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Solution to synthetic marijuana killing people might be to legalize actual pot which does not

Philip Montgomery for The New York Times


Philip Montgomery for The New York Times

Just a thought: if synthetic, lab-brewed subsitutes for marijuana turning victims into vegetables and sending emergency responders into a panic, as this horrifying New York Times feature on 'Spike' indicates, guys, maybe we could think about just legalizing actual marijuana, which does not kill people or turn them into zombies.

You pretty much *cannot overdose* (not to the point where it kills you or causes you to go bonkers forever) with Cannabis sativa.

You can definitely OD on fake cannabis sativa.

People sometimes die after taking synthetic pot. But not on real pot.

Steve Featherstone in the NYT:

Syracuse, where I’ve lived almost my entire life, has struggled with synthetic drugs before. William Harper, a local businessman and two-time Republican candidate for City Council, moonlighted as the kingpin of bath salts in New York for two years before the Drug Enforcement Administration took him down in 2011. Was there a spike kingpin out there now, flooding the street with a bad batch? Perhaps, but similar outbreaks occurred in several states along the Gulf of Mexico in April, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that between January and June, the nationwide number of synthetic marijuana ‘‘exposures’’ — that is, reported contact with the substance, which usually means an adverse reaction — had already surpassed totals for 2013 and 2014, and that 15 people died from such exposure. Maybe there was a larger cause.

Every state has banned synthetic cannabinoids, the chemicals in spike that impart the high. Although the active ingredients primarily come from China, where commercial labs manufacture them to order like any other chemical, spike itself is produced domestically. Traffickers spray the chemicals on dried plant material and seal the results in foil pouches; these are then sold on the Internet or distributed to stores across the country, which sell them sometimes under the counter, as in Syracuse, or sometimes right by the cash register, depending on local laws. Unlike marijuana, cocaine and other naturally occurring drugs, synthetic cannabinoids can be tweaked on a molecular level to create novel, and arguably legal, drugs.

Since 2008, when authorities first noted the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in ‘‘legal marijuana’’ products, periodic surges in overdoses have often coincided with new releases, and emergency doctors have had to learn on the fly how to treat them. This latest surge is notable for the severity of symptoms: seizures, extreme swings in heart rate and blood pressure, kidney and respiratory failure, hallucinations. Many patients require such enormous doses of sedatives that they stop breathing and require intubation, and yet they still continue to struggle violently. Eric Kehoe, a shift commander at the Rural Metro ambulance company that employs Darbee and Drake, said bath-salts overdoses are easier to deal with. ‘‘You might find them running naked down the middle of the street,’’ he said, but ‘‘you could talk them down. These people here — there’s no point. You can’t even reason with them. They’re just mute. They have this look about them that’s just like a zombie.’’

Spike Nation [Steve Featherstone/NYT]

Free pot for 2,000 folks at Oregon's Weed the People event

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Although recreational marijuana is legal to grow and smoke in Oregon, it's not yet legal to sell. But that doesn't mean you can't give it away to 2,000 people, which is what Portland's Weed the People event did yesterday. The first festival of its kind in the U.S., people 21 and over were able to spend the day sampling free weed and everything weed-related.

The alcohol-free event lasted for seven hours, as attendees mulled around to test out smoking devices; relaxed on comfy chairs and listened to records in a “chill out area”; and waited in a line that wound through the inside of a warehouse to enter the “Grow Garden”, the highly secured and roped off area where they could pick up their free goodies.

The historic event was put on by growers and medical marijuana dispensaries (who can sell in Oregon to people with medical cards), and tickets to enter were $40.

Astonishing smokable blunt sculptures

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Highly creative blunt sculptures as seen on ValleyRecreational420's Instagram account.

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Raided Santa Ana pot shop sues police, says mayor solicits bribes from marijuana dispensaries

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A Southern California cannabis dispensary and its members have filed a federal lawsuit accusing Santa Ana police officers of excessive force during a raid last month.

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CA police raid medical weed dispensary, eat edibles, destroy cameras [UPDATED]

In May, police in riot gear stormed the Sky High Holistic medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana, California.

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Come to this Colorado resort and enjoy a hassle free Rocky Mountain High

Shall we have a Boing Boing meetup at this bud and breakfast resort?

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The second-best headline of all time

With "Obama's pot dealer beaten to death for farting in gay lover's face", I think The Daily Mail may reasonably claim to have created the second-best newspaper headline in human history.

FBI data shows US cops made one pot arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

"Residents of two states voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, but despite an increase in public support for liberalizing drug policy, American police arrested about the same number of people last year on pot-related charges as in 2011." [US News and World Report]

Everything wrong about medical marijuana marketing in California, in a single snapshot


I snapped this photo of a popular medical marijuana dispensary storefront in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles last week. To me, it represents everything bone-headed about the way LA area pot shops (which operate in a legal gray zone in a conflicting patchwork of federal, state, and local laws) market themselves.

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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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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)

Medical Marijuana comes to New Jersey

"They skulked in and out like criminals, shoulders hunched, heads down, declining to comment." —a NYT profile on the Garden State's first pot dispensary. Hey, in the patrons' defense, it may be because they spooted Snookie or The Situation inside or something.

As states legalize pot, will Obama continue the federal War on Weed?

Tom Dickinson in Rolling Stone about the growing conflict between what voters in more and more states want (legalizing pot) and what the federal government wants (shutting down dispensaries with guns and SWAT teams of DEA agents). "While the administration has yet to issue a definitive response to the two new laws, the Justice Department was quick to signal that it has no plans to heed the will of voters. 'Enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act,' the department announced in November, 'remains unchanged."

Marijuana dispenser machine company's stock gets really, really high, man

Medbox (MDBX), a firm that makes medical marijuana dispensing machines, says its stock "is getting way too high." Shares spiked 3,000% this week (from about $4 Monday to $215 Thursday), "prompting executives to try and dampen investor enthusiasm." The surge was caused by a MarketWatch story about how to invest in legalized marijuana.

Feds to debate medical use of marijuana

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.

The radio segment includes UCSF oncologist Donald Abrams, who speaks about the evidence on the medical benefits of pot.

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).

HT: @milesobrien

City of Oakland sues to prevent closure of embattled medical marijuana dispensary

The NYT reports on a lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland in federal court to prevent the Department of Justice from seizing property leased to Harborside Health Center. Previous posts on Boing Boing about the facility here and here.

Ye Smokiana: 1890 study of smoking

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RT Pritchett's Ye Smokiana, from 1890, appears to a very informative "historical" and "ethnographical" study of smoking. It's illustrated with beautiful color drawings smoking implements from around the world, more specifically "pipes of all nations." Ye Smokiana is now on the auction block at eBay. Ye Smokiana (Thanks, Randall de Rijk!)