Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Past Marijuana User Becomes Greatest Olympian in History

July 31st, 2012 32 Comments Morgan Fox

Michael Phelps just swam his way into the history books by winning more Olympic medals than anyone, ever.

Pretty impressive, considering that the same guy was publicly shamed and persecuted just a couple short years ago for choosing to relax with a substance that is demonstrably safer than alcohol.

But should we really be surprised? We’ve all seen the negative effects that alcohol can have on athletic training and performance. And after all, a recent study showed that marijuana has no long-term negative effects on breathing or lung function.

More and more athletes are coming forward about their marijuana use, from a wide variety of sports, citing both medical benefits for treating injuries and the much lesser impact of recreational use compared to alcohol. Unfortunately, many continue to be punished for it.

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was suspended and fined for testing positive for THC metabolites after a February bout in Los Vegas, even though he was not under the influence at the time. Diaz is a licensed medical marijuana patient in his home state of California, and medical marijuana is also legal in Nevada.

More recently, Phelps’ fellow Olympic contender Stephany Lee was kicked off the U.S. wrestling team for a positive marijuana test.

It is time we stop punishing the nation’s greatest athletes for using marijuana. These individuals have the ability and opportunity to smash the negative stereotypes that marijuana users have had to live with for so long but are being cheated out of their shots at personal and national glory by close-minded officials and archaic policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Los Angeles Attempts to Ban Dispensaries, Courts May Overrule

July 30th, 2012 16 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 0 last Tuesday in favor of a new ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports the measure and is expected to sign it. Los Angeles is not only the state’s largest city, it is also a major hub of medical marijuana. There are over 760 registered dispensaries in the city, along with an estimated 200 without proper registration. By comparison, the Bay Area is home to about 12 dispensaries. Under Los Angeles’ new policy, all of the dispensaries, regardless of registration status, will be contacted and ordered to shut down immediately.

The measure is partly a response to public complaints about medical marijuana use around the storefronts, although specifically restricting the smoking of marijuana in public does not appear to have been considered. Others claim that recreational users, not just legitimate patients, obtain their marijuana there. While there is scant evidence to support these claims, it is unclear what harm this would cause in communities. Any increase in market share by legitimate marijuana distributors would cut into the profits of illicit market sources, and law enforcement would hopefully be interested in taking funds away from gangsters. Police Chief Charlie Beck, however, has stated his support for the measure, referring to marijuana as “high-level narcotics,” a comment demonstrating his questionable understanding of the drug.

The ban, which some refer to as a “gentle ban,” allows medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to cultivate and share marijuana — but only in groups of three or fewer people. The LA council also voted to instruct the city to develop a plan to allow 170 specific dispensaries to remain open. However, Councilman Paul Koretz, who initially voted against the ban, admitted that the council has now “shut off almost every way that a normal person can get access to marijuana. It will be a ban until otherwise noted.”  Upon passage, Councilman Jose Huizar, author of the ban and opponent of any measure that would allow dispensaries to remain open, remarked in a bit of unintentional irony, “Relief is on its way.” With the apparently imminent disappearance of so many marijuana dispensaries, relief for thousands of patients is apparently on its way out.

Medical marijuana activists interviewed questioned the feasibility of essentially expecting one of every three patients or caregivers to grow their own marijuana, citing significant expenses and time commitments involved in cultivation. Some doctors understandably expressed concern over patients having their access to medical marijuana seriously restricted. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t seem concerned that the ban will further enrich illicit suppliers, to whom many patients will now presumably turn to in order to obtain their medicine. Advocates plan to appeal the ban, and its legal status is already under question, as Jacob Sullum at Reason explains in detail. Pending court cases may invalidate both the L.A. city ban and the recent L.A. county ban as well.

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“Stupidest Law Possible”: Morgan Freeman on Marijuana Prohibition

July 26th, 2012 18 Comments Kate Zawidzki

He’s played God and the President of the United States. He’s starred in dozens of blockbusters, narrated countless other films and documentaries. And last week, in an interview with Newsweek (released the day before The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters), Morgan Freeman reiterated his support for ending marijuana prohibition.

The whole interview is available here, but the highlight of the interview is his no-nonsense approach to marijuana policy:

You’ve also been a big proponent of the legalization of marijuana.

Marijuana! Heavens, oh yeah. It’s just the stupidest law possible, given history. You don’t stop people from doing what they want to do, so forget about making it unlawful. You’re just making criminals out of people who aren’t engaged in criminal activity. And we’re spending zillions of dollars trying to fight a war we can’t win! We could make zillions, just legalize it and tax it like we do liquor. It’s stupid.

Next week, we’ll be opening voting for the Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users, and Morgan Freeman is already on the list of nominees. Do you think the “former president” will join Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton on the list?

Also, the great folks working on the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Colorado put out this great graphic on Facebook last week, which is spreading like wildfire. Be sure to check it out and share it with your friends and family!

Morgan Freeman Wants to End Marijuana Prohibition

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Threatened species latest collateral victim of marijuana prohibition

July 19th, 2012 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Meet the fisher:

This is what a fisher looks like

Cute, huh?

