September 30, 2009
September 30, 2009 – Just over four years ago, former U.S. DEA administrator Karen Tandy announced to the world that her agency had struck “a significant blow … to the marijuana legalization movement” by indicting Canada’s so-called ‘Prince of Pot,’ Marc Emery.
For nearly two decades Emery operated a successful marijuana seed bank operation in Vancouver, British Columbia — a venture which he used to directly fund cannabis law reform efforts around the globe, including the magazine Cannabis Culture, the internet site Pot TV, and the founding of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.
Emery’s seed business was hardly a secret. For many years, Emery mailed copies of his seed catalogue to Canadian politicians. A Canadian court convicted him in 1998 and sentenced him to a $2,000 fine. Undeterred, Emery continued to sell seeds — and pay federal taxes on his profits — up until his arrest. Canadian authorities were happy to accept his tax money, and officials at Health Canada, which oversees Canada’s legal medical marijuana program, often recommended that patients contact Emery for grow advice. Nevertheless, when the Feds came calling, the Canadian authorities were swift to throw Marc Emery to the wolves.
Even though Emery’s alleged crimes would have warranted, at most, a month in jail in his home country, Canadian authorities yesterday placed Marc into custody so that he can be extradited to the United States. Once here, he faces up to five years in prison for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana (more than 100 plants) in violation of 21 USC 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B).
But lets not kid ourselves. Marc Emery was hardly a high level target because he sold marijuana seeds to the U.S. — a simple google search will yield dozens of listings of competitors that presently engage in similar activities. No, it wasn’t so much what Marc did (”There isn’t a single victim in my case, no one who can stand up and say, ‘I was hurt by Marc Emery.’ No one,” he told the Vancouver Sun) as it was what he did with his money that aroused the ire of U.S. anti-drug officials.
And we have Karen Tandy’s own words to prove it.
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director @ September 29, 2009. Source.
September 30, 2009
September 30, 2009 – Mary Jane’s Soda, marketed as “a relaxing soft-drink that delivers euphoric relaxation and focus to a stress-filled life,” implicitly mimics the effects of marijuana. The drink’s website says that the effects of the drink are sometimes compared to that of alcohol, but without the “drowsiness, beer goggles, tough-guy syndrome, and hangovers.”
“We created Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda as an alternative to alcohol, for people who want a healthy, natural, and legal way to relax and unwind,” said CEO and creator Matt Moody.
You may remember the “pot sucker” controversy from a few years ago. The suckers were marketed as “hemp-flavored lollipops.” The notorious candy, sold at Spencer’s, a gift shop found in many malls, spawned a debate about the ethical considerations of marketing illicit substances to young children. “Every lick is like taking a hit,” claimed the producers of the candy. Subtlety was clearly not a priority.
The company sold hundreds of thousands of the suckers before being yanked from the shelves, so the market was there. The proponents of Mary Jane’s Soda must have taken notice.
William Wood, a 23-year-old journalism major from Atlanta, said “That is clever marketing. They obviously couldn’t market it explicitly as an alternative to marijuana. They are probably trying to get the college-age market.”
The multi-billion dollar energy drink industry markets heavily towards college students. “I could see that [Mary Jane's Soda] being used to accompany energy drinks if someone drinks too many Red Bulls to get through the school day, and they want to counteract the caffeine,” said Wood. This is something I can relate to. I could see myself using the drink for this purpose but several studies are being done on the negative effects of energy drinks and perhaps I should see how those pan out before acquiring another habit.
The company’s website recommends drinking its product after a long day or before a first date to calm the nerves. It claims to be helpful for job interviews and public speaking. Road rage, something every Georgia State student can relate to, is another reason the website lists.
“I wouldn’t drink it,” says Courtney Hill, a freshman from Alpharetta. Wood said, “I probably wouldn’t drink it because I only drink water.”
I cannot comment on the taste, as the product is not currently available on the east coast. “If it’s herbal and all natural, it probably does not taste great,” said Wood. He makes a good point. Mostly anything herbal is not very tasty, at least in my experience. The website does not really address the taste except to say that past attempts to put Kava in a drink have failed at masking the naturally bad taste and that Mary Jane’s Soda is the first to do so successfully.
