December 9, 2009 – If you want to watch a trial where the defendant has no moral culpability, is prevented from testifying truthfully and where the prosecution distorts an otherwise reasonable law beyond all rationality, you can see one this month right in Somerville. John Wilson, a multiple sclerosis patient treating himself with home-grown marijuana, is charged with operating a drug manufacturing facility. There is no charge, nor any evidence whatsoever, that he supplied or intended to supply marijuana to anyone but himself.

An individual with no prior record growing marijuana plants for home use should be eligible for pre-trial intervention; but this case is being handled by the state’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit. Wilson refused to plead guilty and accept several years in prison (a potential death sentence), so the state is seeking the maximum 20-year sentence. To justify its “manufacturing” charge, the state determined that every day a plant grew constituted a separate offense. It matters not a whit that the statute (N.J.S.A.2C:35-1.1 et seq.) is intended to combat drug distribution chains and those who pose the greatest danger to society. It ignores a statutory intent focused on harm to victims and the actor’s role in a drug distribution network. Section 4 of the statute even excludes coverage where an individual is compounding or preparing the substance for his own use.

The state senators who sponsored our long-overdue and aptly named Compassionate Use Act passionately expressed their dismay over this prosecution, calling it “a severe, inappropriate, discompassionate and inhumane application of the letter of the law.” Sen. Scutari went on to label it “cruel and unusual to treat New Jersey’s sick and dying as if they were drug cartel kingpins” and characterized it as a waste of taxpayer money. Sen. Lesniak observed, “Without compassion and a sense of moral right and wrong, laws are worth less than the paper they’re printed on.”

This brutally honest and on-target criticism has drawn accolades from around the country. Lawmakers obviously “get” the difference between drug cartel criminals and suffering people who turn to medical marijuana out of desperation. Even though the law does not currently recognize medical marijuana use as a defense, it does not require that the figurative book be thrown at a patient.

To compound the cruel absurdity of this prosecution, it is being conducted with full awareness of legislative action that would protect Wilson from a prison sentence. New Jersey’s Senate passed the Compassionate Use Act, and it has been favorably voted out of the Assembly Health Committee. Once technical revisions are completed, it is expected to pass the full Legislature, and Gov. Corzine has stated publicly that he would sign it. Informed and enlightened people accept the voluminous scientific evidence of the efficacy of marijuana to alleviate the nightmare of multiple sclerosis and many other conditions.

Outrageously, but understandably, the prosecution desperately wants jurors to be denied all the truly relevant facts. It has fought to forbid Wilson from mentioning his disease, that marijuana has been proven to be an effective palliative for multiple sclerosis, that he was using it solely for that purpose, that 13 other states have legalized it for that purpose and that New Jersey is about to. All the jurors will be allowed to hear is evidence proving Wilson “manufactured” marijuana. This is the type of injustice one is accustomed to seeing in a dictatorship — not in America.

Wilson’s plight is additional evidence that our nation’s founders were wise indeed when they recognized the crucial role “jury nullification” plays in any democratic system of government. Our founders knew that there are times when, to do actual justice, jurors must refuse to follow the letter of the law and act on their instincts of what is right. But if we expect trial by jury to continue to be the final bulwark against unjust prosecutions, jurors must have the truth. They will not get it in court in this case.

Instead of seeking justice, the Attorney General’s Office wastes public resources, its power, its credibility and worst of all, its integrity to inflict inhumane punishment on a suffering patient who merits no blame, a patient whom legislators are working to protect. It is execrable that it tortures the law to demand a maximum prison sentence on a patient suffering a crippling, incurable disease for conduct that helped him, harmed no one and that will soon be as legal as it has always been moral.

In the strife of every battle for human rights, someone is the last one martyred. Despite overwhelming evidence that John Wilson is a patient and not a drug kingpin, it is shameful that the state Attorney General’s Office knowingly and aggressively seeks to sacrifice him. Is this to be what is allowed to pass for justice in New Jersey?

Edward R. Hannaman, an attorney from Ewing, is a member of the board of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ).

December 8, 2009 – Seeking to bring the city’s medical marijuana dispensary boom under tight control, the Los Angeles City Council decided today to cap the total number at 70, but to allow those that originally registered with the city to remain open.

Under the city’s 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries, 186 registered with the city. Officials believe at least 137 of those remain open in their original locations. Under the motion adopted this afternoon, those dispensaries could stay open but could be required to move to comply with the ordinance’s restrictions on where they may locate.

Councilman Jose Huizar proposed a cap to ensure that dispensaries would not be concentrated in any one neighborhood. Currently, with no ordinance in place to control their location, dispensaries have clustered in some neighborhoods, such as Eagle Rock, Hollywood and Woodland Hills, drawn by empty storefronts or by proximity to night life.

