Releaf Magazine

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION PLAN: Cincinnati developer to be Toledo site’s primary owner

David Bastos of Capital Investment Group would own the North Toledo marijuana operation. - CINCINNATI ENQUIRER

By Tom Troy

A Cincinnati property developer would be the primary owner of a Toledo marijuana growing facility — and the employer of up to 300 people — if Ohio voters approve a proposed marijuana legalization amendment, the campaign said on Tuesday.

David Bastos, 36, a partner with Capital Investment Group Inc., is the lead investor in the firm that would operate an indoor “grow” facility at 6070 Hagman Rd. in North Toledo.

The 28.5-acre site, now a corn field near a privately owned landfill, would be one of 10 marijuana facilities licensed in the state under an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, if the question gets to the ballot and if voters approve the amendment in the Nov. 3 election.

The Toledo site, north of Alexis Road, is owned by James and Bettie Bournes of Temperance, with Mrs. Bournes listed as trustee with the Lucas County auditor.

All 10 locations, which would grow marijuana and sell it to manufacturers, medical dispensaries, and marijuana retailers, are identified by parcel number in the proposed amendment.

Mr. Bastos did not return a message left at his business Tuesday, but ResponsibleOhio provided a statement from him.

“I’m deeply troubled by the far-ranging consequences of our state’s failed marijuana prohibition,” Mr. Bastos said. “I grew up outside Washington, D.C., and saw firsthand the inequalities associated with marijuana enforcement in a very diverse city. Now I’ve moved my family to Ohio and built a business here, and I know that our state will benefit immensely from marijuana reform.”

He also said Ohio needs the jobs, and local governments need the tax revenue. “It’s a no-brainer, and I’m proud to be part of this effort,” he said.

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the group promoting the marijuana amendment, said his organization talked to potential investors in Toledo, among the “hundreds” that they spoke to over the last 16 months, but found no one locally able to take on the personal and business risks

“There is a chance you could go to federal prison. That is a deterrent,” Mr. James said. Marijuana possession and trafficking is illegal under federal law. However, in 2013 the Department of Justice issued a memo saying it would not prosecute cases in states with a regulated marijuana industry. Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana use, and four states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational marijuana use.

In addition, banks cannot hold money generated by pot producers or loan money for a marijuana operation, he said. In addition, investors cannot deduct from their taxes the businesses costs related to marijuana. Mr. James said employees would have all the usual benefits and payroll deductions, but the business will make those payments in cash, as done in other states with legalized marijuana.

Mr. Bastos’ firm and its affiliate entities own and manage more than 1,200 multifamily housing units and approximately 40,000 square feet of neighborhood shopping centers, according to its website. Mr. Bastos last week was appointed by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley to the Cincinnati Arts Association.

ResponsibleOhio has said that each of the 10 investment groups will spend up to $30 million developing its site and will employ up to 300 people. Salaries are expected to average $25 per hour and be at what the group calls a “living wage,” and the employer will allow union representation if a majority of employees sign a card, Mr. James said.

Employees grow and tend the plants, harvest and package marijuana, and run the business and financial operations. Some job titles would be seed harvester, grower, trimmer, and concentrate processor.

Mr. James said job fairs and seminars would be organized to promote opportunities running retail businesses and testing and manufacturing facilities.

Mr. James said, “David Bastos has immense business and philanthropic experience. He will be a vital asset to our campaign, and I’m thankful to have his support.”

Jonathan Allison, a Columbus lawyer representing the Drug Free Action Alliance, questioned Mr. Bastos’ motivation.

“It’s no surprise that ResponsibleOhio would find a successful businessperson to run their Toledo cartel,” he said. “If he didn’t have a constitutionally guaranteed return on investment, would he care so much about this issue?”

Advocates for the amendment have said that the owners of the 10 growing operations would face normal business risks because they would have to compete with each other and could lose their license if the operations are not managed lawfully.

Mr. Allison said an opposition campaign is coming together, including “significant representation” from the business and law enforcement community, though he said they would not likely be able to compete with the $36 million projected to be spent by the ResponsibleOhio campaign.

In the last 10 years, CIG has focused on urban developments in the Cincinnati area, according to ResponsibleOhio. Mr. Bastos has supported Make-a-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, the Special Olympics of Ohio, the Cincinnati Museum of Art, and ProKids.

Mr. James said Mr. Bastos will come to Toledo to meet with government and community representatives. He has not ruled out taking on local investors.

