October 13, 2009 – A group of civilly-disobedient hemp farmers and business leaders were arrested this morning while digging up the lawn to plant industrial hemp seeds at the headquarters of the Drug DSCN2960Enforcement Administration.

David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a more than 60-year-old company that does tens of millions of dollars of business annually, was among those arrested.

Bronner buys the hemp used in his soaps from Canadian farmers. He was arrested outside the DEA museum, which shares space with the headquarters.

“Our kids are going to come to this museum and say, ‘My God. Your generation was crazy. What the hell is wrong with you people?'” he said as Arlington County Police handcuffed him and walked him to a waiting car.

The group was arrested for trespassing.

A DEA spokeswoman referred comment to the Department of Justice “because they’re the people who set the policy for drugs.” A DOJ spokeswoman declined to comment.

Hemp, however, is not a drug and has no capacity to get someone stoned, the farmers pointed out. Wayne Hauge and Will Allen, farmers from North Dakota and Vermont respectively, brought shovels and seeds to the protest, where they were joined by representatives of Vote Hemp, which advocates for federal legislation that would allow states to craft their own hemp policies.

Currently eight states — Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia — allow industrial hemp production or research, but federal law, which requires nearly-impossible-to-obtain-permits to grow hemp, trumps those state laws. A bill introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would allow states to craft their own policies.
Story continues below

Isaac Nichelson, head of LiViTY Outernatioanl, a hemp clothing company, was also planting seeds, telling the officers and a handful of reporters that he’d rather buy his raw material domestically than from China.

“Who’s got a permit?” asked David Smith, DEA security supervisor, when he spotted the collection of farmers volunteering their agricultural services to his agency.

“As far as I know, we applied for the permit a long time ago,” Nichelson told him.

The farmers asked the next DEA official to arrive if he knew the difference between hemp and marijuana.

He wasn’t sure. “It’s a cousin, right? Or is it an uncle?”

Hauge is one of two farmers licensed by the state of North Dakota to grow hemp, but he can’t do so because of the federal ban. Mother Nature is apparently unaware of the federal restriction: Hemp grows wild through the United States.

President Reagan invested significant resources going after hemp, uprooting millions of plants of what it calls “ditchweed.” Reagan’s effort against ditchweed steadily increased and by 1989 the DEA was able to claim it had uprooted 120 million ditchweed plants. By 2001, that number reached half a billion.

The farmers argued that Instead of uprooting hemp, the government should allow American farmers to grow it, especially since American companies can already legally sell hemp products. “We’ve got a billion dollar industry we’re sleeping on,” said Hauge, who is suing the DEA for the right to raise hemp.

Hauge traces his interest in growing hemp back to the founding fathers, and one particularly famous hemp farmer. “The DEA would have arrested George Washington,” he said.

Source.

October 13, 2009 – Washington D.C. – Farmers, Hemp Industry Leaders Arrested for Planting Industrial photo1-1Hemp at DEA Headquarters in Act of Civil Disobedience to Protest ‘Reefer Madness’

At approximately 10 a.m. this morning, North Dakota farmer Wayne Hauge, Vermont farmer Will Allen, and fed up American entrepreneurs, who have dedicated their livelihoods to developing and marketing healthy, environmentally-friendly hemp products, for the first time turned to public civil disobedience with the planting of industrial hemp seed at DEA headquarters (700 Army Navy Dr Arlington, VA 22202) to protest the ban on hemp farming in the United States. Even though the U.S. is the largest market for hemp products in the world, and industrial hemp is farmed throughout Europe, Asia and Canada, not a single American farmer has the right to grow the versatile crop which is used for food, clothing, body care, paper, building materials, auto paneling and more.

