'Cannabis clubs are the solution, not the problem'
Farid Ghehioueche is a prominent French activist for cannabis legalization, and is on the steering committee at ENCOD, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
The Local asked him to justify last week's risky move by 'cannabis clubs' throughout the country to register with authorities as non-profit organizations and why he believes cannabis should be legalized in France.
Courtesy of F. Ghehioueche
Cannabis rights activists: part of the solution, not the problem
We are aware that cannabis can impact the daily lives of its users in many different ways, and most campaigners quite simply want to improve quality of life and French society.
As well as the health benefits that cannabis use can have for those with certain illnesses, we are determined to address the violence and criminality surrounding drug-dealing in certain communities.
We want to ask ourselves how we can be good parents, and solve the problem of children dealing drugs, since many of us are responsible adults in our 40s or older.
Why ‘Cannabis clubs’ can help solve the drug issue
I was one of the founding members of the ‘cannabis club’ movement, which is based on the principle that growing your own cannabis and using it in small, private circles is the best way to undermine and prevent drug trafficking and crime.
The more people in France hear about this model, and understand it, the more it gains support as the best approach to the problem.
Last week’s registration of clubs as non-profit groups forms part of a strategy to push those in power to come up with an alternative, experimental framework for cannabis use in France.
We don’t necessarily expect the authorities to support our activities, but we hope it will show that they can at least trust us to help tackle drug-trafficking, with all its negative effects on society.
Right now, we don’t know how the authorities will respond to our ‘cannabis clubs’ strategy. We don’t know if they will be shut down.
The case of Dominique Broc could reveal a lot, however. He is the national coordinator of the Cannabis Social Clubs Français, and was arrested in February and had his cannabis plants seized.
His trial, starting on April 8th and continuing on May 2nd, could tell us a lot about how the French justice system views cannabis clubs.
Ultimately, though, what we want is to legalize ourselves, and our daily use of cannabis. We don’t want to be treated as criminals any more.
As much as the authorities must enforce the law, we want to change those laws, so that we can be treated as the simple French citizens and honest, responsible people that we are.
Problems with the law itself
France’s law on cannabis use was made in 1970, as part of an effort to eradicate heroin addiction. And back then, policy-makers mixed together drugs of all kinds, including cannabis.
For that reason, for the last four decades, French anti-drug policy has been based on regression rather than progression.
Since the early 1970s, we have witnessed a significant increase in drug use in mainstream society, especially when it comes to cannabis.
Back then there were only a few thousand daily cannabis-users in France, whereas today there are one million. Of these, 200,000 are caught up in the criminal justice system in France every year.
The cost of implementation
A huge amount of money is spent every year on these criminal procedures, and part of our goal is to prevent the French state from wasting funds, and help to channel that money in a new and positive direction.
Furthermore, penalties for cannabis use in France are among the harshest in the world. Look at the Netherlands for comparison, where the policy is far more tolerant.
There, you have people smoking cannabis in public places like cafés, parks, and on the street, without having to break the law.
In France, by contrast, we have to suffer the unbearable nuisances that come with street-dealing.
Another problem with laws in France is that drug policy is enforced more rigorously on youths, the poor, and those from racial minorities. In a way, this is a racist policy.
Drug laws here actually exacerbate the negative effects of drug trafficking, and damage efforts at harm reduction and preventing underage drug use. This is a totally counter-productive policy.
Farid Ghehioueche is on the steering committee of ENCOD, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, and a founder of ‘Cannabis Sans Frontières’ (Cannabis Without Borders) which ran candidates in European Parliament elections in 2009.
College's tough line on cannabis
Aleading Auckland secondary school has come down hard on a group of drug-taking students - they have been told to undergo random drug tests throughout the year, or leave.
Last night, Mt Albert Grammar held the second of two board disciplinary meetings to decide the fate of a group of students involved with cannabis.
Information from the investigation has been passed to the police.
