Marijuana Policy

RSS Feed for this category

NJ Regulators Approve Rules for Recreational Pot Market, Mexico President Could Free Aged Killer Drug Lord, More....(8/24/21)

A Mississippi legislative special session to pass a medical marijuana bill is still possible, New Jersey moves one step closer to legal recreational marijuana sales, and more.

Mexican President Lopez Obrador is considering releasing Felix Gallardo, jailed in the killing of a DEA agent in 1985. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

New Jersey Regulators Approves Rules for Recreational Marijuana Market. The state's marijuana regulators last week approved rules for setting up the recreational marijuana market, paving the way for legal sales to begin, although the date that might happen remains uncertain. The rules give priority in applications to women-, minority-, and disabled veteran-owned businesses. The director of the five-person commission, Jeff Brown, said the next step will be a notification that applications are being accepted. Commission Chairperson Dianna Houenou said the commission wants to see that the application process is proceeding smoothly before setting a start date for sales. “We know that there is a lot of interest in getting this market up and running and we were duty-bound to do it right."

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Special Session to Pass Medical Marijuana Still Possible. Lawmakers are still working on reaching a consensus on a medical marijuana bill with the hope that Gov. Tate Reeves (R) will hew to his vow to call a special session to get medical marijuana approved in the state. The push for the special session comes after voters approved medical marijuana at the polls last year, only to see the state Supreme Court invalidate the initiative. The state constitution requires that initiative petitions contain signatures from each of the state's five congressional districts, but the state has only had four districts since redistricting in 2000, and the legislature has not acted in the two decades since to rectify the constitutional conundrum. “I think the parties are close enough at this point or will be in the foreseeable future, that if the governor so chose to call a special session," said Representative Trey Lamar. "I don’t believe that it would take too long to get the parties to put a measure together and get it passed," he said. "The ball is in the governor’s hands. If he wants to do it then we’ll respond and we’ll come to Jackson and we’ll get it done. If not, then I guess we’ll wait until January."

International

Mexican President Open to Freeing Drug Lord Jailed for 1985 Murder of DEA Agent. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last Friday he was open to freeing imprisoned drug lord Angel Felix Gallardo, who has been behind bars for decades in Mexico for his role in the 1985 killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena outside Guadalajara. Lopez Obrador cited Gallardo's old age and poor health. Gallardo, 75, is blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and cannot walk. He called Lopez Obrador "a man of good will" in a televised interview last week. Responding to a question about that interview, Lopez Obrador said: "If it is justified ... of course, yes. "I also want him to understand my situation, that I do not want anyone to suffer. I do not want anyone to be in jail. I am a humanist," said Lopez Obrador, adding that prosecutors would review the case. Last month, Lopez Obrador proposed releasing thousands of inmates who were elderly, had been tortured, or suffered from health problems, as well as non-serious offenders.

OH Marijuana Legalization Measure Takes Small Step Forward, Portland Psychedelic Push, More... (8/23/21)

An Ohio effort to legalize marijuana cleared an initiial hurdle last Friday, Wyoming marijuana legalization and medical marijuana advocates will begin signature gathering next month, and more.

Wyoming marijuana initiatives face real hurdles in getting to the ballot, but activists are trying. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Ohio Attorney General Okays Marijuana Legalization Measure's Summary Language. State Attorney General Dave Yost (R) last Friday certified summary language for a proposed marijuana legalization initiative that would direct the state legislature to take up the issue and ultimately present the issue directly to voters if the legislature rejects or refuses to act on legalization. Now, the measure goes before the Ohio Ballot Board, which will determine whether it contains a single law, a requirement for state ballot initiatives. If it gets past the Ballot Board, signature gathering could then begin. Supporters would need 132,887 valid voter signatures from voters in at least half of the state's 88 counties. If signature gathering goals are met, the legislature would have four months to approve legalization. If it fails to do so, supporters could then collect another 132,887 signatures to place the proposal before Ohio voters during the next election.

