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Increased Marijuana Potency is an Argument for Legalization, Not Against it

Here we go again:

The average potency of marijuana, which has risen steadily for three decades, has exceeded 10 percent for the first time, the U.S. government will report on Thursday.

The stronger marijuana is of particular concern because high concentrations of THC have the opposite effect of low concentrations, officials say. [CNN]

Who the f#$k said that? My god, is it really necessary to explain that stronger marijuana has the exact same effect, except more of it? This is basic, basic stuff here. The argument that good pot makes people feels unpleasant is just a non-starter, and I couldn’t be less surprised not to find a name attached to it.

Marijuana has gotten stronger under marijuana prohibition, just like alcohol got stronger during alcohol prohibition. Suppliers are incentivized to maximize the potency of their product to achieve the highest profit while reducing risk. Harsh laws also encourage consumers to obtain the strongest product since penalties are determined by weight, not potency.

In a regulated market, there would be high demand for lower potency marijuana, just as light beer and light cigarettes are extremely popular. A flavorful strain with mild effects and a low price could become a big seller, but nobody in their right mind would ever try to grow something like that right now. Why risk jail over a crop that's half as profitable? Prohibition is shaping the marijuana market, yet drug warriors ironically turn around and cite potent pot as an argument for keeping the policy that made things the way they are.

There's really nothing bad about higher potency pot, since it's completely non-toxic and easy to consume in controlled doses, but to whatever extent anyone is concerned about it, the obvious solution is regulation. Test it. Label it. Put age restrictions on it. Then watch in amazement as marijuana users become even healthier and happier than they already are.

CNBC Attacks Schwarzenegger For Endorsing Marijuana Legalization Debate

Watch CNBC's Larry Kudlow go ballistic over Gov. Schwarzenegger's recent statement in favor of debating marijuana legalization:

Here's what Schwarzenegger actually said:
"Well, I think it's not time for that, but I think it's time for a debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues [are worth considering] … I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalised marijuana and other drugs. What effect did it have on those countries?"
And here's what Kudlow heard:
"I mean he basically wants to get everybody stoned and then raise taxes"
Did you even read the damn quote, Larry? It's just incredible to watch the childish hissy fits that erupt over something as sensible as suggesting we talk about marijuana laws. Anyone who doesn't want to discuss marijuana policy doesn’t have to, but if you don't think it's important, please do the rest of us a favor and just be quiet.

Medical Marijuana Comedy Show ExtravaGANJA

SNL's Drunk Girl himself, Jeff Richards headlines...ExWWE Wrestler Rob Van Dam makes his comedy debut! The show will feature the comedic talents of host Howard Dover (, ?Drunk Girl? himself, Jeff Richards, the only cast member of both MadTV and SNL, (, WWE wrestler Rob Van Dam (, Barry Diamond (Tom Hank's buddy in Bachelor Party,, Rick Overton (, Laura Levites (, Frazer Smith ( and much more! Show time is 9:00 pm. Doors open at 8:00 pm. Tickets are only $20 available at the door, (cash only), or in advance for $15. Tickets are also available through Marijuana Policy Project by contacting Sarah Lovering at, or through Americans for Safe Access by visiting LAPCG at 7213 Santa Monica Blvd., or from your local compassion club. This is a 21+ event with a 2 drink minimum. * Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of the substance." -- Francis L. Young, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge, 1988
Sun, 05/17/2009 - 9:00pm
8433 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
United States

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Heads to House Floor as Ways and Means Committee Passes Bill, 10-8

Minnesota Cares logo

MAY 12, 2009

Medical Marijuana Heads to House Floor as Ways and Means Committee Passes Bill, 10-8
Passage Sets Up First-Ever House Floor Vote on Medical Marijuana

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The House version of Minnesota's medical marijuana bill, H.F. 292, now moves to the House floor after clearing its final committee last night, passing the Ways and Means Committee, 10 to 8. Companion legislation has already passed the Senate.

     Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), sponsor of the bill, said, "I have been pleased with the increasing support in the latest committees. Public support for protecting patients who need medical marijuana is overwhelming, and the scientific evidence is clear that this really can help some very sick people. This is going to be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 states that have already acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest."

     Medical marijuana bills are now moving forward in a number of states, including Illinois, New Jersey and New Hampshire, where medical marijuana legislation has passed both legislative houses and is awaiting a conference committee to reconcile differences. Rhode Island legislators are presently considering a measure to expand that state's medical marijuana law, first adopted in 2006.

     Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote.

     Medical organizations which have recognized marijuana's medical uses include the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and American College of Physicians, which noted "marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity," in a statement issued last year.


St. Paul, MN
United States

Solidarity Event to Protect Safe Access

It's back....the Colorado Board of Health is once again considering restricting patient access to medical marijuana. At the upcoming July hearing, the Board will be voting on a rule which would rip patients out of safe caregiver relationships and force them onto the streets in search of medicine. Show your support on July 20th by attending the Hearing and Board vote. This is NOT a rally. This is a formal Hearing and we need supporters to dress nice and act in a professional manner. NOTE - Many have already submitted written comments to the Board of Health. Thank you. Any new or additional comments need to be submitted by May 15.
Mon, 07/20/2009 - 8:30am
900 Auraria Parkway Tivoli Student Union, Conference Room 250
Denver, CO 80204
United States

The States Don't Need Federal Permission to Legalize Marijuana

I'm not sure I understand what Mark Kleiman means by this:

California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in California. The bill quite sensibly recognizes that California can't have a legal market while the drug remains banned under federal law…

Why not? California has a legal market for medical marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. There has been federal interference, but the vast majority of dispensaries in California remain in operation. Patients can generally obtain medicine legally and conveniently, despite anything and everything DEA has done to undermine California law.

I'm sure the DEA would like us to think that we can't legalize marijuana, and that might go a long way towards explaining why they keep doing these ridiculous raids that everyone hates. But there is no reason that California or any other state can't legalize marijuana as long as the votes add up. Sure, the feds will likely show up and makes a mess here and there, but in case nobody noticed, those actions consistently lead to greater public support for changing marijuana laws.

If we've learned anything from what's been happening in California for the past decade, it is that the federal government can't even come close to stamping out marijuana reform at the state level. Imagine this:

1) California voters pass ballot initiative creating regulated marijuana sales.
2) Shops begin opening in LA, San Francisco.
3) DEA raids high-profile operations, big headlines, big protests.
4) Federal charges brought against defendants. First jury trial ends in surprise acquittal.  
5) Number of new businesses opening exceeds number of raids being conducted.
6) Voters in Nevada, Oregon pass ballot initiatives creating regulated marijuana sales...

Is any of this impossible?

How Much Money is Marijuana Legalization Worth?

I enjoyed this dizzying attempt by Mark Kleiman to quantify the actual potential revenue that could be generated by legalizing marijuana in California. It's a fun exercise, but you can only get so far down this path before becoming overwhelmed by hypotheticals. For example, Kleiman bases his calculations on the estimated population of marijuana users in the state (I'm sure some people who don't live in California would buy pot there).

There are many things we can't account for, such as the percentage of users who develop a sudden interest in gardening once marijuana becomes legal to cultivate for personal use. Regardless, the bottom line is that legalizing and taxing marijuana will generate plenty of taxable income. Of course it will. There are ways in which it won't pay out the way we'd hope, but also other ways in which it will create unexpected financial benefits. Not ruining people's lives for possessing it is a huge bonus by itself. Imagine trying to calculate the economic harm collectively suffered by people who've been arrested for small amounts of pot and couldn’t get jobs, etc.

Leaving aside all the other powerful reasons for changing marijuana laws, I'm sure the people of California could devise a marijuana policy that makes vastly more economic sense than the current one.

Medical Marijuana: Petition Drive Gets Underway for 2010 South Dakota Initiative

In 2006, South Dakota became the only state to defeat an initiative legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, with proponents coming close, but ultimately short, with 48% of the vote. Now, after the state legislature ignored an opportunity to act on the issue this year, activists are ready to try the voters once again.

South Dakotans for Safe Access filed papers Monday to put its proposed initiative on the 2010 ballot. Supporters need to gain 16,776 valid signatures of registered voters by next April 6 to make the ballot.

Under the proposed measure, patients with debilitating medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation -- or their designated caregivers -- could possess up to six plants and one ounce of usable marijuana, as well as incidental seeds, stems, and roots. Patients would register with the state and be issued ID cards.

The movement is in stronger shape in South Dakota this time, organizer Emmett Reistroffer of Sioux Falls told the Rapid City Journal. It has more patients, doctors, former law enforcement officials, and others than in 2006, he said. "They know this law is best for South Dakota versus what we have now, which calls these patients criminals," said Reistroffer.

