tagged w/ Bhang
People offered cannabis, thorn apple fruits, flowers and bel patra (bilwa leaves) to please Lord Shiva.People offered cannabis, thorn apple fruits, flowers and bel patra (bilwa leaves) to... more
Devotees of Lord Shiva in Rajasthan drink 'bhang'- an intoxicant drink made of milk, dry fruits, and cannabis leaves.
"This programme is organised every year and people from across the country come here to participate. 'Bhang' addiction is different from addiction of other intoxicants. After consuming, a person only thinks of Lord Shiva," said Bhootnath, a devotee.
The drink is made by mixing milk and crushed dry fruits with the buds and leaves of cannabis paste made in a mortar with pestle.
"This mixture has five kilograms of almonds, two kilograms of pistachio, milk, saffron. Minimum 10 to 15 thousand rupees are spent and then proper bhang drink is prepared," said Madan Jerry, a participant.
The devotees consume the paste diluted with milk in small metal pots and jugs. They consume the heady drink in the belief that it helps to concentrate in Lord Shiva's worship.
During the ongoing Shrawan month (July - August) in the Hindu calendar, various festival and events dedicated to Lord Shiva are organised.
'Bhang' has become synonymous with one of major festivals 'Holi' to the extent that consuming the bhang drink at that time is a norm in north India. By Jethmal Sharma
Devotees of Lord Shiva in Rajasthan drink 'bhang'- an intoxicant drink... more
This weekend on the Puget Sound waterfront, Myrtle Edwards Park plays host to America's largest marijuana law reform event in the 17th annual Seattle Hempfest. The festival, the purpose of which is to educate the public on the many uses and benefits of the cannabis plant, runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and promises nonstop entertainment.
Hempfest will include five stages featuring hundreds of speakers and music performers. Key speakers include PBS travel show host Rick Steves, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes Jack Herer, and NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) founder Keith Stroup.
The Hemposium Stage will offer attendees a chance to participate in panel discussions with many of the Hempfest speakers, which John Davis, the event's board chairman, said is an opportunity not to be missed.
"The panels will provide a chance to hear people that really know what they're talking about discuss the issues," Davis said, adding, "It's really a neat experience to get to talk directly to the speakers."
Among the issues on tap for this weekend, industrial uses of cannabis will be at the forefront, as this year's theme is "Industrial Hemp, and what it can do for America."
"There are a lot of issues that surround the big issue, which is the legal status of the plant, but we do like to bring up industrial usage," Davis said.
Although the issue of marijuana legalization is at the center of Hempfest, the festival's always-impressive band lineup is a major reason why it is expected to draw more than 150,000 people to the waterfront this weekend. Among the many bands performing on the event's five stages will be L.D.T. Mo-Thugs (featuring members from Grammy-winning Bone Thugs-n-Harmony), Vains of Jenna, and Herbivores. Because the event is free and run by a nonprofit organization, most of the acts are volunteering their time to support the cause.
Any event involving the legality of marijuana is sure to raise the question of police presence. However, Seattle Hempfest has a fairly clean bill on this issue and works closely with Seattle Police to ensure a safe festival environment. Davis said he has been especially impressed with the efforts put forth by police during past Hempfests.
"The police have really shown our group the meaning of protect and serve," Davis said.
Hempfest is free and largely put on by volunteers, with funding coming from a combination of vendor revenue, sponsorships, and donations. However, Davis estimates that the average donation at last year's event was somewhere around 15 cents. 15 cents! So with two days chock full of complimentary entertainment, enjoy some speeches and concerts and then open up that billfold and contribute a little more than a nickel and dime for a great cause.
Posted by Joe Darda at August 14, 2008 4:45 p.m.
A Hempfest attendee flies a marijuana flag at a past festival. Getty ImagesThis weekend on the Puget Sound waterfront, Myrtle Edwards Park plays host to... more
Today, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a new study that perfectly demolishes one of the central myths underlying the war on drugs. The National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse shows that youth access to marijuana has increased significantly in the past year:
According to the report, half of the 16- and 17-year-olds surveyed said their peers use marijuana more than tobacco. More teens say it’s easier to acquire marijuana than beer. And there’s a 35% increase from last year in the number of teens who say they can buy marijuana within an hour and a 14% increase in the number of teens who say they can find it in a day. [MPP]
It almost speaks for itself. Nothing could more directly obliterate the false notion that the war on marijuana is reducing youth access. Just days ago, the drug czar stood on a California mountaintop proudly pronouncing the importance of marijuana eradication. He's bent over backwards to explain that reductions in youth marijuana use provide proof that the war on marijuana is working.
What then can be said about marijuana's ever-increasing availability to young people? Rather obviously, recent declines in youth marijuana use owe nothing to the brutal and controversial tactics the drug czar is duty-bound to defend. After another year of dead dogs, dead informants and dead cops, marijuana is more available to our children than ever before. If fewer of them are using, then that is because they don't feel like it, not because they don't know where to get any.
Of course, the drug war supporters at CASA must have realized how badly their data reflects on marijuana prohibition, so they cooked up one the most embarrassingly backwards statistics possible:
Teens who can obtain marijuana readily are more likely to use it. Forty-five percent of teens who say they can get marijuana in an hour or less have used the drug, compared to 10 percent of those teens who say it would take them a day to get it and less than one percent of teens who say they would be unable to get it.