Hoping to focus the attention of the Obama Administration on halting DEA interference, North Dakota Farmer Wayne Hauge; Founder of Cedar Circle Organic Farm in Vermont Will Allen; Hemp Industries Association (HIA) President Steve Levine; Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps President David Bronner; Vote Hemp Communications Director Adam Eidinger and Founder of Livity Outernational Hemp Clothing, Issac Nichelson were arrested while digging up the DEA’s lawn to plant industrial hemp seed imported from Canada. At this time, they are currently being held in Arlington County jail and are awaiting charges. They are expected to be released later this afternoon and will be available for interviews upon release. The six protesters planted hemp seeds with ceremonial chrome shovels engraved with:

Hemp Planting Oct. 2009 ~ DEA Headquarters ~ American Farmers Shall Grow Hemp Again

Reefer Madness Will Be Buried

Mr. Hauge is licensed by North Dakota to cultivate and process non-drug industrial hemp, just as Canadian farmers across the border have done profitably for over ten years supplying the booming U.S. market. However, the DEA refuses to distinguish non-drug industrial hemp cultivars grown for millennia for seed and fiber and has unconstitutionally blocked all state hemp programs such as North Dakota’s. Mr. Hauge, along with North Dakota State Rep. David Monson, sued the DEA in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota in 2007, and the case is currently before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. “In recent years there has been strong growth in demand for hemp in the U.S., but the American farmer is being left out while Canadian, European and Chinese farmers fill the void created by outdated federal policy,” said fourth-generation farmer Hauge. “When hemp is legalized, land grant universities across the nation will develop cultivars suitable to different growing regions to enhance yield and explore innovative uses such as cellulosic ethanol.”

Pictures and video of the action for free and unrestricted use, along with hemp farming footage and background information are available upon request in hardcopy and online. An HIA produced video of the action will also be posted, after 6 p.m. on 10/13 at: http://www.votehemp.com/DEAhempplanting.html

In the back drop of the spectacle at DEA headquarters, dozens of hemp business owners in town attending the HIA convention over the weekend fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers in support of hemp legislation introduced by Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barney Frank (D-MA) that would permit states to cultivate non-drug industrial hemp under state industrial hemp programs. Nine states have such programs, but their implementation has been blocked by DEA bureaucratic intransigence. This spring, however, President Obama instructed federal agencies to respect state laws in a presidential directive on federal pre-emption:

“Executive departments and agencies should be mindful that in our federal system, the citizens of the several States have distinctive circumstances and values, and that in many instances it is appropriate for them to apply to themselves rules and principles that reflect these circumstances and values. As Justice Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago, ‘it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.'”

Source:

Vote Hemp and the HIA are dedicated to a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current policy to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps President and Vote Hemp Director David Bronner stated: “Dr. Bronner’s has grown into the leading natural soap brand in the U.S. since incorporating hemp oil in 1999, due in significant part to the unsurpassed smoothness it gives our soaps. As an American business, we want to give our money to American farmers and save on import and freight costs. In this difficult economy, we can no longer indulge the DEA’s self-serving hemp hysteria.”

Source.

October 12, 2009 – Californians have made it clear at the ballot box that they favor legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes. But, as critics feared, Prop. 215, the medical marijuana initiative that was passed 13 cali_pot_0311years ago, has only opened the door to abuse.

It’s estimated that there are 40 marijuana dispensaries in Long Beach and 800 or more in Los Angeles alone. L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley decided last week that most of them are operating illegally, and wants to shut them down.

That may be too harsh. As supporters of medical marijuana rightly contend, closing all dispensaries would punish people who are entitled to marijuana.

Prop. 215 and the state law permitting collective cultivation of marijuana were meant to help chemotherapy and others suffering from pain or nausea to obtain marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. An actual prescription wasn’t needed. Given an opening, marijuana dispensaries cropped up everywhere, providing a safe, although apparently illegal, way for just about everyone to obtain the drug at competitive prices.

There is a better way to regulate marijuana. For starters, people who really need and want marijuana for their medical conditions should get a prescription — from a doctor — and fill the prescription at a pharmacy, just as they would obtain any medication. The whole process must be confidential. Keeping a list of medical marijuana users is unjust and unnecessary.

The next step would be to bow to the will of Californians, who generally favor decriminalizing marijuana use. It’s estimated that California is losing tens of millions of dollars from illegal marijuana sales — revenue it could collect if marijuana sales were legal. Once it’s legal, of course, prescriptions would not be necessary, and dispensaries could be tightly regulated, similar to the way liquor stores are regulated. Age limits, proximity of dispensaries to schools and residential areas would have to be regulated and enforced. Just as liquor can’t be sold without a license, street sales would be illegal.

Legalizing marijuana would go a long way toward reducing trafficking, which has turned Mexican border cities into horrific battlegrounds as drug cartels fight each other and the police, many of whom are so corrupt as to make regulation farcical.

