MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:54 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]Marijuana Taxes in Colorado -- An Early Clue[/SIZE]

Across America, lawmakers are eyeing tax revenue from legalized marijuana. Colorado and Washington are each officially expecting over $100 million annually in marijuana excise taxes. In a few days, the Colorado Department of Revenue is due to report how much marijuana tax was paid there for January, the first full month of recreational sales anywhere ever.

But the report on January collections will tell us next to nothing about what other states can expect, and only a little about Colorado. You can multiply January taxes by 12, but that won't show annual marijuana revenue the state can count on from now on -- for two reasons. First, the mature market will not resemble the start-up January market. Second, Colorado will start taxing some transactions that it exempted in January.

Start-up Uncertainties

In future months, Colorado's industry will probably sell more grams of marijuana than it sold in January, but at lower prices. More grams will pull taxes up. Lower prices will push taxes down. It's not clear where taxes will end up.

Some background: Colorado's Constitution calls for two recreational marijuana taxes -- a 10-percent retail tax, and a 15-percent wholesale tax. With those percentage taxes, lots of grams of pot sold at high prices mean lots of tax is collected. If the number of grams goes down, or if prices go down, less tax is collected.

The number of grams for sale in January was low. As the month began, few stores were open -- but now more stores are opening all the time. Even the stores that were open experienced a "valley of supply," as they geared up and struggled to meet demand. That low supply won't last long, but fewer grams of marijuana were sold in January than in a normal month. Fewer grams pushed January tax collections down.

A maturing industry will not just sell more units -- it will also charge lower prices. Think cell phones and large screen TVs.

Indeed, prices in January seemed abnormally high. And not just because of low supply. Prices tend to go up as demand goes up. A one-time spike in demand may have helped boost January's prices. A spike could have come from customers buying several months' supply in advance or from tourists flying in for the grand opening in record numbers -- maybe unsustainable numbers. In any event, January's high prices benefited tax collections.

So in January, it looks like low supply and maybe high demand pulled prices up, but low supply restricted the number of grams sold -- with opposing effects on tax collections. Sales in grams will increase before long, and prices will drop. The net effect on tax collections is not clear.

The "One-Time Transfer" Hole in the Wholesale Tax

Whether Colorado's maturing market helps or hurts tax collections, another factor, unique to Colorado this year, definitely pushed January collections down. Lots of marijuana escaped tax in January, and that won't keep happening long.

Of Colorado's two recreational marijuana taxes, the 10-percent retail tax got collected in January -- no problem. But Colorado's nominal 15-percent wholesale tax was not collected on lots of marijuana sold then. That failure to collect happened because of a temporary hole in the wholesale tax.

Here's the deal: On January 1, recreational pot sales became legal. So did pot growing. But marijuana doesn't mature in a day. Would customers have to wait for plants to grow? No. On January 1, there were lots of medical marijuana businesses in Colorado. (Medical marijuana remains tax exempt.) By Colorado law, only medical marijuana businesses could open up new recreational businesses at first. Regulators allowed "one-time transfers" of marijuana on hand (in inventory) from medical businesses to allied recreational businesses. That way, pot shops had something to sell on January 1.

It turns out that those "one-time transfers" escaped the wholesale tax. The tax statute just didn't catch it. Technically, the wholesale tax is "imposed at the time when the retail marijuana cultivation facility [RMCF] first sells or transfers unprocessed retail marijuana." And the RMCF is the only possible taxpayer for the wholesale tax, the statute says. No RMCF, no tax. A medical marijuana business -- the "one-time transferor" in January -- is not a RMCF. Oops, says the tax collector. Bingo, says the industry. (To be fair, this tax break comes at an opportune time for the legal industry. The industry needs to win a price war against bootleggers, who have not gone away. To win that war, the legal industry needs low prices at first. Temporary tax relief can help offset growing pains.)

Now this hole in the tax will soon close up. Soon, recreational businesses will use up their "one-time transferred" stashes, so then all recreational marijuana will bear wholesale tax. Colorado's official revenue estimators know this. They predict that wholesale tax collections will indeed grow disproportionately faster than retail tax collections.


We can't be sure how much marijuana revenue Colorado can count on in the long run. Start-up uncertainties create confusion, and a hole in the wholesale tax makes January collections uncharacteristically low. In the grand scheme, newly legalizing states could compete with Colorado and reduce its tax collections. A federal crackdown could wipe collections out. January 2014's tax number will provide a clue about long-term, sustainable revenue, but just a clue. Future monthly collections could turn out much lower, much higher, or about the same. We have a lot to learn.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:57 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]While U.S. states relax marijuana laws, pot haven Netherlands cracks down, with mixed success[/SIZE]

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands -- A young man at a bus stop hisses at a passer-by: "What you looking for ... marijuana?" It's a scene of street peddling that the Netherlands hoped to stamp out in the 1970s when it launched a policy of tolerating "coffee shops" where people could buy and smoke pot freely.

