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RainDog's Journal
RainDog's Journal
December 15, 2011

The Government's Marijuana Problem


EVEN IF I wanted to get marijuana, I wouldn’t know where to start looking. That predicament should not be true for the terminally ill. But the legal limbo regarding medical marijuana has left many state governments deciding between promoting patient care and exposing people to prosecution. Finally, the states are pushing back.

Decisions about marijuana’s medical benefits are made by the Justice Department’s Drug Enforcement Agency; decisions about whether to prosecute those who violate federal law against marijuana use reside with local US attorneys’ offices; decisions about whether there can be more medical studies are made by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose name gives you a sense of its priorities.

...even in the states that allow medical marijuana, federal authorities keep bringing cases against medical marijuana distributors, their clients, and the landlords that lease to them. Some may deserve it and just be fronts for recreational use. But because federal and state laws overlap, the only assurance the Justice Department can give to state supporters of medical marijuana is a promise that prosecutions against caregivers or patients are a low priority. That sentiment was reiterated by Attorney General Eric Holder just last week.

Assurances are not legally binding. This leaves governors in a terrible quandary about how, and whether, to proceed with laws allowing the distribution of marijuana for medical use. In Rhode Island, before Governor Lincoln Chafee ever enforced a law allowing distribution by “compassion centers,’’ he received a letter from the state’s US attorney to “ensure that there is no confusion.’’ With a passing reference to Holder’s priorities, the letter warns that Justice will vigorously enforce laws against the manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana “even if such activities are permitted under state law.’’

As the writer of this editorial notes, the federal government lags behind the science, the desire of the American population and compassion.

It's time for the DEA to reschedule cannabis, as four governors have recently requested, and as five democrats and one Republican have attempted to do via HR 2306 - a bill whose progress is stalled by one Republican representative from Texas.

A recent Senate subcommittee report noted that the war on drugs is a failure; the primary beneficiaries of current policies and actions are military contractors and drug lords.

It's time for marijuana to be handled by the FDA and medical professsionals, not the D.E.A or the N.I.D.A.
December 15, 2011

Cigarette and Alcohol Use Down Among Teens. Cannabis Use Up

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) survey includes teens in 8th, 10th, & 12th grades. Other drugs showing some evidence of decline in use this year include cocaine, crack cocaine and inhalants. Full survey here: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/

The 17 states with the most usage among teens

1. New Mexico (29%)
2. Mass (27.1)
3. Rhode Island (26.3%)
4. Delaware (25.8%)
5. New Hampshire (25.6%)
6. Colorado (24.8%)
7. Vermont (24.6%)
8. Arizona (23.7%)
9. Montana (23. 1%)
10. Alaska (22.7%)
11. Hawaii (22.1%)
12. Maryland (21.9%)
13. Conn. (21.8%)
14. Florida (21.4)
15. Illinois (20.1)
16. Indiana (20.9%)
17. New York (20.9%)

Interesting that California, Oregon and Washington State aren't among those reporting the greatest usage among teens yet these are the states with some of the most liberal cannabis laws for the last 15 years.

Medical marijuana has been the law in California since 1996. A 2007 study from Texas A&M found “Our results indicate that the introduction of medical cannabis laws was not associated with an increase in cannabis use among either arrestees or emergency department patients in cities and metropolitan areas located in four states in the USA (California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington),” researchers reported in the International Journal of Drug Policy. “Consistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug.

Abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17689362

It might be more realistic to note that teenagers have gotten the message that cannabis is safer than alcohol or cigarettes. If cannabis were regulated like alcohol and tobacco, access for teens would be more difficult.

Paul Armentano weighed in on this issue earlier in the year.

In truth, marijuana use rates as a percentage of the overall population vary only slightly among states, despite states having remarkably varying degrees of marijuana enforcement and punishments. Several states with the most lenient laws regarding marijuana possession — such as Nebraska (possession of up to one ounce is a civil citation) and Mississippi (possession of up to 30 grams is a summons) — report having some of the lowest rates of marijuana use, while several states that maintain strict penalties for personal users report comparatively high levels of use.

quoted from this link: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/134069-drug-czar-blames-rising-teen-pot-use-on-medical-cannabis-laws-rather-than-on-the-administrations-own-failed-policies

The Marijuana Policy Project reported this from 2005: http://www.mpp.org/reports/teen-use.html

They look at not just current usage but overall lifetime usage among teens.