If America learned anything from Prohibition, it’s that criminalizing a substance people want will only drive them to get it illegally. That lesson applies to marijuana. Legalize it. Regulate it. And enforce the regulations. The time has come. Source.

October 9, 2009 – Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Thursday he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales, targeting a practice that has become commonplacePicture 2 under an initiative approved by California voters more than a decade ago.

“The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory,” he said. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

Cooley and Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich recently concluded that state law bars sales of medical marijuana, an opinion that could spark a renewed effort by law enforcement across the state to rein in the use of marijuana. It comes as polls show a majority of state voters back legalization of marijuana, and supporters are working to place the issue on the ballot next year.

The district attorney’s office is investigating about a dozen dispensaries, following police raids, and is considering filing felony charges against one that straddles the Los Angeles-Culver City line.

“We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground,” Cooley said.

Medical marijuana advocates say the prosecutors are misinterpreting the law.

“I’m confident that they are not right,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access. “If they are right, it would mean that thousands of seriously ill Californians for whom the Compassionate Use Act was intended to help would not be able to get the medicine that they need.”

Law enforcement officials have been frustrated by the explosion in the number of dispensaries in Southern California, arguing that most are for-profit enterprises that violate the 1996 voter initiative legalizing medical marijuana and the 2003 state law permitting collective cultivation. Cooley’s announcement, coming at a news conference that followed a training session he and Trutanich conducted for narcotics officers, dramatically raises the stakes.

In the city of Los Angeles, some estimates put the number of dispensaries as high as 800. The city allowed 186 to remain open under its 2007 moratorium, but hundreds of others opened in violation of the ban while the city did nothing to shut them down.

In August, Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca sent a letter to all mayors and police chiefs in the county, saying that they believed over-the-counter sales were illegal and encouraging cities to adopt permanent bans on dispensaries.

Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA and an expert on drug policy, was not surprised that local prosecutors had decided to attack the rapid proliferation of marijuana stores.

“I think it’s a natural response to the rather flagrant marketing practices of a bunch of the dispensaries. The medical veneer has been wearing thinner and thinner,” he said. “I’ve always wondered why those things were legal when they didn’t look legal to me.”

Cooley said he believes that under state law, collectives must raise their own marijuana and can only recoup their costs. “That’s absolutely legal,” he said. “We’re going to respect that.”

But he said none of them currently do that.

The district attorney’s warning could make the situation more chaotic in Los Angeles, where the City Council has struggled for two years to devise an ordinance to control the distribution of medical marijuana.

In addition to prosecuting dispensaries, Cooley said he would consider going after doctors who write medical marijuana recommendations for healthy people. Medical marijuana critics argue that some doctors freely recommend the drug to people who are not ill.

Medical marijuana advocates celebrated a brief thaw in the enforcement climate after the Obama administration signaled earlier this year that it would not prosecute collectives that followed state law. That spurred many entrepreneurs to open dispensaries in Los Angeles. As stores popped up near schools and parks, neighborhood activists reacted with outrage and police took notice.

Councilman Dennis Zine, a key player on the issue at L.A. City Hall, welcomed Cooley’s decision to prosecute dispensaries. “There are many that are operating illegally and it’s not a secret,” he said, adding that he believes “a few” collectives in the city are operating legally.

Anticipating that police departments will ramp up raids on dispensaries, medical marijuana advocates reacted with dismay to Cooley’s announcement.

“What we’ll see is a big disruption,” said Don Duncan, the California director for Americans for Safe Access. He called Cooley’s decision “incredible” and said, “It certainly sounds scary.”

Duncan acknowledged that many dispensaries do not follow the law and urged Cooley and Trutanich to focus exclusively on them. “You don’t have to cast a net over the entire community, you can target the problem people and not take this extreme adversarial position,” he said. “Some good people are going to be caught in the crossfire.”

About 100 medical marijuana patients, activists and dispensary owners protested on a sidewalk outside the Montebello Country Club, where about 150 prosecutors and narcotics officers met. Motorists repeatedly honked and shook their fists in support as they rolled by, triggering cheers from the crowd.

Barry Kramer, the operator of California Patients Alliance, a collective on Melrose Avenue, said many dispensaries have responsibly regulated themselves for years in the vacuum left by the City Council’s inaction.