But Maastricht's street dealers are back, local residents complain. And the reason is a crackdown on coffee-shops triggered by another problem: Pot tourists who crossed the border to visit the cafes and made a nuisance of themselves by snarling traffic, dumping litter and even urinating in the streets.

This exchange of one drug problem for another has become a headache for Maastricht - and may give reason for pause in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado that recently allowed the sale of marijuana for the first time. The Netherlands, the world pioneer in pot liberalization, has recently taken a harder line toward marijuana, with mixed results seen particularly in border towns such as Maastricht.
The central government clampdown has involved banning people who live outside the Netherlands from coffee shops, and shuttering shops that are deemed to be too close to schools. There was even a short-lived policy that said smokers had to apply for a "Weed Pass" to get into a coffee shop. The new rules were rolled out across the country between the middle of 2012 and the beginning of last year.

But while the central government made the rules, it's up to local municipalities to enforce them - and most are embracing only part of the policy.

Amsterdam - with some 200 licensed coffee shops, one-third of the nationwide total - still lets foreigners visit them, although it is closing coffee shops that are near schools.

One city that has embraced the crackdown whole-heartedly is Maastricht, in the southern province of Limburg close to the Dutch borders with Belgium and Germany.

Its mayor, Onno Hoes, says he enforced the legislation to halt a daily influx of thousands of foreigners who crossed the borders to stock up on pot at its 14 coffee shops. That effort to end so-called "drug tourism" has been successful, local residents say, but the flip side has been a rise in street dealers like the man who recently tried to sell pot to an AP reporter in Maastricht.

Carol Berghmans lives close to the River Maas, whose muddy waters bisect the city, and whose banks are frequented by dealers he sees as he walks his dog each day.

He says there were certainly problems before the crackdown as cars filled with pot tourists poured into the cobbled streets of central Maastricht - but he described the atmosphere as "gezellig," a Dutch word that loosely translates as cozy or convivial.

Since coffee shops were banned from selling to non-residents, the numbers of foreigners has dried up. But the atmosphere in town has turned darker as street dealers now aggressively badger any potential clients and fight among themselves, Berghmans says.

"Now the drug runners are trying to sell on the street to anyone," he says. "They are bothering everybody."

Maastricht city spokesman Gertjan Bos said the problem of street dealing is not new, but concedes it has become more visible since the city's crackdown reduced the number of drug tourists.

"We have a feeling our approach is working," Bos said, "but we do still have to work on the street dealers."

Easy Going coffee shop, in a street linking Maastricht's historic market square with the Maas, has been shut for months as its owner, Marc Josemans, refuses to adhere to the rule about selling only to Dutch residents.

"I won't discriminate," he explains. He is fighting a legal battle against the new rules and expects the Dutch Supreme Court to issue a ruling soon on whether turning away non-Dutch residents is constitutional.

Experts also question the Dutch policy change.
August de Loor has for years run a bureau in Amsterdam that gives drug advice aimed at minimizing health risks for users as well as testing party drugs such as ecstasy for purity.

He says coffee shops once played an important role not only in keeping cannabis users away from hard drugs like heroin, but also educating them about safely using pot and providing a meeting place for people who would rather smoke a joint than drink a beer.

"That special element of the Dutch model makes coffee shops unique in the world," he said, "and that is gradually fading away."

One part of the Dutch drug experience that has remained illegal is commercial cultivation of weed. Meaning that while coffee shops are tolerated - and taxed - the people who supply them are not.

In January, a group of 35 municipalities, including both Amsterdam and Maastricht, called on the central government to allow regulated growing, saying it would take the harvest out of the hands of organized crime.

The Dutch Justice Minister, Ivo Opstelten, was blunt in his rejection: "I'm not doing it," he said. "The mayors have to live with it."

Prof. Dirk Korf, a criminologist at the University of Amsterdam, says the Dutch tolerance policy has worked well.

"The clear success is that there is regulated supply to users without having a strong effect on the prevalence on use itself," he said. "One could be afraid that more people would use cannabis; that has not been the case."

Jo Smeets, a former coffee shop worker in Maastricht, complains his neighborhood has been overrun by dealers since the city's crackdown. The dealers, he says, sell drugs on the streets to people who previously would have bought in tightly controlled coffee shops: "Now they can buy more and they can buy hard drugs from the same dealers."