The action has highlighted what educators say is a nationwide problem of drugs in schools - and opposing views on how to deal with problem students.
More than 1000 schoolchildren were suspended, excluded or expelled from schools last year for drug- or alcohol-related offences, with the youngest aged 8, previously reported Ministry of Education figures show.
Mt Albert headmaster Dale Burden said yesterday that a number of students - he would not reveal how many - were suspended because of their involvement with cannabis.
"The consequences for some students are not yet known but those that do know have either been excluded [expelled if you are 16 or older] from school or returned to school on a tight contract that includes random drug testing," Mr Burden said.
The decisions made by the board were a last resort. Schools reflected society and it would be "naive and foolish for any school to believe that it was above having some of its students involved in drugs".
Mr Burden said he had "taken the strongest action available" over the matter. Mt Albert Grammar had a robust alcohol and drug education programme, and counsellors were available to students.
"The school will continue to support the students and their families through the next stage of the process - whether that is the random drug-testing programme or the management of the transition to a new school.
"These last few weeks have been a difficult time for the families of these students. These are children from functioning families with parents that care about their children."
Students who are under 16 can be excluded from their school. The principal tries to arrange enrolment in another school within 10 school days. Students aged 16 and over can be expelled.
Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said drugs were a community issue that schools had to deal with. "Kids don't grow the dope themselves. There is an adult behind that somewhere."
Mr Parsons said that in the worst cases, sometimes the best education for students was the "short, sharp" shock of suspension, or worse - more severe punishment delivered by a court.
The executive director of the NZ Drug Foundation, Ross Bell, said the pressure on schools in such cases was considerable, and the desire to punish students was intuitive.
"All the members of boards are parents, and parents are rightly concerned about drugs. So you can see why they go to that gut response."
But Mr Bell said the foundation did not believe expulsion or suspension were the right response.
Research showed it was crucial to keep problem students engaged with education. It was therefore essential that schools received the necessary support, from district health boards and other organisations, so that not suspending a student was not seen as turning a blind eye to drug use.
The Education Act was amended this month and now contains clarified search, surrender and retention provisions.
Students can be required to hand over items to be searched, and drugs dogs will be allowed to search school property.
Drugs in schools
* 1000 schoolchildren were suspended, excluded or expelled from schools last year for drugs or alcohol-related offences.
* The youngest was aged 8.
* Students who are under 16 can be excluded from their school, with the principal trying to arrange enrolment in another school within 10 school days.
* Students aged 16 and over can be expelled.
SHOCKER: Hydroponics Digital Ballasts & Comcast Almost
Got This Marijuana Grower Busted!
As a marijuana grower who just survived a scary security risk situation, I’m here to alert marijuana growers about hidden dangers that can get you busted or ripped off. The best way I can provide you this important information is to tell you what happened to me…
Back in the springtime, I looked at my security camera feed and saw a guy wearing a bright orange vest wandering around in my back yard.
I don’t allow visitors to my grow house except for two other growers I trade cannabis seeds, clones, and motherplants with. They only come over by appointment.
So this unexpected visitor in my back yard was a major trespass and cause for fear…especially because I don’t live in a medical marijuana state.
I looked at my front house remote camera feed, and saw a Comcast truck was parked in my driveway. Then I realized somebody is pounding on my front door. What a nightmare!
I have a security protocol I run at times like these; the first thing I do is pull a circuit breaker that shuts my HID lights off. Then I shut and lock the grow room door, and spray odor control in the rest of my house, being careful nobody could see me through a window.
I looked at the front door camera signal, and now there were two guys in orange vests standing on my steps pounding on my door.
I slipped out the back door, snuck around the house, came up behind the men, making them jump when I asked what they wanted.
They claimed my neighbors were having Comcast “connectivity problems,” which the techs alleged was caused by “excess voltage emanating from your house.”
I told them I too have Comcast Xfinity, and it’s working fine. I’m sorry that my neighbors are having Comcast problems, but it’s not my fault, I said. Now—please leave.
