Uruguayan President Wants to Legalize Marijuana, Lawmakers Voting Today

July 31st, 2013 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki
José Mújica
President José Mújica

Uruguayan President José Mújica is pushing for a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in Uruguay.

The bill, which is scheduled for a vote on July 31, is just one vote short of the 50 required to pass the Lower Chamber. The Broad Front, a left-wing coalition behind the bill, is in the process of talking with additional potential supporters in the legislature.

Mújica has been a staunch advocate for legalizing marijuana in Uruguay for some time in order to fight drug trafficking. In 2012, the New York Times wrote, “Mújica has promoted the legalization of marijuana as a way to reduce the addiction and crime associated with harder drugs.” Earlier this week, the president met with José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, to discuss the conclusions of a recent report on drug consumption in the Americas. The report favored decriminalizing marijuana.

If the bill passes, Uruguayans over the age of 18 would be allowed to buy a limited amount of marijuana per month from state-sanctioned distributors.

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July 29th, 2013 3 Comments Mason Tvert

MPP’s video ad that began airing Friday on a jumbotron outside the NASCAR Brickyard 400 was pulled later that afternoon by the media company that owns the video screen. Grazie Media, which had solicited the ad from MPP, approved its content, and accepted payment for it, reportedly came under fire from marijuana prohibitionist organizations such as Save Our Society From Drugs, which claimed the ad’s message that marijuana is safer than alcohol was false and misleading.

In a statement, MPP’s Mason Tvert said:

We find it odd that this company is willing to run ads at an alcohol-fueled event, yet unwilling to run an ad that simply highlights the ways in which marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. This is the exact type of hypocrisy that motivated us to run this ad. We wanted to make people think about the absurdity of laws that allow adults to use alcohol but punish them for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead, if that is what they prefer.

Despite only airing at the race for a few hours, the ad generated a wealth of national and local media coverage, including two segments on CNN and one on CNBC. The video has already received more than 550,000 views on YouTube.

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MPP Airs Ad at Brickyard 400 NASCAR Race

July 26th, 2013 16 Comments Kate Zawidzki

NASCAR fans attending this weekend’s Brickyard 400 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be greeted by an MPP video ad in support of making marijuana legal for adults. It is scheduled to air dozens of times on a jumbotron outside the entrance of the speedway, which will be “the epicenter of American stock car racing and North American sports car racing” this weekend, according to the event’s website.

The ad, which is already getting national media attention, is reminiscent of a beer commercial and highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol by characterizing marijuana as a “new ‘beer'” that is less harmful to the consumer and to society.

Watch the ad below:

MPP released the following statement from communications director Mason Tvert:

“Our goal is to make this weekend’s event as educational as it will be enjoyable. We simply want those adults who will be enjoying a beer or two at the race this weekend to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful product.”

“Marijuana is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol, and it is far less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior. We hope racing fans who still think marijuana should be illegal will question the logic of punishing adults for using a safer substance than those produced by sponsors of NASCAR events and racing teams.”

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Colorado NFL Player Suspended for Marijuana Use

July 24th, 2013 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Even though it is now legal to smoke marijuana in Colorado, a Denver Broncos linebacker is facing a four-game suspension for allegedly testing positive for marijuana. Under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, players can face suspension and fines of thousands of dollars for using illegal drugs, including marijuana.

Von Miller

Von Miller, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft and is considered by some the Broncos’ best defensive player, is in the process of appealing the decision. He took to his Twitter feed to claim his innocence in the matter, saying, “I know I did nothing wrong. I’m sure this’ll be resolved fairly.”

Regardless of whether Miller used marijuana, athletes should not have to vehemently deny using a substance safer than alcohol or be dragged through the mud by the press and sports executives.

Mason Tvert of MPP commented on the NFL’s policy, saying “Obviously, we don’t see professional athletes being punished simply for having a beer or a glass of wine on a weekend during the off-season. So there’s absolutely no reason they should be punished for using a less harmful substance.”

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Obama Hints Support for Ray Kelly’s Candidacy as Next Secretary of Homeland Security

July 24th, 2013 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Ray Kelly, who has spent the last 12 years as New York City’s police commissioner, has been a topic of discussion recently for the upcoming vacancy for the Secretary of Homeland Security. In a recent interview, Obama said of Mr. Kelly, “[He might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not I’d want to know about it.” He went on to add that Kelly would be “very well qualified” for the job.

Ray Kelly pic
Ray Kelly

Kelly spent 12 years instituting unreasonable and racially insensitive systems of arrest and harassment via his unpopular “Stop and Frisk” measures. The program searched more black men in 2011 than actually lived in New York City, as reported by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Despite NYC marijuana decriminalization, Ray Kelly instituted policies that were used to deceive citizens into accidentally “violating” more serious statutes than a civil matter like private marijuana possession.

The New York Times opinion page discusses the pros and cons of Kelly’s potential nomination, taking note of his tenure being marked by much controversy. The Drug Policy Alliance found that under Kelly’s leadership, 1,000,000 hours of police work were dedicated to making 440,000 marijuana possession arrests in 11 years in New York City.

