RSS Feed for this category

Europe: Marijuana Less Harmful Than Alcohol or Tobacco, Says British Drug Think-Tank

Smoking marijuana is less harmful than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, said the British think-thank the Beckley Foundation in a report announced Thursday.

"Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," said the report. "Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment," it said.

The report comes as the British government is moving to reschedule marijuana from a Class C drug to a more heavily-punished Class B drug. British officials have expressed great concern over the potency of marijuana, especially "skunk," which is apparently their generic name for any high-potency, home-grown weed, and its links to mental health problems in some users.

Rescheduling marijuana is the wrong way to go, said the foundation. "It is only through a regulated market that we can better protect young people from the ever more potent forms of dope," it said.

Now, we will see if the British government pays any attention. So far, it has resolutely ignored repeated reports finding that marijuana should be a Class C drug, or even legalized and regulated.

Police Defend the Right to Choke Marijuana Suspects

Watch this video of Mount Juliet, TN police officer Bill Cosby choking a marijuana suspect into unconsciousness during a traffic stop.

Officer Cosby apparently believed the suspect was trying to swallow marijuana, however nothing was found in his mouth and he subsequently passed a drug test, proving that he didn’t eat it. He just never had marijuana in his mouth. The video is so disturbing, a local judge refused to hear future cases brought by Cosby and the police chief had no choice but to fire him.

So you’d think that gratuitous police violence against a non-violent marijuana suspect would find no apologists. You’d hope that other officers would be universally disgusted by Officer Cosby’s deplorable example and support his dismissal. And you’d be wrong. I reviewed a comment thread on the case at and found that many officers believe choking non-violent marijuana suspects is necessary and even commendable:

The charges for the suspect should be reinstated and the officer should be commended for doing his job in a professional manner.
This is ridiculous. The officer did nothing wrong and a judge, prosecutor and chief are looking to hang him. It's no wonder we're losing cops by the dozens. Who wants to put their butt on the line when no one appreciates the job you do.
After viewing the video, the officer is not out of control or doing anything that isn't called for.

These comments imply that you could somehow die from eating marijuana:

The officer probably didn't want the guy to die over something as stupid as swallowing some dope.
Another Police Officer abandoned by his department because of fear of legal action from a criminal. Of course had he swallowed it and then died the family would have sued because the Police didnt choke it out of him.
I hope the Officer is cleared and gets a job at a real department. Also let the bad guys swallow the dope. With luck he will croak and save court costs.

This one admits that the choking appears malicious…then wishes the officer well.

That appears to be choking. The fact that it was called a vascular restraint makes it appear as "creative report writing." I pray for Cosby that he makes it through this experience.

This one recommends turning off your camera:

It has become an awareness to me that these dashcams are causing good cops to get into trouble or fired, so boys turn the damn things off.

This one endorses choking and stomping suspects, as long as they're out of the camera frame:

Hey brother...choke the asshole out if you are so inclined...stand on his trachea if you want...but how about bringing him to the back of your RMP [squad car]? Could you actually think that was something to get on film? Did you forget about the camera?

All of this really speaks for itself. To be fair, some comments were more reasonable, but the overall tone was that the officer shouldn’t have been disciplined. That is what real police officers believe, up to and including some of the violent and scary sentiments outlined above.

It is really just remarkable to imagine that those who would jettison any accountability for their own violent actions remain steadfast in their insistence that people who use marijuana for fun are dangerous thugs who deserve no mercy. That is the gaping chasm that often separates law enforcement’s self-imposed moral standards from those they apply to everyone else. It is a perfectly horrifying thing to behold, more so when one realizes that no effort was even made to conceal these vile sentiments from the public they serve.

Update: Chokings, mistakes, and misconduct aside, the fact that people commonly panic and eat their stash at the sight of police is troubling, isn't it? This needs to stop and I might be the only person who's taken this issue on, by writing Why You Shouldn't Try to Eat Your Marijuana If You're Pulled Over. Unfortunately, more dangerous drugs carry harsher sentences and a greater incentive for desperate people to risk an overdose rather than face prison time. Police use this as an excuse to choke us, but it's actually an exhibit in the absurdity of our drug policy.

