Tag Archives: paradigm shift

national

The Practicality of Outlawing that which is ‘Unreasonably Impractical’

by Patrick Devlin

As we walk forward into the new American world of legal cannabis normalization, a plethora of citizens’ initiatives and state bills regarding legalization are sprouting up around the country.

The citizens’ initiatives, taking their inspiration from and in some instances borrowing directly from initiatives passed by the thoughtful and engaged citizenry of Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon reflect that regular Americans are fed up with the tail-dragging, cowardly and stumble-block imposing Feds, who do nothing as our culture is engaged in an unstoppable cannabis normalization revolution that will forever change the way we incarcerate, medicate and recreate in America.

In some states, unlike at the federal law and regulation making level, politicians are beginning to explore straight-up legislative cannabis legalization (laws passed by statehouses as opposed to citizen demands in the form of referenda), evidencing that local-yokel politicians are loosening their war on cannabis mindsets largely on account of the fact that they want to keep getting re-elected by their cannabis sensible constituents and (probably for the most part) because they need to raise tax revenue but they don’t want to tax their suburban home owning residents and see cannabis sin taxing as an alternative for raising revenues.

One of the states that is poised to become the first state to legalize cannabis by an act of the legislature is Michigan where, at the same time multiple competing citizens’ initiatives regarding cannabis legalization are moving forward, a Democratic legislator from Ann Arbor, Jeff Irwin, has introduced a bill that would legalize cannabis in Michigan. Irwin’s bill calls for establishing a licensing process, setting a statewide taxation level and calling for revenues raised through the legal sale of cannabis to support health care and education in the state.

The text of the bill (which mLaw has linked to on our home page ) is fairly standard as reflected against other state’s cannabis legalization proposals, but it does have a couple of components that are noteworthy.

The proposed legislation allows a licensed grower to possess “any number of immature plants less than 12 inches in height and diameter that do not have buds or flowers.” This component of the proposal is written incorporating some knowledge of cannabis horticulture as it indicates that the bill’s authors are cognizant of the fact that mature un-fertilized female cannabis plants have a significantly higher value than either male plants or fertilized female plants for adults who are seeking to use the substance for medicine or recreation. It is true that the proposal limits the number of mature plants citizens will be allowed to cultivate under the rule, but the fact that the authors differentiate is a sign that the writers truly want to provide sensible and effective regulation of legal cannabis.

This is opposed to some of the rules established in states where cannabis is legal due to citizen initiatives. Cannabis may be legal, but its growth and use are circumscribed by prohibitionist minded local officials who are concerned only with raising tax revenue and who have absolutely no concern for patients or adults who actually intend to use legal cannabis.

Do you realize that in legal cannabis Washington it is illegal for an adult to cultivate cannabis for their own individual use? And, in Ohio, the ballot initiative regarding legalizing cannabis that stands the greatest chance of passing into law limits the growth of legal cannabis to a tiny cartel of well-connected private parties, as opposed to giving all citizens the right to cultivate for their private use.

In my state, local regulatory prohibitionists in one county have established a fee for applying for a license to grow medical cannabis that exceeds $100,000 (and that’s just the application fee!). Clearly, these local cultural custodians are more concerned with keeping cannabis out than allowing patients to purchase medicine. These are examples of what we here at mLaw refer to as regulatory prohibition, efforts by local town, county and state officials who are miffed dead-enders who lost their “war on cannabis” but still want to impose their prohibitionist fed hatred of cannabis on the rest of us.

Sadly, there are many who spout factually wrong ‘statistics’ to scare themselves and others too intellectually lazy to do the research and find out that it is a fact: cannabis is an incredibly useful medical substance and recreational use of cannabis is safer for society than our other recreational drugs, tobacco and alcohol. See presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie as examples of studiously un-informed practitioners of last-century drug war misrepresentation and dangerous medical quackery. And, in a country where county clerk dictator Kim Davis is some sort of folk hero to bigoted suburbanites for refusing to do her government job, we should expect that the dead-ender-sore-loser fight against reasonable cannabis regulation will continue until the inevitable federalizing of legal cannabis (which could take years).

Thankfully, my experience with capitalism is, in general, that the urge to make cash will eventually overcome the regulatory prohibition schemes that sore loser cannabis warriors come up with to force us to accommodate their prejudices. However, in the meantime we have to be vigilant to not let prohibitionist regulators stymie the normalization of legal cannabis by applying the heavy hand of regulation where it is not needed and where it inhibits the legal medical and recreational use of the substance.

Circling back to the Michigan bill, and to the point addressed above, the writers of the proposal inserted an interesting and liberating concept into their proposal: defining that which is “unreasonably impractical.” The bill prohibits the development of rules and ordinances by tax revenue addicted and prohibitionist minded state and municipal authorities that would “require such a high risk or investment of money, time or any other resource or asset that a reasonably prudent businessperson would not engage in the operation of a marijuana establishment.” The goal of the law is, after all, to enable cannabis commerce, not limit it.

