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Updated: 8 min 28 sec ago

Federal District Court Judge Asks: Should Federal Law Classify Cannabis As One Of The Nation’s Most Dangerous Drugs?

8 hours 12 min ago

Testimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing “a high potential for abuse, … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, … [and lacking] accepted safety for … use … under medical supervision.”

Expert witnesses for the defense – including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington – will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”

The government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome – a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute which classifies cannabis to be one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government’s present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: “In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis’ Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

Florida Amendment 2: Medical Marijuana Showdown in the South

12 hours 38 min ago

On November 4, Florida voters will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to their state constitution, Amendment 2, to establish a medical marijuana program in that state. This vote is especially important as it would be the first southern state to legalize medical use, and would likely encourage other states in the region to take a serious look at the use of marijuana as a medicine for seriously ill patients.

Why A Constitutional Amendment?

Fearful that the conservative Republican state legislature would have passed legislation overriding such a change, if it were simply a state law changed by voter initiative, People United for Medical Marijuana, the sponsor of this proposal, elected to try to include the policy changes as an amendment to the state constitution. Amendment 2, the Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions initiative, must therefore receive 60 percent of votes cast to be enacted as a constitutional amendment, a high goal and a real challenge for any proposal to meet. That decision is one that may be instructive for future voter initiatives, with most polls currently showing we will win a majority of votes, but likely less than 60 percent.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS COLUMN, GO TO MARIJUANA.COM

 

 

Majority of Delawareans Support Legalizing Marijuana

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 18:36

According to a poll released this morning by the University of Delaware, a strong majority of residents favor legalizing and regulating the adult use of marijuana.

The poll revealed that 56% of Delawareans support legalizing marijuana while just 39% were opposed. Individuals over the age of 60 and self-identified conservatives were the only demographic groups without majority support.

Commenting on the poll, University of Delaware political communications professor Paul Brewer stated, “I would say the numbers suggest solid support for fully legalizing marijuana in Delaware. The results also reflect what’s going on in public opinion at the national level, where the trends show a growing majority favoring legalization.”

Pro-legalization state Senator Bryan Townsend said he hopes this data helps compel the state to move forward on broad reforms.

“The poll just shows there is broad support for this,” said Sen. Townsend (D-Newark), “I hope this is a wake-up call to the General Assembly that a majority of Delawareans support us moving in this direction.”

The data coming out of Delaware is in line with the ongoing trend to support marijuana legalization at the national level. Clearly, seeing the path blazed by Washington and Colorado has only embolden residents of other states to support similar reforms.

You can read more about this poll here.

NORML PAC Endorses Senator Cory Booker for US Senate

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 13:40

NORML PAC has endorsed Senator Cory Booker (NJ) for re-election the the United States Senate representing New Jersey.

“We endorsed Cory Booker during his election campaign in 2013 and we are honored to do so again,” stated NORML PAC manager Erik Altieri, “Senator Booker kept the promises he made to champion crucial criminal justice and marijuana reform issues in his first term. If re-elected for a full six year term this fall, he will be a strong crusader for rolling back our failed war on cannabis at the federal level. We encourage New Jersey voters to support him in his campaign.”

In an previous interview with Huffington Post, Booker laid out his view on marijuana policy and the drug war:

“Medical marijuana, heck yes. I do not understand that there are drugs that are more toxic, more dangerous and more challenging, in drugs stores around my state, yet we single out this one drug and we say you can’t even have it in a medical fashion, at a time when I see prescription drugs from Adderall to you name it being used widely across our nation…

The reason I said I want to go beyond that…is because of the drug war.

We have seen so much of our national treasure being spent in the national drug war and in my opinion have turned human life into incarceration, trapping into poverty…

What I’ve seen in Newark is a massive trap in this drug war, and its not just a trap for the individuals being arrested, it’s a trap for taxpayers, communities and towns. We’re not making our nation safer with this assault on this drug war, we are not making our state less addicted to substances. We need to change, radically change, the conversation and begin to talk about drugs, especially drugs like pot, in a different way.

This is a conversation that no matter what I do, Mayor, Governor, Senator, I want to be one of the people, hopefully, trying to lead the national conversation away from this insanity that we have now.”