“There may well be a local investor coming forward. That is something David is speaking to people about to see if there is an interest,” Mr. James said.

ResponsibleOhio of Columbus is trying to collect more than 305,000 signatures from registered voters needed to place its marijuana question on the ballot. The amendment would allow people 21 and older to possess and use marijuana for recreation. Anyone would be able to use medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor. People would be allowed to grow up to four plants.

Each of the 10 investor groups has committed $4 million to the campaign to pass the amendment. ResponsibleOhio has not identified the owners of all the sites.


VIA Toledo Blade

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Poll: 61 Percent Of Americans Want Marijuana Legalization, Smashing Previous Records

A new poll has found that 61 percent of American voters agree with legalizing recreational marijuana, shattering previous records. The poll was released by the Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), while the old record of 58 percent supporting was done by Gallup in 2013.

Republicans still haven’t crossed the halfway point. According to the BSG survey, 48 percent agree with legalization, while 52 percent still oppose. A slightly wider gap exists for conservatives, with 45 percent supporting legalization and 55 percent opposing.

A total of 72 percent of voters think that jail time for marijuana possession doesn’t make sense. Instead, these voters believe that the punishment should be reduced down to as low as $25 dollars and as high as $100 dollars. Although Republicans are traditionally opposed to marijuana legalization, this is a measure they’re friendlier towards, as 68 percent agree with the proposal. Of conservatives, 63 percent agree with reduced penalties.

BSG relied on a sample size of 1,032 registered voters to create a nationally representative survey. The survey was conducted from Feb. 26 to 27. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 points, meaning that results could actually be as high as 64.5 or 57.5. The latter, 57.5, is is 0.5 lower than that previous peak results recorded by the Gallup poll in 2013.

Republican voters have previously been blamed for legalization failing to pass in Florida. Amendment 2 needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, and exit polling established that Republicans and conservatives stopped the measure in its tracks.

In Florida, exactly 60 percent of Republicans opposed legalization, and 63 percent of conservatives also opposed the measure. Voters over the age of 65 also opposed Amendment 2, with 62 percent voting “no,” and only 38 percent voting in support.

In early March, the General Social Survey, an authoritative study of public opinion, determined that 52 percent of American support marijuana legalization– up 9 points since 2012.

The General Social Survey confirmed previously results from a Pew survey in October 2014, which found essentially the same rate of support, at 52 percent.



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Survey: A majority of Americans favor pot legalization

Justin Hartfield co-founded a business whose future depends on the expansion of legalized marijuana. His company, Weedmaps, is a web site that lists legal places to buy pot. (Photo: handout)

DENVER — A new national study says that for the first time it has found the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, adding new weight to efforts to legalize pot across the country.

Voters in four states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, along with Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana possession and use, and legalization advocates have their sights set on Vermont and Rhode Island this year.

Californians next year are widely expected to decide whether to legalize recreational pot, expanding the state's large medical marijuana marketplace.

The new General Social Survey says its poll taken last year revealed that 51.7% of Americans thought marijuana should be legalized, with 41.7% opposed and 6.6% undecided. In 2012, the last time the same question was asked, just 43.3% of Americans supported legalization, according to GSS authors at the National Opinion Research Center, who have been conducting surveys since 1941.

"It's a classic tipping point, where we have the majority of Americans supporting it," said Tom W. Smith, the director of the GSS, and a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago. "While there's people still opposed to it, there have not been horror stories about Colorado falling apart. Even those who don't want to take a toke themselves don't see it as a gateway drug and reefer madness. There are fewer people buying into that."

In a statement, the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project said the survey reflects Americans' acknowledgement that marijuana has been safely used for decades despite being illegal. Legalization advocates say states and the federal government should stop prosecuting marijuana users and instead focus their attention on more harmful substances.

"Marijuana has been a relatively prominent part of American culture for decades, and that's never going to change," said Morgan Fox, spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project. "Either we continue to force it into the underground market or we start regulating it and treating it like other products that are legal for adults. Federal and state officials who are clinging to marijuana prohibition need to get over it and allow society to move forward."

Legalization skeptics say the national support for marijuana obscures the reality that many local voters oppose having pot shops in their neighborhoods.

Kevin Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which was co-founded by former congressman Patrick Kennedy, said there's a difference between perception and reality when it comes to marijuana. In Colorado, for instance, even though there are more than 300 licensed marijuana stores, some of the state's biggest cities, including Colorado Springs and Golden, have barred retail pot sales.

