more than 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. — has no grievance with the plant or people smoke it.

She wouldn't care if Congress made it legal. But it hasn't, and she believes the Justice Department, to remain credible, must enforce the law.

Even if that meant that Kleinman, 39, might spend the next 24 years in federal prison.

Federal law prohibits any use and sales of marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule 1 narcotic, more dangerous than methamphetamine, cocaine or Oxycontin. But 23 states and Washington, D.C., have approved pot for medical use, and two of them — Colorado and Washington — allow retail sales. This has made it difficult for federal prosecutors in states like California to get a jury impartial to marijuana legalization.

more, interesting, reading at the link...
July 17, 2014

Colorado 2014: 130 metric tons of cannabis

The Marijuana Policy Group, in Colorado, released a report on the cannabis industry thus far, and projected for the 2014 year.

Who did this report: The Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), formed in 2014 as a collaborative effort between the University of Colorado Boulder Business Research Division and BBC Research & Consulting in Denver. Both entities have offered custom economic, market, financial and policy research and consulting services for over 40 years. (That's from the author page.)

The 130 metric tons of cannabis use for 2014 is rounded down from estimates for both Colorado residents and tourists and includes both recreational and medical use. The report states the numbers may be over or understated/reported and provide a range of 104 and 158 metric tons as the state demand for cannabis.

Colorado residents make up the bulk of the cannabis market in Colorado, obviously, since recreational and medical marijuana use is included and no tourist may obtain a medical cannabis card. The report claims that 9% of Coloradans use marijuana within any given month, or, rather, every month. That's 485k residents based upon population estimates for 2014.

Another 201k stated they used cannabis at least once a year, or 3.8%

For comparison, the national surveys on drug use (which are more inclusive - because the focus is on underage usage) estimate around 7% of Americans aged 12 and over consumed marijuana in 2011, with a slight increase in 2012. These surveys do not include any medical use because they do not acknowledge the same, and their focus is on tracking abuse, which is defined as simple use.

That translates to 18.9 million "used in the last month" users. Rates of marijuana use since 2010 to the latest report in 2012 have increased slightly. However, rates of increased marijuana use from 2007 to 2012 were more significant. During those same years, many states passed medical marijuana laws. The federal report does not indicate this change, however. In 2010, CA decriminalized marijuana possession, as well. The recent passage of medical marijuana laws in many states that limit THC content is also outside the range of data for the federal report.

From the federal survey:

About two thirds (62.8 percent) of illicit drug users used only marijuana in the past month.

Daily or almost daily use of marijuana (used on 20 or more days in the past month) increased from 5.1 million persons in 2007 to 7.6 million persons in 2012."

(Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among Youth in the US, 2012) "Annual marijuana prevalence peaked among 12th graders in 1979 at 51%, following a rise that began during the 1960s. Then use declined fairly steadily for 13 years, bottoming at 22% in 1992—a decline of more than half. The 1990s, however, saw a resurgence of use. After a considerable increase (one that actually began among 8th graders a year earlier than among 10th and 12th graders), annual prevalence rates peaked in 1996 at 8th grade and in 1997 at 10th and 12th grades. After these peak years, use declined among all three grades through 2006, 2007, or 2008; after the declines, there began an upturn in use in all three grades, lasting for three years in the lower grades and longer in grade 12. In 2011 and 2012 there was some decline in use in grade 8, with 10th and 12th grades leveling in 2012. In 2010 a significant increase in daily use occurred in all three grades, followed by a nonsignificant increase in 2011. In 2012 there were non-significant declines for daily use in the lower grades and a leveling at 12th grade with use reaching 1.1%, 3.5%, and 6.5% in grades 8, 10, and 12, respectively."


None of these figures match the rates of marijuana use in the 1970s and 1980s - which were at least double the current figures during those years. This rate matches the demographics for marijuana use in general in the 20th and 21st centuries (concentrated among ages 18-35 or so) with the baby boomer generation within those age ranges during those decades.

From the Colorado survey:

The vast majority of marijuana demand emanates from the regular users—and in particular from the heavy users who consume marijuana on a near-daily basis. In Colorado, the top 21.8 percent of users account for 66.9 percent of the demand. In contrast, the entire population of rare users (less than once per month), a group that accounts for almost one-third of all users, represents less than 1 percent (0.3 percent) of total demand.