During his first year in office, Sen. Booker joined forces with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to introduce an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prohibited the federal government from spending taxpayer money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The measure ultimately did not come up for a vote, due to political maneuvering unrelated to the marijuana issue, but it marks the first time in recent history the issue was brought up in a positive way in the upper chamber of the US Congress. We fully expect, if re-elected, that Senator Booker will continue to be one of the most prominent and effective champions for federal reform in the Senate.

You can learn more about Senator Booker’s campaign, including how to donate and volunteer, by visiting his website or Facebook page.

NORML PAC Endorses Representative Blumenauer for Congress

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 14:34

NORML PAC has endorsed Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) in his campaign to be re-elected to the US House of Representatives.

“Rep. Blumenauer has been a supporter and proponent of marijuana law reform since his days in the Oregon State Legislature decades ago,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “In Congress, he has introduced and championed bills that would dismantle our federal war on cannabis and we encourage voters in his district to re-elect him for another term so he can keep pursuing these important policy changes.”

As Congressman, in addition to being a primary sponsor or co-sponsor on all federal pro-marijuana law reform measures, Blumenauer published an in-depth report titled “A Path Forward: Rethinking Marijuana Policy” which calls for an end to federal prohibition and advocates for many of the reforms NORML has been fighting for all these years.

Rep. Blumenauer has also been a notable presence at the federal marijuana hearings this year being held by the Committee on Government Oversight. You can watch him call out ONDCP acting director Botticelli below:

Click here to view the embedded video.

One of Rep. Blumenauer’s re-election campaign ads focuses on marijuana law reform and calls for allowing states the freedom to set their own marijuana policies and pursue legalization:

Click here to view the embedded video.

More information on Rep. Blumenauer and his campaign, including how to volunteer or donate, can be found on his website or Facebook page.

Afroman Remakes “Because I Got High” to Support Legalization

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 15:52

Nearly fifteen years after the release of “Because I Got High”- a song well known for poking fun at overzealous reefer madness rhetoric – Afroman is ready to jump headfirst back into the marijuana limelight.  Only this time, as an advocate for legalization.

The grammy nominated artist recently teamed up with NORML and Weedmaps to launch a remake of his hit song, turning the hip hop classic into a positive legalization anthem for the 2014 elections. The remix is a new and entertaining way to drive the narrative surrounding the benefits of cannabis law reform, as well as the medical benefits of the plant itself. With election day right around the corner, his latest project is geared towards keeping up the momentum for all the marijuana law reform efforts taking place across the country, and especially upcoming ballot initiatives.

On November 4th, two states and the District of Columbia will be voting to legalize marijuana, and Florida will be voting on a medical marijuana amendment. The timing couldn’t have been better to take, and remake the canna-cult classic. The 2014 version of “Because I Got High” not only challenges old stereotypes, it also seeks to build support and enthusiasm for the three measures proposing to create a regulated pot market for adults, age 21 and over.

Through digital engagement, this song pushes an important political message to a younger, social media savvy voting block, energizing the demographic known to be the among the biggest supporters of ending marijuana prohibition. From glaucoma to funding school construction, the song highlights many of the social, medical and economic benefits of legalization in a fun and informative way.

“NORML is thrilled to have brought Weedmaps and Afroman together to create this unique cultural collaboration merging art, entertainment, and activism into a single campaign that highlights many of the positive benefits of cannabis, and raises awareness for for the legalization initiatives coming up in the 2014 November elections,” said NORML Director of Strategic Partnerships Sabrina Fendrick.

Check out the video and share with all your like-minded friends.  Together, we can #SmokeTheVote!

Israeli Researchers To Study Anti-Tumor Effects of CBD In Cancer Patients

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 19:00

Israeli investigators intend to evaluate the potential anti-tumoral effects of the canabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in select cancer patients.

Researchers at the Hassadah Medical Center in Jerusalem will conduct a Phase II clinical trial to assess the impact of CBD as single treatment in cancer patients who have failed to respond to conventional therapies. Participants in the trial will receive CBD therapy for a period of eight weeks.

Data documenting the potent anti-cancer activity of various cannabinoids – including THC, CBD, and CBG – both in culture and in animals dates back to the mid-1970s. To date, however, virtually no clinical trials exist reproducing these results in human subjects.

In August, pharmaceutical provider Insys Therapeutics announced that it had received orphan drug status for its proprietary formulation of CBD for the treatment of glioblastoma, a hard-to-treat, aggressive form of brain cancer.

Organic CBD remains classified under federal law as a schedule I controlled substance.

