July 21, 2009 – It will come as absolutely no surprise to some, that in 1971, the year British Petroleum took out the largest bank loan in history to finance its offshore oil explorations (a statistic which still stands today), the serving British government implemented the Misuse of Drugs act. A law which would take away the cannabis plant from those that need it most, forever.Picture 12

Ever since, successive governments have told the wider population how bad cannabis is for us. Indeed the evidence delivered through a carefully crafted press campaign which spans almost a century, has been delivered with such force and magnitude, the very mention of the word ‘Cannabis’ these days brings about much sharp-intaking-of-breath, accompanied by lots of nudge’s and wink’s.

But does it really deserve the bad rap it gets in the press? Because the fact is, and whether the British Government, the police or even President Obama himself will admit it in public, the much maligned cannabis plant is the most often used recreational illicit narcotic in the world. And with regular user numbers reaching over 250 million around the world, and barely a ripple of adverse reactions to the active elements in the marijuana plant, it could also quite possibly be the safest substance in the world. According to their own statistics.

Now before all our Conservative readers change the channel I would like to present for you some evidence.

Legalize Cannabis? Not anytime soon
All around the globe the politics surrounding cannabis present us with mixed up, convoluted theories. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it “lethal”, even though half of his serving Cabinet admitted using it whilst they climbed the political ladder from University to Whitehall. That’s a fact.

President Obama famously admitted not only to using cannabis, but also to inhaling..frequently, stating “Thats the point, right?”, when he was asked about his past drug use in the Presidential Elections in 2008 and rather than bore the pants off the long-suffering reader with a long and very well documented list of who inhaled, suffice to say enough people of influence and power have used cannabis recreationally, without any ill-harm coming to them, to push through a decision to decriminalize the substance if they so desired.

So its fair to assume no matter how much the lobbyists spend in communicating with the powers that be, due to how the political system actually works, career politicians can just keep causing delay after delay, keeping cannabis illegal pretty much as long as they want to, and regardless of what the electorate wants.

Yes we can? (Oh no we can’t!)
Which is NOT exactly the new democratic beginning we were promised when Obama was swept to power, is it? One of the primary arguments for NOT legalizing cannabis is its propensity to induce amotivational behavior – the tendency not to care, when you really should care.

But the list of politicians, actors, industrialists and sportsmen and women, including the Olympian with the largest haul of gold medals to date, (Michael Phelps) who admit to using cannabis disproves this theory out of hand.

Motivation
If you give a person the motivation to succeed a large majority of them will. So blaming cannabis for the failings of humanity is nothing more than a convenient cop out. And its a cop out which no longer holds any water.

United Nations
The health argument against cannabis is a campaign which is being orchestrated by the highest office within the United Nations. A global quango inspired by a political machine more set on finding ‘jobs for the boys’ than actually solving the worlds drug problems.

And the motivations behind such a steadfast campaign for an unrealistic pipe dream in which abstinence is the key word in a nations drugs policy can only be speculated, but one thing is for sure. You can bet its down to money somewhere along the line.

1937 Marijuana Tax Act
When the campaign against the drug which ‘makes blacks think they’re as good as whites’ was presented to US congress by Harry Anslinger in 1937, the resultant Act did not itself criminalize the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana or cannabis, but levied a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp or marijuana.

The Act did however include penalty provisions and a complex Regulation 1 codifying the elaborate rules of enforcement to which marijuana, cannabis, or hemp handlers were subject. Violation of these procedures could result in a fine of up to $2000 (a kings ransom back then) and five years’ imprisonment.

The net effect was to increase the risk for anyone dealing in the substance. It also signaled the start of the longest lasting conflict in the history of mankind. The drug war.

In 1937 its worth remembering the oil industry was still in its infancy. We simply didn’t have the convenience of rotary moulded plastics, and liquid resins with which to fit out a nations war machine, so when the US were drawn irresistibly into the second world war on December 7th 1941 with the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour, all of a sudden there was a materials crisis which needed the nations full attention.

Hemp for Victory
The American government’s answer to the crisis was to make a movie. But not just another old Ronald Regan movie. This was a film which was designed to encourage all of the farmers whose livelihoods had recently been removed by the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, to step up to the plate and grow Hemp for Victory. Again.

The 1942 movie encouraged and taught farmers to grow variants of hemp suitable as raw material for hawsers used by the U.S. Navy and the Merchant Marine, prior to the adoption of Nylon rope – an oil industry by-product which was not yet widely available.

