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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]

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

eater

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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National Geographic loves weed so much, they're devoting an entire print issue to it

This is not a photoshop.


This is not a photoshop.

The high times, they are a-changing: editors of National Geographic chose cannabis as the theme of their next print issue.

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Baby Jesus bong

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The most high.

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Vaping hoodie with mouthpiece in the drawstring


Vaprwear has a vaping chamber in the central pocket that feeds smoke out through the drawstring around the hood; they cost about $100 each, in a variety of styles. No word on washing instructions.

Seattle prosecutor drops all public marijuana tickets

As reported here, almost all of them were issued by a single cop, who hates legal weed and subjected his victims to humiliating rituals like flipping a coin to see which ones would get the ticket and which would walk away free.

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Weed growers versus the environment

Michael from Mother Jones writes, "Most people who use marijuana probably don't give much thought to where it comes from. Alas, a huge chunk of it comes from environmentally devastating 'trespass grows' in the national forests, where the growers cut down trees, divert waterways for irrigation, and deploy rodent poison that makes its way into species that are under threat, including birds and weasel-like mammals called fishers. 'I would consider it the No. 1 threat to salmon' in Northern California, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist tells Josh Harkinson, who reported the story for Mother Jones."

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Uruguay legalizes marijuana

Lawmakers in the small South American nation voted Tuesday to legalize and regulate weed.

TSA may allow in-flight marijuana

As more states pass medical marijuana laws, or legalize it outright, the TSA is heading for a don't-ask/don't-tell police on weed at airports. The official policy is to refer drug possession to local law, but where the law doesn't care, that's rather pointless.

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Seattle cops give away mini-Doritos with weed law advice at "Hempfest"


A program called "Operation Orange Fingers" will see Seattle cops will welcoming attendees at this weekend's Hempfest with miniature bags of Doritos with links to the department's Marijwhatnow? guide to staying on the right side of the state's law that decriminalized simple possession of sub-one-ounce quantities of marijuana.

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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 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."

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.

You, too, can be a guinea pig for pot

Sometimes, it's hard to find people interested in playing the role of guinea pig for the sake of science. And, sometimes, that job is not so hard. Like when what you want the guinea pigs to do is get real high. That's a good example.

Pot-based research isn't all fun and games. Given the interest in medical marijuana for cancer patients and people with AIDS, some of the studies require volunteers to, you know, have cancer or AIDS. Others are interested in the sociology — these scientists want to talk to you about your pot use and collect data about how it may or may not have affected your life.

But the mythical opportunity to "get high for science" really does exist, writes Brian Palmer at Slate.

The National Institutes of Health maintains an online database of clinical trials that are in the recruitment process. As of this writing, there are approximately 100 marijuana studies currently enrolling patients. Each listing contains inclusion criteria (the types of people the researchers are looking for) and exclusion criteria (characteristics that will remove otherwise qualified people from contention).

... there are a few trials that might interest someone looking for a free high. Consider the University of Iowa’s “Effects of Inhaled Cannabis on Driving Performance.” Participants will be dosed with varying amounts of alcohol or vaporized cannabis, then placed into a driving simulator to measure their performance. There are some restrictions. You must be a social drinker and marijuana user already, but you can’t have an addiction. People who are susceptible to motion sickness are out, and you must live near the driving simulator in Iowa. Keep in mind that getting into the study doesn’t guarantee free marijuana—two control groups will get no THC whatsoever. (Previous studies have shown that low doses of marijuana have little to no impact on driving performance.)

Read more at Slate.com

Image: Getting your head above the parapet..., a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from kevenlaw's photostream

Down in Smoke: through comics, Susie Cagle chronicles the DEA raids on medical marijuana facilities in California

At Cartoon Movement, "graphic journalist" Susie Cagle (Twitter) surveys the impact of recent DEA raids of medical marijuana centers, and legal attacks against Harborside and the like, in 'Down In Smoke'. The work includes sound clips, which is brilliant.

Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what "feels like class war" as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.

The whole thing is here, and it's fantastic. Susie has done some of the best reporting I've seen of the Occupy movement and related protests in America—she's been jailed and injured for it. The fact that her reporting is focused through the medium of comics is just so innovative and cool. She takes true risks for her reporting, and what comes out of it is insightful, informative, and funny. I just love her work.