Why the Term “Marijuana” Is Contentious in the U.S.
Culture - By. Zoe Wilder - 09/26/2016
Is “marijuana” a bad word? Some members of the United States legal cannabis movement think so and are pushing to end its use. Considering that over 50 world languages use the term to describe the magical nugs that so many people love to smoke, the etymological animosity may strike you as curious.
The debate stems from the country’s history of marijuana prohibition, with drug laws that display clear racial bias. Although the word marijuana predates the 1900s, use of it increased significantly in the 1930s, when elitist reporters, government officials, and narcotics officers alike employed the Latin-American Spanish word to associate it with “invading” and “perverted” Mexicans—and African-Americans, who would allegedly smoke marijuana, then rape, maim, and kill people. (Sound like any 2016 presidential and vice presidential candidatesyou know?)
“Harry Anslinger [the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics] was wildly successful at stigmatizing ‘marijuana’ as a foreign, negative, violent, and evil influence on our society through his smear campaign and propaganda efforts against cannabis in the 1930s,” says Frontera Group’s Jeffrey Welsh, a California attorney formerly of William Morris Endeavor who helps cannabis advocates and developing talent navigate the complexities of the cannabis industry.
Anslinger was a classic flip-flopping politico. Once a supporter of cannabis, he changed the game after his appointment as commissioner in 1930. Like the Bureau of Prohibition, the FBN operated under the U.S. Treasury Department. At that time, alcohol and drugs were considered revenue losses to the Treasury. As illegal substances, they could not be taxed.
Within a few years, Anslinger became an aggressive supporter of prohibition and the criminalization of drugs, and he played a crucial role in prohibiting cannabis. His propaganda machine began to promote fear and shame. His campaigns against marijuana use carried racist, elitist sentiments: “...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races” and “...most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use.”
Although racism is not unique to the United States, systemic racial oppression is the foundation upon which the country was built. And while words themselves won’t necessarily eradicate racism, popular perception can.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. However, we should use the scientific name for the plant instead of marijuana, pot, weed, and the like,” saysJesce Horton, co-founder and chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. “The alternate terms, whether racist or not, have connotations that have been used to place this plant in a negative or insignificant space.”
Using the scientific term cannabis is both a reproach of the racist roots and a means to remove the stigma and reclassify the plant in the minds of those who’ve been taught a negative association.
“If we’re going to elevate cannabis and bring it out of the darkness, out of something only a teenager does in their basement, then using the word cannabis keeps it scientific,” says cannabis cultivator and Farma budtender Taylor Rabe. “It’s more official and cannabis’ legitimacy becomes more approachable.”
On its website, Oakland’s Harborside Health Center echoes this etymological stance: “Language is important because it defines our ideas. Words have a power that transcends their formal meaning. When we change words, we can also change the thoughts that underlie them. By changing the words we use to describe cannabis and herbal medicine, we can help our fellow citizens understand the truth about it, and see through the decades of propaganda.”
Whether or not you continue to use the word marijuana, it’s difficult to deny its complexities and racial implications. It’s been an arduous journey since theReefer Madness days, from the War on Drugs to ending prohibition and legitimizing the plant in this country. It’s important that we bring these challenging topics to light to ensure progress. Meaningful dialogue can help turn cannabis adversaries into supporters, who, in-turn, could help reform our laws and perhaps restore peace and freedom to our unjust, racist, Drug War-torn nation.
Want to become a weed sommelier? There’s a school for that
Quartz - By. Chase Purdy - 09/15/2016
Red wine goes with steak. White wine is paired with chicken. So what strain of weed goes with fish?
Organizations such as the Trichome Institute are now offering courses to teach people how to answer that and other important weed-paring questions by better understanding the complexities of the marijuana plant. The the institute has trademarked a term for the skill: “interpening,” for interpreting marijuana terpenes, the organic in the plant’s essential oils.
Already Philip Wolf, the founder of Cultivating Spirits, a restaurant in Silverthorne, Colorado, is incorporating knowledge gained from two courses he took at the institute into his gourmet meals, according to Bloomberg. While Wolf said he doesn’t expect weed to replace wine at the dinner table, he told Bloomberg he wouldn’t be surprised if it bit into the sales of hard liquor—something the alcohol industry has beennervous about for months.
