November 4, 2009 – Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 676, which legalized growing industrial hemp statewide, but the product still is illegal at the federal level, hempleaving would-be hemp farmers in a sort of limbo.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) was one of SB 676’s two sponsors. He said that the bill “gives a framework and the process and procedure” to allow industrial hemp to be grown and regulated under the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA).

“We’re looking at a sustainable, close-knit operation that would allow for industrial hemp to be grown in this state, processed in this state and actually be able to be sold in the state and around the world,” he said.

Prozanski added that since SB 676 passed, he has been contacted by many farmers expressing interest in growing hemp. He has pledged to work with other officials to try and change the federal policy, which he said is “very likely” to happen.

Josephine County (Illinois) Commissioner Dave Toler said that he also received many calls during the just-passed summer about industrial hemp after SB 676 was signed into law by Gov. Kulongoski. But Toler said that he is uncertain of the crop’s viability in Josephine County, where prime soil is limited.

“This is mostly a forest county,” Toler said.

Most of the county’s best soil is located in the flood plains of the Rogue, Applegate and Illinois rivers, Toler said, but much of the rest is largely “marginal.” As such, he said that his efforts to expand agriculture in the county have been focused on crops like canola, which grow well on marginal soils.

Prozanski stated that, “We’re trying to get back to the future in allowing what farmers used to be able to do in this country. It should be a no-brainer.”

American history is filled with examples of farmers being able to harvest hemp as a crop — and the U.S. government allowing, and even encouraging, the practice.

In some U.S. colonies, residents were required to grow hemp, Prozanski said. Its growth was subsidized by the government during World War II under a “Hemp For Victory” program, he said, and farmers in the Midwest were paid to harvest the crop because the nation lost The Philippines as a source.

Prozanski said that hemp was grown on commercial farms in the United States throughout the 1950s. However, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency was formed in the early 1970s, and hemp began to be prohibited as a stand-alone agricultural crop, he said.

Illinois Valley resident and hemp activist Waves Forest is among those applauding Oregon’s move toward allowing the crop to be produced. He said that hemp enabled citizens to be much more self-sufficient than they have been since the federal government made it illegal.

“The very fact that the economy is in such shambles essentially flows from hemp prohibition,” Forest said.

He continued, “It was the centerpiece of Nature’s plan to meet all human needs. It did so very well for a long time. As it dropped early in the last century, everything got scarcer. It was easier to force people into the customer base of various resource monopolists because a raw material that you could grow in your backyard became prohibited.”

Forest points out that hemp was “an acceptable currency for a very long time” and that “You could pay taxes with it in the early stages of this country.”

Forest said that residents throughout Josephine County have been working to rebuild the soils on their properties. He added that hemp can grow well on marginal lands.

“It’s managed to find its way into many different climates and ecosystems,” he said.

Prozanski said that aside from farmers, the forestry industry could benefit from the legalization of industrial hemp. It can be blended with wood fibers to create composite materials, he noted.

“There are multiple advantages for seeing industrial hemp being reintroduced as a commodity in the state,” Prozanski said. “It has so many different applications, from fiber to seed, to be used in so many different commodities. It will be huge.”

As an example, Prozanski cites Living Harvest, a “reputable” Portland company that sells hemp-based food products. They include a beverage similar to soy milk made with hemp seed, and hemp-based ice cream.

Living Harvest currently has annual sales of up to $8 million, but projects that it could grow to $100 million within the next five years, Prozanski said. The company has committed to buying all its hemp from within Oregon, Prozanski said, which would provide huge benefits to the state’s economy.

“They are very anxious and eager to be able to have a domestic hemp seed source, instead of importing hemp seed from Canada,” according to Prozanski. Source.

ODA has information on its Website regarding the process of legalizing industrial hemp. For more information, visit here.

October 27, 2009-SAN FRANCISCO — These are heady times for advocates of legalized marijuana in California — and only in small part because of the newly relaxed approach of the federal government toward medical marijuana.915692621578182322b5790tr1

State lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue.

California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the ballot next year, all of which would permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to tax it. Even opponents of legalization suggest that an initiative is likely to qualify for a statewide vote.