The website says not to drink Mary Jane’s Soda if you are on any prescription drugs. “That sounds dangerous,” says Hill. I personally cannot help but wonder how many Americans are not taking any prescription drugs. Kava, the main ingredient, has been used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes in the South Pacific for thousands of years. Other medicinal uses for the root are to relieve muscle tension, to treat depression, and as a mild anesthetic. Its relaxing properties also have been used for insomnia.
The drink is being marketed as an ‘anti-energy drink.’ “People could buy it. College kids buying soda and marijuana-yep, people will buy it,” said Wood. Hill, a non-drinker, doesn’t share this sentiment. Hill said “I think it’s stupid.”
“If it’s in stores and readily available, then I could see it selling. I have a hard time seeing people getting on the internet to have soda shipped to them,” said Wood. I wouldn’t order it either. The time it would take alone would deter me from making an online purchase. If I see it in stores, then I’ll try it. However, Mary Jane’s Soda is not currently available to Georgia State students unless they order online. The online price is $56 for a pack of 24, so this relaxation comes at a price that I would venture to say most college students would probably not pay. By: Kirkland Carter. Source.
September 29, 2009
September 29, 2009 – “Standing Silent Nation” won the award for best Native documentary at the Cherokee Film Festival. The films shows a Lakota family’s attempt to grow industrial hemp as a viable economic development project on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota only to have it repeatedly destroyed by federal officials because of laws applying to marijuana production.
What does a family have to endure to create a future for itself? “Standing Silent Nation,”, features Alex White Plume and his Lakota family, who planted industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota after other crops had failed. They put their hopes for a sustainable economy in hemp’s hardiness and a booming worldwide demand for its many products, from clothing to food. Although growing hemp, a relative of marijuana, was banned in the U.S., Alex believed that tribal sovereignty, along with hemp’s non-psychoactive properties, would protect him. But when federal agents raided the White Plumes’ fields, the Lakota Nation was swept into a Byzantine struggle over tribal sovereignty, economic rights and common sense.
September 29, 2009
September 29, 2009 – The National Institute of Drug Abuse has set aside $3,000,000 to “support research studies that focus on the identification, and preclinical and clinical evaluation, of medications that can be safe and effective for the treatment of cannabis-use and cannabis-induced DISORDERS, as well as their medical and psychiatric consequences.”
They state “Cannabis-related disorders (CRDs) including cannabis abuse or dependence and cannabis induced disorders (e.g., intoxication, delirium, psychotic disorder, and anxiety disorder) are a major public health issue. Cannabis use includes marijuana, hashish, and other tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing substances.”
Looks like they are going to spend 3 million dollars creating a drug to heal the DISORDERS created by the best drug the planet ever gave us. It seems we have to keep Big Pharma happy…at whatever cost, and that means we need to turn cannabis use into a major public health issue. Source
Once again, NOT the change people voted for.
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September 28, 2009
September 28, 2009 – A realistic, globally scalable plan to transfer CO2 from the atmosphere into soil and raw materials is already available – it’s called industrial hemp…
Our basic premise is that hemp is far more productive than typical agro-forestry projects, producing annual, versatile biomass alongside more rapid CO2 uptake. It can produce a vast range of sustainable raw materials with an overall low environmental impact, as well as improving soil structure, using low fertilizer and no other chemical inputs (i.e. reduced agrochemical residues).
Hemp can be grown on existing agricultural land (unlike most forestry projects), and can be included as part of a farm’s crop rotation with positive effects on overall yields of follow on crops. This, along with super versatility in diverse soil conditions and climates, makes hemp cultivation a viable and genuine potential large scale contributor to GHG mitigation.
Replacing Unsustainable Raw Materials
The vast quantities of hemp derived products and raw materials created by large scale cultivation could replace many oil-based unsustainable products and materials, particularly in construction, locking in captured CO2 and creating secondary benefits to the global environment. In particular, hemp could be used to replace significant quantities of tree-derived products, allowing reduced use of existing tree populations, thus maintaining their CO2 uptake.
Hemp also produces much higher quantities of stronger and more versatile fibre than cotton, and many other fibre crops, which often have very high chemical residue and water footprints. Extra processing required by hemp is also at least partially offset by its recycling potential.
