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Monthly Archives: March 2008

*** Update: April 18.2008 – Rep. Barney Frank has introduced this billH.R. 5843 -“Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults“. Please tell your representative to support this legislation! ***

Headline: March 21.2008 – Rep. Frank to File Bill to Legalize Marijuanacaptl.jpgWhen the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes shortly, Rep. Barney Frank (D) MA, has stated that he will introduce legislation to legalize small amounts of marijuana (Cannabis) on the federal level. Making the announcement on “Real Time”, hosted by Bill Maher (Friday night on HBO), Rep. Frank said that locking people up for smoking marijuana is “pretty silly.”

As Barney Frank is a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he knows full well the priorities faced by legislators regarding law and order. Here is a video post from Friday night’s “Real Time“, with Bill Maher and Barney’s bombshell:Rep. Barney Frank – Make Room For The Serious Criminals Bill

Barney Frank has realized for years that most politicians are way behind the American people on the marijuana issue, even ignoring the results of free and open elections in states that have legalized Cannabis for medical purposes.

nml.gifIn this video from a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference in Washington, DC, 2001, Barney Frank questions the logic of “conservatives”, normally respectful of a state’s right to autonomy on the health and welfare of its’ citizens, in defying the will of the people and the Constitution.Rep. Barney Frank (MA): Marijuana, Politics & State’s Rights

Headline: March 23, 2008 – Rep. Frank Defends Proposal to Decriminalize Marijuana – Yesterday in the Boston Herald, Barney Frank  expressed concern about the federal raids on medical marijuana clubs in California, saying “I don’t think smoking marijuana should be a federal case”. Also, he insists that “the federal government shouldn’t have a law on the books that is rarely enforced and which doesn’t make sense to large portions of the public”.

*** Please Educate your Representatives in Congress, especially the House of Representatives, on the tragedy, enormous cost and ineffectiveness of the prohibtion of Cannabis. Tell your friends to tell their friends…to support Rep. Frank’s legislation. Call your elected officials on this – it’s your duty as a citizen.***

Cultural leaders like comedian and social critic Bill Maher, who take a stand on problems that the public seems unable to fix, are providing a service by sharing their stage with political leaders brave enough to challenge taboos. With a personal stake in the issue  (his friend Todd McCormick was in prison for researching medical marijuana production for a book project with Peter McWilliams), Bill Maher (then still hosting “Politically Incorrect”) spoke to a highly receptive NORML convention in San Francisco in 2002 on the tragic comedy of America’s war on marijuana.Bill Maher on Marijuana Legalization, NORML 2002

The inequities in our drug laws and the hypocritical politicians that dream them up have frustrated Americans for decades, especially as we export our convoluted, Neo-Puritan ideas out to the rest of the world – even alienating our neighbors in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. Reforming our drug laws would go far in reforming our image in the eyes of the world and politicians in the eyes of Americans.

jeff2.jpg“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
-Thomas Jefferson

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***Update*** – Nov 5, 2008 – Massachusetts is now the 13th state to decriminalize Cannabis (marijuana) and Michigan is the 13th state to legalize Cannabis as medicine! Read more on a post from NORML.

Headline: March 18.2008 MA: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization (Actually, the headline should read “Decriminalization” – more on the difference later)

maflag.gifMembers of the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary are considering change in their state’s law on Cannabis possession, constitutionally bound to address an initiative brought by the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy(CSMP). The legislature has until May 6 to pass the initiative and send it to the governor, draft its own version to place on the ballot, or take no action and allow CSMP to continue the initiative process.

The initiative, House bill No.  4468, is titled “An Act Establishing a Sensible Marijuana Policy for the Commonwealth.”

csmp.jpg“By creating a civil penalty system for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, the initiative will greatly reduce the human and financial costs of current laws.  Massachusetts’ taxpayers spend $29.5 million a year just to arrest and book these offenders.  Even more costly is the creation of a criminal record for the approximately 7,500 offenders arrested every year”, stated Whitney A.  Taylor, campaign manager for CSMP

Predictably, the wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun, as seen in this video of a MA state representative regurgitating the “gateway drug” myth and even suggesting that alcohol could be prohibited again. This video provided by The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN):MA State Rep- Martin “Mental Institution” Walsh on Decrim

Ironically, the only way Cannabis (marijuana) can be considered a “gateway drug” is in the context of its’ prohibition. That is, to obtain marijuana, one must contact a dealer in the “black market” – exposing one to the whole gamut of illegal drugs. If it were legal, no such connection need be made. Indeed, in European countries where Cannabis is legal or decriminalized, its’ use among teenagers is lower than in the U.S. Every American teen knows that it’s easier to buy marijuana than beer.

mag.jpgScientifically, it has been shown that physically addictive drugs like tobacco and alcohol actually wire the brain for addiction, especially in the young, thereby setting the stage for more addictions.  Real world data shows that marijuana users tend to not use hard drugs. Unfortunately, drug testing is driving more and more people to narcotics like methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol, as these drugs pass out of the system quickly – enabling one to keep ones’ job.