Wolf offers two tailored marijuana dining experiences that range from $125 to $249 per person. Included in the least expensive deal: being chauffeured in a limo from your home to various dispensaries and eateries, with between-course cannabis tastings.
Italian Law Enforcement Join Push for Cannabis Legalization
Leafly - Enrico Fletzer - 09/7/2016
Italian law enforcement groups are throwing their weight behind a parliamentary bill to legalize cannabis in the country, building momentum for the effort to create Europe’s first fully legal adult-use market. Both the national anti-Mafia agency and the country’s police union have come out in favor of the proposal, which is set for further debate in the Italian parliament later this month.
If it passes, the bill would allow Italians to grow up to five cannabis plants, keep up to 15 grams of dried flower at home, and carry up to five grams with them. Cannabis would be sold in state-licensed stores, while non-commercial cannabis social clubs would allow up to 50 members to swap and share the cannabis they grow. The proposal has sparked an unprecedented public debate on the Italian peninsula, with various experts, politicians, and members of the law enforcement community taking an array of positions.
Italy’s bill has progressed further than any current legalization effort in Europe. A similar bill was introduced into parliament in Germany last year, but it has stagnated as lawmakers there focus instead on a bill to create a robust medical cannabis market.
The most recent endorsement for the Italian bill came last month from the largest and most influential police workers’ union, SIULP. The group’s general secretary, Felice Romano, expressed his support for the proposal in no uncertain terms.
“These are substances that today are used for therapeutic purposes, and cannabis is cultivated by the Italian army,” he said. “If cannabis were sold through a legal framework, it would be less dangerous and would not contain chemical pollutants and additives that do more damage than the active ingredients.”
Support from Italian police bolsters the pro-legalization stance ofDirezione Nazionale Antimafia, (DNA) the country’s anti-Mafia agency, which has taken a firm stance against prohibition. In April, Franco Roberti, Italy’s top prosecutor and head of the DNA, said decriminalizing cannabis would strike a blow to Islamic State militants and Italian mobsters alike, as the two entities have teamed up to smuggle hash into Italy. The interview made headlines around the world.
The Biggest Legislative Marijuana Policy Reforms Of 2016
The Huffington Post - By. Rob Kampia - 08/10/2016
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.
This year has also seen improvements to several existing medical marijuana programs. Colorado adopted “Jack’s Law,” which provides protections for medical marijuana patients who attend public schools. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont expanded the lists of medical conditions for which patients can qualify to use medical marijuana. Vermont also enacted a law that reduces the required time for a patient-provider relationship from six to three months, allows marijuana to be transferred to research institutions, and requires labeling and child-resistant packaging for edibles sold at dispensaries. Oregonincreased access to medical marijuana for veterans who receive assistance from the VA program. In Illinois, Gov. Rauner signed a bill to extend and expand the state’s pilot medical marijuana program, and in Maryland, lawmakers enacted a law allowing nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives to recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
Florida enacted a law allowing terminally ill patients to use any form of medical marijuana. However, this law does not affect Florida’s flawed low-THC medical marijuana law for non-terminal patients. It also contains a major flaw in that it requires physicians to acquire medical marijuana for terminal patients, exposing the physicians to potential criminal sanctions and/or loss of licensure.
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
In states where marijuana is legal for adults, legislators and regulators made notable improvements and progress toward full implementation.
In Colorado, lawmakers passed a bill to allow out-of-state ownership of marijuana businesses and increased the amount of marijuana that non-residents may purchase at retail establishments. Colorado also increased local control of testing laboratories and created a new business category for businesses that transport marijuana. And in Washington State, a number of bills were passed to streamline practices in the marijuana industry and make it easier to apply for research licenses.
Alaska regulators began licensing marijuana cultivators and expect to begin issuing retail licenses soon. Oregon is in the process of licensing adult-use marijuana retailers while currently allowing any adult to purchase marijuana from existing medical dispensaries; Oregon also passed comprehensive regulations that, among many other things, increase cooperation between the medical and adult retail programs, exempt patients from being taxed, allow out-of-state investment in marijuana businesses, and protect financial institutions from prosecution under state law for doing business with the marijuana industry.
