Marijuana

New Mexico Study Suggests Medical Cannabis Helps Chronic Pain Patients Reduce Opioid Use

by Mike Riggs – Yet another cohort study finds a correlation between medical marijuana and reduced reliance on opioids. Chronic pain patients who enroll in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program while using prescription opioids are likely to reduce their dosage of opioids and even to cease using opioids altogether, according to a new study from researchers at the University of New Mexico. Participants in the program also reported “improvements in pain reduction, quality of life, social life, activity levels, and concentration, and few side effects from using cannabis one year after enrollment in the MCP.” Published earlier this month in the open access journal PLOS One, the study had a small sample size: 37 of the surveyed patients enrolled in the marijuana program, while 29 used opioids alone. The study also relied on a cohort model rather than a randomized control trial. That means investigators had no say over who ended up...

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In These States, Past Marijuana Crimes Can Go Away

by Sophie Quinton – When Californians voted to legalize marijuana last year, they also voted to let people petition courts to reduce or hide convictions for past marijuana crimes. State residents can now petition courts to change some felonies to misdemeanors, change some misdemeanors to infractions, and wipe away convictions for possessing or growing small amounts of the drug. “We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped write the California ballot initiative. Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and Oregon also have made it easier for people convicted of some crimes of marijuana possession, cultivation or manufacture to get their records sealed or expunged, which generally means removing convictions from public databases. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a criminal justice bill that would, among other changes, allow people to expunge any conviction that’s no...

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U.S. Beer Giant’s Big Investment in Canadian Cannabis May be Killing Jeff Sessions’ Buzz

by Alan Pyke – Constellation Brands is buying 10 percent of a Canadian weed firm, as capitalism’s embrace of the green boom tightens. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to hint that his team is working up reasons to crack down on states that have legalized cannabis, despite a surprising quiescence on the issue over his first eight months in office. A new high-profile corporate deal may help to explain why Sessions has thus far disappointed allies in the anti-pot cause. The biggest obstacle to his would-be retrenchment may lie not in the law nor with legalization’s fecund popularity among voters, however, but in the business community’s tightening embrace of the multi-billion-dollar market for legal cannabis products. Constellation Brands, the firm behind major Mexican light beer brands Corona and Modelo, announced Monday it had purchased a 10 percent stake in the Canadian firm Canopy Growth Corporation. The $190 million acquisition is in part about...

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New Zealand Poised to Legalize Cannabis

by TheWeedBlog – Will New Zealand Legalize Cannabis? WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand has just voted in a new prime minister according to the New York Times. Jacinda Ardern of the Labour party was confirmed last Thursday as New Zealand’s next prime minister. Her confirmation will end nine years of conservative leadership, and Ardern has been supportive of decriminalizing marijuana during her campaign. On Friday, Ardern said that she thought imprisonment for people using marijuana was unjust while also voicing concerns about the potential of the country’s youth becoming at risk. “I’ve always been very open about the fact that I do not believe that people should be imprisoned for personal use of cannabis. On the flip side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.” The new Prime Minister said that before she makes a decision about legalizing recreational...

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Gallup Finds Record Support for Legalizing Marijuana, Including Most Republicans

by Jacob Sullum – According to the latest survey, 64 percent of all American adults and 51 percent of Republicans think pot should be legal. The latest Gallup poll finds record public support for legalizing marijuana, including a majority of Republicans for the first time in the half a century the organization has been asking the question. According to the poll, which was conducted October 5 to 11, 64 percent of all American adults and 51 percent of Republicans think “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” up from 60 percent and 42 percent, respectively, last year. Overall support for legalization has been rising since the mid-1980s, but the upward trend has accelerated in recent years as more and more states have moved away from prohibition. After rising by 10 points (29 percent) between 2001 and 2009, the percentage of Americans who say pot should be legal rose by 20 points (45...

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Kentucky Governor Says He’ll Never Legalize Marijuana Because of the ‘overdoses’

by Rebekah Entralgo – No one has died from a marijuana overdose. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) appeared on a local radio show this week and called legalized marijuana a “sucker’s bet,” and something that will never happen so long as he’s in office. Why? Bevin says he’s concerned about overdoses. “We are not, while I’m governor, going to be legalizing the use of marijuana in this state for recreational purposes or for revenue-generating purposes,” Bevin said on Terry Meiner’s WHAS radio show. “There are people overdosing based on ingestion of products that are edibles and things.” Contrary to what the governor believes, however, while an individual can certainly have a “bad trip” from marijuana usage, there have been zero reported deaths from marijuana “overdoses,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. Bevin points to the uptick in marijuana-related emergency room visits in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize marijuana, as evidence...

