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RainDog's Journal
RainDog's Journal
January 30, 2012

HISTORIC REQUEST: 42 Members of WA legislature request cannabis rescheduling


History was made on Wednesday as 42 members of the Washington Legislature petitioned the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule marijuana from its current Schedule I status to a less restrictive classification to allow for its medical use.

Among the lawmakers signing the letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was Rep. Timm Ormsby, brother of federal prosecutor Michael Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington. Ormsby, along with Western Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, last year oversaw a federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

...it is clear that the long-standing classification of medical use of cannabis in the United States as an illegal Schedule I substance is fundamentally flawed and should be changed," the lawmakers wrote. "The federal government could quickly solve the issue if it were to reclassify cannabis for medical use from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug so that it can be prescribed, which we believe the petition provides substantiated peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support.

"The solution lies ultimately with the federal government," the letter reads. "We urge the DEA to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reclassify medical cannabis as a Schedule II drug so qualifying patients that follow state law may obtain the medication they need through the traditional and safe method of physician prescribing and pharmacy dispensing."

January 30, 2012

Reform of Marijuana Laws Again Dominates President's Online Forum


According to the Whitehouse Youtube page, with voting currently closed, 18 of the top 20 most popular question are about marijuana/drug policy. Seven of the top 20 question are directly related to questions created by NORML and its unusual removal from the page. NORML’s original question was:

“With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, on marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up marijuana users, isn’t it time to regulate and tax marijuana?”

The second most popular question on the page is from LEAP’s Stephen Downing, a former LAPD deputy police chief. His question is:

So far every attempt by Obama to directly reach out to young voters through some form of online question and answer system has resulted in young adults overwhelming voting to confront the President with questions about our government’s marijuana policies. It happened with his transitional website Change.gov, his first Youtube townhall and with the White House’s new “we the people” petition site.
January 28, 2012

D.C. to Make Medical Marijuana Available in Spring 2012 (x-post)


In 1998, 69 percent of the citizens in Washington, D.C. voted to legalize medical marijuana. But the Republican Congress at that time blocked implementation of the law by withholding funding to implement the program.

In an effort to revive the old law, on May 4, 2010, over a decade later, the D.C. Council approved amendments to the old law. After a 30-day Congressional review period expired on the amended law, the amended law became law. With this law, Washington, D.C. joins 16 other states in the nation with laws allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes; an additional 12 states are considering adding similar laws in support of using the plant for medical treatment. Recent data shows that over 77 percent of Americans favor laws in support of medical marijuana.

Under the new D.C. law, D.C. doctors can write medical marijuana prescriptions for patients who suffer from conditions such as, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other serious conditions. One of the biggest promoters of the use of marijuana for medical treatment is TV personality Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 13 years ago and uses the plant for his condition.

...The new law in Washington calls for 10 sites that will be authorized to grow the plant (cultivation centers). 28 applicants applied to compete for one of these 10 sites; nearly all of the applicants are for sites in Ward 5. The law also calls for five distribution centers (dispensaries), where people can obtain medical marijuana with a D.C. doctor's prescription. The public will know on March 2 the 10 sites that qualify to be cultivation centers, and on March 30 the five dispensaries. By mid to late spring, the program is expected to be in full operation in the nation's capital.
January 28, 2012

Va lawmaker urges study on revenue impact of legal mj (x-post)


A Virginia lawmaker wants to study the possibility of selling marijuana through state-run liquor stores, but even the resolution’s sponsor thinks the provocative idea will likely go up in smoke.

The proposal by Democratic Del. David Englin of Alexandria to look at the potential revenue impact of selling marijuana at the more than 330 ABC stores in Virginia joins a growing list of recommendations across the country to reform laws regarding the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S.

Englin, who also has filed a resolution asking the governor to petition the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to move marijuana from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II, cites other states with medical marijuana laws and societal changes. He said he’s aiming to bring in more money for the state amid moves to cut funding for core services across Virginia.

“There are respectable members of society out there, secretly smoking marijuana on the side, and the money that they use to buy that is going to criminals,” said Englin, who said he has not smoked and does not use marijuana. “Seems to me that it’d be a better idea to take that money that’s already being spent and use it to benefit the commonwealth.”

kudos to the state legislators who are increasingly stepping up to ask states to end the failed war on cannabis.