It is a sad statement that a law establishing legal cannabis sales has to include a provision prohibiting officials from creating a licensing and regulatory schema that is so costly and complex that the regulatory system itself will discourage, stifle or confound the marketplace rendering sale of the new consumer product impossible – but that is what we have today in modern, legal cannabis America and that’s exactly what sore-loser drug warriors want.

That is why we here at mLaw favor establishing the right of citizens to personally grow their own cannabis and for patients who are too incapacitated by their illness to garden.

All state laws should allow for the personal gardening of cannabis, a right absent from the Washington state law as I mentioned above. The ostensible reasons for this prohibition stem largely from an understandable but misguided impression that is actually a bit of rotting detritus left over from the drug war days; this being, that politicians are fearful of personal growers selling cannabis in a black market in states where cannabis is not legal or to minors in states where it is legal.

These concerns will of course be made moot in the coming world where cannabis is federally legalized, a world where there is no black market for adults and cannabis is as commercially available as alcohol. In modern America there is simply no scary situation where basement beer brewers are selling their wares to children – and to suggest that adults can’t home brew beer because of this ridiculous phantasm of a fake fear would and should be considered by rational adults to be outlandish and unnecessary. And, additionally, as we have seen in Colorado, since the legalization of cannabis, fewer minors report using the substance: yes, fewer.

To brew beer, grow tomatoes, grow cannabis – all of these, we think, are choices we should be able to make for ourselves to free us from corporate farming, pesticides, bio-engineering and to enable us to know where our food and sustenance are really coming from. All of these liberate us, free us and are, really, fundamentally American.

American legal cannabis will be offered for sale at your local mini-mart in the future. But it also should be growing between the rows of corn in your garden, amongst the chrysanthemums in your flower bed and in every Toledo window box.

national

The Inevitability of Democratic Dry-Doperism

by Patrick Devlin

“It would be irresponsible for me as the chief law enforcement officer to take a position based on its popularity without thinking it would actually work” – Kamala Harris, candidate for California Attorney General, 2014

“I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, there’s a certain inevitability about it.” – Kamala Harris, newly re-elected California Attorney General, 2014

“Be the change you want to see” – Gandhi

Well, it was inevitable.

That a sitting Democrat, even one from the avant state of California, would admit the obvious after running away from the obvious as she ran for re-election, and come clean, fess up, speak reality and stop with the timorous mealy-mouthery and calculated misrepresentation on cannabis legalization.

Freshly re-elected California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently told Californians that she made a craven choice to obfuscate as the silly season was unfolding – that she believes (a belief shared by about 99 percent of Americans, including the paid prohibitionist anti-cannabis propagandists Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet) legal cannabis in her state and the country is “inevitable”.

What we also know by now, after four states and Washington DC have legalized recreational cannabis consumption, it is inevitable that modern elected Democrats will either hem and haw about their position on legalization or stake an outright (and untenable) prohibitionist stance against cannabis legalization and work to keep the substance illegal – ensuring the arrest of more minority Americans and the pain and suffering of many of their fellow citizens.

And, in this year’s California Attorney General’s race, Ms. Harris shown as a masterfully scheming dry-doper politician, segueing effortlessly from coy quips and chuckles to strongly worded finger-wagging morality plays (see above), ensuring both to-be-arrested young minority males and scared-as-shit suburban parents that she will not lend a hand to equal justice demanding Californians, claiming the tough law enforcement territory on legalized cannabis. In fact, Harris’s republican challenger, the wacky straw-dog candidate Ron Gold, actually took the medically responsible and certainly more rational, law enforcement cost saving and equal justice uplifting pro-cannabis legalization position in the race. It is understood that Gold didn’t stand a chance against Harris with his odd-ball Libertarian worldview, but, who can really argue with the statement; “It is common sense, reasonable and rational to change laws that have driven the market for marijuana into the hands of drug cartels and street gangs.” The answer…Kamala Harris.

Harris’s reaction to questions from the media regarding her challenger’s stance on cannabis legalization, (a very Obama like laugh-off when Harris said with a derisive guffaw, “He’s entitled to his opinion”) angered Californians who are serious about legalizing cannabis, driving some very liberal voters to support the republican from a standpoint of principle – voters who had never voted for a republican in their lives. Harris may have angered some hippies, but she certainly received the support of law enforcement in the 2014 election cycle. And, she didn’t have to admit that law enforcement unequally applies the laws prohibiting cannabis or explain to suburban mommies why she is hanging with those dirty hippies.

While Harris’s crass self-obsessive posturing, her effort to not anger law enforcement constituencies as she scans the horizon of her political career shooting for the stars (again, in a very Obama like fashion – the state senator who supported both cannabis decriminalization and the creation of a Palestinian state for reasons, looking back, that were purely political) may have made her forget the public that she has promised to serve, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome (also newly re-elected) chose to insert cannabis legalization as a plank in his 2014 re-election campaign.

As cannabis legalization is forced by the will of the people in state after state and as medical researchers discover the usefulness of the substance after 80 years of the federal government’s suppression of medical research, we can expect to see more self-serving Democratic politicians sheepishly come to grips with Legal Cannabis America and reverse course on the subject.

