Cannabis is a gateway drug to the top job in Canberra.
Perhaps all ministers should be questioned on their propensity to observe the law and their ability to pass judgement on the behaviour of others who commit the same crime.
The HEMP Embassy Headlines are a selection of recent articles from news services and media sources primarily concerning Cannabis issues, the consequences of prohibition and the challenges for law reform. Here are the selected headlines for this week.
In 2009, Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull admitted on national television that he has smoked marijuana, and says he is still off his face and loving it.
Let’s Grow Medicinal Cannabis Reform Together! [Change.org]
10 Sep 2015 — Dear Supporter, United in Compassion – a non-profit organisation – needs your support now. More than ever. Currently we are working with Government, doctors, scientists, policy makers and patient advocacy groups, to design and roll out a ‘compassionate access to medicinal cannabis program’. Fundamental to this work is to be able to produce consistently high quality medicinal cannabis medicines. Your support now will be vital. Along with all our supporters, a small donation from you of just $20 or more will allow us to: purchase land; build infrastructure including; laboratory, testing equipment, security, sheds, machinery etc; provide local employment. What’s Next? We aim to have a crop in the ground by November/December – an ambitious, but achievable goal. Together we can make this happen – but we need to pull out all stops. Including funding. With your support we are building a community initiative to bring relief from suffering to as many people as possible – as quickly as possible. Your support of $20 or more will have a real impact for thousands of Australians. So I urge you to donate and become a Founder in the United in Compassion community. And we will keep you informed with regular updates as well as via our United in Compassion newsletter and blog. Together we can and will achieve this great reform. Lucy Haslam
Queensland school stands by ‘honest’ pot-smoking students [Brisbane Times]
Three year 12 students who confessed to smoking marijuana on school grounds will be allowed to finish their studies, provided they test negative to drugs for the rest of the year. The independent Kooralbyn International School, in southeast Queensland, launched an investigation after staff smelled what they thought were cigarettes being smoked in a bathroom. Three boys later confessed to smoking a joint, while a fourth was offered the drug, and their honesty has triggered leniency from principal Geoff Mills. “The boys admit they’ve got a problem and are asking for help,” Mr Mills told ABC radio on Tuesday.
Time for peace in the drug war? [ABC Radio National]
Despite decades of policing and anti-drug campaigns, the drug trade is thriving. Our jails are full of people convicted of drug offences . So is it time to think differently about drugs and addiction? Journalist Johann Hari and neuroscientist Marc Lewis discuss the nature of addiction and the impact of prohibition.
Dr Pot [Sydney Morning Herald]
Deregistered doctor Andrew Katelaris is on a mission to bring cannabis to the masses.
Supporters have come out in force to back a Carrum Downs couple facing drug charges over the supply of medical cannabis. Holding flags and banners calling for cannabis to be legalised, they were at Frankston Court today to support Matthew and Elizabeth Pallett in their legal battle. The Palletts, who ran a “compassion club” that supplied medical cannabis, are facing charges including possessing, supplying and trafficking a drug of dependence (cannabis).
Hemp grower spruiks a revolutionary industry [EchoNet Daily]
A Hunter Valley grazier and well-known industrial hemp grower will address next week’s Byron Bioenergy Conference, to update northern rivers farmers on the fledgling hemp industry, describing hemp as ‘almost the perfect crop’. But he says large-scale hemp-fibre processing is still some time off with a lack of large-scale processing plant. Bob Doyle, a sixth generation beef farmer from the Paterson Valley near Dungog, says industrial hemp, a relative of the illegal cannabis plant, doesn’t need pesticides, is water-efficient and can be grown in rotation with lucerne as a break crop. Mr Doyle’s 30-hectare hemp farm in Vacy is one of several industrial hemp plantations grown legally in NSW as an alternative to traditional crops such as lucerne and maize.
Prescription drug abuse is a ‘national emergency’, WA branch of Australian Medical Association says [ABC]
Prescription drug abuse is growing at an alarming rate and is a “national emergency”, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says. The concerns come as advocacy organisation ScriptWise kicks off a national campaign next week to make people more aware of the dangers of prescription drug abuse. ScriptWise spokesman and AMA WA council of general practice chair Dr Steve Wilson said the violence and crime that flowed from methamphetamine addiction may be dominating the national agenda but prescription drug abuse is killing more people.
Victoria is set to grow its own marijuana to help legally treat people with a range of serious medical conditions. In an Australian first, the Andrews government is preparing to announce a cannabis “cultivation trial”, potentially clearing the way for a state-based medicinal cannabis oil industry. The controversial move follows a promise by Daniel Andrews before the November 2014 election to legalise cannabis oil for use in exceptional circumstances to treat conditions such as cancer, Dravet Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease. Fairfax Media can reveal a landmark report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission – with recommendations to clear complex legal, medical, regulatory and jurisdictional hurdles – will be considered by cabinet in the next couple of days. Victoria does not have the power to allow cannabis to be imported. Although the secretary of the federal health department can make exceptions, the approval process for imports is seen as so strict, the commission does not believe the government could guarantee supply or quality on a long-term basis. That means Victoria would be forced to grow its own cannabis, most likely through a strictly controlled licensing scheme similar to Tasmania’s system for cultivating alkaloid poppies.
Vic to grow, supply medicinal cannabis [Courier Mail]
Victoria could soon grow its own medical marijuana to help legally treat people with life threatening and terminal illnesses. Premier Daniel Andrews is preparing to announce a cannabis cultivation trial, potentially clearing the way for a state-based medicinal cannabis oil industry – an Australian first. The announcement forms part of a pre-election promise to legalise medicinal cannabis oil in exceptional circumstances. The Victorian Law Reform Commission has made recommendations to clear hurdles which currently restrict the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The report is expected to be tabled in parliament in the next fortnight. “I said during the campaign last year that we would drag this law into the 21st century and that no parent would have to make that terrible choice between saving their child and obeying the law,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Friday. “Victoria will lead the way on this, proudly.” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has thrown his support behind the idea, but said it needs to be done properly. “I think we do need to see that it is grown and produced under proper circumstances, not just a free-for-all … and if it’s done properly, it will certainly get the opposition’s support,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday. Australian Sex Party Leader Fiona Patten welcomed the news, but said strong measures needed to be in place to ensure Victoria didn’t fall into a “slack Californian system” that sees the product “distributed on every street corner”.
Drugs, pornography and bicycle helmets under Senate microscope as David Leyonhjelm’s “nanny state” inquiry begins [ABC]
The rationale behind bicycle helmets, marijuana laws, film classifications and possibly even pool fences will be examined by the Senate starting today, as part of an inquiry into the Australian “nanny state”. The “personal choice and community impacts” inquiry, which was instigated by Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, has attracted a wide array of submissions from people who feel the Government is intruding into their lives. Raw milk enthusiasts want health laws wound back, paintball businesses would like fewer regulations governing their sport and convenience stores are demanding a greater say on issues like the sale of lottery tickets. “What I want to do is go back to the way Australians used to be,” Senator Leyonhjelm said. “I want to change this culture that the government is there to protect us from poor choices.”
Alaska: Third Round of Proposed Marijuana Rules Under Consideration [Marijuana Policy Project]
The third round of proposed rules drafted by the Alaska Marijuana Control Board (MCB) has been issued and those who wish to provide feedback may do so before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 10. The current set of rules addresses regulations related to cultivators, product manufacturing, and testing.
On Marijuana Policy, Congress Needs to Pick Up Where It Left Off [Huffington Post]
Until last year, neither chamber of Congress had ever passed any measure in support of reforming federal marijuana laws. That changed in May 2014 when the House, with 219 votes, passed a budget restriction that was intended to block the enforcement of federal marijuana laws for people and businesses acting in compliance with state laws that permit medical marijuana. That measure, sponsored by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), became law when it was included in the so-called “CRomnibus” in December 2014.
