Tag Archives: Public Policy

Washington State hearings on medical marijuana limits and Hempfest

See Cannabis Defense Coalition for more info on this ongoing issue.

State’s proposed pot limit brings out critics
By Drew Mikkelsen, KING 5 News – Aug 25, 2008
http://www.king5.com/health/stories/NW_082508WEBDM_medical_marijuana_KC.10cb30f3.html

How Much Medicinal Marijuana Is Enough?
By Austin Jenkins, National Public Radio – Aug 25, 2008
http://news.opb.org/article/2907-how-much-medicinal-marijuana-enough/

Wash. medical pot patients protest caps on supply
By Curt Woodward, Associated Press – Aug 25, 2008
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008137941_apwamedicalmarijuana1stldwritethru.html

Health officials want public input on medical marijuana
By Jeanne Lockhart, KIRO Radio – Aug 25, 2008
http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=83713

Hempfest taunt: What’s Gregoire smoking?
The Olympian – Aug 22, 2008
http://www.theolympian.com/118/story/555658.html

Revelry, politics mix at Hempfest
By Bob Young, Seattle Times – Aug 17, 2008
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008119349_hempfest17m0.html

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What to say to the Police (hint: nothing!)

Professor James Duane, a fast-talking, charmingly rebellious, and engaging law professor gives a compelling lecture about how to respond to the police in the event of a criminal investigation. Critical information to understand your American rights – particularly the 5th Amendment.

And a response from Office George Bruch of the Virgina Beach Police Dept. (who is also a law student) who gives real, behind the scenes info on police tactics of interrogation (they say “interviews”) and questioning. Useful info about misleading recordings, confession methods, and the advantages of keeping your mouth shut.

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Rick Steves gets even cooler with a Cannabis Policy Guest Column in Seattle PI

Travel in Europe guru, PBS super-star, decent Lutheran guy, and multi-purpose enlightened thinker Rick Steves wrote a guest column about the failed USA war on drugs policy – i’ve re-posted for educational use from Seattle P-I.com

We need to get smart about marijuana

RICK STEVES
GUEST COLUMNIST

As a parent helping two children navigate their teen years, and as a travel writer who has seen firsthand how Europe deals with its drug problem, I’ve thought a lot about U.S. drug policy — particularly our criminalization of marijuana.

Europe, like the U.S., is dealing with a persistent drug-abuse problem. But unlike us, Europe, which treats drug abuse primarily as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, measures the success of its drug policy in terms of pragmatic harm reduction.

Europeans seek a cure that isn’t more costly than the problem. While the U.S. spends its tax dollars on police, courts and prisons, Europe fights drug abuse by funding doctors, counselors and clinics. European Union policymakers estimate that for each euro invested in drug education and counseling, they save 15 euros in police and health costs. Similar estimates have been made for U.S. health-based approaches by the Rand Corp. and others.

While Europeans are as firmly opposed to hard drugs as we are, the difference in how they approach marijuana is striking. Take the Netherlands, with its famously liberal marijuana laws. On my last trip to Amsterdam, I visited a “coffee shop” — a cafe that openly and legally sells marijuana to people over 18. I sat and observed the very local, almost quaint scene: Neighbors were chatting. An older couple (who apparently didn’t enjoy the trendy ambience) parked their bikes and dropped in for a baggie to go. An underage customer was shooed away. Then a police officer showed up — but only to post a warning about the latest danger from chemical drugs on the streets.

Some concerned U.S. parents are comforted by the illusion of control created by our complete prohibition of marijuana. But the policy seems to be backfiring: Their kids say it’s easier to buy marijuana than tobacco or alcohol. (You don’t get carded when you buy something illegally.) Meanwhile, Dutch parents say their approach not only protects their younger children, but also helps insulate teens over 18 from street pushers trying to get them hooked on more addictive (and profitable) hard drugs.

After a decade of regulating marijuana, Dutch anti-drug abuse professionals agree there has been no significant increase in pot smoking among young people, and that overall cannabis use has increased only slightly. European and U.S. government statistics show per-capita consumption of marijuana for most of Europe (including the Netherlands) is about half that of the U.S., despite the criminal consequences facing American pot smokers.

When it comes to marijuana, European leaders understand that a society must choose: Tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They’ve made their choice. We’re still building more prisons.

According to Forbes magazine, 25 million Americans currently use marijuana (federal statistics indicate that one in three Americans has used marijuana at some point), which makes it a $113 billion untaxed industry in our country. The FBI reports that about 40 percent of the roughly 1.8 million annual drug arrests in the U.S. are for marijuana — the majority (89 percent) for simple possession.