Amsterdam's coffee shops, by contrast, continue to welcome foreigners with open arms.

The main difference between the two cities is the type of tourist they attract. In Maastricht, foreigners drive over the border, visit a coffee shop and drive back on the same day. In Amsterdam, tourists mostly arrive by plane or train, stay in a hotel and visit museums and restaurants - as well as dropping in on a coffee shop - plowing far more cash into the city.

On a recent Friday afternoon in the Dutch Flowers coffee shop on Amsterdam's historic Singel canal, German and American voices mingled with English and Dutch in a hazy cloud of pot smoke.

Shawn Stabley, a 49-year-old, musician and IT director from York, Pennsylvania, is typical of the type of tourist Amsterdam coffee shops attract.

He and his partner strolled into Dutch Flowers for a smoke after visiting another Amsterdam icon, the Anne Frank House museum, a short walk away on another of the city's canals. The cafe has a few tables, a bar with a set of electronic scales for weighing out drugs and a menu filled with names of marijuana and hashish like Neville's Haze and Parvati Creme.

The couple has been visiting the city for 20 years to celebrate Thanksgiving, Stabley says. He says they don't plan to stop the tradition now, even if he can buy pot closer to home in Denver or Seattle.

"Every window is picturesque," Stabley said, "and coming here to places that serve hash and marijuana just enhances that and prolongs it."

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:59 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]Colorado police chiefs ask for more money for marijuana enforcement[/SIZE]

Colorado's police chiefs are asking the state for more money to pay for marijuana enforcement, saying they are "disappointed" in Gov. John Hickenlooper's plan for how to spend marijuana tax revenue.

In a letter sent to Hickenlooper earlier this week, the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police said the governor's plan contains no money specifically designated for local law enforcement agencies. The letter asks Hickenlooper to support creating a grant program for police departments to cover extra costs related to marijuana legalization.

"Many of our local law enforcement agencies have diverted staff from other operations into marijuana enforcement, leaving gaps in other service areas as a direct result of marijuana legalization," the letter states.

Among the things, the chiefs' association says money could be used for: training officers to better identify stoned drivers, purchasing "oral fluid testing" equipment that could be used for research purposes at impaired-driving checkpoints and creating a statewide database of marijuana crimes.

The budget proposal Hickenlooper sent to the legislature last month predicts medical and recreational marijuana revenues of more than $133 million in the next fiscal year. Hickenlooper has proposed spending the bulk of the money — more than $85 million this fiscal year and next — on youth marijuana use prevention and addiction treatment. A little more than $3 million is designated for statewide law enforcement and public safety programs.

In an e-mailed response to the chiefs' association, Department of Public Safety executive director Jim Davis asked for a meeting to learn more.

"We are confident that once we fully understand the needs and plans, we can submit and support supplemental funding requests," Davis wrote.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:04 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]Charlotte's Web medical marijuana use clears Florida House panel[/SIZE]

TALLAHASSEE — One conservative Republican who has suffered from brain cancer talked about the deceit of the federal government in hiding the health benefits of marijuana for his cancer. Another legislator reluctantly met with a South Florida family only to be persuaded to support legalizing the drug.

Then there was Rep. Charles Van Zant, the Republican from Palatka who is considered the most conservative in the House. He not only voted with his colleagues on Wednesday to pass out the bill to legalize a strain of marijuana for medical purposes, he filed the amendment to raise the amount of psychoactive ingredients allowed by law — to make it more likely the drug will be effective.

The 11-1 vote by the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice was the first time in modern history that the Florida Legislature voted to approve any marijuana-related product.

"That's because people here in Tallahassee have realized that we can't just have a bumper-sticker approach to marijuana where you're either for it or against it,'' said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, the committee chairman and sponsor of the bill. "Not all marijuana is created equally."

The committee embraced the proposal, HB 843, by Gaetz and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, after hearing heart-wrenching testimony from families whose children suffer from chronic epilepsy.

A similar bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate, where Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and Matt's father, has said he has heard the testimony from the families and he wants the bill to pass as a first step.

"Here I am, a conservative Republican but I have to try to be humble about my dogma,'' Gaetz told the Times/Herald.

The families told the House committee that the discovery in Colorado of a marijuana strain, low in the euphoric properties known as THC and high in the antiseizure properties of CBD, is their last best hope.

They spoke of how they are considering moving to Colorado to get the relief needed for their kids, and they pleaded with the committee to move quickly.

"Daniel has over 300 seizures a year — that's on the low side,'' said Kim Dillard of Pensacola, pointing to her 15-year-old son who suffers from Dravet's Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

"We figure after 15 years, the odds of a big one are kind of against us,'' she said. "We just want the chance to try it."

