Published: Mon, 05 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500
Last Build Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:01:33 -0500
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0500If you want to buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer, you have to fill out Form 4473, which is aimed at determining whether you are legally allowed to own a firearm. A recent revision to the form by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) underlines how blithely the federal government strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights. "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" asks Question 11(e). In the latest version of Form 4473, which dealers are required to start using on January 16, that question is followed by a warning in bold type: "The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside." If you are one of the 68 million Americans who live in a state that has decided to allow recreational use of marijuana, or one of the 186 million who live in a state that recognizes marijuana as a medicine, you may have been under the impression that legalization makes cannabis consumption lawful. The ATF wants to disabuse you of that notion; hence the warning. "We were concerned that some buyers who use marijuana may read the 2012 language asking if they were an 'unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana' and erroneously say no because in that particular state, marijuana has been legalized," an ATF spokeswoman told The Denver Post last week. "Most dealers recognize that marijuana use prohibits people from purchasing firearms under federal law, but many members of the general public may not be as familiar with the Gun Control Act." Under that law, a cannabis consumer who possesses a gun (no matter where he got it) is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Likewise anyone who sells him a gun if has reason to know the buyer is a cannabis consumer. Falsely denying marijuana use on Form 4473 can get you up to five years. The rationale for this rule is risible. Last August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that banning gun sales to people who have medical marijuana cards is consistent with the Second Amendment because "empirical data and legislative determinations support a strong link between drug use and violence." The court did not actually cite any such evidence, but it did observe that "illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior." The same could be said of drinkers, but it seems unlikely that the 9th Circuit would uphold a law that restricted the Second Amendment to teetotalers. The appeals court also argued that cannabis consumers are "more likely to have negative interactions with law enforcement officers because they engage in criminal activity." It added that "they frequently make their purchases through black market sources who themselves frequently resort to violence." Both of those risks are byproducts of prohibition, and they do not apply to people who grow, buy, or consume marijuana in accordance with state law. The fact that those activities are still prohibited by the federal government does not mean the average cannabis consumer is apt to get into a shootout with DEA agents, let alone with the state-licensed retailer who sells him marijuana. The idea that marijuana makes people violent is a relic of the 1930s that has no relevance in determining who deserves to exercise the fundamental right of armed self-defense—a point the president-elect should recognize. Donald Trump's choice for attorney general may believe that "good people don't smoke marijuana," but Trump himself has repeatedly expressed a devotion to the Second Amendment that is inconsistent with disarming Americans based on such frivolous falsehoods. © Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.[...]
Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:00 -0500The strangers who supposedly were trying to get your kids high by passing out cannabis candy on Halloween apparently have moved online. Or so claims WANE, the CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The headline over the WANE story—which was reposted by WRIC, the ABC station in Richmond, Virginia—warns that "dealers [are] using THC-laced 'edibles' to attract young people." Reporter Angelica Robinson claims "marijuana dealers are targeting young people," that "much of it is done online," and that "buyers order the candies online and use them to get high discreetly." Jerri Lerch of the Allen County Drug and Alcohol Consortium tells Robinson that drug dealers "tweet targeted young people about the availability of attractive marijuana products." But neither Lerch nor Robinson presents any evidence of such online commerce in cannabis candies for kids. The genesis of the story was an incident that the Noble County Sheriff's Department last week described on Facebook as "a transaction involving suspicious lollipops" at West Noble High School in Ligonier. The post was accompanied by photographs of two cherry lollipops and the package from which they apparently came, which indicates they were made by 2 Baked Gerrls, an edible manufacturer that serves patients in Michigan, a neighboring state that allows medical use of marijuana. The statement from the sheriff's department says nothing about online sales, an idea that seems to have sprung from the combined imaginations of Lerch and Robinson. "They're getting them through some sort of black market," Lerch tells WANE. "That could be online or on the web, or some sort of physical transaction of some kind." It is no stretch to suggest that medical marijuana products from Michigan are sold "through some sort of black market" when they are purchased in Indiana, where marijuana is not legal for any purpose. But the rest, including the teenager-targeting tweets and the websites selling THC-infused treats to high school students, sounds like speculative fiction rather than news. Robinson compounds the deception with some bizarre scaremongering about marijuana edibles. "The small suckers could pack a big punch," she says. "Typically, edibles can contain anywhere between 70 and 100 percent of THC. Marijuana has just 17 to 30 percent." These numbers are nonsensical. A lollipop that was 100 percent THC would not be a lollipop; it would be pure THC. Even a product that was 70 percent THC would not have the taste, consistency, or appearance of a lollipop, which consists mostly of sugar. And if it were possible to create such a thing, a seven-gram lollipop that was 70 percent THC would contain 4,900 milligrams of marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient. The label on the 2 Baked Gerrls package indicates that it contains 50 milligrams of THC, or 25 milligrams per lollipop (assuming both pictured lollipops came from the same package). Such impossible claims about the THC content of marijuana edibles are more common than you might think. In an op-ed piece published last year, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, Sheriff Mark Overman averred that "'edibles,' in the form of candy, baked goods, and drinks, have [THC] levels as high as 90 percent." Now that Robinson has upped Overman's ante, we may soon see warnings that the THC content of some edibles exceeds 100 percent. [Via Dank Space; thanks to Joshua Hotchkin for the tip.][...]
Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0500On the same day Donald Trump was elected president, four states legalized marijuana for recreational use, while four others legalized or expanded access to medical marijuana. As a result of those ballot initiatives, most states now recognize marijuana as a medicine, and one in five Americans lives in a state that has decided to tolerate cannabis consumption without a doctor's note. During his campaign Trump said he supports medical marijuana but has concerns about broader legalization, a policy he nevertheless said states should be free to adopt. Trump's recently announced choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, casts doubt on those commitments. The Alabama Republican, a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general, is an old-fashioned drug warrior who pines for the days when Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign helped "create a hostility to drug use." He was outraged when President Obama conceded that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, and he recently claimed that "good people don't smoke marijuana." Sessions has repeatedly criticized the Obama administration's policy of tolerating state-authorized marijuana suppliers. During a 2009 Senate hearing, he complained that "Attorney General Holder has said federal authorities will no longer raid medical marijuana facilities in California, which is against U.S. law" and "contrary to the position taken by the Drug Enforcement Administration." At a hearing last April, Sessions bemoaned the message sent by marijuana legalization, which he said implies that "marijuana is not dangerous" and encourages teenagers to use it. "We need grownups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing to be legalized," he said. "The Department of Justice needs to be clear, and the president needs to assert some leadership." Now that Trump has picked Sessions to head the Justice Department, we may get a clearer idea of how far Sessions wants to go in pressing the point that "marijuana is not the kind of thing to be legalized." While medical marijuana suppliers are protected from the feds by a spending rider that is likely to be renewed, if given free rein Sessions could easily wreak havoc in the recreational industry. Every state-licensed marijuana business remains a criminal enterprise under federal law, subjecting its owners to the risk of prosecution and forfeiture. An anti-pot crusader at the helm of the Justice Department could make that risk salient again by raiding growers, manufacturers, and retailers, or just by threatening to do so. Sessions also could challenge state legalization in federal court, although he might not like the results even if he wins. While the DOJ might prevail in arguing that state licensing and regulation of cannabusinesses conflicts with federal law, it cannot force states to recriminalize what those businesses do, so the upshot of a successful lawsuit could be less government oversight of the industry. Any such interference by the DOJ would contradict Trump's commitment to marijuana federalism. "I really believe you should leave it up to the states," he said at a rally in Reno last year. "It should be a state situation…In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state." Most Americans agree with that approach. Recent national polls indicate that most Americans (60 percent, according to Gallup) think marijuana should be legal, while most Republicans continue to oppose legalization. But even among Republicans, most—70 percent, according to a CBS News poll conducted last April—think the feds should not try to override state decisions in this area. In other words, marijuana legalization is considerably more popular than Trump, who received less than 47 percent of the vote. Marijuana federalism is more popular still, and it is firmly rooted in conservative constitutional principles. Many conservatives are skeptical of Trump, who until his recent political makeover was known as a liberal New Yorker. Keeping his promise to respect st[...]
Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:05:00 -0500In December 2014, Josh Phillips' mother answered the phone to news no parent wants to hear. Her son, an epileptic high school senior and champion wrestler, was in the hospital. The whole Salmon High School wrestling team was waiting at Steele Memorial Medical Center when Jeanette and Gary Phillips got there. The team had been on its way home from a match at West Jefferson High, more than an hour away and out of cellphone range in the rugged backcountry of northeastern Idaho, when Josh Phillips suffered the worst seizure of his life. As the bus raced back to Salmon, Josh went in and out of consciousness. He stopped breathing at least once. "We thought we were going to lose him," recalls Jason Bruce, the team's coach. Josh had been diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 10 years old, but he'd been wrestling since he was much younger, following in the footsteps of his father and older brother. Josh was the best of the bunch. He'd never been pinned during his four years at Salmon High, and Bruce says Josh was a clear favorite to win the state championship at the end of his senior season. He never got the chance. After a frantic drive through the mountains, Bruce was finally able to call an ambulance to meet the bus and Josh made it to the hospital where he was stabilized. But the incident on the bus forced the school's hand, and the decision was made that Josh would no longer be allowed to travel with the team. It was too dangerous. Now, instead of dreaming of a championship, Josh is just hoping for a normal life. He's tried more than a dozen different medications and even underwent brain surgery. But the seizures that denied him a shot at a state title now prevent him from pursuing even the most mundane goals of the average 19-year-old. He can't go to college and probably won't be able to move out of his parents' house. He's not allowed to drive a car, and won't get permission until he can show doctors that he's having less than one seizure per month. With pharmaceutical and surgical treatments unsuccessful, the Phillips family and others in Idaho placed their hopes in the legalization of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, a form of medical marijuana. Though not guaranteed to work for everyone, CBD has been shown to be effective in controlling seizures in some epileptic patients. For that reason, it's been legalized in dozens of states as a medical treatment, including many states where more widespread uses of medical marijuana remain banned. In Idaho, a bill to allow people like Josh Phillips to access CBD oil was passed by the state legislature in 2015, only to be defeated by a group of powerful special interests—including cops, prosecutors, and pharmaceutical companies—with direct access to policy makers in Boise. Emails obtained by Reason reveal a behind-the-scenes effort organized by the state's Office of Drug Policy to derail the CBD legislation and, after it passed against the wishes of Gov. Butch Otter and his administration, to use executive authority to replace the bill with an alternative treatment program that has done nothing to help Josh Phillips or many other Idahoans suffering from seizures. In the middle of it all was a governor who had for years professed support for ending drug prohibition, only to turn his back when the opportunity came. Butch Otter: A History Of Supporting Pot Legalization Nearly 20 years before Josh Phillips was born, Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter was already pushing for marijuana to be legalized in Idaho. In 1978, the future governor was a 35-year-old two-term state lawmaker who was running as something of a radical upstart in the state's gubernatorial election. "If a person, of his own free will, wants to use marijuana, I question whether the government has any propriety in telling him he can't." —Butch Otter "If a person, of his own free will, wants to use marijuana, I question whether the government has any propriety in telling him he can't," Otter told Reason that year. "The government, in effect, is taking a[...]
Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:05:00 -0500
In 17 states where recreational and medical marijuana is still illegal, a marijuana-derived substance called cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, is available for use as a medical treatment. Only one governor in the country, Idaho's Butch Otter, has blocked the passage of a CBD oil bill.
In a new Reason web feature, Eric Boehm takes a look at Otter's decison to veto Idaho's CBD oil bill in March 2015. The bill would have provided a small measure of hope for Idahoans suffering from chronic, untreatable seizures—people like Josh Phillips, a star high school wrestler who had to give up his dream of a state championship when his seizures became too severe to control.
With pharmaceutical and surgical treatments unsuccessful, the Phillips family and others in Idaho placed their hopes in the legalization of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, a form of medical marijuana. Though not guaranteed to work for everyone, CBD has been shown to be effective in controlling seizures in some epileptic patients. For that reason, it's been legalized in dozens of states as a medical treatment, including many states where more widespread uses of medical marijuana remain banned.
In Idaho, a bill to allow people like Josh Phillips to access CBD oil was passed by the state legislature in 2015, only to be defeated by a group of powerful special interests—including cops, prosecutors, and pharmaceutical companies—with direct access to policy makers in Boise. Emails obtained by Reason reveal a behind-the-scenes effort organized by the state's Office of Drug Policy to derail the CBD legislation and, after it passed against the wishes of Gov. Butch Otter and his administration, to use executive authority to replace the bill with an alternative treatment program that has done nothing to help Josh Phillips or many other Idahoans suffering from seizures.
