Releaf Magazine

Part II of Legal Weed: Are We Good To Grow Yet- By. ReLeaf Writer, Mark Ward

canna-law-newsLEGAL WEED: Are We Good To Grow Yet? (Part II)

Dope Magazine - Mark Ward - 08/05/2016

Taxes aren’t the only facet of corporate and political ravenousness that hinders citizens and patients from cultivating.Patriot Care is a company that has acquired licenses for cannabis facilities in Boston, Greenfield and presently has a dispensary and cultivation facility in Lowell, Massachusetts. The company is directed by CEO Bob Mayerson, who would know a great deal about big business as former president and chief officer at Eastern Mountain Sports, and through his financial roles at Pepsi and Staples. Patriot Care’s Lowell facility joins Ayer, Brocton, North Hampton and Salem as a select few Massachusetts cities with facilities providing medicine to cannabis patients. The Boston and Greenfield facilities will be completed over the summer. Patriot Care has made an arrangement with the city of Lowell containing such conditions that they will pay $25,000 to the city for every dispensary that uses their cultivation center’s products. It would make sense that medical and recreational home cultivation would compromise the great investments these companies have placed into the medical cannabis industry.

Activist Brianna Morrel clarifies why Patriot Care’s lobbyists work so diligently to inhibit legalization and home grows, “Patriot Care has associations with anti-legalization campaigns in Massachusetts.” According to Morrel, “Patriot Care has vowed to never become a recreational dispensary even after legalization. Their board has voiced support for Flaherty’s zoning bill which would restrict how closely dispensaries can open to one another. Patriot Care’s lobbyist, Daniel Delaney, has filed an anti-legalization effort (supposedly on his own accord) dubbed, Safe Cannabis Massachusetts, as well as having a second connection to Safe Cannabis Massachusetts through outsourced contractor Greg Czarnowski, owner of the domain registered to the anti-legalization group.”

Ultimately we have come to find that legal home cultivation is imperiled and confined to only a few medical cannabis states, but is not consistently permitted in all. Dispensaries have not only campaigned to regulate dispensary proximity zoning, but also how close a patient’s home grow may be to their establishment as well. Dispensary administrations are going so far as to support and even form anti-legalization organizations in an effort to combat competitive growing. At the same time, they are actively supporting lawmakers’ proposed tax-per-plant policies, setting up patients for anxiety, compliance failure and potential prosecution. As a result of all of this intimidation, apprehension and confusion, the question we are left with is: are we good to grow yet?

“These dispensary administrations are going so far as to support and even form anti-legalization organizations in an effort to combat competitive growing.”

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Pretty flowers

Pro-cannabis advocate reacts to pot's exclusion from Philadelphia Flower Show

"Marijuana is a gorgeous flower. And, this is a show celebrating flowers," says PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein

Hayden Mitman Philly Voice
flower-farmer-grows-smiles-with-flowers-on-strangers-heads-10__605-479x479One that just might be the most profitable plant in all of the country.

"It's arguably the most lucrative flower in the county," PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein said of cannabis. "Colorado made a billion off it last year. I'm not sure that roses made that much."

Proponents of cannabis – weed, bud, pot, or whatever you'd call it in your preferred vernacular – had hoped to have a booth to showcase the plant's medicinal benefits, history and facts about its growth at this year's flower show, which runs March 5-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

But, that was not to be.

Aside from the obvious reason the plant can't be at the show - it's illegal, duh - Goldstein said that the booth would have included photos of cannabis flowers and a brochure of information about the plant.

The Philadelphia Horticulture Society did not immediately return a call for comment, but a spokesman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the group who had requested the booth - Green Rush Advisors - had misrepresented their intentions. As a result, the producers of the show were concerned the group would attempt to advocate for the legalization of marijuana at the event.

Goldstein said his group, PhillyNORML, had made a push to get volunteers to help staff the booth, which would have included information about the plant, but refrained from political statements regarding the legalization issue.

"Certainly, nobody was misrepresenting what was happening," he said. "Volunteers would have been told not to get political."

Instead, he said, the main part, that is used for its medicinal qualities, is the flower of the cannabis plant, making the annual show an ideal place to share information about the plant's medicinal benefits.

"Marijuana is a gorgeous flower," he said. "And, this is a show celebrating flowers."