“All of us in the movement have had the feeling that we’ve been running into the wind for years,” said James P. Gray, a retired judge in Orange County who has been outspoken in support of legalization. “Now we sense we are running with the wind.”

Proponents of the leading ballot initiative have collected nearly 300,000 signatures since late September, supporters say, easily on pace to qualify for the November 2010 general election. Richard Lee, a longtime marijuana activist who is behind the measure, says he has raised nearly $1 million to hire professionals to assist volunteers in gathering the signatures.

“Voters are ripping the petitions out of our hands,” Mr. Lee said.

That said, the bids to legalize marijuana are opposed by law enforcement groups across the state and, if successful, would undoubtedly set up a legal showdown with the federal government, which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, in 1996, but court after court — including the United States Supreme Court — has ruled that the federal government can continue to enforce its ban. Only this month, with the Department of Justice announcement that it would not prosecute users and providers of medical marijuana who obey state law, has that threat subsided.

But federal authorities have also made it clear that their tolerance stops at recreational use. In a memorandum on Oct. 19 outlining the medical marijuana guidelines, Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden said marijuana was “a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime,” adding that “no state can authorize violations of federal law.”

Still, Mr. Lee anticipates spending up to $20 million on a campaign to win passage of his ballot measure in California, raising some of it from the hundreds of already legal medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, which have been recently fighting efforts by Los Angeles city officials to tighten restrictions on their operations.

“It’s a $2 billion industry,” Mr. Lee said of the medical marijuana sales.

Opponents said they are also preparing for a battle next year.

“I fully expect they will qualify,” said John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist for several groups of California law enforcement officials that oppose legalization.

Any vote would take place in a state where attitudes toward marijuana border on the schizophrenic. Last year, the state made some 78,500 arrests on felony and misdemeanors related to the drug, up from about 74,000 in 2007, according to the California attorney general.

Seizures of illegal marijuana plants, often grown by Mexican gangs on public lands in forests and parks, hit an all-time high in 2009, and last week, federal authorities announced a series of arrests in the state’s Central Valley, where homes have been converted into “indoor grows.”

At the same time, however, there are also pockets of California where marijuana can seem practically legal already. At least seven California cities have formally declared marijuana a low priority for law enforcement, with ballot measures or legislative actions. In Los Angeles, some 800 to 1,000 dispensaries of medical marijuana are in business, officials say, complete with consultants offering public relations services and “canna-business management.”

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat and author of the legalization bill, said momentum for legalization has built in recent years, especially as the state’s finances have remained sour.

“A lot of people that were initially resistant or even ridiculed it have come aboard,” Mr. Ammiano said.

In Oakland, which passed a tax on medical cannabis sales in July, several people who signed a petition backing Mr. Lee’s initiative said they were motivated in part by the cost of imprisoning drug offenders and the toll of drug-related violence in Mexico.

“Personally I don’t see a way of getting it under control other than legalizing it and taxing it,” said Jim Quinn, 60, a production manager. “We’ve got to get it out of the hands of criminals both domestic and international.”

Mr. Lovell, the law enforcement lobbyist, however, said those arguments paled in comparison to the potential pitfalls of legalization, including people driving under the influence. He also questioned how much net revenue a tax like Mr. Ammiano is proposing would actually raise. “We get revenue from alcohol,” he said. “But there’s way more in social costs than we retain in revenues.”

The recent history of voter-approved drug reform laws in California is not encouraging for supporters of legalization. Last November, voters rejected a proposition that would have increased spending for drug treatment programs and loosened parole and prison requirements for drug offenders.

None of which seems to faze Mr. Lee, 47, a former roadie who founded Oaksterdam University, a medical marijuana trade school in Oakland, in 2007. Mr. Lee says he plans to use the Internet to raise money, as well as tapping out-of state sources for campaign money.

More than anything, however, Mr. Lee said he was banking on a basic shift in people’s attitudes toward the drug.

“For a lot of people,” he said, “it’s just another brand of beer.” Source.

