June 2009


June 30, 2009 -There has been a lot of discussion about marijuana in Japan recently. Some people have gone as far as to call it the start of a panic.Picture 79

Research what happened in America a few decades ago when the powers that be came up against the same issue. Ever heard of “reefer madness”? It was a huge overreaction by American authorities toward young people smoking pot. That overreaction caused a great deal of suffering and burned vast amounts of tax money.

The weed panic has also created a big stumbling block for America’s economy at a time when “eco” is the word and industrial hemp is one of the paths to the future.

Japan is lagging behind China (which produces more than half of the world’s industrial hemp), Germany and France (who are partnering in the field of industrial hemp building materials) and Canada (which has possibly the largest market of hemp foods and edible oils, and where marijuana is used medicinally). Is Japan making government policy from an American history textbook, I wonder?

There are two main types of cannabis:

Cannabis sativa is industrial hemp, and contains only trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound found in some types of cannabis). The crop has been grown for thousands of years for its fiber, which was used in cloth and cordage, and its seeds, which make a healthy grain for humans and livestock. Nowadays the cellulose from the woody center of the tall plant can also be used to make plastic.

Cannabis indica is medicinal. This plant contains anywhere from 3 to 20 percent THC and is used to relieve pain by sufferers of conditions such as AIDS and terminal cancer. It has been and is still used in many countries as medicine.

There have been no reported deaths or permanent injuries sustained as a result of marijuana overdose anytime, anywhere. According to the United States government, a person would have to eat one-third of his or her body weight in dried cannabis indica with a 1-percent THC content, or nearly 10 pounds (4.5 kg) with a 5-percent THC content, to overdose. On the other hand, if a child eats just one regular cigarette it could be fatal. Two to three regular cigarettes if eaten could kill a healthy adult. A 45-kg adult would probably die if he or she drank 9 to 10 regular alcohol drinks in an hour. The heart would stop.

Let’s get back to Japan’s recent war on reefer. Japanese authorities are afraid of an escalation in recreational marijuana use that could eventually put Japan’s drug culture on par with that in the West. However, with current technology it is nearly impossible to smuggle in the amount of hard drugs needed to do real social damage. For a start, Japan only has sea borders, unlike the U.S., which has huge land borders both north and south. North and South America combined have such a large land mass that finding drug factories can be a real challenge. Japan, on the other hand, is fairly small, and it is unlikely that hard drug labs could operate here with any success.

Getting back to cannabis, perhaps the authorities should put down that American history book and pick up one on modern renewable resources and safer medicine. They can probably find them in abundance in Canada, Germany, France and China. If they did, they would find that cannabis is being used in any number of positive ways now. So why not relax the controls on cannabis and step up the farming of it like other developed countries? How about producing it in its natural low-dose plant form? If it is processed and sold as a recreational drug, taxed fairly and used moderately, it will create fewer negative health and social side-effects than alcohol and tobacco. Eating cannabis is actually good for your stomach.

Don’t worry, you capitalists out there that really run this small country — you will, as usual, get first dibs on this new industry, since you already have the capital and control the means of production. At the very least you mass producers could push something on the common person that is healthier than alcohol and tobacco.

So let’s make a new deal: We’ll take it easy on the reefer if you take it easy on the reefer madness, man.

Source.

State Pressure to Grow Hemp Continues to Mount as Business Booms

June 30, 2009 – SALEM, Ore., — Yesterday, by a vote of 46 to 11, the Oregon House passed SB 676, a bill that permits production and possession of industrial hemp and trade in industrial hemp commodities and products. “I am glad that Oregon has joined the list of states that have agreed that American farmers should have the right to re-introduce industrial hemp as an agricultural crop,” says SB 676 sponsor, Sen. Floyd Prozanski. “By passing SB 676 with strong bi-partisan support, the Oregon Legislature has taken a proactive position to allow its farmers the right to grow industrial hemp, to provide American manufacturers with domestically-grown hemp, and to profit from that effort.” The Oregon Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming majority vote of 27 to 2 on June 19. Vote Hemp is optimistic that Governor Kulongoski will sign the bill. Oregon would become the ninth state to authorize regulated hemp farming under state law.