According to Goldstein, similar marijuana-friendly booths have appeared at farm shows throughout the state in the past and, it has never been a cause for concern.

In fact, he said, as an issue that can boast a healthy amount of support from the public, medical marijuana is something he believes the public would have enjoyed learning more about.

And, Goldstein said, there's likely no better place for people to learn facts about cannabis than at the flower show.

"Quite simply, this is a plant," he said. "Cannabis deserves its place as a beautiful plant and it should share a place among the wonderful plants at the flower show."

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The Changing of the Guard

changing of guard pic

The Connecticut NORML Board of Directors held their election for the position of Executive Director. By a unanimous vote, John Watkins CEO of Ground Clouds LLC (A custom medical cannabis vaporizer manufacturer) has been elected as the new Executive Director of Connecticut NORML. John has been an active board member of CT NORML since it’s induction in 2011 and is also a 2010 graduate of Oaksterdam University (America’s first and premier cannabis college).

In this short period of time CT NORML has been together, the group has managed to pass both decriminalization and medical cannabis through CT legislation within the first 18-months of operations under the leadership of the group’s founding member Erik Williams, which whom will remain as an active board member.

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NORML Argues State Prosecutors Can’t Justify Police Searches Based on Smell

by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

NORML filed an “amicus curiae” brief with the state supreme appellate court on Friday, November 22, urging the court to enforce the limits on police searches set by 2008′s voter-initiative state decriminalization law, which eliminating police searches and arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Attorneys Michael Cutler of Northampton and Steven Epstein of Georgetown authored the brief.norml_remember_prohibition_

In this case a Boston judge initially ruled a 2011 police search — based entirely on the smell of unburnt marijuana — violated the “decriminalization” law which made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction subject only to a fine, thereby ending police authority to search or arrest the possessor. The state appealed.

Earlier in 2011 the state supreme court ruled, in a case in which NORML also filed an amicus brief, that police searches based only on the odor of burnt marijuana were now illegal. The court reasoned that smell alone did not establish probable cause to believe a criminal amount (more than an ounce) was present, so police had no power to search or arrest.

NORML asks the court to reject the Boston prosecutor’s claim that federal prohibition — which allows arrest and imprisonment for any amount of cannabis under federal law — trumps the state decriminalization law and allows police to ignore state law and use evidence from smell-based searches in state courts.

NORML argues that state prosecutors and police must obey state law and state appellate court rulings under the state constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, requiring the executive branch to obey the legislative branch’s laws and the judicial branch’s limits on police conduct under state law and the state’s constitution.

Finally, NORML argues that the state prosecutor’s position violates fundamental principles of Federalism, which limit federal “preemption” of state law only where state law “positively conflicts” with federal law. Since the August 2013 federal Justice Department Guidance memo to  federal prosecutors nationwide, recommending no interference with state laws legalizing marijuana in a responsible manner, no such conflict exists between federal and state authority.

Oral argument in the case of Commonwealth v. Craan is scheduled for early February, with a decision possible by June 2014.



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Because Women Are NORML Too

By Sabrina Fendrick, Director of Women’s Outreach, NORML

There’s an air of cognitive dissonance about it, that a woman, especially a nurturing, professional woman, could both smoke pot and not be Jim Breuer in Half Baked was, to many, a revelation.” Emily Dufton, The Atlantic (10/28/13)

Emily Dufton does an excellent job identifying the cultural challenges and social setbacks that are experienced by female cannabis consumers on a regular basis.  The issue of women and weed has become a hot topic recently, and being on the forefront of this push for female engagement has been nothing short of fascinating.  The emergence of independent, mainstream professional women becoming more outspoken about their cannabis use has prominently challenged traditional stereotypes, and started the long-overdue process of reframing gender norms.  As marijuana goes mainstream, its cultural connotations will continue to evolve.  In return, more women will feel comfortable coming out of the cannabis closet.

A little over 4 years ago, I wrote an aptly named blog; Because Women are NORML Too, in response to the overwhelming interest to Marie Claire’s famous Stiletto Stoners article.  In that post, I noted, “The normalization of recreational cannabis consumption is not just happening with men, which is what most people think of when they think of pot smokers.  Women, who are not necessarily left out of the movement, are rarely recognized as a major demographic that is essential for the reform effort to push forward in a truly legitimate fashion.”   It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.

