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couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
December 2003



Happy Holidays

I’ll be away visiting family over the next few days. And while our drug czar has not taken a vacation from his lies, I don’t feel like reporting his comments at this time. So I leave you with this tree and some reading suggestions. Feel free to browse through the site and check out […]

No joy in Canada

The federal law making possession of small amounts of marijuana illegal does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s top court says. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6-3 Tuesday that jailing someone with small amounts is constitutional. This means that marijuana policy reform is going to be up to the government, […]

Excellent article.

Where’s the Compassion by Doug Bandow at National Review Online.

But the drug laws are the real dangerous threats to public health and safety. The only way to protect the public is to guarantee the right of the sick to use marijuana and to stop jailing pot smokers who just want to get high.


Why is Marijuana Illegal?

The most common Google search referral that I get is the phrase ‘Why is marijuana illegal?’ Not a day goes by without that search term at least once, usually many more times than that.

Read Why is Marijuana Illegal?.

Yann Kumin and Marc Hordon arrested for marijuana possession

Via TalkLeft Oh, and their companion, an Al Gore III, was also arrested. Just three of the more than one million people arrested this year for simple possession charges.

Justice Department sues Mississippi

Via Atrios, this CBS news report Feds Allege Youth Camps Abuse

Among the abuses uncovered: suicidal girls were stripped naked and placed in solitary confinement in a dark cell with only a drain for a toilet, boys were forced to run with mattresses strapped to their backs, girls who threw up while running in […]

Missouri considering drug stamp tax

Senator Proposes Taxing Illegal Drugs. This isn’t particularly new – 23 states have similar stupid laws.

Each gram of marijuana would be subject to a $3.50 tax. Other controlled substances would be taxed $200 for each gram or portion of a gram. For drugs not sold by weight, such as Ecstasy, every 50 doses would be taxed $2,000.

Note: for those of you who haven’t converted to metric yet, for marijuana that’s about $100 tax per ounce.
Keep in mind that this is not an easing of penalties — it is adding an additional penalty on top of criminalizing drugs. The idea is, once you’re arrested for possession of drugs, not only do you get the jail time and fines for the charge, but they also go after you for tax evasion because you probably haven’t bought the stamps (they don’t really expect you to).

A similar bill was passed in Kansas in 1987. Last year it collected $883,846 in revenue from people arrested in possession of drugs without stamps and $370 in stamp sales.

Most drug tax stamps are purchased by collectors, not drug dealers (the Texas one is quite entertaining).
These taxes are really a kind of dishonesty on the part of legislatures. If you want a tougher penalty for something illegal, then make that part of the legal penalty — don’t go around looking for some other hook.
Many of these taxes have run into legal trouble. Some of them have been termed unconstitutional due to the prohibition against self-incrimination. Others, if providing a serious enough penalty, have been determined to constitute double jeopardy (some Texas drug dealers in 1996 were getting off of their drug charges in court by putting a deposit down on their tax liability).
For now, those in St. Joseph, Missouri may want to spread the word that Republican Senator Charlie Shields wants to raise taxes. That could make it interesting.
Earlier this year, TalkLeft reported on a similar tax in Iowa. Protesters of the tax came up with the memorable line:

No taxation without legalization.

ACLU Challenges DEA’s Use Of RAVE Act To Target NORML Events

Portland, OR: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon recently filed a complaint with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over the agency’s effort to shut down the second annual Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards Banquet, sponsored by Oregon NORML. Though the Banquet went on as scheduled at the Doubletree Hotel, DEA officials approached the […]

FDA Approves First Ever Clinical Trial Comparing Inhaled Marijuana To Vaporized Pot


Washington, DC: The US Food and Drug Administration has granted
permission for investigators funded by California’s Center for Medicinal
Cannabis Research (CMCR) to conduct the first ever human trial comparing
inhaled marijuana to vaporized cannabis. The clinical trial, which will be
conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California at San
Francisco, will commence in early 2004, according to a news release issued
by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

The pending study will compare subjective effects, cannabinoid blood
levels, and carbon monoxide levels in inhaled breath in volunteers following
both smoking and vaporizing marijuana.

MAPS President Rick Doblin said that the use of vaporizer technology in clinical research “will demonstrate that we can address all reasonable concerns about the safety of marijuana as medicine.”

According to a previous laboratory analysis study completed earlier this
year by California NORML and MAPS, toxins in marijuana smoke produced by
combustion are eliminated by the use of a vaporization device. In that
study, marijuana vapors produced by the Volcano vaporizer were found to
consist overwhelmingly of THC, and contained only minute amounts (less than
5 percent) of a suspected carcinogen, according to a gas chromatography mass
spectrometer (GCMS) analysis of the vapor. By contrast, combusted smoke
contained over 100 other chemicals, including several polynuclear aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogenic toxins that are common in tobacco smoke.

In general, the respiratory hazards of marijuana smoke are due to toxic
byproducts of combustion, not the active ingredients of the plant, known as
cannabinoids. Vaporizers heat marijuana at a temperature sufficient to
vaporize cannabinoids (about 200 C), but short of the point of combustion,
which is approximately 250 C.

This is important, because the Drug Czar keeps using the “medicine isn’t smoked” argument to negate all medical benefits of marijuana (it’s all they have left). Eventually, the sheer magnitude of scientific evidence for medical marijuana has got to topple the administration’s war on the sick.

Bill Maher on Larry King

Yesterday’s Larry King show, included this exchange with Bill Maher and a caller:

KING: Oakville, Ontario, hello. CHAMNEY: Hi, Mr. Maher, I’m absolutely thrilled to be speaking with you. MAHER: Well, I’m thrilled to be talking to you, too. CHAMNEY: My question for you is, do you plan on staying behind the marijuana mission? […]