Carbon Absorption of Hemp – HGS Preliminary Conclusions
Our carbon uptake estimates are calculated by the examining the carbon content of the molecules that make up the fibres of the hemp stem. Industrial hemp stem consists primarily of Cellulose, Hemicellulose and Lignin, whose chemical structure, carbon content, (and therefore absorbed CO2) are shown in the following section:
* Cellulose, 70% of stem dry weight:
Fig 1: Chemical structure of Cellulose (Hon, 1996).
Cellulose is a homogeneous linear polymer constructed of repeating glucose units. The carbon content of cellulose accounts for 45% of its molecular mass.
* Hemicellulose, 22% of stem dry weight:
Fig 2 : Chemical structure of Hemicellulose (Puls and Schuseil, 1993).
Hemicellulose provides a linkage between cellulose & lignin. It has a branched structure consisting of various pentose sugars. Based on an example of hemicellulose structure like the acetylated xylan chain with ? – 1, 2 bond to 4 – O – methyl glucuronic acid & an ? – 1, 3 bond to L – arabinofuranose pictured above the carbon content of hemicellulose accounts for 48% of its molecular mass.
* Lignin, 6% of stem dry weight:
Fig 3. Chemical structure of Lignin (Hon, 1996).
Lignin is a strengthening material usually located between the cellulose microfibrils. The lignin molecule has a complex structure that is probably always is variable (3). Using the example above, the carbon content is calculated to be 40% of the molecular mass.
To summarise the above, one tonne of harvested stem contains:
0.7 tonnes of cellulose (45% Carbon)
0.22 tonnes of hemicellulose (48% Carbon)
0.06 tonnes of lignin (40% Carbon)
It follows that every tonne of industrial hemp stems contains 0.445 tonnes Carbon absorbed from the atmosphere (44.46% of stem dry weight).
Converting Carbon to CO2 (12T of C equals 44T of CO2(IPCC)), that represents 1.63 tonnes of CO2 absorption per tonne of UK Hemp stem harvested. On a land use basis, using Hemcore’s yield averages (5.5 to 8 T/ha), this represents 8.9 to 13.4 tonnes of CO2 absorption per hectare of UK Hemp Cultivation.
For the purposes estimation, we use an average figure of 10T/ha of CO2 absorption, a figure we hold to be a reasonably conservative estimate. This is used to predict carbon yields, but CO2 offsets will be based on dry weight yields as measured at the weighbridge.
The roots and leaf mulch (not including the hard to measure fibrous root material) left in situ represented approximately 20% of the mass of the harvested material in HGS’ initial field trials. The resulting Carbon content absorbed but remaining in the soil, will therefore be approximately 0.084 tonnes per tonne of harvested material. (42% w/w) (5).
Using Hemcore’s UK yield estimates (5.5 – 8 T/ha) this represents 0.46 to 0.67 tonnes of Carbon per hectare (UK) absorbed but left in situ after Hemp cultivation.
That represents 1.67 to 2.46 T/ha of CO2 absorbed but left in situ per hectare of UK Hemp Cultivation.
Final figures after allowing 16% moisture (Atmospheric ‘dry’ weight) are as follows:
CO2 Absorbed per tonne of hemp stem 1.37t
CO2 Absorbed per hectare (stem) (UK) 7.47 to 11.25t
CO2 Absorbed per hectare (root and leaf) UK) 1.40 to 2.06t
Hemp ‘Self Offsetting.’
According to Defra, UK Farming emits a total CO2 equivalent of 57 millions tonnes in GHG’s. UK agricultural land use is 18.5 million hectares. This amounts to an average of around 3.1 tonnes of CO2 per hectare total embodied emissions. As a low fertiliser and zero pesticide/herbicide crop, with little management input, the carbon emissions of hemp cultivation is well below the average. Therefore we can assume the matter remaining in soils roughly offsets the cultivation and management emissions.
