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Peter Lemkin
01-02-2014, 05:25 AM
Long queues to buy Colorado's legal marijuana


The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell pot for recreational use to the general public opened for business. Jillian Kitchener reports.



Colorado ringing in the New Year with legalized pot stores (http://www.stuff.co.nz/lightbox/world/americas/9568835/Colorado-ringing-in-the-New-Year-with-legalized-pot-stores?KeepThis=true)
http://file2.stuff.co.nz/1388523920/837/9568837.jpg (http://www.stuff.co.nz/lightbox/world/americas/9568835/Colorado-ringing-in-the-New-Year-with-legalized-pot-stores?KeepThis=true)
http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1388637423/010/9572010.jpg
RICK WILKING / Reuters
Jesse Phillips celebrates being the first person to legally buy recreational marijuana (in his left hand) at the BotanaCare store in Northglenn, Colorado.

http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1388637362/009/9572009.jpg
RICK WILKING / Reuters
A staffer talks to people waiting in line to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at the Botana Care store.

http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1388637282/008/9572008.jpg
RICK WILKING / Reuters
A sign celebrates the day at the Botana Care marijuana store just before opening the doors to customers for the first time in Northglenn, Colorado.

Weed legal in Uruguay (http://www.stuff.co.nz/lightbox/world/videos/9506434/Weed-legal-in-Uruguay?KeepThis=true)
http://file2.stuff.co.nz/1386753032/436/9506436.jpg (http://www.stuff.co.nz/lightbox/world/videos/9506434/Weed-legal-in-Uruguay?KeepThis=true)




The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell the drug for recreational use opened for business in Colorado on Wednesday with long lines of customers, marking a new chapter in America's drug culture.
Roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries newly cleared by state regulators to sell pot to consumers interested in nothing more than its mind- and mood-altering properties began welcoming customers as early as 8am.
Hundreds of patrons, some from distant states and many huddling outside in the bitter cold and snow for hours, queued up to be among the first buyers.
'HISTORIC MOMENT'
"This is a historic moment," Jacob Elliott, 31, a defence contractor from Leesburg, Virginia, near Washington, DC, said in line outside the 3D Cannabis Centre in Denver.
"I never thought it would happen."
The highly-anticipated New Year's Day opening launched an unprecedented commercial cannabis market that Colorado officials expect will ultimately gross $US578 million (NZ$701 million) in annual revenues, including $US67 million (NZ$81 million) in tax receipts for the state.
Possession, cultivation and private personal consumption of marijuana by adults for the sake of just getting high has already been legal in Colorado for more than a year under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters.
However, as of Wednesday, cannabis was being legally produced, sold and taxed in a system modelled after a regime many states have in place for alcohol sales - but which exists for marijuana nowhere in the world outside of Colorado.
Even in the Netherlands, where some coffee shops and nightclubs are widely known to sell cannabis products with the informal consent of authorities, back-end distribution of the drug to those businesses remains illegal.
Customer No.1 at Botana Care in the Denver suburb of Northglenn was Jesse Phillips, 32, an assembly-line worker who had camped outside the shop since 1am.
'LONG OVERDUE'
"I wanted to be one of the first to buy pot and no longer be prosecuted for it. This end of prohibition is long overdue," Phillips said.
A cheer rose from about 100 fellow customers as Mr Phillips made his purchase, an eighth-ounce (3.5-gram) sampler pack containing four strains of weed - labelled with names such as "King Tut Kush" and "Gypsy Girl" - that sold for $US45 (NZ$54) including tax.


