Friday, August 28, 2009

Colorado's Explosion

Colorado introduced it's medical marijuana program in 2001, conflicting laws with our federal government kept the size relatively small. During President Obama's campaign he pledged to end DEA medical marijuana raids. Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed this new US policy during a press conference. Only people violating both state and federal law would be prosecuted.

Christina Davidson, a writer for the Atlantic, is road tripping across the country. A cannabis dispensary caught her attention at a recent stop in Nederland, CO. It didn't take her long to conclude that the medical marijuana industry was keeping the local economy afloat. Business has been booming since the fears of federal raids has dwindled.

At the beginning of this year, only 2000 people had applied for Colorado's Medical Marijuana Registry since the system was established on 2001. In the past six months, the registry has grown to nearly 10,000. The registry card is actually optional under Colorado law--a doctor's note is sufficient--so it's difficult to determine the precise number of medicinal users. About thirty dispensaries currently operate to provide verified patients with locally-grown kind bud, up from just a handful in previous years. And the number of dispensaries is expected to double to 60 by the end of 2009.

Davidson's next stop in Colorado was to "Meet the Marijuana Snack Kings of the Future", a new startup named Ganja Goods.
Shaz Swartz, a 43 year old ex marine, and his partner Garrett Miller hope to perfect the science of cooking with cannabis. Aspiring to standardize dosages in edibles, ensuring the customer knows exactly what to expect before eating their baked goods.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Washington Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle contributed an article to The Seattle Times pledging her support to bill 5615. Her hope in passing the bill is to decriminalize marijuana in Washington state, making it only a civil offense for possession. Drawing inspiration from large crowds at Seattle's Hempfest, the Senator wants to remind people about the Schafer report that came out in 1972 and the fallout that occurred.

Twelve states took action and decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s. Nevada decriminalized in 2001, and Massachusetts did so in 2008. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, states where marijuana possession is decriminalized represent more than 35 percent of our nation's population.

These states have not seen a corresponding increase in use. Nor have the 14 states that have adopted legal protections for patients whose doctors recommend the medical use of marijuana.

The article also points out the failures of prohibition and our inability to enforce current laws. It is time for our country to realize that throwing money at this problem isn't going to solve anything. Billions have been wasted, and I don't understand how some people still can't admit that marijuana prohibition has been a failure.

We now have decades of proof that treating marijuana use as a crime is a failed strategy. It continues to damage the credibility of our public health officials and compromise our public safety. At a fundamental level, it has eroded our respect for the law and what it means to be charged with a criminal offense: 40 percent of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. It cannot be that 40 percent of Americans truly are criminals.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Great Propaganda All Around Part 2

That FOX news video used some quotes from a Mother Jones magazine article. Below is what I believe to be the most significant quote in that same article. It is regarding Tom Ammiano's bill that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state of California.

Still, the legislation hasn't found a single cosponsor, and isn't scheduled for so much as a hearing.

Which is too bad. Going into this assignment, I didn't care much personally about cannabis legalization. I just had a vague sense that if other people wanted to do it, why not let them? But the evidence suggests pretty clearly that we ought to significantly soften our laws on marijuana. Too many lives have been ruined and too much money spent for a social benefit that, if not zero, certainly isn't very high.

This Mother Jones magazine article mentions how much money our government has wasted on advertising. However, it's main focus is on the drug czar.

But then, the drug war has never been about facts—about, dare we say, soberly weighing which policies might alleviate suffering, save taxpayers money, rob the cartels of revenue. Instead, we've been stuck in a cycle of prohibition, failure, and counterfactual claims of success. (To wit: Since 1998, the ONDCP has spent $1.4 billion on youth anti-pot ads. It also spent $43 million to study their effectiveness. When the study found that kids who've seen the ads are more likely to smoke pot, the ONDCP buried the evidence, choosing to spend hundreds of millions more on the counterproductive ads.)

Here is a closer look at Harborside Health Center, located in the San Francisco Bay area.

Judge Jim Gray discusses reasons why he believes America needs to decriminalize marijuana and overhaul our drug policies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Great Propaganda All Around

After watching the new Michael Phelps Subway ad, and hearing about MPP's new commercial airing in California, I felt a video blog post was necessary. I thought 5 might be a little overkill, so tomorrow I'll post part 2.

The videos below include Henry Ford wanting to make hemp cars. The government trying to convince American farmers to grow hemp, essential to a victory in WWII over the Japanese. I thought the hippie was entertaining. Not sure if it was because I watched it after "Hemp For Victory". I wonder why Ron Paul hasn't used "Hemp For Victory" when trying to gain support for his hemp legalization bill.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Twitter Medical Marijuana & Foreign Policy Magazine

I am becoming quite the Twitter fiend since I registered a few weeks ago. It's a great way for people to share information with each other. Artists Collective is using their Twitter account to help distribute medical marijuana.

The article below was written by
Moisés Naím, the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine and was featured on NORML's website. It illustrates how the entire world has fallen behind with their drug policies. Focusing on America's inability to accept that change is needed in our failing drug laws.