Urging the city to adopt a low number that it could control, Huizar said that “it is always easier to roll up than to ramp down.”

Councilman Dennis Zine argued strongly to give preference to the dispensaries that registered with the city. “I think we should hold true to those that followed the rules,” he said

After adopting the cap, the council turned to other aspects of the proposed ordinance. It remained unclear when the entire package might come to a final vote.

City officials say between 800 and 1,000 dispensaries are operating. Most opened in violation of a moratorium that the city failed to enforce and that a judge has recently decided was invalid because the City Council illegally extended it.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had also urged the council to send him an ordinance that would put a firm limit on the number of dispensaries in Los Angeles.

With no data on the number of medical marijuana patients in Los Angeles, council members took the same approach as other cities that have adopted caps: picking a number that sounded reasonable to them. Council members acknowledged that they may have to revisit the issue.

The only other city among the state’s 10 largest to impose a cap is Oakland, which has less than one-tenth the population of Los Angeles and allows four dispensaries. Those operations have become extremely successful, splitting about $20 million a year in sales. Berkeley, with a population of 107,000, allows three shops; Palm Springs, population 47,600, two; West Hollywood, population 37,000, four; and Sebastopol, population 7,700, two.

Several of these cities, which set their caps arbitrarily, are now considering raising them.

By John Hoeffel. Source.

Tradical Hemcrete, a combination of hemp chips and lime-based binder, is the wall material of choice for a group of builders and designers in North Carolina

Devember 7, 2009 – Fabrics and rugs made with industrial hemp are often cited as acceptably green alternatives to floor coverings made from petrochemicals, or to woolen rugs treated heavily with insecticide. But hemp also has found its way into another domestic application.

And it is not the first alternative use that may come to mind.

Nauhaus Institute, a North Carolina-based coalition of designers, engineers, builders, developers, and others devoted to green construction, has been working with hemp as a wall-construction material. Called Tradical Hemcrete, the material is essentially a lime-based binder and industrial hemp chips (derived from the woody, pretty much unsmokable core of the hemp plant) that, when mixed with water, can be sprayed over a substrate on an exterior wall or poured into forms around timber or stick framing to create a thermally resistant but “breathable” barrier.

A wall-material bakeoff
As noted in a recent story in Asheville, North Carolina’s Citizen-Times, Nauhaus (pronounced “now house”) has two homes under construction that will feature Hemcrete walls. Nauhaus says on its website that, overall, hemp met sustainability, performance, cost, and aesthetic criteria better than competing materials.

“On the natural building side, we feel that earthen mixes don’t have adequate thermal performance in our climate while the vulnerability of straw bales to water damage concerns us,” the group’s partners say on the Nauhaus site. “On the high-performance commercial side, we are skeptical of the long-term durability of SIPS walls and feel that double-stick frame systems are too complex and prone to air infiltration weaknesses. These and other problems seem to be solved by what to us is a new material: Tradical Hemcrete.”

Hemcrete also is billed as insect- and fire-resistant. One issue the group couldn’t get around, however, is that, while industrial hemp products can be imported into the U.S., it is illegal to grow hemp here. Tradical Hemcrete is made in the U.K. by a division of Belgian firm Lhoist Group, a specialist in calcined-limestone products, and is distributed in the U.S. by Hemp Technologies, of Asheville.

A green quandary: shipping from the U.K.
The Citizen-Times story points out that shipping costs make Hemcrete considerably more expensive — the approximately 1,900 sq. ft. of Hemcrete required for one of the Nauhaus projects, with 3,100 sq. ft. of interior space and 12-inch-thick exterior walls, costs about $56,250. But Hemcrete walls also require less lumber, which reduces framing costs 30% to 40%, Greg Flavall, a co-founder of Hemp Technologies, told the paper. Another advantage to Hemcrete, says Nauhaus partner Chris Cashman, is that it serves as “your Sheetrock, insulation and Tyvek all rolled into one.”

Building-performance costs in both Nauhaus projects will be significantly lower than conventionally constructed homes of comparable size, although the smaller of the two structures, a 1,450-sq.-ft. four-bedroom that will serve as a Nauhaus prototype and test house, will have 16-inch-thick walls and solar panels on the roof to bring energy usage to net zero.

Not surprisingly, Nauhaus partners advocate legalizing industrial-hemp growing in the U.S. “Our feeling is, what a great crop this would be for North Carolina’s tobacco growers to get into,” Nauhaus partner Tim Callahan told the Citizen-Times. “Bringing this in from England is probably not the greatest idea (economically). If local farmers can benefit from this, it would be great for them and great for the economy.” Source.