This is not to suggest that these dry-doper Democrats will reverse course out of principle or personal integrity or compassion. This does not mean that these liars will admit that their clinging to cannabis prohibition (that is antithetical to both equal justice and scientific research) so as to be elected over and over again by both stoking and appealing to fears and bigotries in their constituencies that they once saw as a requirement for ‘tough on crime’ Democrats, was immoral and wrong and served to give tens of millions of young Americans arrest records and limit the quality of life of patients who have terminal diseases. They will admit that cannabis should be legal simply because their future political careers hang in the balance.

That’s not bravery and honesty; it is, rather, cowardice and narcissism.

international

Cultural Custodians, Capitalists and Cannabis Companies Create Candy Consumption Confusion

by Patrick Devlin

With Halloween creeping up on us, cannabists are being exposed again to the annual defamatory ritual, sprung from the minds of manipulative propagandists, mouthed by local, state and federal police forces and consumed like fun-sized candy bars by ill-informed and scared silly suburbanites (really, scared to the point of believing out-and-out factually unsupported silliness), the warning from our ‘concerned for the kids’ law enforcers that reefer fiends want in the worst way to get their costumed kiddies “hooked” on the evil weed by spiking their children’s Halloween candy with cannabis.

The hysterical and nonsensical notion that is part and parcel to the urban myth – a myth that began when I was a youth and at that time took the form of dire warnings from police authorities that evil-doers were buying razor blades and inserting them into candy so children will become horribly injured when they scarf down their orange and black waxed paper wrapped peanut butter chewies or Zagnut candy bars – is that cannabis users in general are evil and demented freaks who, at the risk of being jailed and at the expense of purchasing costly legal cannabis, desire to harm innocent children.

Hate to break it to you, but there is not a single documented case of cannabis users tricking children to enter the realm of the devil to be locked forever in a hell of addiction or lie convulsing on the floor of a hospital emergency room by spiking children’s Halloween candy.

With all of the press-releasing and all of those reporters trying to ‘get to the bottom of the story‘ on all of those cannabis using candy spiking psychos out there it only makes sense that pharmacies and their employees who want their patients to know about the prescribed drugs that they are taking (including their possible dangers, paramount among these is warning patients of the importance of keeping drugs away from children) are happy to pass their important advice along – makes sense.

This is especially the case with regard to cannabis edibles that are sold as chocolate, gummy bears and soda, just like alcohol lollipops, these products, of course, should not be given to children. But remember, it is not cannabists who designed these products to trick our kiddies, but rather capitalists who want to make cash. And, while you may not agree with me that the consumption cannabis (by adults) is a patriotic duty of all citizens concerned about the trajectory of American society – capitalism is supposed to be all patriotic and it is capitalist devils, not cannabis fiends who are flooding the market with BabyJane, BudderFinger and mrGreenbud cannabis candies. A salutary component of cannabis legalization is that these capital blinded candy creators can be regulated by the appropriate authorities in WA and CO to ensure that these products are not marketed to children (as tobacco products are regulated) because, you know, legalization is regulation.

Luckily, and speaking of cannabis monetization, a company from Florida has stepped up to allay to the fears of cannabis-candy-concerned parents, selling a candy-drug testing kit that parents can use to tell if their child’s candies can be consumed.

Now, if you have used cannabis, these types of stories- rooted as they are in deep misunderstandings about the substance that are the fruit of eighty years of knowing law enforcement and political deceit – are best to be ignored…it may be sad and silly, but it really just ain’t worth the time and energy to refute these zombie propagandist memes as they appear year after year. I agree.

But it really seems to make sense, however, in the year that many Americans are reassessing what they have been told by self-interested parties in politics and law enforcement and in light of the full legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, to state for the record that the suggestion that cannabis users are demented sociopaths who dream of harming children is both unfounded and offensive. And, by the way the propagandists who mouth the meme know it is unfounded and intend for their propping up of the myth to be defamatory and offensive.

The clear intent of these propaganda-pushers is to infer that ‘pot heads’ are evil addicts who actually desire to harm children. And that is a sick way to attempt to foreclose upon the constructive and commonsense nationwide effort to bring compassion and equality to our land by legalizing cannabis.

national

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Wall!

by Patrick Devlin

Over the past months the national media have stumbled upon the fact that the Great American Prohibition of cannabis has some pretty nasty consequences for regular ‘folks’, as the president likes to refer to us. Perhaps you have followed the stories of the knowing and on-going aggressive application of our nation’s antiquated and unjustly applied local, state and federal laws regarding cannabis.

The national press has reported on how the war on cannabis harms our sick citizens. There has been sympathetic reportage of the plight of families who have become medical refugees, forced to up-root their lives and other parents who have chosen to break the law so their suffering children can get the medical treatment they need in America.

There have been stories about patients who, because they work for institutions that receive federal funding, have to choose between being employed and using medicine. And the press commendably understands the nature of the disturbing threat of our Veteran’s Administration to refuse medical care to veterans who use cannabis to treat their battle injuries and symptoms of post-war-fighting-stress.

Also of note, a stream of reports of grossly overzealous actions against cannabis criminals that seem to be more acts of police force enrichment than acts of public safety enforcement.