Wyoming Marijuana Legalization, Medical Marijuana Initiatives Signature Gathering to Begin Next Month. After the state attorney general's office last week approved the wording of proposed marijuana legalization and medical marijuana initiatives, supporters are gearing up to begin signature gathering next month. "We’ll be hitting events, going door to door. We intend to get it all wrapped up by February," Wyoming NORML Executive Director Bennett Sondeno said. Wyoming's signature requirements are tough: Proponents must gather valid signatures from 15% of voters in the previous general election from each of at least 16 of the state’s 23 counties. There have been nine different initiative efforts in the past 25 years; none qualified for the ballot. The last initiative to actually make the ballot and pass was a railroad safety initiative in 1992.

Psychedelics

Portland, Oregon, Activists Push to Decriminalize Psychedelic Cultivation, Gifting, and Community Ceremonies. Portland activists who say they want to fill a gap left when state voters approved both psilocybin therapy and drug decriminalization are making a push to have the city commission pass a resolution to decriminalize the cultivation, gifting and ceremonial use of a wide range of psychedelics. The Plant Medicine Healing Alliance (PMHA) says the policies leave some important activity at risk of criminalization. The new local resolution they are asking the the City Commission to pass would make it so that activities such as gifting and community-based ceremonies involving entheogenic substances like ayahuasca and ibogaine would be made among Portland’s lowest law enforcement priorities. The proposal would affirm peoples’ "right to cultivate, prepare, possess, or administer entheogenic substances, especially for community healing or a good faith religious or spiritual practice." In a nod to indigenous groups, the PHMA is excluding peyote from its list because of concerns about the sustainability of the limited peyote crop.

Taliban Say No More Opium Production Under Their Rule, CA Psychedelic Decrim Bill Advances, More... (8/19/21)

The harm reduction group DanceSafe releases new test kits for cocaine and ketamine, a North Carolina medical marijuana bil is moving, and more.

Will Afghan poppy fields become a thing of the past? The Taliban say yes. (UNODC)
Medical Marijuana

North Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Ready to Advance in Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday accepted revisions to the Compassionate Care Act, Senate Bill 711, laying the groundwork for formal approval at a later meeting. The bill had already passed Judiciary and one more committee last month but was referred back to Judiciary this month to deal with revisions. The proposal would allow patients with specified "debilitating medical conditions" to use medical marijuana, but with revisions now includes patients with terminal conditions who have less than six months to live, as well as those who qualify for hospice care. Under the legislation, patients could possess up to one and a half ounces of cannabis, but home cultivation would not be permitted. The measure would provide for up to 10 medical marijuana suppliers, each of which could operate up to four dispensaries. Once the bill passes out of Judiciary, it must still be re-referred to the Health and Rules and Operations committees before heading for a floor vote.

Harm Reduction

DanceSafe Releases New Test Kit for Cocaine and Ketamine. DanceSafe, a nationally active and long-standing public health nonprofit, has released a new consumer drug checking kit that can reliably identify cocaine and ketamine, two of the most commonly used illicit drugs. The kit consists of two small bottles known together as Morris reagent. To use the kit, the user places one drop of liquid from each bottle onto a tiny amount of the drug and stirs the mixture with a toothpick for 20-30 seconds. The reaction turns bright blue in the presence of cocaine and purple in the presence of ketamine. The reagent can also detect two major ketamine analogues, DCK and 2-FDCK, which turn a navy blue color. Nearly all other drugs turn a dull green color, indicating a non-reaction. "This is a game changer," says Mitchell Gomez, DanceSafe’s Executive Director. "The cocaine and ketamine markets are highly adulterated, and this new test kit can help consumers avoid many of the counterfeit powders."

