The freeways surrounding MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. are about to be plastered with five billboards advocating the use of marijuana, and, in some cases, attacking football just miles from the game’s biggest stage.
Washington and Colorado are the only two states to have legalized marijuana, so theMarijuana Policy Project, an organization based in Washington D.C., decided this year’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos would be an opportune time to get their message out.
“Hopefully it’s going to inspire people to talk to one another about marijuana and particularly its relative harms compared to alcohol and football,” said Mason Tvert, the director of communications at MPP.
This isn’t the first time MPP has tried to steal the NFL’s stage. The group posted a billboard outside of Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in September telling the league to “Stop Driving Players to Drink,” and, as a football leaned against a foaming beer glass advised: “A safer choice is now legal here.”
“I think a lot of people will be shocked at just how many people are getting in trouble for using a less harmful substance than alcohol,” Tvert said. “When you’re sitting in a full stadium and you think about the idea of everyone in there being arrested 10 times over, it really gets you thinking about just how many people that is.”
Tvert is in New York City this week and says he is heading to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s office Wednesday to drop off a petition calling on the NFL to stop punishing players for using marijuana. He said that, as of Monday afternoon, the petition has over 12,000 signatures.
Medical experts are torn when it comes to this drug. In a USA TODAY article from last week, Stuart Gitlow, Director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said there’s no benefit.
“It’s simply that people want the freedom to be stoned,” he said. “That’s all it is. And there’s a great deal of risk.”
Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, argues from the other side.
“In my 37 years as a physician, the number of patients I’ve admitted to the hospital with complications from marijuana use is zero,” he said. “The number I’ve admitted due to alcohol use is profound.”
As far as using marijuana for medical reasons, last week Goodell didn’t waver from his message about use in the NFL.
“I’m not a medical expert,” he said. “We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”
Via USA Today
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Marijuana superstore opens in Seattle
by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News
Instead of a state-run liquor store, a building in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood now holds “the Whole Foods of weed,” according to the man who owns the business inside.
Green Ambrosia opened last Saturday and is the city’s biggest medical marijuana dispensary.
The opening comes as Washington’s Liquor Control Board and lawmakers decide how to regulate recreational marijuana sales in the wake of Initative 502, which legalized the use and possession of small amounts of pot.
“This could be the face of what I-502 enabled pot looks like,” explained Green Ambrosia owner Dante Jones.
Jones’ business has operated since 2011, but only recently opened a storefront. Inside, behind a bamboo wall, is one large glass table loaded with jars of marijuana. There are restrictions on how much medical marijuana a business can have on sale.
While planning for whatever regulations may come from I-502, Jones said Saturday he is not sure how licensing will work.
“We’re preparing for it,” he said, “As a business owner, the only thing I can hope for is that they’re going to continue the same set of standards (included in the initative).”
Public forums are being held across the state on how to license recreational marijuana. No matter what the state decides, it is still possible the federal government could take action against Washington State since, according to federal law, marijuana is still illegal.
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Wash. could become first state to approve recreational sales of marijuana for those over 21
By Associated Press
SEATTLE — Washington state is on the verge of becoming the first in the nation to let adults over 21 buy taxed, inspected marijuana at state-licensed shops.
It might not clear up more than a decade of confusion that resulted from the state’s medical marijuana law, or reverse the proliferation of dispensaries. But supporters say passing Initiative 502 on Nov. 6 could make drug laws more reasonable, prevent thousands of arrests a year, and bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay for schools, health care and basic government services.
It could also set up a big fight with the federal government.Voters in Colorado and Oregon are considering similar measures. But based on polls, Washington’s initiative might stand the best chance of passing. The measure has drawn slim organized opposition and gained support from some former federal law enforcement officers. The campaign has raised $4.1 million.
“There’s a real disconnect with pot,” said Brooke Thompson, a retired teacher from Bainbridge Island who found marijuana innocuous when she smoked it as a young adult. “It’s been criminalized and criminals are making money on it. The state could be making money on it, and using the taxes to go into education. It seems like a win-win, and it would be nice for Washington to be the testing ground on this.”
“Testing ground” is the right phrase. Washington could become a laboratory in easing the nation’s drug war, which has cost more than $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives in the past 40 years while doing little to dent demand.
Just as likely, it could bring on a protracted fight with the federal government. Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. law, and when state and federal laws conflict, federal law takes precedence. The Justice Department has kept mum, but if I-502 passes, many lawyers believe the DOJ is likely to try to block the law on the grounds that it frustrates the Controlled Substances Act.
That could leave just part of the initiative standing: decriminalization of up to an ounce of pot under state law, with no way to buy it legally, and a driving-under-the-influence standard that opponents consider arbitrarily strict.
The federal government could also prosecute growers or retailers licensed under the law, seize Washington’s new marijuana revenues as proceeds of illicit drug deals, or withhold money from the state.