With the threat of another veto hanging over Boise, even lawmakers who supported the CBD bill in 2015 are reluctant to take up the issue again when the legislature reconvenes in early 2017. More than half the country (including every state that borders Idaho) has some form of medical or recreational marijuana laws, but the drug warriors are still running the show in Boise.
Wed, 09 Nov 2016 06:30:00 -0500Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton was not the only big surprise produced by yesterday's elections. Even those of us who were rooting for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots this year did not expect so many of them to pass. Yesterday voters made marijuana legal for recreational use in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) and approved or expanded medical access in four more (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota). The only loss was in Arizona, where voters who very narrowly approved medical use in 2010 declined to take the further step of making marijuana legal just for fun. The margins of victory were also surprising. After falling short just two years ago, a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana got 71 percent of the vote in Florida, 11 points more than the supermajority it needed. In California, where legalization lost by seven points in 2010, the yeas beat the nays by almost 12 points. The difference in Nevada was more than eight points, which was especially delightful in the home state of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who provided 97 percent of the $3.5 million raised by the opposition campaign and spent another $140 million on the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a longtime opponent of marijuana prohibition that switched sides under its new ownership. In North Dakota, where the last known survey on the question found that 47 percent of likely voters thought marijuana should be legal for medical use, an initiative allowing patients with "debilitating medical conditions" to obtain cannabis from "compassion centers" seemed like a good idea to 64 percent of the electorate. The consequences of this nearly complete sweep were dramatic. Prior to yesterday, four states with a combined population of 17 million (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) were willing to allow cannabis consumption without a doctor's note. Now the number of pot-tolerant states has doubled, while their population has nearly quadrupled and includes one in five Americans. The long overdue conversion of California, which by itself accounts for 12 percent of the country's population and 15 percent of its economic output, carries special political and cultural weight. We now have a continuous weed-friendly zone on the West Coast and the first two oases of tolerance in the East. Yesterday's elections also gave us the first two medical marijuana states in the South and increased the number of states with such laws from 25 to 28, meaning states that refuse to let patients have whatever relief cannabis can give them are now in the minority. These changes reflect growing popular support for legalizing marijuana, which according to Gallup hit a record level of 60 percent this year. That trend, in turn, reflects wide and growing familiarity with a plant that Americans generally have found to be much less scary than their government portrayed it. The next step is for that government to go beyond the uncertain forbearance the Obama administration has offered by actively accommodating states that have rejected marijuana prohibition. Among other things, that means changing federal law so that it no longer threatens or obstructs state-legal marijuana businesses, as legislators such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) have been urging for years. President-Elect Trump (God help us) has suggested he is open to such accommodation. While personally frowning on legal pot (and disavowing his previous support for legalizing all drugs), Trump says marijuana policy "should be a state issue," which also happens to be what the Constitution requires. "Trump has clearly and repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws," says Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell, "and we fully expect him to follow through on those promises, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because these reforms are broadly supported by a growing majority of voters. Reversing course and going[...]
Wed, 09 Nov 2016 01:43:00 -0500
(image) Yesterday Montana voters approved a ballot initiative aimed at expanding patients' access to medical marijuana, which the state legislature sharply restricted in 2011. With almost all ballots counted, the medical marijuana measure, I-182, was favored by 55 percent of voters.
Montana voters approved medical marijuana in 2004 by a wide margin. But in 2011 the legislature cracked down on medical marijuana suppliers, limiting them to three patients each, banning medical marijuana ads, and requiring state review of doctors who recommend marijuana to more than 25 patients in a given year.
I-182 allows production and distribution of marijuana by state-licensed providers for treatment of specified medical conditions and others subsequently added by the legislature. It eliminates the caps of three patients per provider and 25 per doctor, adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions, and eliminates the requirement of a second doctor's opinion for patients seeking marijuana for relief of chronic pain.