The Lancet has an article about international drug use (you have to register to see the full text)


Here's a summary from a NORML email:

"Over the past 50 years international drug treaties have neither prevented the globalization of the illicit production and non-medical use of (illicit) drugs"

Eleven Percent of North Americans Use Cannabis.

Sydney, Australia: An estimated 11 percent of North Americans between the ages of 15 and 64 consume marijuana yearly, according to a research report published in the January 7th edition of the scientific journal The Lancet.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne in Australia assessed the global extent of illicit drug use and its impact on health. Authors reported that an estimated 10.7 percent of North Americans consume cannabis annually. By contrast, fewer than five percent of the global population were estimated to have used marijuana in the previous year. Australians reported the highest levels of cannabis use, according to the study.

Regarding the impact of illicit drug use on health, researchers wrote, "On the basis of available evidence, most of the disease burden attributable to illicit drugs is concentrated in problem or dependent drug users, especially people who inject drugs."

Authors recognized, however, that only "a minority of individuals who use illicit drugs become dependent on or inject them" and acknowledged "[T]he risks of cannabis use are much smaller than those of other illicit drugs."


Cannabis Prohibition Costs

Using 2002 data, Miron states the federal govt (that's just federal) spends 2.4 billion on cannabis prohibition - that's just cannabis, nothing else.

Expenditure on Marijuana under Current Prohibition

The first step in determining the tax revenue under legalization is to estimate current expenditure on marijuana. ONDCP (2001a, Table 1, p.3) estimates that in 2000 U.S. residents spent $10.5 billion on marijuana. This estimate relies on a range of assumptions about the marijuana market, and modification of these assumptions might produce a higher or lower estimate. There is no obvious reason, however, why alternative assumptions would imply a dramatically different estimate of current expenditure on marijuana. This report therefore uses the $10.5 billion figure as the starting point for the revenue estimates presented below.

This report assumes there would be no change in the demand for marijuana.[22] This assumption likely errs in the direction of understating the tax revenue from legalized marijuana, since the penalties for possession potentially deter some persons from consuming. But any increase in demand from legalization would plausibly come from casual users, whose marijuana use would likely be modest. Any increase in use might also come from decreased consumption of alcohol, tobacco or other goods, so increased tax revenue from legal marijuana would be partially offset by decreased tax revenue from other goods. And there might be a forbidden fruit effect from prohibition that tends to offset the demand decreasing effects of penalties for possession. Thus, the assumption of no change in demand is plausible, and it likely biases the estimated tax revenue downward.

Under the assumption that demand does not shift due to legalization, any change in the quantity and price would result from changes in supply conditions. There are two main effects that would operate (Miron 2003a). On the one hand, marijuana suppliers in a legal market would not incur the costs imposed by prohibition, such as the threat of arrest, incarceration, fines, asset seizure, and the like. This means, other things equal, that costs and therefore prices would be lower under legalization. On the other hand, marijuana suppliers in a legal market would bear the costs of tax and regulatory policies that apply to legal goods but that black market suppliers normally avoid.[23] This implies an offset to the cost reductions resulting from legalization. Further, changes in competition and advertising under legalization can potentially yield higher prices than under prohibition.

It is thus an empirical question as to how prices under legalization would compare to prices under current prohibition. The best evidence available on this question comes from comparisons of marijuana prices between the U.S. and the Netherlands. Although marijuana is still technically illegal in the Netherlands, the degree of enforcement is substantially below that in the U.S., and the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is officially tolerated. The regime thus approximates de facto legalization. Existing data suggest that retail prices in the Netherlands are roughly 50-100 percent of U.S. prices.[24] [25]

January 24, 2012

Sativex is being touted as a "cure" for marijuana "addiction" in New Zealand.


honestly, we have crossed over into bizarro world.

so, cannabis that's sold by a pharmaceutical company is being promoted as a cure for cannabis addiction that is less dangerous or addictive than coffee.

This is like offering Starbucks as a cure for Folgers.

The argument is that current whole plant cannabis is generally very THC concentrated. As Michael Pollan wrote about

and as Judge Gray testified to - http://www.democraticunderground.com/1170156

the reason for this higher-grade THC cannabis is because of prohibition!!!