Oh, mercy. Is it really necessary to explain that teens who smoke marijuana are more likely to know where to buy it? This is just a crime against the scientific method, a pathetic face-saving ruse to defend marijuana prohibition within a report that unintentionally – yet transparently -- humiliates the drug war status quo.
Today, the drug war's failure to keep drugs out of the hands of our young people has been revealed in stark, unambiguous terms. No, the debate won't end here, but it is moments like this that cause one drug warrior after another, after another to jump ship and admit that the whole thing is just a monumental travesty.Today, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a new... more
(Media-Newswire.com) - BOSTON – Of the three questions on the Massachusetts ballot this November, only one question -- #2 the decriminalization of marijuana -- appears all but certain to pass, according to a poll analysis released today by 7NEWS/Suffolk University. Seventy-two percent favored the proposed law, which would replace the criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil penalty of forfeiture of the marijuana and a fine of $100. Twenty-two percent opposed the proposed law.
"The public may be signaling that pursuing small-time marijuana users is a waste of taxpayer resources," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University. "This issue suggests that there is a Libertarian streak in the thinking of Massachusetts voters."
Question #1, which would reduce and ultimately eliminate the state income tax, was opposed 50 percent to 36 percent, with 15 percent undecided.
"Voters considering the no-tax scenario seem to be aware of their New Hampshire neighbors’ contending with high property taxes to fund programs," said Paleologos. "They appear reluctant to eliminate the income tax and risk paying more with some other tax."
Question #3, which would, beginning in 2010, prohibit any type of dog racing in Massachusetts that entailed wagering on the speed or ability of the dog, won support from 50 percent, while 37 percent opposed, and 13 percent were undecided.
On the national front, if John McCain were to select former Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, it could be the kiss of death for McCain in Massachusetts. When asked if voters would be more or less likely to vote for the Republican ticket if Romney were the vice presidential candidate, 33 percent said more likely, while 41 percent said less likely, and 24 percent indicated no difference. Romney’s presence on the ticket moved voters positively in Western Massachusetts, while voters in every other region of the state said they would be less likely to vote for McCain.
The 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll was conducted Thursday, July 31, 2008, through Sunday, August 3, 2008. The margin of error on the study of 400 is +/- 4.9 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the statewide survey were registered voters form all parties in Massachusetts. Marginals and cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site – www.suffolk.edu/college/1450.html -- on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. The complete set of marginals and the 328-page cross-tabulation report will be available at noon Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.
(Media-Newswire.com) - BOSTON – Of the three questions on the Massachusetts... more
NASHUA – Lull Farm owner David Orde didn't flinch when Hollis Police Officer Angelo Corrado asked him to explain the 16 marijuana plants growing in pots just outside his home, police reported.
"Orde did not look surprised," Detective Sgt. Richard Mello wrote in his application for a warrant to search Orde's home at 2 Blood Road, Hollis.
Mello quoted Orde as saying, "Yes, I'm not going to hang my head in shame; I smoke a little pot."
Orde added, "It's my first year growing on the deck," Mello wrote.
On Wednesday, Orde, 53, waived formal arraignment in Nashua District Court on a felony marijuana manufacturing charge. A probable cause hearing was set for Aug. 28.
Orde's lawyer, Steven Maynard of Nashua, said he expects to challenge the legality of the Hollis Police Department's search of Orde's home on July 29.
"Mr. Orde is an outstanding citizen, and we're going to defend this vigorously," he said.
Orde's son, Andrew Orde, 18, also has been charged with growing marijuana at the home, and is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 27 in Nashua District Court.Responding to public speculation about the nature of the alleged marijuana crop, Maynard noted that police have not accused Orde or his son of selling or intending to sell any marijuana.
Orde himself told police the marijuana was for his own use, and denied that he ever sold it, Mello reported.
Officer Corrado discovered the potted plants after going to Orde's home to serve a summons for an unlicensed dog at about 5:05 p.m. on July 29, Mello reported. It's not clear why police went to Orde's home, rather than trying to contact him at Lull Farm.
Corrado went to the side door after getting no answer when he knocked at the front door, which was open, police reported. A car was in the driveway, police reported.
Walking up to the side door, Corrado saw 11 marijuana plants growing in pots on a deck, and five more on the ground beside the deck, police reported.
Each of the plants was about three to four feet tall, and police estimated that each would produce roughly two to four ounces of marijuana, which they claim to be worth $1,000 to $2,000.
Corrado reported his find by radio, and Mello came to check it out. Police contacted Orde at Lull Farm, and police met with Orde at his home at about 6:15 p.m., Mello reported.
Searching the house, police found and seized four plastic bags of marijuana, a pipe and other paraphernalia, 'how to' books for growing marijuana, a five-gallon bucket with a black light and "papers, receipts and e-mails," police reported.
David Orde was freed after posting $2,000 bail after his arrest, and his son is free on personal recognizance.
News of the arrests brought mixed reaction in the community, and prompted debate over the nation's drug policies and laws.
Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or email@example.com.NASHUA – Lull Farm owner David Orde didn't flinch when Hollis Police... more
That aroma you're picking up as you walk near Myrtle Edwards Park or downwind from the Olympic Sculpture Park this weekend?
Smells slightly sweet, familiar even, with hints of patchouli and body odor? Does it bring back memories of dorm-room chats or crowded, sweaty concerts?
Yeah, you got it.
It's time for the country's biggest "protestival" - Seattle Hempfest - on Saturday and Sunday. All "Reefer Madness" jokes aside, this is a serious event that is expected to draw more than 150,000 people who support reforming laws pertaining to marijuana - especially legalizing the domestic production of that less fun strain, hemp. Of course, some people might be there to check out a festival at which being stoned is no big deal. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
As usual, hundreds of booths - food and products - will give festival attendees plenty to peruse. They'll also be able to listen to five stages of music and dozens of speakers, including the return of PBS and NPR travel show host Rick Steves, who has spoken out for the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana; Magic Black-Ferguson, the executive director of Grammas for Ganja; and David Frankel, director of the Hemp Industries Association. Headlining musical acts include Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Laura "Piece" Kelley.
In this 17th year of Seattle Hempfest, "Industrial Hemp" is the dominant theme.
"It's a different strain of marijuana, a nonintoxicating strain with no THC that has 5,000 applicable uses, including textiles and fiberboards," said Vivian McPeak, Hempfest's executive director. "Hempseed is more nutritious than soybeans, hemp plastics stronger than other plastics, and because it's a weed, it's one of the most fibrous plants on the Earth and it fights soil erosion. There is literally an endless array of uses for the industrial hemp plant. Everything sold in America - jewelry, clothing, the hempseed oil, waffles, ice cream, hemp bread, hemp nuts/seeds sold at Whole Foods - has been imported. The U.S. doesn't allow it to be grown domestically.
"It sounds kind of Pollyanna, but there really are all of these uses. It's a crime we can't grow it in America because it happens to look like pot."
Although marijuana was outlawed in 1937, McPeak said the U.S. government produced a film called "Hemp for Victory" in 1942 that extolled the ways the plant helped fight World War II.
McPeak said the event is also becoming more eco-friendly this year.
"Some people think Hempfest is about as green an event as it can get, but we can go greener," he said. "We are looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprints. We are composting both at the cafe and staff kitchen; using biodegradable food utensils (corn, plastics that dissolve); a company called General Biodiesel is harvesting the used cooking oil from vendors; we're running the main stage and Hemposium stage on biodiesel; and printing programs on 100 percent consumer-recycled paper with soy inks."
The all-volunteer event is free, but donations are encouraged. In alignment with the green theme, attendees are urged to ride public transportation to the event. That might work out better since parking on Elliott Avenue West and surrounding streets can be hard to find that weekend.
The event began in 1991 as a "humble gathering of stoners" but has since grown into "a premier Northwest summer attraction, adding to Seattle's notoriety as a marijuana-friendly city," according to the news release.
McPeak gives support for that notion: A statewide medical marijuana initiative passed in 1998; in 2003, simple possession of marijuana was given the lowest police priority; and medical marijuana distribution in the city has not reached the level of "exploitation" that it has in California.That aroma you're picking up as you walk near Myrtle Edwards Park or downwind... more
Federal Crown attorney Clayton Conlan withdrew all drug charges Tuesday against a Meaford man who says he uses marijuana medicinally because prosecuting the charges "would not be in the public interest." The charges against his wife were also withdrawn.
James Kerr, 36, and Celena Negovetich, 30, agreed to forfeit the $6,800 worth of marijuana police seized Jan. 4 in their Meaford home, but they are getting back most of the $1,700 worth equipment to grow more pot.
Tuesday had been set aside for their trial and the couple had said they would represent themselves. But they came to court having already worked out terms of a resolution with the Crown, so their appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice to officially withdraw the charges was brief.
Conlan said he withdrew the charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and production of marijuana after consulting with his superior at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
Kerr had applied for licences to grow and use marijuana long before he was charged and he received both licences the month after charges were laid, Conlan said.
It was still a "technical breach" of the law, but not one that either Conlan or his boss thought was worth prosecuting.
"I just don't think that it was worthwhile, quite frankly, prosecuting somebody who has legitimate, serious medical problems and who now has a valid licence."
Kerr was diagnosed in September 2005 with multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system with no cure. It causes attacks of prolonged muscle spasms and headaches which he says are relieved with marijuana. He is on a disability pension because of his illness.
Conlan also praised the police work leading to the charges and thinks there was a reasonable prospect both Kerr and Negovetich would have been convicted.
Kerr's reaction was subdued when reached at home after court.
In May, after rejecting an earlier Crown proposal, Kerr said he intended to fight the charges by arguing Canada's marijuana possession law is unconstitutional. He said a stay of the charges proposed earlier by the Crown threatened to impede his wife's ability to travel to the United States if required for employment purposes, something Conlan disputes. Negovetich is a retail store manager.
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"She could lose her job, so that was the main reason I decided to accept this," Kerr said of the Crown's decision to withdraw all charges.
A stay also would have allowed prosecutors to proceed with the charges again within one year.