“I feel like that gets lost,” he said. “It’s frustrating to get painted with one brush by the city.”

Kramer said he believed that dispensaries would continue to operate. “People have found ways around marijuana laws for as long as there have been marijuana laws,” he said.

But he also said that stepped-up prosecutions could resuscitate the criminal market: “Things will go underground. We’ll see a lot more crime.”

When Californians voted for Proposition 215 in 1996, they made it legal for patients with a doctor’s recommendation and their caregivers to possess and raise pot for the patient’s medical use.

In 2003, the Legislature allowed patients and caregivers “collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes” but said they could not do it for profit.

Cooley and Trutanich, after reviewing a state Supreme Court decision from last year, have concluded that the law protects collectives from prosecution only in the cultivation of marijuana, not for sales or distribution.

Medical marijuana advocates, however, note that the state currently requires dispensaries to collect sales taxes on marijuana, and that guidelines drawn up by the attorney general conclude that “a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful.”

The guidelines allow collectives to take costs into account but do not deal directly with over-the-counter sales.

Jacob Appelsmith, special assistant attorney general, said Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown talked to Cooley on Thursday. “Our staffs are continuing to meet about these issues,” he said.

Source. By John Hoeffel

SAN FRANCISCO — Marijuana advocates are gathering signatures to get as many as three marijuana-legalizationpot-legalization measures on the ballot in 2010 in California, setting up what could be a groundbreaking clash with the federal government over U.S. drug policy.

At least one poll shows voters would support lifting the pot prohibition, which would make the state of more than 38 million the first in the nation to legalize marijuana.

Such action would also send the state into a headlong conflict with the U.S. government while raising questions about how federal law enforcement could enforce its drug laws in the face of a massive government-sanctioned pot industry.

The state already has a thriving marijuana trade, thanks to a first-of-its-kind 1996 ballot measure that allowed people to smoke pot for medical purposes. But full legalization could turn medical marijuana dispensaries into all-purpose pot stores, and the open sale of joints could become commonplace on mom-and-pop liquor store counters in liberal locales like Oakland and Santa Cruz.

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period. After overseeing a series of raids that destroyed more than 300,000 marijuana plants in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills this summer, federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske proclaimed, “Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine.”

The U.S. Supreme Court also has ruled that federal law enforcement agents have the right to crack down even on marijuana users and distributors who are in compliance with California’s medical marijuana law.

But some legal scholars and policy analysts say the government will not be able to require California to help in enforcing the federal marijuana ban if the state legalizes the drug.

Without assistance from the state’s legions of narcotics officers, they say, federal agents could do little to curb marijuana in California.

“Even though that federal ban is still in place and the federal government can enforce it, it doesn’t mean the states have to follow suit,” said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who recently published a paper about the issue.

Nothing can stop federal anti-drug agents from making marijuana arrests, even if Californians legalize pot, he said. However, the U.S. government cannot pass a law requiring local and state police, sheriff’s departments or state narcotics enforcers to help.

That is significant, because nearly all arrests for marijuana crimes are made at the state level. Of more than 847,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2008, for example, just over 6,300 suspects were booked by federal law enforcement, or fewer than 1 percent.

State marijuana bans have allowed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to focus on big cases, said Rosalie Pacula, director of drug policy research at the Rand Corp.

“It’s only something the feds are going to be concerned about if you’re growing tons of pot,” Pacula said. For anything less, she said, “they don’t have the resources to waste on it.”

In a typical recent prosecution, 29-year-old Luke Scarmazzo was sentenced to nearly 22 years and co-defendant Ricardo Ruiz Montes to 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking through a medical marijuana dispensary in Modesto.

At his bond hearing, prosecutors showed a rap video in which Scarmazzo boasts about his successful marijuana business, taunts federal authorities and carries cardboard boxes filled with cash. The DEA said the pair made more than $4.5 million in marijuana sales in less than two years.

The DEA would not speculate on the effects of any decision by California to legalize pot. “Marijuana is illegal under federal law and DEA will continue to attack large-scale drug trafficking organizations at every level,” spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said.

The most conservative of the three ballot measures would only legalize possession of up to one ounce of pot for personal use by adults 21 and older – an amount that already under state law can only result at most in a $100 fine.