October 25th, 2009 – Old-timers in Mendocino County may remember Bruce Perlowin – a guy who got busted in the 1980s at his compound-like home on Robinson Creek Road.DSCN0189

Appearing in CNBC’s “Marijuana, Inc.” documentary, Perlowin described his journey from Floridian hippie to marijuana kingpin – the mastermind of one of the most successful drug-smuggling enterprises in history.

Perlowin did his time, got out of jail, took up network marketing and was at the right spot during the birth of prepaid phone cards, saying his company, GlobalCom 2000, became “wildly successful.”

He was intrigued about changes in California’s marijuana laws. “I said jokingly to a colleague, if they legalize, I will network market marijuana.’” He did some homework and decided it was time to buy back his former Ukiah home.

The former super smuggler and his business partner decided, in Perlowin’s words, “to position ourselves in the marijuana industry.”

They changed their corporate name from Club VivaNet to Medical Marijuana, Inc., or MMI, and in March launched what he calls “the first publicly traded company based on the medical marijuana industry.” The Pink Sheet stock split 10 to 1 shortly after its initial offering; 1.3 million shares were traded on Wednesday, with the price climbing a dime to 37 cents per share. Perlowin estimates there are currently about 3,000 shareholders.

“MMI will provide turnkey solutions for an emerging industry,” says Perlowin.
Advertisement
Conceptual graphics feature a satellite-tracked supply chain network – with closed-loop systems incorporating seed suppliers, cannabis kitchens, a testing facility, home delivery and more.

Perlowin’s brainchild is the tax remittance card patients would use to purchase medicine from collectives. State, local and federal taxes would be funneled directly to the government. “We have signed on 28 collectives,” states Perlowin. The system platform is being beta tested, but MMI literature clearly states real-time implementation requires governmental technology upgrades to accommodate “a very high level of daily transaction volume.”

Collectives working with MMI seem excited by the possibilities, but on a few cannabis websites, individuals urge a closer look at the structure and history of MMI. Perlowin invites the inspection. “We’re building the rails for the industry to ride on. We must be transparent.” To that end, Perlowin is holding free informational seminars Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 until 9 p.m. in the Discovery Inn’s corporate room.

Are Perlowin’s proposals right for Mendocino County? Matt Cohen, Cooperative Director of Northstone Organics, also seeks ways to regulate medical marijuana production, but unlike Perlowin, Cohen’s puts the county at the center of the structural circle.

“My organization has standards in place,” notes Cohen, who feels grower and product accountability will be created when marijuana production regulations close the industry loop. He is committed to a structure that will help the marijuana community to enact positive change and operate freely – like any business.

Northstone incorporated as a Community Supported Agriculture model, providing patients with medical marijuana, and if desired, organic produce and free-range eggs. His years working with dispensaries, he says, taught him the importance of consumers’ rights to safe, quality medicine.

Cohen is not daunted by working within the system. He and other cannabis colleagues converse regularly with government and law enforcement.

He feels county Supervisor John McCowen’s proposed changes to the county’s medical marijuana ordinance are best suited to the needs of Northstone and the county – in contrast with the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, which endorses Supervisor John Pinches’ proposal. “MMMAB has been the voice of the cannabis community. It’s good for people to realize there are other views,” says Cohen.

Cohen wants to “take the Wild West and bring it through a regulatory scheme.”

Perlowin says, “MMI will create a compliance committee to bridge the gap between government, dispensaries and growers.” Cohen feels that Mendocino to cannabis is like Kentucky to whiskey.

“We could be positioned for a boutique industry before tobacco moves in.” Perlowin says, “It’s either us, giant agribusiness or tobacco.”

“The war’s over,” says the former kingpin. “Grow plants, pay your taxes and be part of the system.” Cohen says, “In the future, I hope people look to Mendocino County as the standard bearer for sustainable industry.” By CAROLE BRODSKY. Source.

October 21, 2009 – In New Zealand, the tiny political party Aotearoa HempLegalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) promotes a platform that it says can “reverse” damaging climate change by planting hundreds of thousands of hectares of cannabis hemp, ALCP says, at a density of around 300 plants per square meter, to replace NZ’s energy and fuel needs.