The hemp was also used as a substitute for other fibrous materials that were blocked by Japan. Materials for the construction of uniforms, webbing, canvas for tents, truck-backs and footwear (the list is endless) and it was quickly realized humanity was not yet ready to live without industrial hemp. Maybe we could live without it, but we couldn’t win a war!

Soon afterward every person with some spare ground was playing their part in the overall victory, by growing hemp.

Just how versatile IS hemp?
Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, clothing, and nutritional products.

The long (hemp grows tall) bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend.

The inner two fibers of hemp are more woody, and are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding, insulation materials and litter.

More recently a British company has found a lime/hemp mix which is ideal for building ‘carbon neutral houses’ cheaply and quickly.

Natural ‘Organic’ Plastics
The oil from the fruits (“seeds”) dries on exposure to air (similar to linseed oil) and is sometimes used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics.

Many of these products which today we rely on the oil industry to produce for us.

Have I seen the movie? What movie?
Interestingly, before 1989, the ‘Hemp For Victory’ film was relatively unknown, and the United States Department of Agriculture library and the Library of Congress told all interested parties that no such movie was made by the USDA or any branch of the U.S. government.

But much to their chagrin, two VHS copies were recovered and donated to the Library of Congress on May 19, 1989 by Maria Farrow, Carl Packard, and the ‘Grandfather’ of hemp, Jack Herer.

We can only ponder why the US government would deny all knowledge of a film it made.

Hemp Nutrition
Hemp nutrition is also a hot potato at the moment. Due to it being able to give the human body an almost perfect ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9, its an ideal replacement which could help save our struggling deep-sea stocks.

Perhaps surprisingly this combination of essential fatty acids, (they’re called essential because we can’t make them ourselves), minerals and vitamins is delivered in its most rudimentary form. A seed.

But before we can actually get at it, we need to get the good stuff out, and we achieve this by cold pressing the seed, and harvesting the valuable hemp seed oil.

A New ‘Oil’ Industry?
Cold pressing hemp seed oil is a practice which can be traced back through time. The hemp seed has traditionally provided the entire oil requirements for many races, just as the Olive continues to do today.

Just over a decade ago a Canadian entreprenour called Mike Fata acquired some cold-oil pressing equipment and started supplying four local health food shops in Canada with fresh cold pressed hemp seed culinary oil.

11 years on and his company Manitoba Harvest is one of the most well-known hemp nutrition vendors in the world, with an annual turnover which is counted in the tens of millions of dollars. From little acorns…

Drill your own oil
As more people become aware of the benefits of a high hemp seed diet, so the markets require new products to furnish the demand. One British company to take advantage of the rise in hemp’s popularity has a particularly GOOD story to tell.

Good Oil
Henry Braham, is a Director of Photography, and Glynis Murray, a Movie Producer. They met around 15 years ago, when filming together.

Something they still do in fact – their latest film is Everybody’s Fine , with Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore.

Soon after they met they found they had more in common than movies – both grew up on farms.

Henry & Glynis bought Collabear Farm in 1996, and started farming themselves.

Henry says that they never set out to produce a culinary oil, “like all the best journeys, we never had a specific destination in mind.”

They started by looking at options for sustainable farming.

Hemp had just been reintroduced to the UK – a crop that had been key to the economy in Northern Europe for centuries, but had fallen out of fashion in recent years.

It fitted their requirements perfectly. Hemp is hugely beneficial to the environment, and can be used in an impressive range of eco friendly products. It meant they could grow a crop that was both sustainable and profitable.

Henry and Glynis grew hemp successfully for fibre – used to manufacture the interiors of Mercedes and BMW 5 and 3 series cars. But it was only when they picked and tasted the seeds in the fields that they were inspired to develop a culinary oil.

‘They were delicious,’ says Henry.

‘And then we began to learn all about the incredible health properties of hemp seed. It is very high in essential fats, has about half the saturated fats of olive oil and is the most naturally perfect oil in terms of omega -3 and -6.’

But getting the oil to taste as good as the raw hemp seed wasn’t easy.

‘It took us ages to get it right,’ explains Glynis. ‘It was a question of trial and error. And, when you’re growing a crop, you do one trial, have your error, and then have to wait another year.’ It was 10 years before they perfected the harvesting and pressing of the seeds to produce an oil that tastes like the seed in the field. Hence why GOOD Hemp Seed Oil today tastes so GOOD!

