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RainDog's Journal
RainDog's Journal
May 18, 2013


From the May 13th analog version of The New Yorker. (Critic at Large: Paint Bombs, by Kelefa Sanneh)

David Graeber, former prof. at Yale, now at Goldsmith's College in London is the author of the recent title "Debt: The First 5000 Years." Graeber, a left anarchist, was involved in the Occupy movement. Anyway, the article had this great quote from Graeber that I thought was worth sharing. (fwiw, what makes him a "left" anarchist is his support for and belief in collectives as self-organizing entities rather than right-wing "private capital" as the self-organizing principle...akin to Chomsky's anarcho-socialism, vs. Randomite libertarians.)

"What reformers have to understand is that they're never going to get anywhere without radicals and revolutionaries to betray. I've never understood why 'progressives' don't understand this. The mainstream right understands it, that's why they go crazy when it looks like someone might be cracking down on far-right militia groups, and so forth. they know it's totally to their political advantage to have people even further to the right than they so they can seem moderate. If only the mainstream left acted the same way."

If we want to change the conversation from responding to the latest right wing demand, he's just indicated how you do it.
May 17, 2013

Overwhelming majority think marijuana should be decriminalized

That's the conclusion from a poll by Reason-Rupe concerning public opinion about the way cannabis users should be treated by our justice and law enforcement system.


When asked which approach they thought the government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana, only 6% responded that they should be sent to jail. 35% of respondents said that these individuals shouldn’t be punished at all, 32% responded they should pay a fine, and 20% said they should have to attended substance abuse courses.

From the available options, the greatest number of poll participants thought there should be no punishment at all, while the second greatest number thought people should pay a fine (which is the way marijuana is treated when decriminalized.)

The good news is that only 6% of the American population is totally fucking stupid and thinks cannabis should result in jail time.

Happy Friday, all!
May 16, 2013

First Hemp Crop in 60 Years


Springfield farmer Ryan Loflin is now watching over one of Colorado's first industrial hemp crops in almost 60 years.

According to the Denver Post , Loflin began planting 60 acres on acreage previously used to grow alfalfa on Monday. He and business partner Chris Thompson also are installing a seed press to produce hemp oil.

May 14, 2013

First Pharmaceutical Treatment for PTSD Within Reach


May 14, 2013 — In a first-of-its-kind effort to illuminate the biochemical impact of trauma, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a connection between the quantity of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, known as CB1 receptors, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the chronic, disabling condition that can plague trauma victims with flashbacks, nightmares and emotional instability.

Their findings, which appear online today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, will also be presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry in San Francisco.

CB1 receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, a diffuse network of chemicals and signaling pathways in the body that plays a role in memory formation, appetite, pain tolerance and mood. Animal studies have shown that psychoactive chemicals such as cannabis, along with certain neurotransmitters produced naturally in the body, can impair memory and reduce anxiety when they activate CB1 receptors in the brain. Lead author Alexander Neumeister, MD, director of the molecular imaging program in the Departments of Psychiatry and Radiology at NYU School of Medicine, and colleagues are the first to demonstrate through brain imaging that people with PTSD have markedly lower concentrations of at least one of these neurotransmitters -- an endocannabinoid known as anandamide -- than people without PTSD. Their study, which was supported by three grants from the National Institutes of Health, illuminates an important biological fingerprint of PTSD that could help improve the accuracy of PTSD diagnoses, and points the way to medications designed specifically to treat trauma.

"There's not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD," says Dr. Neumeister. "That's a problem. There's a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressant simple do not work. In fact, we know very well that people with PTSD who use marijuana -- a potent cannabinoid -- often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from antidepressants and other psychiatric medications. Clearly, there's a very urgent need to develop novel evidence-based treatments for PTSD."

This research is hard to do. Not because the research itself is difficult, but because the National Institute on Drug Abuse controls who gets cannabis for research. They have consistently denied the FDA access in order to fund studies that may ameliorate one of the most debilitating forms of psychological trauma.


Why It's So Hard For Scientists To Study Medical Marijuana

Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians have called for more research into the therapeutic uses of marijuana and for the U.S. government to reconsider its classification as a Schedule I substance.
The University of Mississippi grows and harvests cannabis for studies funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, yet because NIDA's congressionally mandated mission is to research the harmful effects of controlled substances and stop drug abuse, the institute isn't interested in helping establish marijuana as a medicine.

"If you’re going to run a trial to show this is going to have positive effects, they’re essentially not going to allow it," Lyle Craker, a professor and horticulturist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, says.

The federal government's position on marijuana, according to a January 2011 document featured prominently on the DEA's homepage, is that:

The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports [Schedule I] classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision… Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.