Since then, there has been a major effort on behalf of NORML and the movement to identify and close the gender gap.  Reformers are acutely aware that in order to succeed in ending blanket prohibition, female outreach has to be a key component to their advocacy work.  Women, a significant demographic were largely responsible for bringing down California’s Proposition 19, but were also a key factor in the passage of Washington and Colorado’s legalization initiatives in 2012.  In fact, campaigners in Colorado and Washington spent a significant amount of time and resources cultivating the female vote. Though a gender gap still exists nationwide, it is shrinking, fast.

While great strides have been made culturally and politically, there still remains a great deal of curiosity and intrigue surrounding female cannabis consumers.  Many want to know, who are these women who smoke pot?  Why do we smoke pot? Is it because we are sick or in pain, need a crutch or because we simply want to relax with a substance that has less side effects than alcohol?  Why don’t more of us speak out about it?  Why aren’t there more women leading the fight?  Can a responsible mom still smoke pot?  It’s truly amazing how a single chromosome can alter the entire construct and perception of a certain behavior.  One can write volumes on each of these questions, but the interest clearly comes from the disconnect of deeply rooted gender norms regarding women, intoxication, and our various roles in society.  Many of these abstract components have been mulled over time and again by different authors and publications.  But if we look at our current policies, some of these questions are answered in very real terms.

For example, a mother who chooses to unwind with a joint after her child has gone to bed is no more a danger to her child than one who chooses a glass of wine.  Yet, our laws say otherwise.  A mother who smokes pot is in constant danger of losing her children because child protective services maintain the false presumption that this behavior (or the mere presence of pot) poses a threat to the child’s safety.  This is just one example of how the culmination traditional gender norms and our current marijuana policies play a real and tragic role in our society.  The proliferation of government agencies across the country removing children from safe, loving homes for the mere fact that a parent is a cannabis consumer, even in states with a legal medical marijuana program, or where marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense is not just an abstract discussion, but a tangible, legal issue that requires immediate attention and an expedited solution.  Support for marijuana legalization is higher than ever before, and as the political winds change, so too will the scope of the marijuana culture.  Women, and our relationship with marijuana will have political and social implications for years to come, and it is therefore up to us to make sure we take a leading role in defining what those outcomes will be.



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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.

Read more:
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Obama’s BIG chance….

Obama’s Opportunity: Will the White House Snub Marijuana Yet Again?

I bet he snubs us again.....gets re-elected, then flipflops and gives us the herb in a few years......crystal ball told me......-UA
January 29, 2012

By Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Coordinator

Last week, the White House launched the next in its long line of social media engagement initiatives, this one entitled “Your Interview With the President.” The concept was simple, anyone could upload their question to the President on YouTube, others would vote on them, and the highest rated ones would be posed to the Commander in Chief in a Google+ Hangout on January 30th.

This seemed to be a logical opportunity to ask the administration about marijuana legalization. Last Tuesday, I posted NORML’s question to the White House YouTube page for consideration. We asked, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, on marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up marijuana users, isn’t it time to regulate and tax marijuana?”

The reception was overwhelmingly positive, in just several hours the question received over 4,000 “thumbs up” votes and was one of, if not the, most popular question on the service. Then a peculiar thing happened, the question was removed. After becoming the most positively voted upon question in less than a day, the White House removed the question, deeming it “inappropriate.”

We informed our audience of the censorship and encouraged them to engage the White House on their own, using our question or a one of their own choosing. Over the next several days the program was inundated with marijuana law reform questions. At first, many met the same fate as our original question and were removed from the site. It seems our persistence ended up paying off and the page administrator finally gave up trying to censor the incoming questions and most marijuana inquiries have remained up since.

Voting closed last night at midnight and I made some rough calculations of the final results to see how we performed. Of the top 160 questions asked, marijuana reform questions accounted for 105 of them. Reposts of our question brought in an estimated 17,524 up-votes in addition to the 4,028 the original received before being removed. Combined, that is over 21,000 votes for one question, which is 5 times as many votes as any other question on the page. The 105 marijuana reform questions in the top 160 brought in over 74,000 votes, dwarfing any other topic.