Nevertheless, I-502’s sponsors, including former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and travel writer Rick Steves, say the measure has been drafted to withstand a federal challenge. Alison Holcomb, I-502’s campaign manager, said at a recent debate that she would sit down with representatives of the federal government to explain how the measure could complement, not frustrate, federal efforts.
The initiative, promoted by New Approach Washington, would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and would impose a 25 percent excise tax at each stage. Adults 21 and over could buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana; one pound of marijuana-infused product in solid form, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids. The cannabis would be subject to testing to establish its THC content.
Sales wouldn’t begin immediately. The state Liquor Control Board would have a year to establish guidelines.
Holcomb, who concedes that marijuana is addictive for some, says I-502 would allow authorities to treat it as a public health issue, as has been effective in reducing tobacco use.
“We don’t arrest adults for tobacco use to try to keep kids from using it,” she said.
State revenue experts have estimated that I-502 could bring in as much as $1.9 billion in the next five years. Some of the money would be dedicated to the state general fund, while other portions would be devoted to health care, education and substance-abuse prevention.
If the initiative passes:
—Public use or display of marijuana would be barred.
—No marijuana facilities could be located near schools, day cares, parks or libraries.
—Employers would still be able to fire workers who test positive for pot.
—It would remain illegal to privately grow marijuana for recreational use, though medical patients could still grow their own or designate someone to grow it for them.
—It would be illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, per milliliter of blood, if the driver is over 21; for those under 21, there would be a zero tolerance policy.
There would be no legal effect on medical marijuana dispensaries. However, it could have a political effect, Holcomb said. If recreational pot sales are allowed, prosecutors and investigators might take a more critical look at whether those operations are truly serving sick people.
Organized opposition comes from a group of medical marijuana patients who object to the DUI standard and say that if people can’t grow their own, it’s not really legalization at all.
Other public health and some law enforcement officials also oppose it, even if they haven’t raised any money.
Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said his organization is concerned about increasing availability of marijuana, especially for teens, and the difficulty of enforcing the DUI provisions.
The initiative’s biggest financial contributor is Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis, who has given more than $1.5 million. Lewis also contributed to Washington’s medical marijuana campaigns in 1997 and 1998.
Other donors include New York-based Drug Policy Action and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
The former head of the FBI in Seattle and both candidates for King County sheriff have voiced support.
Voters like Terry Lavender, a retired 61-year-old from Woodinville who used pot decades ago, say they’re intrigued by the idea of being able to walk into a state licensed store and buy marijuana.
“I enjoy a bit of scotch, I enjoy a beer, so maybe I would,” Lavender says. “But that’s not my motivation for doing this. My motivation is to stop locking people up.”
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Seattle Hempfest divided over marijuana legalization
By Los Angeles Times (MCT)
- good legalization good // bad leagalization... BAD!!!!
SEATTLE - Washington's annual Hempfest - a three-day celebration of pot, bongs and hemp bead necklaces that is typically one of Seattle's largest festivals - was uncharacteristically worked up Saturday over what should have been cause for laid-back cheering: a fast-gaining ballot initiative to legalize possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Ballot measures to legalize marijuana are sprinting toward the polls in three Western states in November. Marijuana supporters say Washington's vote on Initiative 502 is important to maintain national momentum on an issue that is beginning to see steady gains in popular support.
But the pro-marijuana community here is deeply divided over the measure. Beneficiaries of the state's medical marijuana law fear that legalizing and regulating pot use would subject pot patients to potential arrest under the measure's strict impaired-driving provisions.
The result has been an undercurrent of discord amid the celebratory haze on the scenic Seattle waterfront. Dedicated pot proponents find themselves amazed to be in opposition.
"I never in a million years imagined myself to be on a stage advocating against the passage of a marijuana legalization law," Steve Elliott, who writes the "Toke Signals" column for the Seattle Weekly, said at a civilized but highly divided debate on I-502 on the "Hemposium" stage.
Legalization measures also are on the ballot in Oregon and Colorado. Washington's I-502 would eliminate civil and criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for people 21 years and older and set up regulations for the substance to be taxed and sold at state-licensed stores.
Its most controversial feature - at least among marijuana proponents - is that it would set up a new driving standard based on a definable blood limit for marijuana. This is a stricter regulation than the current impaired-driving laws and one that many medical marijuana patients believe they would be unable to meet after regular medicinal doses.
They are fear they might be subject to arrest for driving even days after their last marijuana dose.
I-502 has gained substantial mainstream support in liberal western Washington, where Seattle's mayor, its city attorney, several members of the city council, two former U.S. attorneys and the former special agent in charge of the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have all come out in favor of it, along with a number of state legislators.