One Comcast guy got in my face. He claimed the “terms of service” of my Comcast Xfinity agreement “gives Comcast the right” to enter my house and yard “at any time.” I refused entry and told him and his buddy to leave immediately.
The next day I got a call from a “Comcast technical supervisor.” He says my Comcast service is going to be cut off (and I would be liable for a large financial penalty for “early cancelation”) unless I let him and another tech in my house.
What I didn’t know is they were calling me from right outside my house! They started pounding on my door while he was on the phone. Again I had to rush around like a crazy person shutting down everything and doing odor control to keep them from smelling my marijuana plants.
I opened the door and told them don’t go showing up at my house all of a sudden and demanding entry.
To my amazement, they pushed past me and started going around the house looking at wires and the Comcast Xfinity equipment.
I thought I was going to have to physically stop them if they got near the grow room, and I kept telling them to get out of my house, but the “supervisor” was woofing off that he detected “radio frequency interference” coming out my house and it’s messing up other peoples’ Internet, appliances, cable service, remote control devices, etc.
I told them there’s nothing wrong with any equipment in my house, and that I considered them to be trespassing. They left.
Then I called the hydroponics store and they said yes my Lumatek and Galaxy digital ballasts do put out radio frequency interference (RFI), and so do some HID bulbs. RFI interferes with electrical gear, and can be detected from outside your home.
They said you can find out if you have RFI by having an AM radio on and walking with it in and around your marijuana grow room, house, and yard. If you hear static that’s not there when your ballasts are off, the static is caused by hydroponics digital ballast RFI.
Apparently, the only hydroponics digital ballast that doesn’t have radio frequency interference is the “Baddass ballast.” Too bad I hadn’t bought that one. And I need to get some RFI-blocking grow room insulation that makes it harder if not impossible for RFI to escape my marijuana grow room.
A few days went by, and then Comcast contacted me saying they wanted to come back to my house, but I said hell no.
The next day, my Xfinity service went down. Comcast had disconnected it and charged me an early termination fee.
I later learned that Comcast has a habit of narking people out. They detect radio frequency interference, and/or they use their access to your home and yard so that they see indoor and outdoor marijuana gardens.
There are credible allegations that Comcast employees use RFI detection to tip off rippers who target marijuana grow houses for home invasion robberies. They also tip off police.
Really, I see Comcast as the Monsanto of the telecom industry. Their top CEOs get $25 million salary per year. Worse yet, Comcast bribes politicians including President Obama, so the government makes laws protecting Comcast instead of its customers.
Along with that, Comcast is one of the telecommunications corporations who cooperate with the government to illegally spy on U.S. citizens.
Because Comcast spied on me, I had to change my marijuana growing location. And I sold my two digital ballasts and got the only digital ballast that’s guaranteed by the manufacturer to have shielding that limits RFI.
My fellow marijuana growers, if you have Comcast, or hydroponics HID digital ballasts, be warned: Comcast is a corporation of narks, and some brands of HID digital ballasts send out RFI that can be detected by narks or rippers. Adjust your marijuana grow op, and your relationship with cable companies, accordingly!
Medical Marijuana For Pets Recommended By Veteranarian Doug Kramer
By SUE MANNING huffingtonpost.com
Today, at age 12, he plays like a puppy through the day, his fur is soft and he sleeps at night, soothed not by magic, but by the dose of marijuana in that cheese.
Bugni-Daniel is part of a growing movement to give medical marijuana to pets in pain. Many urge caution until there's better science behind it. But stories abound about changes in sick and dying pets after they've been given cannabis – even though it isn't a proven pain killer for man or mutt, and it's an illicit drug under federal law despite being legal for people in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Leading the charge is Los Angeles veterinarian Doug Kramer, 36, known as the "Vet Guru," who felt it was his duty to speak out while he has no family that would feel a verbal or financial backlash.