Yes, it sounds far-fetched, especially since in the US farmers have labored long and hard to get lawmakers to stop confusing non-cannabis industrial hemp grown for its myriad uses in industrial fibers and foods with its cannabis cousin.

Longtime hemp activist Jack Herer is offering $100,00 to anyone who can disprove his hypothesis that hemp is a silver bullet for climate change. Here’s Herer:

“If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction, were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation, then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meet all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time. That substance is the same one that has done it before: Cannabis Hemp.”

Anyone who can prove this statement wrong is entitled to $US 100,000. http://www.jackherer.com/challenge.html

Herer’s mixing of cannabis hemp with industrial hemp is a little unfortunate, for according to Hemp Global Solutions, hemp could be a good short term climate tool, because the crop is rapid-growing for carbon dioxide uptake, less vulnerable to climate variations than agro-forestry, and might be a good cash crop for farmers. HGS calculates each ton of hemp grown represents 1.63 tons of CO2 absorption.

Whether in the U.S. the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 can come to a vote during this session is uncertain. But Jack Herer isn’t the only person to espouse hemp. Dr. Bronner’s president, David Bronner, is among a small group of hemp farmers hoping to get more coverage for the bill.

Eight states (including Oregon as the most recent) have allowed industrial (non cannabis) hemp research or production, but thus far implementation has been hampered by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Bronner, whose company has used hemp oil in its products for over a decade, was arrested in Washington, DC last week for planting hemp on the DEA front lawn. He said he’d rather buy his hemp from U.S. farmers instead of importing it, and “save on both import and freight charges.”

Source.

October 19, 2009 – The Justice Department announced today that federal drug agents will no longer arrest or prosecute people who are legally using, selling or supplying medical marijuana in the states that allow it.

“It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement when he released the new guidelines. But, Mr. Holder said, “we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.”

How significant is the change in federal drug policy? What will the new guidelines mean for local and state law enforcement?

A Muddier Federal Role
Picture 29Tom Riley-Tom Riley was associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2001 to 2009.

The new policy announced on medical marijuana can be broken down into two parts. The first of these is not really “new” and the second is not really “policy.”

First, Attorney General Holder announced that it would no longer be a “priority” for the federalPicture 31 government to prosecute patients with serious illnesses. But that has never been a priority of federal law enforcement, which has been focused on people engaged in the cultivation and trafficking of significant quantities of illegal drugs. Let’s not be conned here: The average quantity of marijuana that someone is in federal prison for marijuana possession is over 100 lbs.

That is not “personal use,” nor is it Granny getting locked in the slammer for puffing a few joints for “medical” purposes. Leaving aside the wisdom of determining medical policy by ballot measure rather than by science, keeping the federal law enforcement focus on drug trafficking is nothing new — it is a continuation of the Bush and Clinton administration policies.

Second, the memo itself is internally conflicted to the point of incoherence. While ostensibly encouraging prosecutors to defer to state and local laws on marijuana, it also recognizes that federal “interest” can still allow the feds, at their discretion, to step in and prosecute. In fact, federal law remains completely unchanged.

The memo specifically states that the new policy should not be interpreted to mean that medical marijuana has been legalized, and that it does not provide a legal defense against federal prosecution. Moreover, it states that even if an individual scrupulously complies with state laws, they still may be subject to federal prosecution.

The gap between the headlines and the reality can only lead to further confusion. California municipalities are struggling with an explosion of store-front pot shops and grow operations. The new federal “guidelines” make the federal role muddier, and may send a green light to cultivators and traffickers who have been cynically using the “medical” label.

A Victory for Common Sense
Picture 30Richard N. Van Wickler-Richard N. Van Wickler is the Cheshire County superintendent of New Hampshire Department of Corrections and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The announcement by the Obama administration to not use limited resources to target states that allow the use of medicinal marijuana, and the citizens who use them, is a significant victory for common sense.

One case in point is California, which has built 21 new penitentiaries in a five-year period. Picture 32
The state should get some relief from the no fewer than 200 raids by federal officers on state-approved medicinal marijuana cooperatives — a significant acknowledgment of compassion for the sick and respect for the autonomy of our individual states. The change shines a new light on the horribly failed drug war.