In addition to this progress, Vermont came close to becoming the first state to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older through a legislature; a comprehensive bill passed in the state Senate but stalled in the House. Rhode Island is close behind Vermont, with both states expected to enact legalization laws during their 2017 legislative sessions.
Looking forward to November 8, voters in as many as 10 states will be voting on marijuana ballot measures. Specifically, medical marijuana initiatives have already qualified for the ballot in Arkansas and Florida, and Missouri and North Dakotacould also be in play. As for regulating marijuana like alcohol, such ballot initiatives have qualified for the ballot in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, withArizona soon to follow. Finally, a tenth state, Montana, will be voting to improve its existing medical marijuana law.
This year is already the most important year in the history of the movement to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.
by Evan Halper
When Congress effectively lifted the federal ban on medical marijuana a year ago, Californians drove the landmark change, which was tucked into a sprawling spending package by a liberal lawmaker from the Monterey peninsula and his conservative colleague from Orange County.
A year later, marijuana legalization advocates are conflicted over how big a victory the congressional vote, which was repeated this month, has turned out to be.
“The number of raids has dropped substantially, though not completely,” across the country, said Mike Liszewski, government affairs director for Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group. A federal court ruling this fall, if it is upheld, would limit federal agents from targeting all but operations that are clearly flouting state law, he noted.
But in California, in particular, federal prosecutors continue to pursue cases, in large part because of flaws in the existing state medical marijuana law, which all sides agree is long overdue for an overhaul. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed three measures to clarify the state law, but those won’t take effect until 2018.
So for now, the state that was America’s birthplace for legal medical pot remains at the center of legal disputes as federal prosecutors struggle to navigate a murky landscape in which the line between healers and drug dealers is not always clear.
The two members of Congress who championed the new approach say prosecutors are not following Congress’ intent.
“The will of the people is clear: The majority of the states have enacted medical marijuana laws, Congress has voted twice now to protect those patients, and a federal judge has upheld” the measure, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) wrote in an email. “How many times does the Justice Department need to be told to back off before it finally sinks in?”
Officials from the Justice Department declined comment, citing continued litigation.
Congress has put the department in a pickle, however. Federal law still classifies marijuana in the most dangerous category of narcotics, alongside heroin and LSD, substances which the law declares to be lacking any accepted medical use. Congress has declined to change that even as it has approved the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, as the provision has come to be known.
The city of Oakland is invoking that amendment in demanding federal prosecutors drop their bid to seize marijuana and other assets from Harborside Health Center, the nation’s largest dispensary, which has generated a tax windfall for the cash-strapped city.
Across San Francisco Bay, in Marin County, local officials cheered when a federal judge declared in October that the continued prosecution of a dispensary was an affront to the new law – only to learn on Friday that prosecutors plan to continue the fight through an appeal.
Complicating matters are the several states that now permit the sale of marijuana for recreational use. The Obama administration has opted to allow that experiment to continue unabated. So operations in California, like Harborside, that target patients seeking the drug to treat ailments can still be prosecuted while shops in Denver that unabashedly cater to college students on weekend binges operate freely.
Over the summer, Farr and Rohrabacher accused the Justice Department of illegally misappropriating federal money to continue those prosecutions, calling on its inspector general to launch an investigation. The department has yet to respond.
Federal officials have argued in court that their prosecutions don’t violate the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment because the occasional bust doesn’t impede the state from allowing the use of medical marijuana. After the judge in the Marin County case rejected that argument as “tortured,” prosecutors are left with the argument that the sales in question are not clearly in compliance with California law, which was written very broadly.
“The early medical marijuana laws were Trojan horses designed to allow effective legalization for anyone who could fake an ache,” said Jonathan Caulkins, a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “California is in that category.”
Even in the case of Harborside, which state and local officials often hold up as a gold standard for the medical marijuana business, California's loose rules about who is permitted to buy medical pot have left the operations a natural target for prosecutors, Caulkins said.
“Harborside is gigantic, and the Justice Department thinks it is not providing marijuana just for kids with epilepsy or people with cancer or people with HIV,” Caulkins said.
States that have more recently adopted medical marijuana provisions are not seeing their legitimate medical marijuana businesses targeted because they serve a much narrower group of clients, he said.