If this were not such a tragedy for so many people - this would be one of the most hysterically funny attempts to bullshit the American people since Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.

But the reality is that people go to jail for doing something less harmful than drinking a glass of wine in this nation. The real criminals seem to be in DC, however.
January 23, 2012

Howard Zinn in 2008: Vote for Obama but create a social movement for change

our political class is limited in its interests. to create change, we have to demand it and not give up until it occurs.
January 23, 2012

The Big Switch-a-roo


Dr. Lester Grinspoon "On The Pharmaceuticalization of Marijuana" a decade ago.

Given the very limited toxicity of marijuana and the growing appreciation of its therapeutic value, it will undoubtedly find increasing application as a medicine in the coming years. But there is uncertainty about the forms in which it will be made available. Governments are hesitant to approve it because of concern about its use for nonmedical purposes and the difficulties of distributing as a medicine a substance that is already easily available. An alternative is the development of commercial cannabis pharmaceuticals that can be regulated and controlled. But pharmaceutical firms will be reluctant to invest the necessary money if they believe they cannot compete successfully with marijuana. Some of these products may have advantages over whole smoked or ingested marijuana, but most will not, and they will all be quite expensive. Ultimately, we can anticipate two medical distribution networks, a legal one for cannabinoid pharmaceuticals and an illegal one for street or homegrown marijuana


Andrea Barthwell: Deputy Drug Czar turned lobbyist for Bayer/GW Pharma/Sativex

Drug Czarina in the palace:

...You won’t find any commercial development of plant-based marijuana medicines being pursued in the United States. Andrea Barthwell, a deputy director in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and President Bush’s point person on medical marijuana, says cannabis medicines aren’t compatible with modern science. They do not constitute “a serious line of research,” she says.

“The people who are advancing marijuana as a medicine are perpetuating a cruel hoax that exploits our compassion for the sick,” Barthwell says. “They are using patients’ pain and suffering in an attempt to change America’s drug control policy. Marijuana is a crude plant product that most definitely is not a medicine.”

Former Drug Czarina turned lobbyist:

Barthwell showed up at a conference sponsored by Americans for Safe Access and claimed that Sativex is not cannabis...and she's a doctor? An advocate from ASA noted her appearance.

After I pointed out to the few reporters that she was not JUST a private citizen, but the ex-Deputy Drug Czar, a representative of GW, and the failed Republican nominee for IL Senate, she told the press that rescheduling marijuana would not make it available to patients. I concurred. Then she asked me how I could say that Sativex was marijuana. I asked her if it was not marijuana, what was it? She rattled off her sound byte "If your grandmother was in pain would you give her opium?"

I am writing this list because I have major concern for the future of Sativex. Barthwell looked ridiculous. All the reporters kept asking her "They are here in support of Sativex, what is your problem?" And she just kept giving her sound bytes about how Sativex was not marijuana. Luckily Matt Atwood, Executive Director of IDEALReform, also a chemist was present and challenged her on the "compound level" to which her only response was "What are you a scientists?"

Directly after the press conference, I received a "Cease and Desist" order from the Bayer attorneys over a domain name ASA purchased but had yet put up the content www.SativexInfo.org , www.SativexInfo.com, and www.SativexInfo.net which is a pro-Sativex website they also found out about from Don Wirtshafter's e-mail. We have kindly told them we will not be giving over the domains and we will end up in court in the next 20 days or so.

So, we see that, yes, indeed, drug warriors like this woman are working with Bayer and GW to pull some slick shit and make Sativex legal while keeping the cannabis plant illegal by pretending that a medicine made from WHOLE-PLANT CANNABIS, not a synthetic, is not WHOLE PLANT CANNABIS.

So, basically, if the DEA and the office of the Drug Czar make claims that Sativex is substantially different than cannabis that they oppose as medicine at the state level, the only difference between being a drug dealer and someone in the Fed. govt who sets cannabis policy is that dealers get paid more money. Both don't give a shit about human life if there is money to be made for a few at the expense of the many.

Gil Kerlikowske spoke in Fresno in July of 2009. He said: "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit," regarding Operation SOS -- Save Our Sierra -- a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County, according to the Fresno Bee.

He rephrased his statement soon afterward on a program on KOMO news in Seattle to say: “I certainly said that legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary nor is it in mine. But the other question was in reference to smoked marijuana. And as we know, the FDA has not determined that smoked marijuana has a value, and this is clearly a medical question that should be answered by the medical community.”