Citing limited federal resources as a principal reason not to pursue state-approved medicinal marijuana cooperatives is only one of many excellent reasons why our country must change course. Considering that 83 percent of property crimes and as much as 40 percent of violent crimes are unsolved in our country, it seems that what resources we do have could be much better utilized. If preventing crime, reducing disease and addiction rates, and reducing violence and needless death are goals of this administration with respect to the drug war, then an exit strategy is urgently needed on this failed war.

But Is It Effective?
Picture 34Henry I. Miller-Henry I. Miller, a medical doctor, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was an official at the Food and Drug Administration from 1979 to 1994.

As an “exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion,” in the words of the Department of Justice, this decision is understandable — and even welcome — but it is not altogether satisfactory. Arguably, if marijuana has therapeutic potential, it should be required to pass scientific and regulatory muster like any other medicine.

We have considerable experience with making drugs from the opium poppy, for example, butPicture 33 we don’t authorize patients to smoke opium for medical purposes; rather, we require that opiate products, including morphine for analgesia and paregoric for diarrhea, be standardized and quality-controlled by composition and dose, fully tested, delivered in an appropriate manner, and shown to be safe and effective. Why should marijuana be any different?

A promising and rational alternative to smoked marijuana is a marijuana-derived drug called Sativex, formulated as a mouth spray, which has been approved in Canada for the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis and is in advanced clinical trials for muscle spasticity, intractable pain and other uses. Unlike crude marijuana, its purity and potency can be standardized.

Patients who are genuinely in need deserve safe and effective medicines, and rigorous testing and oversight are the best ways to provide them.

Hypocritical Foolishness
Picture 36Joseph McNamara-Joseph D. McNamara, a retired deputy inspector of the New York Police Department and former police chief of San Jose, Calif., is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

I never smoked a cigarette in my life, let alone a reefer. It’s not that I was a puritan. Like the overwhelming majority of my fellow cops, I thought it manly and cool to consume my share of beer and booze.

But as a veteran of more than 30 years in law enforcement, I always thought it hypocritical Picture 35foolishness to bust 700,000 to 800,000 Americans a year for pot, and especially ridiculous to get excited about sick people smoking marijuana because they believed accurately or mistakenly, that it helped ease their pain.

I’m not inclined to enter the endless debates between crusading zealots against marijuana and those who cite contrary evidence that marijuana is a relatively harmless drug. I am convinced, however, that if you must be a heavy drug user, you’re far better off smoking pot than, say, playing the dangerous, insane drinking games common among our high school and college kids, and excessive alcohol consumption by older heavy boozers.

In my mind, the question should focus on the societal costs of arresting someone for using certain substances we disapprove of, and consequently giving them a criminal record that can damage their lives and turn them into career criminals. If Misters Clinton, Bush, or Obama, and countless other successful people had been busted for their youthful flirtation with drugs most would have been stigmatized and suffered irreparable career harm. The learning moment here is that there is a terrible human cost to arresting someone, which must be balanced against the harm it supposedly prevents.

Additional costs of the violence, corruption, and other crimes associated with prohibition never seem to be included in estimated costs of drug war policies. For example, the use of scarce police, court, and correctional resources, and the disproportional mischief that aggressive arrest tactics impose on minorities tilt the already out of balance price tag for our irrational policy of unnecessarily criminalizing widespread conduct. Why is a free society so terrified of trusting adults to make responsible decisions?

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 11, 2009 – Within the next three weeks, State Sen. Joey Pendleton plans to take a group of Kentucky farmers to study the industrial hemp trade in Canada where the crop has been grown legally for Picture 5the past 10 years.

Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, has introduced a bill for 2010, renewing a push to legalize industrial hemp in Kentucky as a cash crop and as a source for alternative fuels.

“The timing is right,” Pendleton said. “It would give farmers another crop to raise.” Production of hemp is already legal for research purposes in Kentucky but is untried due to federal barriers.

Margaret McCauley of Versailles holds hemp fiber used to make rope. She favors the renewal of hemp production in Kentucky.