"It's tough for teachers, social workers, and scientists to get their message out in the face of Big Pot's PR machine — which is able to promise tax revenue and an end to cartel violence," Sabet said via e-mail. "There continues to be a wide gap between what science knows and what the public perceives about marijuana. And the last time I checked, scientists were pretty bad at publicizing their findings.

"Though advocates won in three states last November, they lost in 26 out of 31 localities that were voting on whether or not to allow pot shops in their neighborhood. That tells me that legalization in theory gets more support than legalization in practice. And the irony is that the more Big Marijuana tries to lean in on communities, I think the more likely it is we will see a backlash. That may take some time, but we are in it for the long haul."



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Marijuana Legalization: President Obama Says More States Will Move To Legalize, Federal Government Won’t Stand In The Way

Marijuana legalization efforts got a giant boost this week when President Barack Obama said he expects more states to move toward legalization, and he won’t have the federal government stand in the way.

In an interview with YouTube personalities, Obama indicated that though marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance by the federal government, he doesn’t have much intention to stop states from legalizing it.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said.

“My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Nationwide, attitudes toward marijuana legalization have been gradually shifting. A poll late last year found that 51 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalization, part of a long-term trend toward support. When Gallup polled Americans in 1969, just 12 percent of adults were in favor of legalizing marijuana. That grew to 28 percent in the 1970s, and 34 percent in 2003.

More Americans don’t want to see drug users prosecuted. A father, recently arrested for giving medicinal marijuana oil to his cancer-stricken daughter, found widespread support, with 130,000 people signing a petition asking that charges be dropped.

Obama also added that federal drug policy would be shifting toward ending the so-called War on Drugs and focusing on treating it instead as a public health issue. Obama added that he has bipartisan support on the issue.

“What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders.”

“Because I think you’re right, what we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused say with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. And I think that it’s been counterproductive and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law and that has to be changed.”

President Obama’s prediction on marijuana legalization has already come true, in large part. There are now 23 states in which marijuana is at least partly legal.

VIA Inquisitr

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As marijuana attitudes shift, this may be a year of legalization

California and four other states may put initiatives on the ballot in November. A recent poll shows a clear majority of Americans supports legalizing pot.
On today's The Roundup, Trish Regan, Adam Johnson, Matt Miller and Jeffrey Hayzlett wrap up the day's top market stories on Bloomberg Television's  Street Smart.Â

By Maria L. La Ganga 

SEATTLE — The new year is shaping up to be one of the marijuana movement's strongest ever.

The first legal pot storefronts in America opened to long lines in Colorado 20 days ago. Washington state is poised to issue licenses for producing, processing and selling the Schedule I drug — once officials sift through about 7,000 applications.

Signature gatherers have been at work in at least five states, including California, to put marijuana measures on the ballot in 2014. On Wednesday, organizers announced they had gathered more than 1 million signatures in favor of putting a medical marijuana measure before voters in Florida, a high-population bellwether that could become the first Southern state to embrace pot.

"Florida looks like the country as a whole," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the Sunshine State's effort. "If Florida does this, it is a big deal for medical marijuana across the country."

Just three months ago, a clear majority of Americans for the first time said the drug should be legalized — 58% of those surveyed, which represents a 10-percentage-point jump in just one year, according to Gallup. Such acceptance is almost five times what Gallup found when public opinion polling on marijuana began in 1969.

And last month in California, where the legalization measure Proposition 19 went down to defeat in 2010, the Field Poll reported what it called its first clear majority in favor of legalizing pot — 55% of those polled, compared with 13% in 1969.

"What has happened now is we have reached the national tipping point on marijuana reform," said Stephen Gutwillig, deputy executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group. "Marijuana legalization has gone from an abstract concept to a mainstream issue to a political reality within a three-year period."

The Obama administration said last year it would not interfere in states that allowed commercial marijuana sales — as long as they were strictly regulated. But pot remains illegal under federal law, and messages from on high are mixed.

On Wednesday, the chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, James L. Capra, told a Senate panel, "Going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible."

But in a lengthy New Yorker interview published Sunday, President Obama said of legalization in Washington and Colorado: "It's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished."

Obama said of marijuana, "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

The big question, of course, is why attitudes toward marijuana are shifting now. And the answer, according to pollsters and drug policy experts, is a complicated stew of demographics, personal experience, electoral success and the failure of existing drug policy.