The bill gives anyone found in possession of this kind of marijuana the right to defend themselves against prosecution. It also steers $1 million to state universities to research, develop and come up with a distribution plan for the specialty drug in Florida.

Under Van Zant's amendment, marijuana would be considered legal if it contains .8 percent or less of tetrhydrocannabinol (THC) and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol (CBD) — or a ratio of 1 to 12. He said that level should be easily obtained by researchers and growers but still be "far from having any street value."

The low THC strain has been cultivated in others states and named "Charlotte's Web,'' in honor of a Colorado girl whose seizures were reduced dramatically after her parents gave her an oil made from the extract of the strain.

For a committee known for its dense, often tedious scrutiny of legal text, the debate was remarkable.

Rep. Dave Hood, a Republican trial lawyer from Daytona Beach who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, talked about how the federal government knew in 1975 of the health benefits of cannabis in stopping the growth of "brain cancer, of lung cancer, glaucoma and 17 diseases including Lou Gehrig's disease" but continued to ban the substance.

"Frankly, we need to be a state where guys like me, who are cancer victims, aren't criminals in seeking treatment I'm entitled too,'' Hood said.

Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, said he changed his mind after meeting the Hyman family of Weston. Their daughter, Rebecca, suffers from Dravet's Syndrome.

"We've got a plant here on God's green earth that's got a stigma to it — but it's got a medical value,'' Eagle said. "I don't want to look into their eyes and say I'm sorry we can't help you. We need to put the politics aside today and help these families in need."

The Florida Sheriff's Association, which adamantly opposes a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for medical use in Florida, surprised many when it chose not to speak up. Its lobbyist simply announced the group was "in support."

The bipartisan support for the bill was summed up by Rep. Dave Kerner, a Democrat and lawyer from Lake Worth.

"We sit here, we put words on a piece of paper and they become law,'' he said. "It's very rare as a legislator that we have an opportunity with our words to save a life."

The only opposing vote came from Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, an advocate for the Florida Medical Association. Her husband is a doctor.

She looked at the families in the audience and, as tears welled in her eyes, she told them: "I can't imagine how desperate you must be and I want to solve this problem for you."

But, she said the bill had "serious problems." It allowed for a drug to be dispensed without clinical trials and absent the kind of research that is needed to protect patients from harm.

"I really think we need to address this using science,'' Harrell said, suggesting legislators should launch a pilot program to study and test the effectiveness of the marijuana strain. "This bill takes a step in the right direction ... but it's not quite there."

Gaetz, the committee chairman, envisions a cottage industry in Florida built on the existing network of farmers, nurseries, cultivators and agribusiness labs that currently track and measure food from farm to fork.

Since there are no known growers currently producing the plant in Florida, a market would have to be established using plants illegally obtained from other states, he said.

"We do not create in the bill a mechanism to get the stuff here,'' he said. "However that happens, it's a serious federal crime."

But, once the seeds are here — and once the growers engage in contracts with manufacturers and distributors the goal is to "get the product to the patients as soon as possible,'' he said.

If someone is caught with the plants, or a person starts farming them, the burden will be on the grower to prove the plants are low in THC, Gaetz said.

"If what we see in Colorado plays out in Florida, the patients will actually never be in possession of anything other than the goop in either coconut oil or olive oil,'' Gaetz said.

By contrast, the Senate bill requires that dispensaries be set up throughout the state to distribute the medicine. Gaetz fears there will not be enough demand to justify building the dispensaries because there are only about 125,000 Florida residents with some form of severe epilepsy who might seek the medicine.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:11 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]Minister's daughter: Cannabis 'a gift from God'[/SIZE]

(CNN) -- Aimee Curry recalls sitting on her couch one day, her back contorted, as spasms -- remnants of a car accident that almost killed her in 1992 -- rippled up and down her back.

A friend who had been visiting that day left, saying she would bring back some medication. "She came back with pot," said Curry, who says at first she was aghast.

"I was like, 'I can't smoke that, my daddy said no,'" said Curry, 39, whose father is an ordained minister. "'I can't do that, it's bad.'"

"But I was in so much pain, and they were promising me, 'Aimee, this will take the pain away.'"

Curry ignored the preaching voice in her head and tried the marijuana. Soon after she mastered the inhale, she says, her back muscles relaxed. Her pain did not melt away -- it still hurt when she finally got up from the couch -- but, Curry said, "I didn't care."

"It states in the Bible not to abuse a drug, it doesn't say you can't use it," said Curry. "If you ask me, cannabis is a gift from God."