If you agree with us that Ray Kelly’s job performance would be as damaging at the federal level as it clearly has been at the municipal level, then please sign this petition to stop his nomination before if can be considered further.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

California Democratic Party Urges Obama to Halt Federal Raids on Marijuana Dispensaries

July 24th, 2013 6 Comments Morgan Fox

In Costa Mesa, CA on Sunday, July 21, the California DemocraticCA DEM party passed two new resolutions at its executive board meeting. The first of the two dealt with President Obama’s federal raids on marijuana dispensaries.

The resolution reads, “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party requests: President Obama to allow the newly enacted marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect with no federal interference, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party asks President Obama to end the Department of Justice interference and raids by federal agencies in states with medical marijuana laws, and a comprehensive study be immediately undertaken to produce recommendations for reform of our nation’s marijuana prohibition.”

This position in the California Democratic platform will have drastic implications for the 2016 candidate chosen by the Democrats. California has historically been a cornerstone of Democrat success. Given President Obama’s earlier comments about racial disparity in arrests like drug offenses, this is an opportunity for Obama to step forward and stop some of those unfair arrests by keeping his campaign promise not to interfere with medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Becomes 19th State to Allow Medical Marijuana

July 23rd, 2013 11 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Gov. Maggie Hassan

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill that made New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana!

MPP worked for seven years to bring about this victory. We funded local activists, retained lobbyists in the state capital, employed a full-time staffer outside the state capital, and dedicated significant resources to building public support and generating constituent pressure on elected officials. We also persevered despite our medical marijuana legislation being vetoed twice — once in 2009, and then again in 2012.

The newly enacted law will allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain marijuana from four nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

Even more exciting, medical marijuana is officially legal in all six states that comprise New England!

Passage of the New Hampshire bill marks MPP’s second major legislative victory this year (we also passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in Vermont), and we have a medical marijuana bill awaiting the signature of Gov. Quinn in Illinois.

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Mexico Could Legalize Marijuana Soon, Says Former President Fox

July 23rd, 2013 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last week, former President of Mexico and well-known marijuana reform advocate Vicente Fox told reporters that Mexico could legalize marijuana within the next five years.

Programa RadiofÛnico "Fox Contigo"
Vicente Fox

Fox said that although Mexico’s current leader, President Enrique Pena Nieto, has stated his opposition to legalizing marijuana, impending legalization efforts in key U.S. states could force Mexico to follow their lead. “Once California gets into this,” Fox said, “Mexico is going to speed up its decision process.”

During Fox’s presidency from 2000 to 2006, he was tasked with battling Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. The country’s various efforts to hinder the cartels, including ramping up military attacks, have so far been unsuccessful and have resulted in even more bloodshed. By some estimates, the death toll for casualties of Mexico’s drug war has reached 100,000.

In response to the failure of traditional government tactics, Fox has become a staunch advocate for reforming drug laws, arguing that prohibition has been responsible for creating and sustaining the deadly gang activity. In addition to speaking out publicly against prohibition, Fox has been involved in political advocacy. Earlier this month, the former President met with marijuana reform advocates in San Francisco to discuss the formation of an international partnership dedicated to decriminalizing and regulating marijuana.

Although polls in Mexico reveal little popular support for marijuana legalization, there are pockets of strong support. One of Mexico’s major political parties recently announced its plan to introduce legislation that would make marijuana legal in Mexico City.

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Study: Marijuana Does Not Cause Liver Disease Progression in HIV/HCV Patients

July 19th, 2013 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

More good news for medical marijuana patients: a recent study found that marijuana use is not linked with the progression of liver disease in patients co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV.

The study, published in the July edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases,6.cover examined the effect of regular marijuana smoking on liver disease progression among subjects who were infected with both hepatitis C and HIV. Previous research had produced mixed results, with some studies claiming a “strong link” between marijuana consumption and liver disease. In contrast, this study found “no evidence for an association.” Researchers speculated that associations observed in previous studies were due to “reverse causation;” in other words, patients who already suffered from liver disease used increasing amounts of marijuana to cope with the pain as the symptoms worsened.

These findings debunk the long-held belief that marijuana use exacerbates liver damage, which gives us even more evidence that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, in addition to being a relatively benign medicine.

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Study: Marijuana May Achieve Complete Remission of Crohn’s Disease

July 19th, 2013 29 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Using marijuana may cause a “complete remission” of Crohn’s disease, a new study suggests.

Published in the medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology,AGA-CGH-pub1 the study examined the effects of regular marijuana consumption on the development of the severely debilitating Crohn’s disease. Researchers at Israel’s Meir Medical Center found that five of the 11 patients (or nearly half) who smoked twice per day for eight weeks achieved complete remission, compared to none of the patients who were given a placebo. Additionally, another five of the test subjects receiving marijuana saw their symptoms cut in half. And, unlike many of the drugs currently prescribed to treat the illness, there were no significant side effects.

The symptoms of severe Crohn’s disease make it a living nightmare for many patients, who can suffer from bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fevers.

This study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to measure the impact of marijuana consumption on Crohn’s disease. While there is no cure for Crohn’s, scientists are working to keep the symptoms in check and prevent further progression of the disease.

The researchers were hesitant to label the findings a total success, but said that they merit further research.

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