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Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of ‘Drug Recognition Experts’

by Jacob Sullum – A lawsuit by three sober drivers who were busted for DUI questions the pot-detecting abilities of DREs. To the untrained eye, Katelyn Ebner seems completely sober during her 28-minute roadside encounter with Cobb County, Georgia, police officer Tracy Carroll, who has pulled the 23-year-old waitress over for failing to maintain her lane as she made a left turn. But Carroll, who was designated a “drug recognition expert” (DRE) after undergoing 160 hours of special training, perceives “numerous indicators” that Ebner is under the influence of marijuana. Ebner repeatedly assures him she does not “smoke weed” or “do any of that stuff” and volunteers to prove it by taking a drug test. “You’re going to jail, ma’am,” he replies. “I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.” Carroll does not need a magical drug test, because he is a magical drug test—or so the...

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Oregon Just Punked Jeff Sessions for Citing a Bogus Pot Study

by Alan Pyke – This is the formal correspondence equivalent of a reporter answering trolls with “did u read the article tho?” Last spring, a leaked report from the Oregon State Police gave marijuana legalization advocates a chill — and drug warriors like Attorney General Jeff Sessions a boost. The state’s systems for tracking legally grown recreational marijuana were an abysmal failure, the report said, with huge quantities of the cannabis produced in the state funneling out to black-market dealers in states that hadn’t yet legalized the crop. Even under prior Attorneys General who don’t share Sessions’ ardent, retrograde views on pot, this was trouble. Such interstate trafficking problems are one of the few surefire ways to get the federal government to crack down on your legalization experiment under existing Department of Justice guidelines commonly referred to as the Cole Memorandum. Sessions pounced, though not with the alacrity observers had expected. In a July...

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Disaster For Big Pharma As 50% Of People Report Quitting Pills For CBD

by Carey Wedler/ANTIMEDIA – According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, an online medical cannabis community, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. The survey of over 2,400 respondents found forty-two percent of CBD users — whether they used marijuana-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD — “have left their traditional medications behind altogether and now use cannabis instead.” The survey summarized that roughly “66% of CBD users indicated that CBD products are either ‘more effective’ or ‘much more effective’ in relieving their medical conditions than are over-the-counter (OTC) products.” Further, “pproximately 52% of this consumer group indicated that their CBD products are either ‘more effective’...

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Sen. Booker Introduces ‘most far-reaching’ Bill to Legalize Marijuana Ever

by Walter Einenkel – On Tuesday morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted this out. Cory Booker  ✔@CoryBooker Today at 12:30pm ET I’m introducing the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana at federal level. Watch live: http://cor.bo/2tX20Rx  9:29 AM – Aug 1, 2017 According to numerous outlets, the bill that Sen. Booker plans to introduce would be similar to the one Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced in 2015, but with an extra push on the part of the federal government to incentivize states to legalize. Where Booker’s bill goes further is it actively encourages states to legalize cannabis. Specifically, the bill leverages federal funds to incentivize legalization in states that have enforced laws against marijuana in a way that disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color — a category that includes virtually every state. (A 2015 report from the Sentencing Project, for one, estimated that black Americans are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested...

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Sessions Gets Ready to Come After Cannabis

by Conover Kennard – Because there’s totally nothing else better for the Trump administration to do, it’s about to crack down on marijuana users. Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t find much support from voters on this as support to legalize marijuana has risen to an all time high. Sessions leads the amateur president’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety which is expected to release a report next week. Critics are concerned that the report will try to link weed to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences. And there is no link to violent crime and smoking weed. The Hill reports: Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27. “Task Force...