He also bought a child-proof carry pouch required by state regulations to transport his purchase out of the store.
Back at 3D Cannabis, Brandon Harris and his friend Tyler Williams, both 24 from Blanchester, Ohio, said they had been waiting since 2.30am for the doors to open.
"We wanted to be the first people from Ohio to buy it legally," Harris said.
Robin Hackett, 51, co-owner of Botana Care, said she expected between 800 to 1000 first-day customers, and hired a private security firm to help with any traffic and parking issues that might arise.
Two inspectors from the Colorado Department of Revenue were on site as the shop was set to open.
"We're just here to help with compliance issues," one of them, Dave Miller said.
Hackett said she has 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of product on hand and, to avoid a supply shortage, the shop will limit purchases to quarter-ounces on Wednesday, including joints, raw buds, cannabis-infused edibles such as pastries or candies, and even infused soaps, oils and lotions.
Like other stores, Botana Care also stocked related wares, including pipes, rolling papers and bongs.
Voters in Washington state voted to legalise marijuana at the same time Colorado did, in November 2012, but Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later this year.
PROS AND CONS
Still, supporters and detractors alike see the two Western states as setting a course that could mark the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition at the national level.
"The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the pro-legalisation Marijuana Policy Project.
"Making marijuana legal for adults is not an experiment," he told a news conference. "Prohibition was the experiment and the results were abysmal."
He and other supporters of the change point to tax revenues to be gained and argue that anti-marijuana enforcement has accomplished little over the years but to penalise otherwise law-abiding citizens, especially minorities.
Critics say anticipated social harms of legalisation, from declines in economic productivity to a rise in traffic and workplace accidents, outweigh any benefits.
They also warn that legalising recreational use could help create an industry intent on attracting underage users and getting more people dependent on the drug.
Cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, though the Obama administration has said it will give individual states leeway to carry out their own statutes regulating recreational use.
Nearly 20 states, including Colorado and Washington, had already put themselves at odds with the US government by approving marijuana for medical purposes.
Comparing the nascent pot market to the alcohol industry, former US lawmaker Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said his group aimed to curtail marijuana advertising and to help push local bans on the drug while the industry is still modest in stature.
"This is a battle that if we catch it early enough we can prevent some of the most egregious adverse impacts that have happened as a result of the commercialised market that promotes alcohol use to young people," he said.
But under Colorado law state residents can buy as much as an ounce of marijuana at a time, while out-of-state visitors are restricted to quarter-ounce purchases.
Restraint was certainly the message being propagated on New Year's Eve by Colorado authorities, who posted signs at Denver International Airport and elsewhere around the capital warning that pot shops could only operate during approved hours, and that open, public consumption of marijuana remained illegal.

Peter Lemkin
01-20-2014, 08:13 AM
Recent Studies: White Skin Is Best Defense Against Marijuana Arrest By Jonathan Vankin (http://www.constantinereport.com/author/jonathan-vankin/)








http://www.constantinereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/images-4.jpg?w=307&h=200&crop=1





November 18, 2013

While Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use last year, and 19 other states plus the District of Columbia allow legal pot (http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html) for medical use, there’s one way, all across the country, to use the drug with little if any fear of consequences: Be white.Across the country, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at more or less the same rate, black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for it.
According to a report released by New York’s attorney general (http://www.ag.ny.gov/pdfs/OAG_REPORT_ON_SQF_PRACTICES_NOV_2013.pdf) last week, the number-one reason for arresting people stopped under New York’s controversial “stop and frisk” law was marijuana possession. And 87 percent of the people nabbed for pot possession after a “stop and frisk” were black or Latino.
And if you were white, or for that matter Asian, and you were unlucky enough to get arrested for having some marijuana on you, you were 50 percent more likely to have a court throw out your case than if you were black, the report showed.
New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/nyregion/a-marijuana-stash-that-carried-little-risk.html?_r=1&) wrote a column last week, openly confessing his daring crime of carrying four marijuana cookies and a “a few pinches” of the loose “herb” in his backpack as he walked across the city. He said that he was carrying it for a friend to give to a few people for medical purposes. New York does not allow medical marijuana use.
As he strolled toward his subway stop, Dwyer, a self-described middle-aged white guy, wondered what would happen if he got caught.
“It is your age that would make you most unusual for an arrest,” Harry Levine, a Queens College sociologist who studies pot busts, told Dwyer. “If you were a 56-year-old white woman, you might get to be the first such weed bust ever in New York City — except, possibly, for a mentally ill person.”
According to a recent nationwide study by the American Civil Liberties Union (https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu-thewaronmarijuana-rel2.pdf), marijuana offenses account for 52 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. In other words, if marijuana was simply legalized nationwide, the country’s illegal drug problem would be cut in half overnight.
The ACLU found that blacks are arrested 3.73 times more often for marijuana possession than whites, even though people of both races use marijuana as similar rates, and among 18- to 25-year-olds, whites use pot more often. See the graphs below for the stats.
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/drug-law/being-white-best-defense-against-marijuana-arrest-recent-studies-prove#

Peter Lemkin
05-09-2014, 04:57 PM
As Marijuana Refugees Flock to Colorado, Will Medical Community Force Rewriting of U.S. Drug Laws?


Currently 20 states and the District of Columbia have approved, and regulate in some capacity, marijuana for medical purposes. However, insurance companies do not cover the costs of such prescriptions. Federally, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, making it against the law to possess. But the debate over marijuana is growing. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dave Philipps of the Colorado Springs Gazette. His most recent article is "As success stories of kids fighting seizures with cannabis oil mount, legal landscape is changing." We also speak to the pioneering medical marijuana doctor Dr. Margaret Gedde and a mother who moved with her epileptic, nine-year-old daughter to Colorado for cannabis oil treatment.


Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We continue our conversation on medical cannabis. Currently 20 states and the District of Columbia approve and regulate, in some capacity, marijuana for medical purposes. However, insurance companies do not cover the costs of such prescriptions. Federally, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug.
For more, we’re joined by Dr. Margaret Gedde. She founded the Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine. Gedde is also the owner and founder of Gedde Whole Health in Colorado Springs.
AMY GOODMAN: And we’re joined by Dave Philipps. He’s an investigative reporter with the Colorado Springs Gazette. He has spent the last year covering the rapid rise in the use of cannabis for medical purposes in epileptic children. His three-part series (http://cdn.csgazette.biz/soldiers/), "Other than Honorable," was just awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He’s also the author of the book Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. His most recent article (http://gazette.com/as-success-stories-of-kids-fighting-seizures-with-cannabis-oil-mount-legal-landscape-is-changing/article/1519391) in The Gazette is titled "As Success Stories of Kids Fighting Seizures with Cannabis Oil Mount, Legal Landscape Is Changing."
Still with us, Dara Lightle, who moved to Colorado last October to seek treatment for her daughter, Maddy, who has epilepsy.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! So, Dave Philipps, talk about how you first stumbled on this story.
DAVE PHILIPPS: This is the story about one family who was living in Colorado Springs who tried medical marijuana for their daughter because there was nothing left to try. Every pharmaceutical had failed. Every special diet had failed. There was nothing left, and she was going to die, a girl named Charlotte Figi. And so we wrote about her after she started using medical marijuana, this cannabis oil, and her seizures basically disappeared. I think she was having something like 400 a month, and now she has less than four. She was on her way to death—I mean, literally. And she is now, you know, a happy child who’s able to play with her friends. We wrote about that, and a few other people picked it up. And—
AMY GOODMAN: You know, Dave, I want to interrupt—
—people like Dara—
AMY GOODMAN: —because we have your video about Charlotte. In this video produced by the group Realm of Caring, Paige Figi recalls how her daughter Charlotte suffered from relentless seizures.

PAIGE FIGI: So, Charlotte has Dravet syndrome. It’s a severe pediatric epilepsy. The seizures, when they start with Dravet, are status. They don’t stop on their own. So they’re 20 minutes or 30 minutes or longer. I think her first one was about a half hour. Every seizure after that for two-and-a-half years was a status seizure, and some are four hours long, two hours long. And, you know, at that point, she’s intubated in the ER, in the pediatric ICU. And medicine doesn’t stop them. So that’s—we went through that for about two-and-a-half years. We got diagnosed at two-and-a-half years old. A few times, her heart has stopped during these—using these drugs. And I’ve done CPR on her. And a couple of those times, you know, I just sort of let go of the fact that—just to keep trying with her, and I said my goodbyes to her and, as I’m doing CPR on her or in the hospital, kind of prepared myself for the worst. And she’s still here, but she’s been through a lot to get to this point.

The doctor, you know, she heard her history of seizures at that time and said, "We have to pull her last med that she was on." Her exact words: "We have reached the end of the line with medical options for Charlotte. And I don’t know what to tell you. There’s really nothing else we can do." And that’s when we met the Stanleys, and that’s when we got started on the CBD, after six months of I really didn’t think she would survive the seizures, at 300 seizures a week, roughly, of, you know, grand mal, tonic-clonic seizures a week. Just to put in light what 300 a week is, it’s about four an hour. It’s one seizure every 15 minutes. So, you know, sometimes it was every five minutes. It just never stopped. And so, to see her seizure-free for a whole week, for seven days—she went seven days, instantly. And we’ve been on it nine months, and from that 300 seizures a week, she now has zero to one tonic-clonic a week. And so, it’s greater than 99 percent seizure reduction.

And it’s amazing. It’s just absolutely amazing. To think that she wasn’t going to survive, and look at her now: She has a life. During that time, she lost the ability to walk, talk, eat and really just, you know, participate in life at all. She couldn’t do anything. She just sort of lied in my arms catatonic, and I thought that was it. There just wasn’t a life for a person. But here we are.

CHARLOTTE FIGI: Ballerina!

PAIGE FIGI: Ballerina!