A new business model in the marijuana industry is about to open its doors. It’s called Gas and Grass and the stores combine a traditional gas station with a marijuana dispensary. Denver based Native Roots will open its first two Gas and Grass locations in Colorado Springs next month, one at West Uintah and 17th Street, the other Academy and Galley. “It’s really just kind of pairing the convenience in one specific stop,” said company spokesperson Tia Mattson. She explained the dispensary will have its own separate entrance and must follow all the same rules and restrictions that apply to all other medical marijuana stores in Colorado. The gas station, like all gas stations, will be open to the public. “I believe we’ll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes and similar things that you would pick up in a convenience store,” Mattson said. She said Native Roots prides itself on breaking new boundaries. Their eleven dispensaries and retail marijuana stores statewide operate the way you might expect a national retailer in any other industry to be run. The store has a uniform look with common merchandise and pricing structures.
As cannabis legalization continues to spread across the globe, a new type of traveling has been gaining momentum: cannabis travel destinations, where you can get in some much-needed rest and relaxation time without giving up your green. Cannabis-friendly booking places (such as Bud And Breakfast) have been popping up to provide everything you could possibly need for your cannabis-inclusive vacation, from picturesque views to rental hosts that supply you with the buds you need to supplement your stay.
Colorado’s cannabis taxes go up in smoke for a day [The Guardian]
An accounting error is paying off for marijuana users in Colorado, where a quirk in the law has prompted the US state to suspend most taxes on recreational cannabis for the day. The one-day tax holiday means Colorado will not collect 10% sales taxes on cannabis. It is also suspending a 15% excise tax on marijuana growers. The tax break is happening because Colorado underestimated overall state tax collections last year. Under the state constitution, the accounting error triggers an automatic suspension of any new taxes – in this case, the recreational marijuana taxes voters approved in 2013. Retailers hoping for big crowds are rolling out bargains to attract shoppers. The taxes revert to 25% on Thursday.
Oregon’s cannabis industry is going overground. From 1 October, sellers will be allowed to sell to the all-new, all-legal recreational market. At this year’s Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference (OMMBC) in Portland, attendees were anticipating a world of opportunity for growers, processors and retailers. The national medical market is worth over $3bn, and some project this number to grow tenfold as more states make medical or recreational pot legal. But now that growing and selling marijuana has moved out of the shadows, how do entrepreneurs claim a share of all that growth? In talking to speakers and exhibitors, I managed to boil it down to a few simple rules.
A new UT Dallas study has found that having family or friends involved in crime was the best predictor of whether a youth offender would become a long-term marijuana user or heavy drinker. The study was the result of interdisciplinary collaboration by Dr. Alex Piquero, associate dean of graduate programs and Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; associate professor Dr. Francesca Filbey at the Center for BrainHealth in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences; and three co-authors from other universities. Their work was recently published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Jeb Bush admits he smoked marijuana in high school – video [The Guardian]
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is outed as a former weed smoker during the Republican debate on Wednesday night. Kentucky senator Rand Paul was discussing drug laws when he said there was at least one prominent politician on stage who used to smoke marijuana. ‘He was talking about me’, Bush says, explaining he smoked the drug ‘40 years ago’
€35k for medical marijuana treatment [Irish Examiner]
Yvonne Cahalane, from Dunmanway in West Cork, said she needs to raise €35,000 to fund the treatment for her 21-month-son, Tristan, who has a very rare form of epilepsy which triggers severe seizures. “We missed out on a place on a medical trial in Carolina because he was too young,” Yvonne said. “But a neurologist in a hospital in Colorado has agreed to take him on. We would like to be there early in the new year, and we are starting him on a new medication soon to stabilise him for travel. We hope that one year in the States will be enough.”
