Marijuana -- Personal Use

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Sonoma County and the Future of Marijuana

Last weekend, I drove into California on US 101, the Redwood Highway, blowing past Crescent City and the Pelican Bay supermax prison as I headed south toward Sonoma County, where I will be residing for the next couple of months. The area's world-famous vineyards and wineries began appearing just south of Ukiah, and by the time I actually crossed the Sonoma County line, the vines were everywhere. When I got to my hotel in Santa Rosa, I was met with a complimentary bottle of Sonoma County wine and handed a hardcover book listing all the vineyards in the region. They offer tours and tastings, there are wine festivals and myriad events. Wine is big business in Sonoma; it is part of the local culture, and it is a celebration of the good things in life. So, why am I going on about the wineries of Sonoma County? Because this is what the marijuana industry should be like. Both wine and weed are "soft" drugs around which has grown a connoisseur culture. Both are eminently social drugs, to be shared and celebrated with friends and family. While both can be abused, neither is associated with the serious problems around hard-core alcoholism or hard drug use. Northern California's wine industry is an open, above ground, and vital part of the regional economy. It drives tourism to the area. Northern California's marijuana industry is hidden, underground, and a vital part of the regional economy. It, too, drives tourism to the area, but to a much lesser degree. If pot were to move out from the shadows—if we were to move to a system of regulation instead of prohibition—and we started treating marijuana growing with the respect we give wine-making, I can foresee a Northern California Marijuana Country that would parallel the wine country experience. Imagine taking off on a tour of the pot farms of Mendocino or Humboldt counties (or even Sonoma County, for that matter): You drive off the highway and through beautiful countryside, past fields of marijuana plants glistening in the sun, and through the gates of the local boutique grower's estate. The skunky odor of maturing buds fills the air. In the tasting room, workers display the estate's best, while visitors taste and contrast the varieties. (In wine tastings, the tasters spit out the wine after tasting it to avoid over-intoxication. Will pot smokers merely roll the smoke around their mouths without inhaling for similar reasons?) Marijuana is already a key part of the Northern California culture and economy. Embracing and developing the marijuana economy is only a matter of time. And the wine country model is a good and entirely appropriate path.
United States

Pannagh receives cannabis plants from the Spanish police

[Courtesy of Joep from ENCOD] Dear friends, Herewith I send you the translation of this excellent news from Spain: Last Wednesday 25 april the Bilbao Cannabis Social Club Pannagh received the cannabis that was confiscated from them by the police on 3 October 2005. Pannagh is a legal association of cannabis consumers who have established a collective plantation meant for their own personal consumption. In full harvest time in 2005, the police intervened in the green house and took the plants. Three members of Pannagh, among them Martin Barriuso, were arrested. The Provincial Court of Vizcaya filed the case, as it acknowledged the legally constituted association that had nothing to do with a criminal organisation dedicated to drug trade. After many months of trial, Pannagh has obtained the return of the confiscated cannabis. The verdict is historical as there are no precedents of the return of cannabis to people from who it was confiscated in the jurisprudence. This verdict is a recognition of the freedom to farm for personal consumption and of the entire cannabis movement.

Feature: Cannabis Nation Celebrates 4/20 -- Dozens of Campus Actions, Mass Arrests in Denver, Foiled in Las Vegas

Last Friday was April 20 (4/20), the unofficial national marijuana smokers' holiday, and members of Cannabis Nation were out in force on college campuses across the land. Non-campus events took place, too, but some of them faced hostile reactions from local authorities -- most notably in Denver, where police cited more than 50 people on marijuana charges, and in Las Vegas, where the city bureaucracy effectively stifled a long-planned and costly two-day celebration of cannabis culture.
report by CBS Denver affiliate
The on-campus actions were, for the most part, organized by Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the Colorado-based group that has been working its "marijuana is safer than alcohol" message on college campuses and in the voting booth. According to the group, students on 50 campuses participated in 4/20 events under the rubric of a "National Day for Education."

In the SAFER events, which in many cases were coordinated with campus Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), students handed out literature comparing the effects of marijuana and alcohol and called for campus policies that do not punish marijuana use more severely than alcohol use.

"The campus events seemed to go very well," said SAFER head Mason Tvert. "All around the country, students handed out thousands of pieces of literature and SAFER t-shirts," he told Drug War Chronicle. "The literature contrasted the effects of marijuana and alcohol -- no marijuana ODs, it doesn't contribute to acts of violence and sexual assault, while alcohol is the number one campus date rape drug.

Judging by the response this week, the action was a success, Tvert said. "We've been getting lots of emails from people who say that literature, and the NORML and SSDP chapters are reporting that they signed on a lot of new members."
flyering by Univ. of Toledo SSDP member Whitney Bodine
"Some of our chapters worked with SAFER to distribute information about the relative effects of alcohol and marijuana," SSDP field director Micah Daigle told the Chronicle. Other chapters held or will hold hemp fests, he said.

While some SSDP chapters participated in 4/20 actions, others were busy lobbying Congress in an effort to repeal the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision. "Last week was a week of SSDP HEA action," said Daigle. "We sent out phone script cards that people could use to encourage them to call the Senate HELP Committee, which is reviewing HEA this week."

There were other 4/20 campus actions unrelated to the SAFER campaign, although they hit some similar notes. In Amherst, Massachusetts, hundreds of people gathered Saturday for the 16th annual Extravaganja, organized by the University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC).

CRC head John Werner touched on familiar themes as he addressed the crowd. "People are being kept out of college for small infractions," Werner said. He said that when people are jailed for marijuana offenses, it's harder to find a job when they're released. In turn, this may cause them to turn to crime.