The proposal would also allow anyone to grow a plot of marijuana up to 5 feet-by-5 feet on their private property. The size, Pacula said, seems specifically designed to keep the total number of plants grown below 100, the threshold for DEA attention.

The greatest potential for conflict with the U.S. government would likely come from the provision that would give local governments the power to decide city-by-city whether to allow pot sales.

Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state already operate openly with only modest federal interference. If recreational marijuana became legal, these businesses could operate without requiring their customers to qualify as patients.

Any business that grew bigger than the already typical storefront shops, however, would probably be too tempting a target for federal prosecution, experts said.

Even if Washington could no longer count on California to keep pot off its own streets, Congress or the Obama administration could try to coerce cooperation by withholding federal funds.

But with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement earlier this year that the Justice Department would defer to state laws on marijuana, the federal response to possible legalization remains unclear.

Doug Richardson, a spokesman for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the office is in the process of re-evaluating its policies on marijuana and other drugs.

Richardson said the office under Obama was pursuing a “more comprehensive” approach than the previous administration, with emphasis on prevention and treatment as well as law enforcement.

“We’re trying to base stuff on the facts, the evidence and the science,” he said, “not some particular prejudice somebody brings to the table.” Source.

October 7, 2009 – ARCATA, Calif. — Stiff competition from thousands of mom-and-pop marijuana farmers in the United States threatens the bottom line for powerful Mexican drug organizations in a Picture 36way that decades of arrests and seizures have not, according to law enforcement officials and pot growers in the United States and Mexico.

Illicit pot production in the United States has been increasing steadily for decades. But recent changes in state laws that allow the use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes are giving U.S. growers a competitive advantage, challenging the traditional dominance of the Mexican traffickers, who once made brands such as Acapulco Gold the standard for quality.

Almost all of the marijuana consumed in the multibillion-dollar U.S. market once came from Mexico or Colombia. Now as much as half is produced domestically, often by small-scale operators who painstakingly tend greenhouses and indoor gardens to produce the more potent, and expensive, product that consumers now demand, according to authorities and marijuana dealers on both sides of the border.

The shifting economics of the marijuana trade have broad implications for Mexico’s war against the drug cartels, suggesting that market forces, as much as law enforcement, can extract a heavy price from criminal organizations that have used the spectacular profits generated by pot sales to fuel the violence and corruption that plague the Mexican state.

While the trafficking of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine is the main focus of U.S. law enforcement, it is marijuana that has long provided most of the revenue for Mexican drug cartels. More than 60 percent of the cartels’ revenue — $8.6 billion out of $13.8 billion in 2006 — came from U.S. marijuana sales, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Now, to stay competitive, Mexican traffickers are changing their business model to improve their product and streamline delivery. Well-organized Mexican cartels have also moved to increasingly cultivate marijuana on public lands in the United States, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center and local authorities. This strategy gives the Mexicans direct access to U.S. markets, avoids the risk of seizure at the border and reduces transportation costs.

Unlike cocaine, which the traffickers must buy and transport from South America, driving up costs, marijuana has been especially lucrative for the cartels because they control the business all the way from clandestine fields in the Mexican mountains to the wholesale dealers in U.S. cities such as Washington.

“It’s pure profit,” said Jorge Chabat, an expert on the drug trade at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City.

The exact dimensions of the U.S. marijuana market are unknown. The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 14.4 million Americans age 12 and over had used marijuana in the past month. More than 10 percent of the U.S. population reported smoking pot once in the past year.

Mexico produced 35 million pounds of marijuana last year, according to government estimates. On a hidden hilltop field in Mexico’s Sinaloa state, reachable by donkey, a pound of pot might earn a farmer $25. The wholesale price for the same pound in Phoenix is $550, and so the Mexican cartels could be selling $20 billion worth of marijuana in the U.S. market each year.

“Marijuana created the drug trafficking organizations you see today. The founding families of the cartels got their start with pot. And marijuana remains a highly profitable business they will fight to protect,” said Luis Astorga, a leading authority on the drug cartels at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who grew up in Sinaloa in 1960s and recalls seeing major growers at social functions in the state capital, Culiacan.

