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)
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.
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."
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.
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.
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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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."
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
"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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Marijuana Majority is a well-designed website that has quotes from hundreds of religious leaders, political figures, law enforcement officials, celebrities, and other notable figures, all advocating for the decriminalization of cannabis. I'm happy to see that Cory and Xeni are on the list!
“I think it's about time we legalize marijuana... We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us, it is not helping Mexico and it is causing massive violence on our southern border... Fifty percent of the money going to these cartels is coming just from marijuana coming across our border.” -- Glenn Beck
“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana...$7.7 billion [spent on prohibition's enforcement] is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.” -- Milton Friedman
Marijuana is currently classified in the US as a Schedule I controlled substance: no medically accepted use, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Ira Flatow's syndicated public radio program Science Friday has a segment out about next week's planned arguments to a federal appeals court by pro-pot advocacy org Americans for Safe Access, in hopes of relaxing federal restrictions.
Disclosure: I'm a cancer patient, I use pot for medical purposes, and I'm strongly in favor of legalization and easier access for seriously ill people (and honestly, who cares, everyone else too).
This November, voters in three US states—Colorado, Washington, and Oregon—will be able to vote on ballot measures that would legalize marijuana, period.
Not just for medicinal purposes, but for recreational purposes, too.
At Rolling Stone, a smart blog post by Julian Brookes on what happens when the first state says "yes" to weed.
When that happens, expect one of two things – either: the federal government, in deference to democratic principles, will decline to enforce its ban on marijuana, creating space for the state to be a "laboratory of democracy," working out its new policy by trial and error, learning as it goes, creating a trove of hard-earned lessons to guide the states that (inevitably) will follow; or: the federal government will bide its time and then come down hard, busting growers and retailers, seizing land and property (or, just as effective, threatening to), going after banks that serve pot business, and doing whatever else it takes to shut down the state's legalization push.
True, the feds would be within their rights to crack down. A state can legalize all it wants, but – incredibly – happy-go-lucky marijuana will still be a Schedule I drug, right up there on the federal shit list with brain melters and organ fryers like Heroin, Cocaine, and PCP. And, no, this isn't some quaint, disregarded artifact from olden times: A personal stash can get you a year in federal prison, a single plant up to five.
Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution - exclusive interview with author Doug Fine
Too High to Fail covers everything from a brief history of hemp to an insider’s perspective on a growing season in Mendocino County, where cannabis drives 80 percent of the economy (to the tune of $6 billion annually). Investigative journalist Doug Fine follows one plant from seed to patient in the first American county to fully legalize and regulate cannabis farming. He profiles an issue of critical importance to lawmakers, media pundits, and ordinary Americans -- whether or not they inhale. It’s a wild ride that includes swooping helicopters, college tuitions paid with cash, cannabis-friendly sheriffs, and never-before-gained access to the world of the emerging legitimate, taxpaying “ganjaprenneur.”
While researching the book, what did you learn about cannabis and the use of it that surprised you?
Probably the most surprising revelation to me after a year spent on the front lines of the Drug War is how ready Middle America is for the coming Drug Peace -- especially with regard to legalizing cannabis. One collective I researched, in Orange County, CA (yep, Nixon's stomping grounds) had seniors as the majority of membership. These were people for whom cannabis was not political. It was medicine that worked: for arthritis, glaucoma, appetite stimulation. Americans recently polled at 56% in favor of regulating cannabis like alcohol, up from 49% a year ago. So we could be close to the kind of mainstream tipping point that ended alcohol Prohibition. And that surprised me. The "Brains on Drugs" stigma is disappearing, even in the heartland.
Who stands to profit from keeping cannabis illegal, and who will profit if it is regulated like alcohol?
Well, I first off like to always impart a sort of Humility Preface before prognostication. We don't know exactly what the future may bring, but we do have a lot of history as an example. Prohibition breeds organized crime. That's who profits from the status quo, on the business side. With the regulation of cannabis like alcohol, I heard some of today's farmers worry that we'll get a few Coors type overlords. That may be, but when Jimmy Carter changed the brewing rules, the microbrewery age exploded, and the farmers I cover in Too High to Fail are confident that there will likewise always be room for the top shelf craft farmer, the way that there's always room for Sierra Nevada or New Belgium today. I agree with them: we're talking about a multibillion dollar industry that's already bigger than corn and wheat combined. Imagine the tax revenue! Another beneficiary of the coming Drug Peace era is the American people, in the form of energy independence: a USDA biologist told me that when it comes to cannabis as a biofuel source, “It’s magnitudes more productive than corn- or soy-based ethanol. But it’s not even on our blackboard because it’s a federal crime.” Thus were the farmers I followed practicing a kind of patriotic civil disobedience. One day they'll be teaching university courses to students dubious that their crop was ever really illegal.
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Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold, who recently departed the L.A. Weekly to join the Los Angeles Times, writes about his experience attending a nine-course "Marijuana and Chinese Herbs" dinner hosted by serial restauranteur Nguyen Tran and prepared by chef Laurent Quenioux. High Times columnist Elise McDonough, author of the newly-released "The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook" (look for my Boing Boing review soon!) was among those in attendance. Snip from Gold's review:
When Nguyen Tran emailed to tell me about an extravaganza he was setting up at an acquaintance's house, a special herb dinner in which each of the many courses would involve fresh marijuana, I did not necessarily beg to be included in the feast. The first time I met Tran, on a social-media panel somewhere, he happened to be wearing a banana suit, and he has been known to show up to food events dressed as a tauntaun from "The Empire Strikes Back." I like his Starry Kitchen, a pan-Asian lunchroom in a downtown office-building food court, and I admire the running pop-up restaurant he mounts with chef Laurent Quenioux. But the notion of an “herb” dinner wasn't especially my thing. The last time I had sampled this particular herb was many years ago, in the course of reporting a story on Snoop Dogg and his 15 pit bulls, and its culinary uses were not apparent even back then.
(Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2012: Marijuana leaves are laid out in preparation for one of several courses.)