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February 2009



Marijuana Legalization – no longer a pipe dream?

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced a marijuana legalization bill in California: The Marijuana Control, regulation and education act (AB 390)

In a nutshell, here’s what the bill would do: “Remove all penalties under California law for the cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, and use of marijuana, natural THC and paraphernalia by persons over the age […]

Another open thread

Sorry folks, but I’m on the road visiting my Dad in the hospital (he’ll be OK, and he’s being released today). No time to blog, so talk amongst yourselves.

Open Thread

Anxiety in Massachusetts

The city of Methuen last month became the first to act, raising fines in what the mayor says is an effort to address some “unintended consequences” of the referendum, which some people may interpret as encouraging marijuana use. Mayor William Manzi approves of higher fines, but he says he’s been surprised by the “vehemence” of local anger at his efforts and bemoans the divisiveness the issue has stirred up.

Um, yeah, well, you see the people voted for decriminalization. What do you expect, a parade?

Bill Downing, president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, discounts such concerns. “The public will see that the sky does not fall,” he says. Continuing with efforts to tack on additional marijuana-related penalties “shows a tremendous amount of disrespect to Massachusetts voters who voted to decriminalize,” he adds.

“bullet” A book review over at Transform of “The globalisation of addiction” by Bruce Alexander.

When rats were placed in an environment ideally suited to their needs, they no longer showed interest in pushing levers for rewards of morphine.

“bullet” Study: Marijuana Users Less Likely to Get Injured Than Non-Users

Conversely, cannabis use was associated with significantly lowered risk of injury. Whereas the risk for injuries associated with the use of less than a pipe or joint‰s worth were not significantly different from the on associated with no use, relative risks decreased with increasing levels of useá

“bullet” DrugSense Weekly
“bullet” “drcnet”

Live from the Conference

The 2009 Missouri NORML/SSDP Conference is underway with a great start. After the excellent welcomes from Evan Groll and Scott Lauher (who deserve a big hand for putting this together, with others, of course), I led things off with my elevator arguments workshop. Great participation from the very engaged and large group in attendance. Cliff […]

Odds and Ends

I’m heading to Columbia (not Colombia) for the 2009 Missouri NORML/SSDP Conference. I’ll try to do some blogging there when I get a chance.
“bullet” Good editorial by the Daily Iowan (University of Iowa): Marijuana legalization would create jobs, government income

Most politicians have now become accustomed to advocating for the development of green jobs, but almost none of them have yet been willing to consider how a radical change in national and state drug policy could help create some of the greenest jobs imaginable by facilitating the creation of a new marijuana industry. While it is true that such a major change in government policy toward marijuana cultivation, distribution, and consumption would be (extremely) politically difficult to accomplish, it is time for serious people to start considering how to best go about advocating for just such a radical shift. […]
Some may argue that the societal cost of legalizing marijuana consumption would outweigh any benefits obtained from increased tax revenues, but such arguments are almost always based on misinformation. There simply aren‰t any good data to suggest that moderate marijuana consumption is really any worse for people than is using currently legal substances such as tobacco.

“bullet” Study Suggests MPP Was Right: Lying to Kids Doesn‰t Work

Translation: If you tell kids that smoking marijuana will turn them into heroin addicts, and then they try marijuana and no such thing happens, real-world experience will pulverize the propaganda every time. Or, as the researchers explain it:

‹When threatened outcomes are experienced as less severe than anticipated, intentions to engage in threatened behavior may be amplified.Š

“bullet” Some fun… Speaking of pork and bongs

It turns out that Americans are not particularly upset that Michael Phelps, after spending six hours a day in the pool every day for the past 10 years training to become the greatest Olympic champion in history, might want to kick back and smoke a little pot. No doubt, with all that time in the pool, Phelps missed those helpful public service announcements that used to run during Saturday morning cartoons, graphically warning that drug use inevitably leads to criminal behavior, destroys families and, if I remember correctly, fries eggs. […]
Like the press, Kellogg’s may have also misjudged the public mood. Irate at the company’s decision to drop Phelps, pot smokers by the thousands have inundated the Kellogg’s consumer hotline with phone calls, angrily demanding to know when that pizza they ordered is going to arrive.
Meanwhile, representatives from groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have gone on record indicating that they plan to organize a boycott of Kellogg’s products, “just as soon as we finish watching this ‘Gilligan’s Island’ marathon on Nick at Nite.”