Now, we wait. “Your Interview With the President” is scheduled to take place tomorrow, January 30th. Considering this is the same individual who previously stated that, “we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws” and that legalization is a “perfectly legitimate topic for debate,” maybe he will take this opportunity to address the issue seriously for once. In an election year, this could go a long way towards winning back those who feel disenfranchised with the administration over a perceived lack of progress on the issue and amped up raids on medical programs in states such as California and Colorado.

The American people are ready for our debate Mr. President, are you?

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Cannabis users have a third eye…..

Debunking the Myth of a Link Between Marijuana and Mental Illness

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet
July 25, 2011 

Prohibitionists have a long history of exploiting tragedy to further their own drug war agenda. Case in point: Members of Congress in the 1980s seized upon the overdose of basketball star Len Bias to enact sweeping legislative changes establishing mandatory minimum sentencing in drug crimes, random workplace drug testing for public employees, and the creation of the Drug Czar’s office.

So it was hardly surprising to see anti-drug zealots return to this tried-and-true playbook in the days immediately following the shooting this past January of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 civilians. Only hours after alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner was taken into custody, pundits on the political far right opined that the 22-year-old former pot smoker had been driven mad by weed.

For example, less than 24-hours after the shooting former George W. Bush speech-writer David Frum posed the question, “Did pot trigger the Giffords shooting?” to which the longtime conservative commentator answered, “Increasingly, experts seem to be saying ‘yes.’”

Frum’s accusation appeared to gain a modicum of respectability one month later when the mainstream media highlighted a report in The Archives of General Psychiatry that purported to have linked marijuana use with psychosis.

“It is increasingly clear that marijuana is a cause of schizophrenia,” the study’s lead researcher, Matthew Large of Prince of Wales Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, told the online publication Web MD in February. (In a separate interview he said he was “horrified” by suggestions that the plant should be legalized and regulated.) Large further insisted, “[T]he schizophrenia caused by cannabis starts earlier than schizophrenia with other causes.”

Or not.

In truth, the supposed new ‘study’ contained no new findings at all. Rather, Large and his team simply reviewed previously published research – much of it decades old.

“There are no new data. I want to emphasize that. This is a meta-analysis, which means it (reviews) the studies that were already out there,” SUNY Albany psychology professor Mitch Earleywine, author of the book Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, explained on the NORML Audio Stash days after the report’s release. “What you’re not hearing in the media is that in fact, this (reported association) is probably early-onset folks self-medicating (with cannabis).”

There are several published reports to back up Earleywine’s suspicion. For instance, a 2005 study of 1,500 subjects that appeared in the scientific journal Addiction reported that the development of “psychotic symptoms in those who had never used cannabis before the onset of (such) symptoms … predicted future cannabis use.”

Other studies reinforcing Earleywine’s ‘self-medication’ theory include a 2008 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing which found that schizophrenics typically report using cannabis to reduce anxiety and “improve their mental state.” Marijuana use has also been associated with clinically objective benefits in some schizophrenics. Recently, a 2010 report in the journalSchizophrenia Research found that schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis use demonstrate higher levels of cognitive performance compared to nonusers. Researchers in that study concluded, “The results of the present analysis suggest that (cannabis use) in patients with SZ (schizophrenia) is associated with better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating that SZ patients with a history of (cannabis use) have less severe cognitive deficits than SZ patients without comorbid (cannabis use).”

A 2011 meta-analysis published online by the journal Schizophrenia Research also affirmed that schizophrenics with a history of cannabis use demonstrate “superior neurocognitive performance” compared to non-users. Investigators at the University of Toronto, Institute of Medical Sciences reviewed eight separate studies assessing the impact of marijuana consumption on cognition, executive function, learning, and working memory in schizophrenic subjects. Researchers determined that the results of each of the performance measurements suggested “superior cognitive functioning in cannabis-using patients as compared to non-using patients.”

Investigators stopped short of attributing subjects' cannabis use to the improved outcomes, hypothesizing instead that patients with superior cognitive skills may be more likely to acquire cannabis than subjects with lesser abilities. “[I]t is difficult to determine whether it is cannabis itself that triggers alterations in neuropsychological functioning or if drug-using patients represent a subset of the schizophrenia population who exhibit better neurocognitive performance,” they wrote. Nevertheless, they concluded that it would be reasonable to assume that “cannabis likely has modest … effects on neurocognitive function in schizophrenia.”

