Marijuana Potency Hype: Is Fact-Checking Dead?

May 29th, 2009 51 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

In mid-May, spurred by a press release from the drug czar’s office, the American news media reported with varying levels of hysteria that average marijuana potency had soared past the 10% THC level for the first time. Clearly the sky was falling, or at least was about to.

Small problem: According to the actual report, from the Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project at the University of Mississippi, average marijuana potency is only 8.52% — a fact easily determined by doing something most journalists apparently didn’t bother to attempt: reading the report, which is based on tests of samples seized by police. The way they got to the claimed rate of 10.1% was by including samples of hashish (average potency 20.76%) and hash oil (15.64%). Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Senate OKs Medical Marijuana

May 28th, 2009 43 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Last night, after years of work — and months of intense pressure by patients, advocates, and supportive legislators — the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would protect qualified Illinois medical marijuana patients from arrest for the first time ever, 30-28.

But there’s still more work to accomplish before seriously ill Illinois medical marijuana patients can safely acquire and use their medicine without fear of arrest. If you’re an Illinois resident, please help us build on the momentum from this victory and encourage your friends and family in Illinois to do so.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

The Kindergarten Cop Needs to Do His Marijuana Homework

May 27th, 2009 54 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Over the last several days, the popular Web site Digg has been allowing users to submit and vote up or down various questions to be posed during today’s “Digg Dialogue” and CNN interview with Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). 

When Schwarzenegger was asked about taxing and regulating marijuana as a result, he replied that he doesn’t support changing the current marijuana laws because believes — perhaps alone among citizens — that the current laws have “worked very well for California.”

You’ve got to wonder by what measure he’s gauging marijuana prohibition’s success. When California first banned marijuana in 1913, the plant was virtually unknown. Now nearly one in ten Californians admit to having used it within any given year – despite the more than 74,000 marijuana arrests made in the state last year alone. More California teens report using marijuana than tobacco, and the drug can be found in nearly every high school in the state. This is a successful law?

Once again, the public is way ahead of politicians on marijuana policy. Taxing and regulating marijuana enjoys majority support in California – at least according to one of the state’s most respected pollsters. Arnold’s job performance ratings, on the other hand, are a whole other story.

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Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals

May 26th, 2009 154 Comments » Kate Zawidzki


For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse. They may have trouble wrapping their little brains around this:

The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Netherlands to California. With a population of 16.6 million, the Dutch prison population is about 12,000. With its population of 36.7 million, California should have a bit more than double the Dutch prison population. California’s actual prison population is 171,000.

So, whose drug policies are keeping the streets safer?

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Medical Marijuana Not Just About Getting High — Journal Article Ends the Argument

May 22nd, 2009 48 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

One of the canards regularly raised by opponents of medical marijuana is that it just gets people high and doesn’t provide real medical relief. For example, last year former deputy drug czar Scott Burns told a California newspaper, “Anybody can say something makes me feel better anecdotally. And I hear that a lot.  ‘Marijuana is the only thing that makes me feel good.’ I say you should try crack, because from what I hear, crack cocaine will make you feel really good as well.”

Anyone inclined to believe such nonsense should check out an article just published online by the journal Pharmacological Research. The article, by two researchers from the University of Naples, covers the potential benefits of cannabinoids in illnesses involving intestinal inflammation (e.g. Crohn’s disease) and in colorectal cancer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

Congressman Steve Cohen on marijuana policy

May 21st, 2009 64 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, Congressman Steven Cohen (D-Tenn.) did a fantastic job of arguing against two common and misinformed prohibitionist arguments during a congressional hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Watch the video below to see Congressman Cohen refute the arguments that marijuana is particularly harmful and that marijuana is a gateway drug.

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Arizona Family Advocates Medical Marijuana

May 21st, 2009 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

An Arizona family describes why they support the need for a medical marijuana law.

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Medical Marijuana

A quiet victory for medical marijuana patients

May 20th, 2009 47 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate today that sought to undermine the 13 state medical marijuana laws. Coburn’s legislation was defeated in committee (13-10) on a party-line vote.

Offered as an amendment to the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, Coburn’s legislation would have placed state medical marijuana laws under the regulatory control of the FDA – not necessarily a bad thing on its own. But Coburn’s intentions become apparent when you realize that FDA approval requires specific, FDA-approved research into marijuana’s risks and benefits as a medicine, something the federal government has blocked for decades. Without the research, MPP feared that the FDA would shut down medical marijuana access nationwide.

The fact that medical marijuana opponents are going on the offensive (and failing) speaks volumes to the success we’ve had in recent months.  The Supreme Court recently affirmed California’s medical marijuana law, and the new administration has stated a policy of non-interference with state medical marijuana laws – and both points were raised during the committee debate. Even Sen. Coburn conceded, “It is not an illegal product in 13 states.”

It is possible that Sen. Coburn will continue his attack on medical marijuana, but given the opposition he faced today, it’s unlikely he’ll succeed.

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Aaron Houston on Russia Today 05/19/2009

May 20th, 2009 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

MPP Director of Government Relations Aaron Houston discusses the contradictions between State and Federal law regarding the use of marijuana. Specifically, he addresses the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a challenge to California medical marijuana law brought by two counties in that state. The counties had been defeated in lower court decisions that affirmed the right of States to make laws that violated Federal law. 05/19/2009

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota’s Heartless Governor

May 19th, 2009 64 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota’s Republican governor (pictured below), has “great empathy for the sick.” I know it’s true because he said so.

He just thinks they belong in jail if they need medical marijuana.


He announced his intention to veto the medical marijuana bill at his news conference today. Then, amazingly, he went on to wax rhapsodic about how “The sky is blue, the sun is out. The minds of Minnesotans are turning to Memorial Day, summer, fishing.”

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