Q. Does smoking marijuana make men infertile?

A. With medical marijuana use on the rise, more researchers are studying the connection between cannabinoids, the active chemical components in marijuana, and the brain. Few have tackled the question of marijuana use and fertility.

Several studies have drawn a link between men who smoke marijuana and a higher prevalence of problems that could cause infertility, including lower testosterone levels, less vigorous sperm swimming patterns, and testicular cancer. Nevertheless, no studies have proven that marijuana use leads to male infertility, in animals or humans.

“More research is required to know exactly what are the effects of smoking marijuana,’’ said S.K. Dey, director of the reproductive sciences division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. One study that Dey helped conduct (published in the March issue of the journal Cancer) showed that men who had smoked marijuana had a higher risk of testicular cancer, especially if they smoked before age 18. “What studies we have done suggest that the risk factors could be more if exposed at an earlier age.’’

Lani Burkman, a professor emerita of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, runs a business that gives fertility tests to men and women who have used drugs including marijuana. She advises couples who are trying to become pregnant that the man and woman should quit smoking marijuana for at least a year prior to when they want to conceive. Burkman said there are “no hard studies’’ that support that specific time frame, but it’s an estimate she bases on research that shows that marijuana chemicals get stored in the body’s fat tissue, which suggests it could take at least a year or two to “work its way out of your system.’’

Marijuana use by women during pregnancy, on the other hand, has been linked to a variety of problems in the children, including low birth weight and cognitive problems. Source.

December 5, 2009 – Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana (or marihuana), has been a topic of debate for many years, not only in Canada, but also in several other countries including the U.S. and the U.K. However, while marijuana for recreational use has not been legalized in Canada, medical marijuana use can be granted for medicinal needs.

The Definition of Chronic Pain

Although “chronic pain” seems all encompassing and thus easily used as a reason for medical marijuana use, the organization of Health Canada very clearly defines what can be considered severe enough pain for medical marijuana. With that said, there are many suffering from chronic pain – due to a variety of reasons – with grants for the medical use of cannabis.

Arthritis, headaches and back pain are the most common, but fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy and phantom limb pain are also common reason for chronic pain. Continuing pain can also be caused by debilitating illnesses such as MS (multiple sclerosis), scoliosis, osteoporosis and others.

Original Treatments for Chronic Pain

For many, medical marijuana use is a “last resort”, used only after several pharmacologic treatments fail. Typically, the first treatments include pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Unfortunately, long-term use can cause serious side effects; even if there is pain relief, it can only be in short periods due to the need for short-term use of the “first line” of treatments.

Should the first treatments fail, narcotic opioids such as codeine, morphine and oxycodone are generally prescribed. Although often highly affective, the concern for these types of narcotics is that they have a high possibility for addiction and abuse. As well, their use is also limited, due to possible side effects in higher doses. The withdrawal symptoms for addictive pharmaceuticals can be mild to painfully severe.

Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

For those that don’t respond to the first or second line of treatments, medical marijuana may be prescribed. As well, there are those who prefer not to use man-made pharmaceuticals that have a high rate of addiction or serious side effects.

According to Health Canada, “Dependence is unlikely to be problematic when cannabis is used therapeutically, although withdrawal affects may be uncomfortable. These include restlessness, anxiety, mild agitation, irritability, tremor, insomnia and EEG/ sleep disturbance, nausea, diarrhea and cramping.”

Relief from chronic pain, however, far outweighs the possibility of addiction for many:

– Migraines – Severe, incredibly painful and often lasting as long as 72 hours, migraines can cause serious debilitating issues such as nausea, vision changes, vomiting and a high sensitivity to light and sound. Many of the pharmaceuticals used to either stop or lessen the amount of migraines cause the same issues as the onset of the migraines themselves. Often, sufferers stop treatment because it doesn’t work or because the side effects are too severe.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, has been a well-documented treatment for many years – even throughout the nineteenth century. Cannabinoids have often demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, as well as dopamine blocking. It is believed by some that one of the causes of migraines is the lack of natural endocannabinoids in the body, which might explain why cannabis works to decrease the pain as well as the symptoms.

– Multiple sclerosis (MS) – MS is a degenerative disease that attacks myelin in the brain and spinal cord. If you imagine nerves to be like electrical wires, myelin is the insulating, protective sheath around the nerves. The autoimmune system treats myelin as a foreign invader, destroying patches of it and leaving nerve fibers exposed, interrupting their normal function. It is debilitating and painful, causing such symptoms as tingling and numbness, painful muscle spasms, tremors, paralysis and more.