"I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn't doing everything I could to make their lives better," he said. "I felt like I was letting them down."
Pot eased his Siberian husky's pain during her final weeks, after she had surgery to remove tumors. Not only did Nikita stop whimpering while using cannabis, but she started eating, gaining weight and meeting him at the door again.
It gave him six extra weeks with his dog before he had to euthanize her, he says. It wasn't a cure, but he thinks it freed her of pain and improved her last days.
Some other vets contacted said they share Kramer's view on pot, but they wouldn't talk on the record for fear of arrest or retaliation.
Kramer hasn't lost any clients over his view, but he was asked not to return to some of the clinics where he volunteered or relieved other vets because of concerns over the negative image his advocacy creates, he said.
Dr. Duncan Lascelles, a professor of surgery and pain management at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, thought about studying marijuana a decade ago. He didn't, not for lack of interest, but because the timing was wrong.
"I have been considering looking at that field again because I think it does have a lot of potential," he said.
He also figures those all-important grants needed for research will be available now.
Testing could take 10 years or more to be sure a pain killer will be effective and free of side effects, Lascelles said.
Kramer said it's unconscionable to let a decade pass, when millions of pets will die of illness and old age.
Vets who want traditional testing point to a study by two Colorado animal hospitals that compared the number of dogs treated for what appeared to be accidental marijuana overdoses between 2005 and 2010 with increases in the number of marijuana licenses issued. As registrations increased 146-fold, the number of sickened pets went up four-fold.
"Sometimes public sentiment and activity gets ahead of the scientific background and that can be dangerous," said Barry Kellogg, senior veterinary adviser to the Humane Society of the United States.
While two dogs with pot in their system died in the Colorado survey, hallucinogenic reactions may make dogs wobbly on their legs, raise their pulse and cause dribbly urine, said Dr. Karl Jandrey, an emergency and critical care vet at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.
But pot clinic managers say that a proper dose of the drug will prevent a bad reaction.
Jessica LeRoux of Twirling Hippy Confections in Denver made custom treats that helped extend the life of her last service dog, a black Lab-border collie mix named Thor.
"I got the 15th year out of that relationship because of the product I made for him," she said.
Old or ailing pets who take cannabis usually experience an immediate boost in appetite and relief from pain. That lets them get around, relieve themselves without help, sleep better and enjoy their families until age or disease catches up, LeRoux said in explaining how the cannabis helps pets.
At La Brea Compassionate Caregivers in Los Angeles, manager Megan Hanley recommends a drop of liquid marijuana extract marketed as Companion Cannabis for every 10 pounds of dog. It can be spread on cheese or bread.
"It's a revolutionary product and response to it has been tremendous in the last year," she said.
Bugni-Daniel, in Divide, Mont., is allowed to have four marijuana plants under state law for her medical needs. She turns that into extract for her and Rabito.
Marijuana has been like the fountain of youth for the American bulldog.
"It's really nice to see your sick pet, for his last moments or weeks or months, be happy and not real sick and dealing with needles and surgery," Bugni-Daniel said.
When it comes to drugs, it’s all about prices.
The ability to raise prices is– at least is perceived to be–a critical function of drug control policy. Higher prices discourage young people from using. Higher prices encourage adult users to consume less, to quit sooner, or to seek treatment. (Though higher prices can bring short-term problems, too, as drug users turn to crime to finance their increasingly unaffordable habit.)
An enormous law enforcement effort seeks to raise prices at every point in the supply chain from farmers to end-users: Eradicating coca crops in source countries, hindering access to chemicals required for drug production, interdicting smuggling routes internationally and within our borders, street-level police actions against local dealers.
That’s why this may be the most embarrassing graph in the history of drug control policy. (I’m grateful to Peter Reuter, Jonathan Caulkins, and Sarah Chandler for their willingness to share this figure from their work.) Law enforcement strategies have utterly failed to even maintain street prices of the key illicit substances. Street drug prices in the below figure fell by roughly a factor of five between 1980 and 2008. Meanwhile the number of drug offenders locked up in our jails and prisons went from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to a peak of 562,000 in 2007.