Psychedelics

California Psychedelic Decriminalization Bill Advances. A bill to decriminalize the possession of many psychedelics, Senate Bill 519, passed a procedural hurdle in the Assembly on Monday, getting a second reading on the Assembly floor and being re-referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It now faces a "suspense hearing" August 26, after which it would head for a final Assembly floor vote if it passes. If it then passes the Assembly, it would go back to the Senate for approval of amendments made in the Assembly, all of which must be accomplished by September 10 in order to reach the governor's desk this year. If the bill doesn't advance by then, it would not be dead but wouldn't be acted on again until January. One amendment that irks advocates like Decriminalize Nature sets possession limits, such as two grams of DMT, four grams of mescaline, two grams of psilocybin, and four grams of magic mushrooms. The group has called for the bill to be tabled until the kerfuffle over possession limits is settle to its satisfaction, but bill sponsor Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco says he wants to move forward now while the bill has momentum.

International

Taliban Say No More Opium Production in Afghanistan Under Their Rule. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul Wednesday that there will be zero drug production or trafficking in the country in the near future. "There will be no drug production, no drug smuggling. We saw today that our young people were on drugs near the walls; this was making me very, very sad that our youth are addicted," Mujahid said. "Afghanistan will not be a country of cultivation of opium anymore, but we need international help for that. The international community needs to help us," he added. Throughout this century, Afghanistan has been the world's leading opium producer, responsible for more than 80% of global supply with an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Afghans and produces a sizeable chunk of the country's Gross National Product. Wiping out opium production would create a huge economic disruption in the country, but the Taliban was able to do it in 2000, the year before they were overthrown by a US invasion.

Chronicle Book Review: "This Is Your Mind on Plants" by Michael Pollan

Chronicle Book Review:This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan (2021, Penguin Press, 274 pp., $28.00 HB)

A long time ago, in the days of Ronald Reagan, I once fell into conversation with an indigenous campesino at a rustic roadside café on a lonely road through the Sierra Madre Mountains in the state of Oaxaca, long notorious for its marijuana cultivation. We conversed in Spanish, a second language for both of us, about peasant life thereabouts and, eventually, about la mota.

One remark he made has stayed with me to this day: "How can a plant be illegal?" he wanted to know. This was not a question of understanding legal systems, but of wrapping his native head around the arrogant Western notions that plants -- an essential part of nature and the source of much healing -- are "good" or "bad" and that we can decree part of nature to be a crime.

Renowned foodie and plant author Michael Pollan has long dealt with that question, not so much wrestling with it as observing and noting the absurd, arbitrary, capricious, and historically-contingent laws privileging some psychoactive plants -- coffee or tea, anyone? -- while demonizing and even criminalizing others. He took on marijuana (as well as apples, potatoes, and tulips) in The Botany of Desire (2002) and plant- and fungi-based psychedelics (as well as synthetics) in How to Change Your Mind (2018).

And now he's back with This Is Your Mind on Plants, in which he examines our relationship with four psychoactive plants -- opium, caffeine, and the mescaline-bearing cacti peyote and San Pedro. Pollan recognizes that such plants are not good or bad, but good and bad -- they can heal and stimulate and they can addict and kill (or in the case of psychedelics, really mess with your head) -- and relates how the original Greek word for drug, pharmakos, meant both medicine and poison. Prohibitions crush such subtle understandings beneath demonizing dogma. As Pollan notes in his introduction:

But the blunt instrument of a drug war has kept us from reckoning with these ambiguities and the important questions about our nature they raise. The drug war's simplistic account of what drugs do and are, as well as its insistence on lumping them all together under a single meaningless rubric, has for too long prevented us from thinking about the meaning and potential of these very different substances. The legal status of a molecule is one of the least interesting things about it. Much like a food, a psychoactive drug is not a thing -- without a human brain, it is inert -- but a relationship; it takes both a molecule and mind to make anything happen.

The legal status of a molecule may not be of much interest to Pollan -- he acknowledges his privilege as he admits he's not really afraid of getting busted for the peyote cactus in his Berkeley garden -- but it has cast shadows over some of his research, particularly his chapter on his experience growing opium poppies, written in the 1990s and originally published with some "how to" pages removed out of fear of possible federal persecution.

Opium poppies, the plants that produce morphine and all its derivatives, such as heroin, are legal to buy and grow in the United States. But make that first cut on a mature seed pod to release the opium sap and you could find yourself looking at a federal drug manufacturing charge. Or, worse yet, have the feds think you know too much about how you get morphine from your pretty flowers and you could get yourself arrested for possessing legal poppy straw that you bought at the local flower shop.