Prescribed pharmaceuticals can cause severe, debilitating medical issues such as seizures, abdominal cramps, dizziness, mental disturbances and other problems. Many MS sufferers prefer to self-medicate with marijuana, and have noticed that cannabis helps them control tremors, spasms and bladder control. Tests have also shown that THC helps reduce pain intensity and sleep disturbance significantly.

Although these two illnesses are common for the use of medical marijuana in relieving chronic pain sufferers, the same can be said for rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injuries and even phantom limb pain. While more studies need to be performed to explain exactly how cannabinoids and medical marijuana work, the fact that they do work is clear. Source.

December 5, 2009 – In September, ladymag Marieclaire ruffled some feathers when it published a piece about women who smoke weed. But its most interesting effect was not the “marijuana moms” chatter it unleashed, and instead the fact that it brought to the mainstream media a more open discussion of the fact that women can be avid tokers, too.

Public acceptance of pot is at an all-time high, and the fact that women have drastically changed their attitudes may be what is most fascinating about the sea change in public opinion — and policy — regarding marijuana. In 2005, only 32 percent of polled women told Gallup they approved legalizing pot, but this year 44 percent of them were for it, compared to 45 percent of men. In effect, women have narrowed what had been a 12-point gender gap.

Women are also smoking more weed. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that current marijuana use increased from 3.8 to 4.5 percent among women, while there was no significant statistical change for men.

Indeed, it appears the growing acceptance of marijuana is fueled by women having joined the movement for reform.

Women “can reach people’s hearts and minds,” says Mikki Norris, co-author of Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War, managing editor of the West Coast Leaf, and director of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign. “I think we can really take it from the third- to the first-person, and make it personal.”

Norris, who’s participated in numerous successful marijuana campaigns, may be onto something. If pro-weed women are a new momentum behind the normalization of marijuana, they may also become the driving force behind game-changing drug reform.

If that’s the case, then it’s worth examining why some women have signed onto the marijuana reform movement — because it may soon be why many others will as well.

‘A bigger amygdala’

The avenue through which women have been foremost leaders in the movement is medical marijuana advocacy.

There are currently 13 states that have legalized medical marijuana use and at least 14 other states with pending legislation or ballot measures. In California, where cannabis has been legalized for medical use since 1996, a Field poll found 56 percent support for adult legalization — and the matter may very well make its way onto the 2010 ballot.

Every woman I spoke to referenced cannabis’ medicinal properties as a major reason they are so personally impassioned by the marijuana reform debate.

One of these is Valerie Corral, dubbed “the Mother Teresa of the medical marijuana movement,” by Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Corral was introduced to the medical benefits of marijuana in 1973, when she was the victim of a car crash that left her an epileptic. At one point, while on pharmaceuticals, she was having up to five seizures each day.

In 1974, her husband read an article in a medical journal that described how positively rats had reacted to cannabis when treated for certain ailments. Soon thereafter, Corral started applying a strict regimen of marijuana, and kept a catalog of its effects.

“Within a few weeks, I noticed change,” Corral said. And over time, she was able to control seizure activity in a way that allowed her to wean herself off the prescription drugs. To this day she does not take anything other than marijuana for her epilepsy.

Not only did medical marijuana change Corral’s quality of life, it changed its course. She went on to found Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a patient collective based in Santa Cruz, Calif. that offers organic medical marijuana and assistance to those who have received a terminal or chronic illness diagnosis.

WAMM currently serves about 170 patients. When I spoke to Corral, she was late to hit the road for her Thanksgiving holiday. She had spent the morning with a patient who was anxious about his radiation therapy. She then spent the afternoon delivering marijuana before counseling — “and learning from” — terminal patients.

While Corral knows first-hand the physical benefits of marijuana, she believes its most important effect is “the way it affects how we look at things that are difficult.”

“No matter what else happens to us,” Corral said, “the quality with which we live our lives is so important.”

Cheryl Shuman, a 49-year-old optician in Los Angeles, would agree. Up until she started using cannabis therapy to treat her cancer, she was on a daily regimen of 27 prescription drugs, attached to a mobile intravenous morphine pump, and undergoing constant CAT and MRI scans. In 2006, her doctors told her she’d be dead by the end of that year.

“I had to make a decision [regarding] which way I was going to go and quite frankly, I thought if I am going to die, I want to control how my life is going to be,” Shuman said, her voice breaking. “And the only side-effects were that I was happy and laughing.”

It turns out those may not have been the only effects of her cannabis therapy. Her cancer has been in remission for 18 months now — and that coincides precisely with the start of the marijuana treatment.