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New Research Shows Potential on How Cannabis Can Reverse Brain Aging

by TWB – As research uncovers more and more health benefits of cannabis, it is clear that the stigma of cannabis use is steadily falling away, a fact which is reflected in the increasing use among the senior population. One study found that between 2006 and 2013, rates of cannabis use in people age 50 to 64 increased by 60 percent, while use among those over 65 increased by a whopping 250 percent. In light of recent research, this could be greatly beneficial for those in this age range – a new study reveals that cannabis can reverse brain aging. One of the most noticeable symptoms of brain aging is degrading memory performance. And, while a decrease in cognitive functionality is expected with aging, more alarming symptoms could signal the onset of dementia, a devastating condition that greatly reduces a person’s quality of life due to its impact on memory, awareness, and mood; in fact,...

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Harvard Study: Smoking Cannabis Actually Improves Brain Function

by Amanda Froelich – Preliminary findings from McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University indicate that pot actually improves cognitive performance. Fortunately, new findings from a study published in Frontiers In Pharmacology seem to support arguments for its decriminalization. Preliminary investigations by medical researchers from McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University indicate that pot actually improves cognitive performance. For the study, entitled “Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function,” behavioral scientists tracked 24 certified medical marijuana patients over a three-month dosing period. The patients were repeatedly measured for cognitive proficiency through a series of intelligence tests, including the STrrop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test. Lead researcher, Staci Gruber, is the director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital. As KINDLAND reports, her initial report is positive. The first benefit reported is that...

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Vermont Legislature Becomes First in Nation to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

by Mike Riggs – Bill now heads to Gov. Phil Scott. The Vermont House passed legislation today that would remove all criminal and civil penalties for adults over 21 who possess one ounce or less of marijuana, making Vermont the first state in the nation to pass a legalization measure through its legislature rather than by ballot initiative. The law, passed by the Vermont Senate earlier this month, would also allow adults to grow their own plants. It does not allow for taxation and regulation, which means no selling and no buying. If Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signs the legislation, a prohibition on public consumption would also remain in place. “I’ll take a look at the bill, but I’ve been pretty clear I’d like to see some improvements to ensure a structure in place to protect public safety in Vermont,” Scott told MyNBC5. He also said the bill is not “a...

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Roger Goodell Says Medical Marijuana Might Not Be Safe Enough For Grown Men Who Hurt Each Other For a Living

by Mike Riggs – Football is more dangerous than pot. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t ready to take medical marijuana off the league’s list of banned substances because the drug might be “negative to the health of our players,” he told ESPN on Friday. More from the man who suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson–who’s undergone two surgeries related to Crohn’s disease–for 10 games as a result of his medical marijuana use: “I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? “Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. “And...

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It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana and Abolish the Drug Czar

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | News Analysis – With its lengthy name and familiar acronym, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is one of the oldest pro-legalization lobbies on Capitol Hill, and the group is tired of waiting for a good drug czar to come around. So, NORML is asking the White House to abolish the position altogether, just as President Trump is reportedly preparing to appoint Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania to the office. Marijuana legalization proponents have plenty of problems with Marino becoming the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the position informally known as “drug czar,” but that’s not the only reason NORML wants the entire “anti-science” agency closed. The ONDCP has long been a center of command for the war on drugs, a bloody and chaotic conflict that is widely seen as a costly failure. Unfortunately for NORML and...

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Proposes Fewer Pot Arrests in Drug War

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – More than 260,000 immigrants were deported for drug offenses in a five-year period. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is not a “factor in the drug war” and that the solution is “not arresting a lot of users.” The “War on Drugs”— one that has largely focused on the cross-border import of controlled substances such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine produced in Latin American countries and transported into the United States — has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of thousands of people for marijuana possession. In turn, these arrests have triggered severe immigration consequences because of the punitive legislation that grew out of this country’s “War on Drugs” policies. During an appearance on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd, Kelly de-emphasized the role marijuana plays in the “drug war,” instead placing the blame on Mexican-produced methamphetamine and heroin, and cocaine...

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Oregon Responds to Sessions’ Threat by Creating a Bill to Protect Marijuana Customers

by Walter Einenkel – With new Attorney General Jeff Sessions trying to strum up the old-timey, racist, and not true idea that violence surrounding marijuana use has risen over the past decades, the states that allow legal recreational marijuana use have begun to make sure their citizens’ privacy is being protected. Alaska and Colorado already have laws that do not allow for marijuana retail stores to maintain a digital “paper trail” of customers’ private and personal information. Oregon state lawmakers who fear heightened marijuana enforcement by federal agents overwhelmingly approved Monday a proposal to protect pot users from having their identities or cannabis-buying habits from being divulged by the shops that make buying pre-rolled joints and “magic” brownies as easy as grabbing a bottle of whiskey from the liquor store. The measure passed easily and now waits for Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s signature. This bill has bipartisan support which is a...