In bizzaro America, as even the milquetoasty left media are finally reporting on the failure that is our disastrous war on drugs and how it has been based upon years of self-serving lies, amped up local coppers, go-getter prosecutors, an amalgam of frenzied state and federal agencies, rigor mortis judges and even private gun-wielding helicopter anti-cannabis posses are still hunting prey as our dry-doper politicos duck their heads and kick the cannabis can down the road until they are safely retired.

I know that the ‘we got to respect law enforcement’ crowd pulls out the ol’ “well, it’s still illegal, ain’t it?” dodge when the press reports on aggressive enforcement actions taken by politically motivated prosecutors and bigoted officers to justify prosecuting small time cannabis users – so I want to remind that police and prosecutors are never required to take the most aggressive action allowed under the law and are given tremendous leeway to make prosecutorial decisions. End-of-cannabis-prohibition arrests and ambiguities really don’t need to happen.

An example of this capacity to apply discretion is contained in the letter that the Department of Justice sent to all US Attorneys in 2009 advising that they should make “efficient and rational use of (the Department’s) limited investigative and prosecutorial resources” and should use their “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters” in situations involving cannabis, reminding US attorneys that they are “invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion” in the exercise of their authority.

That makes sense to most Americans, but our cowardly federal politicians still hide behind deceptively deployed medical research and the intentionally stoked fears of propagandized voters to take no action on the federal legalization of recreational and medical cannabis.

We are put by self-interested politicians in a position of having to live in an America with a barrier that has been erected to support the failed war against cannabis – a barrier that separates us from one another.

We know, for example, that political inaction on cannabis legalization has created a permanently stigmatized class in our country – 600,000 cannabis arrestees or more added every year. 18 million of our fellow citizens over the course 30 years, the vast majority of whom are African and Latino Americans. This is only one way the war against cannabis harms all of us.

In our attempts to end this fixable travesty we are stymied by self-serving politicos who are fearful of angering constituencies, and who must, therefore, ‘evolve’ on the issue before taking the logical, compassionate and equality enhancing step of legalizing cannabis.

We all know of the unfair application of justice now.

We all know that the sick can be treated using cannabis today.

As long as this war against cannabis exists, as long as this barrier of political inaction is permitted to stand, it is not only the casualties of the war; patients, young African and Latino Americans, our students – our brethren, who are consigned to lives marked by unfairness and suffering, but it is all Americans, at least all Americans who care.

We are barricaded from stepping together hopefully into post-prohibition America.

Mr. Obama, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalization, consider this barrier.

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy part 4

by Patrick Devlin

Nothing to see here – move along…

When a gang of armed men smashed through the doorway of the 600 square foot home of 29 year old Jason Westcott’s partner, 22 year old Israel Reyes, Westcott acting upon directives he received from the Tampa Bay police, grabbed his weapon and was killed in a rain of semi-automatic gunfire.

Westcott had called the Tampa police earlier this year after being threatened by another citizen. As a result of Westcott’s complaint to the police; the person who had threatened Westcott was confronted by the police, but no arrests were made, and the police advised Westcott to avail himself of one of modern America’s most protected rights, not the right to privacy, not the right to a fair trial, not the right to not have the modern version of Caucasian American Christianity (that Christ himself would find objectionable) shoved into your face – but rather the ‘god given’ right to blow the crap out of anyone you feel threatened by with your concealed and carried and beloved human killing machine. The exact quote from the police to the frightened Westcott when he reported the threat was, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Westcott was an armed drug dealer and was treated as such by the Tampa Police. The Tampa police sent a SWAT team to bring down the drug king pin of Seminole Heights – using whatever force they deemed to be required. Westcott’s evil drug dealing existence was terminated by Tampa’s finest (whose only goal in their action was to protect the community – especially the children, from the evils of cannabis). The police recovered two dollars worth of the dangerous narcotic.

Reyes has not denied in media interviews he has given since Westcott’s killing that he and his partner occasionally sold small amounts of cannabis to friends – but he maintains that this was not their sole source of income and, as Reyes framed it, “There weren’t people coming in and out of the house every day. It wasn’t paying the bills. We were still broke.”

The police dispute that characterization, as they described the SWAT Team raid to the media after the shooting.

They first said that the decision to raid the home was prompted due to complaints from neighbors. When reporters were unable to find such complaining neighbors, the Tampa police admitted that the raid was spurred by an investigation where an undercover Tampa police officer made cannabis purchases at the home. A freedom of information request was filed with the department regarding the incident, and the actual truth of the matter is that the inspiration to SWAT raid the Seminole Heights home came instead from an “confidential informant”, and in police work this could include a criminal who is trying to broker a deal after being arrested to get a lesser charge or not be prosecuted.

Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy told Tampa, when confronted with the cover-up the department orchestrated after the shooting that, “Each time the informant was at this house, he saw pre-packaged marijuana.” McElroy also claimed that the “confidential informer” had claimed to have seen a weapon in the home.