Further details of the forthcoming Israeli trial are available online from the clinicaltrials.gov website here. Patient recruitment has yet to begin for this study.

Great Uncertainty Ahead of Alaska Measure 2 Vote

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 14:25

In what may be the most difficult ballot initiative to evaluate in advance of the upcoming mid-term elections, the voters in Alaska will decide on November 4 whether to approve full marijuana legalization for all adults, including retail sales.

For most of us, Alaska, the largest state in the Union by area, and the least densely populated, is an exotic location, far removed from the Lower 48 both geographically and culturally. The largest city, Anchorage, has a population of only 292,000, and the second largest, Fairbanks, has only 32,000 residents. The Alaska territory was purchased from Russia in 1867 and only became a state in 1959. The state has always leaned heavily Republican, which might suggest it would be an unlikely state for marijuana legalization to appear on the ballot; but the state is also known as the home of a lot of people who want to minimize the role of government in their lives, which would appear to bode well for legalizers.

History of Marijuana Legalization in Alaska

To read the balance of this article, go to

http://marijuana.com/news/2014/10/great-uncertainty-ahead-of-alaska-measure-2-vote/

 

 

NORML PAC Endorses Representative Beto O’Rourke for US Congress

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 11:32

NORML PAC is endorsing Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) for re-election the the US House of Representatives.

“Rep. O’Rourke is an ardent supporter of reforming our nation’s marijuana policies,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “In just his first term, he has proven to be an intelligent and pragmatic politician with a long future in front of him. We strongly encourage voters to support his re-election campaign to keep a true reform champion in Congress.”

Representative O’Rourke issued the following statement to supporters and voters on the topic:

“Those of us who live in this region, in El Paso and Juarez, have a unique perspective on the war on drugs. We know that billions of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and arms are transited through this community. We know that billions of dollars in federal resources from the United States and Mexico are spent on law enforcement to try and stop that illicit drug trade. And we also know, all too well, the suffering that accompanies that black market trade in illegal drugs. It is because of that experience and looking back over the 40-year, failed war on drugs that I’ve come to the conclusion that at least when it comes to a drug like marijuana, we owe ourselves, and especially our kids, a much better policy.

As a rational and humane country, we can decide, as we did with alcohol that the harms in the prohibition of marijuana far outweigh any gains in security and in our efforts to keep these drugs away from our fellow citizens.

If you support my work and advocacy on this issue, I hope I can count on your help.”

For the next 24 hours, Rep. O’Rourke will be running a “Powered by People” campaign with the goal of raising $123,200 in amounts less than $200 to illustrate that everyday citizens can compete with special interests in politics and issues such as marijuana law reform drive voter engagement. If you are interested in donating to this campaign you can do so by clicking here (donations are tracked so donations made through this link will show as support for his marijuana reform stance).

Marijuana Use Is Associated With Increased Survival In Brain Injury Patients

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:13

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with a history of cannabis use possess increased survival rates compared to non-users, according data published this month in the scientific journal The American Surgeon.

UCLA Medical Center investigators conducted a three-year retrospective review of brain trauma patients. Data from 446 separate cases of similarly injured patients was assessed. Of those patients who tested positive for the presence of marijuana, 97.6 percent survived surgery. By contrast, patients who tested negative for the presence of pot prior to surgery possessed only an 88.5 percent survival rate.

“[O]ur data suggest an important link between the presence of a positive THC screen and improved survival after TBI,” the authors concluded. “This finding has support in previous literature because the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids have been implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. … With continued research, more information will be uncovered regarding the therapeutic potential of THC, and further therapeutic interventions may be established.”

The abstract of the study, “Effect of marijuana use on outcomes in traumatic brain injury,” appears online here.

Oregon Ballot Measure 91: Will Third Time Be The Charm?

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:17

As we approach the midterm elections on November 4th, I want to focus on the two statewide voter initiatives that seek to fully legalize marijuana in Alaska and Oregon. This week I will examine the proposal in Oregon, known as Measure 91.

Will the Third Time Be the Charm?

This will be the third time – and, hopefully, the charm time – that Oregon voters have voted on a marijuana legalization proposal. The first initiative, Measure 5 in 1986, the Oregon Marijuana Legalization for Personal Use Act, would have legalized the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use; it won the support of only 26 percent of the voters. More recently, Measure 80 in 2012, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, would have allowed the personal cultivation of marijuana and established a licensing system for the commercial production and sale of marijuana; it came close, with the support of 46.5 percent of the voters.