When Police Mistake Chocolate For Hash… has the unbelievable story of a Canadian couple who run a small chocolate company. Guess what happens when you try to cross back and forth between the U.S. and Canada with large quantities of chocolate?

Hint: It’s horrible.

Medical Marijuana: Washington State Judge Plays Doctor, Convicts Authorized Patient of Cultivating His Own Medicine

A Washington state man with a doctor's authorization to use medical marijuana was convicted of cultivation last Friday after a state judge ruled that his use of the herb to treat chronic lower back pain did not meet the conditions of the state's medical marijuana law. Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie ruled that Robert Dalton's marijuana use did not qualify because he failed to show his pain was "unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications," such as opiate-based painkillers.
medical marijuana demonstration, DC
Dalton was arrested in August 2007 after detectives with the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team raided his property and found 88 plants growing. Police claimed the plants were more than the 60-day supply allowed by law. But that claim was problematic, since the state Health Department has not defined what constitutes a 60-day supply.

Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Coreen Schnepf argued during the trial that Dalton was receiving relief from opiate pain medications and that he needed to have pain that was not relieved by other medications in order to use medical marijuana. It is not known where Schnepf obtained her medical degree.

Defense attorney Douglass Hiatt argued that opiates sickened Dalton and did not relieve his pain, but Judge Laurie sided with prosecutors, effectively overruling the recommendation of the physician who okayed Dalton's medical marijuana use.

An angry Hiatt said the judge had no business second-guessing the doctor's recommendation. "If Judge Laurie wants to be a doctor, she should go to medical school," Hiatt told the Kitsap Sun. "No patient in this state is safe if she's right."

With the conviction, Dalton's medical marijuana card has been revoked and he now faces up to six months in jail for the felony conviction. His attorneys will ask for the sentence to be suspended pending appeals.

Dalton told the Sun after the verdict that he did not want to use opiates for pain relief because they are addictive. "I don't want to be a drug addict," he said. "That's why I chose medical marijuana." [Ed: It should be noted that opiate use for pain management does not constitute addiction, and opiophobia is itself another evil of the drug war just as is medical marijuana prohibition. For some patients marijuana is a better medicine, for others opioids are better.]

Europe: Dutchman Busted for Smoking Tobacco in Cannabis Coffee House

In the first coffee shop bust since the Dutch imposed a ban on tobacco smoking in public places earlier this year, an unnamed 27-year-old Amsterdam man has been issued a fine for smoking a marijuana joint laced with tobacco, the Netherlands Information Service reported. If he fails to pay the fine, his case will automatically advance to the courts, where it would be the first case to punish someone for illegally smoking a legal product in a legal business selling an illegal product. (Marijuana remains illegal under Dutch law, although the Dutch pragmatically regulate its sale.)
downstairs of a coffee shop, Maastricht (courtesy Wikimedia)
The Dutch banned smoking tobacco in bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations, including coffee shops, beginning July 1. The smoking of cannabis is not banned, but the quaint European habit of mixing tobacco into marijuana joints had observers earlier this year predicting that such an incident was inevitable.

Although Dutch police are not charged with enforcing the smoking ban -- it is the domain of the Food and Non-Food Authority (VWA) -- the man was issued a citation by a police officer. "If a police officer signals an infringement, he does not close his eyes to it," according to a police spokesman.

New Developments in the Ryan Frederick Case

Ever since Ryan Frederick was charged with murder for killing a police officer who he mistook for a burglar during a botched drug raid, the case against him has become increasingly difficult to believe. Despite finding no evidence of cultivation, prosecutors are now claiming Frederick had been growing marijuana prior to the police raid and that he knew police were coming and planned the murder. It just doesn’t make sense, particularly insofar as a suspect who’s expecting police doesn’t need to shoot them. If he wanted to escape, he could just leave before they came.

Radley Balko has the details here and some additional analysis here.

Cop Fired For Choking Marijuana Suspect

See!? There really is accountability in the war on drugs. All you have to do is get video of a cop nearly killing a guy over a petty misdemeanor. Seriously though, as rare as this is, it does send an important message that there can be consequences for police who use excessive force against peaceful suspects:

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee police officer has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault charges after he was caught on video using a chokehold on a man suspected of hiding marijuana in his mouth.