To Alison Holcomb, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who wrote the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state, the "enormous jump" in approval of legalization in just a year does not reflect "changes in attitudes about marijuana specifically. Rather, it's a change in attitudes about whether it's OK to support marijuana law reform."

In other words, Americans don't necessarily like pot more than they used to. The percentage of those who have actually tried it has stayed in the 30% range for three decades. Rather, Americans are simply fed up with criminal penalties they say are neither cost-effective nor just.

Those looking for evidence of marijuana's momentum need look only to Jan. 8.

That's the day recreational pot supporters delivered about 46,000 signatures to election officials in Alaska — 50% more than required — putting a measure on legalization one step closer to a vote in the largely Republican state.

That same afternoon in deeply Democratic New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a former prosecutor with a history of opposing the drug, announced a modest medical marijuana pilot project.

"Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage the pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," an uncomfortable looking Cuomo said, giving the subject 27 seconds in a nearly 90-minute State of the State address.

As Cuomo noted, an increasing number of states have enacted medical marijuana laws. California was the first in 1996, followed by 20 others and the District of Columbia.

The embrace of medical marijuana to ease ills including Alzheimer's disease and seizures is one reason that support for marijuana has continued to grow. Just listen to the Pepper family.

The drugs that Riverside lawyer Letitia Pepper, 59, took to slow the progression of her multiple sclerosis caused side effects worse than the disease itself, with its numbness, loss of dexterity and temporary loss of vision.

The only relief, Pepper said, came when she began using marijuana in 2007. Today she is gathering signatures to get the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014 on the ballot.

She had grown up, she said, as "a good girl. My homework was done. I knew marijuana was illegal." She tried it once when she was 25, didn't like it and left it behind. Until she needed it to help her function.

Pepper's improvement wasn't lost on her mother, Lorraine, 85, of Oceanside. Two years ago, the retired home economics teacher had surgery to repair a hiatal hernia; her stomach had migrated through the hole in her diaphragm into her chest cavity.

"Since that time, my brain hasn't worked like it used to, and my body hasn't either," said the elder Pepper, who opposed marijuana until her daughter began using it. She takes it as well, in a nonintoxicating liquid form. "Anything that will help, I will try. I don't think I sense a great improvement, but I have gradually gotten better."

Although people 65 and older are the only age group that pollsters say still opposes legalization, their support for the drug has also jumped more in recent years than that of any other age group. Between 2011 and 2013, Gallup found that the percentage of older Americans in favor of legalization rose 14 percentage points — more than double any other group surveyed.

Graham Boyd, who has worked on marijuana legalization efforts nationwide, agrees that "the big movement is among older and more conservative voters." But Boyd said internal polling showed that new converts to marijuana support "don't particularly like marijuana, don't have much experience in using marijuana and aren't deeply attached to the position."

This is not, he said, "a hooray-for-marijuana vote. It's a vote that what we are doing now is not working."

Boyd was counsel for the late philanthropist Peter Lewis, who commissioned a long-term, in-depth research project after the defeat of California's Proposition 19 to understand the "landslide retreat from marijuana support."

That effort, Boyd said, revealed that "instead of talking about the virtues of marijuana, we need to talk about the better approach of control through regulation." Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, who spearheaded Lewis' research project, said that message connected with voters in Washington state and Colorado.

Once voters approved legalization in Washington and Colorado in 2012, public opinion began to change dramatically — enough so that marijuana advocates have high hopes for 2014 and 2016.

"The ice-breaking effect of Washington and Colorado allowed more people to say [legalization] might be an option," said the ACLU's Holcomb. "If Oregon and Alaska go [for legalization] it will be very big. … And I'm holding out hope for California. If California goes in 2014, that's going to be huge."


Via LA Times

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Marijuana Legalization: The Republican Argument For Doing It

by Ryan Schuette

marijuana, legalization:, the, republican, argument, for, doing, it,

Marijuana Legalization: The Republican Argument For Doing It
© Associated Press

“Children are growing up with a total lack of respect for the Constitution and for the law," Pauline Sabin, the first woman to sit on the Republican National Committee, said in regard to prohibition in 1932. "The young see the law broken at home and upon the street," she added. "Can we expect them to be lawful?”

Sabin was the founder of the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform that helped legalize the sale of alcohol. She graced the cover of Time magazine in 1932 for inspiring the movement to overturn the disastrous eighteenth amendment that helped finance Depression-era lawlessness.

Republicans could take a page from her playbook on the issue of marijuana prohibition today. With non-violent arrests occurring every 36 seconds, overcrowding our prisons, and depleting billions of dollars from our federal and state coffers every year, we — all Americans — should consider prohibition repeal as critical to the state of our nation as debt reduction and healthcare reform.