“The time has come for the federal government to act and allow farmers to once again grow hemp, so American companies will no longer need to import it and American farmers will no longer be denied a profitable new crop,” comments Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. “Under current federal policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it cannot be grown by American farmers. Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown in the U.S. for over fifty years because of a misguided and politicized interpretation of the nation’s drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While a new bill in Congress, HR 1866, is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that President Obama’s administration will recognize hemp’s myriad benefits to farmers, businesses and the environment,” adds Steenstra.

Many businesses in Oregon manufacture, market and sell hemp products, including Living Harvest, The Merry Hempsters, Wilderness Poets, Earthbound Creations, Sweetgrass Natural Fibers, Sympatico Clothing, Mama’s Herbal Soaps and Hempire. Living Harvest of Portland was recently ranked the third-fastest-growing company in Oregon, as awarded by The Portland Business Journal’s “Fastest-Growing Private 100 Companies” annual award.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to invest in hemp processing and production locally,” says Hans Fastre, CEO of Living Harvest. “This bill represents another step towards heightening the hemp industry’s profile within mainstream America and making hemp products more accessible to businesses and consumers.”

These Oregon-based companies have been on the leading edge of the growing hemp food and body care markets, which are currently estimated to be $113 million in North American annual retail sales by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). The HIA estimates the 2008 annual retail sales of all hemp products in North America to be about $360 million. By allowing U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp, legislators can clear the way for a “New Billion-Dollar Crop.”

On June 9, with little fanfare, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed the Maine hemp farming bill, LD 1159, into law. Maine’s House had previously passed the bill without objection, and the Senate later passed it by a strong vote of 25 to 10. The bill establishes a licensing regime for farming industrial hemp, although the licensing is contingent upon action by the federal government. Maine had previously passed a study bill that also defined industrial hemp.

During the 2009 legislative session, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and North Dakota all passed resolutions or memorials urging Congress to allow states to regulate hemp farming. Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation to date, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. North Dakota has even issued state licenses to would-be hemp farmers for two years running.

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop’s many uses may be found at http://www.VoteHemp.com or http://www.HempIndustries.org.

BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Source.750px-Flag_of_Oregonsvg-1

1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World photostates that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.

3) Hemp Seed is far more nutritious than even soybean, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. See TestPledge.com

4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers which are among the Earth’s longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose; the cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.

5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

6) Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Almost half of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are applied to cotton.

7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it’s creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical byproducts.

8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.

9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.

10) Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name just a very few examples.

TODAY’S HEMP INDUSTRY

AUSTRALIA – Tasmania research trials began in 1995. Victoria commercial production since1998. New South Wales has research. In 2002 Queensland began production.

AUSTRIA has a hemp industry including production of hempseed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.

CANADA started to license research crops in 1994 on an experimental basis. In addition to crops for fibre, one seed crop was experimentally licensed in 1995. Many acres were planted in 1997. Licenses for commercial agriculture saw thousands of acres planted in 1998. 30,000 acres planted in 1999. In 2000, due to speculative investing,12,250 acres were sown. In 2001 ninety-two farmers grew 3,250 acres. A number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically certified hemp crops.

CHILE has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.

CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp paper and textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality. (ma)

DENMARK planted its first modern hemp trials in 1997. Committed to utilizing organic methods.

FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety for northern climates was developed: Finola, previously know by the breeder code ‘FIN-314′. In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized hemp cultivars. (hamppu)

FRANCE harvested 10,000 tons in 1994. France is the main source of low-thc producing hempseed. (chanvre)

GERMANY only banned hemp in 1982, but research began in 1992 and many technologies and products are being developed. Clothes and paper are being made from imported raw materials. Germany lifted the ban on growing hemp November, 1995. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber for composites. (hanf)

GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles have been developed. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibers. 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Subsidies of $230 Eng. pounds per acre are given by the govt. for growing.