The second embarrassment may reflect policymakers desire to ask fewer questions that bring up the first. We have remarkably little evidence that the billions of dollars spent on supply-side interdiction have much impact. There’s surprisingly little demand in the policy community to collect such evidence, despite considerable investments at every level of American government.
In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences concluded: “Neither the data systems nor the research infrastructure needed to assess the effectiveness of drug control enforcement policies now exists.” That remains true today, 12 years and hundreds of billions of dollars later.
That’s not to say enforcement has zero effect. The mere fact of a drug’s illegality massively increases its cost of production and distribution. To give one timely example, credible research suggests that the (untaxed) market price of cannabis might fall by as much as 80 percent if it could be legally produced at optimum scale as other agricultural commodities are.
But we have little reliable evidence that any particular change in the intensity of law enforcement exerts much influence on market prices. The few studies which examine this question fail to find much of a relationship between law enforcement intensity and illicit drug prices. A 2004 paper by Kuziemko and Levitt is one of the few rigorous analyses that found such a relationship. Examining a period when cocaine prices were actually plummeting, these authors estimated that a 15-fold increase in the number of incarcerated drug offenders raised street cocaine prices in the range of 5 percent to15 percent, compared with what otherwise would have been the case. That’s not much.
Is there hope? I think so. Drug policy has improved during the Obama years. The president and his key drug policy advisers have largely abandoned the harsh war-on-drugs rhetoric of previous administrations. The number of incarcerated drug offenders has declined for the first time in decades. On the demand side, health reform will greatly expand access to substance abuse treatment. Drug markets are less violent than they used to be, too, which creates greater political space for less punitive policies.
I’m especially heartened that conservative groups such as “Right on Crime” are asking anew whether we really need to incarcerate so many people, for such long periods,because they participated on the supply-side of the drug economy. There is interest, across the political spectrum, in violence-reduction policing strategies, such as those promoted by David Kennedy and Mark Kleiman, that offer more discriminating approaches to police illicit drug markets.
Americans across the spectrum are finally requesting more effective, more evidence-based drug control policies. Americans also are more likely to recognize the human faces of drug users, and even of drug sellers, too. That recognition, however overdue, is the foundation of improved public policies.
Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Measure D
The approval of Measure D comes after more than five years of wrangling over regulation of the businesses. D was one of three initiatives on Tuesday's ballot involving medical marijuana dispensaries.
Measure D, which garned 63 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting, restricts the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to the original 135 approved before a 2007 requirement that dispensaries register with the city. The measure would apply a tax of $60 for every $1,000 in sales.
A rival proposal was placed on the ballot after a signature drive. Measure F would allow for unlimited dispensaries and call for a 20-percent sales tax.
A third measure would, like Measure D, would have capped the number of dispensaries at 135, but had little chance of passing. Measure E, which includes no new taxes, was placed on ballot by the United Food and Commerical Workers union, which withdrew support and backed Measure D.
The winning measure required a majority of the vote. If no measure gained more than 50 percent of the vote, the issue likely would have returned to the Los Angeles City Council.