Shuman had previously used pot medicinally in 1994, when going through a harrowing divorce. Up to 80 milligrams of Prozac a day, coupled with multiple therapy sessions a week, did not help her get over the sense that she could barely make it through each day.

During one session, she says, “my therapist said, ‘I could lose my license, but I think what would help you more than anything is just smoking a joint.’ I didn’t know how to respond! I said I couldn’t do that — I don’t drink, I’ve never even smoked a cigarette!”

But after researching medical marijuana and realizing that cannabis had been available in pharmacies until the early 20th century, Shuman acquiesced and tried a joint. At 36 — after learning to inhale — Shuman says she found she “finally had some peace.”

This year, Shuman became the founding director of Beverly Hills’ National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chapter — and she hopes to attract women to the cause.

Corral, for her part, acknowledges that the role she fills within the marijuana movement is one that fits the traditional female archetype. “Maybe it’s because we have a bigger amygdala,” she laughs, referring to the part of the brain that processes emotions. “It probably is!”

Debby Goldsberry, director of the Berkeley Patients Group, a medical marijuana dispensary, feels similarly: “It’s our job in our families and in our circles of friends to be caregivers. It makes sense that women would gravitate to cannabis.”

In a recent study of a sample of patient reviews at a chain of medical marijuana assessment clinics in California, Craig Reinarman, a sociology professor at UC-Santa Cruz, found that only 27.1 percent of the patients were female. Another study, conducted on a sample of patients at Goldsberry’s Berkeley dispensary, found that 30.7 percent of those patients were women.

Those numbers are close to the general expert estimate that women constitute about a third of marijuana consumers.

Mainstream myth-busting

Since more women are smoking weed, it’s no surprise there has finally been an onslaught of girl stoner coverage in the corporate media.

It probably started with “Weeds” — a Showtime series about a bodacious soccer mom who deals and smokes pot — which is now readying for its sixth season premiere. But the big dam opener this year was the aforementioned publication of the Marieclaire article, “Stiletto Stoners,” which paints the portrait of a whole class of “card-carrying, type A workaholics who just happen to prefer kicking back with a blunt instead of a bottle.”

Julie Holland, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, has been called onto NBC’s Today Show twice now to explain why women are gravitating towards weed.

During one of her appearances, Holland seemingly shocks the hosts by telling them that 100 million Americans have tried weed — 25 million of them over the past year. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 10.6 million women used marijuana in 2008.

Also surprising to the TV hosts was Holland’s assertion that marijuana is the least addictive substance among many. According to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, the rate at which people who try a substance and go on to become addicted is 32 percent for nicotine, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine, 15 percent for alcohol, and 9 percent for cannabis.

“Look at what the choices are. Cannabis isn’t toxic to your brain, to your liver, it doesn’t cause cancer, you can’t overdose, and there’s no evidence that it’s a gateway drug,” Holland said. “I believe that the majority of adults can healthfully integrate altered states into their lives, and it makes sense to do it with the least toxic substance you can. ”

The public seems to agree.

Societal mores around marijuana are at their most progressive in at least 40 years, when Gallup first started asking Americans whether they believed marijuana ought be legalized. This year, 44 percent of those polled — up from 36 percent in 2005 — said they are in favor of legalization. A May Zogby poll found marijuana legalization was even more popular with its respondents, at 52 percent.

Harry Levine, professor of sociology at Queens College and co-author of Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice, attributes a lot of the mainstreaming of progressive views on pot to the medical marijuana movement.

“What it has done is change the image of marijuana from this tie-dye 1960s hippie-dippy kind of thing to a real drug, a real substance that has medical uses,” he said. “You can separate it from the scary image of drugs.”

Why do girls smoke?

As weed is no longer considered by the public to be a “hard drug,” three presidents — 41, 42, and 43 — have admitted to smoking marijuana. “The whole association of failure and dropouts [with marijuana] has been smashed in an important kind of way,” Levine says.

In other words, you can smoke pot and be successful. Look at Natalie Angier, for example. In her book Woman: Intimate Geography, this Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer interjects a personal note of — and case for — female empowerment through weed:

All the women in my immediate family learned how to climax by smoking grass — my mother when she was over thirty and already the mother of four. Yet I have never seen anorgasmia on the list of indications for the medical use of marijuana. Instead we are told that some women don’t need to have orgasms to have a satisfying sex life, an argument as convincing as the insistence that homeless people like living outdoors.

As Angier writes, alcohol is a “global depressant of the nervous system” so marijuana can be a woman’s best friend. In that vein, Holland has clinically observed that many of her female patients choose marijuana over alcohol — for all kinds of social situations — because it makes them “more present instead of absent.”