Led by California, 13 U.S. states now permit some use of marijuana; Maryland is considering such a law. In many cities, marijuana is one of the lowest priorities for police. Source.

October 5, 2009 – An Objective, Brief, and Ethical Exploration of a Law Prohibiting Marijuana

Marijuana is illegal, but should it be? That is a question that remains unanswered. The road to the freezedirtbag2illegalization of marijuana began in 1937 when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed. While it didn’t make the drug illegal, it made it very dangerous to deal with the substance. It wasn’t until the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that marijuana became a schedule 1 narcotic, making it illegal. In order to be declared a schedule 1 narcotic, a substance must meet the following criteria:

(A) The drug or other substance has high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

In this article we will explore the function of drug laws, how that function relates to marijuana, and whether or not a law prohibiting marijuana is ethical and fair. In addition to the guidelines offered by the CSA, we will include our own reasons for controlling a substance, which are:

(A) The drug induces severe psychological affects, which cause unpredictable behavior that may endanger the user and those around them.

(B) Use of the drug could lead to crime.

(C) Use of the drug can lead to severe health problems.

The opposition to marijuana (in the modern day) stems largely from fears in regards to the possible psychological and physical health effects of the drug. Some claim that marijuana causes permanent damage to brain, hindering a person’s cognitive skills over time. Others note personality changes such as loss of motivation, paranoia, and addiction.

Studies have shown the fears regarding personality to be justified. However, the general consensus is that the people most affected by marijuana in terms of addiction and personality changes, are people who began using the drug before the age of 18, a period in a child’s life that is important to their psychological and social development. In fact, 10-14% of marijuana users suffer from addiction problems and withdrawal that is comparable to nicotine withdrawal, says University of Vermont associate professor and director of its Treatment Research Center, Dr. Alan J. Budney (Carroll).

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) marijuana can have lasting effects on a user’s daily life. The following is taken from NIDA’s information page of marijuana:

Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status. Several studies associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.

As for physiological health effects, the three main concerns are in regards to the brain, the heart, and the lungs. As mentioned earlier, many opponents to marijuana use claim that the drug causes permanent damage to the brain. Many studies dispute this notion, but we will cover that in more depth when we get to the pro-marijuana portion of this paper. Instead, we will focus on the areas in which scientific studies have been able to confirm potential health risks.

Research has shown that the risk for a heart-attack increases within the first hour of marijuana use. This happens because of an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to heart concerns, marijuana poses a threat to the respiratory system as it is carcinogenic and users tend to hold smoke in their lungs longer. While it was originally believed that marijuana smoke caused cancer new studies have proven otherwise, some even saying that the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, may be able to help prevent certain kinds of cancer (NIDA).

Nevertheless, the debate on medicinal marijuana has caused an increase in the amount of research regarding the drug, many of which have ended with surprising conclusions. In 15 different studies, varying from 3 months to 13+ years, scientists observed regular marijuana users and non-users to determine if there was any damage to the brain as a result of use. All of the studies conclusively proved that marijuana does not damage the brain permanently as previously believed. Other studies have produced similar results (WebMD).

Igor Grant, MD and lead researcher for the previously mentioned studies makes sure to mention that the participants were all adults and that the results would most likely be different if it was a 12 year old user, whose nervous system is still developing (WebMD).

In regards to addiction, ”Everything is relative,” said Dr. Donald Jasinksi, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins medical school and director of the Center for Chemical Dependence at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. ”Does it destroy as many lives as alcohol? No. Does it kill as many people as cigarettes? No. Does it have as many deaths associated with it as aspirin overdose? No. (Carroll).”

While studies have shown a percentage of marijuana users to suffer from addiction to the drug, it is a small percentage of the population and an argument can be, and has been, made that anything can be addictive based on the emotional attachment a person has to an activity. The withdrawal period is far less severe than that of alcohol and other drugs. The NIDA has found that the average withdrawal begins after 1 day of abstinence, peaks at 2-3, and subsides after a week or two (NIDA).

As far as physical health effects, respiratory problems appear to be the only one that both sides agree on, but advocates of marijuana contend moderate use of the drug is less severe than cigarette use as cigarette users tend to smoke multiple cigarettes a day. Furthermore, alternative means of marijuana consumption such as eating it or using a vaporizer lower the amount of carcinogens that enter the lungs. Even more surprising, studies conducted in Italy and Britain have found that THC might be useful in fighting off bacteria (Fountain).

