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Europe: Belgium, Germany Need to Open Their Own Cannabis Coffee Shops, Says Dutch Mayor

Gerd Leers, the mayor of the Dutch border town of Maastricht, has called for neighboring Belgium and Germany to open their own cannabis coffee shops and regulate the sale of marijuana in a bid to reduce the flow of "drug tourists" pouring into his city. He also said the regulation of cannabis is a problem that should be addressed at the European level.

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downstairs of a coffee shop, Maastricht (courtesy Wikimedia)
"The best way out of the problem is for Europe's political leaders to sit together, listen to these problems and open their eyes for a real solution," Leers said.

The German and Belgian governments have complained for years that their citizens are going to Holland to purchase cannabis. Dutch authorities, meanwhile, complain of crime and congestion associated with foreigners at the coffee shops, and the conservative Dutch government is considering various schemes to bar foreigners from enjoying the shops. An estimated 1.5 million "drug tourists" visit Maastricht each year, according to official estimates.

Leers' comments came in an interview with EUX-TV, in which he responded to an angry letter sent by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhoftstadt to Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende. Verhoftstadt was objecting about Maastricht plans to relocate some of its coffee shops to within walking distance of the Belgian border.

While Belgium has decriminalized marijuana possession, it has no provision for the supply of cannabis. But Verhoftstadt's complaints may have more to do with a pending Belgian parliamentary election, and Belgium is part of the problem anyway, said Leers.

"Verhofstadt should first carefully read my proposals and my ideas, instead of presenting them in a simplistic way to the people during an election campaign," he said. "The point is that he does not have a clear idea about what I am doing. I invite him to discuss this. We are not bringing our coffee shops to the border... we are just trying to overcome the problems around the coffee shops, to make them manageable," he said.

Belgium should deal with its marijuana users at home, Leers said. "What he is doing, he is bringing his clients to Maastricht, and then you should be fair. Either he bans the use of drugs completely, and fights against it. Or he should give it free and organize a way of selling these drugs to the people. But he should not complain because Maastricht is trying to get rid of all these problems that are caused by the Belgians themselves," Leers complained. "They say that we are exporting our drugs problems because we have our so-called coffee shops where you can use small amounts of drugs. But it's exactly the other way round. They are causing our problems because they are sending their clients, their inhabitants because in Belgium and Germany you can't buy it."

While conservative European governments insist that the Dutch could solve the problem by shutting down their coffee shops, Leers begged to differ. "If closing them were the solution, I would be the first one to do it," he said. "But the point is -- and it's been proven -- is that if you 'say no to drugs,' it goes underground. It becomes illegal and then the problem would be even worse. I think it's better to regulate and keep your hands on it than to close your eyes. Be open for new solutions, because the way we are doing it now, we are losing, and the criminals will be the winners, the big winners. They earn a lot of money. Let's stop that. Let's organize it. Let's regulate it, so that we can clear it up for our people."

Police Arrest 78 People at [Denver] Marijuana Rally

Location: 
Denver, CO
United States
Publication/Source: 
CBS4-TV Denver
URL: 
http://cbs4denver.com/topstories/local_story_110225932.html

Hundreds Rally in Denver to Support Marijuana Legalization

Location: 
Denver, CO
United States
Publication/Source: 
Rocky Mountain News
URL: 
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5496269,00.html

Charges Dismissed Against Loretta Nall; Happy 4/20 To All of Y'all!

Alabama housewife turned activist Loretta Nall is out from under the long arm of the law, with the marijuana charges against her dropped as Cannabis Nation celebrates its unofficial national holiday, 4/20. She was arrested over an alleged roach after a pro-marijuana legalization letter she wrote to the Birmingham News prompted police and officials at her daughter's school to improperly interrogate the young child. The letter and the child's statements were the basis of the search warrant that led to her arrest. She was convicted in district court in 2004 of two misdemeanor counts and given a 30-day suspended sentence. But, activist that she has become, she appealed the conviction and sought to get the evidence from the search thrown out. Today, the judge ruled that prosecutors did not respond to Nall's motion, granted her motion, and suppressed the evidence. Prosecutors responded that without the evidence the case could not continue, and the judge then dismissed the charges. After her arrest, Nall blossomed as a marijuana reform activist, founding the US Marijuana Party, doing countless appearances and interviews, writing letters to the editor, and running for governor of Alabama under the Libertarian Party banner in 2006. Now, with the order of dismissal in her hand as of this afternoon,(and posted on her blog, Nall is in a justifiably exuberant mood:
I am exquisitely pleased to announce that on April 17, 2007 my attorney informed me that the DA's office in Tallapoosa County *UNCONDITIONALLY SURRENDERED* to *ME* and will be formally withdrawing charges against me by the end of this week in the case that has dragged on for five years. Guess what that means friends and neighbors? Hidday Ho, just guess what that means! And, in the ultimate irony for the prosecution, it was finalized today on 4/20 Tallapoosa County authorities must rue the day they went after the fiery mom five years ago because while they may be done with her, she isn’t done with them. The righteous reefer wrath below suggests Nall wants justice—and she wants heads on a pike:
So, here is the beginnings of my list of demands. I want a federal investigation into the Tallapoosa County DA's office, the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office, the Alexander City Police Department and into Judge Kim Taylor's office. I want to know how many people are in jail on bullshit charges like mine. I know that I cannot be the only one. I want the Alabama Bar Association to investigate the complaints I am in the process of filing against the DA and Deputy DA of Tallapoosa County. I'd like both E. Paul Jones and Damon Lewis's license to practice law hanging on my wall. I want them arrested, prosecuted and jailed. I have to "make an example out of them" and "send a strong message" that there will be "zero tolerance" for this kind of prosecutorial misconduct. I want [teacher] Beth Shaw charged for conspiring with the school resource officer, Eric McCain, to have me jailed, for inviting DHR workers and police officers to interrogate my children without counsel and other unbiased adults present REPEATEDLY, for filing a malicious complaint with DHR that I was starving my children, for going outside the school and telling personal friends that I was starving my children, for having a box of food with "Bell's Special Snack" written on it under her desk that she only allowed Bell to eat from, for turning notes I sent to the school about my children over to police, for making school a hostile environment for my children and for allowing my five-year-old baby to be humiliated in front of her peers. I want Beth Shaw's license to teach hanging on my wall next to the DA's law licenses. I want her house, cars and retirement account. I want her fired and barred from ever working with children ever again. That bitch needs to suffer. I want Eric McCain charged for using a letter to the editor as a way to question my daughter at school without counsel or another unbiased adult present, for conspiring with Beth Shaw to have me jailed on bogus charges, for humiliating my 5-year-old baby in front of her class, for LYING on the witness stand UNDER OATH. For fabricating this whole damn case because my letter to the editor was not in line with his views on marijuana. I want Eric McCain's badge to hang on my wall next to Beth Shaw's teaching certificate and the DA's' law licenses. If he has one of those nifty cop hats, then I want that, too. I want him barred from ever working as a police officer and from working with children ever again. And, I want him sterilized, because it is never a good idea to allow vermin to breed. I'd like them all jailed. I want pictures.
Go get 'em, Loretta! It's time for some reefer justice; in fact, it's long past time. When do we get our drug war Nuremburg? I tried calling Loretta this afternoon, but it's already past 4:20 in Alabama, so I' m assuming she is celebrating in the appropriate manner. Damn, it's just past 4:20 here now. Gotta go.
Location: 
United States

Cannabis Doesn't Cause Cancer, But It Might Cure It

When a NIDA funded study last May revealed no link between lung cancer and lifetime marijuana smoking, important questions were raised. We know that marijuana smoke contains carcinogenic compounds, thus NIDA's findings seemed to suggest that marijuana smoke somehow protects the user from its own inherently carcinogenic properties.

Via Forbes.com, new research offers more insight into this fascinating revelation and brings us closer to the conclusion we've long suspected: cannabis just might cure cancer.
Harvard University researchers have found that, in both laboratory and mouse studies, delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cuts tumor growth in half in common lung cancer while impeding the cancer's ability to spread.

The compound "seems to have a suppressive effect on certain lines of cancer cells," explained Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to the researchers, THC fights lung cancer by curbing epidermal growth factor (EGF), a molecule that promotes the growth and spread of particularly aggressive non-small cell lung cancers.
I once witnessed Andrea Barthwell get stumped at an ONDCP press conference when someone asked her to cite a reference for her claim that marijuana caused lung cancer. That was funny, but this much funnier.

Evidence that marijuana doesn't cause lung cancer has long consisted of the observation that marijuana smokers don't get cancer. But now you can google "marijuana+lung+cancer" and discover a list of excellent references refuting this old favorite of the prohibitionist camp. Heck, I can't even find it on the ONDCP's website anymore.