As of 5:45 a.m. with 100 percent of precints reporting, these are the results for the trio of marijuana measures, according to LA City Clerk:
- Yes: 63 percent
- No: 37 percent
- Yes: 35 percent
- No: 65 percent
- Yes: 41 percent
- No: 59 percent
Reefer Madness in Boston
The most dangerous things about cannabis are the laws against it and the people willing to support that agenda. The evolving landscape of legal cannabis and medical cannabis are bringing about a healthy change in the minds of people worldwide. As more people realize the truth about cannabis, the lies and rhetoric become more obvious and repulsive. Let’s look at the raw facts. Last year over 28.5 million people in America used cannabis. Not a single one of those users died from a toxic overdose, not last year or ever. Recently, Dr. Steve Adelman, a Massachusetts based addiction psychiatrist and also a Director at the Mass. Medical Society made comments trying to link the cause of the Boston Marathon Bombing to prolonged cannabis use and its withdrawals. He suggests that because Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a ‘stoner’ and had THC in his system at the time of the attack, that his clouded judgment and decision making could be blamed on that notion. Adelman advises that today’s elevated levels of THC when combined with a lack of parental supervision, radicalism and readily available internet bomb recipes will most certainly lead to terrorism. Dr. Adelman also warns doctors that cannabis has no medical value, its use will lead to addiction and the SSDI patients growing their own will divert their cannabis to the streets into the hands of our misguided youth. While the extreme ignorance of his statements sound like they were voiced from one person, the reality is that the same group endorsing Dr. Adelman has a network of 22,000 physicians and student members. This is a primary reason to stand up and take a role in cannabis reform and have your voice be heard. Folks like Dr. Adelman have taken their stance, and if his people win, then you lose.
Marijuana users searching for bigger highs may start injecting THC, doctor fears
By Michael Roberts blogs.westward.com
As a member of the Amendment 64 task force who is deeply troubled by the possible repercussions of legalizing marijuana, as well as a central figure in the national anti-pot organization Project SAM, Dr. Christian Thurstone is controversial in the marijuana community. But he hasn't backed away from warning about the dangers of weed, particularly for adolescent users.
His latest assertion? Users may soon start directly injecting THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, rather than smoking or ingesting marijuana.
"It seems like people are doing more and more to get a deeper high and presenting to us more and more addiction to marijuana," says Thurstone, whose main gig is as medical director of a Denver Health program called Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention (STEP). "I worry that might be a next step toward the injection of THC."
Thurstone shares this concern in "Higher and Higher, the latest blog on his personal website, DrThurstone.com. The offering revolves around elevated levels of THC found in urinalysis tests conducted on his patients, most of whom range in age from thirteen to nineteen.
The seeds of the study were planted long ago. According to Thurstone, "I started thinking about this in 2004, when Dr. Wilson Compton published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that the prevalence of marijuana use in the U.S. was staying the same, but the prevalence of cannabis use disorders -- marijuana addiction -- was going up significantly."
The phrase "marijuana addiction" is guaranteed to raise the hackles of many cannabis activists, who insist that the substance is not addictive. Thurstone disagrees.
"I don't think in the mainstream scientific world of addiction that there's debate any more that it's addictive," he maintains. "It works on the same part of the brain as all other addictive substances, and there's an animal model of marijuana addiction now. We know that it's not just psychologically addictive but physically addictive, and studies by Dr. Alan Budney at Dartmouth have characterized a physical addiction to marijuana. Marijuana withdrawal is clinically equivalent to tobacco withdrawal -- and anecdotally, in our experience, we see adolescents coming into treatment extremely addicted to marijuana. They're dropping out of life, giving up on school and families to pursue their marijuana addiction."
Moreover, Thurstone says he's seen addictions become more severe over time, and speculated that one reason might be marijuana's increasing potency.
"We know that there's been an increase from about 2 percent THC a couple of decades ago to more like 10 percent now," he continues. "And in Colorado, it's probably even higher than that."
Continue for more of our interview with Dr. Christian Thurstone about more potent marijuana and the prospect of injecting THC.
For Thurstone's patients at Denver Health, 95 percent of whom are referred for issues concerning marijuana, "we felt the urinalysis ratio had been increasing, too. So we looked at our data as far back as we could -- 2007 -- and analyzed it over time. And we noticed a significant increase in the urinalysis ratios when we analyzed that data pre- and post-2009 and 2010, which is when we had the big commercialization of marijuana."