With the amount of studies that have been conducted on marijuana since the 1950s, and the nature of their findings, it is shocking as to why a collective conclusion has not yet been reached in regards to the legality issue of the substance. Based on the above information and the criteria established earlier for determining whether a substance should be controlled or not, we will systematically explore the ethical validity of a law prohibiting the use, growth, and sale of marijuana.

First, we must define the telos or function of a law. Certainly, most will agree that the function of a law is to protect the majority of the population from a dangerous element of society. If that is the function of a law then we must examine the societal effects of the illegalization of marijuana versus the potential dangers.

As a result of the prohibition of marijuana, millions of Americans have been arrested and entered into the justice system, with 872,721 people being arrested in 2007, 89% for simple possession (NORML). The number is a 5.2% increase from 2006, with the annual number of marijuana arrests rising steadily on a yearly basis (NORML).

The majority of people arrested for marijuana are non-violent offenders with no previous criminal record. This means they pose no threat to society. So what is the law protecting the population from? Themselves? This seems to be the case since the law has damaged more lives through legal troubles than it protected since most marijuana users do not use the substance and go on crime sprees.

If the law’s function is meant to protect people from the health risks associated with the population then we must once again return to the studies conducted on the issue. While marijuana, like anything, has negative effects, it appears that overall it is no more dangerous than many legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin, etc. In the WebMD article, which talks about Igor Grant’s research regarding the effects of marijuana on the brain, Lester Grinspoon, MD, a retired Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who studied medicinal marijuana use since the 1960s and wrote two books on the topic, says that while Grant’s finding provide more evidence on its safety, “it’s nothing that those of us who have been studying this haven’t known for a very long time.”

“Marijuana is a remarkably safe and non-toxic drug that can effectively treat about 30 different conditions,” he tells WebMD. “I predict it will become the aspirin of the 21st century, as more people recognize this. (WebMD)”

While many credible minds in the scientific community warn about the dangers of marijuana use on people under the age of 18, the consensus seems to be that it is relatively safe to use for adults, especially when used in moderation.

If it poses little danger to a person’s health, brings joy to those who use it, and its users are not prone to criminal behavior, what is the function of a law prohibiting marijuana? If, as a law, it is to protect the population from an assumed danger, is it serving that function? The answers to those questions are for the reader to determine based on the evidence and analysis presented within this paper, in addition to any evidence found independently. Source.

Works Cited

Carroll, Linda. “Marijuana’s Effects: More Than Munchies.” New York Times 22 Jan. 2008.

“872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007, up 5.2% from 2006.” NORML. 15 Sept. 2008. NORML. 22 Oct. 2008 .

Fountain, Henry. “Marijuana Ingredient May Fight Bacteria.” New York Times 5 Sept. 2008: F3.

“Info Facts – Marijuana.” National Institute of Drug Abuse. June 2008. National Institute of Drug Abuse. 22 Oct. 2008.

Kirchheimer, Sid. “Heavy Marijuana Use Doesn’t Damage Brain.” WebMD. 1 July 2003. WebMD. 22 Oct. 2008 .

October 2, 2009 – If the police barged into your place of wellness pointing guns, what would you do? This may seem farfetched to some, but not when theprotest medicine in question is a controversial plant known as herb, weed, pot, ganja, Mary Jane, or of course, marijuana.

Police raided 14 medical cannabis centers September 9 in San Diego, California, one of which was Hillcrest Compassion Care, a rapidly expanding collective that grants members safe access to their medicine.

Rev. Paul Cody, president of Hillcrest Compassion Care, explains that the cooperative is more than a place to get marijuana. “We don’t want a pot shop in our town,” he declares. “We want a mental and physical wellbeing center to heal people who are at the end of their ropes and are going through possible terminal illnesses. We want to help them live vibrant and healthy lives in the community.”

That’s right; it’s not about getting high legally. Indeed, through a citizen vote, state legislation allows California residents over the age of 21 with a doctor’s recommendation to safely access medical cannabis, either by growing it themselves, or receiving it through the cooperative effort of patients and caregivers.