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The Dallas Cowboys’ Owner Is Right: NFL Should Change its Nonsensical Marijuana Prohibition

by Eric Boehm – Jerry Jones is as unlikeable as an NFL owner could be, but he’s right about this. Football’s prohibition on weed makes no sense for players or teams. If a recent lawsuit filed by former National Football League players is to be believed, professional football teams hand out powerful painkillers by the handful on the sidelines before games, after practices, during halftimes, and just about any time a player complains of any injury or nagging pain. But while America’s most popular sports league is awash in opioids, the NFL maintains a strict rule against players’ use of marijuana—either for recreational purposes or as an alternative way to treat aches and pains. Sports are a mirror for the culture that watches them, and the NFL’s contradictory positions on those two types of pain treatments certainly reflects both the rising opioid crisis in America and the ongoing effort to come...

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Checkpoints Now Include Mouth Swabs To Check If You’ve Smoked Weed Days Ago

by: Justin Gardner / The Free Thought Project – The mouth swab test can give positive results even if the person did not use cannabis that day, but this “evidence” is still admissible in court. San Diego, CA – On St. Patrick’s Day, California’s southernmost metropolis decided to debut a roadside test for those suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis. Several “sobriety checkpoints” were set up throughout the city with the standard invasions of privacy, but this time they added a mouth swab test known as the Drager 5000. If a cop suspects a driver of being high, they request that he or she take the mouth swab test, and perhaps a field sobriety test as well. They’re trying to gather evidence to incriminate you, although the mouth swab test is not mandatory. The Drager 5000, already in use in other countries and cities such as Los Angeles and...

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Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia last week that legalizing marijuana would not make the United States “a better place,” and he is “astonished” by the suggestion that cannabis could be used to combat the nation’s “heroin crisis.” Two days later, New Mexico — which has suffered from by high rates of opiate-related deaths for years — moved to do just that. On Friday, New Mexico’s legislature approved a bill that would make patients diagnosed with opiate disorders eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. The idea already has the blessing of the state’s Medical Advisory Board, and if approved by the governor, New Mexico would become the first state to specifically to put opiate disorders on its list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis products. A growing field of research suggests...

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Jeff Sessions: Legal Pot Drives Violent Crime, Statistics be Damned

by Alan Pyke – The Attorney General revives debunked pot-crime link. While the Trump administration has yet to take any formal action on marijuana policy, its words continue to signal a crackdown. On Monday, days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.” In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized. Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales...

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Most Republicans Oppose Federal Interference With Marijuana Legalization

by Jacob Sullum – A DOJ crackdown on state-licensed cannabusinesses would be contrary to public opinion, Trump’s promises, and the Constitution. Yesterday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Justice Department under newly installed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be more inclined to enforce the federal ban on marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use. A large majority of Americans, including most Republicans, think that’s a bad idea, according to poll numbers released the same day as Spicer’s comments. Answering a question from an Arkansas reporter wondering how the DOJ will respond to that state’s new medical marijuana law, Spicer said “there’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.” He reiterated President Trump’s support for laws that allow patients to use marijuana for symptom relief, which 28 states have enacted. Spicer also noted that Congress has repeatedly approved a spending rider that...

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Pot Protesters Welcome President Trump With 4,200 Joints (VIDEO)

by Todd Krainin & Joshua Swain – “We’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is “waiting in line for marijuana,” says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation’s capital. Eidinger and his colleagues spent the day handing out thousands of free joints to anyone in D.C. who wanted one. It’s a way of “welcoming Donald Trump to Washington,” he says, “and letting him know we’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” Produced by Todd Krainin and Josh Swain. Camera by Swain, Mark McDaniel, and Todd Krainin, who also edited.   Reprinted with permission from Reason.com

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Huge Scientific Study Refutes the Federal Government’s Stance on Marijuana

by Laurel Raymond – It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know.” In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors. The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research. It is particularly significant, however, that the review states...