“bullet” Via Lawson in comments: Official: Mexican drug turf wars have led to surge in violence
…except this time, some common sense is at least presented:

Robert Pastor, a Latin America national security adviser for President Carter in the late 1970s, calls the problem in Mexico “even worse than Chicago during the Prohibition era.”
He said a solution similar to what ended that violence is needed now.
“What worked in the U.S. was not Eliot Ness,” he said, referring to the federal agent famous for fighting gangsters in 1920s and ’30s. “It was the repeal of Prohibition.”

Nice, but catch the follow-up by Monte Alejandro Rubido Garcia, executive secretary for the National System for Public Safety:

Rubido is diplomatic, saying decriminalizing drugs is a “terribly sensible” approach that has received much thought. But he’s not buying it.
“This has become a world of globalization,” he said. “Globalization has many virtues, but some errors. I can’t conceive that one part of the world would decriminalize drugs because it would become a paradise for drug use. It might bring down violence, but there would be social damage.”

Huh? Let’s analyze that. On one hand, you have a presumed drug use paradise. On the other hand you have violence. Is this really a difficult choice?

Mexican protests – real or staged? – does it matter?


Hundreds of Mexicans blocked roads and bridges into the United States on Tuesday in a protest of army operations against drug gangs that officials said was organized by drug traffickers. About 300 protesters, some with handkerchiefs tied over their faces, carried signs saying “Army Get Out!” in front of the town hall in the […]

Illinois trying again on medical marijuana

This certainly isn’t the first time for Illinois, but it could be the best shot to date.
Now we still have Limey Nargelenas, deputy director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police irresponsibly shooting off his mouth about gateways and children..

Nargelenas said the problem is that individuals who just want to get high — and who aren‰t seriously ill — could abuse a medical marijuana law like the one Haine envisions.
Further, characterizing marijuana as medicine ‹sends a real bad message to the kids,Š he said.
‹We just see so many kids today that when they do try marijuana, they start experimenting with other drugs too,Š Nargelenas said. ‹We believe (medical marijuana) should be very restricted, just like any other kind of medication.Š

…but note that last comment: “just like any other kind of medication.” Ah, Limey, so you’re admitting that it is medicine.
There’s a step.
Here are the positive things that Illinois has going for it this time around:

John Walters won’t be flying in with his entourage to browbeat the state legislature into defeating it
There could be a less negative feeling about how the state law will interact with the federal law now.
This year’s bill sponsor, William Haine, is a former State’s Attorney. That could ease things with law enforcement.
The previous sponsor, John Cullerton, is now Senate president.
Michigan passed it last year, so the midwest is in play.

Programming note

Tune into NPR today to hear Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo’s interview with Michelle Martin on her Program “Tell Me More.” Cheye will be discussing the botched SWAT team raid on his home last July; the international response to the incident; and pending legislation in Maryland to require more transparency and accountability for police departments […]

Kevin Sabet has advice for the new drug czar

Kevin A. Sabet, who I saw debate Kris Krane at the recent International SSDP Conference (Krane won handily, but at least Sabet’s a good sport) has come up with recommendations for the new drug czar. It really is silly how the prohibitionists (and their apologists) have to avoid at all costs actually addressing alternatives to […]

No prosecutions in Phelps ‘case’

From a news conference minutes ago…

During a news conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said there is not enough evidence to prosecute anyone involved in the Michael Phelps marijuana case. Monday’s news conference puts an end to speculation if Phelps would be charged with smoking marijuana in Richland County.