The latest Oregon initiative, Measure 91, proposed by New Approach Oregon, would legalize the use of marijuana by those 21 and older, and establish a system of licensing, taxing and regulating marijuana under the auspices of the Oregon Liquor Control Board.

Specifically, under this proposal adults would be permitted to possess up to eight ounces of “dried” marijuana and cultivate up to four plants. And they would be allowed to give up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form, to other individuals 21 and older; they could not be compensated or reimbursed for these transactions. Adults would be allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form, or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form from properly registered businesses. These limits are more permissive than those previously approved in Washington and Colorado, and may provide a test of how restrictive a legalization system must be to win the approval of a majority of the voters.

Go to Marijuana.com for the rest of the column.

NORML PAC Endorses Representative Steve Cohen for Congress

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:30

NORML PAC is endorsing Representative Steve Cohen for re-election to the US Congress representing Tennessee’s 9th congressional district.

“Rep. Cohen is one of the most outspoken and effective supporters of marijuana legalization we currently have in Washington,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “From introducing legislation such as the National Commission on Marijuana Policy Act, co-sponsoring every single federal marijuana law reform measure, to grilling drug war proponents in committee hearings, Cohen has been unrelenting in his fight to end our nation’s war on marijuana consumers and it is crucial we keep him in Congress to continue the fight. Marijuana reform supporters in his Memphis district have no clearer choice this November than to keep goin’ with Cohen.”

Representative Cohen has been a relentless attack dog in the fight to end marijuana prohibition. In just the past year, he has made national headlines taking drug war stalwarts to task, including DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, Attorney General Eric Holder, and acting Drug Czar Michael Botticelli (click links for video).

Speaking to Attorney General Holder in one such hearing, Cohen stated:

“One of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people’s liberty for things that people are in favor of. The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of people do not think marijuana should be illegal. And yet there are people in jail, and your Justice Department is continuing to put people in jail, for sale, and use, on occasion, of marijuana. That’s something the American public has finally caught up with. It was a cultural lag. And it’s been an injustice for 40 years in this country to take people’s liberty for something that was similar to alcohol. You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels power, and the power to make money, ruin Mexico, hurt our country by having a Prohibition in the late 20th and 21st century. We saw it didn’t work in this country in the 20s. We remedied it. This is the time to remedy this Prohibition.”

To learn more about Rep. Cohen’s campaign, including information on how to volunteer and donate, you can visit his Facebook page or website.

To donate to NORML PAC to help elect cannabis friendly politicians, click here.

Philadelphia Depenalizes Marijuana Possession

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 16:30

As anticipated, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed municipal legislation this week removing criminal penalties for the possession of minor quantities of cannabis by adults. (Watch a video of the Mayor’s ordinance signing and accompanying press conference here.)

The new measure amends citywide penalties pertaining to the possession of up to approximately one ounce of cannabis (30 grams) from a criminal misdemeanor to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record. Public use of cannabis will be punishable by up to a $100 fine and/or the completion of community service.

Philadelphia NORML had long lobbied in support of a change in the city’s criminal classification of marijuana possession offenses. A 2013 review of marijuana arrest data by the organization reported that African Americans are arrested in Philadelphia for minor marijuana violations at five times the rate of whites despite both races consuming the substance at nearly equal rates.

Council member James Kenney, who sponsored the decriminalization ordinance, acknowledged that it was Philadelphia NORML’s outreach on this issue that ultimately persuaded him to push for the change in law.

The reduced penalties go into effect on October 20, 2014.

NORML PAC Endorses Representative Heck for Congress

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 13:04

NORML PAC is pleased to endorsed Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) in his campaign to be reelected to the United States Congress representing Washington’s 10th Congressional District.

“Rep. Heck has been a relentless defender of Washington State’s new legal marijuana market and has committed himself to ensuring that the necessary reforms are pursued to make this program a resounding success,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Washington state residents would be well served by giving him another term in Congress to continue to push for the required changes to federal marijuana laws to allow legalization to flourish.”

“Washington state voters made the decision two years ago to regulate our state’s marijuana marketplace. As their elected U.S. Representative, part of my job is ensuring we implement this new law in a safe and fair manner,” Representative Heck stated, “One of the most important aspects of implementation from a public safety standpoint is making sure regulated marijuana businesses have consistent access to banking and financial services. Without this access, the regulated marijuana industry is forced to operate on a largely cash-only basis, increasing the chances of tax evasion, embezzlement, and even armed robbery.”

“As a member of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, I’ve pressed my colleagues, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Justice to make needed changes in how the federal government treats regulated marijuana businesses. Congressman Ed Perlmutter and I have introduced bipartisan legislation that would grant legitimate marijuana businesses access to banking services in states with legal marijuana markets,” Heck continued, “Earlier this spring, after prodding by myself, Rep. Perlmutter, and many in the regulated cannabis industry, the Obama Administration issued new guidance as to how federal regulators should treat banks and credit unions who have regulated marijuana businesses as clients. We’ve already started to seem some of the effects of this new guidance: multiple credit unions in Washington state have begun offering financial services to regulated marijuana businesses. I will continue working this issue in the months and years ahead, just as the voters of my district want.”

You can learn more about Representative Heck’s campaign, including how to donate or volunteer, by visiting his website or Facebook page.

Joseph McNamara RIP: Champion Against Cops Drug Warring

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 14:01

A genuinely early and respected voice against the war on some drugs passed away Friday, September 19 in California.

Joe McNamara was a former police chief in Kansas City and San Jose who, in the late 1980s, started to both write and lecture about the need for substantive changes in law enforcement practices (and that the law enforcement community and establishment inherently should SUPPORT drug law policy reform, not reflexively oppose it).

Joe is often credited with being the ‘father of community policing’.

When I first arrived at NORML in 1991, I devoured everything Joe wrote about the drug war. His efforts are clearly the sui generis of one of the most important drug policy reform organizations today—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

His arguments were so persuasive and fact driven (he was as highly educated as he was a decorated police officer) that, in time, I came to see him as the proxy editorial voice for ‘legalization’ at a hugely important and politically influential newspaper—the Wall Street Journal. He spoke to the concerns the editorial board is unfortunately still to date too timid to publicly express under their own byline. His affiliation with the Hoover Institution at Stanford only enhanced his credibility in the eyes of WSJ editors.

Joe was able to breakthrough with ‘conservatives’ on the need to end cannabis prohibition like few others have (i.e., William F. Buckley).

It was in reading the WSJ last week that I learned of Joe’s passing…

Joe gave great, revealing, informed and prescient lectures at NORML, Drug Policy Foundation/Drug Policy Alliance, Cato Institute and other public policy conferences and seminars. I personally enjoyed conversing with him whenever, about whatever. He had much to share.

Passing at the age of 79, Joe lived what can readily be described as a full life, and that his intelligent and law enforcement reform advocacy, driven by decades of tough and challenging field police work, will live long after his days among us.

Joe McNamara RIP!

Maryland: Reduced Marijuana Possession Penalties Take Effect

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:12

A new Maryland law depenalizing marijuana possession offenses takes effect this Wednesday.

Senate Bill 364, signed into law this past April, amends statewide penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal, fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders).

The new law does not reclassify penalties involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which remains a criminal offense.

A 2013 ACLU analysis of state-by-state marijuana arrests data reported that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation.

Nearly 20 additional states, as well as the District of Columbia, now classify minor marijuana possession as a non-arrestable offense.

2014 Boston Freedom Rally: New England Gaining Ground

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:08

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 25th annual Boston Freedom Rally, the two-day celebration of marijuana and protest against marijuana prohibition, held on the Boston Common each September sponsored by MassCann/NORML, the NORML state affiliate in Massachusetts.

I have been attending this event since the mid-1990s, and always look forward to spending time with tens of thousands of like-minded people on the historic Boston Common, enjoying the New England autumn.

The Boston Common is the oldest public park in America, consisting of 50 acres of land in the heart of the city, at the southern foot of Beacon Hill, the site of the Massachusetts Statehouse, and it enjoys a storied past.

Go to Marijuana.com to read the balance of this column.

 

 

Study: CBD Administration Associated With Improved Quality Of Life In Patients With Parkinson’s Disease

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 17:03

The administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, is associated with improved quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease, according clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Investigators at the University of São Paulo in Brazil assessed the efficacy of CBD versus placebo in 21 subjects with Parkinson’s. Authors reported that the administration of 300 mg doses of CBD per day was associated with “significantly different mean total scores” in subjects’ well-being and quality of life compared to placebo.

Separate assessments of CBD versus placebo reported that the cannabinoid did not appear to mitigate general symptoms of the disease, nor was it shown to be neuroprotective.

“This study points to a possible effect of CBD in improving measures related to the quality of life of PD patients without psychiatric comorbidities,” investigators concluded. They added, “We found no statistically significant differences concerning the motor symptoms of PD; however, studies involving larger samples and with systematic assessment of specific symptoms of PD are necessary in order to provide stronger conclusions regarding the action of CBD in PD.”

Clinical reports have previously indicated that both CBD and/or whole-plant cannabis may address various symptom’s of Parkinson’s disease, including improvement in motor symptoms, pain reduction, improved sleep, and a reduction in the severity of psychotic episodes.

Survey data of patients with PD indicates that almost half of all subjects who try cannabis report experiencing subjective relief from the plant.

The abstract of the study, “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial,” appears online here.

Study: Legal Marijuana Market Would Yield Over $3 Billion In Tax Revenue

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 15:50

Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis in the United States would yield over $3 billion in annual tax revenue, according to an analysis published this week by the personal finance website, NerdWallet.com.

Authors provided a state-by-state economic analysis, taking into account available data estimating marijuana use rates (for those age 25 and older), cannabis market size, and state and local tax rates. Researchers also assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on commercial marijuana production. (This excise tax rate is presently imposed in Colorado.)

Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).

Washington, which began allowing retail cannabis sales this summer, is estimated to reap some $119,000,000 in annual tax revenue, according to the study’s projections. Colorado, which has allowed retail cannabis sales since January 1, 2014, is estimated to gain some $78,000,000 in annual revenue.

Revenue projections for all 50 states are available online here.

Support NORML and get “Evergreen”, the exciting documentary that tells the story of how Rick Steves and friends helped legalize marijuana in Washington State

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:18

Dear NORML members and supporters,

As a board member of NORML I am feeling really good. I’m on a drug policy reform high for four reasons:

  • We legalized marijuana in my state (Washington) and in Colorado in 2012. (That gives "the lower 48" a whole new meaning.) And, the Brookings Institution gave it a two-year review and concluded it’s a good thing.
  • We plan to legalize in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia this November. (I’ll be spending six days on a 12 city barn-storming tour in Oregon, like I did in Washington two years ago, to explain to the confused and frightened that ending this crazy prohibition of our age is good citizenship).
  • There’s a great new documentary movie called "Evergreen" which tells the amazing and behind the scenes story of how a committed band of NORML-types waged our successful campaign and did what no one else until then had been able to do: make the responsible adult recreational use of marijuana a civil liberty. In my state and in Colorado now we can smoke pot just because it’s fun…we can invite our friends over and get high legally. Finally: pot is legal, taxed, and regulated. The movie tracks the political battle from start to finish and travels with me as I bring the NORML view to citizens all over the state–from churches to universities and to our capital dome. (Spoiler alert: the "rumble under the rotunda" is pretty messy.)
  • And, you and your friends have a great opportunity to empower NORML to end the war on marijuana in your state too by joining or renewing your NORML membership or even joining up your mother. And, for that $50, we’ll send you a copy of the documentary movie, Evergreen.

This is important. We have momentum. There’s lots more to do. That’s why I’m donating these DVDs to NORML for this campaign. And that’s why I’m packing up and heading to Oregon next month for an intense week of media and lectures. We are a team and you matter. What are you doing? All we’re asking is that you send NORML $50. As a thanks, we’ll send you the exciting Evergreen movie.

I am so proud of what we did in Washington State. I’m proud of what NORML is doing nation-wide. And I’m really excited to offer you this movie on DVD. If you care about legalizing pot, this is something you need to watch. Share it with your friends. It’s an inspiration.

Again, to be among the first in the nation to watch Evergreen, please join NORML for $50 or more to receive your DVD copy of this important documentary capturing a historic change in American politics: When cannabis prohibition first ended.

I am contributing the cost of these DVDs to NORML as my personal challenge to you. I hope you’ll kindly join NORML, view Evergreen with friends and family, share with neighbors, co-workers and locally elected policymakers. I sincerely hope you too find the same inspiration we developed in Washington to get the job of ending marijuana prohibition done, once and for all.

Thanks in advance for your support of marijuana law reform in America and NORML’s long-standing public advocacy work.

Warm regards,

Rick Steves
Author and TV Host
NORML board member
Edmonds, WA