December 14, 2011

His Enemy Was Intransigence: how Peter McWilliams died

Peter McWilliams was a libertarian. Don't hold that against him. He wrote a book, Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do, in 1993 which discussed the uselessness of laws to deal with victimless crimes, such as prohibition of cannabis.

In 1996, Peter developed AIDS and lymphoma. Medical marijuana saved his life. Here is what he had to say about the situation in 2000, in an address to a libertarian convention (you can find a link to the full speech via the link below. Clinton was president when McWilliams was going through his first bout of chemo.)

Back to March 1996. I was being pumped full of chemotherapy, which causes nausea, and radiation, which causes nausea, and AIDS medications, which cause nausea, and none of the prescription antinausea medications were working. The nausea, however, ended instantly with medical marijuana. With one puff of marijuana, the nausea turned to hunger. Thank Mother Nature for that ( Mother Nature is one of Nature's Gods, from the Declaration of Independence ). Medical marijuana has been around for more than 5,000 years and it hasn't killed anyone.

It is astonishing how well it works.

And you have to understand how serious it is when you can't keep your medication down -- it's not just uncomfortable, if you can't keep that medication down, it's not going to save your life. And that is the important point. We're talking about life and death when we're talking about treating AIDS and cancer. Half the people not taking the AIDS combination therapy -- some 40 percent of all who try -- do so because of nausea. This is a shame, because the AIDS medications are working so well for those who can tolerate them. I am one of them. But 20 percent stop because of nausea. I wonder how many of those 20 percent, if they had access to legal inexpensive marijuana, would have that same problem. Every day people are denied cancer chemotherapy because the doctors stop treatment knowing that they will die of malnutrition if they go another day without eating. Nausea is an unsolved problem of medicine and marijuana is the finest antinausea medication known to science.

At the same time our leaders have lied about this consistently. Our leaders whom we trust, whom we look up to. From the Democratic president to the Drug Czar to the Republican leaders in Congress, in both the House and the Senate. They have lied to us about medical marijuana. They have lied to us about the harm of marijuana. There is no more benign medicinal substance known to human beings. And we have been lied to about this. And so this was my first epiphany, watching my normal run to the bathroom, with one puff of marijuana, turn into a meandering raid on the kitchen. And with that epiphany I said, "I am not going to rest until medical marijuana is available to every sick person who needs it in the United States."

And here I think it is important to note that the IMMEDIATE effect of cannabis on nausea is due to the way in which the cannabis is used. It is SMOKED. By smoking, the cannabis does not have to go through the liver via the stomach and make its way to the brain to turn off the nausea, a process that can take up to two hours. When cannabis is smoked, it goes from the lungs to the heart to the brain within half a minute. Actually, the time is more like 2-15 seconds.

Recently, the Drug Czar specifically noted that the federal govt. finds no medical use for "smoked marijuana." Well, that must be because the federal govt. doesn't want to find it because the evidence has been available for decades. The Obama administration is lying about smoked cannabis and is using that lie as a foundation for the continuation of prohibition. They are lying. Let's be clear. They are lying about science.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that prohibition is the creationism of social conservatism in the realm of medicine.

In the face of absolute proof regarding a scientific issue, prohibitionists are as idiotic as creationists - but are more harmful to society. It has been more than a decade since the federal govt has had to answer for their crimes against the American people regarding prohibition. It seems like we need a Scopes trial for the prohibitionists...a hearing on the science.

One of the people that the anti-science prohibitionists killed was Peter McWilliams. Here is how they killed him.

On June 14, Natalie Fisher went to Peter McWilliams' home, where she worked as housekeeper to the wheelchair-bound victim of AIDS and cancer. In the bathroom on the second floor, she found his life-less body. He had choked to death on his own vomit... (Peter) was diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in early 1996...In 1996, California voters enacted a law legalizing the use of marijuana by people, like Peter, who needed it for medical reasons...Like many people stricken with AIDS or cancer, he had great difficulty keeping down the drugs that controlled or mitigated those afflictions. He began to smoke marijuana to control the drug-induced nausea. It saved his life: by early 1998, both his cancer and his AIDS were under control.