Fishers are native forest carnivores that populate, among other areas, parts of California, Oregon, and Washington State. Unfortunately, the fisher has been listed as a candidate species for the endangered species program. Even more unfortunate is the fact that our country’s marijuana prohibition is killing these little guys off in new and unforeseen ways.

According to researchers led by veterinary scientists from the University of California at Davis, illicit marijuana grows are inadvertently killing off large numbers of these rare animals. The theory goes that in order to protect their irrigation lines and crops from nibbling rats, growers sprinkle rodenticide directly on their lines and around their crops. The rodenticide – which can be lethal after a single ingestion – takes up to seven days before signs of ingestion occur. Within those seven days, the fishers eat the rats who have been poisoned, thus exposing themselves to the poison as well.

Researchers also theorize that the fishers may be eating the poison directly, attracted to the cheese, peanut butter, and bacon flavorizers added to the poison. Of the 58 fisher carcasses analyzed by the researchers, rodenticide was found in 79% of them. In addition, the deaths occurred between mid-April to mid-May, when immature marijuana plants would be most vulnerable to pests and thus most in need of a rodenticide to ensure against that threat. While the fisher is the focus of the study, the researchers made sure to point out that “martens, spotted owls, and Sierra Nevada red foxes may be at risk from the poison, as well.”

Consider for a moment one consequence of the marijuana prohibition and how it makes life difficult, or impossible, for the fisher. It is painfully clear that Americans like to use marijuana recreationally, and where there is demand, there is supply. Currently, most marijuana grows are illicit, and thus growers seek the deepest and darkest recesses of our natural habitat, frequently growing on public lands and in our state parks. Unregulated growers have no incentive to protect against the environmental damage that an agricultural operation causes, such as secondary deaths of protected animals due to rodenticides.

Now it’s time to consider the effect of a legal marijuana agricultural operation on the wildlife around it. Like other agricultural operations, marijuana grows would be regulated and, more importantly, inspected. Environmental regulations would limit when and what types of pesticides could be used. Additionally, grows would be moved out of the remote areas where they are currently cultivated and where wildlife thrives; we don’t see illicit vineyards crop up on remote public lands for a reason. Finally, financial penalties would be placed on growers who violate environmental regulations and inspections would make sure the regulations are being followed. A well-regulated and inspected system of marijuana cultivation would ensure that the industry is environmentally friendly (or at least not environmentally destructive).

It’s well past time we stop criminalizing otherwise law abiding marijuana users, stop wasting billions in tax payer money funding a prohibition that has never worked, stop foregoing billions of estimated tax revenue, and stop fostering a niche agricultural industry free from any environmental rules and regulations. It’s well past time we tax and regulate the marijuana industry.

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Medical Marijuana, Uncategorized

Harborside targeted by feds while Leader Pelosi stresses importance of federal action on medical marijuana

July 11th, 2012 21 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Associated Press is reporting that Harborside Health Center, which has been called California’s largest non-profit medical marijuana dispensary, is being targeted by federal prosecutors in California. According to Harborside spokesperson Gaynell Rogers, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office has threatened to seize the property on which Harborside’s two locations operate: one in Oakland and the other in San Jose.

Meanwhile, the ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and congresswoman for nearby San Francisco, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reaffirmed her support for the medical use of marijuana, telling a round table of bloggers that taking up and discussing federal legislation regarding medical marijuana would be “really important.” While she gave no firm promise to introduce specific legislation, her support for medical marijuana patients puts her at odds with the actions of President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

President Obama would be wise to listen to his party’s ranking member in the House of Representatives as opposed to career drug warriors like DEA chief Michele Leonhart. While Leader Pelosi recognizes the real and growing evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy, Agent Leonhart cannot even bring herself to admit that heroin is more harmful than marijuana. And if science isn’t something that the president and his circle are interested in listening to, they should at least listen to the 77% of the American public who support medical access to marijuana.

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Nominate an Influential Marijuana User!

July 2nd, 2012 64 Comments Kate Zawidzki

It seems like every day there’s a new story out about someone famous using marijuana – but it doesn’t seem to stop these people from reaching the highest offices in the land. Whether we’re talking about the Oval Office or the box office, some of the most influential people in this country have used marijuana. This year, we at MPP want to see which individuals who have tried marijuana make the cut for the 2012 Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users List!

Rather than just produce a list, we really want to get your input on who should be considered for the 2012 Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users. So, we’re opening the nominations to all of our supporters – just leave a comment here on this blog post with someone you think should be on the list (and if you’ve got a source backing up their use, please include that as well). We’ll compile a list of all of those who made the cut.

Click here to see who has already been nominated for the 2012 Top 50 Marijuana Users List!

Then, in early August, we’re going to open up the voting! You’ll get to choose from over 100 individuals to let us know which people you think should make the Top 50 list.

In order to qualify for the 2012 Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users List, the person must:

(a)    have tried marijuana at least once;
(b)    be alive; and
(c)    must be living in the U.S. or be a U.S. citizen.

Now, this isn’t a popularity contest or a list of supportive users. We’re looking for people who are influential – and to determine this, we want to borrow the great definition that Out Magazine uses for their “Power 50” list. To determine who makes the final list, we want you to vote for those who have the “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and a person’s media profile.”

We’re really excited about creating this list and seeing who makes the final cut, and we hope you are as well!

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