Teen marijuana use down despite greater availability [Medical Xpress]
Marijuana use among American high school students is significantly lower today than it was 15 years ago, despite the legalization in many states of marijuana for medical purposes, a move toward decriminalization of the drug and the approval of its recreational use in a handful of places, new research suggests. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say, however, that marijuana use is significantly greater than the use of other illegal drugs, with 40 percent of teens in 2013 saying they had ever smoked marijuana. That number was down from 47 percent in 1999 but up from 37 percent in 2009. By contrast, just three percent had ever tried methamphetamines in 2013 as compared to nine percent in 1999. The findings, published online this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, also suggest that a gender gap in marijuana use—where boys outnumbered girls as users of the drug—is shrinking, with males and females now using marijuana at similar rates. And while white and black teens once used marijuana at similar rates, now blacks report using the drug more often.
You’ll never guess what: some study that claims to show links between prolonged cannabis usage and prediabetes has been slammed by pro-cannabis campaigners. I know, right? The study, conducted by the University of Minnesota on more than 3,000 Americans, reported that 65 percent of regular cannabis users are at higher risk of developing the sugary disease, while those who have used it “more than a hundred times” had a 50 percent higher chance of getting it. While no biological link between the two has been found, there is a suspicion that the diabetes is brought on by the munchies. A spokesperson from the NHS said that the intense hunger generated by bong hits to the brain “can lead users to snack on foods with a high calorie and sugar content, but with little in the way of nutritional value” and that “if maintained on a long-term basis, this type of diet can lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes”.
“People who use marijuana may be more likely to develop pre-diabetes than those who have never smoked it,” The Independent reports, after a US study found a link between long-term cannabis use and pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is defined as having abnormally high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to meet criteria for diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The study enrolled around 3,000 healthy young US adults in the mid-1980s. Over the following years, researchers carried out regular medical assessments and questioned participants about their use of cannabis and other substances. Cannabis use at the 25-year assessment, when the person was now in middle age, was associated with an increased risk of having pre-diabetes. However, there were no significant links between cannabis use and “full-blown” diabetes. The main difficulty with this research is that the study design cannot prove direct cause and effect. Many other health and lifestyle factors could be linked to both cannabis use and diabetes risk, such as diet. Cannabis is a notorious appetite stimulant – know as “the munchies“, which often leads users to eat energy-rich, nutritiously poor snacks, such as crisps and sweets. If there is a link, it’s possible that diet could be having an effect on diabetes risk, rather than cannabis itself.
Scientists use YEAST to brew THC: Chemical usually found in cannabis could lead to better HIV and cancer drugs [Daily Mail]
An active ingredient typically found in cannabis has been genetically engineered in the lab for the first time. Scientists in Germany have created a strain of yeast that makes the plant’s primary psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. They believe the breakthrough will lead to more effective and easier-to-manufacture cancer and HIV drugs and now hope to perfect the technique.
Nearly 20 years after California became the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana, legislators have a plan to impose order on the erratic patchwork of inconsistent policies that currently govern the billion-dollar industry. “We’re making up for two decades of inaction”, said state senator Mike McGuire, whose district includes the “Emerald Triangle” in Northern California where 60% of the marijuana grown in the US is cultivated. “This legislation brings clarity and desperately needed rules and regulations.” In the final hours of the legislative session that ended late Friday night, lawmakers passed a trio of bills that create a legal framework that puts the state firmly in control of managing marijuana from “seed to sale” while still leaving local municipalities with the ability to craft their own ordinances and impose taxes, according to state assembly member Ken Cooley, author of one of the bills. The deal was brokered with the assistance of governor Jerry Brown, virtually ensuring it will be signed into law. Under the plan, a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation will be created inside the existing Department of Consumer Affairs, charged with managing almost all aspects of marijuana growing, distribution and sale. The bureau would oversee state licenses in these areas, but only if a local license has already been approved.