The chief of police in Tampa, Jane Kastor, took to the airwaves herself after the community questioned the actions of the department when it became clear that a young Tampa citizen was mowed down by officers over two dollars worth of cannabis, where she spoke a ritualistic incantation as if memorized that all TV news watchers in all American cities have heard and themselves been mesmerized by:

“Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers…If there is an indication that there is armed trafficking going on – someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm – then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”

– conclusion

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released its findings after performing a review of the militarization of America’s local police forces in a report called War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. During their research, the ACLU became aware of the hundreds of SWAT team assaults on the homes of private citizens that have been carried out by local coppers over the past few years in cases similar to the narcotics raid that resulted in the death of Jason Westcott. The Union examined over 800 SWAT team assaults carried out by local police offices in the years 2011 and 2012 to discover that 79 percent of the gun brandishing, flash bomb utilizing, smash the door down raids were to serve simple search warrants, and of those SWAT raids carried out to simply serve warrants, 60 percent were warrants to search for drugs.

The Union pointed out in their findings that, “Even though paramilitary policing in the form of SWAT teams was created to deal with emergency scenarios such as hostage or barricade situations, the use of SWAT to execute search warrants in drug investigations has become commonplace… The use of a SWAT team to execute a search warrant essentially amounts to the use of paramilitary tactics to conduct domestic criminal investigations in searches of people’s homes.”

Furthermore, the Union reports that, “there is typically no single entity at the local, state, or federal level responsible for ensuring that SWAT is appropriately restrained and that policing does not become excessively militarized,” creating a situation where untrained local police are making decisions to use SWAT raids as they desire to carry out general run-of-the-mill police functions. As can be predicted, the Union also reports that SWAT team tactics are most often used against the poor and minorities – in their study they found that 42 percent of the homes local police raided with SWAT teams were the homes of African Americans and 12 percent were the homes of Latino Americans.

At the same time that SWAT team tactics are becoming the preferred technique used by militarized local police offices as they prosecute the drug war, American citizens are coming to the realization that treating drug addiction as an act of war by our citizens as opposed to treating drug addiction as a community health matter is both counterproductive and immoral.

As a citizen whose family members include police officers, it is difficult to argue against the mesmerizing mantra of police commanders who claim simply to be protecting their officers (and, by the way, the police involved in the killing of Jason Westcott were found by the Hillsborough County State’s Attorney to be justified in their use of deadly force against the decedent). But there is a group of folks who know that cannabis is not a narcotic and is essentially harmless, that communities of color are almost exclusively targeted by local rough and tough militarized small time police chiefs and officers in drug war raids, and that local coppers make boatloads of cash by banging down doors in the middle of the night to lock away cannabis users – both through In Rem forfeiture actions as well as being rewarded by the feds (both Congress and the DOJ) for doing their part to continue the failed, bigoted and immoral war on drugs and on cannabis in particular – these ‘folks’ are your congresspersons and senators and President Obama.

These diners off of tax payer paid for china dinner plates know full well that their self-interested promotion of the drug war is immoral, anti-science and dis-compassionate, that it is a failure, that it supports cartels and gangs in their violent businesses, and harms otherwise innocent Americans rendering them unable to participate in society – unable to help us lift up our country with their individual talents and energies – but they just don’t give a shit. Our leaders cravenly, stubbornly and, quite basically, with malice aforethought, know very clearly that their selfish non-actions with regard to cannabis will without question result in the needless and preventable deaths of other Americans’ sons, daughters, partners, patients, relatives, friends, neighbors – they know and do nothing…except spit out an uncomfortable (or perhaps a knowing, but certainly a not caring) laugh when a citizen asks if they “want a hit.”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” – M. L. King

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy – part 3

by Patrick Devlin

The Grand Rapids Press and MLive Media reported Tuesday on the annual meeting of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) where conferees leveled a unified and scathing critique of the national ‘war on cannabis’ that is driven by self-serving local police, federal level prohibitionist politicians, private prison owners and purveyors of bigoted pseudo medical justifications, which has, according to attendees at this year’s NOBLE conference, “ruined the lives” of countless African American youths, stood as a force against medical treatment of addiction, intensified racial inequality and served to burn bridges of understanding and cooperation between law enforcers and the communities in which they serve.

Chief John Dixon III, police chief of Petersburg, VA, speaking at a session at the NOBLE conference titled, “Decriminalizing the Black Community”, characterized the continued federal prohibition of cannabis bluntly for conferees, stating, “It’s insanity. We know,” adding that after 40 years of prohibition’s failures, “The results haven’t changed.”

Dixon said that while police often view marijuana arrests as victories that ostensibly assist the user come to grips with their use of the illegal substance, the stark fact is that, “locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint,” and putting them into the criminal justice system “pretty much ruins the rest of their lives.” “We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts,” Dixon told the gathering, “Sometimes, we’ve got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn’t going to say.”

Dixon remarked on the devastating effects that criminalized cannabis has had on communities of African Americans across the US and noted that his real-life experiences had led him to conclude that drug addiction is best spoken to as a community health matter rather than as a law enforcement program.

The director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Major Neil Franklin, a 34 year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, reminded the assembled law enforcement officials of the disturbing statistics associated with America’s failed drug war, stating that between 1990 and 2005 the size of the prison population incarcerated for drug offenses grew from 415,000 Americans to over 1.9 million convicts.