That's what happened to Jim Hogshire, author of Opium for the Masses, the book that inspired Pollan's opium article in the first place. Hogshire's persecution, which occurred as Pollan was growing his own poppies, made him acutely concerned about the legal status of the molecule and the murky borderlines where one transforms from avid gardener into drug manufacturer.

The chapter is a chilling reminder of Clinton-era war on drugs paranoia, but also of DEA stupidity. While quietly seeking to suppress a handful of amateur poppy-growing gardeners, it was busily ignoring what would prove to be the actual opium epidemic of our time, the prescription opioids. The same year the feds were going after the gardeners, is also the year when PurduePharma rolled out Oxycontin, followed by years of aggressive marketing that had a skewing physician perceptions about when or for how long this useful but also abusable medication should be prescribed.

Pollan quit drinking coffee for his chapter on caffeine. He writes that he usually takes drugs he writes about because he feels he has to to understand them, but that with coffee, to which he like hundreds of millions of others around the planet is addicted, he felt that he had to experience life without the miracle molecule. It didn't go well, but he survived to tell the tale.

And it's a tale, of coffee's role in the making of industrial civilization. Caffeine, after all, Pollan notes, made the night-shift possible, improved concentration, and increased worker productivity. Of course, it's a legal drug! That despite it occasionally being banned, the denizens of European coffeeshops being suspected of being quite clear-headed, argumentative, and capable of political subversion, not to mention the mingling of classes that went on. With coffee, England roused itself from its alcoholic haze and went on to conquer the world.

In his chapter on mescaline, Pollan writes about his adventures with the San Pedro cactus, a mescaline-bearing succulent like peyote (although not as potent), which, unlike peyote, is legal in the United States. But as with his experiment with poppy growing back in the '90s, Pollan runs into legal ambiguity: When does growing a San Pedro cross the line into manufacturing mescaline?

To be accurate, peyote is not completely illegal in the US. Bizarrely enough, it is a substance whose legality is not determined by itself but by who is consuming it. If you are a member of the Native American Church, it is legal. If you're not, it's not. That's weird, but it does at least protect the ability of Native Americans to consume peyote, which is central to their religious practice.

Pollan does well in navigating the complexities of using substances that come from long traditions of indigenous use, and grasps the point made by the church that the best thing white people can do for peyote is leave it alone. That has led to conflict with groups like Decriminalize Nature, which want to legalize plant-based psychedelics, or entheogens, for everyone. Pollan handles that division with aplomb and respect, much as he does with the entire book. This isn't really a book about drug policy, but it is a wonderful book about some very special plants and the role they play.

Medical Marijuana Update

It's the dog days of summer, but there is still a little bit of medical marijuana news to report.

Mississippi

Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Board Rejects Adding New Qualifying Medical Conditions. The state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board on Tuesday voted to reject adding five medical conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. Those conditions were traumatic brain injury, hepatitis, Hepatitis C, chronic insomnia that isn’t responding to other treatments and major depressive disorder that isn’t responding to other treatments. The board has already approved 23 serious medical conditions for medical marijuana use, but board members were concerned the applications for traumatic brain, hepatitis, and Hepatitis C were "overly broad" and cited worries that juveniles with traumatic brain injuries could qualify for medical marijuana. With chronic insomnia and major depressive, the board concluded there was no evidence that medical marijuana would benefit patients with those conditions.

Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.

September Will Be Psychedelic Awareness Month in Ann Arbor, US Afghan Opium Fiasco, More... (8/18/21)

Pennsylvania's medical marijuana advisory board rejects five potential qualifying conditions, it will be Psychedelic Awareness Month next month in Ann Arbor, and more.