Road fatalities in Colorado have plummeted since marijuana was legalised [The Independent]
Since Colorado voters legalised pot in 2012, prohibition supporters have warned that recreational marijuana will lead to a scourge of “drugged divers” on the state’s roads. They often point out that when the state legalized medical marijuana in 2001, there was a surge in drivers found to have smoked pot. They also point to studies showing that in other states that have legalized pot for medical purposes, we’ve seen an increase in the number of drivers testing positive for the drug who were involved in fatal car accidents. The anti-pot group SAM recently pointed out that even before the first legal pot store opened in Washington state, the number of drivers in that state testing positive for pot jumped by a third. The problem with these criticisms is that we can test only for the presence of marijuana metabolites, not for inebriation. Metabolites can linger in the body for days after the drug’s effects wear off — sometimes even for weeks. Because we all metabolize drugs differently (and at different times and under different conditions), all that a positive test tells us is that the driver has smoked pot at some point in the past few days or weeks. It makes sense that loosening restrictions on pot would result in a higher percentage of drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents having smoked the drug at some point over the past few days or weeks. You’d also expect to find that a higher percentage of churchgoers, good Samaritans and soup kitchen volunteers would have pot in their system. You’d expect a similar result among any large sampling of people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana caused or was even a contributing factor to accidents, traffic violations or fatalities.
Brain structure and predisposition for cannabis use [National Institute on Drug Abuse]
Whether and to what extent cannabis use causes structural effects in the brains of users remains controversial, with some neuroimaging findings supporting effects on the size and connectivity of specific subcortical and cortical structures in users and other studies finding few or no differences. A new study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and elsewhere and partly funded by NIDA—the largest study to date examining cannabis exposure in relation to brain volume—used neuroimaging data from a sample of twins and siblings (483 participants total) to examine this question. Among all participants, having ever used cannabis was associated with smaller (but still within normal range) volumes of the left amygdala and right ventral striatum. (The latter was a novel finding in this study.) However, when sibling/twin pairs who were discordant for cannabis use were compared, no significant differences were found between the cannabis users and non-cannabis users, indicating that those volumetric differences could be attributed to shared genetic or environmental factors but were not caused by cannabis use. These results highlight the need for further research on the factors predisposing to cannabis use and to possible volumetric effects from different levels of cannabis exposure. The authors note that the study was unable to examine differences in amount of lifetime cannabis exposure, making it impossible to rule out brain volumetric changes as a result of high exposure specifically.
Cannabis Harms – Virtual Issue [Addiction]
With more and more jurisdictions ‘legalising’ cannabis for medical and recreational use there is an increasing need to better understand the potential harms of cannabis use. This virtual issue provides an invaluable resource that sets out many recent findings and helps to set the agenda for future research. The papers in the virtual issue illustrate the massive growth in good quality epidemiological studies of the correlates and possible consequences of different patterns of cannabis use among young people in many developed countries. My paper provides an overview of research on cannabis use over the past 20 years. It documents that prospective epidemiological studies in a number of countries have produced greater clarity on some health issues. For example, they have established that cannabis-impaired drivers are at increased risk of being in car crashes. They also show that there is a cannabis dependence syndrome (that includes withdrawal symptoms) that is prompting increasing numbers of cannabis users to present to addiction treatment services for assistance in quitting, in many countries second only to alcohol as a reason for treatment seeking.
Could marijuana chemical help ease epilepsy? [Medical Xpress]
A chemical found in marijuana might help prevent epilepsy seizures, but drug laws have hampered research efforts, a new study says. Cannabidiol is one of the main active chemical compounds found in pot. But it doesn’t make people high, the study authors said. Cannabidiol has already been shown to prevent seizures in animal studies and in one ongoing human trial, said lead author Dr. Daniel Friedman, a neurologist and epilepsy specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. But legally, marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. That means the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies it as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That classification makes it difficult to pursue large-scale trials that could prove cannabidiol’s safety and effectiveness in epilepsy, Friedman said. “Right now, the evidence for the utility of cannabinoids, and particularly cannabidiol, for the treatment of severe epilepsy is intriguing, but the definitive proof is not there yet,” Friedman said. Epilepsy Foundation President and CEO Phil Gattone said the review highlights how current federal laws have limited our understanding of marijuana’s potential effectiveness as an anti-seizure medication.