Doubt me? If I can change my mind, so can you. In 2009, I helped manage a Republican primary campaign in my congressional district to oust Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), my congressman. One newsletter that I signed as campaign director called weed a “troubling substance” and any measure to normalize it a “blatant disregard” for our district’s values.

My position was pretty standard. Bush speechwriter David Frum, notable for styling himself right-of-center on issues like gun violence, recently echoed the same rhetoric in an op-ed for CNN, warning of the rise of “Big Marijuana” and calling any medicinal use a “laughable fiction.”

Here's the thing: Sabin was right, Frum is wrong, and I was once as wrong as my pro-temperance great-grandmother. We need Big Marijuana. Republicans owe it to their party as much as our Constitution and nation to help decriminalize, legalize, tax, and regulate it as soon as possible.

The benefits far outweigh fears about gateway addiction and moral decline as dated as those of the Temperance Movement.


1. Pot would create jobs and help prevent Detroit-style bankruptcies

With $20 billion in debt, Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for Chapter 11 protection in July. The Michigan metropolis joined a list of seven other cities to declare bankruptcy after years of crippling debt and financial crisis.

Though far from a magic bullet, studies show that marijuana legalization could help cash-strapped states and cities solider through ongoing budget shortfalls. One by the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank, suggested in 2010 that legalization could generate as much as $8.7 billion in annual revenue for federal and state coffers. A prominent tax blog compiled data from different sources last year to show that legalizing marijuana could help nine states slash their deficits by double-digit percentages.

A newly legal pot industry — as well-regulated as businesses licensed to sell alcohol or tobacco — could spur a wave of new jobs and start-ups needed to stimulate the economy. The pro-legalization organization NORML cites a 1994 study on its website that used job data from Amsterdam to suggest that business spin-offs like coffeehouses, gardening tools, and more could create more than 60,000 retailers and 100,000 careers.

Colorado offers a working example in real-time, with the amendment that passed last year expected to supply roughly $100 million in projected annual tax revenue and savings for the state, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Those dollars will come from a combined $23.2 million in state and local sales taxes as well as from 372 new jobs created as a result of the amendment, with those numbers set to double over the next four years.

Pot legalization offers a clear advantage to struggling states and cities, and we could use the tax revenue to decrease the chances that other cities will end up like Detroit.

2. We could unplug overcrowded prisons and save tax dollars
marijuana, legalization:, the, republican, argument, for, doing, it,

Via: AP

According to Cato, we lose $17.4 billion in taxpayer funds every year to arrests for non-violent drug crimes like sale and possession. The Marijuana Policy Project counted 872,720 pot-related arrests in the United States in 2007 alone.

As the Pew Research Center reports, this surplus of drug-related offenders helped create a U.S. prison system that is near capacity, in crisis, and expensive. Citing more than $80 billion we spent on our prisons in 2010 — with 47 percent of inmates in jail for drug-related offenses — Attorney General Eric Holder justly called overcrowding “ineffective and unsustainable” in recent remarks before the American Bar Association that he used to propose alternatives.

Those numbers fail to capture the true human toll for low-level offenders that serve time and leave with stigmas on their records, unable to find work and more susceptible to falling back on drug sales to make ends meet.

Lawmakers could help apprehend the crisis by legalizing the shrub responsible for overpopulating our prisons and making it easier for courts to seal records for those convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes. Maybe the land of the free could then ditch its sadly ironic reputation as the country with the highest incarceration in the world, and the Population Reference Bureau could confer the heavyweight title on Russia.

3. Legalization could help starve violent cartels at home and abroad
marijuana, legalization:, the, republican, argument, for, doing, it,

Via: AP

Pot prohibition is big business — especially for the ultra-violent cartels that regularly threaten, kidnap, and kill journalists, public officials, bloggers, and ordinary citizens in Mexico and U.S. border towns. Bringing a black-market industry into the real economy would take away a cash crop that drug traffickers peddle to finance a generational war.

As the Washington Post reports, studies estimated that the ballot initiatives and votes in Colorado and Washington alone would sap approximately $2.8 billion in combined business away from Mexican cartels, resulting in 20 to 30 percent less annual revenue for people who truly menace our countries.

To be fair, there are critics who question how much damage legalization would do to cartels. That same story cited a Rand Corp. study that held that legalization in California would only squeeze revenue for cartels by only 2 to 4 percent, potentially limiting the adverse impact from legalization in the Centennial and Evergreen states.