A legimate concern for the citizens of Massachusetts is law and order, as some think that prohibition keeps crime down – contrary to logic and experience. leap.jpgOrganized crime; drive-by shootings; corruption of law enforcement and other government institutions; impure, contaminated products; lack of respect for the law – all these societal horrors were experienced during alcohol prohibition and our “drug war” alike.

 Jack Cole, a former undercover narcotics officer and an original signer of the initiative, is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and will be testifying at the hearing for MA House bill 4468. Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network interviewed Jack Cole for this video:Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Interview

 If Massachusetts decriminalizes marijuana, it will join twelve states that have done so since 1973. Amazingly, civilization has endured and life goes on in these states.

Meanwhile, north of the boarder in New Hampshire…

 Headline:March 19.2008 – N.H. House OKs Marijuana Billnhempshire.jpgSparked by a backlash against tragic consequences resulting from the Higher Education Act (HEA), New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize possession of up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana (Cannabis). Currently, possession is a criminal misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $2,000. If  HB 1623 makes it past the state Senate over the opposition of Governor Lynch, citizens of New Hampshire would  face a $200 fine for a 1/4 ounce or less.

“Our representatives in the House did the right thing for New Hampshire and especially for New Hampshire’s young people”, said Matt Simon of the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

The New Hampshire Coalition has been working for three years to change state marijuana laws, but an infamous “drug warrior”- Rep. Mark Souder (R)IN, author of overreaching and unfair provisions in the HEA, is getting some of the credit for drawing attention to inequities needing remedy. The fact that a college student can lose access to student loans for a minor drug violation, while perpetrators of much more serious crimes face no such penalty,  is an inequity in dire need of correction and has been opposed byssdp.gif Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and many other education advocacy organizations.

 SSDP has a Students for Sensible Drug Policy “Channel” on You Tube that features videos educating the public about the HEA provisions, including this one from the viewpoint of Rep. Mark Souder:Mark Souder expresses his love for NORML and SSDP

The Ridley Report on You Tube has several videos folowing this issue in New Hamphire:NH: State House passes marijuana decrim, but…

It is important to remember that alcohol was decriminalized during all of the prohibition of the 1920’s, so decrim’ is certainly not a satisfactory conclusion to Cannabis law reform.  (Decriminalization means that only dealers and manufacturers of a substance face criminal prosecution, whereas users face “only” fines, somtimes quite substantial.)

Many drug warriors will assert that few people go to jail just for small amounts of pot. Although these arrests/prosecutions are wildly arbitrary throughout America,  there is a “de facto” acceptance of decriminalization, even in non-decrim states.  In fact, the large fines Americans shell out for pot “offences” fill county coffers and long probations ensure warm bodies for the prohibition/industrial complex to consume for years to come. 

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. albert.jpgFor nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.
Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

canada.jpegHeadline: March 18.2008 – Hemp Oil Supplier Slams Laws– A man from Nova Scotia, Canada, is attracting world-wide attention from the concentrated medicinal oil he makes from the Cannabis Hemp plant (marijuana).  Rick Simpson founded “Phoenix Tears” to manufacter the concentrated oil – pressed from the female flower tops, not the hemp seed oil now well known for it’s Essential Fatty Acid profile.

“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,” Judge Beaton said Monday.  “He was engaged in an altruistic activity and was firm in his belief that he was helping others.”

rftc.jpg“The resin is the medicine”, says  Simpson, on “Run From the Cure“, a documentary about the amazing healing herb, his battle with the authorities to continue making the medicine for people with “incurable” illnesses and some of the three hundred patients who report “miraculous” cures from many conditions, including cancer. “Run From the Cure – The Rick Simpson Story“, by Tidal Lake Prductions can be viewed in seven parts on You Tube:RUN FROM THE CURE – The Rick Simpson Story (Part 1 of 7)