But a great taste isn’t the only consideration. Hemp seed oil will run a power station just as readily as it will power a car engine or a domestic central heating system. And when you take into account for an investment of around £10,000 every community in Wales could theoretically own its own hemp seed oil press, the ramifications for the petroleum industry start to manifest a little more clearly.

Hemp in Wales
Imagine a farmer growing hemp on his own land, never having to buy fuel oil again for his machinery, or central heating oil to warm his farm house?

Electricity from a ‘green’ oil electricity generator is a not too distant option, making the entire farm self-sufficient power-wise.

As a one-off, as is the case of Henry Braham and Glynis Murray above to a degree, it makes for a novel tale. But if the concept were taken up on a much wider scale you can be sure the petroleum industry would have something to say about it.

Conspiracy Theory
So the government fans the flames of ambiguity by publishing this story or that regarding cannabis-the-drug.

Its a health risk. It could cause cancer. It could cause mental illness, and pressure-groups spring up, run by mothers who failed as mothers, and who “lost their children to cannabis”.

But the fact is the numbers of people who have an adverse reaction to cannabis are precious few in relation to how many actually use it.

In the meantime around 7 million UK citizens and in the region of 240 million others elsewhere around the world sit wondering what all the fuss is about.

Climate Change
Simply by deploying hemp in a number of situations which are currently fueled by fossil oils, we could substantially reduce the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere every single year, so it comes as a huge surprise to hear not one global leader mention hemp playing a part in any of their plans to reduce Co2 levels.

The fact is the petroleum industry holds the world in its vice like grip, and any talk of further freeing up the industrial hemp plant would doubtless lead to sanctions from OPEC – The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A powerful council indeed, and one which has in its power the ability to raise the price of crude oil from $65 to $140 per barrel in under a year, with the huge financial burden this would (and did) place on society as a result.

In the United Kingdom, when the oil industry and the government meet they do so not at the place of work of the government, in London.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequor must fly to the far north of Scotland, to Aberdeen, to meet the oil men, and there are not many industries in the UK which have this financial hold over the government. One or two at the most.

Chicken & Egg
Going back to 1937 its fair to assume that when Harry Anslinger appeared before the US Congress, an appearance which brought about the implementation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, he did so (as the story goes), to stop the influence of marijuana being brought in from Mexico with the influx of foreign workers which had traveled north in the hunt for work, as well as to escape Pancho Villa’s marauding revolutionary army.

At least, that’s how history will tell it.

However, the fact is, the move was motivated not by any great public health concerns, but by how much money a few wealthy men stood to lose from their infantile petroleum explorations.

Explorations which went on to create some of the wealthiest families on the planet and in doing so, could well have destroyed our fragile eco-system for good.

But all is not lost, and if we can disentangle cannabis-the-drug, and industrial hemp for long enough to attract some outside investment, who knows where that will end?

What we do know though, is the petroleum industry stands to be hit hardest, should cannabis, (and as a result industrial hemp) ever become legalized.

So don’t hold your breath waiting.

For everything you ever wanted to know about the fantastic hemp plant but didn’t know who to ask, please visit http://www.jackherer.com/

For more information about GOOD Oil, please visit their website which can be found at; http://www.goodwebsite.co.uk

Source.

Amid Calls for Marijuana Legalization in the U.S., a look at the Lessons of the Dutch Approach

July 14th, 2009 – When it comes to the debate over legalizing marijuana, even thecoffeeshop president of the United States has a hard time keeping a straight face.

After legalization questions got high ratings in an online town hall in March, Mr. Obama couldn’t suppress a grin and a joke about what the popularity of the topic “says about the online audience.” To the disappointment, if not the surprise, of marijuana advocates, he went on to say that he doesn’t think legalizing and taxing marijuana “is a good strategy to grow our economy.”

Yet there are many Americans – and public officials – who are taking the issue more seriously. In a CBS News poll released Monday, 41 percent of Americans said they favor marijuana legalization. Other polls put that figure as high as 52 percent.

Meanwhile, Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul co-authored a bill to end federal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot. Sen. Jim Webb has put forth legislation to create a commission examining drug policy and problems in the criminal justice system.

In California, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill to legalize recreational use of the drug in order to generate desperately-needed tax revenue – and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is open to a debate over doing just that.

These are significant steps for American politicians, who have long been loath to take on drug legalization for fear of being labeled soft on crime. But they mark little more than an early effort to prompt discussion around the issue.

For a more substantive look at how politicians are grappling with decriminalization, one must cross the Atlantic and take a look at Holland, where casual marijuana use has been de facto legal since 1976.