Retired Air Force Captain Sylvia Longmore, author of Border Insecurity, rightly argued in a New York Times column published in 2011 that cartels draw their revenue from several sources including harder drugs like meth and cocaine, and even kidnappings.

Still — with the Post pegging the drug war as responsible for anywhere between 60,000 to 100,000 deaths just from 2006 to 2012 — is any business we take from cartels too small or insignificant?

4. We could ease suffering for those who live with chronic illnesses
marijuana, legalization:, the, republican, argument, for, doing, it,

Via: AP

CNN recently ran opposing op-eds about marijuana legalization. The first belonged to Sanjay Gupta, the news network’s chief medical correspondent, who publicly apologized for his earlier assertion that weed is a dangerous gateway drug. He reported making his 180-degree turn after meeting with chronically ill patients who'd seen measurable improvements on the drug.

Frum wrote the second, a counteroffensive that offered few insights and no new medical information.

What do others say? The Drug Enforcement Agency currently lists marijuana alongside addictive substances like heroin, as a Schedule I drug.

According to one recent survey, however, 76 percent of doctors worldwide would actually sign off on marijuana for medicinal use. The authors who published their work in the New England Journal of Medicine surveyed nearly 1500 accredited physicians from 72 different countries and 56 North American states and provinces, and found that respondents would recommend it to a hypothetical woman suffering from breast cancer.

NORML bullets any number of illnesses that marijuana could treat on its website. These include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia, HIV, hypertension, and more. As Gupta points out in his article, regulations hamstring medical researchers who need access to marijuana samples, limiting their ability to disprove more than 60 years of slanted clinical studies.

Pot legalization is overdue, and Republicans have everything to gain from associating their “R” on the ballot with Sabin’s rationale for repeal.



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Massachusetts MMJ regulations; Less than ReaLisTic…

Proposed MA DPH regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers

Posted by via

To:          Massachusetts Department of Public Health

From:     Andy Gaus

Re:         Proposed regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers

Thank you for providing this forum to comment on the proposed DPH regulations on medical marijuana.

Two provisions in particular appear to make it virtually impossible for caregivers to provide the marijuana patients need while dispensaries are slowly organizing themselves:

1) Each caregiver must provide marijuana for only one patient.

2) The caregiver is not supposed to receive any compensation whatever from the patient for providing the marijuana.

Put these two provisions together, and very few people can practically step forward and become caregivers.

Bear in mind that growing marijuana indoors requires investing several hundred dollars in equipment to get started, paying high electrical bills in the ensuing months as well as ongoing costs for soil and fertilizer, and putting in hours of very real physical labor. If a patient grows for herself, these costs are repaid by the marijuana harvested and the relief it brings. But if a patient cannot grow for herself, the very considerable costs and burdens of producing the marijuana fall totally on the caregiver, with all compensation prohibited.  This isn't just unfair: it has the practical effect of making it virtually impossible to be a caregiver, which means no one can help the person who cannot grow for herself. If you wish to limit the ability of a caregiver to profit from their cottage industry, you could set a maximum number of patients (but not a maximum of one), or a maximum price per ouince, or both. A limit of, say, 20 patients per caregiver and $100 per ounce would keep caregivers and their homes from turning into for-profit dispensaries but would not leave patients with no one to turn to during a long period when cities and towns are enacting moratoriums and potential dispensary operators are clearing numerous legal hurdles.

The provision that a patient must have no more than two total sources of marijuana is also unnecessarily onerous. If all providers are supposed to use a common state database, any user of the database should be able to verify that the same patient isn't filling the same prescription multiple times at different locations. If a further check is needed, patients could be issued something like a ration book.

One senses in all these regulations the underlying assumption that a set of air-tight regulations is both necessary and sufficient to prevent  medical marijuana from being diverted to healthy recreational users, and that without such air-tight regulations, large-scale diversion is inevitable, with disastrous social consequences, particularly the increased availability to minors.

Let's be realistic: recreational users, including minors, already have total access to marijuana if they want it. Kids themselves, when surveyed, report that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Those who get their dope from dealers needn't fear being rejected as too young, and most of them get it, not from dealers, but from each other, in a vast informal network where everyone is both a user and a distributor. Likewise, almost all Massachusetts adults who wish to consume marijuana recreationally have found or could find a connection: marijuana prices have actually come down in recent years due to market saturation.