Harvesting opium poppies in Afghanistan. Nearly $9 billion in US anti-drug aid couldn't stop it. (UNODC)
Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Board Rejects Adding New Qualifying Medical Conditions. The state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board on Tuesday voted to reject adding five medical conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. Those conditions were traumatic brain injury, hepatitis, Hepatitis C, chronic insomnia that isn’t responding to other treatments and major depressive disorder that isn’t responding to other treatments. The board has already approved 23 serious medical conditions for medical marijuana use, but board members were concerned the applications for traumatic brain, hepatitis, and Hepatitis C were "overly broad" and cited worries that juveniles with traumatic brain injuries could qualify for medical marijuana. With chronic insomnia and major depressive, the board concluded there was no evidence that medical marijuana would benefit patients with those conditions.

Psychedelics

Ann Arbor Declares September Will Be Psychedelic Awareness Month. The city council voted Monday to officially designate September as Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month. The move comes nearly a year after the council voted to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics and passed on a unanimous vote. "Practices with entheogenic plants/fungi have been considered sacred to human cultures and human relationships with nature for thousands of years," the resolution says. The measure also says the city council "advocates increased awareness and understanding of the potential benefits of entheogens for mental health, personal and spiritual growth, as well as honoring the long standing ancestral practices and relationships with these entheogens."

Foreign Policy

The US Spent Nearly $9 Billion to Suppress Afghan Opium; It Remains World's Largest Opium Producer. As the two-decade American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan comes to an end, it is worth noting that the US tried throughout the occupation to quash the country's opium crop, spending $8.9 billion over the years to do so. To no avail: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that Afghanistan has accounted for more than 80% of global opium production throughout this century and that opium cultivation in the country rose from 150,000 acres in 2002 to more than 450,000 last year.

Gallup Says Nearly Half of US Adults Have Smoked Pot, Sri Lanka Drug War Abuses Called Out, More... (8/17/21)

Washington state's governor is moving to commute hundreds of drug possession sentences, a new Gallup poll has the number of Americans who admit ever using marijuana at an all-time high, and more.

The number of Americans who admit to having tried marijuana is at an all-time high, says Gallup. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Gallup Poll: Percent of US Adults Who Have Ever Smoked Pot at Highest Point Ever. A new Gallup poll has the percentage of US adults who have ever tried marijuana at 49%, the highest figure Gallup has recorded to date. In 1969, just 4% said they had tried it, with that figure rising to 20% in 1977, 30% in 1985, and 40% in 2015. But the number of people who say they currently "smoke marijuana" is much smaller, staying steady at between 11% and 13% after jumping from the 7% in 2013, the first year Gallup asked the question. Trends in marijuana use are generational, with only 19% of people over 75 having tried it, compared with about half of millennials (51%), Generation Xers (49%) and baby boomers (50%).

Drug Policy

Washington State Governor Unveils New Process to Commute Hundreds of Drug Possession Sentences. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Monday rolled out a new method for hundreds of people seeking to commute their sentences for low-level drug convictions to do so. The move comes after the state Supreme Court invalidated the state's drug possession law because it did not require people to knowingly possess, leading the state legislature to pass a bill allowing people caught with drugs to be referred to a health evaluation and possible drug treatment for their first two offenses. Now, the governor is pushing expedited clemency for those eligible under the new policy and those currently on probation or paroled for low-level drug possession can directly petition the governor for a commutation.

International

Human Rights Watch Calls for Suspension of International Assistance to Sri Lanka Police over Abuses in War on Drugs, Fight Against COVID. Human Rights Watch has called on international donors and "partners" of the Sri Lankan police to suspend assistance to them because they "are increasingly killing and abusing people under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic measures and an anti-drug campaign." The group cited recent police abuses including alleged extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention. It called on the government of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to "restore independent oversight of the police and meaningfully investigate and prosecute alleged police abuses." "Sri Lanka's police seem intent on building on their past record of serious abuses, instead of cleaning up their act," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The UN, UK, and others working with Sri Lankan law enforcement should recognize that without the political will to reform on Sri Lanka’s part, their engagement risks appearing to endorse abusive agencies." Human Rights Watch noted two cases in May where men in arrested on drug charges were fatally shot while in police custody. It also noted that the Sri Lankan government placed the police and the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board under the Defense Ministry last year. The police crackdown on drugs has allegedly involved planting drugs on suspects, torture, and other ill-treatment in police custody or at "rehabilitation" centers run by the Army. A new report from Harm Reduction International  found that "treatment" at those centers includes near-daily beatings and other physical abuses amounting to torture.