MPs will debate whether to legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis after a petition calling for a change in the law reached more than 200,000 signatures. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, who has worked with cannabis law reform campaigners, will lead the debate in Westminster Hall on 12 October. The government has already insisted in reply that it has no plans to legalise cannabis since a change in the law “would not address the harm to individuals and communities”. James Owen, who started the petition, said that despite public backing – it reached more than 125,000 signatures in just five days after it was posted in August – he was not hopeful that the debate could change the government’s position. “I’m glad that it’s got this far and can just take its process,” the 25-year-old economics student said. “I’d be more hopeful if Jeremy Corbyn gets the leadership of the Labour party, but it seems to me that the current government are willing to ignore the views of 200,000-plus people.”
MediPen: We tried out the UK’s first legal cannabis vaporiser [The Independent]
Last week I received a vaporiser in the post, weed leaf proudly emblazoned on the front. This wasn’t a dark web deal though, but a legit product that’s designed as a ‘completely legal and harm free way to unleash the miraculous health benefits of cannabis’. It’s active ingredient is cannabidiol (CBD), an oil extracted from the cannabis plant that contains little to no THC (the stuff that gets you high, hence the legality) but does purport to deliver medical benefits such as the soothing of anxiety, depression, insomnia and mood disorders.
Here’s Why We Hear So Many False Claims About Cannabis [Drug Science]
There is a massive and growing scientific literature on cannabis. And yet, for all its complexities and contradictions, we only tend to hear about the most negative study outcomes. When people state with conviction that cannabis causes a loss of IQ points, or causes schizophrenia, they are wrong in their certainty. The evidence on these questions is ambiguous and contradictory. Whilst the evidence accumulates, we need to remain open-minded to the possibility that cannabis does not impact IQ or cause schizophrenia, just as we should remain open-minded to the likelihood that heavy cannabis use in adolescence can cause serious harm to some. Understanding the scientific evidence on these issues, which the ICSDP’s new reports help us to do, is the first step towards having an informed discussion about how we as a society should treat cannabis. The harder part is understanding and overcoming the many obstacles that restrict the use of that same evidence in our public discourse.
Almost a fifth of students using e-cigarettes to vape cannabis [Medical News Today]
Researchers from Yale University in New Haven, CT, found that almost 1 in 5 high school students surveyed in their study reported using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to vaporize cannabis or byproducts of the drug such as hash oil. “This is a relatively novel way of using marijuana, and kids are using it at a fairly high rate,” reports lead author Meghan E. Morean, now an assistant professor of psychology at Oberlin College, OH. The study, published in Pediatrics, anonymously surveyed a total of 3,847 students from five high schools in Connecticut.
Toke N’ Choke Dispensary – The Series [Indiegogo]
Toke N’ Choke Dispensary is a web series currently available for viewing on YouTube. It’s a comedy shot mockumentary style similar to “The Office” but based in a medical marijuana dispensary. The show is set in Los Angeles and all episodes are filmed there as well. So far, we have shot 4 episodes and are raising funds to make episodes 5-10 to finish Season 1 of the show! Please consider giving us any donation to support the show! Every and all donations are appreciated SO MUCH! We are also offering gift packages for larger donations and they can be viewed in the “Perks” area of this campaign. The packages are limited and once those gifts have been claimed, it will show no longer available. Thanks for checking out our campaign and thank each one of you in advance for any donation you make! Please tweet about your contribution to the show and if you are International, give a shout out to your country!
