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Monthly Archives: October 2008

Just over ten years ago, the United Nations Office of Drug Policy set a goal – the eradication of Cannabis (marijuana) and several other psychoactive plants from the face of the earth by 2008. Most viewed this as unattainable, even laughable, but the ensuing decade saw a sad timeline of prohibition running roughshod over the lives of people around the world: Villagers in the Putomayo region of Columbia were inundated with pesticides, ruining their farms, gardens and water supplies; innocent missionaries shot down by U.S. drug warriors over Peru; the death penalty became the norm for Cannabis trafficking in Southeast Asia; arrests for Cannabis possession in America now approach 800,000 per year – often ruining the hopes and dreams of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

So, as a British “think tank” prepared a report for next year’s U.N. Drug Policy meetings recommending “decriminalization” of Cannabis (see story below), the writing on the wall grows clear. This July, representatives from many countries and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) met in Vienna for “Beyond 2008” – preliminary hearings on reforming U.N. drug policy and the concensus for change was inescapable. Here is a video, produced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, with several reformers looking to the future:Three Days in Ten Minutes – Beyond 2008 Series #2

A Previous Post from last February examines U.N. Drug Policy in detail, featuring a hearing in British Columbia that the U.N. held to get input on possible reforms.

The following news stories from this month reflect the coming tide of changes for our modern prohibition.

Headline: Oct 3, 2008 – UK: Is It Time the World Forgot About Cannabis in Its War? – The United Kingdom has been on a roller coaster of Cannabis policy changes for six years now. This spring saw Britain reclassify Cannabis as “Class B“, reversing  the 2004 move to “Class C“. which decriminalized possession of small amounts. The reasons included fear of “Skunk” – a catch-all term for the more potent “sinsimellia” Cannabis becoming popular in England (see previous post). The Global Cannabis Commission report states that much of the harms associated with Cannabis use is “the result of prohibition itself”.

Headline: Oct 4, 2008 – New Zealand: Cannabis Spray Use May Be Made Legal– Another country wants to join Britain and Canada in legalizing a concentrated plant extract of Cannabis as a prescribable pharmaceutical. “Sativex”, a sub-lingual spray, is made by GW Pharmaceuticals in England, in a government-assisted venture with genetics experts from The Netherlands. With a remarkable safety/therapeutic profile, trials of Sativex shown efficacy in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and illuminated the neuroprotective action of Cannabinoids. Indeed, new science and anecdotal evidence raise the possibility that Cannabinoids can actually halt the progression of neurodegenerative diseases!

The success of a whole plant extract of Cannabis (the form our ancestors used) and the failure of synthetic THC (Marinol) as an effective medicine demonstrates that Mother Nature is, indeed, the best pharmacist and that patient’s reports of amazing relief of symptoms makes perfect sense. Modern compounds made from Cannabis will be needed and welcomed, but access to the natural plant should be considered a basic human right, as it should be with any healing or sacramental plant.

Headline: Oct 19, 2008 – Caribbean: Prehistoric Drug Kit Is Evidence of Stoned Age– Archaeologists excavating a prehistoric site on the Caribbean island of Carriacou have found ancient “drug paraphernalia”, dating to around 400 BC. These ceramic bowls and tubes were used to inhale hallucinogenic powders, as Shamans have done for eons in South and Central America. In other parts of the world, there is ample evidence that Cannabis Hemp was an integral part of many prehistoric and even paleolithic cultures.

In this video, Ethnogen expert Terence McKennatalks about the ancient connection between Cannabis and humankind.McKenna on Cannabis

Headline: Oct 24, 2008 – US HI: Public Access TV To Air Drug Policy Forum Video – On the eve of election day, when the citizens of Hawaii will decide on Ballot Question No. 1 (which would make cannabis the lowest law-enforcement priority for police), a forum on drug policy was held at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Speaking was Clifford Thornton, founder of Efficacy – a non-profit organization that advocates a move away from criminalization and towards treating drug use as a health issue, lamenting the “turning of the average citizen user into a criminal, even when no violence or criminal behavior is involved.”

The Pinky Show on You Tube has an interview with Clifford Thornton, conducted on October 7th, during his visit to Hawaii.The War on Drugs : FAIL : an interview with Clifford Thornton Jr.