“You can relax but not be incapacitated. You can keep your wits about you and protect yourself,” Holland told me, adding that women don’t always tolerate alcohol the way men do.

Diana, 37, a published writer in Madison is one such woman. She uses marijuana as a social lubricant: “If I drink, I know I’ll be throwing up by night’s end, even if it’s only a couple of beers. But with weed, I know I can make it to closing time — and keep up with all the steely-stomached drinkers.”

Paloma, 25, a Bay Area union organizer, told me she smokes weed two to three times a week to “relax, sleep, work on arts and crafts or clean the house and cook” without being distracted by what she calls her “explosive” attention deficit disorder.

A few women smokers said they did not initially like the effects marijuana had on them. Tessa, 29, a doctoral student in Portland, said, she didn’t enjoy weed in college “because I would not be able to do anything besides be high and stupid. Now I know to smoke less — maybe a hit or two — and then relax on that.”

What a lot of women like Tessa don’t know is that there are several kinds of weed that have different effects on the mind and body. Women who live in places where marijuana can be purchased at dispensaries are often more attuned to the fact that cannabis sativa gives a euphoric head high while cannabis indica results in a lazy body high. And then there are hybrids — the equivalent to blends in wine culture.

Ally, 34, an architect and mother in San Francisco, sees weed as similar to vino: “Smoking a joint and taking a bath is what drinking a glass of wine and taking a bath was to my mom,” she says, balancing a baby on her knee. “It’s ‘me’ time!”

Think of the children!

The acceptance of pot has led to discussion of how marijuana reform might positively impact families and children. This may change the debate because family values have long been employed by drug warriors as reasoning for why weed ought remain criminalized.

Enter Jessica Corry, a pro-life Republican from Denver. A mother of girls aged two and four, this 30-year-old newly-minted lawyer is widely hailed as a rising star in Colorado politics. She is currently working on her first book, which she described to me as an “analysis of how race consciousness and political correctness are silencing America’s students and our entrepreneurial spirit.”

A real conservative. Yet she is also one of the most outspoken proponents of marijuana legalization.

In 2006, she started a group called Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition, which supported a statewide initiative to legalize marijuana.

“I had high-ranking Republicans politely encouraging me to write my political eulogy,” Corry said. “Fortunately, they were wrong. While the initiative failed, it garnered more general election support than that year’s Republican candidate for governor.”

Corry doesn’t smoke pot — though she is open about past use. “As a mother,” she says, “I’m far more concerned about my kids having access to a medicine cabinet than having access to a joint or a liquor cabinet. Marijuana, when consumed independently, has never been linked to a single death.”

Mothers like Corry are drawn to marijuana regulation as part of a larger appeal that encourages the use of harm reduction to more pragmatically deal with substance abuse. Examples of harm reduction include providing designated drivers for drinkers and clean needles for heroin addicts.

Concerned moms may be moved to action by studies such as the Teen Survey, conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia. This year, there was a 37 percent increase in teens who said pot is easier to buy than cigarettes, beer or prescription drugs. Nearly one-quarter said they can get weed within the hour.

Those stats matter to women. In light of this, children and family will be included in the mission statement of the Women’s Alliance, a group NORML will launch next year. The coordinator, Sabrina Fendrick, plans to include mention of how current marijuana policy undermines the American family and sends mixed messages to young people.

An economic savior?

The harm reduction approach extends itself from families and children to our ailing economy. With the largest economic recession since the Great Depression firmly in place, more people see the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana for adults.

Economist Jeffrey Miron has calculated that, assuming a national market of about $13 billion annually, legalization would reap state and federal governments about $7 billion each year in extra tax revenues and save about $13.5 billion in law enforcement costs.

This kind of math attracts libertarian support, ranging from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California who recently called for an open discussion on legalization, to Rep. Ron Paul, a physician and Republican congressman from Texas, who has long advocated it.

The problem with a fiscal approach, however, might be that it could have more traction as a top-down rather than a bottom-up movement. Deborah Small, a drug reform veteran and founder of Break the Chains, a group that engages communities of color around drug reform policy, believes the reason the medical marijuana movement has been so successful is that its female leaders have made it a “real grassroots movement.”

“Male-dominated libertarian philosophy and money has dominated” the general marijuana reform movement, Small says, and “there’s a struggle in this next stage to see whether the movement will be driven by people with a lot of money or people on the ground — or if they can agree to work together.”

Perhaps male drug reform leaders can learn from the ladies. Jessica Corry, the GOP mom from Denver, turns the economic discussion back to the home: “It’s generational child abuse to waste billions of dollars every year on marijuana prohibition.”