Phoenix Tears“, being a natural extract of Cannabis flowers, tric-s.jpgfeatures two key ingredients – “Trichomes” – tiny Cannabinoid-laden, crystal-clear stalks sometimes refered to as “Kief”, that bristle like hairs on the mature flowers; and “Terpenes” – medicinal oils that coat the surface of the flower. These oils are now recognized to be a very important component of the therapeutic profile of Cannabis.

ctc1.jpgAt the 2002 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference in Portland OR, Dr. Geoffrey Guy, Founder and President of GW Pharmaceuticals, U.K.,  a company that grows large amounts of high and low THC Cannabis for whole plant extracts, refers to the medicinal value of terpenes and Cannabinoids in his presentation on medicinal strains of Cannabis:Medical Cannabis Strains – Geoffrey Guy, MD

Cannabis Therapeutics Conferences sponsored by Patients Out of Time

Like Rick Simpson, GW Pharmaceuticals is growing Cannabis to extract the concentrated essence of the plant, not a synthetic isolate like Marinol (pure THC). Whole extracts of Cannabis have been trusted for centuries as a safe, effective and amazingly non-toxic herbal medicine. Our ancestors in America knew it well, as Cannabis tinctures and other compounds were in one third of all medical preparations in the 1800’s, making it the most prescribed medicine of that century.

sativa.gifIn 21st century, exciting new science has confirmed the miraculous healing powers of the Cannabis Hemp plant, as well as the “Endo-Cannabinoid system” – the mechanism in all mammals that maintains balance in many systems in the body, including immune; respiratory; neuromuscular; gastrointestinal; reproductive and more.

Dr. Robert Melamede, Professor of Biology at the University of Colorado, eloquently explains the intricate workings of the Endo-Cannabinoid system and it’s role as “homeostatic regulator” – facilitating neurotransmission and balance in inbalanced conditions like auto-immune diseases and cancers.Cancer Cure – Cannabis & Cannabinoids,by Robert Melamede,PhD 

Calling Cannabis a “Miracle Drug”, Dr. Melamede postulates that Cannabinoids from the plant act as a suppliment to the body’s own Cannabinoids, especially when the Endo-Cannabinoid system is over-taxed by biological or biochemical stresses, like the increasing plethora of toxins in our environment that elevate free-radical production.

Ironically, the first commercial end-product from GW Pharmaceuticals, “Sativex, has been licensed for trials and distribution in Canada. Like Rick Simpson’s “Phoenix Tears“, Sativex is a whole plant extract with a remarkable safety profile. However, Rick Simpson faced prosecution for providing Cannabis medicine compassionately, while a corporate pharmaceutical company is allowed to market essentially the same thing for profit.

scales.jpgThis inbalance in justice bodes ill for Canada, whose citizens would benefit from a safe, economical herbal preparations, made with loving care by people with intimate knowledge and experience with the Cannabis Hemp plant. Expensive products like Sativex will be welcomed by the medical community and will undoubtedly be highly effective. But to deny the people equal access to this precious gift from nature – a birthright like all natural medicines – would be nothing short of a sin.

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”   –  Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

pax2.jpg

tp.jpg“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right” –  Thomas Paine 

Headline: March 9.2008 –

 The Wire’s War On The Drug War – HBO’s “The Wire” has amassed a serious audience during its’ five year run and now its’ writers have taken a serious stance on the show’s main subject – our modern prohibition, the ” War on Drugs” – A statement from five of the show’s writers:

“No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.” 

The effect of the drug war on inner-city neighborhoods and community; racial disparities in America’s huge prison population; the corrupting effect on law enforcement and politicians –  topics that provided themes for the drama and compelling reasons for the show’s writers to take an extraordinary action – and they hope you do, too!

“If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented.  Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war.”

The writers go on to talk about jury nullification – more on that below. For now, a video re-cap of “The Wire“s first season:The Wire Season 1 Recap

Column: A ‘Wire’ War vs. the Drug War – Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page has written about the creators of “The Wire” and their efforts to jolt Americans out of complacency regarding our modern prohibition. As the show was set in Baltimore, Mr. Page refers to its’ former Mayor Kurt Schmoke and his belief in decriminalization and treatment as preferable to the “lock-em-up” approach. 