This period involved the growth of the medical marijuana industry, and while only a handful of patients under the age of eighteen have received red cards allowing them to legally use the substance, Thurstone maintains that plenty of them have been doing so anyhow. "That's right about when our kids started using medical marijuana," he says. "And that's when we saw a big jump in the THC ratio" -- from an average of 358 nanograms per milliliter of urine to 536 nanograms.
Here's a graphic depicting the difference.
"You could make the argument that increased marijuana potency is a good thing," Thurstone acknowledges, "because that would mean people were smoking less of it -- exposing themselves to the same amount of THC, but exposing themselves to it via less smoke. But the data were analyzing for publication is showing no, our young patients are actually exposing themselves to more THC."
Because of what he says is "widespread diversion of medical marijuana to teens," the patients coming to him "have more severe marijuana dependence and more symptoms than teens not using medical marijuana. And it's also consistent with the whole idea that kids are using higher potency marijuana that's probably more addictive. Anecdotally, we're hearing about patients who start with cheap, low-grade marijuana before moving on to more potent marijuana, and then other ways of consuming it: waxing marijuana, dabbing marijuana and chasing a bigger and bigger high."
Such actions echo the behavior of those using other drugs, Thurstone allows. "People who start with pills may graduate to snorting or smoking heroin -- and then to heroin injection. It's just a way to get a more intense high, because anything that's injected tends to reach the brain pretty quickly."
That's why Thurstone concludes his "Higher and Higher" article with the following line: "It is reasonable now to question how much longer it will be before we see injection use of THC -- especially as marijuana is legalized."
Thus far, however, Thurstone admits that none of his patients have taken this step.
Continue for more of our interview with Dr. Christian Thurstone about more potent marijuana and the prospect of injecting THC.
"I have not seen it clinically," he says, "and I have not seen it described except in research studies, which say it's possible to have an injectable form of marijuana. I don't know exactly how to do the preparation, to be honest, and I don't know how the high would differ. I can only hypothesize."
By floating such possibilities, Thurstone has won the enmity of marijuana advocates like Russ Belville, aka Radical Russ, a talk-show host and media director for the National Cannabis Coalition. In an online response to "Higher and Higher," Belville accuses Thurstone of being a scaremonger and a profiteer. An excerpt from his take:
All you're finding is that the people forced into your business for violating prohibition are getting higher, not that getting higher forces people into your business. You know as well as I do...that for every one person who self-admits to rehab solely for marijuana, another four are forced there by the criminal justice system. Colorado went and added language to the constitution that is really bad for your bottom line.
To that, Thurstone says, "I work with adolescents and young adults, so for pretty much 99 percent of my patients, marijuana is sill illegal. Amendment 64 didn't really change anything in terms of their legal status."
Additionally, he says, "fewer than half of our referrals are court-referred. The majority are not. They come in voluntarily because of their addictions. And we've done a fair amount of research in which we've been able to offer free treatment to teenagers with substance-abuse problems. And when we offer it free, we've had no problems getting kids to come to treatment.
"The whole juvenile-justice-referral thing has a lot to do with the artifact of nobody wanting to pay for treatment. We wait for teenagers to fall into the hole of juvenile justice before we're willing to pay for their treatment. If we had good payment and reimbursement -- third-party payers for substance treatment -- more people would go on their own."
In the meantime, Thurstone says the number of clients he's seeing began growing substantially even before the passage of Amendment 64. "We've doubled our case load since September of 2012," he reveals, "and we're in the process of hiring another therapist to meet the demand."
He's not sure why the number of clients has climbed so quickly, but he's got some ideas. "Is it became more kids are using? Is it because more kids are getting addicted? Is it became more kids are using higher potency marijuana? Is it because there's less stigma about this and more people are willing to go to treatment? Is it because our name has gotten out there? Or is it a combination of all of the above? I can't really answer that, but I'd guess it's a combination of all those factors."
Whatever the case, he says the flood of patients means he and his staff are "all-hands-on-deck to try to meet the demand." And if people start injecting THC, he figures to be busier than ever.