Mikki Norris, the California marijuana activist, observed gender-specific focus groups in Oakland on Measure Z, a 2004 ballot initiative that ultimately succeeded in making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority. She heard the women’s group speaking on behalf of their children — “they wanted money for their kids’ education and they didn’t want kids arrested for pot.” Men, on the other hand, were more worried about children getting involved with drugs, she told me.

Norris said, “I just think women have a better grasp of home economics,” or what’s really important in a family.

Today’s economic climate lends itself to easy parallels with the fight to repeal Prohibition in the 1920s, which was also framed as a family issue. Harry Levine, the sociologist, reminded me of Pauline Sabin, a high-society Chicago feminist who organized women in the fight to repeal the 18th Amendment.

“Sabin said that because of the violence, the corruption, the bootleggers, and all the resulting lost tax revenue, that alcohol undermined the home and therefore women should speak out for themselves and children,” Levine said.

Many point to the moment when women joined the fight against Prohibition as the tipping point for the ultimate success of the movement.

Women as a new force

The women in the marijuana reform movement have different reasons for trumpeting policy change. Some see cannabis as a medicinal wonder drug, others see tangible — and sensible — socio-economic benefits to taxing and regulating it.

Trends indicate that as more states legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, more people will discover first-hand that legalization of marijuana does not equate with anarchy and instead with more effective control of a substance so readily available to Americans — and American kids — across the country.

And as Californians may next year, Americans will soon be exposed to the choice between regulating marijuana for adult use or continuing a failed drug war that incarcerates 850,000 people a year — tearing apart families, ruining futures, and siphoning from public funds that might otherwise benefit the next generation. All this for a relatively mild psychotropic that at least a third of us has tried.

As the recession continues to unravel communities across the country, the economic incentive to end this drug war will affect the opinions of many who might never otherwise have considered legalization. The time may very well be now.

Similar to the prohibition of alcohol in the early twentieth century, what we have today is a federal policy that is at odds with public opinion. It is a policy without a plurality of citizen supporters.

And many women are at the vanguard of the movement that recognizes this and is fighting for change. Source.

Canadian authorities have still not laid charges ten days after the police action.

December 5, 2009 – (SALEM, Ore.) – There’s a man from Athol, Nova Scotia, Canada who has caused a stir around the world. About five years ago, he made the shocking claim to have cured cancer. As unbelievable as that sounds, there is viable evidence to support his claim.

You may not have heard of Rick Simpson, many people have not yet had the chance. He’s well known globally in the cannabis community, but the general public has been slow in receiving his whole story.

Simpson makes and distributes a medicinal cannabis extract popularly known as “hemp oil”. He does so without any profit motive. Many patients have claimed to be cured of their ailments, often terminal cancer, by this extract.

This pioneer for alternative health solutions was in Europe in November, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took the opportunity to raid Simpson’s home in Canada. As his house, office, and garden were being trampled through by police, Simpson was accepting an International Freedom Fighter award, thousands of miles away.

“While he has been touring in Europe his residence was raided by the RCMP and rumor has it the DEA was involved as well,” explains friend Desmond Wynnd.

“The newest issue of “High Times” that came out a week or two ago has a lengthy article on his story and it’s felt by many this is what prompted the latest raid. He is now seeking political asylum in Europe.”

The 22nd Annual High Times Cannabis Cup is held in Amsterdam annually, and Rick Simpson received the acclaimed honor of “Freedom Fighter of the Year”. The special event came on the heels of a European tour Simpson had just completed.

For five years, Simpson has been diligently working on the behalf of saving lives, challenging the traditional remedies for skin cancer and other cancers, diabetes, as well as many chronic illnesses. He aspires to enlighten the medical community and bring the discussion of curing cancer to a new level. That discussion is widely believed to be more politically motivated than cure goal-oriented.

Though Rick Simpson has helped so many, there are forces that want to stop him, at any cost.

As of December 3rd, Canadian authorities had still not charged Simpson, ten days after the police action. Initially there were discrepancies in available information from the two involved agencies that carried out this police action.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police first claimed that such an action would have been undertaken by the Amherst Police Department, as Simpson’s home falls within their jurisdiction. Amherst PD denied that they incited this action when reached for comment, and deferred inquiry for detail to the RCMP.

Rick Simpson wrote, “If I return home, I will be arrested and put in jail without bail or medicine. I am not afraid of their jails but I cannot go without my medicine, the system has nothing that could help me with my conditions. So for me to return to Canada would be like committing suicide. I would be thrown in jail and denied my medicine and a short time later you would hear in the news that ‘Rick Simpson died of natural causes’.”