Burge tells a different story. "The United States government has gone to great lengths to prevent [medical] research on whole-plant marijuana," he says, though research into isolated components of the plant has gone on.

May 13, 2013

Study: Frequent marijuana use tied to reduced bladder cancer risk

Although presented at a reputable medical association's conference, the study has not yet undergone peer review or been published in a journal. However, the study was composed of 83,000 men and took place over 11 years.


In findings presented last week at the American Urological Association’s annual conference, researchers announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and a significantly reduced bladder cancer risk, USA Today reported Saturday.

They found that men who smoke cigarettes multiply their risk of bladder cancer, while men who smoke only marijuana actually lower their risk. Men who smoke both still had an elevated risk of bladder cancer, but it was lower than those who just smoked tobacco.

“Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer,” study author Dr. Anil A. Thomas told the paper.

More amazing still: study participants who used marijuana more than 500 times a year saw even lower bladder cancer risks than those who only used marijuana occasionally. A total of 41 percent of the men studied said they smoked marijuana, while 57 percent smoked tobacco and 27 percent smoked both.

This study's results follow previous studies (published in peer-reviewed, reputable journals) that indicated anti-cancer properties related to cannabis and lung cancer, breast cancer, and brain tumors. You can read about those in the DU Drug Policy Forum.
May 9, 2013

Colorado: Legislature finalizes historic marijuana legalization


The Colorado legislature made history Wednesday, becoming the first in the country to pass laws regulating recreational marijuana sales and use.

If Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the four major bills on marijuana that the legislature passed this year — and he has indicated he will — this is what the future will hold:

• Marijuana will be sold in specially licensed stores that can also sell pot-related items such as pipes. Only Colorado residents can own or invest in the stores, and only current medical-marijuana dispensary owners can apply to open recreational pot shops for the first nine months. The first stores will open around Jan. 1.

• Colorado residents will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana — the maximum it is legal for non-medical-marijuana patients to possess — at the stores. Out-of-staters can buy only a quarter-ounce at a time. Pot must be sold in child-resistant packages with labels that specify potency. Edible marijuana products will have serving-size limits.

• Voters will have the option of imposing heavy taxes on pot sales. A ballot measure set for November will ask voters to approve a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax on marijuana. The excise tax will fund school construction. The sales tax will pay for regulation of marijuana stores.

(more at link)

Congrats to Colorado voters and to the Democratic Party of Colorado that brought this legislation to pass! The Colorado Democratic Party (as well as many other Democratic Party platforms in states across the country), moved to include marijuana legalization as part of their party platforms.

However, Democrats, Independents and libertarian-minded Republicans voted to approve this historic legislation for the state. This is, truly, a bipartisan issue that reflects the will of the American people regarding outmoded and racist laws that should be erased from the books in the U.S.

A last minute effort to recriminalize marijuana failed in the state legislature before this historic vote.

May 8, 2013

Vermont Senate Votes to Decriminalize Possession of 1oz of mj


The Senate voted 24-6 Tuesday to approve a bill that decriminalizes one ounce of marijuana.

H.200 makes it a civil penalty rather than a criminal offense to possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Under current law it is a misdemeanor to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, punishable by up to six months in jail. Supporters say the change will relieve violators of the disproportionate collateral consequences that often accompany a possession charge.

The Senate modified the bill, as recommended by its Judiciary Committee, which means the House has to approve the changes in order for it reach the governor’s desk. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports decriminalization.

In the Senate version of the bill, the third offense for marijuana possession is still a crime; the House version made it a civil penalty, regardless of the number of offenses. Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, told the Senate that “you really have to work at it” to rack up a third offense, since people can clear their records by completing diversion.
May 7, 2013

Repeal of Amendment 64 (recriminalize mj) failed in Colorado


A last-minute effort by some Colorado lawmakers to repeal Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state last November, was abandoned late Monday night, dying on the calendar.

Sponsored by 24 senators including Senate President John Morse, Senate Concurrent Resolution 13-003 would have put two measures on the 2013 state ballot for voters to decide on regarding legal marijuana. First, voters would decide on the 15 percent excise tax and the 10 percent special sales tax rates, as outlined in House Bill 1318. If that measure failed, the second measure would ask voters if they wanted to halt recreational marijuana sales in the state.

The Denver Post's John Ingold reported that the resolution was introduced around 6 p.m., cleared a Senate committee less than an hour after it was introduced, but ultimately faced a midnight deadline for approval, a filibuster threat and nearly certain defeat in the House so Morse backed off of the plan around 9:30 p.m., Monday evening.

Morse says the repeal effort was just an attempt to get the attention of the marijuana industry and to encourage industry support for the marijuana taxes which will still be voted on in November. "Here is the inherent problem: The marijuana industry has no incentive to support a tax increase it promised voters," Morse said, The Associated Press reports.

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