An attorney for Cpl. William Cosby says he pleaded not guilty Thursday.

A lawyer for the city of Mt. Juliet, about 20 miles east of Nashville, says Cosby has been fired.

Cosby's attorney, Chuck Ward, says the decision to fire Cosby shows the city believes him to be "guilty until proven innocent."

Video from a city police car shows Cosby using a chokehold on 26-year-old James Lawrence Anders Jr. during an April traffic stop. The video then shows Anders passing out.

Charges including marijuana possession were later dropped. Anders is suing over the incident.

The story went out on AP and was covered in several news outlets. One thing that remains unclear to me is whether the suspect ever even had any marijuana. If anyone can locate additional coverage or the actual video, please send it to me.

                                                                                                                                                                           [Thanks, Nate]

Update: That was fast. You can watch the video here. There was no marijuana in the suspect's mouth and he tested negative for marijuana use. Thanks, Zane. 

King's Co. Becomes 42nd California County to Adopt Medical Marijuana ID Card Program

SEPTEMBER 23, 2008

King's Co. Becomes 42nd California County to Adopt Medical Marijuana ID Card ProgramDecision Comes Two Weeks After Fresno Chooses to Start Its Program

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-291-0076

KING'S COUNTY, Calif. — The King's County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to adopt a medical marijuana identification card system today, making it the 42nd county to comply with a requirement mandated by a 2003 state law.

    By giving patients the option of obtaining cards identifying them as qualified medical marijuana patients, law enforcement officers will be able to quickly discern whether they are operating within the law, sparing taxpayers the burden of costly, time-consuming false arrests, advocates said.

    "California's voters, Legislature and the courts have made it clear that counties must comply with the state's medical marijuana law," said Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project. "In instituting this I.D. card program, the King's County supervisors are not only demonstrating their understanding of the law and their obligation to follow it, they're helping ensure California's medical marijuana law works as voters intended it to."

    Like the Fresno supervisors who voted for the I.D. card program just two weeks ago, the King's County board was waiting for a ruling on a legal challenge to the I.D. card program before making its decision. The 4th District Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed the challenge brought by San Diego and San Bernardino counties July 31, though both counties have vowed to appeal to the California Supreme Court.

    Patients and advocates hailed the decision as the latest sign that local and state officials have come to understand the importance of protecting the rights of seriously ill Californians to use medical marijuana to relieve their pain if their doctors recommend it. In August, Attorney General Jerry Brown issued the most comprehensive directives on how law enforcement should interact with medical marijuana patients and collectives, a move lauded by the state's Police Chiefs Association as an important step toward clarifying the law. The guidelines state that the I.D. cards "represent one of the best ways to ensure the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use."

    With more than 25,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit

United States

Sixth Annual IMMLY/Madison NORML Medical Cannabis Benefit

Save the Date: IMMLY Medical Cannabis Benefit and Awards, Oct. 3 in Madison! The IMMLY/Madison NORML Medical Cannabis Benefit is the opening celebration of the 38th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival. Join IMMLY’s Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck for the Sixth annual IMMLY/Madison NORML medical cannabis benefit featuring the First Annual IMMLY Medical Cannabis Awards, hosted by comedian Nick Mortensen with blues/roots music from Mark Shanahan. $10 suggested donation includes Glass Nickel pizza. More info: Is My Medicine Legal YET? Madison NORML Facebook Event Page: Harvest Fest on Facebook: Harvest Fest on MySpace:
Fri, 10/03/2008 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm
418 E Wilson St.
Madison, WI
United States

Another Sign That Medical Marijuana Laws Are Working

Regulating medical marijuana under state law makes it possible for police to protect private property:

Mendocino County sheriff's deputies arrested eight Sacramento-area men Friday on suspicion of robbing at gunpoint a Laytonville man who grew marijuana in his garden for medical use.

The men, who range in age from 18 to 24, are from Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Sacramento, and are facing armed robbery and conspiracy charges. [Sacramento Bee]

It’s nice to see police helping patients and turning their attention towards real criminals.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School

StopTheDrugWar Video Archive