As officials responsible for public health, your first priority must be to make sure that patients who need marijuana for relief of painful and debilitating conditions can get it.

Minimizing diversion cannot be the main goal: it will never be effective for its stated purpose and is certain to cause unnecessary stress and pain for patients who need relief now and for the caregivers who would like to provide it .
Respectfully submitted,
Andy Gaus
Boston, MA

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Either the begining….or the end….

Holder promises marijuana verdict coming 'soon'

Wait, I thought we already told them, IT'S LEGAL NOW. -UA

Attorney General Eric Holder promised Washington and Colorado state attorneys general on Tuesday that the Justice Department would issue its verdict “soon” on how it plans to treat the states’ recent moves to legalize marijuana.“We’re still in the process of reviewing both of the initiatives that were passed,” said Holder, speaking at the National Association of Attorney General annual conference in Washington, D.C.“You will hear soon. We’re in the last stages of that review and we’re trying to make a determination as to what the policy ramifications are going to be, what our international obligations are — there are a whole variety of things that go into this determination — but the people of [Colorado] and Washington deserve an answer and you will have one soon.”

Holder was responding to Colorado state attorney general John Suthers, who asked the nation’s top law enforcement official when the DOJ would be weighing in on the state laws that have been in effect for nearly two months.

The DOJ is charged with enforcing the federal prohibition on marijuana, and the state laws run counter to the long-existing ban, creating a debate over which law should be enforced and which law is most responsive to the will of the people.

Marijuana has been a centerpiece of the federal government’s “war on drugs,” aimed at cracking down on drug use in the United States. But the growing number of people who support the decriminalization of pot — which is still legally classified nationally in the same category as heroin — has some policymakers in Washington, D.C., rethinking their approach.

On Monday, nearly a dozen House Democrats introduced several bills that would decriminalize marijuana and remove the drug from the list of controlled substances, while requiring the federal government to regulate it and impose penalties on tax-evaders.

Holder has met or talked with both governors and attorneys general from Colorado and Washington during the DOJ’s review process, posing a series of questions to the state leaders, such as how they plan to prevent marijuana produced in the state from being trafficked to other states where the drug is not legal.

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Paying off Washington!

Doors swing open for advocates of marijuana legalization on Capitol Hill

money_envelope-306x204Advocates for the legalization of marijuana plan to step up their political giving and lobbying efforts now that members of Congress are taking an interest in changing federal drug laws.

The lobbyists say lawmakers who wouldn’t give them the time of day are suddenly interested in meeting with them and introducing legislation following the approval of ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington that legalized recreational use of the drug.

“These were folks who wouldn't take a call five years ago and now they are calling us and telling us to get up there with our PAC money and our expertise,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “For those of us who have been at this for the past 20 years, it has been nice to see the warm turn.”

Some pro-legalization groups are increasing their fundraising as lawmakers consider drug legislation. Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said the group is planning more aggressive fundraising through its political action committee.

“Our hope is to exceed what we have done in any previous cycle,” Fox said.

The group is aiming to get more than $150,000 in contributions to its PAC for the 2014 election cycle — topping its previous record of more than $119,000 in donations for the 2006 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

Further, the PAC is changing its name to the Marijuana Policy Project PAC, dropping a prior reference to medical marijuana. Fox, who also lobbies for the National Cannabis Industry Association, said the name change signals that a broader reform agenda is now on the table.

“The ground has shifted and we now see members of Congress wanting to regulate marijuana like alcohol. The name change reflects that our activity on the federal level is no longer just about medical marijuana,” Fox said.

But strategists looking to reform drug policies are choosing their battles carefully at the state level.

In a Nov. 28, 2012, memo obtained by The Hill, Rob Kampia, MPP’s executive director, said Oregon should wait until 2016 to for a marijuana legalization ballot drive, when another presidential election would boost turnout among young voters.

“Given that an initiative in November 2014 would be almost certain to lose, MPP would contribute no money toward a signature drive, paid staff, or advertising during the 2013-2014 cycle,” Kampia wrote to Oregon activists.

Kampia said MPP is interested in passing an Oregon ballot initiative in 2016 and would contribute $700,000 to the effort.

“There is going to be disagreement at times. That's par for the course. It's like any other issue advocacy group. We will agree on the objectives but we might disagree on how to get there,” said Roy Kaufmann, one of the activists who received the memo and is now MPP’s Oregon representative and agrees with waiting until 2016.