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Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

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Thousands Of Free Joints Will Be Passed Out In DC On Inauguration Day

by Amanda Froelich – For the 58th Presidential Inauguration, 4,200 free “legally grown cannabis” joints will be passed out to activists who support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. In case you missed it, the real winner of the 2016 U.S. election was marijuana. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote and Hillary Clinton the popular vote, but more Americans supported the recreational legalization of cannabis than either main Presidential contender.  Now, approximately 20% of all Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and 28 states have approved medical marijuana. This development is expected to bring $7 billion in annual sales to the cannabis industry, which will positively benefit the country’s economy. Not only is the herb safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, as it kills 0 people per year, it is an effective anti-anxiety and pain-relieving substance. Additionally, CBD oil (which doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound)...

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“Green is Gold” is the Feel Good Marijuana Movie You’ve Been Waiting For (TRAILER)

by C.M. WATTS – Ready for the next great marijuana film? Because these clips from the recently released movie, Green is Gold, are bound to tug on your heart strings. Green is Gold is an award-winning, heartwarming movie following a 13-year-old boy as he moves in with his older brother after his father’s incarceration. But his older brother’s occupation of growing marijuana leads the two down a tangled path of brotherhood, family and learning how to get buy in this world. Writer, directed and star Ryon Baxter presents a different look at those active in the marijuana industry of the prohibition era. With each clip – including the TWB exclusive below – viewer can see each characters reactions to what most would consider seemingly “normal” life events. However, from their past and current experiences, the world or marijuana teaches them so much more. Green is Gold Learn more at...

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Licensing Medical Marijuana Stirs Up Trouble for States

by Rebecca Beitsch – The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry. The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict. States have struggled with how to give out potentially lucrative medical marijuana licenses — trying to balance public health concerns against an...

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On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

by Jacob Sullum – The president plans to do something about it “as a private citizen.” In a new interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama comes as close as he ever has to endorsing marijuana legalization, saying, “I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” Tobacco and alcohol, of course, are not prohibited by state or federal law, so the implication is that marijuana shouldn’t be either. But Obama apparently is waiting until he leaves office to say so explicitly: I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I’ve already said…that it is untenable over the long term for...

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Obama Administration Breaks 1,000 Commutations Threshold (VIDEO)

by Scott Shackford – Another 79 granted mercy over federal drug war sentences. It took almost his entire presidency to get it rolling, but President Barack Obama will have ended his term granting more than 1,000 federal prisoners mercy from incredibly long federal sentences placed on them due to severe drug war laws. The president took to Facebook to announce another 79 commutations. He used the story of Ramona Brant, who was indicted and imprisoned for life over her relationship with a man who was involved in a drug ring. She was released back in February and filmed a video talking about her experiences earlier in the year. Obama commented on Facebook: Ramona’s story should serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to reform the sentencing laws for drug crimes in this country. It makes no sense for a nonviolent drug offender to be serving decades, or...

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Victories for Eight of Nine Marijuana Initiatives Hasten the Collapse of Prohibition

by Jacob Sullum – Voters made marijuana legal in four more states and approved medical access in four others. Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton was not the only big surprise produced by Tuesday’s elections. Even those of us who were rooting for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots this year did not expect so many of them to pass. Yesterday voters made marijuana legal for recreational use in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) and approved or expanded medical access in four more (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota). The only loss was in Arizona, where voters who very narrowly approved medical use in 2010 declined to take the further step of making marijuana legal just for fun. The margins of victory were also surprising. After falling short just two years ago, a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana got 71 percent of the vote in Florida, 11 points...

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Pot, Death, and Minimum Wage: 6 Things to Pay Attention to This Election (VIDEO)

by Austin Bragg & Nick Gillespie – There’s more to this election than Trump and Clinton. There’s more on the ballot in 2016 than the giant trainwreck on national television. Let’s stop rubbernecking for a minute and take a look at 6 other important things at stake on November 8th. Pot is on the ballot in 9 states, which means some form of legalized marijuana could potentially exist in 29 different states. That could be a tipping point for reform, as public approval for marijuana is at an all time high. Maine is tired of having a governor that more people voted against than for, so they came up with Question 5, which would implement ranked choice voting in the state. It’s a system designed to remove the third party spoiler effect, with voters ranking their candidates and dropping last place finishers until someone has a majority. Minimum wage hikes are...