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: 'Doubling down' on medical marijuana
While some in the religious community may take issue with Curry's interpretation of the Bible, the scientific foundation for cannabis as a medical treatment, especially as it relates to treating pain, is solid.

Pain is the most common condition for which medical cannabis is taken, and one of the few for which there is promising clinical data in humans.

According to doctors who prescribe cannabis for pain, the current wave of U.S. legalization is bringing an unintended side effect: a greatly-reduced need, and in some cases complete cessation, of opioid-based prescription medications.

Dr. Mark Rabe, a Northwestern University School of Medicine-trained physician who treats Curry, said he sees it among his own patients.

"Patients often come into my office and drop down a brown bag full of pill bottles on my desk and say, 'I'm off Oxycodone; I'm off muscle relaxants. I'm off Ambien; I'm off Trazodone,' because medical cannabis does the job better," said Rabe, who runs Centric Wellness in San Diego.

"Time after time these patients tell me that medical cannabis works better than the pills, and with fewer side effects."

Side effects of cannabis are well-known to both medical and recreational users -- dry mouth, red eyes and insatiable cravings -- while opioids' side effects can include nausea, constipation and an ironic hyper-sensitivity to pain.

A more stark contrast between the two: Since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of accidental overdose deaths associated with opioids (also called opiates) went up about 400%. Cannabis researchers say it is virtually impossible to overdose on cannabis.

"Cannabis has such a good safety profile and is much less addictive than opiates," said Rabe. "In my mind, cannabis is a good potential replacement for opiates."

Dr. Donald Abrams, a leading researcher on pain and cannabis, said that clinical data supports cannabis as a treatment for pain -- especially among cancer and HIV/AIDS patients with neuropathy, a painful condition involving nerve damage.

Anecdotally, he said he has encountered many patients who have used cannabis to either reduce their need for opioids or get rid of them altogether.
Abrams described a recent scenario involving a 58-year-old patient with diabetes suffering with neuropathic pain.

"She had already lost two toes and they told her in the ER not to use cannabis for her pain relief," said Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. "She said to me, 'When they give me pain meds they make me feel awful, and cannabis works.'"

It may work, but among pain physicians, receptiveness to cannabis as a viable therapy is muted, and complicated.

One such physician said that the debate is not about whether cannabis-based medications -- like Marinol, which is approved for use in patients by the Food and Drug Administration -- help with pain, especially among cancer patients.

They do, he said.

"I think that debate should be put to rest," said Dr. Jay Joshi, CEO and medical director of National Pain Centers, adding that overzealous proponents may be clouding the real issues surrounding cannabis. "I see the enthusiasm for marijuana kind of like the enthusiasm we had for opiates years ago.

"A few years down the road I think you're going to see problems from this liberalization of marijuana," he added. "We've seen these pendulums swing before and reality is somewhere in the middle."

Joshi said that, despite how it is framed, cannabis is not always safe.
Some of the hundreds of chemicals inhaled when cannabis is smoked, he said, are lipophilic -- they have an affinity for fat cells -- so that they stick to nerve and brain cells for months or years. That could prove problematic over the long-term, he said.

And, Joshi said, smoked marijuana introduces hundreds of chemicals to the body, some of which could prove harmful to the brain over time.

"I don't think (cannabis) is risk-free and there's no long-term potential side effects," said Joshi, who also is chief medical officer and director of Wellness Center USA. Those who tout that, he said, "are drinking a little too much of the Kool-Aid. No medication is risk-free."

The issue, say cannabis researchers, is relative risk. To bolster his case for cannabis Rabe cites patient safety data.

According to the FDA, in 2011, 98,518 patients died in association with drugs approved by the agency, while 573,111 had serious outcomes -- hospitalization, disability, or some other life-threatening situation.

"Nearly 100,000 die from FDA-monitored drugs," said Rabe. "If you look at those kind of numbers and then you hear about the properties of cannabinoids, it makes sense that there is increasing interest in something other than what pharmaceuticals have to offer."

What medicine offers in the distant future may reside somewhere between what doctors like Rabe and Abrams -- and Joshi -- are currently offering their patients.

A small study, authored by Abrams, published in 2011, found that taking cannabis in combination with opioids may enhance pain relief, reduce side effects of opioids and -- possibly most importantly -- reduce the dosage needed for both drugs.

More, and bigger, studies need to echo those results -- and cannabis needs to be rescheduled by the Drug Enforcement Agency -- before mainstream pain physicians get onboard.