After the Clinton administration announced it would ignore the state law and continue to prosecute marijuana users who needed the drug to stay alive, it remained very difficult for others who needed medical marijuana to get the drug. So Peter helped finance the efforts of Todd McCormick to cultivate marijuana for distribution to those who needed it for medical reasons....His articulate advocacy of legalizing medical marijuana brought him to the attention of federal authorities, who got wind of Todd McCormick's attempt to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes and of Peter's involvement with it. And it came to pass that in the early morning of December 17, 1997, federal agents invaded his home and business, and confiscated a wide array of his property ( including his computers, one of whose hard disks contained the book he was writing ). In July 1998 they arrested him on charges of conspiring to grow marijuana.

His mother and brother put up their homes as bond and he was released from jail to await his trial. One of the conditions of his bail was that he smoke no marijuana. Unwilling to risk the homes of his mother and brother, he obeyed the order. His viral load, which had fallen to undetectable levels, now soared to dangerous levels:

"Unable to keep down the life-saving prescription medications, by November 1998, four months after my arrest, my viral load soared to more than 256,000. In 1996 when my viral load was only 12,500, I had already developed an AIDS-related cancer .... Even so, the government would not yield. It continued to urine test me. If marijuana were found in my system, my mother and brother would lose their homes and I would be returned to prison" said Peter.


This is important to note: Because the federal govt, specifically the federal govt under the leadership of the Clinton administration, refused to honor the will of California voters regarding medical marijuana, Peter McWilliams' health deteriorated to the point that he became wheelchair bound.

Before, when he was able to use medical marijuana, his health improved.

After, when the federal govt brought the full force of their power down on someone who was acting legally, and, imo, morally, that person suffocated on his own vomit. The federal govt. had proof, in the person of Peter McWilliams, that smoked marijuana was saving his life and they ignored this - and killed him because of their refusal to acknowledge the proof before their own eyes.

Democrats have been WORSE for people who deal with illness and use medical marijuana for their conditions than Republicans at the federal level. Under the Clinton administration, the DEA engaged in more raids than his Republican predecessor. The same holds true with Obama. This history must change. Democrats must become the rational party regarding medical cannabis.

You have to wonder if they want to look tough - but, you know, kicking cancer patients when they're down is more like the act of a sociopath, not someone who cares about the well being of society.

Nevertheless, the helmet hair heads in D.C. and other political offices can't seem to shake the idea that an attack on marijuana is an attack on the 60s counter culture. Hey, guess what? The 60s are over. So is Nixon and his hatred for those Jews who were smoking pot. The social conservatives cannot even win on legislation to oppress women in Mississippi, fercryinoutloud. The 60s won - deal with it. Climb to the roof of your helmet-haired head, get into your mental helicopters and remove yourselves from your outdated positions.

Oh, and Todd McCormick, the person who was arrested for growing marijuana? He was also a cancer patient.

The War on Drugs in action.


December 13, 2011

Endorsements to Legalize Cannabis / Progress 2010-2011

These statements range from 2010, when Prop. 19 was on the ballot in CA to Dec. 2011.

Norm Stamper, Former FBI chief in Seattle, endorses marijuana legalization initiative (Nov. 2011)


Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced a bill (H.B. 2306) modeled on the 21st amendment to repeal prohibition, to end the federal govt's prohibition of cannabis. This was the first time such a bill has been entered in the house (June 2011.)

Democratic Reps. John Conyers (MI), Steve Cohen (TN), Jared Polis (CO) and Barbara Lee (CA) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Stop the Violence, a high profile group of Canadian business, political, and educational, legal and law enforcement professionals, includes former B.C. Supreme Court justice Ross Lander and B.C.'s former chief coroner Vince Cain, launched a high-profile political campaign to "end the cannabis cash cow of organized crime."

The following Commissioners from the Global Commission on Drug Policy:

» Asma Jahangir
- human rights activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions, Pakistan

» Carlos Fuentes
- writer and public intellectual, Mexico

» César Gaviria
- former President of Colômbia

» Ernesto Zedillo
- former President of México

» Fernando Henrique Cardoso
- former President of Brazil (chair)

» George Papandreou
- Prime Minister of Greece

» George Shultz
- former Secretary of State, United States (honorary chair)

» Javier Solana
- former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Spain

» John Whitehead
- banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial, United States

» Kofi Annan
- former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ghana

» Louise Arbour
- former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group, Canada

» Maria Cattaui
- Member of the Board, Petroplus Holdings; former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Switzerland

» Marion Caspers-Merk
- former State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health, Germany

» Mario Vargas Llosa
- writer and public intellectual, Peru

» Michel Kazatchkine
- executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, France

» Paul Volcker
- former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board, US

» Richard Branson
- entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom

» Ruth Dreifuss
- former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs

» Thorvald Stoltenberg
- former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway


Edward Schumacher-Matos, The Washington Post (2010)

The Editorial Board of the British Medical Journal (2010) - and recommend it be sold in stores like cigarettes and alcohol.