1. Hon, D.N.S. (1996) A new dimensional creativity in lignocellulosic chemistry. Chemical modification of lignocellulosic materials. Marcel Dekker. Inc. New York.(5)
2. Puls,J., J. Schuseil (1993). Chemistry of hemicelluloses: Relationship between hemicellulose structure and enzymes required for hydrolysis. In: Coughlan M.P., Hazlewood G.P. editors. Hemicellulose and Hemicellulases. Portland Press Research Monograph, 1993. (5)
3. Bjerre, A.B., A.S. Schmidt (1997). Development of chemical and biological processes for production of bioethanol: Optimization of the wet oxidation process and characterization of products, Riso-R-967(EN), Riso National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark. (5)
4. Anne Belinda Thomsen, Soren Rasmussen, Vibeke Bohn, Kristina Vad Nielsen and Anders Thygese (2005) Hemp raw materials: The effect of cultivar, growth conditions and pretreatment on the chemical composition of the fibres. Riso National Laboratory Roskilde
March 2005. ISBN 87-550-3419-5.
5. Roger M Gifford (2000) Carbon Content of Woody Roots, Technical Report N.7, Australian Greenhouse Office.
These figures do not include the additional carbon dioxide that is saved by substituting unsustainable raw materials, to end products derived from harvested hemp that effectively locks in CO2. Such products include, building materials, plastics, cosmetics, composite boards and insulation materials. According to Limetechnology Ltd, Hemcrete locks up around 110kg of CO2 per m3 of wall, compared to the 200kg of CO2 emitted by standard concrete. It also excludes the carbon savings of replacing tree-derived products and leaving trees to continue to absorb CO2
Biomass is produced by the photosynthetic conversion of atmospheric carbon. The carbon uptake of hemp can be accurately validated annually by calculations derived from dry weight yield. This yield is checked at the weighbridge for commercial reasons prior to processing.
Highly accurate figures for total biomass yield and carbon uptake can then be made, giving a level of certainty not available through any other natural carbon absorption process.
September 27, 2009
September 27, 2009 – Society may be moving away from paper dependency, but we’re not there yet. Forty-two per cent of the world’s industrial wood harvest goes to the production of paper, and 87 per cent of that paper is used by industrialized western nations like the United States and Canada. And despite its pristine appearance, paper is anything but clean.
The process industrial paper makers use to turn wood pulp into paper has been shown to result in a number of harmful chemical by-products such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxide, mercury, nitrates, methanol, benzene, chloroform, and dioxins. Despite its negative side effects wood paper is the only game in town these days, but it wasn’t always that way.
Back in the day hemp paper was a popular and widely used alternative to wood paper. Many of the founding documents of the United States are printed on hemp: two drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Hemp paper doesn’t require bleaching, lasts longer and is more durable than its wood-based brother. So why didn’t it catch on?
Declaration of Independence
At first the reason was a practical one. When the Industrial Revolution took the Western world by storm, people built machines to make larger amounts of paper faster, to meet with the growing demand brought on by the spread of literacy. Hemp, however, proved too much for the first machines. Its fibers were too tough. And so wood pulp based paper became the golden standard.
People didn’t give up on hemp, though. In the early 1920s and ‘30s mechanization was getting more sophisticated and industrial hemp paper production looked like a viable option. Hemp, being a highly renewable resource and relatively easy to grow, had the potential to revolutionize the paper industry (among others). Deforestation could be slowed and many of the harmful chemicals used in the making of paper could be done away with.
But by this time there was a whole industry based around the use and production of wood pulp paper. People had become rich off wood and they wanted to keep the money coming, people like William Randolph Hearst.
Hearst owned a large number of newspapers in the United States. He also owned large tracts of forest and paper mills. Using his newspapers Hearst launched a massive smear campaign against hemp. He published any number of articles with headlines like, “Marihuana Makes Fiends of Boys in 30 Days,” and “Hasheesh Goads Users to Blood Lust.” His articles actually popularized the term Marihuana. Many of the articles published in Hearst’s papers would later be used as evidence against hemp in the mid-1930s when the U.S. government held hearings to consider whether the plant and its relatives should become controlled substances.
In 1937 after various hearings on numerous levels of government, the U.S. adopted the Marihuana Act. This act didn’t criminalize the possession or cultivation of hemp, but it might as well have. A tax was levied on anyone who dealt commercially with hemp (by this time Hearst’s campaign had proved so successful that cannabis and hemp were considered practically the same thing) and strict rules surrounded its production.