But the Justice Department's continued pursuit of Harborside is riling officials in Oakland. The business pays the city about $1.4 million annually in taxes, or as Oakland put it in one court filing, enough to pay the salaries of a dozen police officers or firefighters.
Advocates are hopeful that it will only be a matter of time before the prosecutions subside. California is among several states poised to decide next year whether to legalize pot for any adult who chooses to purchase it, whether to treat an illness or to just get high. If the state adopts rules to regulate a legalized market that satisfy the Justice Department – as Colorado and Washington state have done – prosecutors will probably move on to other business.
“I’ve seen no evidence the department is going after anybody doing recreational sales in Washington or Colorado,” said Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University. “Whatever the law is in a given state, prosecutors have decided it is not worth their time or energy to go after folks who are in compliance with it.”
But until California clarifies its law – either through an initiative or the new measures Brown signed this year – prosecutors will be reluctant to look to cities like Oakland for guidance on what pot businesses should and should not be permitted to do.
"They worry that the minute they show deference to some city officials in Oakland, someone will come out of the woodwork in Detroit who says, 'I have a city councilman who says you should leave me alone,'" Berman said. “The feds are concerned not only with how these rules play out in this case, but the next case and the next case.”
VIA LA Times
Hillary Clinton Leaves Door Open On Marijuana Legalization
Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she supports medical marijuana "for people who are in extreme medical conditions" and wants to "wait and see" how recreational pot works in Colorado and Washington state.
In an interview with CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpourpromoting her memoir Hard Choices, Clinton suggested she may be open to marijuana policy reform.
Clinton, a former secretary of state and potential Democratic candidate for president in 2016, responded to Amanpour's question about marijuana legalization first with her thoughts on medical cannabis.
"There are younger people here who could help me understand this and answer it," Clinton began. "At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don't think we've done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances. But I do think we need more research because we don't know how it interacts with other drugs."
Clinton also sounded supportive of new Colorado and Washington laws that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults.
"On recreational, states are the laboratories of democracy," Clinton said. "We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is."
As for trying marijuana herself, Clinton said she'll continue to abstain.
"Absolutely not," she said. "I didn't do it when I was young, I'm not going to start now."
Although Clinton didn't fully embrace legalization for medical or recreational cannabis, her statements on CNN were a departure from her previous public comments.
In 2012, Clinton said she wasn't convinced that U.S. drug legalization would end the cartel violence ravaging Central America.
"I respect those in the region who believe strongly that [U.S. legalization] would end the problem," Clinton said then, as reported by Politico. "I am not convinced of that, speaking personally."
At the time, Clinton also commented on the passage of the recreational marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.
"We are formulating our own response to the votes of two of our states as you know -- what that means for the federal system, the federal laws and law enforcement," she said.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton said, "I don't think we should decriminalize, but we ought to do research into what, if any medical benefits it has."
Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Still, federal law continues to ban the plant, classifying it as a Schedule I substance "no currently accepted medical use."
Rand Paul: I don't promote marijuana
Won't confirm or deny his own personal use. Sounds like a candidate to me. -UA
Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday that President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush could have "conceivably been put in jail” for their drug use, ruining their lives and impacting their getting elected to office.
"Look, the last two presidents could have conceivably been put in jail for their drug use and I really think - look what would've happened, it would've ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky and they don't have good attorneys and they go to jail for some of these things and I think it's a big mistake,” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox’s “Fox News Sunday.”
"Actually, I think it would be the last three presidents, but who's counting?" host Chris Wallace said with a laugh, referring to former President Bill Clinton.
"There you go," Paul said.
"But he didn't inhale," Wallace quipped.
Paul said that he doesn’t support people using marijuana but said he also doesn’t necessarily support putting them in jail for extended periods of time.
"There are people in jail for 37, 50, 45 years for nonviolent crimes and that's a huge mistake," Paul said. "Our prisons are full of non-violent criminals. I don't want to encourage people to do it. I think even marijuana is a bad thing to do. I think it takes away your incentive to work and show up and do the things that you should be doing. I don't think that it's a good idea."
“I don't want to promote that but I also don't want to put people in jail who make a mistake," he added. "There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married and they quit doing things like this. I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives."