Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
Join us on Pete's couch., the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
December 2015
« Nov    


The maturation of legalization

I think this kind of thing is nice to see…

Mini joints: This Colorado mountain shop’s idea is a huge success

“We thought it would be really great to have something portable that had just enough for you and a few friends,” Andrew Salini, chief operating officer at High Country Healing, said in a recent interview.

“Not everyone wants to smoke a gram. It’s a little intense,” Joe Lindsey, director of customer relations at HCH, said in a recent interview. “They see these Mini Js and they think, ‘That’s just right for me.’ ”

The downsizing of cannabis portions is not a new concept for the rapidly evolving marijuana industry. To address safety concerns regarding wildly popular marijuana edibles, Colorado regulators rolled out new rules in February requiring manufacturers to individually wrap edibles or demark products in increments of 10 milligrams (or fewer) of psychoactive component THC.

It’s been an about-face for the industry that, in the early months of legalization, was in a race to make the strongest edible.

Those who want the quantity can still get it, but as legalization gets past the initial novelty, it doesn’t always have to be about bigger and more. And that’s particularly good for the casual user and the experimenter.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

DEA to take ‘new’ approach

Just got this news release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: “DEA set to announce comprehensive strategy to deal with heroin, r/x abuse, violent crime.”

And the release said”

Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division announced today that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the first city in the nation where the DEA will implement a new comprehensive strategy to address prescription opioid abuse, heroin use, and violent crime. [emphasis added]

Wow. They finally have come up with a new strategy. Wonder what it’ll be?

Oh wait, they tell us:

The goals of the new strategy include stopping the deadly cycle of prescription opioid and heroin abuse by eliminating the drug trafficking organizations and gangs fueling violence on the streets and addiction in communities.

Um… really? This sounds vaguely familiar. Sure you haven’t tried this before? With a complete lack of success?

Oh, there’s more:

The strategy will also include partnering with healthcare professionals and engaging and strengthening community and social service organizations that are best positioned to provide long-term help and support for building drug-free communities.

Yeah, no, that sounds pretty familiar as well, and that “drug-free communities” thing hasn’t worked before either.

So they’re going to have a press conference to announce this tomorrow. All you media types will probably want to rush over to Allison Park, Pennsylvania to catch the details on this revolutionary new initiative.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

A reminder of the tradeoffs when you invest in a drug war

The War on Drugs Could Be Making Our Communities More Dangerous by Justin Glawe at

“Sexual assault just isn’t at the top of the agenda,” says Ilse Knecht of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a sexual assault victim advocacy group.

She’s not the only one calling for a redirection of resources.

“We’ve been advocating that money be made available for robbery units, homicide units, sexual crime units,” said Neill Franklin, director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national coalition of former police officers and criminal justice reform advocates. “How about using some of that money to analyze the rape kits that are sitting on shelves waiting to be looked at?” […]

Franklin and other reformers are disturbed by the recent uptick in homicides, and are pushing for more resources to go toward preventing the killings and achieving justice for the victims and their families.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, we were solving nine out of 10 murders,” Franklin said. “Now, in some places like Baltimore, it’s more like three out of ten. Federal dollars that are going to law enforcement agencies need to be reevaluated, pulled back from drug enforcement, and redirected toward preventing and solving violent crime.”

The drug war gets all the extra funding – the asset forfeiture funds, the Byrne grants, etc. All the task forces, SWAT teams and other resources put into the drug war take away from police efforts on solving violent crimes, including murder and sex crimes.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

The New York Times has something to say

And they say it well.

Excellent editorial: The Push for Legal Marijuana Spreads by the editorial board.

Support for making marijuana legal is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing. […]

Laws banning the growing, distribution and possession of marijuana have caused tremendous damage to society, with billions spent on imprisoning people for violating pointlessly harsh laws. Yet research shows that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and can be used to treat medical conditions like chronic pain. […]

What’s needed now is responsible leadership from President Obama and Congress. They ought to seriously consider the kind of legislation Mr. Sanders has proposed. His bill would remove marijuana, or “marihuana” as it is called in federal law, from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is meant for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. […]

A growing group of activists, judges and lawmakers is showing the world a path to more sensible drug policies. Mr. Obama and Congress should join them.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

Better than Ohio

Pot legalization bid in California gains powerful backers

“This is the one to watch. This is the one,” California Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director Nate Bradley, whose organization is endorsing the measure, said. “This one has this broad-based coalition behind it, the funding behind it…and still allows for a free market in the cannabis industry.’

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail outlets and also to grow up to six pot plants for personal recreational use.

Yeah, that’s more like it.

Although I’m still waiting for some state to pass the “Regulate Cannabis Like Tomatoes Act.”

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


I still fully stand by my statement from 2012 (not about Ohio, but still relevant):

“Until we crack that wall and have some real legalization out there, I’ll take anything — even an initiative legalizing marijuana use for people aged 47-51 on alternate Tuesdays in their bathrooms, if that’ll help it pass. Might as well start somewhere.”

