It is time for legal marijuana

It is time for legal marijuana

By Calvin Warner

Opinion Columnist

Published: Friday, April 13, 2012

Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 00:04


Since 1937, marijuana has been an illegal substance in the United States. But in recent years, this ancient taboo has begun to crumble. Sixteen states plus Washington D.C. have legalized some form of cannabis for medicinal use.

Marijuana has been shown to be a legitimate relief for many kinds of pain, and can be used by elderly people suffering from terminal diseases. I would encourage other states to consider legalizing medicinal marijuana. But I also think that the legalization of marijuana even for recreational use is something that should be on the table. Some politicians, all the way up to Presidential candidate Ron Paul, have shown sympathy to efforts seeking to lift some restrictions on the drug.

Alcohol is legal and is far more dangerous both to the user and to others, as drunk drivers take to the roads or as a drunken person gets violent.

Cigarettes are legal as well. It is not possible to fatally overdose on marijuana, and it is very rare that you hear about a person high on marijuana doing anything uncharacteristically aggressive. There are more deaths annually from aspirin overdoses than from marijuana overdoses. It seems that we turn around and reject the same principles that we embraced to legalize alcohol and tobacco and that for some reason marijuana is a line we can’t cross.

I think that this cultural taboo is beginning to have destructive effects. Our prisons are full, especially compared to other nations around the world, and this is due in large part to “drug crimes” wherein an otherwise innocent young adult gets locked up for possession of marijuana.

We have less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but over 25 percent of the world’s prison population. The United States has more people in prison than Spain, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, England, the Philippines, Vietnam, Poland, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brazil, Iran, Pakistan and India combined.

Can you imagine how expensive this is?

And in prison, these otherwise law-abiding citizens are exposed to much more serious criminals and often come out worse than they went in, all funded by taxpayer dollars. Looking at the Uniform Crime Reports, drug crimes account for more arrests than any other crime.

Moreover, marijuana arrests are a majority of drug crime arrests.  If marijuana were legal, we could take a huge burden off of prisons and off of the taxpayer. The money could go to more important things, like paying down the deficit.

If marijuana were legal, seekers would not have to get involved with sketchy drug dealers, peddling harder substances. They would be less likely to be exposed to more serious drugs.

And perhaps best of all, we could tax and regulate marijuana for enormous government revenues while creating new jobs and businesses. This move would also weaken drug cartels that use illegal sales of marijuana as a huge source of income. We would be spending less on prisoners (states spend more money on each prisoner than they do on each public school student) and those free men would be working and paying taxes instead of sucking up tax payer funds in prison.

We could defund the DEA, saving even more government money. As we can see, the legalization of marijuana would be a big step toward national austerity.


Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness

APRIL 20, 2012

In 1971, a group of students at San Rafael High School in California began congregating around the statue of dairy demigod Louis Pasteur at 4:20 p.m. each day to smoke cannabis and search for an abandoned crop of illegally grown plants. They never found it, but 4/20 became a countercultural rallying cry for smokers everywhere.

4/20 has become to pot smokers what St. Patrick’s Day is for drinkers — the same absurdity. Today, the University of Colorado at Boulder plans to shut down its entire campus to prevent the yearly congregation of 10,000 people (and ~30,000 joints) on Norlin Quad, a hazy space equivalent to the Arts Quad here at Cornell.

In Colorado, Amendment 64: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, seeks to enact a more sensible policy. The CDC pins the number of alcohol-induced deaths in 2009 at 24,518, excluding accidents and homicides. Why are there much stricter policies for cannabis as a drug, despite its relative safety?

Remember that picture of President Obama in a straw hat smoking a joint? Last week at the 6th Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama said, “I know there are frustrations [with the War on Drugs] and that some call for legalization…the United States will not be going in this direction.”

Legalizing all drugs may not be the best policy, but perhaps the legalization of cannabis would be something more akin to the “middle ground” sought by presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala.

Pledging to reduce the “southbound flow of money and guns to the region” looks great on paper, but so far the United States’ actions have been focused on the supply-side. Did they sleep through ECON1101? The Mérida Initiative provides money and guns to the region; cartel profits still rise, and nothing changes.

While the profile of your average cannabis user has changed, the image has not. Look at the way Michael Phelps was demonized after pictures of him ripping a bong [like a champ] surfaced on the Internet and became an international scandal. The man won eight gold medals! Cannabis is not exactly performance enhancing, but it helps with eating 10,000 Calories a day and sleeping, though.

All forms of media are responsible for perpetuating a number of stereotypes about “stoners” that are entirely false. That engineer next to you in your Fluid Dynamics prelim could be blazed out of his mind. How about the Above the Influence commercial with the talking dog? These media campaigns receive support from tobacco and alcohol companies, Phillip Morris and Anheuser-Busch for example. The pharmaceutical industry still funds Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which is just as absurd as it reads.

Today, Ritalin, Klonopin and Oxycontin are commonplace. These are not harmless drugs by any means. Yet cannabis is still a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (1970), which means that it has a “high potential for abuse” and no medical use. While a good portion of medical marijuana patients may not have a medical need, the American Medical Association reversed its stance on marijuana in 2009 and encouraged the government to pursue cannabis research. So why Schedule I?