Rather than act as a deterrent, criminalization of marijuana drains precious resources, clogs our legal system and distracts law enforcement attention from more pressing safety concerns.

But things are changing. For example, in Seattle, Initiative 75, which makes adult marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority for local cops, was recently reviewed after four years in action. The results clearly show that during that period, marijuana use didn’t measurably increase, and street crime associated with drugs actually went down.

More and more U.S. parents, lawyers, police, judges and even travel writers feel it’s time for a change. Obviously, like Europeans, we don’t want anyone to harm themselves or others by misusing marijuana. We simply believe that regulating and taxing what many consider a harmless vice is smarter than outlawing it.

Like my European friends, I believe we can adopt a pragmatic policy toward marijuana, with a focus on harm reduction and public health, rather than tough-talking but counterproductive criminalization. The time has come to have an honest discussion about our marijuana laws and their effectiveness. We need to find a policy that is neither “hard on drugs” nor “soft on drugs” — but smart on drugs.

Rick Steves is a travel writer based in Edmonds.

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Obama’s Position on Medical Marijuana

Barry Obama, class of '79With the US aflutter with electioneering, my old buddy (who i am very eager to go visit) Hemp Ed in Pe Ell (hear Ed on Bacon, Biscuits and Hemp Ed – Choogle on #39) sent along Senator Obama’s campaign’s response to Ed’s query about the candidate’s medical marijuana policy.

Note that cannabis seems absent from the current political discourse aside from Mitt Romney (stop stalking me Mitt!) telling a terminally ill patient that he wouldn’t allow him to have medicine (he must be stopped!) aside from Ron Paul who has been marginalized by the process (despite rabid grassroots support).

Anyhow, Barack (who has toked in his time)’s folks say:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting Obama for America to inquire about the Senator’s position on allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Sincerely,

Obama for America

We’ll see if noted Olympia correspondent Cosmo (and precinct organizer for Obama AFAIK) has anything to add.

Photo Credit: Awesom high school yearbook image from Pushing String blog Barry Obama and the gang

Cannabis Seeds for Sale at Courthouse as Vancouver 3 Agree to Plea

DEA Go Away - Pot Seeds for SaleMarc Emery and his now-former co-defendants held a press conference this morning (Tuesday January 22nd) to discuss the plea bargain which results in no extradition to the USA. Emery, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey made their remarks outside the BC Supreme Court house Downtown Vancouver to an assembled mass of journalists, supporters, activist and surprised passing barristers.

Vancouver Seed Bank Manager (and former editor of Cannabis Culture) Dana Larsen and colleagues were on hand to sell hi-grade marijuana seeds in $20 vials as a sign that selling seeds is a legally tolerated activity in Canada, unlike the USA.

Joey Shithead’s Band of Rebels play for Pot

band of rebels benefit for marc emery

Punk and Pot – two of my fave “things” come together as Vancouver legend Joe Shithead brings his eclectic and musically diverse rock circus out for a once-only rock show in solidarity with Marc Emery the (somewhat self-aggrandizing) seed seller who is hassled by the now-fired, former pit-bull US district attorney John Mackay and other DEA narco-terrorists seeking his extradition to the USA to face re-donk-u-lous charges of conspiricy and mass volume drug peddling.

I’ll be there enjoy the rock and the pot. And you?

Free the BC three Here’s from Sudden Death records announcement:

The long awaited live performance with Joe Shithead Keithley’s Band of Rebels will take place in Vancouver on Thursday December 6th at the Plaza Club. Band of Rebels is Keithley’s solo album, released this past summer that features many of Vancouver’s best musicians. Many of them will be performing at the CD release party, which is also Sudden Death Record’s Christmas party, DVD live recording event and a benefit for Cannabis Canada. The event will also include guest speaker Marc Emery and band Aging Youth Gang.

Joe also did a book – I, Shithead: A Life In Punk – and there is a the full DOA backcatalog available by mail order online too (though i’ve got my $15 aimed at a Bloodied by Unbowed vinyl picture disk at Noize on Seymour).

Washington Post discuss farmers’ quest to seperate hemp and pot

Not sure if there is much luck to be found with this strategy.  The powers that be know the difference, they just don’t find it in their economic interest to act with science and sense in mind.  Anyhow, good to see coverage in the mainstream media in a fairly decent article and a mention of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to make it even better (cross-posted here for education purposes via hemp ed).