HUNGARY is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and hemp fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed and hemp paper. Fiberboard is also made. (kender)

INDIA has large stands of naturalized Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles, and seed oil.

JAPAN has a religious tradition requiring the Emperor wear hemp garments, so there is a small plot maintained for the imperial family only. They have a thriving retail market selling a variety of hemp products. (asa)

NETHERLANDS is conducting a four year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is developing processing equipment. Seed breeders are developing new strains of low-thc varieties. (hennep)

NEW ZEALAND started hemp trials in 2001. Various cultivars are being planted in the North and South.

POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. (konopij)

ROMANIA was the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Total acreage in 1993 was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export to Western Europe and the United States. (cinepa)

RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germ plasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in Saint Petersburg. They are in need of funds. (konoplya)

SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures currency paper.

SPAIN grows and exports hemp pulp for paper and produces rope and textiles. (cañamo)

SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp and hosts one of the largest hemp events: Cannatrade.

EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL, THAILAND, and the UKRAINE also produce hemp.

USA – The United States granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter acre plot in 1999. The license has been renewed since. Importers and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw materials. Twenty-two states in the United States have introduced legislation. VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV have passed legislation for support, research, or cultivation. The National Conference of State Legislators has endorsed industrial hemp for years.

Source.

June 30, 2009 – On July 11th 2009, PA4MMJ Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana will be participating in awareness events in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. For local directions, times and contact telephone numbers please click on the links at the bottomvigil2 of this article.

These simultaneous candlelight vigils for medical marijuana access in Pennsylvania will remember those victims of Prohibition who have died waiting for legal cannabis access. Advocates will show support for HB 1393, active legislation to bring a modern medical marijuana program to the Commonwealth.

Medical patients who would qualify under the bill are strongly encouraged to attend, if physically able. Supporters are encouraged to remember friends or family with photos and signs. Supporting groups include medical-freedom.com, pa4mmj.org, phillynorml.org, medicalmovement.com and wonpr.org

On April 29, 2009 State Representative Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia introduced HB1393, a bill that would create a medical marijuana program for Pennsylvania. The bill has been referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee with public hearings expected this summer. HB 1393 includes provision to tax the sale of medical cannabis through Compassion Centers.

PA4MMJ from Philadelphia holds the vigil on July 11th to mark the passing of Barry Busch, a local activist who passed away from HIV/AIDS complications in 2007. Barry inspired the local medical marijuana effort. William Haney who helped organize vigils with Barry when he was alive said, “The candlelight vigil commemorates deceased and living patients, diagnosed with one of the conditions for which cannabis is a medically recognized palliative.”

This year the vigil has added meaning as active supporters will gather across the commonwealth for the legal medical marijuana access that could be afforded by HB 1393.

June 30th, 2009 – Those of us who have seen the suffering of sick friends or family members relieved by smoking marijuana remain mystified at Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s opposition to a medical marijuana law. But perhaps she will be inspired by Rhode Island’sGeriatrics_patient example.

The Ocean State’s legislature has expanded a 2006 medical marijuana law to allow for state-licensed “compassion centers,” dispensaries where chronically ill residents who are registered with the state health department and have a prescription from a doctor may buy pot to ease their pain. There are 700 registered patients and 582 caregivers who may purchase marijuana on behalf of someone else.

Rhode Island joined California and New Mexico as the only states to permit marijuana sales to chronically ill people. At least eight other states, including New Hampshire and Maine, are considering similar legislation; 13 states offer some legal protection to patients who use marijuana under a doctor’s care.

Connecticut might have been the 14th. A bill introduced last year would have allowed patients with conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS to grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes with a doctor’s prescription. The bill was approved by wide margins in the Connecticut House and Senate. Polls showed that 83 percent of residents supported the legislation.

