Monday, September 15, 2014

Rolling Stone’s Ben Fong-Torres Joins Us in The Studio for ‘The Hash’

by David Downs
Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

One of the great things about doing a new pot-cast with a Peabody Award-winning radio producer Ben Manilla?

Insanely cool guests like Rolling Stone’s Ben Fong-Torres. The legendary music journalist gives us his top five favorite cannabis-related songs in our regular feature "High Five."
Fong-Torres at the early 'Rolling Stone' magazine with some rocker type. :) - WWW.BENFONGTORRES.COM
  • Fong-Torres at the early 'Rolling Stone' magazine with some rocker type. :)

Episode Four of The Hash is out now and themed the “Legalization” episode — so we:

— get the latest on Alaska legalization and national efforts from the Marijuana Policy Project Communications Director Mason Tvert;

— talk with Oregon Measure 91’s Anthony Johnson, and NORML's Erik Altieri;

— review some anti-pot political ads from Florida;

— and go through the latest headlines.

Listen to episode four of The Hash, our audio B-side to Legalization Nation column.

(Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and on our web page. Subscribe via email and you're automatically entered to win a gift bag of books and goodies.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pot Farm Showcases Radical Water Conservation Invention

by David Downs
Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM

The end of pot prohibition has already led to strains that won’t get you stoned. Could it lead to gardening techniques that radically conserve water?

Next Wednesday, George Bianchini, founder of Medi-Cone, will give select visitors a guided tour of his medical cannabis gardens to demonstrate his "Wicked Wicking System," which radically cuts water waste, he says.

Bianchini is an Oaksterdam graduate, who, since 2008, has run Medi-Cone, which produces, packages, and sells rolled medical marijuana joints - or “cones.” As the drought sank its teeth into his Northern California valley, Bianchini bit back with an “ultra water-conserving garden … that provides him with a thriving garden in spite of the drought,” he wrote in a press release.

More …

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lancet Develops Reefer Madness: Let's Really Talk About Pot, School, Suicide, and Society

by David Downs
Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Get ready for another round of reefer madness.

This week, the journal Lancet published a study on daily teen marijuana use and purported correlations to dropping out of high school, not finishing college, and committing suicide.

The study is loaded with problems, and comes with weak conclusions from the researchers, but that isn’t stopping the media from running incendiary headlines equivalent to ‘Weed Causes 60 Percent Increase in Suicide.”

A couple things to keep in mind: The researchers did no original research, rather re-analyzed three other studies. And the researchers’ own summary in no way jibes with Lancet’s or the media’s hype. And, crucially, the purported correlations between daily pot use and ill effects are more drug policy-related correlations than drug-related.

More …

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pot Law Reformers Killed A Slew of Sick Bills This Year in Sacramento

by David Downs
Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The California legislative session is over for 2014 without much change in the status of medical cannabis — and that’s kind of a good thing, given what was being proposed.

California medical marijuana patients and their allies defeated a slew of legislative attacks — from bills that would have criminalized driving while sober, to ones that would allow police to destroy lawful pot crops without fair compensation. More than 80 percent of Californians support access to medical marijuana and recent polls show 54 percent support taxing and regulating its sale to adults 21 and over.

More …

Friday, August 29, 2014

Foes of Legalized Marijuana Are Shills for Pills

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Earlier this summer, The Nation published a damning exposé on pharmaceutical companies funding anti-marijuana groups like Community Anti-Drug Coalitions for America and members of Project SAM. This week, the same author, Lee Fang, expands on the exposé with a piece for VICE that names more names.

More …

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Washington's Legal Weed Market Gaining Momentum; $38 Grams in Vancouver

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Washington marijuana legalization is off to a slow, expensive start — and that’s deliberate, researchers say.

One gram of marijuana — which would fit on a teaspoon — hit $38 in licensed Vancouver stores this week. That’s anywhere from double to eight times the street price for pot, and an effect of price gouging on behalf of Washington’s small cadre of state-licensed growers.