Magic Mushroom Shops Sprout in Vancouver, OH Activists Resubmit Marijuana Legalization Petition, More... (8/16/21)

California's Supreme Court says no pot for prisoners, the Philippine Justice Department makes an announcement but sheds no light, and more.

Shops in Vancouver are selling magic mushrooms and other psychedelic delectables despite their being illegal to sell. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

California Supreme Court Rules No Pot for Prisoners. Inmates in the state prison system do not have the right to possess marijuana under Proposition 64, the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in the state, the state Supreme Court ruled in a case last week. That decision reverses a 2019 lower court decision that held prisoners could possess marijuana behind bars but could not smoke or otherwise ingest it. "We agree with the Attorney General that if the drafters had intended to so dramatically change the laws regarding cannabis in prison, we would expect them to have been more explicit about their goals," wrote Associate Justice Joshua Groban in the 5-2 opinion. "While perhaps not illogical to distinguish between the possession and use of cannabis, it is nonetheless difficult to understand why the electorate would want to preclude laws criminalizing cannabis possession in prison, but permit laws criminalizing cannabis consumption in prison," he continued.

Ohio Activists Resubmit Marijuana Legalization Petition. An activist group, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, has resubmitted a marijuana legalization petition and required signatures after its first effort was rejected las week by Attorney General David Yost (R). "We appreciate the attorney general’s feedback on our initial filing and have fully addressed the issues flagged in this updated filing" coalition spokesman Tom Haren said. If and when the initiative is approved for signature gathering, the group will have to collect 132,887 valid voter signatures to put the proposed law before the legislature. If the legislature rejects it or fails to act on it, it could go before the voters after a second round of signature gathering.

International

Magic Mushroom Shops Sprout in Vancouver. A handful of shops selling magic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances are operating in Vancouver, British Columbia, even though selling magic mushrooms remains illegal in Canada. One such shop, the Coca Leaf Café & Mushroom Dispensary on East Hastings Street, is owned by long-time drug activist Dana Larsen. "We're sitting in a place that is unique in the world. There's nowhere else where you can get the same range of substances and things that we do right here," Larsen said. "Within a few years there’s going to be hundreds of mushroom and psychedelic dispensaries across Canada," Larsen predicted. It's not his first rodeo when it comes to promoting illicit drugs: He ran an illegal pot shop, gave out 5 million pot seeds during the 2016 "Overgrow Canada" campaign, and mailed grams of weed to Liberal politicians. Although he's operating without a license, he's not too worried, he said:  "I'm pretty good at finding that grey area where you can expand things but take a little risk, but maybe not get arrested," he said. "And even if that happened, a judge being like, ‘Yeah, Dana deserves to go to jail for a long time because he's selling people coca tea and a gram or two of psychedelic mushrooms,’ it’s just not going to happen." 

Philippine Justice Department Says It Has Finished Review of 52 Drug War Killing Cases. The Department of Justice panel that examined 52 cases of drug war killings forwarded by the Philippine National Police (PNP) says it has finished report. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was going over the report, but there was no indication if or when the report is going to be made public. The review is part of a Filipino government effort to blunt a potential formal investigation by the International Criminal Court, which has completed a preliminary investigation and awaits a decision by prosecutors on whether to move ahead. But the 52 cases forwarded to the Justice Department represent only a tiny fraction of the more than 6,000 drug war killings for which the PNP took responsibility and an even tinier fraction of the total number of drug war killings, many conducted by shadowy vigilantes, a number human rights groups put at somewhere north of 30,000. For the latest on the horrendous human rights situation in the Philippines, see this recently released report from the Philippine Human Rights Information Center, The Killing State: Duterte's Legacy of Violence.