Kerr added the resolution relieves their stress, which was taking a toll on his health, and lets him continue to grow marijuana that is of superior quality and more effective than government- grown medicinal marijuana.
Kerr and Negovetich had been consulting Edwin Pearson, a pot activist who has written a book called "Never Plead Guilty," and Doug Hutchinson, a philosophy professor who calls himself a pothead. His website, www.ThePot-LawHasFallen.ca,offers a free "defence kit" to fight simple possession charges.
Both Pearson's and Hutchinson's arguments stem from whether the government's medical marijuana access regulations are a constitutionally acceptable medical exemption, in accordance with a 2001 court of appeal ruling.
Conlan said the pot law has not fallen, though there have been a couple of provincial court decisions in Ontario striking down the simple possession of marijuana charge, Section 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
"But those decisions, first of all, are under appeal. Secondly, there are decisions which go the other way, which say no, it is still a valid offence. There is nothing constitutionally wrong with the CDSA," Conlan said.Federal Crown attorney Clayton Conlan withdrew all drug charges Tuesday against a... more
A sheikh related to the rulers of Kuwait is facing the death sentence for drug trafficking.Sheikh Talal Nasser al-Sabah, who is in his fifties, was caught by Kuwaiti police with 22 pounds of cocaine and 165 pounds of hashish. When sentencing him to death, Judge Humoud al-Mutwatah said that he had “willingly walked the path of evil” and deserved no mercy.
It was the first time that a member of a Gulf royal family had been condemned to death by a court.However, the convict’s relative, the Emir, could pardon al-Sabah who is the nephew of a previous Emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Sabah.He has announced in the Kuwaiti press that he has appealed to the Emir to grant a pardon.In addition to drugs trafficking, Sheikh Talal was also found guilty of laundering the proceeds of his crimes and of illegal possession of two pistols and a shotgun.
Sheikh al-Sabah continues to deny that he is a drug dealer. and said that he has left his fate to the Emir. “I am drug-addicted and I am getting cured. I don’t deal,” he told the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jareeda from his jail cell.“I don’t know whether Kuwaiti society is satisfied with the ruling of the judiciary or not. “But it is in the hands of the Emir.”A sheikh related to the rulers of Kuwait is facing the death sentence for drug... more
The last time the House debated medical marijuana, David Krahl trod the halls of Capitol Hill lobbying against the legislation as deputy director of the Drug Free America Foundation.
Now, he’s ready to lobby for allowing medicinal use of marijuana, and do anything he can to support it.
So far, no one has asked him for help, but in a recent letter to medical marijuana bill sponsor Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), he proclaimed that he’d reversed his position on whether cannabis can be a medicine.
“I’m saying, ‘Here I am, an individual who had one point of view, and now I have a different one,’ ” Krahl said in an interview.
Krahl left the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based foundation in October, and has returned to teaching. He declined to name the college where he is teaching, but said the topic is “drugs, deviance and crime.”
“Being away from the Drug Free America Foundation allowed me an opportunity to take a fresh look at the issue,” Krahl said. “I don’t have skin in the game anymore.”
He had joined the foundation in July 2006. At the time, the foundation’s executive director, Calvina Fay, noted his 25 years of experience in criminal justice and human services and said, “His anti-drug philosophies, along with his experience, will be a great fit.”
Krahl had previously been a grants manager for the YMCA.
“When I joined that group the question of medical marijuana was not entirely settled,” Krahl said. “I was looking at it from the issue of ‘does it have a medical benefit?’ There’s evidence both ways.”
His letter to Hinchey lays out seven points that revolve around states’ rights to regulate marijuana and the physician-patient relationship.
“In our nation today, we need less interference by the federal government on any issue such as this,” Krahl wrote.
Foundation officials were caught off guard by Krahl’s reversal, saying they hadn’t heard of the letter until a reporter called about it. But they said they’re happy that lawmakers still aren’t trying to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“I don’t believe one person changing their position gives any credibility to the other side on this,” said foundation spokesman John Pastuovic.
A medical marijuana measure likely won’t come up in this session, because it would be an amendment to the Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations bill and Democratic leaders have all but junked the appropriations process for the year.
The last time the House debated medical marijuana, David Krahl trod the halls of... more
A local television station claims an infomercial hosted by travel writer Rick Steves promotes the use of marijuana and is consequently refusing to air it. But Fisher Communications, which owns KOMO television, collected thousands of dollars without airing the show.
"It supported that people smoke marijuana," says Jim Clayton, KOMO's vice president and general manager, about the drug-policy-reform infomercial. "Smoking marijuana is illegal and we don't promote things that are illegal on our television station," he says. "We don't tell people to go rob banks, either."
Clayton went on to claim that he rejected the program, Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation, because the station is "federally licensed, and we have to protect the license at all costs." Under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, he says, the station can't air shows that advise breaking the law. But when repeatedly pressed for an example of how the show advocated marijuana use, Clayton said, "I don't know. I watched it a few weeks ago, and I don't remember anything specific." (You can watch it online at MarijuanaConversation.org. )
Rick Steves, well-known PBS travel guide and the host of the talk-show-formatted program, says, "There is no way anybody can watch that show and think it advocates smoking marijuana. Nobody on the panel even hinted that they enjoyed marijuana." The script does not advise viewers to smoke marijuana, nor does the screen ever flash an image of pot. "They were talking about the legal, social, economic, and civil rights ramifications of a misguided law," says Steves.