Headline: Oct 28, 2008 – Canada: Medical Marijuana Users Claim Victory– It’s been eight years since the Constitutionality of access to medical Cannabis was established in Canada, but the road has not been easy for patients seeking consistent supplies of quality herbal medicine. Patients were able to grow their own, designate a “caregiver” grower or obtain Cannabis from a government contracted grow operation in an abandoned mineshaft in Flin Flon, Manitoba – reportedly unsatisfactory as medicine.  In 2003, the Ontario Appeal Court struck down restrictions that limited caregiver growers to one patient each, but the government re-instituted the program – leading to this case.

Last year the federal government appealed a lower court ruling that granted licenses to growers for multiple patients, but this month the courts dismissed the appeal, finally enabling sufferers of chronic and terminal illness access to truly medicinal grade Cannabis – many strains of which were bred during the prohibition by ordinary people forced to become experts in horticulture and genetics.

In this next video, a licenced Cannabis grower/patient Canada discusses the future of medical Cannabis in his country and obstacles to patients needing a sustained supply of quality medicine.Legal Medical Cultivator speaks out Jan court ruling Part 1

Nothing is to be preferred before justice.

~ Socrates

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

Headline: Sept 28, 2008 – Michigan: Election 2008 – Medical Pot Issue Called “Ploy”, “Good Idea” – A lively controversy accomponies Michigan’s medical Cannabis (marijuana) ballot proposal, which if successful, will make Michigan the thirteenth state to allow citizens access to Cannabis for medicine. The measure directs the legislature to enact a state program to register patients; will allow patients and caregivers to grow their own Cannabis, with limits on possession amounts; and will establish a “medical necessity defence” for persons not registered in the state program, but seeking to defend their use of Cannabis as medicine in front of a jury. This last provision is causing some law enforcement to vehemently oppose the proposal.

Headline: Oct 3, 2008 – MI: Editorial: Vote Yes on Proposal 1 for Medical Marijuana – The Detroit Free Press has identified half a million potential patients who would qualify under the proposed medical marijuana measure on the ballot in Michigan and urges its’ readers to vote Yes.  The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, proponents of the new medical marijuana ballot measure, cite a September poll showing 67% support across the state.

Oakland County, Michigan’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has a You Tube Channel – OCNORML, which has just posted a video outlining the ballot proposal and media treatment of the issue:OCNORML on Proposal 1

Headline: Oct 3, 2008 – MI: Group Launches Campaign to Stop Proposal on Pot“Pot dream come true for drug dealers”, says a coalition fighting the Michigan medical Cannabis proposal. Law enforcement groups and anti-drug groups like “Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Kids” warn of dire consequences, but the Michigan State Medical Society is neutral on the bill, while the Michigan Nurses Association is in favor of the legislation.

Headline: Oct 14, 2008 – MI: U.S. Deputy Drug Czar Says Proposal 1 Is ‘About Dope, Not About Medicine’U.S.  Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns, using taxpayer dollars, is fighting Michigan’s potential medical Cannabis proposal – with the usual warnings of crime, chaos and “pot shops in strip malls“, like in California. However, a spokesperson for Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care pointed out that Proposal 1 does not have a provision for dispensaries.

Headline: Oct 14, 2008 – Massachusetts: Column: Marijuana Skirmish in the War on Drugs – Meanwhile, on the east coast, “Question 2 “, a voter initiative that would decriminalize small amounts of Cannabis, has also generated controversy – despite it’s modest goal of including Massachusetts in the roster of “decrim” states (around a dozen), some of which decriminalized simple possession and eased other marijuana statutes way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These states were responding to government studies suggesting that liberalizing Cannabis laws would be the smart way to go and few have reversed their stance.

The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy says that 71% of MA’s voters already support “Question 2”. (See our previous post from this spring), claiming wide based, mainstream recognition of the need for change. Economist Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University (see previous post) estimates that decriminalizing marijuana would save the state’s police departments, courts, and jails nearly $30 million.

Headline: Oct 20, 2008 – MA: DAs Fight Bid To Ease Penalty For Marijuana – District Attorneys across the state of Massachusetts are using their public offices to influence a voter initiative – morally questionable policy at best. Question 2, which would decriminalize small amounts of Cannabis in a rather modest effort at easing the states harsh marijuana statutes, which unnecessarily saddle many otherwise law abiding citizens with criminal records and other punitive measures. 

Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is also a supporter of Question 2.  LEAP, consisting of retired police officers, judges and other law enforcement personnel, educates the public from a “law and order” point of view – showing how a prohibition always makes things worse, including crime and corruption.

Here is a radio ad (on video), featuring a long time Boston police officer who supports Question 2.  The You Tube Producer who posted this video has more on Massachusetts’ efforts for reform of Cannabis laws.Radio Ad: MA Marijuana Decrim Question 2, Retired Boston Police Officer Supports It

Keeping in mind that alcohol prohibition was “decrim” (targeting only sellers, not users) and still had to ended for the good of society, please vote in our poll on how best to reform Cannabis prohibition in 21st century America

If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being a gift from God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.
Samuel Adams, Father of the American Revolution.

      Tonight’s presidential debate is at Hempstead, NY – on Long Island, where just a few generations ago, huge fields of Cannabis Hemp waved in the wind. Especially important during WW2, when the military contracted for hemp to make parachute webbing, rope and canvas, industrial hemp had been established as an essential crop in Hempstead since Colonial times.

Given the amazing potential of modern industrial hemp utilization in America (the last of the G-8 not allowing its’ farmers to grow it) and the immediate need to support local economies during our coming economic restructuring,  tonight would seem an appropriate time to discuss joining the 21st century with our ancestors’ knowledge of this remarkable plant. High quality industrial fiber (already in luxury cars); cellulose suitable for papers, plastics and ethanol; high quality seed oil – found at health food stores for its’ EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) profile and even suitable for biodiesel!

Local hemp mills and biodiesel facilities could save the family farm and sustain America through turbulent times, all without poisoning the land like cotton or depleting the water, as corn does. Who would’a thunk it – except for Jack Herer back in 1989. Check out“The Emporer Wears No Clothes” for the details – it’s a classic.

Here are some recent news stories concerning Cannabis Hemp from around the world, inter-spaced with videos that just scratch at the surface of this urgent issue. With the growing problems with hydrocarbon fuels and products, it would behoove John McCain and Barack Obama, as Congressmen and a future President, to allow our farmers to benefit from the next wave in eco-agriculture.

Aug 19, 2008 – New Zealand: Perseverance Leads to Hemp Approval– After developing its’ own cultivar of hemp -“Aotearoa 1 “, the Catlins Industrial Hemp Group has been approved by the NZ Director-General of Health to proceed with the countries’ first planting of the versatile crop, promising farmers many future markets and sustainable biofuels for New Zealand’s long-term stability. Mack McIntosh, the developer of the new cultivar, foresees New Zealand’s strain of hemp to be marketed around the world.

In this video, from a Series on You Tube, Kevin O’Connell the Auckland central representative for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party talks about the future of Cannabis in New Zealand.Kiwi Cannabis News Vault Update – Consequences of Legalization

Aug 24, 2008 – New Zealand: Holistic Way of Hemp– Luxury car maker Lotus is showcasing an eco-friendly concept car, the Eco Elise, that utilizes industial hemp in an exciting design conforming to new EU Flower Certification” standards for protecting the environment. Canadian hemp is already being utitlized in the automobile industry, e.g. – as a safer replacement for fiberglass in door and dashboard panels. 

Sept 7, 2008 – Europe: Marijuana Ingredient May Fight Bacteria – Another example of how our modern world needs Cannabis Hemp – researchers from Italy and Britian have found that Cannabinoids are effective as topical compounds that inhibit the growth of MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), a nasty little bug that might just wipe us out if we don’t react correctly. This article points out that Cannabis has long been known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

In this informative and imaginative video, a You Tube Producer details of the history and efficacy of Cannabis in germ fighting:Marijuana Cures Skin Bacteria

Sept 30, 2008 – WI: Legalizing, Taxing Pot Urged To Raise Cash – Drawing a parallel between the economic pressure to end alcohol prohibition during the Great Depression in 1932 and the logic of ending marijuana prohibition during our modern economic crisis, Gary Storck, co-founder of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, joins a chorus of drug law reform advocates who have long recognized the potential of tax revenues from re-legalized marijuana sales and industrial hemp production.

Bruce Mirken, director of communications with the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, said legalization and regulation could mean between $10 billion and $40 billion a year to state and federal budgets.

“An acre of the best ground for hemp, is to be selected and sewn in hemp and be kept for a permanent hemp patch.” – Thomas Jefferson’s Garden book 1849