Where Pot Is Both Legal And Illegal:

Despite what the typical backpack-toting college student might think, pot exists in something of a legal netherworld even in Amsterdam. While coffee shops in some areas of the country can sell marijuana without risk of punishment, proprietors cannot legally obtain the product for sale. And possession and production are technically misdemeanors that can prompt a fine.

“The Dutch model is a little half baked,” quips Tim Boekhout van Solinge, a drug policy expert at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. “The supply side is still illegal, the production is illegal.”

Experts on both sides of the issue lament the ambiguity of marijuana policy not just in Holland but also in places like California, where there are not clear rules about the distribution of medical marijuana.

Dutch drug policy is grounded in the separation of soft drugs like marijuana from harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. “The policy has evolved slowly over time,” said Craig Reinerman, a sociology professor and drug policy expect at the University of California Santa Cruz. “At first they had a national commission, much like the Nixon administration had. And their national commission said, ‘look, all drugs have risks, even legal ones. Some are acceptable, and some are just too high.'”

Because history suggested people would use marijuana regardless of the limits imposed by the government, the Dutch tried to manage use as part of an attempt to keep transactions as safe as possible. (They have a similar philosophy when it comes to prostitution).

Dutch law enforcement will not go after coffee shops that sell small amounts of marijuana (up to five grams) to people over the age of 18, though the coffee shops can only operate if the local municipality allows it. The coffee shops can only keep 500 grams of marijuana onsite at any one time, can’t advertize, can’t sell alcohol or hard drugs and can be shut down if they become a nuisance to the neighborhood. Customers are permitted to consume the drug on the premises or at their home.

In addition, if not for international treaties designed to restrict supply, the Dutch may well have crafted a policy in which the supply side is (at the very least) de facto legal as well, according to Boekhout van Solinge. In the current system the state can only generate tax revenue indirectly, via the incomes of those who run the coffee shops. And many proprietors have little choice but to engage in somewhat shadowy transactions in order to secure the product.

“The fact that production and supply are still left in the underground certainly creates some problems,” said Bruce Merkin at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Predict: Marijuana Nation
Will any state legalize marijuana by the end of 2009?
Over the years, Dutch policy has prompted serious grousing from neighbors. In the 1990s, French president Jacques Chirac suggested the country’s position was weakening Europe-wide efforts to combat drug use. One of his allies in the legislature went so far as to dub Holland a “narco-state.” Holland has long fought illegal drug trafficking, yet remains a significant producer of a number of drugs and a key entry point for narcotics into Europe.

Yet as defenders of the Dutch policy are all too happy to point out, the Dutch actually smoke less pot than many of their neighbors – the French included. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 22.6 percent of Dutch citizens between ages 15 and 64 reported having used cannabis in their lifetime. In France, the percentage in that age group who reported using the drug was nearly four points higher – 26.2 percent.

Among Spaniards the lifetime usage rate for this age group is even higher – 28.6 percent – while among Italians it sits at a relatively robust 29.3 percent. In the United Kingdom, where the sample included 16 through 59 year olds, the percentage who said they had used cannabis was above 30 percent.

For the record, the country with the most liberal drug policy in Europe is actually Portugal – which happens to have the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in the entire European Union. (But that’s a different story.)

In the United States, meanwhile, more than 40 percent of people 18 and older have used marijuana or hashish. America boasts one of the highest pot usage rates in the world.

“If you look at the data, it really dispels any notion that allowing adults to possess marijuana creates a nation of potheads,” Merkin said.

Dutch public opinion over the nation’s drug policy has long been split, with polls usually suggesting that a slim majority favor the coffee shop-based system. In recent years, however, the country has moved to become more restrictive, thanks in large part to resentment over the impact of so-called “drug tourists,” whose partying has long angered locals.

In 2007, the Netherlands banned the use of psychedelic mushrooms (which had essentially been treated as soft drugs) after a drug-related suicide, and several municipalities have moved to close coffee shops to discourage crime and drug tourism. The U.S. Department Of Justice says that 81 percent of the country’s municipalities did not allow coffee shops as far back as 2000. One Dutch professor predicts there will be no more coffee shops in Holland by 2010, thanks in large part to anger over drug tourists.

One of the key debates around pot policy in Holland, the U.S. and elsewhere centers on the question of destigmatization – whether or not giving the drug the imprimatur of legality will drive up usage rates. Joel W. Hay, a Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy at the University Of Southern California and an opponent of marijuana legalization, says yes.