In addition to KOMO (the local ABC affiliate), KIRO (CBS) rejected the 30-minute show outright and refused to explain its decision to the show's producers. KING (along with its sister station KONG, both with NBC) would only allow the program to air after 1:00 a.m.
KOMO's decision not to air the program came as a shock to the ACLU of Washington, which spent more than $100,000 producing the program, including thousands of dollars that went to KOMO to use its staff and studios at Fisher Plaza.
"We're trying to provide information that's not tainted by either the hysteria of reefer madness, nor by the giggle factor of Cheech and Chong," says Alison Holcomb, director of the ACLU of Washington's Marijuana Education Project, who adds that she provided advance copies of the script to KOMO executives before the program was shot. The script was provided to KOMO in advance, Holcomb says, because she wanted to be sure that the program would air before spending thousands of dollars to rent KOMO's studios and pay KOMO's crews.
"We never heard any objection," says Holcomb. "But once we filmed it and handed it to them, they wouldn't sell us any time slots."
Clayton says he had initially supported airing the program on KOMO because he thought it was about medical marijuana. But he changed his mind after viewing the tape and meeting with ACLU of Washington director Kathleen Taylor on August 4.
The distinction KOMO is trying to make between recreational and medical marijuana use—again, the program advocates for neither—is without merit. If KOMO were actually afraid of losing its federal license because "smoking marijuana is illegal," it would be irrelevant if the show focused on medical marijuana; the federal government doesn't distinguish between recreational and medical pot. All marijuana use is equally illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
"If it is constitutionally protected speech then they can put it on the air," says FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin, indicating the program's content—even as submitted—was permissible by federal standards.A local television station claims an infomercial hosted by travel writer Rick Steves... more
In a time when the "war on drugs" can be considered a huge waste of time and resources and smoking pot is considered mainstream, how does the owner of a community-welcomed medicinal marijuana dispensary get arrested and convicted of multiple felonies?
As the Mustang Daily reports on the front page today, Central Coast resident Charles Lynch was found guilty last week on all federal counts for selling medical marijuana from his dispensary in Morro Bay.
This case could prove to be the precedent case when it comes to medical marijuana laws in California and states' rights. Federally, selling marijuana is illegal in any way, shape or form. Under state law, selling it for medical purposes is legal. But of course, federal law trumps.
Yet, we believe that the issue at stake in the Lynch case is not federal law versus state law, but personal liberty versus government regulation. This case is about so much more than the legalization of medical marijuana. It's about legalization of whatever substances people freely choose to consume and for whatever reasons they choose to do so.
In criminalizing the use and sale of marijuana, the government has assumed the role of an overbearing parent, telling consenting adults exactly what they're allowed to do with their own bodies.
In a free society an adult should have the right to make his own decisions about his personal health and happiness. He may choose to drink alcohol or not. He may choose to smoke cigarettes or not. Some people choose to consume vast amounts of caffeine (aspiring young journalists who work until all hours of the night to put out newspapers like this come to mind). Is drinking coffee a personal choice? Yes. A health hazard? Perhaps. Illegal, or infringing on anybody else's rights? Certainly not.
So why is marijuana any different?
The federal government has apparently decided that it knows better than individuals themselves how they should treat their bodies, and it invests billions of dollars annually in that belief. According to the FBI's Web site, a record 829,625 people were arrested for marijuana violation in 2006; of those, 89 percent were arrested for possession only. Just this year, the United States has spent over $31 billion in taxpayer money fighting this victimless "war on drugs."
While there are only a handful of dispensaries in the tri-county area, mostly in Santa Barbara according to www.medicalmarijuana.com, their existence is protected under state law. In fact, Lynch and his facility were welcomed into the Morro Bay community with open arms and as a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Not quite the behavior of a sneaky drug trafficker.
Despite Prop 215, the Drug Enforcement Agency, a federal agency, still investigates and raids dispensaries, which begs the question: what's the point of a state law if it doesn't protect anyone?
If dispensaries are technically legal, why are they facing such harsh consequences? Just recently, Santa Barbara passed a city ordinance to allow them, but the two dispensaries face being shut down because of their locations. With the closing of Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, there are no available medical marijuana facilities in SLO County, though there is a delivery service.
At Lynch's trial, the prosecution did its best to paint him as a seedy, hardened drug dealer, selling his crime-inducing substance to derelict addicts.
Yet, the San Luis Obispo New Times reported the former software engineer as "generally unimposing, and unfussy, even in a suit," and someone who doesn't seem like "the kind of man who will do well in prison." The Morro Bay mayor and city attorney have both testified to his upstanding character.In a time when the "war on drugs" can be considered a huge waste of time and... more
The state Supreme Court returned to the medical marijuana wars Wednesday, agreeing to decide the validity of a law that shields doctor-approved pot users from arrest for possessing up to eight ounces of dried marijuana or growing six plants.
