Medical Marijuana

The One Essential Article About Medical Marijuana

August 31st, 2009 65 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

We’ve all heard the claims before – from federal officials, police groups opposing state medical marijuana bills, etc. – that there is no evidence that marijuana is a legitimate medicine. Readers of this blog know that’s nonsense, but there’s been a need for an article in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that lays out the scientific case in a clear, tightly-focused way.

Recently, a group of scientists published a review article in the Journal of Opioid Management that does just that. The article, “Medicinal Use of Cannabis in the United States: Historical Perspectives, Current Trends, and Future Directions,” is one every medical marijuana activist should keep handy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Online community still wants reform… is anybody listening?

August 28th, 2009 60 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Earlier this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) launched, a website which encourages Twitter users to “tweet” their ideas for how to “move California forward” and then allows visitors to give each of those ideas an up or down vote. The site has only been live for a few days and already the top three most popular “tweets” involve making marijuana legal, taxed, and regulated in California.

It is encouraging that high-level pols like Gov. Schwarzenegger and President Obama are turning to the Web for new, out-of-the-box ideas but it’s a shame that they have yet to embrace the one proposal which is consistently the most popular.

Nevertheless, those of us yearning for an effective and just marijuana policy will continue to speak truth to power – and it’s only a matter of time before our elected leaders will be forced to listen.

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Mexico’s Drug Law Worries U.S. Police

August 27th, 2009 59 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

The Obama administration’s official position on the movement to decriminalize drug use in Latin America is to take a “wait-and-see attitude.” However, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne was willing to share his thoughts with the Associated Press:

“Now they will go [to Mexico] because they can get drugs. For a country that has experienced thousands of deaths from warring drug cartels for many years, it defies logic why they would pass a law that will clearly encourage drug use.”

His quote illustrates one of the most baffling positions held by drug prohibitionists 
 that sending people to treatment instead of jail encourages drug use.

The logic Lansdowne can’t see is that drug use is not a criminal justice problem; it’s a public health problem. And when viewed in that light, it’s understandable why he got it wrong — Lansdowne isn’t a doctor; he’s a cop.

The impetus behind Mexico, Argentina, Switzerland, and Portugal (likely to be joined soon by Brazil and Ecuador) changing their drug laws is a decision to focus on treating addiction rather than punishing it. In doing so, they hope to free up law enforcement resources that are better spent fighting violent criminals (like the drug cartels in Mexico). Portugal, which changed its policy in 2001, has had great success — and without becoming a destination for drug tourism.

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Argentina Expected to Decriminalize Marijuana Today

August 25th, 2009 55 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Argentina is expected to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession today, according to the Buenos Aires Herald:

Supreme Court Justice Carlos Fayt said the court has reached a unanimous position on an expected ruling that would decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal consumption, which would be announced analyzed today.

If the court rules as expected, Argentina will become the second Latin American country in the last four days to allow the personal use of marijuana.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Mexico Took a Step Forward But Only U.S. Policy Can End the Violence

August 24th, 2009 34 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Last week, Mexico passed a new law decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana and other drugs. Perhaps our neighbor to the south will now consider the possibility of full legalization (regulating marijuana like alcohol, as opposed to simply removing penalties for possession). A number of people in Mexico are calling for a debate, with  former President Vicente Fox as one of the most prominent voices in that chorus. However, others are wondering if legalization in Mexico would make a difference. The answer, as I see it, is unfortunately no. Read the rest of this entry »

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Study: Marijuana May Protect Against Brain Damage From Binge Drinking

August 21st, 2009 34 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

A study just published online by the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology suggests that marijuana may protect the brain from some of the damage caused by binge drinking.

The study, by researchers at the University of California San Diego, used a type of high-tech scan called diffusion tensor imaging to compare microscopic changes in brain white matter. The subjects were students aged 16-to-19, divided into three groups: binge drinkers (defined as having five or more drinks at one sitting for boys or four or more for girls), binge drinkers who also smoked marijuana, and a control group who had very little or no experience with either alcohol or drugs.

As expected, the binge-drinking-only group showed evidence of white matter damage in eight regions examined, as demonstrated by lower fractional anisotropy (FA) scores. But in a finding the researchers described as “unexpected,” the binge-drinking/marijuana group had lower FA scores than the controls in only three of the eight regions, and in seven regions the binge-drinking/marijuana group had higher scores – indicating less damage – than the binge drinkers who didn’t use marijuana (unfortunately, not all of these stats are in the summary linked above; access to the full article requires payment). Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexico Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

August 21st, 2009 45 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Mexico enacted a law decriminalizing possession of marijuana (and other drugs) yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

The new law defines 5 grams of marijuana as a “personal use” amount. People caught in possession of less than that amount will face no penalty until their third offense, at which point the law requires them to enter addiction treatment. The change is part of the Mexican government’s efforts to fight a very hot war against drug cartels along its border with the U.S. By decriminalizing marijuana, Mexico seeks to free up law enforcement resources that have been wasted arresting non-violent marijuana users. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

Join the Great Marijuana Book Bomb Aug. 20!

August 19th, 2009 31 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

MPP’s director of state campaigns, Steve Fox, is the co-author of a new book entitled, Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? The purpose of this book is to educate Americans about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, and to force them to consider why we punish adults who use the less harmful substance.  The critically acclaimed book also provides supporters of marijuana policy reform with the information and talking points necessary to spread the “marijuana is safer” message to friends and family.

To raise awareness about the book, the authors are coordinating a “Book Bomb” that will take place tomorrow, August 20.  The goal is to have hundreds of people order the book from on the same day so that it reaches #1 on the online bookseller’s rankings.  As far as we know, no book advocating for marijuana policy reform has reached that milestone.  To learn more about the book and to sign up for the Book Bomb, visit If you sign up, you will get an email tomorrow reminding you about the Bomb.

Thanks in advance for participating!  And please share this blog post with any friends who might be interested.

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More Evidence That Marijuana Prevents Cancer

August 18th, 2009 31 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Among the more interesting pieces of news that came out while I was on vacation the first half of August was a new study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, which found that marijuana smokers have a lower risk of head and neck cancers than people who don’t smoke marijuana. Alas, this important research has been largely ignored by the news media.

While this type of study cannot conclusively prove cause and effect, the combination of this new study and existing research — which for decades has shown that cannabinoids are fairly potent anticancer drugs — raises a significant possibility that marijuana use is in fact protective against certain types of cancer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

Just in case you needed another reason to end prohibition…

August 17th, 2009 26 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

A huge wildfire ablaze in  Santa Barbara County over the last week has been linked to a clandestine marijuana grow operation in the Los Padres National Forest. As we often point out, prohibition is to blame for these destructive illegal gardens because it leaves this popular agricultural product in the hands of criminals with no regard for the environment instead of legitimate farmers.

Orange County Register columnist and author of “Waiting to Inhale, the Politics of Medical Marijuana” Alan Bock writes in his blog post that the proliferation of these sites on public lands is a result of misguided asset forfeiture laws:

So it’s not surprising that faced with the loss of property whether a crime was proved against them or not  or charges were even filed, marijuana growers began to use land that they didn’t own and couldn’t be seized. The best bet was not some poor innocent’s land, but government land, of which there is more than an abundance in the western states, which couldn’t be forfeited because the government already owns it. So the national forests became the preferred venues for large marijuana grows, the forests were in some cases degraded and became less useful to the public they were supposed to benefit — and now we have a major wildfire allegedly started by marijuana growers.

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