In this video from the Drug Truth Network, Mayor Schmoke presents his views, along with Judge Arthur Burnett, director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition and Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:DTN and LEAP Report: NAADPC Conference

The creators of “The Wire” are giving something back to the communities they portrayed, reminding Americans that they have a duty to actively assert their rights as enumerated in our Constitution and to assert the rights of others when obvious injustice is perpetrated against them. Our “Founding Fathers” regarded a sitting jury to be our “Fourth Branch of Government” – that could judge how laws are implemented and even judge the law itself. Groups like the Fully Informed Jury Association have endeavored to educate the public on their rights and duties as jurors – information that has been suppressed in modern American courtrooms.

path.jpgWhy do we love this trial by jury?  Because it prevents the hand of oppression from cutting you off…This gives me comfort–that as long as I have existence, my neighbors will protect me.
Patrick Henry

In this video, “Power to the Jury”, from At Issue,  a TV show hosted a few years ago by Rep. Ron Paul (currently running for President of the U.S.), the historical roots of jury nullification are outlined – “our last defence against tyranny”:Ron Paul presents “Power to the Jury” At Issue (NEFL) – Part 1 of 3

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine, 1789

Headline: March 11.2008 – Spliff Society – Jamaica Considers Calls To Decriminalize Ganja– When you think of ganja, you think of Jamaica – famous for righteous reggae vibrations, beautiful beaches and mountainside groves of marijuana.

jamflag.jpgHowever, Cannabis (marijuana, ganja, pot) is still illegal in Jamaica, even as ganja consciousness pervades its’ culture and draws vacationers from around the world seeking serenity at laid-back ganja-friendly resorts.

In 2003, a government appointed “Ganja Commission” recommended decriminalization (small fines for users; jail for dealers), but the prospect of losing its'”anti-drug certification” from the United States and resulting economic sanctions caused the government to continue the prohibition. This year, with the Jamaican Labour Party in power and the island’s court’s clogged with marijuana-related cases, there is a real possibility of reform.

As ganja use has been so prevalent in Jamaican culture, it has been a subject of study by researchers seeking to understand Cannabis use in real-world situations. One very interesting  example comes from Dr. Melanie Dreher (now Dean of  the Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago), who spent years of observing the dynamics of Jamaican women, motherhood, cultural taboos against cocaine and cultural support of Cannabis. Indeed, the “Roots Daughters”, respected pillars of Jamaican family and community, are brewers of “Ganja Tea”, beneficial both physically and spiritually.

ctc1.jpgIn this video, Professor Dreher, RN, PhD, at 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, details her observations on Jamaican women and families, including the use of Cannabis in assisting the cessation of crack cocaine use, by lessening withdrawal symptoms and boosting the spirit.Cannabis -Risk of Dependence, with Melanie Dreher, RN, PhD, FAAN

The findings of Professor Dreher mirror scientific studies now supporting anecdotal evidence that Cannabis can be an aid on the perilous path out of “hard drug” addictions. One example is a study on heroin withdrawal in England.

At the same Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, Ethan Russo, MD, outlines governmental studies into Cannabis use, including two books written about ganja use in Jamaica, commissioned by the Shaffer Commission in 1972. The Jamaican studies also mention the “Roots Daughters” and debunks the “anti-motivational syndrome” myth associated with Cannabis use. (Cannabis became established in the Caribbean because the sugar plantation owners knew their fieldhands could work harder and longer in the fierce Jamaican sun, mainly due to the vascular dilation action of Cannabis – bringing the blood vessels closer to the skin (reason for red eyes) for cooling and rushing oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.)Marijuana Use Studies – A History, with Ethan Russo, MD

Beginning with the India Hemp Drugs Commission in 1893, Dr. Russo reports that every study came to basically the same conclusion –
Society has no cause for concern regarding the effects of Cannabis use on health or crime, and in fact, it has many positives – like medicinal value, spiritual traditions and productivity.

thomas.jpgIf people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Headline: March 3.2008 – Justice Dungeon – The United States has the dubious honor of leading the world in locking up its’ own citizens – 2.3 million people are either in prison or in jail awaiting trial. The main reason for this is the “war on drugs”, with arrests for drugs increasing over three fold since 1980, when 41,000 people were in prison for drug offences. Now the number is around 500,000. Arrests for marijuana account for a large percentage of all drug arrests and often lead to incarceration, especially by people who can’t pay the fines or are on probation.

whses.jpgThis experiment in Neo-Puritanism has cost society in many ways – broken families and lives; legions of disenfranchised ex-felons; enormous waste of public funds ( app. a $ Billion dollars a week, combined federal and state budgets); lack of respect for the law; corruption of law enforcement and government; racial  and economic disparities; disease and despair.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit organization promoting the “harm reduction” (health model) approach to the issue of illegal drugs rather than the criminalization of drug users. DPA has produced a message to our politicians regarding continuing support of the drug war – perhaps satire will illuminate the folly of our government, so often lacking in basic intelligence.Incarcerex: It’s Time for a New Bottom Line

Headline: March 3.2008 – A Locked-Up Land– North Carolina is one of 13 states spending more than a billion dollars a year on corrections, dedicating 15 out of every 100 state employees to its’ corrections system. Every state is scrambling to find ways to lessen non-violent prison populations, lest there be no room for violent criminals and no resources to fight violent crime.  America is beginning to realize that the “lock-em-up” solution is fraught with serious dangers to our communities, as we house non-violent offenders with violent ones and unjustly condemn millions to be a cog in a machine. Even after one is released, probation and difficulties finding work contribute to many returning to prison – often for a more serious crime.