The justices voted unanimously to review the issue after a prosecution appeal of a lower-court ruling in May. In that ruling, an appellate court found the 2003 law conflicted with California's 1996 medical marijuana initiative, which allows possession of an amount of marijuana "reasonably related to the patient's current medical needs," but did not set specific limits.
The appellate panel overturned the conviction of a Los Angeles County man who possessed more than eight ounces of marijuana and ruled that the 1996 initiative bars the Legislature from specifying the amount a patient can possess.
The case has divided medical marijuana advocates, with some arguing that the court should have left some standards in place to guide police and protect patients.
The 1996 initiative, Proposition 215, allowed Californians to possess and cultivate marijuana for medical use with their doctor's approval. The court has interpreted Prop. 215 to provide broad protections for medical patients in criminal cases, but has not extended those protections to the workplace. Notwithstanding the law, the justices ruled in January that employers could fire workers who used medical marijuana away from the job, a ruling that advocates are trying to overturn in the Legislature.
Wednesday's case began in 2005, when officers in Los Angeles County searched Patrick Kelly's home and found seven plants in his back yard, 12 ounces of marijuana in plastic baggies, and a doctor's note saying he needed marijuana for hepatitis C, back problems and other ailments.
The prosecutor told jurors that Kelly was not a legitimate medical marijuana user because he exceeded the limits of the 2003 law. He was convicted of illegal possession and cultivation and sentenced to two days in jail and three years' probation.
The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles overturned the conviction in May, agreeing with Kelly's lawyer that the 2003 law was invalid because it set limits that conflicted with Prop. 215, which does not specify the amount of marijuana a patient may possess for medical use.
But one advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, argued that the 2003 law did not limit the amount of marijuana a patient could possess; it merely set guidelines for police. Striking down the law would eliminate a statewide standard that "protects qualified patients from unnecessary arrests," attorney Joseph Elford argued in court papers.
The American Civil Liberties Union offered a different interpretation: The eight-ounce limit and protection from arrest is an option that applies to the more than 18,000 patients who have obtained medical marijuana identification cards, also authorized by the 2003 law.
All patients remain covered by Prop. 215, which allows doctors to recommend greater amounts of marijuana and leaves local governments free to set higher limits, ACLU lawyer M. Allen Hopper said. San Francisco, for example, allows possession of up to 24 marijuana plants, he said.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Johnsen took a similar view, arguing that without the numerical standards, "law enforcement has no clear legislative guidance ... and medical marijuana patients have little incentive to volunteer for the cardholder program."
The Supreme Court has not set a hearing date.
The case is People vs. Kelly, S164830.
E-mail Bob Egelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.The state Supreme Court returned to the medical marijuana wars Wednesday, agreeing to... more
As part of an initiative to examine the legitimacy of legal arguments by military personnel that fail marijuana drug tests but claim they encountered intoxicating Tetra Hydrocannabinol (THC) via the legal ingestion of hemp products, the U.S. military directed laboratory testing of a wide variety of hemp food and cosmetic products. The findings of the new research, published in the July/August 2008 Journal of Analytical Toxicology, indicate that not only do hemp products in the marketplace not contain hemp at levels that would cause intoxication or failed drug tests, the vast majority of the tests did not detect any THC.
While this new data will help government prosecutors in court prove that the defendants obtained THC from marijuana and not hemp, it confounds a decades-long government initiative to prevent commerce of hemp products, and to ban hemp agriculture in the U.S. under the misguided “drug-war” campaign that tried to construe hemp as the same as marijuana.
On February 6, 2004, the Hemp Industries Association won its 2 ½-year old lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit permanently blocks DEA regulations that attempted to ban nutritious hemp foods such as waffles, breads, cereals, vegetarian burgers, protein powders, non-dairy beverages, salad dressings and nutrition bars. These are the types of products that were analyzed as part of the government research.
Hemp Protein Powder and Shelled Hemp Seed produced and marketed by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com) were among the hemp foods tested and found to have non-detectable levels of THC. “It is frustrating that one agency of the U.S. government continues to wage a war against industrial hemp claiming that its the same as marijuana, and yet at the same time they are doing research demonstrating how it does not contain significant levels of THC and therefore noting that military personnel can’t reasonably claim that hemp foods cause a failed drug test,” says Mike Fata, President and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest.
Ever the since the decision was announced and the negative stigma removed, sales of hemp has blossomed in the marketplace and products are now widely available at a wide variety of retail venues including mainstream grocery chains. Sales of hemp foods alone grew by more than 55% from December 2006 to December 2007. Sales at Manitoba Harvest have thrived in the wake of the 2004 court decision, growing more than 1,000% over the past 5 years and earning the company a spot on the Profit 100 list of the fastest growing private companies in Canada.
Despite the spike in market demand for healthy hemp products and the research that indicates that hemp is vastly different from marijuana, the U.S. government continues to defend its position that hemp agriculture should be banned, despite the fact that hemp agriculture is legal in every other major industrialized nation in the world. The report even notes how closely regulated hemp farming is to prevent abuse “the majority of the hemp used by U.S. industry is grown in Canada under strict government control.” States including North Dakota and Vermont have recently passed laws to allow hemp farming, but they are being blocked by federal U.S. government policy.