A medicinal herb that was cultivated in China as early as 5000 BC, marijuana is currently used to treat multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, pain associated with cancer and HIV, headaches, nausea, anxiety, menstrual cramps, and many other conditions.

“The wonderful accomplishment of medical marijuana is that it provides a sense of control over people’s lives so that they can function,” Cody points out. “People do not get stoned; they get medicated.”

So what’s all the fuss about? San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced in a press release the day after the raids that all local medical marijuana centers were illegally dealing drugs for profit. The law mandates that collectives are non-profit entities.

On the day of the raids, police literally bashed in the doors of Hillcrest Compassion Care, handcuffing several patients and caregivers, while taking possession of the collective’s medicine and confidential patient forms. The arrest procedure posed a specific problem for Cody, who is in a wheelchair. Possessing no movement from the waist down, he would require the handcuffs to be placed in front of his body while being positioned in the front seat of the car for bodily support. His requests were ignored and consequently, he flopped to the side in the back of the police car with his hands cuffed behind his back, receiving several injuries. Subsequently, no charges were placed on any collective members.

Cody reflects, “We feel that our civil rights are being violated on multiple levels. That’s why there will be several attorneys specializing in different fields to address this matter. We are holding the City of San Diego, the City of San Diego Police Department, the County of San Diego, and Bonnie Dumanis responsible for how the raids were conducted.”

Several protests were held September 17-21, where demonstrators voiced their opinion that the state law be upheld. People must be able to exercise their right to safely access medical marijuana through non-profit collectives without harassment from the authorities.

On a larger scale, the question to legalize marijuana statewide is coming to a head. Activists in Oakland are moving forward on an initiative to tax and legalize marijuana for personal use. In effect, the measure would allow residents 21 and over to grow or possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Local governments would decide whether to tax and regulate sales. The projected economic impact would be monumental in bringing the state much needed revenue. The signatures of 433,000 registered California voters are necessary to get the initiative on the 2010 ballot—and as of October 1, there are 100 days to get it done.

In the meantime, Hillcrest Compassion Care, along with other cooperatives, are working to safely supply medical marijuana to collective members.
“Alternative needs are here,” says Cody. “Whether it’s through acupuncture, massage therapy, reflexology, or support groups—we need to have a place where we can access these medications and practices.”

That’s why Hillcrest Compassion Care goes beyond providing medical marijuana by using its resources as a non-profit organization to benefit the community. “We have programs that aren’t just for collective members,” notes Cody. “We try to reach the community abroad. Everyone is welcome.”

The collective offers yoga classes on Mondays, medicine education classes on Tuesdays, HIV support groups on Wednesdays, and music on Friday and Saturday nights. “There are many people out there who need help—that’s the bottom line,” affirms Cody. “It’s not done for profit; it’s done out of love and compassion.”

For more information on the 2010 ballot initiative in California to tax and legalize marijuana, visit http://www.taxcannabis2010.org. To learn more about Hillcrest Compassion Care, call 619.291.4420 or visit 1295 University Ave. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., or Sunday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

by Elyssa Paige. Source.

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 24, 2009 – Barrie, Ontario Canada – Daily headlines read “Marijuana grow-ops busted”.

What difference does it make?marijuana-bust

The recent outdoor marijuana ‘eradication’ efforts by police are glaring examples of the futility of prohibition.

Law enforcement efforts are not ‘stemming the tide’ (or ‘taking a bite out’) of drugs, nor will they ever do so. It is all just an expensive show at taxpayer expense to give the public the illusion that something is being accomplished.

Why aren’t journalists asking these important questions?

Is there evidence that these eradication efforts actually reduce the availability of marijuana on the street? The answer is a resounding No!

What percentage of the outdoor crops are police able to destroy?

How much do these annual eradication efforts cost (diverted police resources, overtime pay, helicopter use and fuel)?

Taxpayers have a right to know the answers to these questions.

This futile and expensive ritual will continue, year after year, until we finally come to our senses and end cannabis prohibition. Every major study on the cannabis issue has come to the same key conclusion as the 2002 Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs.

‘The prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself’ (Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy, 2002- http://www.SenateReport.ca). Every day that we delay the end of this corrupting, harmful policy, the deeper the tentacles of organized crime infiltrate into our communities. Ending cannabis prohibition is definitely in Canada’s best interest. Source.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.