Keep in mind, the Colorado survey includes medical marijuana suppliers/users, so daily use for palliative care would account for some of this daily use. Later in the survey, the authors note medical marijuana users account for 22.8% of all marijuana consumers in the state (p.6)

Colorado does not have Amsterdam style “coffee shops,” and it is illegal to consume marijuana in areas where most visitors may be, such as rental cars, hotels, and public spaces. Despite these restrictions, a significant share of retail sales appear to come from visitor purchases. Using a combination of sales tax receipt information, point-of-sale statistics, and data from county tourist offices, it is possible to impute visitor demand. For example, we estimate that purchases by out-of-state visitors currently represent about 44 percent of metro area retail sales and about 90 percent of retail sales in heavily visited mountain communities. Visitor demand is most prevalent in the state’s mountain counties, where combined medical and retail marijuana sales more than doubled after retail sales were legalized in January, 2014. In comparison, Front Range metropolitan combined sales only increased between 15 and 19 percent over the same period.

Visitor prevalence is reflected in retail sales (versus medical) because visitors do not have medical marijuana patient registry ID cards. Point-of-sale data confirm that out-of-state ID cards represented almost one-half of all new retail sales, whereas ongoing medical sales were exclusively to in-state residents.

This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated. Our point estimate of demand is 121.4 tons per year for adult residents. This is 31 percent higher than a recent Department of Revenue assessment, 89 percent higher than a study by the Colorado Futures Center, and 111 percent higher than an older study by the Colorado Center for Law and Policy. The primary difference is caused by much heavier dosage amounts consumed by the state’s “heavy user” population – those who consume marijuana on a daily basis.

The Colorado survey notes the difference between federal figures and the state with survey data from the federal govt. that indicates daily use rates in Colorado are about 6 percentage points above the average nationwide estimates of 17% as daily consumers of cannabis.

The medical use of cannabis, however, has remained stable, in terms of registration, while recreational use is growing.

The literature on daily cannabis use from the federal govt. indicates daily users not only consume more frequently; their use of cannabis also increases.

This, imo, is most likely attributed to the presence of THC metabolites that remain in someone's system for days after consumption of cannabis. These metabolites are not psychoactive and, in fact, function to dampen the effect of THC.

It goes like this: Upon heating, THCA decarboxylates to THC - if this is done by smoke, the effect is immediate. If this is done by cooking/ingestion, the effect takes up to an hour - and the intoxication is different because, in the liver, delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol is metabolized into 11-hydroxy-tetrahydracannabinol (a metabolite), while smoking converts THCA into delta-9 and acts directly on the nervous system without liver metabolization - tho, immediately after smoking, THC, too, begins conversion to 11-THC as a metabolite in the bloodstream - which is noticeable an hour after, just as eaten cannabis takes about an hour to take effect. 11-THC is further broken down to the non-psychoactive 11-COOH-THC - which is the metabolite that stays in the body for days or weeks as it is slowly excreted - and this is the metabolite that identifies marijuana use in urine tests.

11-COOH-THC mediates the effects of THC itself - which is one possible explanation for differences in intoxication between heavy/long time users and those who use cannabis infrequently. The reason people feel higher if they use less often is because their body does not contain the metabolite 11-COOH-THC to dampen the effect of THC itself. This slow release (and dampening effect) is also why THC does not act upon people in the way something like heroin does. Physiologically, cannabis provides its own "weaning" - unlike drugs of addiction - while the psychological desire would have to do with the pleasure of the effect of THC, which would lend more frequent consumers to consumer more cannabis within a given time frame.

This may also explain why those who are heavier users of THC are better drivers than those who use cannabis infrequently from various studies. They aren't as high as infrequent users.
July 17, 2014

The Magical Forest

About the symbiosis between plants and animals. This is a GREAT documentary that talks about trees' relationship to fish, fungi to tree brains...
July 16, 2014

Will President Obama veto the D.C. appropriations bill?

from Monday, for a little context, below, more at this link -> http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=post&forum=1002&pid=5240507


The White House has a message for Congress — hands off the District of Columbia, including its new law decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Buried in a broadly worded veto threat of the Financial Services appropriations bill, the administration said Monday it “strongly opposes” language restricting the District’s ability to spend its own money on a host of issues, including implementing marijuana policy and abortions.