Hemp foods are gaining more and more recognition from nutrition experts due to their high concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids, strong digestible protein profile, soluble and insoluble fiber content, and their host of vitamins and minerals. Chefs and consumers are seeking hemp because of its pleasant nutty flavor. The challenge facing hemp foods in America was not of being discovered and having its health and flavor merits recognized; rather, the challenge was having misunderstandings and myths debunked. As part of an initiative to examine the legitimacy of legal arguments by military... more
It sounds like something out of a police state in another part of the world. Or perhaps, if you pay close attention to the plight of the poor, a poverty-riddled neighborhood somewhere in America where drugs and violence define everyday life. A police raid on a house, doors smashed in, guns fired, lives lost … and then the admission that it was all an unfortunate mistake.
But this time it happened in the quaint, small town of Berwyn Heights, Md., and it happened to the mayor.
Mayor Cheye Calvo came home late in the afternoon of July 29 and discovered a package addressed to his wife that had been left at the front door. He brought it inside, didn't open it and set it aside for his wife. Calvo said hello to his mother-in-law, Georgia, who lives with them, and took the family's two black Labrador retrievers, Chase and Payton, out for a walk. He waved to several people who were sitting in cars near his home, never suspecting that a nightmare was about to unfold.
When he came back, Calvo went upstairs to change clothes for an evening event. His mother-in-law was in the kitchen when she saw masked men with guns running toward the house. Not surprisingly, she screamed as they kicked in the door. They shot Payton who was standing beside her. They then turned their weapons on the other black lab, Chase, who was running away from them. They killed him, too.
Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights since 2004, heard the shots just before he was grabbed and forced to walk down the stairs backward in his boxer shorts and socks into the waiting bloodbath. His mother-in-law was handcuffed on the bloody kitchen floor next to the body of one of their dogs.
Mayor Calvo came downstairs into a new time in America, in which no one is presumed innocent and guilt is only an assumption away.It sounds like something out of a police state in another part of the world. Or... more
Not too long ago, critics were likening the medical marijuana movement in Santa Barbara to the cannabis culture equivalent of the Wild West: more dispensaries than Starbucks, no city oversight, and law enforcement without a clear mandate. Things have changed quickly, however, with the city stepping in earlier this spring to craft an ordinance outlining the dos and don’ts of dispensary operation. Now, just last week, the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) paid a visit to Santa Barbara and threatened the people who rent their properties to California-approved cannabis clubs with hefty fines, property seizure, and criminal charges for violation of federal law.
According to local attorney Joe Allen, who sat in on at least one of the several meetings between federal officials and landowners on August 5 and 6 at the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, “In very clear terms, they said this is the last warning: The government is going to shut all of these clubs down and the government is going to prosecute anyone involved.”
The visits, which Santa Barbara District Attorney Christie Stanley coyly refused to confirm or deny, leave in their wake a questionable future for the eight or so medical marijuana shops that operate in Santa Barbara and the thousands of patients who visit them each week to seek relief from a wide variety of conditions. In the opinion of Allen, who is considered a go-to guy within the state for the hazy landscape of medical marijuana law, the heat turned up by the DEA this week has worked so well that he suspects “virtually every cannabis operator” will receive or has already received an eviction letter from his or her landlord.
Adding to the fallout is the city’s aforementioned cannabis ordinance, which essentially voids business permits for any clubs that suspend operations for 30 days. It is feasible that most operators will not be able to reopen even if they succeed in the uphill battle of finding a landlord willing to rent to them.
Josh Braun, (left) owner of Hortipharm Caregivers, says he will close the doors to his State St. dispensary by September
Click to enlarge photo
Paul Wellman (file)
Josh Braun, (left) owner of Hortipharm Caregivers, says he will close the doors to his State St. dispensary by September
One of those who has already received his eviction order is Josh Braun. His dispensary, the third locally when it opened in 2005, had been operating on the 3500 block of State Street, nestled among restaurants, a coffee shop, and a gardening store. But after his landlord’s lawyers met with federal authorities last week, his days of operating Hortipharm Caregivers are numbered. His doors will close by September. “I’ve got 20 employees with salary and health benefits—most of them with families—who are going to be out of work in a crappy economy,” explained Braun recently before adding with marked frustration, “And for what? Because the feds don’t want to respect the people of California? ”
Braun’s landlord, John Friese, said the eviction didn’t result from bad behavior on Hortipharm’s part but from the threat of property seizure and thousands in fines. “I was basically being told by the DOJ … that I better get them out and get them out in a hurry or else.”
Adding insult to injury, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust called Braun the day after the meeting last week to inform him that his accounts with the bank, or at least those associated with Hortipharm, would have to be terminated because of his line of work. “For years, it wasn’t a problem but now, all of a sudden, the same day the feds come to talk to my landlord, it is,” scoffed Braun. According to him, at least one other dispensary in town received similar word from Bank of America last week.
The United States Attorney General’s office did not return calls for this story. The DEA office referred calls to the Attorney General.Not too long ago, critics were likening the medical marijuana movement in Santa... more
When Owen Beck was 17, doctors amputated his right leg to stop the spread of bone cancer. His parents, desperate to find a drug that would relieve their son's excruciating phantom limb pain, brought him to Charlie Lynch's medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay, California, carrying a recommendation from a Stanford University oncologist. The marijuana not only eased the pain but also alleviated the nausea caused by chemotherapy.