Right now, it is a Schedule I drug -- what the DEA classifies as "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

"If (cannabis) was rescheduled I think there are a lot of physicians, including myself, that would not only reconsider it but would probably prescribe it," said Joshi. "A lot of doctors are scared to prescribe something when the actual drug itself is Schedule I."

In the meantime, patients like Curry, who have become staunch proponents of medical cannabis, are confounded by the debate.

"I don't get why the government can recommend narcotics, your doctor can prescribe you Percocet or Oxycontin and you can literally die if you take too much," said Curry. "But if you smoke too much pot you'll just ... fall asleep."

She said that her father's voice alternates between a whisper and roar in her mind as she considers her future use of medicinal cannabis.

Today, she is leaning toward honoring her father. But when the pain comes, "God's gift" may override everything.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:14 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]Legalizing cannabis poses grave danger - UN[/SIZE]

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has called changes to cannabis laws in Uruguay and the US a ‘very grave danger to public health’, but campaigners for reform to drugs laws say the INCB’s comments are ‘shortsighted and narrow minded.’

The annual report by the INCB, published on Tuesday,has said changes to legislation in Uruguay, and the US states of Colorado and Washington are ‘misguided initiatives’ that fail to comply with the 1961 international narcotics convention.

On November 6, 2012, Colorado became the first state in the world to vote in favor of ending cannabis prohibition by a majority of 55%. Under the law, cannabis consumption is permitted in a manner similar to alcohol with equivalent offences for driving stoned as driving drunk. Back in 2000 Colorado state lawmakers authorized patients and their caregivers to use marijuana in limited amounts.

The report by the INCB says that the introduction of the medical cannabis access program in Colorado has led to an increase in cannabis-related treatment admissions as well as car accidents where the drivers were under the influence of marijuana

“Drug-traffickers will choose the path of least resistance, so it is essential that global efforts to tackle the drug problem are unified. When governments consider their future policies on this, the primary consideration should be the long-term health and welfare of the population,” said Raymond Yans, the INCB president in a statement.

The warning by the INCB follows a vote by Uruguay’s parliament last December to approve a bill to legalize, as well as regulate the sale of Marijuana.

Jose Mujica, Uruguay’s president, has said that the legislation was an attempt to find an alternative to the so-called war on drugs, which he said had caused more problems than it has solved.

While in the US, Colorado voted to allow recreational pot sales in a ballot initiative in the November-2012 general election, as did voters in Washington state. Activists in Alaska, Oregon and Nevada hope their states will be next.

The INCB report warns against what it calls ‘alternative drug regimes’ and argues that legalizing cannabis will not lead to a reduction in underground markets but instead will lead to higher levels of addiction.

But this view is heavily criticized in a press release by the Transnational Institute (TNI), a think tank for progressive ideas, and the Global Drug Policy Observation designed to coincide with the release of the INCB report.

They admit that changes to the law in Uruguay, Colorado and Washington have already caused breaches to the UN drug’s control regime, which has focused almost totally on prohibition, but that the INCB and the UN are not being realistic about the problem.

“Rather than seek to learn from or understand the growing political support for alternative drug policies, the UN apparatus – and particularly the INCB – has responded mainly with shortsighted hostility and narrow minded rejectionism,” the press release reads.

A report by the TNI and the Global Drug Policy Observation to be released mid-March will say that the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was inaccurate even when it was drafted over 50 years ago. Labeling Cannabis as a psychoactive drug with ‘particularly dangerous properties’ was the result of questionable decision-making and dubious political compromises with little scientific backing.

As well as changes to the law in Uruguay and the US, countries such as India, Spain and the Netherlands are stretching the inbuilt legal flexibility in the 1961 Convention to its limits by in effect decriminalizing marijuana. This is why fundamental reform of the UN’s outdated drug control system can no longer be avoided.

“We are at a tipping point now as increasing numbers of nations realize that cannabis prohibition has failed to reduce its use, filled prisons with young people, increased violence and fuelled the rise of organized crime. We need the US to open an honest dialogue rather than close their eyes and indulge in blame games,” said Martin Jelsma of the TNI.

The INCB report compares cannabis consumption to the rather different history of alcohol and tobacco markets. It says that despite cigarettes being legal there is still a thriving black market for them in many countries, and cites Britain, where cigarettes are heavily taxed and are therefore relatively expensive, where 20 percent of the domestic cigarette market is bootlegged and Canada where its 33 percent.

The report then says that despite alcohol being legal, it is responsible for two million arrests in the US compared to 1.6 million because of illegal drugs, even though alcohol is well known to cause violent behavior in many people when it is abused.

The INCB also voices its concerns about the huge growth of illicit poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, which grew by 36 percent last year reaching 209,000 hectares.