Kaufmann was the campaign strategist for Measure 80 in Oregon, the marijuana legalization ballot effort that failed in 2012.

“We can't tell our funders in good faith that they should fund a 2014 initiative. We are not saying it's impossible to win. We are just saying it's a completely unnecessary risk,” Fox said. "The only thing that can keep Oregon from winning this in 2016 is a loss in 2014."

As the movement for marijuana legalization spreads, competition for fundraising dollars is likely to grow. A number of well-heeled donors have already opened their wallets for the cause.

New Approach Washington, the main group that campaigned for legalization in that state, took in more than $6 million in contributions last election cycle.

The prolific liberal donor Peter Lewis gave more than $2 million to New Approach Washington for their legalization campaign, according to state campaign finance records. Drug Policy Action — the 501(c)(4) affiliate of Drug Policy Alliance — contributed more than $1.6 million. George Soros sits on Drug Policy Alliance’s board of directors and was a major donor to Drug Policy Action in 2012.

Lobbyists say the battle that is brewing over drug laws will be far-reaching and not confined to recreational use of marijuana.

“You going to see reform on federal drug policy in general,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's not just about marijuana. It's about racial disparity, over-incarceration and saving money as well.”

Capitol Hill has certainly taken notice.

Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) each introduced separate bills this past week that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. The two lawmakers also released a report on how to rethink federal marijuana policy.

On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, plans to hold a hearing on marijuana policy this Congress.

Drug laws are also getting a second look from the GOP, with Kentucky Republicans rallying behind industrial hemp. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced legislation this past week to exclude hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has backed that effort, saying he became convinced that hemp production would be good for his state after long discussions with the libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Lobbyists don’t expect a marijuana legalization bill will be on President Obama’s desk this Congress, but lawmakers know they will have to reconcile federal policy at some point with the legalization movement sweeping the states.

“I often tell elected officials that if you are going to remain relevant in politics, you are going to have to move towards drug policy reform because that's where the younger voters are,” Piper said.

One Democrat said he’s made a personal appeal to Obama — who has admitted to smoking marijuana as a teenager — for changes to federal policy.

“I raised the issue myself with the president at the Democratic retreat [on Thursday]. … It should change,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), noting thousands of people are in jail for marijuana use.

Cohen plans to introduce legislation to create a commission to study states where medical marijuana and marijuana have been legalized. Advocates believe the bill could attract White House support.

“The commission gives the president some maneuvering room by affording him time and his administration acknowledges that public attitudes about this have changed,” St. Pierre said.

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The people have spoken

 Washington, Colorado Allow Recreational Use of Marijuana

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Washington and Colorado voters legalized recreational use of marijuana, making them the first U.S. states to decriminalize the practice.

Washington will allow those at least 21 years old to buy as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Colorado’s measure allows possession of an ounce, and permits growing as many as six plants in private, secure areas. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure.

“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

Support for marijuana’s recreational use built on measures that allow it for medical purposes in one-third of U.S. states. Previous attempts to legalize pot through ballot measures failed in California, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada since 1972, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado said federal law was not affected by the vote.

“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” said Jeff Dorschner in a statement. “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”


New Leaf


Washington, Colorado and Oregon were among six states with marijuana on their ballots. In Massachusetts, residents approved a measure to allow medical use, while Arkansas voters rejected such a proposal. Medical-marijuana use is already permitted in 17 states and the District of Columbia. In Montana, a proposal to restrict the use of medical marijuana was leading, 57 percent to 43 percent, with 65 percent of ballots counted, the Associated Press said.

“It’s very monumental,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a Washington-based group that advocates legalization. “No state has ever done this. Technically, marijuana isn’t even legal in Amsterdam.”

The approval of recreational pot goes a step beyond its acceptance in medical use. California was the first state to permit medical-marijuana when voters approved it in 1996. Federal prosecutors cracked down on the medical-marijuana industry in California last year, threatening landlords with jail if they didn’t evict the shops.


Looking Askance


“Regardless of state laws to the contrary, there is no such thing as ‘medical’ marijuana under federal law,” according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a letter a month before California voters considered a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2010, saying the Justice Department would “vigorously” enforce federal law. The initiative failed.

A Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, declined to comment yesterday when reached by telephone.

In Washington state, decriminalization and new rules on driving under the influence take effect Dec. 6. The state liquor control board must adopt rules by Dec. 1, 2013 for licensing producers, processors and retailers.

The Washington measure may generate as much as $1.9 billion in revenue over five fiscal years, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management.


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