Still, it's generally been assumed that the failure of marijuana smokers to contract lung cancer was attributable to their reduced consumption compared to that of cigarette smokers. That THC actually suppresses cancerous cells is a far more exciting and promising explanation. This suggests, among other things, that administering THC to one's lungs though non-smoking methods just might be remarkably good for you.

With each passing year, the controversy surrounding medical marijuana becomes less of a debate and more of a referendum on the blind idiocy of the liars and quacks who've portrayed it as anything other than a miracle drug.

If marijuana proves capable of curing cancer, will these people finally shut up?

Location: 
United States

Marijuana: After Denver Votes to Legalize It, Cops Arrest Even More

In November 2005, voters in Denver approved a municipal ordinance legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Denver police and prosecutors refused to play ball, continuing to cite people under the state marijuana law. Now, to add insult to injury, arrest figures from the police department show they are arresting more people for marijuana possession than ever.

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SAFER's Chickenlooper activist (photo courtesy SAFER)
With 2,446 misdemeanor pot charges last year, Denver police busted 11% more people for pot in 2006 than they did in 2005. That's less than the increase in the overall number of arrests between the two years, which was up 14%.

But it was still too much for Mason Tvert, who as head of SAFER Colorado led the Denver legalization campaign. "If there's one, it's too many," Tvert told the Rocky Mountain News. "They (police) have the discretion not to arrest." Tvert also pointed out that the city's black population bears the brunt of marijuana law enforcement. Blacks make up 11% of the city's population, but are 32% of those arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges.

Tvert has led a band of activists on a campaign to embarrass Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper over the arrest figures. This week, the activists have trailed Hickenlooper as he conducted campaign forums called "A Dialogue With Denver." Hickenlooper, who owns the Wynkoop Brewing Company, has so far refused to answer any questions related to the arrest figures, despite being hounded by a man dressed in a chicken suit calling himself "Whine-Coop Chickenlooper" and holding a sign asking "What's So Scary About Marijuana?"

Europe: French Anti-Globalist Activist and Presidential Candidate Says Legalize Marijuana

Independent French presidential candidate and anti-globalization activist José Bové kicked off his campaign Monday by calling for the legalization of marijuana. The call came in his first nationally televised address as a candidate -- the first by any candidate, all 12 of whom participated in a drawing to see when they would get air time.

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José Bové (courtesy Wikimedia)
"Marijuana needs to be decriminalized," Bové told viewers. "This is as much part of the daily routine today as drinking alcohol."

While Bové said "decriminalize" instead of "legalize," his reference to alcohol -- which is legal in France -- suggests he envisions a similar legal and regulated regime for marijuana. Under current French law, which does not distinguish between "soft" and "hard" drugs, drug possession is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Bove is a farmer and long-time left-leaning anti-globalization activist. He is best known for leading the unauthorized dismantling of a McDonald's restaurant in Millau in 1999 to protest hormone-treated beef. During his address to the nation, he called for the establishment of a leftist political force to challenge the sclerotic official French left and the rising right.

The leading contenders in next week's election are Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, a drug policy hard-liner; Socialist Ségolène Royal, and centrist François Bayrou. If the first round fails to produce a clear winner, a run-off will be held May 6. According to a poll released Tuesday, Sarkozy is leading with 28%, Royal has 22%, Bayrou 19%, and hard-right Jean-Marie Le Pen 14%. Bove is in the next tier of candidates, huddled with two others with a mere 2% of the vote. Nevertheless, his activist profile has generated some attention for the issue.

Marijuana: Cincinnati City Council Votes to Extend Tough Ordinance

The Cincinnati City Council voted Tuesday to renew a tough municipal marijuana ordinance it approved last year despite charges that it had not done what supporters said it would do: reduce violent crime. Thanks to strong local opposition to the ordinance when originally passed, it included a sunset provision and would have expired Friday if the council had not acted.

Under Ohio law, possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana is no more than a ticketable offense with a maximum $100 fine. That was too lenient for the city fathers in Cincinnati, who last year passed a municipal ordinance allowing police to arrest and jail people for up to 30 days for simple pot possession. The measure would reduce crime by removing guns from the streets, allowing police to target dealers, and scaring residents of nearby Kentucky and Indiana away from coming to the city to buy drugs, supporters said at the time.

Cincinnati police testified that marijuana arrests had removed 62 guns from city streets, but opponents, led by a coalition of groups organized as Citizens for a Safer Cincinnati, argued that crime rates had increased since the ordinance was passed. They have the numbers on their side.

As Safer Cincinnati member and Hamilton County Libertarian Party head Paul Green noted in an analysis of crime figures since the ordinance was passed, the ordinance has not succeeded in any of its three goals. There were fewer arrests of out-of-staters, but their total number was small in both years, and the reduction is a measly 0.7%. And while police bragged that they had seized 62 weapons, the number of guns reported to have been used in crimes was up 27%. The number of handguns -- the weapon most commonly carried by drug dealers -- reported to have been used in crimes was up 17%.

Violent crime has also increased since the ordinance has been in place. Murders were up 16% in 2006 compared to 2005, and armed robbery was up a whopping 44%. Overall, the serious crime index showed a 4.4% increase in 2006.

But despite the ordinance's failure to achieve its stated goals, the council reapproved it. That will make the ordinance a campaign issue, Safer Cincinnati warned.

Middle East: Marijuana Not Kosher for Passover, Says Green Leaf Party

Israel's Green Leaf Party, the country's leading marijuana reform advocacy organization, warned Wednesday that marijuana is not kosher for Passover. Jews who observe the week-long holiday's dietary laws should lay off the weed, the group said.

According to Green Leaf, rabbis have grouped marijuana products along with a family of foods including peas, beans, and lentils that are forbidden to observant Jews during Passover according to the European tradition of rabbinic interpretation. Passover begins on Monday.

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Passover ritual 'seder plate' (courtesy Wikimedia)
"We are warning our people not to eat anything with hemp products if they follow the practice of kitniyot on Pesach," said party spokesperson Michelle Levine. "We are considering announcing a ban on everything containing hemp just to be on the safe side. We are going with the rabbis on this. People should remove all cannabis and hemp from their homes."

The Orthodox Anarchist blog disagreed, calling the rulings relating to separation of grains outdated and urging Ale Yarok to instead focus on highlighting halakhic (Jewish religious statutory interpretation) moral arguments such as those supporting medical marijuana or the Orthodox Union's support for religious ayahuasca use rights.

There is an upside to the rabbinical ban during Passover, said Levine. "Logic dictates that if the rabbis say cannabis is non-kosher for Passover, it is apparently kosher during the rest of the year."

The Truth About Marijuana Use in the UK

As Phil notes below, there's a new wave of reefer madness taking hold in England. The Independent's reporting is hysterical in both senses of the word, so much so that the ONDCP blog wasted no time in picking up the story.

We're told that marijuana addiction among teenagers has skyrocketed, that marijuana is 25 times stronger than it was generation ago, and that marijuana just might cause schizophrenia. And the underlying implication of all this is that the effort to legalize marijuana, culminating in the UK's 2004 reclassification decriminalizing simple possession, has somehow caused all of these horrible problems.

Interestingly, The Independent's multiple articles yesterday reached their conclusions without mentioning usage rates. Here's why: marijuana use in the UK is going down. From The Observer in October, 2006:
According to a report by the Central Narcotics Office, after more than a decade of rapid growth, seizures of cannabis resin in Europe dropped by a fifth last year, to 831 tonnes.


The apparent trend is reinforced by British figures which show that the popularity of cannabis in the UK has plummeted, with 600,000 fewer people smoking or eating marijuana than three years ago.
The failure to address this relevant, yet contradictory fact is a hallmark of alarmist pseudo-scientific drug war reporting. Instead we get this:
Today record numbers of young people are in treatment programmes for skunk [high-grade marijuana] abuse and hospital admissions due to the drug are at their highest ever.
We know that rumors of more potent pot are both wildly exaggerated and largely irrelevant since users adjust their doses to achieve the desired effect regardless of potency. We also know that potency has increased notably (3-4 times, not 25) and that increased potency has much to do with prohibition, which creates a financial incentive for growers to maximize their risk/reward ratio since punishment is determined by weight rather than THC content.

So if it isn't the potency, then what's driving the spike in marijuana treatment in the UK? I think the answer is that reduced stigma and a new policy of not arresting casual users have resulted in more people seeking help. It makes vastly more sense than arguing that marijuana suddenly turned into crack laced with heroin the moment they decriminalized it.

I can't prove my theory anymore than addiction "experts" can prove that marijuana had almost no THC in the '60's. But it makes intuitive sense. Wouldn't you expect more people to seek treatment once the risk of arrest is removed?

After decriminalizing marijuana, the British are seeing lower usage rates and more people seeking treatment. Let's talk about that.

Location: 
United States

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