Called to testify as a character witness in Lynch's federal marijuana trial, Beck did not get far. When he mentioned his cancer, U.S. District Judge George Wu cut him off and sent him packing. Wu decreed there would be no talk of the symptoms marijuana relieves, no references to California's recognition of marijuana as a medicine, no mention even of the phrase medical marijuana in front of the jury.
In short, there would be no explanation of how Lynch came to operate what prosecutors called a "marijuana store" in downtown Morro Bay for a year, openly serving more than 2,000 customers. Under federal law, which forbids marijuana use for any purpose, all that was irrelevant. So it's hardly surprising that Lynch was convicted last week of five marijuana-related offenses that carry penalties of five to 85 years in prison.
Nor is it surprising that so many self-described conservatives, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain, support the prosecution of people like Charlie Lynch, abandoning their avowed federalist principles because of blind hostility toward a plant they associate with draft-dodging, flag-burning hippies. It's not surprising, but it's shameful.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has raided more than 60 medical marijuana dispensaries in the last two years. Because the deck is stacked against them, dispensary operators facing federal drug charges typically plead guilty.
Lynch instead gambled on a defense known as entrapment by estoppel, which occurs when someone is arrested for actions the government assured him were legal. Before he opened Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in 2006, Lynch called the DEA to ask about his legal exposure. He says an agent told him he should consult with state and local authorities, which he took to mean he could avoid trouble as long as he complied with state and local law.
It's not hard to see why Lynch believed he was operating a legitimate business. He had the blessing of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and the city council; local officials, including Morro Bay's mayor, posed for pictures at the dispensary's opening; and neither his neighbors nor the city police objected.
At Lynch's trial the DEA denied giving him any sort of green light, or even a yellow one. But the response he says he got from the agency is the response he should have gotten, because under the U.S. Constitution the medical use of marijuana is a local matter.
At one time John McCain seemed to acknowledge as much. In April 2007 he said, "I will let states decide that issue." But he quickly abandoned that position, and this year he said he'd continue the DEA's medical marijuana raids, declaring, "It is a national issue and not a [state] issue." By contrast, McCain's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, has promised to stop the raids.
McCain's medical marijuana position contradicts his professed allegiance to federalism. "The federal government was intended to have limited scope," he says on his website, vowing to appoint judges who "respect the proper role of local and state governments."
That commitment is inconsistent with reading Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce broadly enough to cover homegrown medical marijuana, as the Supreme Court did in 2005. "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause," Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his dissent, "it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."When Owen Beck was 17, doctors amputated his right leg to stop the spread of bone... more
BRACEBRIDGE -- A man who claims he is an ordained minister was busted with almost half a kilo of pot yesterday during a traffic stop on Hwy. 11 near Bracebridge.
"Rev." Michel Nathier, 53, of the Church of the Universe, admitted he was smoking a joint when the OPP officer pulled him over but said he was committing a holy act.
"It's a sacrament," Nathier said in an interview after he was released from custody with a Sept. 2 court date.
Nathier said he has about 300 followers in the Sturgeon Falls area, near North Bay, who believe that marijuana is the blessed plant mentioned in the Bible as the "tree of life."
The church, which he said has chapters throughout Canada and the U.S., has two rules: Don't hurt yourself and don't hurt others -- and its followers routinely toke "the sacrament." It does not make one stoned, "just enlightened," he insists.
"Ok, but it's still illegal," said a good-natured OPP Insp. Ed Medved.
Nathier was initially stopped because he was swerving between lanes, Medved said.
When the officer stopped the car, a waft of the sacred herb came floating out, police said. The officer seized almost a half kilo of pot with a street value of between $1,500 and $3,000.
Nathier, who is already facing charges of possession of marijuana, has been arrested for possession 10 times in 10 years and has spent three years in jail. He'll fight the latest charge.
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom BRACEBRIDGE -- A man who claims he is an ordained minister was busted with almost half... more
Any discussion of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's claim that today's marijuana is more potent than in the past ("Boomers, beware: Pot more potent now," July 28) must be prefaced by the fact the agency routinely lies about marijuana.
Case in point: A recent report by the agency claimed frequent marijuana ingestion doubles a teen's risk of depression and anxiety.
When questioned about the agency's claim that "using marijuana can cause depression and other mental illnesses," drug czar John Walters admitted there is no proof one leads to another.
Similarly, the claim "marijuana potency is not the same as it was in the 1970s" goes "up in smoke." Researchers at the University of New South Wales, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, examined the potency of more than 100,000 pot seizures from around the world, concluding, "Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence."
According to their report, in the United States, tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis have risen slightly over the last 25 years, from about 1 percent to 4 percent.
Yes, today there is much more potent pot available to consumers who can afford it but - speaking from the perspective of a citizen of "Woodstock Nation" - it was also available "back in the day." Anyone remember Thai Stick? The potency myth is the cornerstone of the government's misbegotten 70-year-old war on marijuana. It's time for a reality check.
Walter F. Wouk
CobleskillAny discussion of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's claim that... more