"Here's what we know: Prohibition has not worked," Mayor Mike McGinn told supporters who lazed in the grass a cloud of cannabis haze. "It's fueled criminal violence. Right now in this city, people are murdering each other over pot.... It's time to stop. It's time to tax it, regulate it, legalize it." Steve Sarich, a longtime activist in the medical marijuana community who heads the official campaign to defeat I-502, was not even invited to attend Saturday's debate at Hempfest.
The opposition was instead left to Elliott and legislative analyst Kari Boiter to argue.
But so fractious has been the discussion within the pro-marijuana community that a spokesman for the group opposed to the law because of its concerns over how it would affect medical marijuana users was not invited to the debate.
The opposition was instead left to Elliott and a legislative analyst, Kari Boiter.
"They've locked us out of the debate," Sarich said.. "But quite frankly, Hempfest is 250,000 people and 60 voters, so we don't necessarily expect to make a whole lot of converts, because most of the people here don't even vote." "Never has an issue divided our community like 502," said debate moderato Don Wirtshafter. "Hopefully, here we can use the Hempfest festival to work toward more energy, and what we can agree on." The head of the campaign to pass I-502, Alison Holcolmb, urged the crowd to remember that it's already a crime to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
But opponents said it is wrong to force a vote on an initiative about which so many are so deeply divided when a less controversial ballot measure might be taken up later.
"I don't want to see another law on the books that police can use to harass us with," Boiter said of the controversial driving provisions.
Keith Stroup, a co-founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told the crowd that while the initiative was "not perfect," it was important to capitalize on the momentum of three recent national polls that have shown 50 percent popular support or more across the nation for marijuana law reform.
"For the first time in the 41 years that NORML has been involved in legalization of marijuana, we actually have won the hearts and minds of the majority of the American public, and that is terribly important," Stroup said.
He said wins in Washington, Colorado and Oregon could begin to provide the basis for pushing Congress, until now steadfastly opposed to ending marijuana criminalization, to start reconsidering.
"We need to have one or two or three states with the courage to stand up to the federal government and say, 'To hell with you,'" he said. "This initiative, if it passes, and I fully believe it will, will forever be seen as the defiant step that led to the end of marijuana prohibition. They will be writing about this, folks, in history books for decades."
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Seattle's first cannabis farmers market attracts several hundred Sunday
Sunday was the first Cannabis Farmers Market in Seattle. An estimated 600 medical-marijuana patients strolled through the doors of the Little Red Studio in the South Lake Union neighborhood to partake.
Article and pictures from The Seattle Times
By Bob Young
Seattle Times staff reporter
As at most farmers markets, table after table came stocked with goodies, touted for their locally grown, healthy, organic qualities. Baby boomers in berets mingled with twenty-somethings in dreadlocks, eyeballing potted plants, pasta, pizza, cute little cupcakes and Mason jars full of green buds — lots of jars.
This was not your grandpa's market. It was the first Cannabis Farmers Market in Seattle. And an estimated 600 medical-marijuana patients strolled through the doors of the Little Red Studio in the South Lake Union neighborhood to partake, organizers said.
One patient from West Seattle said she never expected to see anything quite like it, especially at 11 a.m. on a Sunday.
"Not in my lifetime," said Nancy, 61, who didn't want to disclose her last name for privacy reasons. She uses cannabis to ease her chronic back pain and said it was nice to be able to talk to some of the two dozen pot providers on hand about the effects of various strains.
And what strains they were. The purple- and orange-tinged buds sported names such as Dark Vader, Kungfoo Goo, White Widow, Green Queen and God. And vendor names? Among them, the Herban Collective and Delectable Medibles.
Brochures described their qualities in terms that could have been cribbed from a sommelier. The Black Rhino sold at Ken's Medicine Bowl has a "subtle berry scent" and "full bodied fruity flavor." The White Knight features "complex fragrance" with "hints of citrus" flavor.
Proprietor Ken Bell, a patient himself, said he was looking forward to a day when marijuana was legal and he was taxed for selling it.
The idea for the farmers market — first held in Tacoma late last year — is primarily to help patients living in outlying areas connect with providers who tend to run their businesses in larger cities, said Philip Dawdy, a spokesman for the market. Participants were required to provide identification and a doctor's authorization to take marijuana. Because of the vagueness of current state law, and varying interpretations by law-enforcement agencies, Dawdy said, some patients don't have consistent and safe access to medical cannabis.
Market founder Jeremy Miller said he plans to bring the market to Seattle twice next month, while hitting Tacoma and Olympia on the remaining weekends.
Miller said he felt welcome in Seattle, where voters approved Initiative 75 in 2003. The measure made arresting and jailing adults for possessing personal amounts of pot the Police Department's lowest law-enforcement priority.
There was no sign of police Sunday morning at the event. "It's not a big deal," police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said in an interview before the event. "Our priorities are a reflection of community priorities."
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