White House Considering Clemency for Federal Drug Offenders, WY Marijuana Initiatives Advance, More... (8/13/21)

A major drug crackdown in India's Assam state is raising fears of another bloody drug war like the one in neighboring Bangladesh, Wyoming marijuana inititives pass a first hurdle, and more.

Marijuana Policy

Wyoming Marijuana Initiatives Pass First Hurdle. The secretary of state has certified the first one hundred signatures for two marijuana-related marijuana initiatives, one for medical marijuana and one for recreational legalization. That certification means that the initiatives are now clearly for broader signature gathering to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. To qualify, petitioners must gather 41,776 valid voter signatures before February 14, 2022.

Criminal Justice

White House Says Biden Exploring Clemency for Federal Drug Offenders. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden is looking into using his executive authority to grant clemency to people with certain non-violent drug convictions. Her comments came in response to a question about plans for federal inmates who had been released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic. The administration is "working hard every day to reform our justice system in order to strengthen families, boost our economy, give people a chance at a better future," Psaki responded. "As part of this, the president is deeply committed to reducing incarceration, helping people successfully reenter society. And he has said too many people are incarcerated—too many are black and brown. And he is therefore exploring multiple avenues to provide relief to certain nonviolent drug offenders, including through the use of his clemency power."

International

India's Assam State Launches War on Drugs. The northeastern Indian state of Assam has for years served as the primary transit corridor for drugs from neighboring Myanmar, particularly methamphetamine, and now the state government has launched a major crackdown, seizing record amounts of drugs and arresting more than 2,000 people since May, more than full-year totals for any previous year. Assam connects the northeast to the rest of India, and experts estimate that 80% of the drugs flowing into the state end up in the rest of the country. The crackdown comes after an ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Himanta Biswa Sarma, became the state's chief minister in May, saying he was giving police a free hand to suppress drugs, including shooting suspects when necessary. So far only two people have been killed in police raids. Some experts fear Assam could descend into drug war violence like that which has occurred in neighboring Bangladesh, where methamphetamine use is rife, and police have have killed hundreds of suspected drug dealers since 2018.

Naloxone Shortage Looms, MS MedMJ Effort Drawing Near to Special Session, More... (8/11/21)

Wisconsin Democrats cross the state line to an Illinois pot shop to roll out their marijuana legalization bill, there's bad news for people who might need the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, and more.

The opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. Supplies are running short after a manufacturing problem. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Wisconsin Democrats Unveil Marijuana Legalization Bill—At Illinois Dispensary. Democratic lawmakers crossed the state line to use an Illinois marijuana sales outlet as the backdrop for their rollout of a marijuana legalization bill Tuesday. Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) are filing a bill that would legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and set up a system of taxed and regulated sales. But the bill's prospects are iffy at best in the GOP-controlled state legislature, which has fended off similar efforts for the past eight years. "However you feel about cannabis use, keeping it illegal isn’t helping anything. It’s only hurting. The people of Wisconsin are ready for legalization," Spreitzer said.

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Lawmakers "Very, Very Close" to Deal on Medical Marijuana. Senate and House negotiators working on a medical marijuana program to replace the one approved by voters but killed by the state Supreme Court, say they are "very, very close" to having a draft bill that could prompt a special legislative session as early as this month. "I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who’s leading the Senate’s medical marijuana work. "… We’re very, very close." Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who has the sole authority to call a special session, has said he is willing to do, but not until the House and Senate have reached broad agreement on a proposal.

Harm Reduction

Naloxone Shortage Looms. Pfizer, the maker of single-dose injectable naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, has halted production of the drug since April because of an unspecified manufacturing issue, and that is making the life-saving drug more difficult to obtain and more expensive in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis that has taken tens of thousands of lives in the last year. Pfizer offers the drug at a discount to a national buyers' club of harm reduction programs, but says it may be February before it can meet demand again. That effectively means the life-saving drug will have to be rationed until then. "Who do you stop supplying? Jennifer Plumb of Utah Naloxone said. "Who do you stop prioritizing? Who do you stop making sure has naloxone?"

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, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 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, Vaping, 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, Pill Testing, Safer 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, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School