More …

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just Say Yes: Marijuana Use Radically Cuts Deaths from Pill Overdoses

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Given the abundance of anecdotal information and new research data on marijuana, it's fair to say that the prohibition o pot isn't just ineffective, expensive, racist, and amoral, it's downright damaging to public health amid a government-sanctioned pill addiction and overdose crisis of epidemic proportions.
Here’s the massive number to remember: 25 percent.

States that have legalized medical cannabis have 25 percent fewer deaths from prescription pill overdoses than states that have not, according to a major study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Legalizing medical marijuana (shown above under magnification) is associated with a 25 percent decrease in deaths from prescription pill overdose, a new study finds. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Legalizing medical marijuana (shown above under magnification) is associated with a 25 percent decrease in deaths from prescription pill overdose, a new study finds.

Researchers tracked deaths in all 50 states between 1999 and 2010, as well as those states’ medical marijuana laws, finding that “about a 25 percent lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose” after medical cannabis was legalized for medicinal use.

In 2010 alone, legal medical marijuana saved about 1,700 people from overdose deaths, the research indicates.

That’s because cannabis is a useful painkiller, especially for people with pain that does not respond to conventional painkillers, doctors say.

Medical marijuana patients are partially or entirely substituting the plant for deadly opioids like hydrocodone and oxycontin, researchers have found. Prescription painkiller overdoses will kill about 16,000 Americans this year. Marijuana also has no lethal overdose level.

The University of Pennsylvania research team is not ready to attribute the drop in overdoses to marijuana, but we are.
“In summary, although we found a lower mean annual rate of opioid analgesic mortality in states with medical cannabis laws, a direct causal link cannot be established," the authors write

Marie J. Hayes of the University of Maine writes in a release: "If medical marijuana laws afford a protective effect, it is not clear why. If the decline in opioid analgesic-related overdose deaths is explained, as claimed by the authors, by increased access to medical marijuana as an adjuvant medication for patients taking prescription opioids, does this mean that marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels?"

Yes, Dr. Hayes it does. There are already studies to that effect.

"A UCSF study suggests patients with chronic pain may experience greater relief if their doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment," UCSF reported in 2011.

Furthermore, 66% of Bay Area medical cannabis patients in one 2009 survey reported using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs.

UPenn's researchers conclude:
"If the relationship between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality is substantiated in further work, enactment of laws to allow for use of medical cannabis may be advocated as part of a comprehensive package of policies to reduce the population risk of opioid analgesics."
It's substantiated. Enact them now, especially in the South.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Atlantic Gives Legalization in Boulder Two Big Thumbs Up

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf went a little native in Boulder, Colorado for the magazine's August 13 feature — a ringing endorsement of the implementation of Amendment 64. There’s still many questions left unanswered, he wrote, but:

Weed War-Free Zone of the hippie highway: Boulder, Colorado - ABOUTBOULDER
  • AboutBoulder
  • Weed War-Free Zone of the hippie highway: Boulder, Colorado
“One thought I never had was that Boulder would be better off if its marijuana smokers were all imprisoned, or at risk of arrest, or casually breaking the law to facilitate a habit that isn’t going away.”

Friedersdorf really nails one key factor: the legal sales of cannabis on January 1 in Colorado was part of a decades-long evolution, despite media efforts to make it look like some radical jump. Much like Berkeley, Boulder is part of a well-travelled constellation of safe zones for hippies, heads, itinerant musicians, and “circuit homeless.” The piece lends a more humane counterpoint to headlines about "legalization attracting more homeless kids to Colorado." Yeah, they’re dirty. They’re also de facto drug war refugees.

“Into the wee hours of that night, and again the next morning, I sought out folks who were down and out in Boulder. For many, I soon learned, legalization had made life noticeably better.

“Here, I honestly feel protected and served by the police, because they’re not trying to steal my pot and charge me for it,” said one 22-year-old, a recent college graduate, who had been first victimized by the police at age 18. He had called the police over his stolen backpack, and ended up with a ticket for the pipe they found in it. He received 11 months, 29 days probation, plus paid $5,000 in fees.  

“People have their lives ruined over it. Just knowing that won’t happen to me here is an almost indescribable feeling.”