From Washington Post: Farmers Ask Federal Court To Dissociate Hemp and Pot
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 12, 2007; Page A03

Wayne Hauge grows grains, chickpeas and some lentils on 2,000 acres in northern North Dakota. Business is up and down, as the farming trade tends to be, and he is always on the lookout for a new crop. He tried sunflowers and safflowers and black beans. Now he has set his sights on hemp.

Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture.

On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers.

“I’m looking forward to the court battle,” said Hauge, a 49-year-old father of three. “I don’t know why the DEA is so afraid of this.”

The law is the law and it treats all varieties of Cannabis sativa L. the same, Bush administration lawyers argue in asking U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland to throw out the case. The DEA says a review of the farmers’ applications is underway.

To clear up the popular confusion about the properties of what is sometimes called industrial hemp, the crop’s prospective purveyors explain that hemp and smokable marijuana share a genus and a species but are about as similar as rope and dope.

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. While hemp typically contains 0.3 percent THC, the leaves and flowers coveted by pot smokers have 5 percent or more, sometimes up to 30 percent.

“You could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole,” Hague said of hemp, “and it’s not going to provide you with a high.”

Experts on the subject say a headache is far more likely than a buzz.

In the small town of Ray, N.D., Hauge said people — his friends, mostly — make cracks.

“Usually it’s something about whether or not the DEA is going to arrest me or if my phone is being tapped,” Hauge said. “It’s kind of difficult to provoke me. I’m also a CPA, and I have had a tax practice in Ray for 25 years. I was an EMT for 18 years. And I’m not a person who smokes. I don’t smoke anything. I exercise a lot and I’m pretty healthy.”

David Bronner is a vegan California businessman who uses hemp oil to make his Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap richer and smoother. He touts hemp milk as a challenger to soy and adds hemp seeds, full of Omega-3 fatty acids, to a snack bar called Alpsnack.

He says the hulled seeds look like sesame seeds and taste like pine nuts.

Bronner’s company spends about $100,000 a year importing 10,000 pounds of hemp oil and 10,000 pounds of seeds from Canada. To do so, he first had to win a federal court battle with the Justice Department, which tried to ban the imports. One of his arguments was the prevalence and popularity of the crop elsewhere.

“In Canada and Europe, where industrial hemp is grown, no one is trying to smoke it and the sky is not falling,” said Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group. Likening hemp seeds to marijuana, he said, is like equating poppy seeds with opium.

Hauge is joined by Monson, a Republican state legislator who helped pass a law in 1999 that would permit hemp cultivation and establish limits to ease the federal government’s worries. They have the backing of Vote Hemp, an advocacy organization, and state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, who personally delivered paperwork to the DEA in February on the farmers’ behalf.

In a lengthy March 5 letter to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, Johnson quoted a university professor’s conclusion that under “the most fundamental principles of pharmacology, it can be shown that it is absurd, in practical terms, to consider industrial hemp useful as a drug.”

That’s how Tim Purdon sees it. He is a Bismarck lawyer for Hauck and Monson.

“Some people call me up with the idea that my clients and myself are some sort of marijuana legalization effort,” Purdon said. “My clients are farmers. They are looking for a crop they can make money on in the tough business of being a family farmer.”

Hauge is feeling optimistic. He has signed up for a hemp cultivation seminar in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It starts Friday.

UN Reports Points out Canada’s abundant (responsible) Cannabis use

United Nations World Drug Report 2007 – Cannabis (.pdf)

Been meaning to write about this but instead, here is some snippets from Rebecca Dube (how is that pronounced?)’s article in the big fancy newspaper from TO. Proud to be doing my part.

globeandmail.com: The true North, stoned and free

REBECCA DUBE
From July 16, 2007 Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Canada is a nation of stoners. According to the United Nations’ 2007 World Drug Report released last week, Canadians lead the industrialized world in marijuana smoking. Canadians are four times more likely to have smoked pot in the past year than residents of nearly every other country: 16.8 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 64 use marijuana, compared to a global average of 3.8 per cent.

<snip>

Some pot smokers, however, say Canada’s high rate of recreational use is not because we’re a nation of slackers, but merely a side effect of the country’s go-getter work ethic. Canadians work hard and, unlike Europeans, don’t get 10 weeks of vacation or two-hour lunches – so we find other ways to unwind.

“You’re putting in way too many hours at work, you just want to go out and relax,” says one recreational user, a business owner and married father of three who smokes pot several times a month. Marijuana, he explains, allows busy professionals to “maximize your leisure time.”

“You go to a bar, you’re hanging out with friends – if you’re stoned, everybody’s funnier,” he says. “If you’re not sure about a movie? Get high, you’ll like it better.”

United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime 2007 World Drug Report

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