Other clinical literature also casts doubt on Large’s claim that marijuana use accelerates mental illness. In a study published last year, a team that included researchers affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yale University, and the National Institute of Mental Health assessed whether lifetime pot use was associated with an earlier age of onset of symptoms in schizophrenic patients. They concluded, "Although cannabis use precedes the onset of illness in most patients, there was no significant association between onset of illness and (cannabis use) that was not accounted for by demographic and clinical variables.”

The researchers also criticized the findings of previously published studies that purported to have uncovered a ‘pot trigger’ for mental illness. “Previous studies implicating cannabis use disorders in schizophrenia may need to more comprehensively assess the relationship between cannabis use disorders and schizophrenia.”

Unlike Earleywine, however, the researchers in this study were not convinced that a large percentage of schizophrenic patients are ‘self-medicating’ with pot. “We … found that about half of our subjects discontinued the use of cannabis when their psychotic symptoms worsened,” said Dr. Serge Sevy of the Zucker Hillside Hospital, who led the study.  “(But) unfortunately, our study did not include questions about (patients’) reasons for using or discontinuing cannabis.  I cannot provide the percentage of patients who discontinued cannabis use because of a worsening of psychosis  … (versus those who) became too impaired to obtain cannabis.”
As for Large’s most serious claim, that juvenile marijuana use “is a cause of schizophrenia,” most experts on the subject – and most scientific reviews of the matter – disagree.

For example, authors of a 2009 study published in Schizophrenia Research said definitively that increased cannabis use by the public has not been followed by a proportional rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia or psychosis. Investigators at the Keele University Medical School in Britain compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Researchers reported that the "incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining" during this period, even the use of cannabis among the general population was rising.

"[T]he expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses did not occur over a 10 year period," they concluded. "This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and incidence of psychotic disorders. ... This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence."

In April, scientists at the University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Bern, Switzerland also published clinical trial data indicating that cannabis use plays virtually no role in the early onset of psychosis in younger patients. Researchers assessed the differences in the age of onset of psychosis among 625 patients admitted to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre in Melbourne, Australia. They reported, “Only cannabis use … starting at age 14 was associated with an earlier age at onset at a small effect size.” Overall, the age at onset for patients with first-episode psychosis “was not significantly different” among patients with a history of cannabis use versus non-users.

These results don’t particularly surprise Dr. Julie Holland, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and the editor of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis – It’s Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture.  “The bottom line here is no one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, and scientists have been looking for decades,” she says. “The best explanation is a ‘stress diathesis’ model, where people have a genetic tendency toward schizophrenic illness, and then something triggers its appearance. But unless you have the genes, you won't get the illness. Cannabis won't change one’s genetic predisposition.”

Holland does caution that people with a predisposition toward schizophrenia “tend to have a stronger, more psychotic-like reaction to cannabis, but that is different from the idea that pot actually gives you schizophrenia, which is completely untrue.” As for the severity of these potential psychotic symptoms, Holland states, “When the drug wears off, so do its effects. There is no lasting psychosis from pot.”

Retired associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, has studied both cannabis and schizophrenia for over 40 years, authoring the books Schizophrenia: Psychopharmacology and Psychotherapy and Marihuana The Forbidden Medicine. His expert opinion largely echoes the views of Drs. Holland and Earleywine.

“Schizophrenia is largely a genetically determined disorder. However, not all people who have this genetic makeup develop the disorder. So, we have been searching for other variables that must be involved but so far with little success,” he explains.  “Recently we have seen the publication of a number of papers that point the finger toward cannabis. Because my work in schizophrenia was first undertaken in the 1960s when marijuana was first observed to be increasingly widely used by young people, I was always careful to include the possibility that the patient had previously smoked marijuana in my history taking. I can't tell you how many patients this involved, but it was certainly measured in the hundreds and not once did I find that it could be considered causal. Its use, on a few occasions, seemed like an attempt to alter an insufferable internal environment, much as people with schizophrenia often do with alcohol and tobacco.”

Ultimately, however, even if such a causal connection between cannabis use and mental illness were to one day be established, this finding alone would do little to support pot prohibition. In fact, the policy implications of such a determination should be just the opposite.