But Mrs. Rell vetoed the measure. She said it would force people to seek out drug dealers to buy marijuana, apparently unaware that that’s what sick people or their friends were already doing.

Mrs. Rell also said the bill would send the wrong message to young people. But research by the Washington, D.C.-based Medical Marijuana Project has found no increases in marijuana use among the young and some indications of less use in some age groups in states that allow medical marijuana.

Perhaps when pot becomes a palliative for cancer or HIV/AIDS patients, it loses its attraction.

State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, whose then-husband used marijuana to counter the pain of bone cancer in the 1980s, reintroduced the medical marijuana bill earlier this year but did not press it after she was told that the governor had not changed her position.

The governor ought to do so in time for the 2010 session, lest she allow ideology to trump compassion. Source.

June 30, 2009-ESCANABA – Medical marijuana is causing quite a stir in Michigan, from those who must enforce a law they may not like to those who would utilize the newly-flag-michiganlegalized medicine.

A decision in Alger County Circuit Court recently affirmed that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) could be applied retroactively. In Delta County, an opposite finding was held.

James Howard Peterson, Munising, was charged with manufacturing of marijuana after police seized two marijuana plants from his Alger County home Nov. 3 – the day before the MMA was passed by popular vote. On April 8, Alger County Circuit Court Judge William Carmody granted Peterson’s motion to dismiss. He stated the effective date of the act was Dec. 4, but maintained the law could apply retroactively.

“Public policy would certainly suggest that if a medical benefit can be realized from the use of a particular substance, what possible harm can be found by the state in allowing the same to be applied retroactively?” Carmody said in his ruling.

Peterson was represented by attorney Tom Casselman of Marquette. A circuit court judge’s decision is not the final word. Circuit decisions can be appealed to an appellate judge, and ultimately to the Michigan Supreme Court.

In Delta County, a man charged with possession and delivery recently had his justification defense rejected when he asserted he was medically permitted to have the plants.

Jason McEntire, 37, Escanaba, was arrested April 13 on two controlled substance charges of delivery/manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a drug house.

On Nov. 10, 15 pot plants were confiscated from McEntire’s residence in the southside trailer court. Eight officers from the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) conducted the drug bust.

During McEntire’s preliminary hearing in district court in April, his lawyer Jayne Mackowiak said he had received authorization from a doctor in January, after the raid, to grow the plants for medicinal purposes. Mackowiak said the act should be retroactively applied in this case. Delta County Prosecutor Steve Parks said the marijuana plants were seized from McEntire’s residence on Nov. 10, before the new law went into effect in December.

“I feel the behavior was before the effective date of the (new) act,” Parks told the court.

Judge Glenn Pearson agreed the case occurred prior to the new legislation and would listen to the facts presented according to laws at the time.

“I think the courts are supposed to interpret and enforce existing laws, not anticipate them,” Pearson said, and bound McEntire over to circuit court.

McEntire invited UPSET officers into his home April 13 and presented a medical authorization form for the marijuana that was dated Jan. 12. McEntire was arrested on the spot.

By Audrey LaFave. Source.

June 29, 2009 – We must learn how to reduce the harms associated with our drug use, including reducing easily preventable deaths from overdose.prescription

As the world continues to mourn the death of Michael Jackson and the details of his final hours emerge, it appears that it may be another in a long line of celebrity drug overdoses. Jackson is reported to have taken a number of painkillers known as opioids on a regular if not daily basis.

Michael Jackson inhabited his own rarified world, and we are used to hearing about drug overdoses in the context of fast-lane inhabiting music and film stars, like Jackson and Heath Ledger, who died of an opioid overdose last year. But even among average Americans, deaths from drug overdoses have been rising and have reached crisis levels in our country. A recently-released report by the Drug Policy Alliance documents the extent of the problem: drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of accidental death in America, surpassing firearms-related deaths. Many of those affected are young people. Among teenagers there has been a steep rise in misuse of prescription drugs. A December 2008 survey of high school seniors reported that more than 15 percent of high school seniors reported using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. But it’s not just young people who are dying of overdoses: overdose is the number-one injury-related killer among adults in Michael Jackson’s age group: 35-54.