Farmers were required to pay $1 a year to register as growers but could be subject to a fine of $2000 or five years in prison if they inadvertently violated the conditions of the Act—for instance should any plant in their crop test above the allowed level of THC (the average income at the time was about $500 a year). Those who chose to pay the tax were required to register their names and place of business with the tax collector who was then obliged to give out that information to anyone who wanted it provided they paid the fee ($1 for every 100 names). Those who wanted to import hemp were charged $1 per ounce of hemp they wished to buy, and were charged a fine of $100 per ounce if found in possession without paying the tax.
As a result most farmers were either too poor or too afraid of the consequences to attempt commercial hemp production and the cost of trying to import hemp into the eager U.S. market became prohibitively high. The technology that would have allowed the large-scale production of hemp paper withered for lack of opportunity, wood pulp kept its monopoly on the paper industry and Hearst continued to make money. The laws that Hearst encouraged with his media blitz are still in place today in the U.S., though in a slightly different form. Source.
September 27, 2009
September 27, 2009 – Big pharma can’t allow cancer or any other disease to be cured because they will lose their business of drugs, pills and all the illness causing products they make and distribute to the dis-eased. Curing cancer has no benefit to them whatsoever even though the cure has been made and known for decades. Medicinal herbs, Hemp Oil and other forms of plants are known to be beneficial in eliminating cancer. Watch the video:
September 27, 2009
September 27, 2009 – SAN FRANCISCO — Pot advocates started their push Friday to get a marijuana legalization measure on California’s 2010 ballot with backing from a prominent state politician.
Former state Senate president Don Perata announced his support for the Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign, which began gathering signatures for the proposal at the annual meeting of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Supporters need nearly 434,000 signatures to make the November 2010 ballot.
Though Perata did not appear as scheduled at a news conference launching the signature drive, he said in a statement that taxing legal marijuana was key to easing California’s financial woes.
“In this time of economic uncertainty, it’s time we thought outside the box and brought in revenue we need to restore the California dream,” he said.
Term limits forced Perata from the Legislature in 2008. He announced in March that he planned to run next year for mayor of Oakland, where voters in July overwhelmingly passed a first-of-its-kind tax on city medical marijuana dispensaries.
Pot dispensary owners who supported the tax as a way to show their commitment to the city included Richard Lee, the ballot measure’s main backer.
Under the proposal, adults 21 and older could legally possess up to an ounce of pot. Homeowners could grow limited amounts, and local governments would decide whether to allow pot sales.
Supporters argue taxes levied on marijuana sales could help strapped cities weather revenue shortfalls caused by the recession and California’s budget crisis.
Lee said he believed the cost of obtaining the needed signatures would run about a dollar per name.
“We’ve raised a good portion of the amount that we need, so we feel real confident that we’re going to get it on the ballot,” he said.
The measure is the most conservative of three pot legalization proposals certified for signature-gathering by California’s Secretary of State.
A group of Northern California criminal defense lawyers is promoting a measure that would set no specific limits on the amount of pot adults could possess or grow for personal use.
The measure would repeal all local and state marijuana laws and clear the criminal record of anyone convicted of a pot-related offense.
The third measure, proposed by a Long Beach pot activist, would repeal state marijuana prohibitions and give the Legislature a year to adopt new laws regulating and taxing the drug.
The state Legislative Analyst’s Office said all three measures could bring potentially major new revenue to the state from taxing marijuana. The office also predicts the measures would result in tens of millions of dollars in savings of law enforcement costs to state and local governments.
The cost of running California ballot measure campaigns often climbs to eight figures, so supporters of the pot initiatives will need to focus on fundraising.
Some pot activists believe it’s too soon to reach for full-fledged marijuana legalization, a goal the pro-marijuana movement has worked toward for decades.
Backers of the measures hope to tap into what they see as pro-legalization momentum spurred in part by the Obama administration’s hands-off attitude toward states that allow medical marijuana.
If any of the proposals do make the ballot, a Field Poll earlier this year found that a slight majority of state voters supported legalizing and taxing pot.
Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in drug issues, said he believes Californians may be ready to lift the ban.
“I wouldn’t be stunned. I could see it going either way,” he said. By MARCUS WOHLSEN. Source.
September 27, 2009
September 27, 2009 – In 1996, voters in California approved a referendum that made it legal for the first time in decades in the US for people to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.