Those who profit from the illegality of cannabis are satisfied with the status quo. It’s likeWeeds on Showtime. I hate this show, and I’m not a hater. The producers of this show have made a lot of money exploiting the image of weed and juxtaposing it with a lot of half-naked Mary-Louise Parker. I’m not sure most people understand that Weeds is just a rehashing of 1930s Reefer Madness sensationalism, when cannabis and hemp became an issue for those who sold competing goods.

The stoner film genre isn’t any better. However, that should not prevent you from enjoying a wonderful Friday with your close friends, watching a good movie (The Big Lebowski is my personal favorite) and not thinking about issues like laws regarding cannabis. To quote Chris Tucker in Friday, “I know you don’t smoke weed, I know this; but I’m gonna get you high today, ‘cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job… and you ain’t got shit to do.”

Prof. Carl Sagan said it best in a piece he wrote the same year those Californians coined the term 4/20: “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” It is unreasonable to expect change from the couch. To blindly continue with unsuccessful policy is the real fog of reefer madness.


Colombia passes 1st draft of drug crop legalization bill

Colombia passes 1st draft of drug crop legalization bill

Colombia Reports


The Colombian House of Representatives Wednesday passed the first draft of a bill that seeks to legalize illicit crops.

The initiative calls for the decriminalization of growing plants such as coca, marijuana and opium poppies in the country.

Representative Hugo Velasquez Jaramillo, who proposed the bill, explained that although the cultivation of plants would be legal under the new legislation, the processing and trafficking of drugs would remain subject to criminal sentencing.

According to Velazquez, congress cannot move forward with the “failed drug policy pursued by the governments of Colombia and the United States.”

“The important thing is that we have the opportunity to listen to congressmen from [drug] producing regions and hear from different government officials, not just those in opposition [of the bill] with Minister of Justice Juan Carlos Esguerra,” he said.

Velazquez also reminded the government that drug crop legalization is an agricultural issue as well as a legal matter.

Minister of Justice Juan Carlos Esguerra reiterated that the government is staunchly opposed to the proposed legislation, saying this is a “turning point in the fight against drugs” and it is not yet time to make a policy change.

“It’s not the time to anticipate a set of rules on this issue (…) this cannot work like the Lone Ranger,” he added.

Source Article


Medical cannabis dispensaries join United Food and Commercial Workers

Medical cannabis dispensaries join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770

Dispensaries in Southern California joined forces with The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the nation’s largest retail workers union, to fight for their jobs.

The Los Angeles City Council is still in limbo-in considering a full citywide ban on dispensaries, due to a court decision that limits its ability to regulate them, according to a news report.

Budtender Cruz Juarez, 28, facing camera, prepares to fill an order for a patient at a medical marijuana dispensary in Long Beach, California, March 21, 2012. Photo courtesy of MCT

If passed, the ban would forbid dispensaries to sell marijuana, but will allow patients who are ill and their caregivers to cultivate it.

Sam Humeid, executive director and business owner of Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, feels relieved that his workers will have job security now.

“There is a negative social stigma and lifestyle the world associates marijuana with hippies or mafia members,” Humeid said. “But in reality, we are workers that have families who work for an honest living to help our patients.”

Currently, the city of Los Angeles limits the number of medical marijuana dispensaries by using a lottery to choose which dispensaries can be allowed to operate through the city’s existing ordinance.

“We have ill patients who are prescribed by a medically licensed doctor that need our services,” Humeid said. “Some of these ailments include lupus, cancer, nausea and sleep deprivation.”

Humeid and his employees now join grocery workers, health care providers and pharmacists who are part of the local UFCW 770 in Los Angeles. The dispensaries will be part of the newly formed Cannabis and Hemp Worker’s Unit.

The joining of the union will not affect Perennial’s product prices. There will only be a marginal shift in pricing, according to Humeid.

My employees and I are grateful to be apart of the union,” Humeid said. “ Now, my workers will have benefits, and our jobs will be secure. We want to be recognized for what the dispensary really represents, and that is a legal health care facility.”

The California Supreme Court plans to review rulings by lower courts on how much oversight local governments can have over medical marijuana operations.

The UFCW already has contracts with workers at a handful of other dispensaries in Oakland, Calif., Colorado and in other areas where medical marijuana is legal.

Dispensaries unionizing has already produced a major turnaround with in the last month. In  April, The Assembly Committee on Public Safety passed AB 2312, a state by a 4-2 vote.

Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco), the bill would create the first statewide regulatory framework for the medical cannabis industry in California. The bill now moves onto the Appropriations Committee.

Erin Taylor, a dispensary employee from Venice Beach Care Center, added that the workers are continuing to stand with the union to prevent the ban that will cause all licensed dispensaries employees to lose their job.

“By joining UFCW local 770 we have made a decision to stand up and fight for our jobs so we can take care of ourselves and our patients,” said Taylor. “We want to join the union to make a standard for all dispensaries throughout southern California and have a safe, regulated environment.”


Marijuana Has Never Done HARM Ever

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