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Marijuana Legalization Looks Likely in Three States

by Jacob Sullum – Polling also suggests Florida will become the first Southern state to allow medical use. According to the latest American Values Survey, conducted last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, a record 63 percent of Americans favor “making the use of marijuana legal,” up from 43 percent in 2012 and 44 percent last year. That result, which was released on Tuesday, comes a week after Gallup reported that 60 percent of Americans think “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” a record for that survey, and two weeks after the Pew Research Center reported that 57 percent of respondents in its latest survey endorsed that proposition, yet another record. But as Washington Post drug policy blogger Christopher Ingraham notes, these results do not necessarily signal a clean sweep for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots a week from Tuesday, since the surveys use national samples...

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Public Support for Recreational Pot Legalization Hits Record High

by Nadia Prupis – Results come as five states consider legalization measures in November election. Public support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the U.S. is at a historic high—so to speak—of 60 percent, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday. The results come just as a growing number of states vote to legalize recreational marijuana, with another five states casting ballots on the issue this November. Local surveys indicate the efforts are likely to pass in Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. Nevada, the final state considering legalization, seems more conflicted. (Voters will also decide on medical marijuana questions in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.) A Pew Research Center poll released last week found similar results. Gallup first asked the question in 1969 and found that public support for legalization stood at 12 percent. It increased slightly to 28 percent during the mid-’70s, but fell back down during the...

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The Alcohol Industry Is Funding Anti-Marijuana Efforts

by JULIE FIDLER – Like Big Pharma, Big Booze fears competition. Earlier this month, I wrote about how Insys Therapeutics, a drug company that sells only fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly opioid, has been fighting marijuana legalization efforts in Arizona. Well, it’s not just the pharmaceutical industry that is bankrolling anti-marijuana campaigns; the alcohol industry is in on it, too. Insys donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an anti-legalization organization. As it turns out, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association also gave $10,000 to the group. However, Arizona isn’t the only state where the alcohol industry is trying to stop marijuana from becoming legalized. The Massachusetts-based Beer Distributors PAC contributed $25,000 to Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, another anti-legalization group. In fact, the PAC is one of the campaign’s top three donors, and represents 16 of the state’s beer distributors. On top of that, the...

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Marijuana Use Is Up On College Campuses, But Other Drug Use Is Down

by JULIE FIDLER – A new study shows that the number of college students who use pot continues to rise, but they’re more often rejecting other, harder drugs, including amphetamines and opioids. The Findings On Marijuana The researchers’ findings come from the annual Monitoring the Future study, in which between 1,000 and 1,500 college students are surveyed each year. In 2006, 30% of college students reported using marijuana. By 2015, that number had risen to 38%. Daily or nearly-daily pot use (2o or more times in the previous 30 days) reached nearly 6% in 2014 – the highest level of daily use in 34 years. That number dipped slightly, however, to less than 5% in 2015. Last year, 1 in every 22 college student surveyed said they used cannabis at least 20 times a month. About 2/3 of college kids said they don’t see anything wrong with toking up once in...

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Seriously ‘Sinister’ Big Pharma: Opioid Maker Bankrolls Opposition to Pro-Pot Referendum

by Lauren McCauley – “You have a company using profits from the sale of what has been called ‘the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market’ to prevent adults from using a far less harmful substance.” It has been revealed that the maker of a powerful, addictive opioid drug is bankrolling the opposition to the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use in Arizona. The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday that Insys Therapeutics, the company behind the fentanyl-based medication Subsys, made a $500,000 donation to the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), which is leading the campaign against Proposition 205. On the ballot in November, Prop. 205 would allow people 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes as well as establish a department to regulate the drug’s cultivation and sale. It...

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The American Legion Wants Marijuana Reclassified to Help Treat PTSD

by Scott Shackford – How much do politicians really care about veterans’ health? These aren’t your filthy hippies and stoners looking for an excuse to toke (not that there’s anything wrong with that!): The American Legion is calling for the federal government to reclassify marijuana to acknowledge its potential benefits as a medical treatment. As Jacob Sullum previously noted, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is stubbornly refusing to change the federal classification of marijuana as a drug that has no “accepted medical use” until science proves them wrong. Fortunately they’re easing off on the Catch-22 situation that has resulted in this classification making it extremely difficult for researchers to perform the very scientific testing that could determine marijuana’s medical value. One of the potential medical values of medical marijuana is as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And in what must certainly at this point make it abundantly clear where...