“The Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule,” the administration said. “Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

The news has been about the President stating support for Washington D.C. home rule. But the bigger issue within the portion of the memo excerpted, above, is whether the appropriations bill, if passed with the Andy Harris amendment, would be blocked by the President... at least that's the take from one reporter who looked at the issue.


In June, Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, tacked on an amendment to the larger appropriations bill that said D.C. could not use any of its money to enact or enforce its locally passed decriminalization. The bill looks like it will survive its mandated 60-day Congressional review period, which expires Thursday, but if there is no money to enforce the law, it could be rendered meaningless.

The Appropriations Committee already passed the appropriations bill, which now has to make it through a full House vote and a joint conference with the Senate, which seems unlikely at best.

But the Office of Management and Budget, which issued the memo, didn't recommend that the president veto the bill just because it wanted to show its support for D.C. rights.

The memo gives a long lists of reasons why the bill should be blocked, including that it "impedes implementation of the Affordable Care Act, undermines critical components of Wall Street reform, and fails to provide the resources necessary to provide robust taxpayer services and improve tax enforcement."

An appropriations bill is a budget bill. If this bill fails, I assume there would be a continuing resolution until Republicans can be persuaded to fund the working budget of the nation's capital city.
July 16, 2014

Pelosi and Reid: Call for national repudiation of the Confederacy

Have to share this GREAT idea. Pelosi and Reid need to call for a joint resolution to support the Union of American states, not the Confederate States of America, and repudiate Republicans (and Democrats) who would support the slave-holding confederacy over the United States that Lincoln (for better or worse) held together.

Here's the reason for the resolution: 37% of Mississippi Republicans would back the Confederacy in a civil war.


A new Public Policy Polling survey found that 37 percent of Republicans who voted in the Mississippi primary runoff election between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) said they would back the Confederate side if there was another Civil War.

The poll, obtained by TPM, is full of goodies for poll geeks. Of those polled, including Democrats and Republicans, 50 percent said they would support the United States while 29 percent said they would support the Confederate States of America.

Broken down by party affiliation, 82 percent of Democrats said they would support the United States while just 9 percent said they would support the Confederate States of America. Among Republicans, 37 percent said they would support the Confederate States of America while 41 percent said they would support the United States. Another 21 percent of Republicans said they weren't sure while 9 percent of Democrats said they weren't sure.

PPP's poll was conducted among 501 Republican primary voters from July 10 to 13. All those surveyed said they voted in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Sadly, in Mississippi, even 9% of Democrats would as well. Wonder if there are poll numbers from other states.

THEN I read the comments after this bit of info.

The lovely and talented bluestatedon, whoever s/he may be, suggested this in the comments section at TPM:

If the Democrats in D.C. had any brains or balls, Reid and Pelosi would introduce a joint resolution that openly repudiates and castigates the pro-Confederacy tilt among Mississippi Republicans. The purpose of such a move would be totally symbolic in a nakedly partisan way that would generate a great deal of attention, and none of it would be good for the Republican Party.

The advantages of introducing a well-crafted resolution accrue regardless of what the GOPers in Congress do. Boehner would very likely never allow such a resolution to come to a vote in the House, which would simply provide the Democratic Party with the opportunity to rightly and loudly accuse the Republican Party as a whole of sympathizing with seditionists and traitors within its own ranks, and more importantly, communicate this information to the minority members of its own base.

If, by some miracle, Republicans actually voted for such a measure, it would deepen the existing fissures between establishment Republicans and the teabaggers who are currently running the ideological show in the GOP.

It's time for liberals to make a stand for liberal values in the House. This could also be a "teaching moment" for Americans, many of whom have been brainwashed by homeschooling religious hate propaganda, as well as brittle academics who can't find the pulse of history, with facetious arguments that the Civil War was about economics, as tho no humans were involved.

Slavery was economics for every nation that practiced it, and, even more to the point - if you were a slave or an abolitionist at that time, no matter what the privileged elite may say, the civil war was about ending slavery in this nation. History isn't just about those wielding power, even tho they think it is.

It was NEVER about "states rights" as some ethereal political concept because the state right that was at issue was slavery. So, a state's right argument needs to be recognized for what it is: a pro-slavery, white supremacist argument.

Then, let Boehner and other Republican members of the House discuss this issue. Ask if they agree with Republicans on record who've stated "slavery wasn't so bad..."