 

leap.jpgLaw Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of retired police officers, judges and other law enforcement professionals who have seen first-hand the failures of the drug war, is working to educate the public about the true nature of prohibition, speaking to civic groups across America and Canada.Cops Say Legalize Drugs – Part 1

Headline:Feb.29.08: U.S.  IMPRISONS ONE IN 100 ADULTS, REPORT FINDS 

In this music video, producer Supermax1776 decries the sad fact that America leads the world by far in incarceration of its’ citizens – over two million souls!Another Day in Prison

scrollneg.gifProhibition was introduced as a fraud; it has been nursed as a fraud. It is wrapped in the livery of Heaven, but it comes to serve the devil. It comes to regulate by law our appetites and our daily lives. It comes to tear down liberty and build up fanaticism, hypocrisy, and intolerance. It comes to confiscate by legislative decree the property of many of our fellow citizens. It comes to send spies, detectives, and informers into our homes; to have us arrested and carried before courts and condemned to fines and imprisonments. It comes to dissipate the sunlight of happiness, peace, and prosperity in which we are now living and to fill our land with alienations, estrangements, and bitterness. “It comes to bring us evil –only evil– and that continually. Let us rise in our might as one and overwhelm it with such indignation that we shall never hear of it again as long as grass grows and water runs.
Roger Q. Mills of Texas from an 1887 speech

 

Headline: Feb.14.08Steves, ACLU Join Forces for Pot Law Reform – The host of the popular PBS travel series, “Rick Steves’ Europe” is working with the American Civil Liberties Union to educate the public to the urgent need for change in America’s marijuana laws. Together, they have produced, “Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation“, a new television broadcast debuting in the state of Washington:Marijuana: It’s Time For A Conversation [Part 1 of 3]

Now on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Rick Steves’ experience in Europe is the primary reason he feels compelled to criticize America’s war on marijuana, having seen firsthand that a decriminalization approach is superior and that we need to follow the European trend of differentiating between “hard” and “soft” drugs.

nml.gifIn this video from the 2007 NORML Convention in Los Angeles, CA, Rick Steves speaks to Dean Becker, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the Drug Truth Network, about concerns of law enforcement,  the European model of treating Cannabis use as a health issue – not a criminal one, and his  view of the general use of marijuana as a civil rights issue.Rick Steves Smokes Pot – DrugTruth.net

The American Civil Liberties Union has also seen the civil rights issue in the drug war, including racial disparities and violations of the Bill of Rights. According to ACLU research,  $7.5 billion is spent annually for marijuana law enforcement in America, with 830,000 arrested each year.

Formerly Executive Director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser is now President of the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform organization working for reform of all drug laws. The DPA held it’s 2007 annual convention in New Orleans, drawing attention to the racial unfairness of the drug war. In this video from DPA, Ira Glasser speaks to a local television reporter about these issues.War on Drugs is the New Jim Crow in New Orleans

Rick Steves has been an outspoken advocate of change in marijuana laws for five years, even appearing at the Seattle Hempfest, the largest gathering of Cannabis advocates and culture in the world. In this video, Rick Steves tells the 2007 Hempfest crowd last August that we need to “Get Smart about Drugs”Rick Steves at Seattle HempFest 2007

Rick always points out that the current “War on Drugs” is nothing but prohibition all over again, with no better results than alcohol prohibition. Indeed, the drug war is in many ways worse than alcohol prohibition (which actually was decriminalization) and has no easy way out, like repeal in 1932. The current prohibition/industrial complex is an entrenched bureaucracy of titanic proportions, consuming around a billion dollars per week (combined state and federal). As federal funding winds down due to lack of resources, the American public must find creative ways out of the mess wrought by the drug warriors. If we don’t, chaos will ensue as we are left with the lawlessness of the prohibition, with no tools to confront it and no guidance to find our way out.

ben2.jpgThere never was a good war or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin (1773)