The laws also takes resources away from combating more dangerous drugs. "I think there are drugs that are dangerous, and marijuana is not one of them," said Werner. "No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose."

Werner also addressed campus marijuana policies. "There's a huge problem with cops in dorms," said Werner. "There's a skyrocketing arrest rate." According to Werner, at UMass any student caught with marijuana is suspended immediately, which severely interrupts academic work and leaves a stain on the individual's record.

While the campus events were largely unmolested (six students at the University of Colorado were arrested for publicly smoking pot), it was a different story for 4/20 events in Denver and Las Vegas. In Denver, dozens of public marijuana smokers were cited by police, who massed in force around the peaceable rally memorializing slain activist Ken Gorman.

"People who smoke marijuana in public have to be ready to pay the consequences," said SAFER's Tvert. "But this is different from past years and it certainly shows the police were going out of their way to cite people. This was a peaceful gathering and the only problem was the arrests," he said.

According to Denver police, more than 100 officers, including the SWAT team, the mounted patrol, undercover members of the vice and narcotics bureau, the gang unit and other departments were on duty during the rally. "Even though marijuana smoking isn't illegal in Denver, it's still illegal in Colorado," said police spokeswoman Virginia Quinones.

But Tvert questioned the need for the massive police presence. "Do they call out the SWAT team for bar closing on Friday night?" he asked. "Do we get that much police presence at a Broncos football game?"

Tvert said he plans to pursue the issue by demanding hearings at the city council. SAFER was behind the successful 2005 legalization initiative ignored by city fathers, and Tvert warned that the city could see further action, perhaps in the form of a lowest law enforcement priority initiative, if the city doesn't change its tune.

4/20 in Las Vegas was supposed to be a two-day festival with dozens of live bands, vendors, and exhibitors, but instead turned into a disaster for organizers after city permitting officials stalled their permits, then shut them down completely on the first day of the event.

Mikki Norris of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign and her husband, cannabis cultivation expert Chris Conrad, traveled from the San Francisco Bay area to attend and address the event. They were expecting a major bash, but "when we arrived, the event had significantly reduced," Norris reported. "The venue, the Ice House, had been contacted by the authorities and were told that no vending could take place outside or inside, no speakers could speak, nobody could table or hand out literature. There could only be music in a place that holds a thousand people. Police were riding bikes through the large parking lot area that only weeks before had hosted an event by Snoop Dog and others. When the scent of cannabis was sniffed in the outside air, the code-enforcement person cancelled the event, threatening the owners of the Ice House to suspend their licenses for 30 days if they didn't call off the 4/20 event."

While Norris decried the hypocrisy of a city built on sex, drinking, and gambling shutting down a marijuana event, the damage was more than emotional. "Many people lost thousands of dollars on this weekend," she noted. "Many vendors lost money, the Ice House lost money, the musicians lost money, attendees lost money, and we lost money getting there. Much money was to be generated at this event, tourist dollars were going to be spent all over town, and the message was to get out about legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis in Nevada in the near future. But, instead it was a big loss for everyone."

Nevada NORML organizers Billy and Beth Soloe are not answering their phone this week and their voicemail box is full. The couple stand to lose significant sums on the thwarted event.

They are not to blame, said NORML founder Keith Stroup, who also traveled to Las Vegas for the event."[The organizers] had an agreement with the venue that the Icehouse would handle permit issues because it's a venue that does these big events all the time, and only 11 days before the event, the Icehouse told them the permits weren't moving. At that point, Nevada NORML realized it had a problem and tried to get it resolved, but all they got was the runaround from city officials. They created an endless series of hurdles; I think it is clear there was never any intent to let this event happen."

Stroup wishes they had asked him for help. "I think the Nevada NORML people were well-intentioned and worked very hard, but they presumed city officials were dealing with them in good faith, and that's clearly not the case," said Stroup. "They should have called us for help when they realized this was a crisis. Perhaps we could have acted to clear this up, but by the time we got to town on the day of the event, it was too late to fix things. I told them that if they want to try it again next year and they don't have the permits six weeks out, bring us in and we'll take them to court."

City officials apparently acted at the behest of a Mormon anti-drug group that submitted a petition with 30 signatures demanding that the event be canceled, Stroup reported. "Not 30,000 signatures, not 3,000, but 30 signatures!" he exclaimed. "Clearly, they got to someone on the council, and mid-level bureaucrats were told not to grant that permit. Someone decided this wasn't healthy for the city, and they weren't going to let the event happen," he said.

"This was clearly a case where somebody didn't like the message," said Stroup. "The city was claiming this event was going to bring the city to a screeching halt, but this is Las Vegas. You've got to be kidding me. That was a bullshit justification by the city. We may have to go back with guns blazing next year."

To add insult to injury, city code enforcement officers even forbade event participants from handing out literature. "That's clearly unconstitutional," said Stroup. "If NORML wants to hand out a brochure on private property, that is their constitutional right."

Stroup said he spoke with the Icehouse manager and offered legal assistance if the venue challenged the literature ban, but the manager declined, saying city officials threatened to shut him down for at least 30 days. "At that point, we didn't have the option of challenging the city's bullshit decisions," Stroup said. "They could have destroyed that business."

Nevada NORML and national NORML are weighing their legal options at this point, Stroup said. "Suing for damages is not out of the question. Some people took a real financial hit on this," he said. "But if our main goal is to overcome these obstacles, we have to ask if we want to spend the time and resources to teach these people a lesson or would we be better off using that same energy to really do it right next time and cram it down the city's throat."

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.
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

Denver, CO
United States
CBS4-TV Denver

Hundreds Rally in Denver to Support Marijuana Legalization

Denver, CO
United States
Rocky Mountain News

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.
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, 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?

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.
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.
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.

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