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Task Force Offers Hints of What Legal Pot Will Look Like in Canada

by Jacob Sullum – The regulations could be looser in some respects than rules adopted by U.S. states Delivering on a campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to introduce legislation next spring that will legalize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. In the meantime, a government-appointed Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is supposed to hammer out the details, addressing the questions posed by a discussion paper it published last week. Although the paper gives no firm answers, it suggests that Canada’s regulatory regime could be stricter in some ways than the rules adopted by the four U.S. states that allow recreational use of marijuana but looser in others. Here are some of the major issues the paper covers: Production. Based on Canada’s experience with licensed home cultivation and government-controlled production of medical marijuana, the task force concludes that “neither approach would be in the public interest in the...

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Republican Obstructionism Is About To Make An Elderly Disabled Couple Homeless

by Shannon Argueta – An elderly, disabled couple in New Hampshire is suffering thanks to the United States’ ridiculous classification of marijuana. Lorraine Sevigny, 61, and Brian Cardinale, 59, may be evicted from their apartment after police raided their home and found a tiny amount of marijuana — that the couple uses for medicinal purposes — in a jar. On May 10, Lebanon police carried out a search warrant on the apartment, discovered the marijuana and issued them a citation. Police say they conducted the search after some busy-body an anonymous source provided them with “drug intel.” Sevingy told officers that she uses the plant to relieve pain from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident forty years ago. Cardinale smokes pot, in addition to taking 18 other drugs, to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). His debilitating illness, which attacks the central nervous system, has forced him to walk with a cane. “Stairs are my...

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Toronto Police Crack Down On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

by Johnny Green – Thursday was a sad day in Toronto as Toronto Police cracked down on several medical marijuana dispensaries as part of ‘Project Claudia.’ While it is unknown how many dispensaries were raided, I saw many reports on social media that put the number as high as 40. Those reports are from social media, so take the number for what you will, but the fact of the matter is that a very large number of dispensaries were raided, which is a huge waste of law enforcement resources. Per the Toronto Sun: Giant bags of weed locked in police cruisers, young people in handcuffs inside dispensaries, signs that say “Closed” or “Closing.” This was the very public face Thursday of Project Claudia — an effort by Toronto Police to crack down on stores selling medical marijuana over the counter. Police wouldn’t say how many marijuana dispensaries were raided across the city...

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DOJ Drops Prosecution of Biggest Medical Marijuana Dispensary in US

by JULIE FIDLER – Providing medical marijuana to more than 100,000 people On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped a 4-year-long effort to shut down Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, the largest marijuana dispensary in the US. Employee Derek Flores, right, waits for a patient at a display case at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Calif. The center will be one of the models for Maine’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. Credit: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer Providing medical marijuana to more than 100,000 patients, Harborside opened in 2006, and the Justice Department first tried to shutter its doors and seize the buildings that house the business in 2012. The city of Oakland sided with Harborside and sued, arguing that closing the dispensary would harm those who rely on its services and force sick people to seek marijuana illegally on the streets. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but medical...

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Senator Says ‘Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana’

by Jacob Sullum – Yeah, but what if they eat it? Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the two oldest members of the U.S. Senate and two of its most enthusiastic drug warriors, held a hearing that posed the question, “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public From the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?” You can probably guess their answer, especially if you know that three of the witnesses chosen by Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Feinstein, a California Democrat, are prominent marijuana foes: a U.S. attorney from California, Nebraska’s attorney general, and an adviser to the anti-pot group SAM. The fourth witness, an analyst from the Government Accountability Office, was there to present a report concluding that the Justice Department “should document its approach to monitoring the effects of legalization.” Grassley complained that “the Department of Justice decided to all but abandon the enforcement of federal law relating to the...

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The DEA says Potential Game-Changing Ruling on Marijuana Classification Will be Coming Within Weeks

by Jen Hayden – This is potentially great news for the millions of Americans who smoke pot and use cannabis oil products and the hundreds or thousands of new marijuana dispensaries across several states. The DEA may soon be rescheduling marijuana: In a memo to lawmakers this week, the DEA announced plans to decide “in the first half of 2016” whether or not it will reschedule marijuana, according to The Washington Post. Cannabis is now listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug, a categorization it shares with other drugs, such as heroin and LSD, which the U.S. government defines as “the most dangerous drugs” that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Of course, it is nothing short of absurd that it is in the same category with heroin, which caused more than 11,000 deaths last year in the United States. Aside from potentially impacting criminal justice...