International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, based in Vancouver, Canada (2010)

Roger Pertwee, UK's Leading Pharmacological Expert on Cannabis, Calls for Legalization

Joseph McNamara, Former San Jose Chief of Police, Calls For Legalization of Cannabis

California Council of Churches IMPACT (21 different denominations and over 1.5 million members within the mainstream and progressive Protestant communities of faith) endorses legalization of cannabis

The California council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the state's largest union, endorses legalization in 2010.

Former (Republican) Governor of New Mexico, Gary E. Johnson

John McKay, the prosecutor who sent "prince of pot" Marc Emery to jail

Please feel free to add others that I have missed.

December 13, 2011

9 Huge Blows to the War on Drugs in 2011


most all of these have been covered here in different posts.

Four that don't have their own thread here include:

#3 Gallop Poll Shows Historic Support: 50% of Americans Favor Ending Marijuana Prohibition

For the first time a Gallup poll has found that 50% of Americans support making marijuana legal. Public support for making marijuana legal has shifted dramatically in the last two decades, particularly in the last few years. Gallup has been asking Americans since 1970, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Forty years ago support registered at 12%, rose to 28% percent by the late ‘70s, dipped slightly during the 1980s, and then rose gradually to 36% in 2005. The past six years, however, have witnessed a dramatic jump in support, with important implications for state and national marijuana policy. Majorities of men, liberals, 18-29 year-olds, moderates, Independents, Democrats, 30-49 year-olds, and voters in Western, Midwestern and Eastern states now support legalizing cannabis.

#4. NYPD Commissioner Directs Police to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests

In 2010, the New York City Police Department arrested 50,383 people for low-level marijuana offenses. Arrests for low-level marijuana possession offenses are the number one arrest in New York City, making up 15 percent of all arrests. What makes these record number of arrests even more outrageous is that under 7/8 of an ounce of marijuana is supposed to be decriminalized in New York and a non-arrestable offense. The only reason people should be arrested with under an ounce is if they are smoking it in public or it is in plain view. The NYPD has been stopping and frisking 100,000’s of black and Latino youth and then tricking them to emptying out their pockets. Once the person pulls out the joint or small bag of marijuana, the NYPD says it is “in public view” and arrests them. A campaign led by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, and VOCAL pounded away at Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD for the racist enforcement of marijuana arrests – and in October, NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view.

#5. Thousands in Mexico Take to Street to Protest Drug War

This summer tens of thousands marched across Mexico to protest the drug war and the 50,000 drug prohibition related deaths since President Calderon launched his “surge” against the drug cartels five years ago . The protests were led by journalist and poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed in drug prohibition-related violence. Sicilia has galvanized Mexican society and stirred up international debate. Former President Vincente Fox has been passionately calling for an to drug prohibition as the only way to reduce the carnage in Mexico – and even President Calderon has acknowledged that we need to consider legalization.

#6. Colorado and Washington to Vote on Legalizing Marijuana in 2012

In 2010, Californians voted on Proposition 19, the initiative to control and tax marijuana in California. Prop. 19 both elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy. More people knew about Prop. 19 than any other measure on the ballot this year -- not just in California, but nationwide. In the end, Prop. 19 received more than 46% of the vote, more votes than Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Next year the issue will again be brought to the voters in Colorado and Washington State. Demographics, economics and principle all favor the ultimate demise of marijuana prohibition. Now, the debate is shifting from whether marijuana should be legalized to how.
December 13, 2011

D.E.A. Launders Mexican Drug Cartel Money (N.Y.Times)


(Dec. 2011)

The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders...officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.

...The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.

This operation has expanded into Mexico in spite of the recent reports from the summer of 2011 from the Global Commission on Drugs and a Senate subcommittee that indicated the WoD was a failure after 40 years and untold billions. As Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, said in a media advisory. "Without adequate oversight and management we are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we're getting in return."

The former officials said that the drug agency tried to seize as much money as it laundered — partly in the fees the operatives charged traffickers for their services and another part in carefully choreographed arrests at pickup points identified by their undercover operatives.

And the former officials said that federal law enforcement agencies had to seek Justice Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation. But they said that the cap was treated more as a guideline than a rule, and that it had been waived on many occasions to attract the interest of high-value targets.