That said, I’m really glad that this Ohio circus is over.

Let’s move on and get something good passed.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

More absurdities

Maia Szalavitz has a great article at Vice: Why Is it Still Illegal to Visit the US if You Admit to Using Drugs?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of people being denied access to the U.S. for merely admitting they used drugs, even though our current President has done as much. It’s a stupid and outdated customs inquiry.

Here’s a part of the article I really enjoyed:

VICE asked the Office of National Drug Control Policy (better known as the drug czar’s office) for comment on Shelly’s case and the law in this area. Drug Czar Michael Botticelli is a recovering alcoholic: His admission to occasional marijuana and cocaine use as well would mean that he himself would not be allowed entry into the country because of his past—were he not already an American citizen.

Since he has spoken widely about fighting the stigma associated with addiction and because he advocates reducing barriers to rehabilitation, I was curious about Botticelli’s views on this practice, which seems to punish both honesty and recovery. But his office declined to comment. [emphasis added]

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

It’s the individual outrages that add up

So many stories like this one.

Magistrate Snatches Newborn From Mother Who Used Cannabis Tea for Pain Relief

Before she gave birth to her daughter, Nova, at Cleveland’s Fairview Hospital on September 26, Hollie Sanford used cannabis tea to relieve severe sciatic nerve pain. Her research convinced her marijuana was a safer choice than the painkillers she had been prescribed, and she may be right about that. […]

But Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Eleanore Hilow, who ordered Nova’s separation from her parents because the baby and her mother tested positive for a marijuana metabolite at the hospital, does not seem interested in what science shows about cannabis and pregnancy.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Hilow rejected the recommendation of county social workers, who are usually the bad guys in cases like this. […]

“There is no need to remove this child from her parents in order to protect her,” an assistant county prosecutor wrote in an October 23 motion. “At this time, removal would only serve to disrupt the bond the child would develop with her parents during this important period in her life…Rather than protecting the child, removal may be more harmful to her both in the present and in the future.”

Hilow was unmoved by that argument.

We often hear people say “not that many are in prison for possessing marijuana” as if that’s a counter to the need for legalization.

And yet, people like this are harmed every day, in so many ways, simply because of marijuana’s illegal status.

That means that we must take every step we can to challenge and change the laws.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

Republican candidates waking up?

from this article in the Washington Post:

Indicating that he actually wants to win, Trump also softened his tone yesterday on marijuana legalization. It’s another issue on which he has shifted his position to be more in sync with the Republican base. Trump said states should be allowed to legalize marijuana if they chose to do so, per Jenna Johnson, while reaffirming that he supports making medical marijuana available to very sick patients.

Reason notes, though, that Sanders still has the best position on this issue:

Where Bernie Sanders Differs With Republicans on Marijuana
Repealing the national ban is a logical implication of federalism.

On the face of it, saying the federal government should not interfere with legalization is not as bold as calling for the repeal of the national ban on marijuana, as Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders did this week. But a federalist approach to marijuana, which is what most of the Republican candidates have endorsed, should amount to the same thing. “The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana,” Sanders said during his appearance at George Mason University on Wednesday. “States should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco….It is time for the federal government to allow states to go forward as they best choose.”

That is the federalist position, and Sanders correctly concludes that it requires removing marijuana from the list of congressionally prohibited substances. Mere prosecutorial forbearance, which is what the Obama administration has offered so far, is no substitute for a statutory change because it can be reversed at any moment by this adminstration or the next, exposing state-licensed marijuana businesses to the risk of raids, felony charges, prison, and property forfeiture. Furthermore, as long as marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, those businesses, which still qualify as criminal enterprises under federal law, will be unable to use the banking system or deduct business expenses on their tax returns.

As has been noted in comments here, legalization is probably inevitable at this stage eventually (although assuming so and relaxing our efforts is not an option). And in years past, I have indicated on this blog that I didn’t think it mattered a whole lot who was President – after all, our political leaders follow, not lead. At that time, our biggest efforts had to be focused on the people – getting them to push for legalization.

Well, we may now be at that point. And removing the federal-state conflict would be incredibly helpful. Completely taking marijuana out of the Controlled Substances list would simplify legalization efforts immensely, and make it possible to craft working legalization models without a cloud hanging over them.

As a side note, this issue right now also helps point out the problem with labels and candidates (and our polarized political system).

Theoretically, it’s a no-brainer that small-government conservatives should have been pushing all along for states rights in this area. And yet, the truly federalist position first comes from the Democratic Socialist. Explain that.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

Sanders and marijuana

Sanders will propose nixing marijuana from federal list of dangerous drugs

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will announce his support Wednesday for removing marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the federal government — a move that would free states to legalize it without impediments from Washington.

OK, Republican candidates. Here’s your chance. Set yourself apart from the pack and announce your support for legalization.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon