Denver holds first public hearing for recreational marijuana store

No one spoke in opposition at a hearing in Denver, Colorado to open the first recreational marijuana store in the United States. It was the first of 16 hearings scheduled this month.

The 9 a.m. hearing — for a store called The Grove, at First Avenue and Federal Boulevard — lasted less than an hour, said Larry Stevenson with Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses. The store's owner and a handful of employees spoke in favor of the store's application. No one spoke in opposition, said Mike Elliott, the executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, who attended the hearing.
Denver holds first public hearing for recreational marijuana store

Documentary about Richard Stratton - "marijuana millionaire" sentenced to 25 years in maximum-security prison

[Video Link] "A documentary chronicling the life of author Richard Stratton, from his early experiments with marijuana in suburban Massachusetts to his ultimate entry into the world of high volume, international hashish and marijuana trade. His involvement in the drug market, including the shipment of 7 tons of hashish from war-riddled Beirut into New York Harbor, led to his arrest and conviction to 25 years in maximum-security prison. This video, through re-enactments, stock footage, score and interview, tells the unbelievable story."

Here's a recent interview with Stratton.

(Via the World's Best Ever)

Gallup poll: 58% of Americans support legal weed

The illegality of marijuana has enriched, empowered, and corrupted prison systems, police departments, local and national governments, militaries, liquor manufacturers, and intelligence agencies (not to mention criminal organizations). It has also branded hundreds of thousands of people (mostly minorities) as criminals, ruining their lives and the lives of their families. Despite a century-long propaganda campaign defending the destructive war on drugs, a recent Gallup poll shows that 58% of Americans favor legalizing it.

Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California's second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.

The Obama administration has also been flexible on the matter. Despite maintaining the government's firm opposition to legalizing marijuana under federal law, in late August Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the Justice Department would not challenge the legality of Colorado's and Washington's successful referendums, provided that those states maintain strict rules regarding the drug's sale and distribution.

No detectable association between frequency of cannabis use and health or healthcare utilization

Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) "studied 589 adults who screened positive for drug use at a primary care visit." They found "no differences between daily marijuana users and those using no marijuana in their use of the emergency room, in hospitalizations, medical diagnoses or their health status."

Congressional Research Service says states can legalize cannabis

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is part of the Library of Congress, and it provides "policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation." This month the CRS issued a report that says Colorado and Washington (where cannabis is legal, according to state laws) can't be coerced to enforcing federal cannabis laws. "While the federal government can ban what it wants," reports Reason, "the Tenth Amendment allows the states to opt out of participating in the law or assisting in enforcement in any way, leaving federal officials to do the heavy lifting themselves." From the report, State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues:

Although the federal government may use its power of the purse to encourage states to adopt certain criminal laws, the federal government is limited in its ability to directly influence state policy by the Tenth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from directing states to enact specific legislation, or requiring state officials to enforce federal law. As such, the fact that the federal government has criminalized conduct does not mean that the state, in turn, must also criminalize or prosecute that same conduct.

States Can Legalize Marijuana (Though Federal Laws Stand), Says Congressional Research Service

(Image: Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cannabisculture's photostream)

Marijuanamerica: One mans' quest to understand America's dysfunctional love affair with weed


Alfred Ryan Nerz is a journalist and public broadcasting producer. He smokes weed, sometimes several times a day, for weeks at a stretch.

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The golden, explodey menace of hash oil

Wired News has a feature on butane hash oil, a highly combustible form of marijuana that is increasingly produced inside the US. Just last week, FEMA posted an odd alert in its emergency services bulletin: “Hash Oil Explosions Increasing Across US,” along with the "more quotidian warnings of cyber terrorism and industrial vapor clouds." Why: more explosions at apartments and hotel rooms involving “a process using butane to extract and concentrate compounds from marijuana."

Drug OD fatalities up for 11th consecutive year; not one was due to marijuana

Federal data to be released this week through the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th year in a row. Most were accidents involving prescription painkillers: specifically, opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin which are commonly prescribed for pain management, and are widely abused. Those two drugs contributed to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths, according to the report.

Not one single death in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data set was due to overdosing on marijuana.

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How to Grow Killer Weed: exclusive excerpt from new book, The Art of Doing

Excerpted from The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well, by Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield. (Camille and Josh interviewed me for the book, too.)

It was the Sixties, and Ed Rosenthal, who listed his future career as "plant geneticist" in his high school yearbook, had discovered pot. After college, living in an oversize apartment in the Bronx, Rosenthal decided to grow his own. The rest is marijuana history as Rosenthal went on to become "The Guru of Ganja" and a godsend to both the home growing hobbyist and the commercial grower. He has authored a dozen books on marijuana cultivation and his popular grower's advice column Ask Ed ran in High Times for two decades and is syndicated internationally.

Here are Rosenthal's 10 tips on "How to Grow Killer Weed."

1. Know the consequences. Face it, pot isn't legal in most places yet. There are almost a million marijuana arrests in America every year, so know your local laws, both state and county. If you get busted in Oklahoma for growing a single plant you can get two years to life. In some states a medical doctor can lose his license for cultivation. A student can lose rights to scholarships. You can even lose your driver's license or right to vote. Ask yourself: "Is growing worth it?" The police blotter is full of stories of people who didn't think it through.

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David Frum's reefer madness

Daily Beast contributor David Frum thinks legalizing weed is a bad thing: "marijuana smoking is a sign of trouble, a warning to heed, a behavior to regret and deplore," and that "young Americans deserve better than to be led to a future shrouded in a drug-induced haze." (thanks, @milesobrien)

Marijuana now legal in Washington

CBS: "An impromptu celebration was held, appropriately enough, at the Space Needle, a Seattle high point. The air was filled with the scent of victory."

Fresh Air on legalization and regulation of marijuana: "A Growth Industry"

WHYY's Fresh Air radio program did a recent special on Legalizing And Regulating Pot.The hour-long special is really worth a listen. Of particular note, the piece profiles Colorado's tightly-regulated commercial pot growing market, and the developing MMJ business culture there.

Inside a cannabis grow house in the San Fernando Valley

An indoor cannabis farmer invited a television reporter to visit his growing operation. He said he has 40 employees, seven indoor gardens, and earns $420,000 a year.

Mike admits his landlord doesn’t know he’s an urban farmer. His latest round of "OG Kush" will yield some 150 pounds of marijuana, a value of $510,000 turning over every 10 weeks. Mike’s partners at dispensaries in the Southland then sell the OG Kush by 1/8 of an ounce – sometimes more – charging $40 to $60 each.

"My biggest concern is staying out of the way of the Feds," he said, "but I don’t see myself doing anything else."

Inside a Marijuana Grow House in the San Fernando Valley

If pot were truly legal, high-quality joints would cost the same price as a Splenda packet

In July, Salon's Matthew Yglesias wrote an article about the price of legal marijuana, which is even more interesting now that Colorado and Washington have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

How cheaply could pot be grown with advanced farming techniques? One potential data point is Canada’s industrial hemp industry, where production costs are about $500 per acre. If the kind of mid-grade commercial weed that accounts for about 80 percent of the U.S. market could be grown that cheaply, it implies costs of about 20 cents per pound of smokable material: Enough pot to fill more than 800 modest-sized half-gram joints for less than a quarter!. Those numbers are probably optimistic, since in practice recreational marijuana is grown from more expensive transplanted clones rather than from seeds. Even so, the authors note that “production costs for crops that need to be transplanted, such as cherry tomatoes and asparagus, are generally in the range of $5,000-$20,000 per acre.” That implies costs of less than $20 per pound for high-grade sensimilla and less than $5 a pound for mid-grade stuff. Another way of looking at it, suggested by California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, is that we should expect legal pot to cost about the same amount as “other legal herbs such as tea or tobacco,” something perhaps “100 times lower than the current prevailing price of $300 per ounce—or a few cents per joint.”

This would make pot far and away the cheapest intoxicant on the market, absolutely blowing beer and liquor out of the water. Joints would be about as cheap as things that are often treated as free. Splenda packets, for example, cost 2 or 3 cents each when purchased in bulk.

I wonder how much money the liquor industry is going to contribute in their attempt to get these cannabis laws overturned?

Get High for Free

NYT op-doc on medical pot grower in MT who faces life in prison

At the NYT, a video "opinion documentary," ‘The Fight Over Medical Marijuana’, by Rebecca Richman Cohen.

"Our federal marijuana policy is increasingly out of step with both the values of American citizens and with state law," she writes. "The result is a system of justice that is schizophrenic and at times appalling."

After the elections, medical pot is now legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and pot is legal for adults to use for recreational use as well in Colorado and Washington State. But the federal government plans to continue its draconian enforcement approach, regardless of state voters' choices.

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