Health risks connected with drug use – when scientifically documented – should not be seen as legitimate reasons for criminal prohibition, but instead, as reasons for legal regulation. After all, there are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, and it’s precisely because of these effects that the product is legally regulated and its use is restricted to specific consumers and settings. Similarly, if there are legitimate mental health risks associated with use of cannabis by certain individuals then a regulated system would best identify and educate these people so that they may refrain from its use. Placed in this context, drug warriors’ fear-mongering surrounding the issue of marijuana and mental health does little to advance the cause of tightening prohibition, and provides ample ammunition to wage for its repeal.

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War on what…..

Whack and Stack: 2010 Marijuana Cultivation Eradication In America

June 27th, 2011 By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

[Editor's note: Call it a terrible waste of police time, an unnecessary risk to law enforcement personnels' lives, a loud and destructive invasion of one's curtilage, the proverbial taxpayer-funded pursuit of a needle in a haystack, an unintended government-provided price support for an illegal and untaxed commercial market, or a bizarre police ruse where a valuable agricultural product---industrial hemp; which is even subsidized by the European Union to cultivate as an industrial fiber crop---is paraded out in front of unknowing (or not...) media who dutifully snap photos, capture video and write about any one law enforcement project involved in regional domestic cannabis eradication as being 'successful'.

Call it what ever you choose, but it is that time of year again to see whereand in what quantities the DEA claims it whacks and stacks outdoor and indoor cannabis eradicated within America's borders, even though, as noted below, the DEA stopped honestly reporting the ratio of World War II-era feral hemp eradicated to actual cultivated cannabis plants (for recreational or medical uses) in 2006.]

by Matthew Donigian, NORML legal intern, University of Illinois — College of Law

In the most recent DEA Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report, the DEA indicated that over 10 million marijuana plants throughout the United States were destroyed by the agency. According to this report, most of the eradicated plants were found in California, followed by West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Washington State. The states with the least eradicated plants were Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Delaware.

The report also detailed the number of eradicated plants that were being cultivated indoors. The states with the highest number of eradicated indoor plants were California, Florida, Washington, Michigan, and Ohio. California is the obvious leader here, since its highly successful medical marijuana market has been the primary target of DEA operations. However, proponents of merciless penalties for cultivation of marijuana in Florida may be surprised to see the state in the number two spot, ahead of both Michigan and Washington State, two of the largest medical marijuana jurisdictions.  It seems that the policy touted by supporters as the silver bullet to large-scale marijuana production in the state has failed.

This should not come as a surprise to those familiar with the rhetoric supporting the failed War on Drugs. For the past 40 years, the federal government has promised decreased crime, overdose deaths, and addiction rates as a result of the punitive and prohibitive approach of the war and drugs, but has failed to deliver these results. In 2009, Florida drastically increased its penalties for cultivation of marijuana, which punish the cultivation of 25 or more marijuana plants with up to 15 years of imprisonment. Much like federal marijuana prohibition, increasing penalties in Florida in order to decrease cultivation has been an abject failure. In the most recent DEA eradication report, Florida ranked second in eradicated indoor marijuana plants, with 51,366 plants eradicated in 2010, only 1265 fewer plants than were eradicated per year from 1998-2008 (on average).  In addition there were nearly 500 more arrests associated with marijuana eradication in 2010 than there were on average between the years of 1998-2008.

In addition, since 2006, the report excludes statistics on the number of “ditchweed” or non-cultivated feral marijuana plants, eradicated each year. According to the DEA, eradication of ditchweed is still taking place but the agency refrains from reporting the number of eradicated plants, making it difficult to estimate the resources spent on this practice. The federal government seems to have misinterpreted criticism that the practice was a waste of resources; critics were not upset with the governments reporting of “ditchweed”, but rather the practice of seeking out and burning non-smokeable and non-cultivated cannabis plants. The last published eradication data for “ditchweed” indicated that over 200 million or 98 percent of all plants eradicated were feral marijuana. The current practice of non-reporting provides the American people with little information on where DEA resources are being utilized, and effectively hides the amount of money spent on an unintelligible practice.  

Increasing penalties against marijuana crimes and eradicating marijuana plants does nothing to prevent the use of marijuana. Since the war on drugs began the potency of marijuana has increased, as has the amount of marijuana grown. Similarly, the war on drugs has not even been effective at reducing teenage use. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse 41.7% of 12th graders had tried marijuana in 1995. By 2008 this number rose to 42.6%.

Marijuana prohibition has clearly failed. Hiding eradication statistics and putting responsible people in jail will not change that.

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