CHARLOTTE FIGI: Ballerina!
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Paige Figi talking about her daughter Charlotte. Dave Philipps, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, you did the piece about her in the Colorado Springs Gazette. Take it from there.
DAVE PHILIPPS: Well, families all over the country—this essentially spread on Facebook. Families like Dara’s family, and there are thousands and thousands of families that are in similar situations, where the medical establishment has thrown everything at their children’s seizures and nothing has worked. And so, they really had no choice but to, if they could, come to Colorado. You know, one of the things that I think people hear is, when they hear, like, "Oh, people are treating their kids with cannabis," they think it’s some hippy nonsense or something. And what they don’t understand is that these parents had no choice. It was either try this or let your children die. And so, you know, they came. What else could they do?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we’re also joined by Dr. Margaret Gedde. She worked with several of the families we have been focusing on here. Dr. Margaret Gedde, welcome to Democracy Now!
DR. MARGARET GEDDE: Thank you.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you tell us how you first got involved in the treatment, in the use of medical marijuana?
DR. MARGARET GEDDE: Certainly. Let me just give a little bit of background. My original training in medicine is in pathology and research. I did my Ph.D. as well as my M.D. in chemistry. I did that at Stanford University. I did many years of research, and then I started to work in the pharmaceutical industry developing medications. And it was about 10 years ago that I had a realization that the drugs so often chosen for development in the pharmaceutical industry are chosen, of course, to make a profit and not necessarily because that’s what people need. And I—then I also realized there many therapies that already exist that are more supportive and less toxic than pharmaceuticals, that that can have tremendous benefit, but most doctors don’t know about. So, this was before I learned at all about cannabis. I did open an alternative medical practice about 10 years ago and have been seeing patients to give them supportive, holistic therapies.
It was four years ago, when this all came up in Colorado, going on five years ago, that I first started to hear that marijuana could be medicine. I was encouraged to see a few patients in my practice to do the recommendations, as they are called in Colorado. And then I started hearing from my patients all this—a list of things that marijuana seemed to help them with. And I started to ask: How can this do so many things for people and not be toxic, because it has such a safe profile, again, compared to so many pharmaceuticals? That’s when I learned about the endocannabinoid system, which is simply that we have our own human cannabinoids. We make our own cannabinoids in our bodies, and this system is very important in regulating other body systems. So when I kind of got onto that—it was about four years ago—then I decided to completely focus my practice on medical marijuana, on medical cannibis. It was about two years after that, two years ago, that I first met Charlotte Figi, and we started seeing children for the seizure disorders—again, not really knowing what effect that would have, but just continuing to pursue this possibility for these families.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the success rate of the treatments with the families that you’ve already dealt with, could you talk about that?
DR. MARGARET GEDDE: Certainly, yes, and we’ve seen now in clinic over 200 children specifically for this. Not all of them have been able to—200. Not all of them have been able to start the oil yet, so we don’t have follow-up results on everyone. But what does happen is, you have to be careful how you use the oil. It’s easy to get overloaded. We’re finding that low doses are often more effective than high doses. There can be bumps in the road. But I would say that about a quarter of the children get results like Charlotte did, where they’ll get that 80 percent or more seizure reduction. Another 50 percent get definite positive results, including the behavioral and cognitive improvements that Dara was talking about, in addition to some seizure control. So there can be some mixed results, but definitely positive benefit. There are—there is a percent of kids who have a lot of trouble adding the oil in any amount, and we continue to work with them to find combinations and doses that will work. So the majority do get some definite positive benefit, although not every child does, for sure. And we’re continuing to learn the proper ways to dose this and how to understand what combinations are going to work for each child.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re speaking to Dr. Margaret Gedde in Colorado Springs by Democracy Now! video stream. She runs Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine. Dave Philipps, talk about the legality of all of this, how things have changed in Colorado, and how many states would allow this.
DAVE PHILIPPS: Well, there’s something really interesting that’s happened. Colorado has had a medical marijuana law on the books for about 14 years, and it has allowed this to happen, even though no one who wrote the law thought maybe some day this could help really sick kids. It has. But what’s interesting is that when people like Dara come here and they have success, they know a ton of families in a similar situation back in whatever state they’ve come from. And at this point, we have families here from almost every state. And so, what happens is they create this ready-made lobbying group of both a success story and people at home that want to push for the same opportunity. And they have started, in the last four or five months in almost every state, going to their state legislatures and saying, "We want the same chance. Let us save our children." And so, there’s 20 states, and states that you wouldn’t think would have this legislation, that this spring have introduced it. States like Alabama, Mississippi have both passed laws allowing this to happen. Kentucky, Utah, some of the reddest states in the country, are passing medical marijuana laws that are very narrowly defined to help these kinds of kids. And so, I think there’s sort of this sudden realization that there is real therapeutic qualities in marijuana and that it’s not just some recreational subterfuge.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dave, what’s the difference between the marijuana that people smoke for recreational purposes and the oil that the children are being administered?
DAVE PHILIPPS: You heard Dr. Gedde talk about cannabinoids. And in cannabis, there are several different kinds. The one that gets smokers high is THC. The one that is really plentiful in the oil the kids use is something called CBD, or cannabidiol. And basically, from my understanding, it acts as sort of a neuroregulator, something that keeps brain signals sort of calm and steady. So, it has absolutely no psychoactive effects. You could drink a whole bottle of it, and it wouldn’t get you high. But it does have this very powerful effect on regulating brain signals.