In response to one of the many petitions to the White House web site to stop the war on cannabis, including this one from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) that noted:

Taking a noncriminal, regulatory approach to marijuana would enable states to pass their own laws, regulations and taxes to control marijuana and would end the Justice Department's intimidation tactics in medical marijuana states. One or more states will likely legalize adult use of marijuana in 2012, and the Obama administration should stop wasting scarce federal resources and uphold the president’s campaign pledge to respect states’ rights when it comes to marijuana.

Kerlikowske responded:

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

Kerlikowske obviously "got the memo" to continue to treat average American citizens like criminals regarding cannabis UNLESS Bayer, etc. can profit from it. As Grinspoon explains in the first link, above, cannabis WILL NEVER be approved as medicine in the U.S. based upon current regulatory demands - just as ASPIRIN would never be approved as medicine in the U.S. at this time based upon current regulatory demands - b/c no pharma co could profit from the same with the amount of money required to bring a substance onto the market - unless that substance has NO COMPETITION from natural substances and can be a FALSE scarce market.

Because of this reality, the truth is that the Federal govt. simply needs to decriminalize and then legalize cannabis - or simply legalize it if Sativex is going to be on the market here - otherwise, what a bunch of elitist, citizen-despising crony capitalists. I wonder how much money GW Pharma is using to grease the backsides of the pigs in various federal offices and Congress to achieve this stunningly anti-democratic level of perfidy against the American people? I wonder if Bayer contributes to Lamar Smith's campaign since he's holding up the Decriminalization Bill in the House?

I hear it pays well to be a prostitute among the monied class in DC.

Kerlikowske and the President need to take some vocabulary lessons. The Drug Czar said it's not in the administration's vocabulary to say the word "legalization." They need to learn that one. They already know "hypocrisy" very well, it seems. I don't care if Obama said he opposed legalization. If Sativex is going to be marketed in the U.S., American-grown cannabis should be regulated as a product like alcohol and made available to the millions who cannot afford to pay for the pharmaceutical elixir of cannabis (which is, btw, nearly the exact same product that was sold in the U.S. throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th century!) The science indicates that anything else is breathtakingly corrupt.

January 22, 2012

Shall the Fundamentalists Win?


one of the most famous debates in the public sphere concerning Protestantism in the modern era was whether religion required one to oppose scientific evidence or whether religious faith could be reconciled with changes in understandings of the way in which the earth was formed and animals came about upon it.

Thought I'd share for anyone who is interested.

This morning we are to think of the fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches as though already they were not sufficiently split and riven. A scene, suggestive for our thought, is depicted in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Acts, where the Jewish leaders hale before them Peter and other of the apostles because they had been preaching Jesus as the Messiah. Moreover, the Jewish leaders propose to slay them, when in opposition Gamaliel speaks “Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.” . . .

Already all of us must have heard about the people who call themselves the Fundamentalists. Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. I speak of them the more freely because there are no two denominations more affected by them than the Baptist and the Presbyterian. We should not identify the Fundamentalists with the conservatives. All Fundamentalists are conservatives, but not all conservatives are Fundamentalists. The best conservatives can often give lessons to the liberals in true liberality of spirit, but the Fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant.

The Fundamentalists see, and they see truly, that in this last generation there have been strange new movements in Christian thought. A great mass of new knowledge has come into man’s possession—new knowledge about the physical universe, its origin, its forces, its laws; new knowledge about human history and in particular about the ways in which the ancient peoples used to think in matters of religion and the methods by which they phrased and explained their spiritual experiences; and new knowledge, also, about other religions and the strangely similar ways in which men’s faiths and religious practices have developed everywhere. . . .

Now, there are multitudes of reverent Christians who have been unable to keep this new knowledge in one compartment of their minds and the Christian faith in another. They have been sure that all truth comes from the one God and is His revelation. Not, therefore, from irreverence or caprice or destructive zeal but for the sake of intellectual and spiritual integrity, that they might really love the Lord their God, not only with all their heart and soul and strength but with all their mind, they have been trying to see this new knowledge in terms of the Christian faith and to see the Christian faith in terms of this new knowledge.

full text at the link

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