Franklin also expressed his concerns that the war on cannabis is driven by private prison owners who are seeking to have their jails filled with non-violent young minority men caught up in the drug war, and supported by law enforcement agencies which have come to rely upon drug forfeiture laws to extract cash and property from arrested drug users to support their departments in a time of reduced funding of public services across the country as politicians refuse to tax the wealthy and businesses to pay their fair share in supporting America’s communities. Franklin concluded, “Marijuana is one of the biggest money makers for law enforcement agencies today.”

Franklin asked his audience pointedly, “Who do you want to (control the flow of drugs) in your neighborhood? The cartels? The 20,000 gangs we have around the country? Or do we take control of it, regulate it?” Franklin echoed the comments of Chief Dixon when he challenged the audience of law enforcers, “There’s no more powerful voice than the people in the trenches.”

The 38th annual NOBLE conference, which was open to the public and presented sessions on all aspects of law enforcement and a job fair, took place in Grand Rapids Michigan between July 13 and 17.

Note: this news-opinion piece relies heavily upon the reporting of John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press and MLive and mLaw expresses its sincere appreciation for bringing this important event to our attention.

international

Time to Reschdule, President Laughy-Boy – part 1

by Patrick Devlin

Scientists in England are reporting what could be a significant breakthrough in the treatment of all forms of cancer stating that their research that suggests that cannabis’ psychoactive component, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), could act to shrink cancerous tumors in patients stricken with the deadly disease.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia, in the UK, have found that THC appears to effect two receptors found in cancer tumors called cannabinoid receptors helping to shrink the deadly growths.

The scientists bombarded human cancer cells in mice with doses of THC that were isolated into compounds for the research study. The compounds were found by the researchers to help shrink tumors. The scientists hope that their discovery can lead to the development of a synthetic form of the compound that can eventually provide relief for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The UK researcher’s discovery supports the opinion of the US medical Establishment. Although medical researchers and the community of cancer patients in the US are laboring under an embargo on researching the possible medical benefits of cannabis that is coordinated by politicians and the scientists who are beholden to them, the nation’s medical researchers from the National Institutes of Health reported in July of 2012 that the “evidence accumulated during the last decade supports that cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives, possess anticancer activity.”

The scientists cautioned that the cannabinol compound that has the diminishing effect on cancer tumors was specially synthesized for the experiments and was targeted directly at the cancerous tumors in specific concentrations – a medical application that cannot be achieved by cancer patients by self-administering cannabis using common methods of cannabis ingestion.

national

Prohibitionist Lawmaker’s Dopey Scheme Goes Up In Smoke

A republican end-around scheme to derail cannabis decriminalization in Washington DC has seemed to have backfired on the neo-prohibitionist law maker who sponsored a bill to remove funds from DC that it might have spent to carry out the decriminalization effort, creating a situation where cannabis could be technically legal in our nation’s capital.

The DC decriminalization measure established that police can only give $25 dollar tickets (i.e. as opposed to arrest records) to people who are caught possessing small amounts of cannabis in the city. The measure to decriminalize cannabis possession was enacted by the city council to attempt to speak to the fact that treating cannabis possession as a crime in DC resulted in the arrests of great numbers of minorities and very few white people; 9 out of 10 arrestees for cannabis possession in DC were African Americans – a significant statistic due to the fact that the percentage of cannabis users across all races is similar.

The move to stymie the decriminalization measure was made by Andy Harris, a republican representative from Maryland, who appended a rider to a broad financial services bill that prevents DC from spending money “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with possession use or distribution” of cannabis.

The prohibitionist law maker, however, failed to replace the decriminalization rule, creating a circumstance where police could not ticket cannabis possessors, as this would violate the prohibition of spending monies to “carry out” the decriminalization rule, and DC could not act to re-criminalize cannabis, as doing so would also violate the provisions of the law.

The situation may lead to, as the Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance described it to the DCist news organization, the “de facto legalization” of cannabis possession in the district.

Although the legal catch-22 will certainly be spoken to by Congress with future legislation, as it stands today (technically) the citizens of the District of Columbia may be able to thank Rep. Andy Harris for ensuring that they can’t be profiled or arrested for holding on the hill.

international

Pope says nope to dope; I say, extend the metaphor

The high priest of the Catholic branch of the Abrahamic school of religions has cast his lot amongst the neo-prohibitionists by dismissing the bold experiments of the denizens of Colorado, Washington and Uruguay to end the nightmare scourge of the prohibition of one of the gods’ most appreciable gifts, cannabis, calling the movements to legalize the biblically referred to substance “highly questionable”.

Speaking to the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome (a group of law enforcement officials and policy makers who are seeking guidance as they face a new world where many have realized that they have been lied to by self-interested money-swillers and bigoted jailhouse-fillers for eighty years about what is arguably the world’s oldest cultivated plant who invited the insights of the spiritual leader of the sect of Abrahamic monotheism that claims that Jesus, the barefoot wandering preacher of the first century who challenged his adherents to care for the sick and remember those who are imprisoned, is their messiah) Francis said that cannabis legalization movements “however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects.” The pontiff continued, “The scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders.” Francis told his audience of law enforcers that, “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.”

