Today's must-reads: 1. Oakland's unprecedented medical cannabis cultivation regulations go before the city council tomorrow. Some in the community like them; others, not so much. ...
2. Can weed be a wedge issue driving Democratic voters to ballot? The Atlantic analyzes. "Political scientists disagree about whether gay-marriage bans helped Republicans, though a growing body of scholarship suggests that they probably did. So far, nobody has measured marijuana's effect at the polls. But Stephen Nicholson, a leading expert on ballot initiatives at the University of California at Merced, told me that he plans to. What's more, he sees an intriguing precedent in the nuclear freeze initiatives of 28 years ago, which he has studied. 'In the 1982 midterms, 10 states had ballot initiatives on the nuclear freeze,' Nicholson told me. 'This had a significant positive effect on Democratic candidates.' In states without them, candidates saw little to no effect.'"
Must reads: 1. Proponents of Prop 19 woke up today to smashed windows in their downtown Oakland campaign headquarters, the result of last night's Mehserle verdict-related vandalism, and a Chronicle story on a Field Poll showing the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Act losing 44 percent to 48 percent. Meanwhile in DC, three House Democrats tell HuffPost's Ryan Grim, author of This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America, that they'll be supporting the measure. "Reps. George Miller, Barbara Lee and Pete Stark — represent Bay Area districts and are the first federal legislators to publicly back Proposition 19. Another Democrat, Mike Honda, who represents Silicon Valley, which owes much to consciousness-expanding drugs, said he was leaning toward voting yes." More news after the jump.
More than 400 doctors, public health officials, and drug-law reformers gather in Los Angeles today to try and inject more empirical data into the reefer madness of California's drug policy at the first New Directions California conference. The overflowing one-day event starting this morning is the third sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, after confabs in New York and Washington, DC, and it arrives amid rapid changes in the state, DPA spokesperson Margaret Dooley-Sammuli says.
“The premise is the war on drugs has failed and we need a health approach, so how are we going to get that?” she says. “These voices on the health side have been sidelined.”
The cost of high-grade cannabis could drop to around $70 per ounce from today's rate of around $350 per ounce, if California legalizes over-21 possession and consumption of the plant, a leading think tank disclosed today. “Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets” by the Rand Corporation finds that most of today's pot costs are actually risks to growers, distributors, and sellers who face arrest and jail time. Lifting that risk, along with automation, and economies of scale would cause about an 80 percent drop in the price of sensimilla. The study could not say what would happen to rates of consumption with certainty, but use could double from 7 to 14 percent of the adult population.
The City of Oakland's cutting-edge approach to its medical cannabis sector is about to make national headlines again with the long-awaited release of city plans for licensing large-scale marijuana grows. If the draft ordinances pass, the city stands to reap almost $38 million in taxes per year by growing one-fifth of all statewide medicinal marijuana.
Today's Must-Read: 1. The White House said today that pills are drawing more new users than pot. Seven of the top ten drugs abused by 12th graders are prescription drugs like OxyContin. They have driven a 400 percent increase in drug treatment over ten years. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that prescription and over-the-counter drugs were responsible for the 25% increase in drug-related emergency department visits between 2004 and 2008. ... By 2008, emergency department visits for misused prescription and over-the-counter drugs were as common as emergency department visits for use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Since 1999 deaths from drug use have more than doubled, surpassing homicides, suicides and gunshot wounds as causes of death. This increase in drug overdose death rates is largely because of prescription opioid painkillers.” Damning.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health set some of America's first pot-brownie and -milkshake regulations in response to the growing sector of the medical cannabis industry. Edible baked goods, as well as ice cream, lollipops, chewing gum, and even olive oil tinged with THC has become a smash hit sector of California's dispensaries, owners say. But such edibles can also lead to frightening experiences and even emergency room visits when they are accidentally ingested or improperly prepared. Anecdotal stories and news headlines abound of grandmas, children, and pets accidentally eating unmarked THC edibles and experiencing cannabis' sometimes harrowing effects.
Today's Must-Read: 1. CelebStoner reports, "Stoner starlet Paris Hilton was arrested along with her friend, former Playboy model Jennifer Rovero, in South Africa during the Brazil-Netherlands match on Friday. It appears that Rovero took the rap as the charge against Hilton was dropped." They were caught smoking during the game, which Brazil lost in a stunning upset. Hot pix after the jump.
Your Weekend Must-Reads: 1. The White House is sniffing around for dirt on crime related to medical cannabis dispensaries, the Denver Westword reports. Meanwhile a Denver Post analysis found pot shop robbery rates to be lower than banks'. More headlines after the jump.
Widely acclaimed video comedy series Auto-Tune the News is a product of YouTube directors The Gregory Brothers, who reflect the banality of American cultural debate by recording voices of politicians and news anchors, then digitally manipulating the recording to make the talking heads sing. The Bros. often add their own characters, as well as extra hands and props to the existing footage. In their twelfth episode, which went live mid-June, Auto-Tune the News tackles the discussion about the effect of market forces on the price of cannabis, should it become legal. Bonus: A look at cable news' nuanced discussion of our our next Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Video after the jump (Safe for work, but put some headphones on, just in case).