Republicans do this crap like "impeachment" all the time. It's time for Democrats to fight back with an issue of unity - the Union, not the former Confederate states that make up the bulk of support for the Republican Party. A diverse union - not uniform, but united.

I don't mean union with Republicans - at least not those who control the party now.

GO AFTER REPUBLICANS on the floor of the House and ask why they tout state's rights but take so much federal money - Republicans need to acknowledge that the Federal govt. is essential to their lives because they refuse to govern responsibly and raise taxes to pay for things their states need and, therefore, liberals are paying for conservative irresponsibility - or conservatives are simply violating human rights by denying health care to poor people in their states.

The era of two parties who have disagreements but then kiss-kiss after the laws are passed is over and has been since the Bush Jr. years. It's only gotten worse and it will only get worse because the tea baggers are putting candidates in the House. So, time for Democratic politicians to school them on their responsibility to the Union and tell them to make their support for the Union public and on the record.

Well, I'd support this.
July 15, 2014

Wed. Livestream debate: Resolved: “Legalizing marijuana saves money and lives.”

From Golden, Colorado, a debate between Kevin Sabet, from SAM, and Judge James P. Gray, from LEAP.

Sabet: “Our greatest concern should be the inevitable rise of a second Big Tobacco industry, this time marketing marijuana to our children and youth.”

Gray: “If we were truly serious about fighting terrorism, we would kill the ‘Golden Goose’ of terrorism: drug prohibition.”

Here's a link to the live stream WEDNESDAY, 12:45 pm EDT:


July 15, 2014

Obama to Congress: Hands Off D.C.’s Marijuana Policy


The White House has a message for Congress — hands off the District of Columbia, including its new law decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Buried in a broadly worded veto threat of the Financial Services appropriations bill, the administration said Monday it “strongly opposes” language restricting the District’s ability to spend its own money on a host of issues, including implementing marijuana policy and abortions.

“The Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule,” the administration said. “Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”


Eleanor Holmes Norton Rips 'Tyrant' Congressman For Trying To Block D.C. Marijuana Laws

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) tore into Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) on Friday for trying to block a D.C. marijuana decriminalization bill, comparing him to a tyrant and chiding him for meddling in her district's affairs.

During remarks on the House floor, Norton wondered aloud why Harris was pushing an amendment that would prevent D.C. from spending its own money on laws relating to reducing marijuana penalties, particularly when his home state of Maryland just voted to decriminalize pot.

"You will occasionally hear members say something only a tyrant would say," Norton said. "Rep. Andy Harris was unable to convince his own state not to decriminalize marijuana, so he steps across the border into the District of Columbia to try to tell us what to do?"

Norton's remarks come as D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed off on a law earlier this year making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction, along the lines of a parking ticket, rather than a criminal offense. In the meantime, decriminalization advocates are currently campaigning to put the issue on the November ballot. Harris' amendment would block all funding for implementing any such laws.


District of Columbia Lawmakers Expected to Pass Emergency Resolutions Today Opposing Republican-Led Effort in Congress to Block Marijuana Law Reform in D.C.

“That Congressman Andy Harris would try to kill D.C.’s efforts to stop arresting people for marijuana possession is beyond disturbing,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance. “This amendment is an affront to the District’s right to home rule, while ensuring that thousands of District residents continue to be arrested and suffer the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record. Congress should be following D.C.’s example and end racist marijuana arrest policies, instead of defying the will of the people and reversing their decision.”

The amendment passed by the House Committee on Appropriations wouldn't take effect until later this year, assuming it passes the House and Senate and is signed by the president. Advocates also warn that enactment of this amendment into federal law could block implementation of Initiative 71 by local officials, should D.C. voters pass it this November, and block efforts by local lawmakers to tax and regulate adult marijuana sales. If passed by D.C. voters, Initiative 71 would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, and allow for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at home. District law prevents the ballot initiative from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill that will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.

Recent polls show broad support among District residents for following in the steps of Colorado and Washington and legalizing marijuana. The District of Columbia currently has the highest per capita marijuana arrest rates in the U.S. In 2010 African Americans in the District accounted for 91 percent of all marijuana arrests – even though African American and white residents use marijuana at roughly similar rates.

That last sentence reminds me of the visual in Twelve Years a Slave when Northup could see the Capitol Dome from the place where his kidnappers held him until they could sell him into bondage. The slaves were held on what is now Independence Ave.

Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,784
Latest Discussions»RainDog's Journal