More than a dozen states have followed suit since and several others – the most recent of which is Massachusetts – have approved laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of the drug.
Now, there are moves afoot in California to go further to fully legalize marijuana.
Evidence of the impact that the approval of medicinal marijuana has had on some areas of California is clear in Oakland.
Across the bay from San Francisco, it has come to be known as Oaksterdam, in a nod to the symbolic global capital of marijuana deregulation, Amsterdam.
The relaxed approach to marijuana use in this part of Oakland has led to the opening of several marijuana dispensaries.
They are establishments in this once deprived area of town which sell a broad array of cannabis related products, from food products such as brownies and cereal bars laced with cannabis to traditional marijuana for smoking.
“This is where it all started,” says Richard Lee, a leading advocate for the legalization of cannabis, pointing to a building where the first ever dispensary was opened in 1996.
His sense of excitement is palpable as he shows me around Oaksterdam, which beyond dispensaries is also home to a facility where state residents can go through the process of getting the ID needed for their right to use cannabis for medical purposes.
The area is also home to the Oaksterdam University, which Mr Lee runs.
He shows me around the student union of the university, which he describes as a trade school for all of those interested in finding a place in the thriving cannabis trade that medicinal marijuana has spawned.
Mr Lee tells me that making cannabis use legal makes economic sense but would also help in the fight against the Mexican drugs cartels.
“According to some estimates, the Mexican cartels get about 60-70% of their money – their profit – from cannabis,” he tells me.
“So if we cut that out of the equation then theoretically 60-70% of the violence they perpetrate would be cut out, because they’d have less money for the guns and weapons and ammunition to kill people and to spend on bribing officials and all the rest,” Mr Lee says.
That perspective, along with the fact that the California state authorities estimate that marijuana could bring in nearly $1.5bn a year in much needed tax revenue if it were legalised, has led to an increased support among the state’s voters for the full legalization of the drug.
And, politicians like Tom Ammiano, who represents one of the most liberal districts of San Francisco in the California state assembly, have been paying close attention.
Mr Ammiano came into politics as a trailblazing gay rights activist in the 1970s and has long advocated greater tolerance for cannabis use.
Earlier this year, he took that approach one step further and introduced a bill in the California state assembly, which, if approved, would grant cannabis the same legal status in the state as alcohol and tobacco.
That would put California ahead of even Amsterdam, where marijuana use is tolerated but not altogether legal.
Sitting with him in his office in the state government building in San Francisco, with its sweeping views of the city, it becomes very clear that his proposal is far from a flight of fancy.
He tells me he has been finding that more and more of his colleagues in the state assembly are coming around to seeing why moving towards legalization makes perfect sense.
“People across the board, whether they’re conservative or liberal, have come to realize that the so-called war on drugs has failed and failed miserably,” Mr Ammiano says.
“In fact, it’s costing us money instead of saving us money. This new approach would be a way for the policing efforts to be focused on the big bad guys, the cartels, with their violence and murder, and lighten up on the more minor offenses. We like to say prohibition is chaos and regulation is control,” he adds.
“On the streets a drug dealer does not ask a kid for his ID before selling him cannabis,” he concludes with an acerbic, humorous tone that serves as proof that he has, beyond politics, also had some success in his other career as a stand-up comedian.
But, despite his optimistic tone, Mr Ammiano says that he knows that those who oppose his proposal, including key figures in the medical and law enforcement community, are armed with statistics pointing to the damaging long-term effect of the drug and have the stamina and resources to wage a major fight to ensure that the bill never gets signed into law.
One of those opponents of the proposal is Ronald Brooks, the president of the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, which represents more than 70,000 narcotics enforcement officers in the US.
We meet in the town of Redwood City, south of San Francisco, and as I get in his car, we drive past what appears to be a nondescript office building.
However, he tells me that, in the 1980s, it was a bank – the place where his partner on the police force was killed in front of him by a ruthless marijuana dealer, who was carrying out a bank robbery to fund his drug business.
He says experiences like that have strengthened his resolve that America can’t allow itself to take on a more lenient approach to marijuana.
“This argument of freeing up law enforcement so that we can take on the cartels is seriously flawed,” he tells me.