Contractors in the Middle East cannot wait to be able to move their operations out of that part of the world and into Mexico. With military equipment now going to local police depts in the U.S., no doubt it would benefit some to be able to sell equipment to Mexico, as well.

Rather than recognize that the war on drugs is a failure, it seems the U.S. is gearing up to reek havoc in our neighbor's house. Few at the centers of power are willing to consider the damage the failure of the drug warriors have created - but, when the top beneficiaries of the war on drugs are military contractors, this reality is no surprise.

If conservatives are concerned about immigration now, just wait until the military contractors ramp up the WoD in Mexico. They'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Personally, I would rather have that 10 million in illegal profits going to the states and nations in which they are laundered, rather than going to criminals and military contractors. But that's just me. Obviously there are bigger issues than health and safety at $take here.

December 12, 2011

Cost Savings: Jeffrey Mirons - senior lecturer in economics at Harvard on the WoD

This study was widely publicized last year. http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12169

Jeffrey A. Miron is a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Professor Miron earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chaired the economics department at Boston University prior to joining the Harvard faculty. Katherine Waldock is a doctoral candidate at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Miron's study looks at legalizing all drugs, not just cannabis.

This report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government.

Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would result from legalization of marijuana and $32.6 billion from legalization of other drugs.

The report also estimates that drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually, assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana and $38.0 billion from legalization of other drugs.

After Miron's study, 500 economists signed a letter in support of legalization.


We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization -- replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation -- would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

Time Magazine/Joe Klein weighs in: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1889166,00.html

...there are big issues here, issues of economy and simple justice, especially on the sentencing side. As Webb pointed out in a cover story in Parade magazine, the U.S. is, by far, the most "criminal" country in the world, with 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners. We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related. That is an awful lot of money, most of it nonfederal, that could be spent on better schools or infrastructure — or simply returned to the public.

At the same time, there is an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana. It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10% pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone. And that's probably a fraction of the revenues that would be available — and of the economic impact, with thousands of new jobs in agriculture, packaging, marketing and advertising...

December 12, 2011

Reagan's Greatest Economic Legacy: Indoor-Grown Hybrid Cannabis

Ronald Reagan may have claimed that evolution is only a theory, but evolutionary genetics and the Reagan-ramped WoD created the new American cannabis and made the cannabis market more lucrative and professionally organized than would have seemed possible before the conservative mindset decided to "fix" it.

Life is full of ironies.

From Michael Pollan in The New York Times magazine, 1996:http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/how-pot-has-grown/

...in little more than a decade, marijuana growing in America had evolved from a hobby of aging hippies into a burgeoning high-tech industry with earnings that are estimated at $32 billion a year. That makes it easily the nation’s biggest cash crop. Unlike corn ($14 billion) or soybeans ($11 billion), however, modern marijuana farming depends less on soil and sunlight than technology, allowing it to thrive not only in the fields of the farm belt but in downtown apartments and lofts, in suburban basements and attics, even in closets.

Fewer than 20 years ago, virtually all the marijuana consumed in America was imported. “Home grown” was a term of opprobrium—”something you only smoked in an emergency,” as one grower old enough to remember put it. Today, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the people assembled in this hall—as well as to the Federal war on drugs, which gave the domestic industry a leg up by protecting it from foreign imports and providing a spur to innovation—American marijuana cultivation has developed to the point where the potency, quality and consistency of the domestic product are considered as good as, if not better than, any in the world.

In an era of global competition, the rise of a made-in-America marijuana industry is one of the more striking—if perhaps least welcome—economic success stories of the 1980s and 90s. Domestic growers now dominate the high end of a market consisting of at least 12 million occasional users; on Wall Street, in Hollywood, on colleges campuses, consumers pay $300 to $500 an ounce for the re-engineered home-grown product, and even more for the “connoisseur” varieties grown by the kind of small, sophisticated growers on hand for the Cannabis Cup. Peering through the haze at the conventioneers milling in the Pax Party House, Brian R. declared in a tone of deep reverence, “There are a lot of true pioneers in this room.”

December 12, 2011

Portugal's Drug Laws Show Results 10 Years On, Experts Say


Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

"There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal," said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered "problematic" -- those who repeatedly use "hard" drugs and intravenous users -- had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added. "This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies."

Portugal's holistic approach had also led to a "spectacular" reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes, he added.

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