“A lot of people are now getting the clear social signal that pot is not that great because it is illegal” in the United States, he said. “It certainly doesn’t deter use, but it probably deters a substantial amount, and that’s for the good.”

But Reinerman argues that destigmatization is a “tricky question.”

“I interviewed a Dutch parent once and asked about this, and he told me, ‘my son will smoke a little pot now and then, but mostly it doesn’t occur to him to do that. There’s no allure of the forbidden fruit,'” he said.

Reinerman allows that “in the first six months or a year or two [after legalization] there might be an increase” in marijuana use, but says the destigmitization that would come with legalization ultimately works both ways. “Availability is not destiny,” he argues.

Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland professor of criminology, believes that any increase in usage rates if marijuana were decriminalized would be modest. He points to the fact that Dutch marijuana users tend to give up the drug at the same time as Americans do – in their 20s.

“I’m reasonably confident that if we followed the Dutch model we would not see a big uptick in usage,” he said.

That could depend, however, on whether the United States could successfully follow one aspect of the Dutch policy that both legalization advocates and opponents laud: its ban on advertising. Hay notes that under a legalization policy business interests would be incentivized to try to drive up demand.

In the United States, he argues, a policy that bans advertising on legal marijuana would raise questions of Constitutionality. (Congress and the Obama administration did recently pass legislation more strictly limiting tobacco advertising.)

“I think it would be tightly contested whether restrictions could be put on it, because the adverse health effects are not that great,” said Reuter. “Potential producers could bring suit.”

These sorts of complex questions are being seriously considered in some American circles for the first time since the 1970s. The federal government, however, is not exactly joining the conversation. Though new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has been lauded for his emphasis of treatment over incarceration – and for abandoning the phrase “war on drugs” – he recently told Rolling Stone that legalization is not something worth considering “under any circumstances.”

Hay believes there is simply no good reason to abandon the status quo and emulate the Dutch policy, let alone move to full legalization.

“We have a philosophical question if potheads should be able to [use marijuana], and they sort of already can,” he said. “It’s not really that illegal right now. And I think having society saying this is something you shouldn’t do, but we don’t throw the book at you when you do it, is sort of a socially optimal policy.”

But while medical marijuana use has been decriminalized in some areas of the country, police still arrest between 750,000 and 900,000 people per year on marijuana-related charges, the vast majority for possession.

“It just should be accepted that cannabis is consumed by hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Boekhout van Solinge. “When governments arrest people, it hasn’t stopped people from consuming cannabis.” Source.

By Brian Montopoli

California Desperately Needs Tax Revenue, Prompting Some to See Green in Making Grass Legal

July 13, 2009 – (CBS) A high-stakes political battle is underway in the image5153148gcash-strapped state of California. At issue is the narrowly-defined liberty people have there to grow and sell a certain plant . . . and the desire of some folks to have the state government TAX it. John Blackstone reports our Cover Story: In Oakland, Calif., Richard Lee runs a string of businesses, from coffee shops to glass blowing that are helping revitalize the once-decaying downtown.

But Lee’s business empire is built on an unusual foundation: Selling marijuana

In the back of his Blue Sky Coffee Shop there’s a steady stream of cash buyers, and not just for coffee.

“In the front you get the coffee and pastries, and in the back you get the cannabis,” Lee said.

A salesman told customers, “You’re welcome to pull the bags out and smell the herb as you like.”

What’s going on here is illegal under federal law, but permitted under California law that since 1996 has allowed marijuana for medical use.

A dozen other states have similar laws. One customer named Charles said pot is exactly what his doctor ordered.

“So that’s what relieves my anxiety and allows me to cope and feel good,” he said.

Lee has dubbed his Oakland neighborhood “Oaksterdam” . . . with a nod to Amsterdam and its liberal drug laws. His goal is to make this a tourist destination, with marijuana its main attraction.

“Does that worry people around here?” asked Blackstone.

“No, people around here love it ’cause they see how much we’ve improved the neighborhood,” Lee said.

Next door to where Lee sells marijuana, Gertha Hays sells clothes. She says the dispensary brings people from all walks of life. “There’s no particular pothead,” she said, “so everyone comes over there.”

“So these aren’t just druggies in there?” Blackstone asked.

“No, not at all. If you look and see who comes up and down the block you’ll see it’s so diverse,” Hays said.

Part of the Oaksterdam neighborhood is a nursery growing a cash crop: Medical marijuana is now estimated to be a $2 to 3 billion business in California.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of people making a lot of money,” lee said.