The effort will run up against a Republican political establishment implacably opposed to medical marijuana. Attorney General Larry Long earlier this year refused the opportunity to work with proponents to address law enforcement concerns and objections. But at least one thing will be different: In 2006, the Bush administration sent the drug czar's office to South Dakota to energize opposition to that initiative. There is little indication the Obama administration will go to the same effort to interfere in state medical marijuana initiatives.

Medical Marijuana: US 9th Circuit Upholds 10-Year Sentence for Bryan Epis, First California Supplier Tried on Federal Charges

In an unpublished opinion issued last month, a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has upheld the 10-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of Bryan Epis, the first medical marijuana supplier prosecuted in federal court after the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, though not the first convicted.
Bryan Epis reunited with his daughter, Ashley, on being released in 2004 following an initially favorable ruling on medical marijuana by the 9th Circuit
Epis, of Chico, was arrested by Butte County officers in June 1997 and ultimately convicted by a federal jury in 2002 of conspiring to grow more than a thousand marijuana plants. Authorities only seized 458 plants from his home, but presented records suggesting more plants had been grown there.

Epis had a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana for chronic back and shoulder pain. He said he was growing for a Chico patients group and admitted selling some plants at cost to co-op members. But federal prosecutors portrayed him as a drug dealer with dollar signs in his eyes.

He and his attorney, Brenda Grantland, appealed the sentence on various grounds, but the three-judge panel didn't go for any of them. Epis had no reason to believe Prop. 215 would shield him from federal law, especially because "a large-scale marijuana operation can have an impact on interstate commerce," they wrote, harking back to the Supreme Court decision in Raich v. Gonzalez that established federal primacy over state law. Epis served a little over two years on his sentence before being released on bail in 2004 as he appealed his case. Grantland will request that his bail be continued pending an appeal to the full 9th Circuit.

Epis supporters expressed shock and outrage at the decision. "This is an egregious miscarriage of justice with no conceivable benefit to the public," said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer, "Bryan Epis believed he was acting lawfully. To imprison him for 10 years is the kind of sentence one might expect only from judges who countenance torture," Gieringer added, taking a direct swipe at panel member Judge Jay Bybee, now infamous as one of the authors of the Justice Department memos justifying torture during the Bush administration.

Canada: Two-Thirds of British Columbia Voters Favor Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Finds

An Angus Reid Strategies poll of British Columbia adults released Monday has found that 65% favored legalizing marijuana as a means of reducing gang violence, while only 35% favored increasing marijuana trafficking penalties. The poll comes as the Conservative federal government seeks to increase penalties for marijuana trafficking offenses and with BC provincial elections looming.

Given a context of recent highly-publicized gang violence in Vancouver, Angus Reid shaped its polling question to reflect that concern. Pollsters asked respondents: "The illegal marijuana industry is linked to much of the gang violence on BC's streets. Some people say that violence would be reduced if marijuana was legalized, while other people say the violence would be reduced if penalties for marijuana trafficking were significantly increased. Which of the following statements is closest to your own view?"

The highest support for legalization came among supporters of the Green and New Democratic Parties, which generally poll behind the Liberals and Conservatives. Among Greens, support for legalization was 77%; it was 74% among NDP supporters.

While respondents favored legalization over increased criminalization by a margin of nearly two-to-one, their response to a question about lax enforcement of laws against "soft drugs" was more evenly divided. A tiny majority, 51%, said that enforcing laws such as those banning marijuana possession made criminals out of law-abiding citizens, while 49% said not enforcing those laws lets criminals go free, which could lead to violence.

Earlier in this decade, Canada was seen as a beacon of progress on marijuana reform. It became the first country to legalize medical marijuana in 2002, and two years later, the Liberal government of Paul Martin reintroduced a bill that would have removed criminal sanctions for the possession of less than 15 grams of pot. But that bill was never put to a vote, the Liberals lost power, and the current government of Stephen Harper is dogmatically opposed to marijuana law reform.

That opposition is shared by the leadership of the BC NDP and Liberals. Earlier this month, BC Liberal leader Gordon Campbell said he opposed marijuana decriminalization, adding: "We need to listen to the police on how to deal with this." BC NDP head Carole James also acted the naysayer, declaring: "It's a federal issue as we all know. It's not something individual provinces can take a look at."

With legalization sentiment at roughly two-thirds of the electorate, politicians who oppose it might want to think again. Winning elections is tough when you're aligned against the majority on a high-profile issue. And marijuana politics is high profile in BC.

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