Wasted: The American prohibition on thinking smart in the drug war

The Washington consensus on drugs rests on two widely shared beliefs. The first is that the war on drugs is a failure. The second is that it cannot be changed.

Americans are a can-do people. They tend to believe that if something does not work, it needs to be fixed. Unless, that is, they are talking about the war on drugs. On this politically fraught issue, Washington’s elites and, indeed, the majority of the population, believe two contradictory things. First, 76 percent of Americans think the war on drugs launched in 1971 by President Richard Nixon has failed. Yet only 19 percent believe the central focus of antidrug efforts should be shifted from interdiction and incarceration to treatment and education. A full 73 percent of Americans are against legalizing any kind of drugs, and 60 percent oppose legalizing marijuana.

This “it doesn’t work, but don’t change it” incongruity is not just a quirk of the U.S. public. It is a manifestation of how the prohibition on drugs has led to a prohibition on rational thought. “Most of my colleagues know that the war on drugs is bankrupt,” a U.S. senator told me, “but for many of us, supporting any form of decriminalization of drugs has long been politically suicidal.”

As a result of this utter failure to think, the United States today is both the world’s largest importer of illicit drugs and the world’s largest exporter of bad drug policy. The U.S. government expects, indeed demands, that its allies adopt its goals and methods and actively collaborate with U.S. drug-fighting agencies. This expectation is one of the few areas of rigorous continuity in U.S. foreign policy over the last three decades.

A second, and more damaging, effect comes from the U.S. emphasis on curtailing the supply abroad rather than lowering the demand at home. The consequence: a transfer of power from governments to criminals in a growing number of countries. In many places, narcotraffickers are the major source of jobs, economic opportunity, and money for elections.

The global economic crisis will only intensify these trends as battered economies shrink and illicit trade becomes the only way for millions of people to make a living. Mexico’s attorney general reckons that U.S. consumers buy $10 billion worth of drugs from his country’s cartels each year, a business that propelled Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, to Forbes magazine’s latest list of the world’s billionaires. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, all that money allows the two main cartels to train, equip, and pay for a highly motivated army of 100,000 that almost equals Mexico’s armed forces in size and often outguns them. And this ascendancy of the drug cartels is a global problem. The opium trade is equal to 30 percent of Afghanistan’s legal economy, and from Burma to Bolivia, Moldova to Guinea-Bissau, drug kingpins have become influential economic and political actors.

Fortunately, there are some signs that the blind support for prohibition is beginning to wane among key Washington elites. One surprising new convert? The Pentagon. Senior U.S. military officers know both that the war on drugs is bankrupt and that it is undermining their ability to succeed in other important missions, such as winning the war in Afghanistan. When Gen. James L. Jones, a former Marine Corps commandant and supreme allied commander in Europe, was asked last November why the United States was losing in Afghanistan, he answered: “The top of my list is the drugs and narcotics, which are, without question, the economic engine that fuels the resurgent Taliban, and the crime and corruption in the country. . . . We couldn’t even talk about that in 2006 when I was there. That was not a topic that anybody wanted to talk about, including the U.S.” Jones is now U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security advisor.

But such views have set off fierce clashes between military commanders newly focused on creating peaceful economic opportunities for Afghan families and the U.S. drug warriors set on eradicating Afghanistan’s major cash crop at any cost. What’s more, inertia alone almost guarantees strong support for drug eradication from the massive bureaucracy that lives off the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that have funded the war on drugs for decades. The opinions of these drug warriors are immune to data: After decades of eradication efforts around the world, neither the acreage of land used to grow drugs nor the tonnage produced has shrunk.

But prohibition at any cost is becoming increasingly hard to defend. As the drug-fueled escalation of violence in Mexico spills across the border into the United States, the American public’s willingness to ignore or tolerate policies that don’t work is bound to decline. And the consequences of failure are already on mounting display: According to the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center, Mexican drug cartels have established operations in 195 American cities. It is much harder to ignore the collateral damage of the war on drugs when it happens in your neighborhood.

That is the case in many other countries where the nefarious side effects of U.S. drug policies have long been felt. Three of Latin America’s most respected former presidents, Brazil’s Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Colombia’s César Gaviria, and Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo, recently chaired a commission that came out in favor of drastic changes in the war on drugs—including decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. The commission, on which I sat, spent more than a year reviewing the best available evidence from experts in public health, medicine, law enforcement, the military, and the economics of drug trafficking. One of the commission’s main conclusions is that governments urgently need options beyond eradication, interdiction, criminalization, and incarceration to limit the social consequences of drugs. But though smart thinkers increasingly propose confronting the drug curse as a public health crisis—more options are in the commission’s report at—real alternatives have found no space in a policy debate stalemated between absolute prohibition and wholesale legalization.

The addiction to a failed policy has long been fueled by the self-interest of a relatively small prohibitionist community—and enabled by the distraction of the American public. But as the costs of the drug war spread from remote countries and U.S. inner cities to the rest of society, spending more to cure and prevent than to eradicate and incarcerate will become a much more obvious idea. Smarter thinking on drugs? That should be the real no-brainer.