There are now several hundred medical marijuana dispensaries in California . . . and much more marijuana being sold on the street.

“We estimate, overall, [the] California cannabis industry is in the neighborhood of around $15 billion,” lee said.

While there is disagreement over the real size of the marijuana market it’s big enough to have captured the attention of lawmakers trying to fill a huge hole in the state budget.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is pushing legislation to legalize pot so the state can inhale new taxes.

“I thought it was high time, no pun intended, for this to be on the table,” Ammiano said. “I’m trying to beat everybody to the punch with the jokes, because I get a lot of ’em,” he laughed.

There are many who ridicule the idea, but the state tax board estimates Ammiano’s proposed tax of $50 an ounce could bring in $1.5 to 2 billion a year.

“We find that highly unlikely,” said Rosalie Pacula, of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center. She says California is likely to be disappointed by the revenue raised on marijuana that now sells for about $150 an ounce.

“If you try to impose a tax that is that high, you have absolutely no incentive for the black market to disappear,” she said. “There is complete profit motive for them to actually stay.”

The tax proposal, though, has started an unusual political discussion. According to one poll, 56 percent of California voters say marijuana should be legalized and taxed. Even California’s Republican governor has not snuffed out talk of legalization.

“No, I think it’s not time for that, but I think it’s time for debate,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “All of those ideas for creating extra revenues, I’m always for an open debate on it.”

Check out reports on the debate over legalization in CBSNews.com’s special section “Marijuana Nation.”

Of course, Governor Schwarzenegger, from his earlier life, does have some experience . . .

. . . as does the president himself.

“I inhaled, frequently,” Mr. Obama admitted on the campaign trail, in a nod to President Bill Clinton’s earlier quasi-admission. “That was the point.”

And while the president says he is opposed to legalizing pot (“No, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy”), his administration has ordered the DEA to stop raiding state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

It’s a big change from decades of viewing the plant as the indisputable evil portrayed in the 1936 film “Reefer Madness.”

But that old image has been going up in smoke for decades.

It was along for the trip in 1969 in the movie “Easy Rider,” and on the cover of Life Magazine. On TV today it’s just a part of suburban life in the series “Weeds.”

And then there’s the growing recognition of marijuana as medicine.

“Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years,” said Dr. Donald Abrams of San Francisco General Hospital. “It’s only for the last 70 years that it hasn’t been a medicine in this country.”

Dr. Abrams has been studying marijuana for twelve years and is convinced it is both effective and safe.

“I think marijuana is a very good medicine,” he said. “I’m a cancer doctor. I take care every day of patients who have loss of appetite, nausea, pain, difficulty sleeping and depression. I have one medicine that can treat all of those symptoms, instead of five different medicines to which they may become addicted.

“And that one is marijuana, and they’re not gonna become addicted to it?” Blackstone said.

“That’s correct,” said Dr. Abrams.

But those who have been fighting the war on drugs say that, just because marijuana may be medicine, that doesn’t mean it should be legal.

“There’s just no doubt about it that the drug cartels and the drug organizations are very much involved in the production and sale of marijuana, said Roy Wasden, police chief in Modesto, Calif., where a lot of marijuana is grown.

“You can be out walking through the national forest, and if you hike into one of these marijuana grows, you’ll be at great risk,” he said.

And drug fighters warn aging boomers that marijuana isn’t the gentle weed they remember. Today’s pot is a whole different kettle of fish

“The marijuana of the 1960s and Woodstock is not what’s being sold on the streets in the United States today, said Chief Bernard Melekian, head of the California Police Chiefs Association. “The narcotic portion, the THC of marijuana in the ’60s, hovered around one or two percent. THC today is around 27 to 30 percent.

“You have a very significantly different plant.”

Teaching people to grow that plant is another one of Richard Lee’s businesses.

Lee runs Oaksterdam University, where students also learn how to stay within the state’s medical marijuana laws.

“So you can’t plant those seeds until you know what the law is?” Blackstone asked.

“Right,” said Lee. “Vote today and get high tonight.”

Students like Darnell Blackman and Barbara Kramer see an opportunity to do good . . . and to do well . . . by growing marijuana.

“Just like aspirin or ibuprofen or any of those other medications, cannabis is just another way of helping people,” said Blackman.

“I thought maybe there was some way that I could get in the ground floor, get ahead of the curve on where this industry might be going,” said Kramer.

There are still plenty of obstacles before it’s a legal industry. Chief Wasden says this is no time for a surrender in the war on drugs.