It also warns about the rapid increase of so-called legal highs, which are growing in popularity in the developing and developed world and have led to a number of deaths and accidents. It further expresses concern about the abuse of prescription drugs in the US.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:16 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


[SIZE="3"]SC bill allows cannabis oil for epilepsy treatment[/SIZE]

COLUMBIA, S.C. — People suffering from severe epilepsy could legally use oil derived from marijuana under a bill advanced Thursday in the South Carolina House.

The bill backed by Republicans decriminalizes cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, if a patient has a doctor's prescription or is participating in a clinical trial for treating severe forms of epilepsy. It also aims to protect doctors from being arrested or sued for prescribing or providing the oil in limited circumstances.

Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, said she named her bill "Julian's Act" for a 3-year-old constituent who suffers dozens of seizures daily and whose family is moving to Colorado to access the potentially life-changing liquid treatment. Her subcommittee advanced the bill to the full Judiciary Committee.

The Legislature's only ER doctor, Rep. Kris Crawford, stressed the bill would do nothing for those who want to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but it could help people suffering with extreme forms of epilepsy.

"It's important to draw a distinction," said Crawford, R-Florence, adding that cannabis oil "shows some promise toward helping people live normal lives."

The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug status for Epidiolex, an oral, liquid form of CBD, for use in rare and severe childhood forms of epilepsy. The designation provides incentives for drugs that treat rare diseases. The second phase of a clinical trial is expected to start later this year.

The narrowly drawn legislation is considered a baby step toward allowing medical uses of marijuana. But some supporters worry the legislation is so limited, it may not even practically help the epilepsy patients for whom it's written.

In South Carolina, 104,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy, and 2,100 new cases are diagnosed yearly, said Karen St. Marie, founder of South Carolina Advocates for Epilepsy.

Harriett Hilton, of Beaufort, asked legislators to broaden the bill to other monitored, consistent sources of CBD oil, to provide the needed access. Her 6-year-old granddaughter still suffers up to 100 seizures an hour, despite taking many medications.

St. Marie's 26-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007. He still suffers seizures despite taking more than 16 medications, participating in a clinical trial and undergoing surgery.

CBD oil "may be his last option to go back to the life he knew seven years ago. He's not able to drive, work or go to school. There's nothing he wants more than to go back to school," she said.

Rep. Shannon Erickson, a co-sponsor, called the bill a start toward helping epilepsy patients.

"This issue is one we need to take in baby steps," said Erickson, R-Beaufort. "The goal is to get ourselves to a discussion point."

Chris Raffield of Sumter said South Carolina needs to jump fully into medical marijuana to help patients like him. The 45-year-old former Highway Patrol trooper was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008 and has undergone surgeries to remove tumors on his spine. He said he can't eat without marijuana or Marinol — a synthetic, pill form of marijuana approved by the FDA to boost appetite. But he can't afford the $800 monthly price tag of Marinol, which isn't covered by his insurance.

Raffield, a self-described conservative who spent 17 years in law enforcement, said he'd never tried marijuana until he became ill and lost weight to the point his father feared he'd die.

"We're not criminals. To live is being a criminal?" he said. "This is common sense."

He prefers a bill introduced by House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia. It would allow residents with a debilitating medical condition to register with the Department of Health and Environmental Control to legally use marijuana.

But that legislation is unlikely to go anywhere. South Carolina's just not ready for that, said Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort.

He's introduced a bill similar to Horne's in the Senate, saying he wants people like Hilton's granddaughter to be able to get cannibas oil for relief. A Senate panel is set to hear his bill next week.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/07/2014

in Marijuana in the News Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:25 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Disgraced DEA taskforce officer recruited strippers in Shoreline drug trade takeover attempt

A fired sheriff’s deputy alleged to have stolen drugs while working for the DEA hoped to use a gang of strippers to take over the Shoreline drug trade in suburban Seattle, federal investigators now contend.

Facing a host of state and federal charges, ex-King County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitchell Wright is alleged to have given “free samples” of methamphetamine and heroin to strippers he hoped to recruit in a scheme to remake himself as a drug kingpin.

Adding to the pile of strange allegations against the former Drug Enforcement Administration taskforce officer, investigators contend Wright, 33, began dealing increasing amounts of meth, heroin and cocaine late last year. At the time, Wright was already facing state charges related to allegations that he’d stolen drugs seized during investigations.

In August, Wright was charged in state court with the drug thefts. Released from jail weeks later, Wright was indicted in early February after federal prosecutors accused him of dealing meth; he is now jailed without bail.