“This is really a hoax being perpetrated on the voters of California to authorize their political agenda – that is to legalize marijuana as one step to legalize drugs in America because they simply don’t think that the government ought to control drugs,” he adds.
“The people who are going to lose if this gets approved are the taxpayers because we’re going to have increased costs associated with this, both healthcare and law enforcement costs, and the people who have to drive on the state’s highways who are going to be in danger from being hit by someone intoxicated from using cannabis. This is simply a reckless public policy,” he concludes.
Back across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland, specifically Oaksterdam, the patrons of the Bulldog Cafe are enjoying their legally sanctioned right to consume marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Gary has traveled from Texas for the weekend to attend a seminar on the cannabis trade at the Oaksterdam University across the street.
He is in his 50s, but says he is hoping to take the information he has picked up in his course on the cannabis business and make a life-transforming move in the coming months to California.
“My girlfriend and I are interested in moving to California from Texas to become a part of this here. We’re not quite sure where we fit in but we want to get into the business itself. We feel it’s an emerging industry, and this is where I feel compelled to come,” he tells me as the smell of cannabis wafts through the room.
Like Gary, there are hundreds of others participating in the courses at the Oaksterdam University on any given week.
Beyond that, there are more than 200,000 people in the state registered as consumers of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
As for Mr Ammiano’s proposal to legalize marijuana in the state, that is still making its way through the California state assembly and it is difficult to say whether it will succeed or not.
What is clear, however, is that whatever the outcome of the legalization proposal, the medical marijuana law and the multi-million dollar industry it has spawned appear to be here to stay in California. By Emilio San Pedro. Source.
September 24, 2009
September 24, 2009 – A conservative trial judge from Orange County, Calif., James P. Gray has become a troubadour for the decriminalization of marijuana as the only way to put a dent in illegal trafficking and the destruction that rises from it.
Gray has been on the bench as a governor-appointed municipal court and superior court judge since 1983, served as a federal prosecutor on Los Angeles, run for Congress as a Republican and for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian. (See: http://www.judgejimgray.com)
Addressing the lunch crowd at The Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs on the UTEP campus Monday, Gray said the key to the problem is demand but there is little chance that the appetite for marijuana and other drugs will lessen in the United States.
If the United States were successful in cutting off the supply of marijuana, it would come from the Middle East or Asia or California, where it is already the state’s leading cash crop.
By legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana, estimates are the annual revenues would approach $1.4 billion in California alone. Legislation is now pending in California to legalize marijuana, Assembly Bill 390, when and if the federal government allows states to do so.
Gray speculated that legalization would also reduce the availability of marijuana to minors.
“Anyone under 21 will say it’s easier for them to get marijuana than alcohol … because it is regulated, but to buy drugs from a dealer you don’t need an ID,” he said. “And we don’t have Phillip Morris and Jim Beam giving their products away as samples on high school campuses.”
Because of prohibition, he said, drugs are glamorized and the United States has spent billions of dollars a year prosecuting and keeping hundreds of thousands of people in prison for succumbing to the temptation of drugs.
“We have lost more of our civil liberties because of the War on Drugs than anything, and if we lose our civil liberties to the government, we almost never get them back,” Gray said.
So, he said, anyone looking for change should not look to the government because federal agencies, from the DEA to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are hooked on the money devoted to the War on Drugs.
“The drug war may not be winnable, but it is eminently fundable,” he said.
Gray, who heard no questions or comments challenging his views Monday, said he thinks public opinion on the issue of drugs is starting to shift, largely because the cost of the government’s 40-year-long War on Drugs and toll of lives from violence spurred by the drug trade.
“I think we are starting to see change,” he said. “And we only need to change the laws against marijuana. Seventy percent of those who use drugs only use marijuana.”
Gray said he will continue his campaign for changes n the drug laws and urged people to step out themselves and act, because the government will not do so on its own.
“It’s amazing how much influence each citizen has,” he said, urging people to call talk radio shows, email their friends and to blog on the Internet. “It’s time to allow ourselves to have an open and honest discussion.” by David Crowder. Source.
“Anyone under 21 will say it’s easier for them to get marijuana than alcohol … because it is regulated, but to buy drugs from a dealer you don’t need an ID.” — Judge James Gray
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