And we get another data point on effects in the black market, which seems doomed over the long run. (When’s the last time you bought bootleg liquor?)

Twenty-one year-old traveling hippie Boots said: “One thing I’ve noticed, something I’ve learned from talking to the people who’ve been around here awhile, is that unless you go to the dispensary it’s getting harder to find weed."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cheaper, Stronger, Earlier Weed — The 1st Annual Golden Tarp Awards Celebrates This Year's 'Light Dep' Crop

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The trending practice of using light deprivation to quickly bring greenhouse-grown medical marijuana to harvest now has its own contest.

The Golden Tarp Award will take place Saturday, September 13 at the the Mateel Community Center in Redway, which is a few hours north of the Bay Area. The $30 event includes awards for the best light dep crop, plus workshops, speakers, music, and panels. Attendees will be the judge of the top sixteen entries and the bud with the highest score will win the 2014 Golden Tarp Award
Greenhouse-grown medical marijuana is coming to harvest now, instead of in October, due to light deprivation techniques. - THE GOLDEN TARP
  • The Golden Tarp
  • Greenhouse-grown medical marijuana is coming to harvest now, instead of in October, due to light deprivation techniques.

Light deprivation is taking off for one main reason: money. A crop grown in a greenhouse uses far less electricity than an indoor crop. The use of light deprivation — usually through tarps — mimics the short days of the Fall, tricking the plant into flowering and finishing early. Early crops sell better than crops sold during the harvest glut —which sends prices through the floor. 

“Light dep drastically reduces, or completely eliminates, the need for high-powered grow lights, allowing farmers to keep more of the profits, reduce their carbon footprint and cutout the “silent partner” known as the local utility company or diesel supplier. When grown under high quality, light-diffusing greenhouse fabrics, buds have a similar frosty look to those grown under lights. This is another element that makes for a quicker sale and increases it’s per-pound price when compared to “full sun” plants.” …

Light dep is quickly becoming the standard for cultivation. Compared to growing indoors, it has a much smaller environmental impact and drastically reduces the monthly overhead. Compared to growing outdoors, it affords the grower more control over changing weather patterns, provides privacy and allows for fresh product when plants under full sun are still in their vegetative stage or in early flowering.”
Light dep is a common practice in modern agriculture, and yet another mainstream technique to be adapted for the cannabis industry, which has also added near-infrared sensing, and genetic sequencing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another Medical Marijuana Bill Poisoned by Police

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM

This is starting to sound familiar.

Medical marijuana advocates are calling for the last-minute death of Senate Bill 1193 — which was supposed to be a compromise between patients and police, until police successfully deleted the patients’ part at the last minute.

SB 1193 would have reduced the amount of pot that cops confiscate during a dispensary investigation, and also mandated that police give back or compensate collectives for weed deemed unlawfully seized.

Lawful California collectives and cooperatives are routinely raided and prosecuted by local authorities who seize property, marijuana, and products. When defense attorneys get the cases thrown out, collectives get back from the police dead plants, moldy edibles, and no compensation.

The State Sheriffs Association and the Police Chiefs Association oppose fair compensation, "based on concerns that codification and/or expansion of claim eligibility could require potentially costly local indemnification," an Assembly analysis stated.

So police groups got the fair compensation part of the bill deleted as it exited Assembly Appropriations. 
This week, California police poisoned a compromise bill to return unlawfully seized medical marijuana. Above, authorities raid Oaksterdam University in Oakland. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • This week, California police poisoned a compromise bill to return unlawfully seized medical marijuana. Above, authorities raid Oaksterdam University in Oakland.

Patients now have to kill SB 1193 on the Assembly floor, writes advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

“Law enforcement should not confiscate legal medical cannabis and plants. If they do, they should have to give it back. And if they damaged or destroyed it, they should have to pay for it,” ASA wrote to its members.

The group is asking folks to contact the bill’s sponsor, Santa Rosa democrat Noreen Evans and send emails to their Assembly Members.

About 80 percent of Californians support medical marijuana and 54 percent support its legalization for adults 21 years of  age and older.

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