“Fewer kids are using drugs today,” he said. “We’re not losing the war on drugs. Kids are starting to understand the negative, negative consequences of drug abuse. Do we need to introduce another dependency-driven substance into our community when in fact we’re making progress?”

But in the community now known as Oaksterdam, the drug warriors are nowhere to be seen . . . as a whole neighborhood goes to pot. Source.

July 5th, 2009 – Massachusetts gay activist Barney Frank (D) not only wants to force all Americans to affirm the lifestyles of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, drag queens, and transsexuals, but he also wants us to get high on marijuana, too.woodstock_csg022

Apparently, Barney longs for a return to Woodstock, that sex, drugs and rock music orgy that took place on a farm in New York in 1969. Let’s all “turn on and tune out” – as President Obama leads our nation over the cliff into a permanent recession and a fascist economic system.

Barney wants Congress to pass the Marijuana Patient Protection Act (H.R. 2835), which will prevent the federal government from prosecuting users of marijuana in states where the use of the drug for medical reasons is legal. He is also pushing for passage of the Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults (H.R. 2943). This would eliminate federal penalties for the possession or transfer of “small amounts of marijuana.”

Barney Frank apparently wants all Americans to enjoy the effects of brain damage as a result of marijuana usage.

The Congress has also just approved a ballot initiative for Washington, D.C. that permits voters to vote to legalize pot for “medical purposes.” The Drug Enforcement Administration opposes the legalization of medical marijuana – and says it is not medicine and is not safe!

The dangers of marijuana on the brain are well-known, but apparently not to Barney Frank, who is little more than a moral anarchist.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, has published disturbing data on the dangers of marijuana use on a person’s mind.

The NIDA notes that the use of marijuana results in distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving and problems with learning and memory. Long-term marijuana use results in actual changes in the brain. Long-term users who try to quit experience irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety and drug craving.

In addition, studies have shown that there is a connection between chronic marijuana use and anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. Large doses of marijuana can produce psychotic reactions. Marijuana is addictive the person craves stronger drugs.

Marijuana users also do damage to their heart and lungs. Marijuana smoke contains 50-70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than regular smoke – and users inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than regular smokers. One study showed that an abusers’ risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana.

A study on marijuana published in Britain in 2007 reveals that marijuana use causes brain damage and paranoia. Written by TraditionalValues.org Source.

June 24, 2009 – Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced two pieces of legislation on marijuana — one medical, and one recreational — that deserve a lot more attention (and support by fellow House members) than they have been getting. frank_barney-733055The first would change federal law to allow states to experiment with medical marijuana without interference from Washington. And the second would drastically reduce federal penalties for “personal possession” of marijuana.

The medical marijuana bill aims to fix a problem in the federal classification of marijuana. The problem was best summed up in a live performance by Bill Maher I saw a number of months ago, where he talked about medical marijuana laws that states such as California (and others) have passed. I don’t remember his exact words, but it went something like this: “It’s still illegal to grow it, it’s illegal for doctors to prescribe it, it’s illegal to sell it, it’s illegal to buy it, but if a joint happens to fall from the sky into your lips, then it’s OK to smoke it.”

There’s a reason for this legal disconnect. States are afraid of legalizing a production chain for marijuana because such legislative attempts always run into a brick wall called “federal law.” Federal law always trumps state law, and federal law says that marijuana is illegal. Period. Federal law also states that marijuana has no medical value, and therefore even doctors who prescribe it are at risk of legal trouble with the feds for doing so.

A few months back, I called upon President Obama to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance, instead of Schedule I. The difference between the two is that Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical use.” Schedule II drugs do. Schedule II drugs (which include cocaine, opium, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and PCP) are just as illegal as Schedule I drugs, but doctors are still allowed to prescribe them. That’s really the only difference between the two.

The first of Frank’s bills, (which you can look up under the number “HR 2835”) is titled “The Marijuana Patient Protection Act” and (from Frank’s press release): “would prevent federal authorities from prosecuting pharmacies, growers and users of medical marijuana in states where the use of the substance for medical reasons is legal.”

Congressman Frank himself says about his bill:

“There are some people who are in severe pain for whom nothing else seems to work. It is cruel to prevent them from having access to something which helps relieve their pain. This is especially true because so many states allow it. For the federal government to come in and supersede state law is a real mistake.”