Hired by the Sheriff’s Office in November 2002, Wright went to work on a DEA taskforce in 2009. As a taskforce officer, he investigated drug crimes under DEA supervision and was commissioned as a federal officer.

It was while working under DEA supervision that Wright is alleged to have stolen tens of thousands of dollars' worth of drugs. Wright left the Sheriff’s Office in July and was arrested the following month at his Bothell home northeast of Seattle.

Deputy: I’m an Australian diplomat

Wright’s trouble with the law began in May, when a Bothell officer stopped to check on a woman parked at a McDonald’s. Seated behind the Dodge Ram’s wheel, the woman had a hypodermic needle in her arm and appeared to be injecting heroin.

As it turned out, the truck was registered to Wright and the woman was his roommate and informant, according to charging papers.

The incident prompted an internal investigation, during which deputies found bags of heroin marked with DEA evidence numbers in the trunk of Wright’s cruiser, a King County detective said in state court papers.

Charged in August with felony theft and heroin possession, Wright was alleged to have stolen 1,600 oxycodone pills, a half-pound of benzodiazepine and about a teaspoon of cocaine. The street value of those drugs is estimated by authorities at $36,450 to $52,490; investigators contend each oxycodone pill could sell for $20 to $30.

Wright made a series of outlandish claims following his arrest, including asserting that he was immune to prosecution as an Australian diplomat, a King County detective told the court.

“He also stated that he had a job lined up in Australia that was going to pay him $400,000 a year and that he had terminal bone cancer and only had six months to live,” the detective said in state court filings. “He then continued that this investigation was one big misunderstanding.”

Having posted bond, Wright was released from King County Jail two weeks after his arrest. King County Sheriff John Urquhart later fired him, a necessary step to see that Wright’s police officer certification was invalidated.

Now facing federal charges related to the purported drug thefts, investigators claim Wright kept using and selling heroin after his arrest.

Stripper recruits, prostitute customers

Late last year, King County detectives spotted Wright at the home of a suspected drug dealer. Urquhart said he went to the DEA for assistance because Wright knew his undercover officers by sight; a joint investigation followed.

In court papers, a State Patrol detective assigned to a DEA taskforce said an informant told investigators Wright was recruiting strippers to sell meth and heroin for him. Wright, they were told, was giving “free samples” to North Seattle strippers and hoped to take over the Shoreline-area drug trade.

Free from jail, Wright was also using large amounts of meth and becoming paranoid, the detective continued in a recently unsealed search warrant affidavit. Still, though, Wright believed he wouldn’t be apprehended.

“Wright bragged to (the informant) and his criminal associates that he could never be caught or arrested, as he knew all of the tricks that police use to investigate drug dealers,” the detective said in court papers.

Investigators set up a series of undercover drug buys from Wright, who delivered meth by motorcycle, the detective continued.

Wright is also alleged to have been selling cocaine and heroin to prostitutes. The detective said Wright bragged in text messages to one woman that he had “super crazy coke” for her.

Indictment follows combative arrest

Investigators came to believe Wright was living in the basement apartment of an $800,000 home in Seattle’s Cedar Park neighborhood while driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo with custom wheels. (Strangely enough, Denzel Washington drove a similarly tricked-out Monte Carlo while playing a dirty detective in 2001’s “Training Day.”)

A federal grand jury indicted Wright on Feb. 5, adding federal drug charges to the state theft charges currently outstanding. He was arrested five days later at a Kidd Valley restaurant on Aurora Avenue North.

Confronted outside the burger joint, Wright tussled with officers and attempted to toss away an eyeglasses case stuffed with meth, cocaine and heroin, the detective said in the search warrant affidavit. Describing Wright as “argumentative, verbally assaultive and … extremely agitated,” the detective said Wright appeared to be high on meth at the time of his arrest.

Wright went on to claim he’d been “screwed over” by the Sheriff’s Office and had done nothing wrong except “fall in love and sleep with an informant who is a good person,” the detective continued. Investigators contend Wright admitted to selling drugs, claiming he was left with no other options after his firing.

According to the detective’s account, Wright went on to say he would “beat any case,” in part because he’d been trading drugs for sex with one government witness. Wright contended the woman couldn’t be called to testify against him because they were sleeping together.

“He added that the DEA was a joke and reiterated that law enforcement should go after the real criminals, because what he had been doing was really nothing,” the detective said in court papers.

Investigators claim to have recovered meth and counterfeit bills from Wright’s car, as well as meth and steroids from his apartment.

Having pleaded not guilty to the federal drug charges he currently faces, Wright remains jailed at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac. His trial is currently scheduled to begin in late April, though it will likely be delayed.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Last edited Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:26 pm | Scroll up

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