Austrian hemp friends take to the Streets: Cannabis Social March in Vienna on September 19 [HEMP INSTITUTE AUSTRIA]
Austrian hemp friends and cannabis patients will take to the streets on September 19 in Vienna. The Cannabis Social March‘, organized by the Hanf-Institut is a protest against the coming reform of Austria’s drug laws that still criminalizes cannabis patients and will declare all hemp users as sick persons.
Why the War on Drugs Is Poised to End—Even If ‘Wire’ Creator David Simon Worries It Won’t [Alternet]
Of course, it’s impossible to predict future trends in public opinion with certainty. And serious reforms of our drug policies — the kind that looks beyond marijuana and to harder drugs — are still met with what the poet William Blake called the “mind-forged manacles” of superstition. But the signs are unmistakable. The foundations of our insane drug war are beginning to crack; the status quo is already being rocked — chipped at by an array of motivated advocates, increasingly confident in the clarity of their logic and the righteousness of their cause. The day we decriminalize all drug use may not arrive in this decade, or even the next one. But it is coming.
These Influential Marijuana Users Defy The Stoner Stereotype [Huffington Post]
Now that nearly one out of every two Americans admits to having tried marijuana at some point in their lives, more than half of all states have moved away from draconian prohibition-style marijuana policies and the legal marijuana industry’s savvy entrepreneurs are running businesses that are generating billions in sales (and millions in taxes), the “stoner” stereotypes of the past seem more obsolete than ever before. To help quash those myths for good, the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project has released its annual list of the top 50 most influential Americans who have used marijuana. The people who appear on it — and their soaring success — just might surprise you. “We hope this list will make people question some of the anti-marijuana propaganda they’ve been hearing for so long,” Mason Tvert, communications director for MPP, said in a statement. “Millions of adults enjoy consuming marijuana for many of the same reasons that adults enjoy consuming alcohol. The only thing that makes marijuana consumers more likely to become ‘losers’ are the legal penalties they face just for using it.”
Marijuana Conviction Overturned By Colorado Appeals Court [Huffington Post]
A state appeals court has overturned the marijuana conviction of a Colorado woman who was sentenced and convicted for marijuana possession just days after voters approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state almost three years ago — retroactively applying the law to her case. Citing a decision in a previous case, the appeals court ruled that convicted criminal defendants should receive “benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal,” the opinion, issued last week, reads.
Separating Fact from Fiction in the Cannabis Debate [Open Society Foundations]
Conversations about cannabis policy are heating up. So it’s no surprise that we suddenly seem immersed in claims and counterclaims on a slew of topics related to cannabis use and regulation. Cannabis causes schizophrenia. Cannabis regulation leads to increased traffic fatalities. These are just some of the examples that seem to pop up, again and again, in news articles and online. They sound true, perhaps because they are repeated so many times, and also because they are often said to be based on scientific evidence. In the UK, the Telegraph even ran the following headline: “Cannabis as addictive as heroin, major new study finds.” On its surface, this claim reads as if it were backed by scientific evidence. But is it? The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy has tasked itself with determining the strength of scientific support for such claims. Over the past year, we’ve been working diligently on scanning the news media and online conversations about cannabis to identify the most oft-repeated or high-profile claims—including the ones above—related to its use and regulation. We narrowed the list down to 13 by reviewing media reports, government announcements, and monitoring online discussion on cannabis. We then performed comprehensive scientific reviews of all of the relevant peer-reviewed published research. As our new reports explain, we found that not one of the claims was strongly supported by scientific evidence.
Are plants intelligent? New book says yes [The Guardian]
Plants are intelligent. Plants deserve rights. Plants are like the Internet – or more accurately the Internet is like plants. To most of us these statements may sound, at best, insupportable or, at worst, crazy. But a new book, Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by plant neurobiologist (yes, plant neurobiologist), Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, makes a compelling and fascinating case not only for plant sentience and smarts, but also plant rights.