His bill, to date, has 16 cosponsors, including two Republicans (Ron Paul and Dana Rohrabacher). Barney Frank has been fighting this battle for a long time, and has introduced similar legislation in every Congress since 1995, when he picked up the baton from the late Congressman McKinney from Connecticut (Frank had supported McKinney’s bills for ten years prior to introducing his own bill in 1995).

Back in 2006, when he introduced a similar bill, Frank was more expansive:

“This is an issue on which people around the country are ahead of the politicians. Many elected officials are hesitant to support any proposals that might be viewed as weakening our drug laws, but I believe this is a common sense idea that will give some people who are suffering a measure of relief.

“If there are doctors willing to recommend the use of marijuana for their patients, and states willing to permit it. I think it’s wrong for the federal government to subject either the doctors or the patients to criminal prosecution. Nothing in this proposal would make marijuana more available for the general population. The bill is limited to medicinal use of marijuana with a doctor’s approval. The bill does, however, offer a challenge to conservatives who often profess their support for states’ rights. I am delighted that some of my conservative colleagues, including Congressmen Ron Paul and Dana Rohrabacher, along with former Reagan Administration official Lyn Nofziger, have joined in this effort.

“I would add that taking legal action against those who use small quantities of marijuana for medical purposes is a highly questionable use of scarce prosecutorial resources at a time when they could be put to much better use.”

The second legislation Congressman Frank introduced recently is “The Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults” (search for it under “HR 2943”), which would (again, from Frank’s press release): “eliminate federal penalties, but not override existing state law, on the possession or not-for-profit transfer of small amounts of marijuana. The bill would allow possession of up to 100 grams of the substance, and not-for-profit transfer of up to 28.3 grams (1 ounce). The legislation would also create a $100 fine (a civil penalty) for public use of marijuana.”

This is a harder row to hoe politically, which is why Frank lists responses to common criticisms:

* The legislation would not affect federal laws prohibiting the cultivation or sale of marijuana for profit.

* It would not legalize major drug dealing or create obstacles for federal officials from prosecuting such activity.

* It would not affect any state or local laws regulating marijuana.

* It would not alter the status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act

That last one is a bit of a disconnect, since H.R. 2835 would do exactly that, making it a bit odd in a press release that highlights both bills. Frank has, so far, gotten less support for H.R. 2943 than for the medical marijuana bill, shown by the fact that there are currently only four cosponsors (two of which are the aforementioned Republicans).

But Frank doesn’t mince words on this issue either: “I think John Stuart Mill had it right in the 1850s, when he argued that individuals should have the right to do what they want in private, so long as they don’t hurt anyone else. It’s a matter of personal liberty. Moreover, our courts are already stressed and our prisons are over-crowded. We don’t need to spend our scarce resources prosecuting people who are doing no harm to others.”

The congressman does not say, but I am assuming he is referring to the Mill quote:

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

The question now is whether either of these bills is going to get anywhere. Frank’s press office was not overly optimistic about chances for passage this year, seeing as how he’s been fighting to get this done for almost a quarter-century now. A call to Henry Waxman’s office (the chairman of the House committee both bills have been referred to) asking when the committee would hold a vote or move the legislation went unreturned by my deadline. A call to the White House press office asking whether President Obama could sign, or would support, this legislation also went unreturned.

It’s all fine and good that Obama has said that his administration wouldn’t be going after legal (by state law) medical marijuana facilities, but the only way to guarantee that this policy outlives his term in office is to change the classification from Schedule I to Schedule II. This would allow the states to set up their own framework for the legal growth, transportation, and availability of marijuana to medical patients, without being worried about the heavy hand of Washington smacking down their efforts. Changing marijuana’s classification, and reducing federal penalties for personal use are both commonsense changes at the federal level which are long overdue. While Barney Frank is to be applauded for pushing the issue forward, he cannot do this on his own.

Like other issues Democrats have dragged their heels on, one has to wonder: “If not now, when?” How many Democrats do we need to elect to Congress before such commonsense laws are passed to rein in some of the excesses of past eras? How big a majority would it take? I strongly encourage anyone who cares about this issue to search for the these bills’ cosponsors, and if you don’t see your representative on those lists, contact them and ask them why they aren’t.

[Technical note: The Library of Congress’ THOMAS site is a great resource for looking up the text and details of bills as they wend their way through Congress. However, the links they return when you search for a bill seem to be temporary, and do not work hours after you post them. So I apologize for the hassle of doing your own searches instead of providing direct links. Go to the THOMAS site, click on “search on bill number” to see details of bills.] By Chris Weigant. Source.