The Pope, having ministered to addicts for years as a priest and even as he rose through the ranks to become the Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in Argentina during Argentina’s dirty war, has surely seen, as many of us have, the hollowed frame of someone we knew who has become addicted to any one of the body eating and mind destroying drugs that are truly a scourge; such as heroin and pharmaceutical opiates, crack and meth – possibly one of gods’ most appreciable evils, addiction. And, I submit, Jorge Mario, who, having had a front passenger’s seat during those Hieronymus Bosch-ian days in Argentina in the 1970’s, when liberation theologists had their babies stolen to be entrusted to ‘true Catholic families’ for proper rearing as the parents were board-walked out of flying helicopters, can be trusted here when he says that drug addiction is truly evil in his view.

It is quite clear, however, that Pope Francis has been getting his information on the addictive properties of cannabis from our president’s go-to neo-prohibitionist, Dr. Nora Volkow who is the Director of our government’s National Institute on Drug Addiction (an agency within the National Institutes of Health) who has in recent years been the public face of the president’s determined, disgraceful and misrepresentational program to continue the prohibition of cannabis. Volkow is the lead author of a recent report that blazed across the headlines of America’s media outlets reminding the ill-informed and timorous that “Marijuana is addictive!” Because these reefer madness reports failed to mention that scientists say that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine, not heroin or crack, I aver that Francis may just be, you know, taking the word of the experts because they are scientists, and addiction is evil, and any way, why would any government agency that is entrusted with protecting safety of the citizens go out of its way to ignore science and willfully pursue an agenda of supporting misinformation about cannabis, destroying lives and forestalling the comfort of the sick over the course of generations? It doesn’t make sense, might as well go with the experts.

I posit that the pope has fallen under the mesmerizing effects of propagandists, and given his participation in the two thousand year old propagation of the meme that there is only one god, he has to be aware of the insidious power of the constant drume-beat of propaganda messaging…perhaps muted but relentless. And in the war on cannabis, with it’s insinuations and conflations, misrepresentations and racist connotations, the eighty year pogrom has been truly compassion consciousness numbing.

So – in the hope of blowing that propaganda dust out of your cranium, Frankie – consider that cannabis prohibition is an addiction. An addiction that breeds crime. An addiction that feeds on human beings as sure as addiction to really addictive drugs can, in prisons and in hospices. An addiction that costs both dollars and lives. An addiction that haunts my president who fears for his legacy as his brethren are suffering and being discriminated against.

And, traversing in the metaphorical realms of the Christ who always sought to connect a message with reality to enhance its resonance; I propose, extend that christic philosophical framing – The bread is the body, the wine is the blood…and cannabis is the mind. I exclaim with you, il papa, “‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities”. Now, let’s do that sacrament thang!

international

Cannabis brain study study finds measurable inaccuracies

Today, while tweeting our weekdaily twitter #cannabis headline blasts (follow @mLaw_news), we found an article that piqued our interest.

Last week mLaw published a parody critique of the fawning and uncritical media reportage of a medical study of cannabis users and the pop-psychological puffery that the doctors who performed the research engaged in while engaging the press, all of which was presented with baited breath by the ‘oh so concerned for the kids’ MSM worldwide (our article focused on reports in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe).

Our parody took the form of a report on an analytic study that purported to demonstrate that scientists who receive moneys to perform studies from America’s “drug warring law enforcement/scientific agencies” have problems with emotion and decision making that were revealed in the doctor’s decisions to make claims that are not born out of their research study and are instead emotional appeals for ‘protecting our youth’ (which, obviously no one disagrees with) that are of the distinct character of those which have been made over the past 80 years by prohibitionists to help sustain the unfair and anti-science prohibition on the substance cannabis.

Today we find an analysis of the national reportage of the study and what its authors told credulous media the study demonstrates: “Does Researching Casual Marijuana Use Cause Brain Abnormalities?” wherein the author Lior Pachter, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler professor of computational biology at UC Berkeley and professor of mathematics and molecular and cellular biology with a joint appointment in computer science, in a causal effort – as opposed to a rigorous study, slammed the cannabis brain research as “quite possibly the worst paper I’ve read all year.”

Dr. Pachter breaks down his critique into 3 categories; flaws in the design of the study, flaws with regard presenting data, and that the researchers suggest correlation in their study amounts to causation.

The study’s design flaws, as analyzed by Pachter, include; the small sample size of the study from which the authors intuit the results that they reported to the press, and Pachter also questions the definition in the study of “casual user” stating that, for him an acknowledged non-cannabis user, smoking 30 joints a week (as one of the study’s participants admitted) seemed to be more than a casual cannabis user.

But beyond these criticisms, Pachter advised (as our parody analysts found) that the media statements of the researchers did not accurately describe the results of the research. One of the researchers (Dr. Hans Breiter, of Northwestern University) told the media in unequivocal terms; “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem; if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our Data directly says that is not the case.” After reviewing the research paper Pachter found that, “Breiter’s statement in the press is a lie.” Pachter states, “There is no evidence in the paper whatsoever, not even a tiny shred, that the users who were getting high once or twice a week were having any problems.”