“It seems the goal is to keep me from returning home and they succeeded. But to what end? All hemp magazines on this planet are now telling their readers how to heal themselves with this wonderful medicine. If governments want to live in denial, it will be short-lived. We are gaining tens of thousands of followers every day. You cannot stop the truth.”

“For the time being, it seems I will be seeking asylum in Europe.”

The Canadian government’s lack of tolerance for marijuana has been building the last few years, a reaction, some believe, to America’s own drug war. Canadians are feeling the brunt. “They’re doing a great job directing hate toward Americans when it’s undeserved. I haven’t met a bad American yet. In the end, we have to take care of ourselves and each other,” Wynnd said.

One theory on limiting a person’s ability to share information is to incarcerate them. That’s a pretty easy solution. A fellow Canadian, Marc Emery, can vouch for that, out on bail for selling cannabis seeds. He is currently scheduled to be extradited to the United States for a sentence of five years in US federal prison.

Perpetrators of the incarceration strategy believe that eventually the subject may lose support of their advocates, the costs will mount up, and just getting through the drama of arrest, red tape and humiliation that follows will be enough to distract even the most passionate, motivated activists.

But Rick isn’t like “most” activists.

He’s been arrested twice in the past, and his medicinal Cannabis plants confiscated. Both times, he was able to reason with the judicial system and continue living freely. Where the maximum penalty has been 12 years imprisonment in one of these instances, the courts instead levied a $2,000 fine.

Most of us have been duped into completely and blindly accepting that there is no cure for cancer.
–Christian Laurette, producer

“Last time he was arrested, the judge wouldn’t send him to jail because the judge believed it would be a crime to lock up Rick Simpson, it’s all public record,” said Wynnd. “During his last trial he had doctors and patients lining up to testify for him. Even Narcotic officers have sent people to Rick so he could help them.”

“Mr. Simpson is in an unusual position, because unlike other people engaged in the drug trade, he was not engaged in trafficking for financial gain,” said Judge Carole Beaton. “He was engaged in an altruistic activity and was firm in his belief that he was helping others,” she said after Rick Simpson’s sentencing for his second offense in healing dying cancer patients with hemp oil.

Rick Simpson didn’t start out as a crusader to stamp out cancer. He started out as an average guy, first as a steel worker, then in maintenance at a hospital in the boiler room. In his early twenties, Simpson suffered through the loss of a cousin to cancer. That long, exasperating experience changed him forever. He heard some reports about hemp’s healing qualities, and wondered if things would have gone differently for his cousin, had hemp been an option.

For someone who had never even smoked marijuana, this was a very foreign, open-minded idea. The thought provoked some personal research though and later proved very beneficial.

After 25 years working at the hospital, Simpson was in a serious accident causing a temporary nervous-system shutdown, within hours he developed an unbearable ringing in his ears. The doctors tried to find a solution for over a year, and gave up. Not willing to accept his life sentence of daily drugs that altered his memory and other side effects, he asked about medical marijuana, to no avail. So, he began his own research, and experimented with making oil. What he discovered…worked.

To be clear, Rick Simpson’s Hemp Oil isn’t hemp oil in the truest sense. Hemp is the Cannabis (marijuana) plant, specifically the stalk and leaves raised mainly for industrial use, with extremely low THC. Rick Simpson’s oil is made exclusively from the Cannabis flowers, or buds. Not to be confused with hemp seed oil, a very different product, Rick Simpson’s hemp oil is a very pure cannabis extract made from high quality buds with a very high THC content.

In 2003, Simpson had three spots on his skin that his doctor believed to be skin cancer. The doctor removed and biopsied one, which then became infected and didn’t heal. Almost on a whim, Simpson applied hemp oil directly to that sore and the other two spots. In only four days, all three cancerous spots were gone. A miracle? Maybe so, but it isn’t a lone event.

Once he started sharing his success story with others, people lined up to try the hemp oil. Jack Herer is an avid supporter of Simpson’s, always ready to demonstrate his personal success as the oil healed many long-term diabetic lesions on his legs. Herer would be the first to say that Rick Simpson’s Hemp Oil is miraculous.

Rick Simpson has never charged a patient for the hemp oil he creates. He not only teaches people how to make the extract and provides it to the ailing folks who request it, but he also uses it for a variety of his own medical issues. He freely lists the recipe on his site.

What will happen next for Rick Simpson remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though, raiding and seizing his home does not make the police look like the good guys. This type of action only propogates further division in society, turning civilians and police away from one another.

“People are dying needlessly when there’s a cure we all can grow on our own, or have provided to us,” Desmond Wynnd said. “This is all a waste of energy, when we could be helping sick people. That’s all Rick is trying to do.” Source.

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