This spike in overdose deaths is almost entirely attributable to increasing numbers of people overdosing on legal, prescription drugs; overdose deaths from heroin and other illegal drugs have leveled off in many places as a result of harm reduction efforts. Most of these drugs are opioids, which can include both opium-derived drugs like morphine and codeine, and synthetics like Oxycontin and Vicodin, both of which were allegedly used by Michael Jackson, and Demerol, with which he reportedly was injected just before he died. Other commonly prescribed opioids include Percodan and Percocet. Some of the drugs involved in overdoses have been diverted to the black market and sold illegally, while others are obtained through legal prescriptions. Pain patients can misunderstand their doctors’ instructions and accidentally exceed their prescribed doses of painkillers.

But in Michael Jackson’s case, if it was caused by an opioid overdose, his death might have been averted had people close to him had access to a simple and reliable antidote: naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan.

Naloxone, if administered to someone who has stopped breathing as a result of an opioid overdose, can reverse the effects of the overdose and restore normal breathing in two to three minutes. Naloxone has been used effectively in emergency rooms to reverse overdoses for over 30 years. Tens of thousands of lives could be saved if naloxone were more widely available and more people (including doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals, as well as law enforcement professionals, many of whom are currently unfamiliar with naloxone), were trained in its use.

Cities with programs that increase the availability of naloxone, among them Chicago, Baltimore and San Francisco, have seen their overdose rates decline dramatically. New Mexico, which for years had a high number of deaths from drug overdoses, saw a 20 percent decline in such deaths after the state’s Department of Health began a naloxone distribution program in 2001. Naloxone itself has no abuse potential, making it a good candidate for over-the-counter availability. If people who are prescribed an opioid were also be given a prescription for naloxone, with instructions for them and their caregivers on how to administer it, this spike in overdose deaths could be reversed.

But our country’s drug war mentality prevents this safe and effective remedy from being made more widely available. Fear that doing so will encourage drug use causes the government to restrict naloxone’s availability. This “abstinence only” mindset is the same one that for years has prevented the federal government from funding syringe exchange programs — proven to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases — for injection drug users. Just as the “abstinence only” model has proven a failure at preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, it has been a failure at reducing drug use or the harms associated with drug use. Rather than continuing these failed policies, we need evidence-based solutions to the problems of drug misuse and drug overdose.

Fortunately some attention is now being paid to the overdose crisis. A bill known as the Drug Overdose Reduction Act was recently introduced in Congress by Rep Donna F. Edwards (D-MD). The bill would create a federal grant program to provide cities, states, tribal governments and community-based groups with funding to prevent and reduce overdose deaths; task the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with responsibility for reducing overdose deaths; commission studies on the efficacy of various strategies to reduce overdose deaths; and create a nationwide surveillance system for monitoring overdose trends. A Facebook group called Purple Ribbons for Overdose Prevention now has nearly six thousand members across the country and is growing daily.

Another part of the solution to the overdose crisis are “Good Samaritan/911” laws, which provide immunity from arrest and prosecution for drug use or possession to anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose. Many lives could be saved if friends of overdose victims weren’t afraid of being prosecuted if the police are called to the scene. New Mexico last year became the first state to pass such a law, and similar legislation is now pending in several states.

We need to accept the reality that people will always use drugs, whether legal or illegal, prescribed or sold on the street, mood or performance enhancers, pain killers or stress reducers or sleep-enablers. We are a nation of drug users. We must learn how to reduce the harms associated with our drug use, including reducing the unconscionable and unnecessary number of deaths from overdose. By Jill Harris. Source.

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