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Michigan Republicans Are Trying To Change Election Law To Stop Liberal Ballot Initiatives

by EMILY ATKIN – Grassroots groups in Michigan say they’re about to achieve something big. This year, if they get enough petition signatures, voters might get to decide at the ballot box whether to ban fracking and legalize marijuana. There’s just one problem: the state’s Republican lawmakers are now trying to change the rules in the middle of the game. The lawmakers aren’t opposing marijuana legalization or fracking bans on their merits — they’re trying to change election law to make it harder for citizen groups to get their issues on the ballot in the first place. Their bill to change citizen lawmaking in Michigan has so far been supported by the American Petroleum Institute, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It could land on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk as soon as this week. “They are trying to stop cold,” said Luanne...

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SCOTUS Turns Away Oklahoma and Nebraska’s Challenge to Legal Pot in Colorado

by Jacob Sullum – Perturbed by smuggling, the two states had demanded an end to their neighbor’s licensing and regulation of marijuana merchants Today the Supreme Court declined to hear Oklahoma and Nebraska’s challenge to marijuana legalization in neighboring Colorado, which they say harms them through interstate smuggling. They argued that legalization in Colorado had “a direct and significant detrimental impact” on them by forcing “the diversion of limited manpower and resources to arrest and process suspected and convicted felons involved in the increased illegal marijuana trafficking or transportation.” The Obama administration had urged the Court to reject Oklahoma and Nebraska’s petition, saying their beef did not amount to a bona fide interstate controversy, since it grew out of lawbreaking that was neither directed nor approved by Colorado. Oklahoma and Nebraska argued that Colorado’s licensing, regulation, and taxation of marijuana growers and distributors violates the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and therefore the Supremacy Clause, which makes...

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Leading California Anti-Pot Activist Says Marijuana Causes ‘Almost All’ Mass Murders

by Jacob Sullum – Roger Morgan, who is spearheading the campaign against legalization, says cannabis really is a “killer weed.” Harry Anslinger, who directed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1932 to 1962, famously described marijuana as a “killer weed” that inspired irrational acts of savage violence. Anslinger’s method was simple: He would identify crimes committed by marijuana users and assert that the drug must have been the cause. It was not the most scientific approach, but it was good enough for government work. Roger Morgan, the anti-pot activist who is spearheading the campaign against legalization in California, has managed to out-Anslinger Anslinger by claiming, in a recent Reason TV interview, that in “almost all of the mass murders that we’ve had in recent years,” the perpetrator “has been a heavy marijuana user, because it changes the brain.” For now let us overlook, as Anslinger did, the distinction between correlation and...

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Corporate Feeding Frenzy Begins As Canada Prepares to Legalize Marijuana

by Th0rn – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were recently elected in part on the promise to legalize marijuana — not just medical marijuana but marijuana for recreational use. As the day when they plan to introduce the relevant legislation draws near, both corporations and governments are smelling not just smoke in the air, but the sweet, sweet scent of huge amounts of money to be made: Canada’s biggest drugstore chain is exploring the possibility of getting into medical-marijuana sales in a move that would dramatically alter the landscape of the new industry, bringing one of the country’s best-known retailers into the business if the strategy went ahead. Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. has held multiple meetings and phone conversations with licensed medical-marijuana producers across Canada over the past year about carrying a variety of brands in their drugstores, according to people involved in those conversations. The chain, which has more...

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Former Attorney General Eric Holder Comes Out In Favor Of Marijuana Rescheduling

by AARON RUPAR – In a newly published PBS “Frontline” interview, former Attorney General Eric Holder comes out in support of reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I substance — a classification reserved for dangerous drugs that have no medical use — into a less restrictive category. “I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled,” Holder says. “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate.” That statement goes a bit further than Holder’s comments on marijuana when he was attorney general. In September 2014, he said rescheduling the drug is “something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.” But the current scheduling scheme as specified by the Controlled Substances Act is far from scientific. Marijuana falls under Schedule I, while highly addictive and potent drugs such as cocaine, opium poppy,...

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