Going deeper into the science behind the study, Pachter discovered that the findings reported by the researchers were not corrected to take into account data recorded in multiple tests. The study measured different aspects of the brains of the test subjects, including grey matter density, volume and shape. Multiple tests were taken by the researchers and brain volumes of the test subjects were estimated. Pachter says that the researchers “should have…correct(ed) the p-values computed for each type of analysis,” and not doing this led the researchers to report findings where “the extent of the testing was not properly accounted for.”

Additionally, and importantly, Pachter found that “many of the (study’s) results were not significant.” An example Pachter points to is a “volume analysis (that) showed no significant associations for any of the other four tested regions.” Pachter says that, in one of the brain volume tests, for the left nucleus accumbens, if the researchers removed the “outlier at a volume of over 800 mm3” the study would have possibly revealed no effect whatsoever (“flatten the line altogether”) in the brains of cannabis users…a theory that would be of interest to test, but, as Pachter points out in frustration, “the authors did not release any of their data.” (bold in original)

Further – and even more bizarre in an academic study, is that for some of the charts that the researchers use as examples in the study, “the authors did not report the p-values at all” or only reported them where “they were significant or not” and even in these instances “without correlation.” (italics in original)

And finally, Pachter took the researchers to task for pretending to the reporters that, out of all research ever performed, it is only in their cannabis study that the differences that they were able to measure can only be related to what they posit – cannabis use. Even mLaw’s ‘analysts’, who received their certificates in parody from far less well known institutions than Harvard, Northwestern and UMass, did actually point out to the researchers in our parody what they may have missed in their first college classes: “correlation does not prove causality”.

Pachter closes his critique by suggesting in all apparent seriousness; “I believe that scientists should be sanctioned for making public statements that directly contradict the content of their papers, as appears to be the case here.”

It goes without saying, the staff at mLaw are not scientists and claim no expertise at all regarding the study of the brain. What we can do, however, is read and our review of the articles that were widely and sensationally broadcast across the spectrum of MSM found that the doctors made statements that the study revealed data that the researchers themselves claimed they never studied.

The single biggest finding from this study, as we see it, is: we need more medical research on cannabis and politicians are standing in the way of this needed research.

But, the researchers’ first demand was not that President Obama must reschedule cannabis for medical research, as he (a never running for office again lame duck) has the power to do. And mLaw is not letting congress off the hook on this, but in the case of Obama, its one man and one action that is consciously not being taken. Instead, the doctors took their time to wax all Dr. Phil in the media interviews, making connections that simply are not supported by the study and that are also of the same tenor as the barrage of prohibitionist scare-talk we have heard since Washington and Colorado citizens voted to legalize cannabis – it is all standard Smart Approach BS.

The study seems significant and worthy of further research – but cannabis is scheduled as being of less value and more dangerous than heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Doctors can’t easily experiment with cannabis due to this listing on the federal schedule of drugs …think about that for a second, our leaders assert that cannabis and LSD are more dangerous and of less value than cocaine and heroin.

To be clear, there is one unequivocal finding from this study…whether you are a supporter of medical cannabis, support ending the prohibition of cannabis, or favor continuing the war on cannabis, we have to agree “more study is needed”, cannabis must be rescheduled immediately.

We find, however in the reportage of the brain measurement study on casual cannabis users that received so much attention in the MSM, that these doctors – who promised to do no harm – spend their energies broadcasting results that are not results that the research afforded and, moreover, are the kind of scare tactics that are used every day by appointees in the White House’s Office on Drug Control Policy, a White House that, in contradiction of scientists on the government’s payroll who have called for more cannabis study, in callous dismissal of mothers and fathers of children suffering from Epilepsy, in immoral support of un-equally applied drug laws as hundreds of thousands of our citizens have to live their lives under the stigma of a cannabis arrest or conviction, and (surprisingly for this particular White House) when, at a time when harsh economic realities are facing this nation, thousands of potential small businesses (and even the felonious banksters who pull Obama’s strings) stand to make boat loads of legally earned dollars should cannabis prohibition be ended federally, has steadfastly refused (for purely political reasons relating to Mr. Obama’s “presidential legacy”) to re-classify cannabis – at least to free up our scientists to perform needed research.

And, although our previous article on this matter was indeed a parody, we at mLaw have to ask ourselves to consider the motives behind all parties involved in the study, its mischaracterization by the researchers and its broad based uncritical boostering by our mainstream media.

What is known is that, in general, regular folks when listening to a doctor describe research, assume a whole lot of good faith on the part of the professional. In this case, sadly, what we find is that while science is science (whether one agrees with or likes what is revealed by scientific study), doctors, on the other hand are humans who can be objective or decide to misuse the good faith with which they are approached by regular citizens to spout propaganda and emotional appeals that are hardly scientific – for whatever reason, whether to support their own predeterminations or to kiss (as opposed to bite) the hand that feeds them and their research studies.