A hemp processing plant from around 1908 still stands on land owned by Margaret McCauley’s family in Versailles. She preserves artifacts from the era when hemp was legally raised in Kentucky. 

Pendleton’s bill comes at a time when federal legislation decriminalizing hemp for industrial use has been introduced in Congress and proponents are encouraged by stances taken by the Obama Administration.

In Versailles, where the remnants of an old hemp processing plant still stand on property that Margaret McCauley’s family owns, McCauley said she hopes Pendleton is successful.

“I think industrial hemp would do a lot for the farming community,” said McCauley, who has preserved artifacts from decades ago when hemp was grown legally in Kentucky.

McCauley said she hopes lawmakers won’t confuse industrial hemp with its controversial cousin, marijuana.

Although industrial hemp comes from the same plant species as marijuana, industrial hemp does not have enough THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, to produce the “high” marijuana users feel, proponents say. Hemp and marijuana look alike. But hemp is grown for fiber found in the stalk while marijuana is grown for leaves and flower buds.

Industrial hemp is used in alternative automobile fuels and in such products as paper, cloths, cosmetics, and carpet.

Pendleton’s bill would require that individuals wanting to grow or process industrial hemp be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture. The legislation would require criminal history checks of growers and would require sheriffs to monitor and randomly test industrial hemp fields.

The bill calls for an assessment fee of $5 per acre for every acre of industrial hemp grown, with a minimum fee of $150, to be divided equally between the state and the appropriate sheriff’s department.

Phillip Garnett, a Christian County farmer, said he plans to go to Canada with Pendleton to investigate industrial hemp farming as a potential “new source of income and energy.” Pendleton said he’d pay for his portion of the trip.

Garnett who raises tobacco, corn, wheat, and soybeans, said he wants to know more about the economics before he would consider raising industrial hemp. But he said “I’m always looking for alternative crops, and it sounds like it makes sense.”

Because of current federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the United States must be imported.

Federal law includes industrial hemp in the definition of marijuana, and prohibits American farmers from growing hemp.

But the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced in Congress in April by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, would require the federal government to respect state laws allowing hemp production.

Pendleton says he sees new hope that federal barriers will be lessened, pointing to positions taken by the Obama administration.

In February, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government was going to yield medical marijuana jurisdiction to states. As a state lawmaker in Illinois, Barack Obama voted for a resolution urging Congress to allow the production of industrial hemp.

In addition to production of hemp, research on hemp has been affected. A federal permit is required for industrial hemp research, Laura E. Sweeney, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Friday.

The University of Kentucky would probably grow industrial hemp for research if allowed in the future, said Scott Smith, dean of the UK School of Agriculture.

When UK applied for a federal permit to grow a research plot of industrial hemp after Kentucky passed the 2001 law allowing analysis, the federal government denied permission, Smith said.

Kentucky is one of eight states that allows hemp research or production.

The federal government has given North Dakota State University permission to grow industrial hemp for research purposes under strict security measures, but money has been an issue.

In Kentucky, a similar bill filed in the 2009 General Assembly by Pendleton was not given a hearing.

But for 2010, state State Sen. David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, the chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee, said he is interested in seeing new economic studies.

The most prominent studies on the profitability of industrialized hemp in Kentucky are a decade old. They reached conflicting conclusions.

A study released in 1998 included work by researchers at UK’s Center for Business and Economic Research. It showed that had hemp production been legalized at that time, Kentucky would have benefited, with farmers making profits of between $220 and $605 an acre.

The returns would have fallen somewhere between tobacco and other crops that were already grown in Kentucky, the research showed.

However, a study released in 1997 by the UK College of Agriculture did not find much of a market for Kentucky hemp.

Smith, who served on an industrial hemp study commission convened by then Gov. Brereton Jones in the 1990s, remains skeptical of the potential profits from hemp.

Givens said he is also interested in hearing from law enforcement officials, who have expressed misgivings in the past.

Christian County Sheriff Livy Leavell Jr. said additional revenue for sheriff’s departments “would be a plus” and that he hoped members of the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association would take a close look at the legislation.
Source. By Mark Cornelison.

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 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 .

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