"This win happened because Montanans have seen medical marijuana in action for years, and they know it works," says Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell. "Hopefully the politicians who foolishly tried to eliminate the medical cannabis providers that serve so many patients will hear the message voters just sent."
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 23:31:00 -0500
(image) Today voters in Arkansas said yes to medical marijuana, approving an initiative that doubles the number of Southern states allowing patients to use the drug for symptom relief. With 62 percent of precincts reporting, the medical marijuana initiative, Issue 6, was favored by 52 percent of voters.
Issue 6, which raises the total number of medical marijuana states to 28, allows the use of cannabis by patients with any of 12 specified diseases or with severe nausea, wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain, seizures, or muscles spasms caused by "a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment." The initiative authorizes the Arkansas Department of Health to add other medical conditions to the list. Unlike a dueling initiative that was disqualified from the ballot late last month, Issue 6 does not allow home cultivation by patients or caregivers.
Arkansas voters narrowly rejected an earlier medical marijuana initiative in 2012. Issue 6 was opposed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (a former DEA administrator), Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, and U.S. Sen. John Boozman, all Republicans. Supporters of the initiative raised nearly four times as much as opponents.
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 22:40:00 -0500
(image) Today voters in North Dakota approved a ballot initiative that allows medical use of marijuana, raising the number of states with such laws to 27. With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Initiated Statutory Measure 5 was favored by 64 percent of voters.
Measure 5 allows the use of marijuana for treatment of specified "debilitating medical conditions" and others added by the North Dakota Department of Health. It authorizes production and distribution of medical marijuana by state-registered, nonprofit "compassion centers." The initiative allows patients located more than 40 miles from the nearest licensed supplier to grow up to eight plants in "an enclosed, locked facility."
Before today's vote, the most recent relevant polling in North Dakota came from 2014, when a survey of likely voters found that 47 percent thought marijuana should be legal for medical use.
"Measure 5 is going to improve the quality of life for many North Dakotans," said Anita Morgan of North Dakota Compassionate Care, the committee that promoted the initiative. "There is no longer any doubt that cannabis is effective in the treatment of several debilitating medical conditions. It can alleviate the nausea that cancer patients experience as they undergo chemotherapy. It can dramatically reduce or even eliminate seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy. And it can serve as a much safer alternative to prescription drugs that are often prescribed to patients who are dealing with severe and chronic pain."
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 20:28:00 -0500
(image) It looks like voters have made Florida the 26th state and the first in the South to allow medical use of marijuana. With more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, Florida's medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 2, was favored by 71 percent of voters, 11 points more than needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
Amendment 2 recognizes marijuana as a treatment for 10 specified conditions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also allows doctors to recommend marijuana for patients with "other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated."
The amendment takes effect on January 3, after which the Florida Department of Health has six months to issue regulations for patients, caregivers (who help patients obtain and use marijuana), and medical marijuana treatment centers (which produce and dispense the drug). Home cultivation is not permitted, and the department is charged with setting presumptive possession limits for patients. It is supposed to start issuing identification cards to qualifying patients and caregivers within nine months, and if it fails to do so a doctor's certification will authorize access to medical marijuana.
In 2014 a similar initiative, also known as Amendment 2, fell about two points short of the 60 percent supermajority it needed. This year's version has a narrower definition of "debilitating medical condition" and clarifies the requirement for obtaining consent from parents of patients younger than 18. As in 2014, the top financial supporter of Amendment 2 was Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a major Democratic donor, while the top financial supporter the opposition campaign was casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major Republican donor and ardent pot prohibitionist who hopes to expand his business into Florida. But while opponents of medical marijuana spent almost as much as supporters in 2014, they were outspent almost 2 to 1 this year.
A law that took effect at the beginning of last year allows the use of low-THC, noncombusted marijuana by Florida residents with cancer or "a physical medical condition that chronically products symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms." Amendment 2 applies to a wider range of conditions, give patients access to high-THC marijuana, and lets them smoke it.
Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell calls passage of Amendment 2 "a major tipping point," noting that "a majority of states in the U.S. now have laws allowing patients to find relief with medical marijuana, and these protections and programs are no longer concentrated in certain regions of the country like the West and Northeast." He adds that "it looks like medical cannabis will get more votes [in Florida] tonight than whoever ends up winning the presidential and U.S. Senate races, and that shows just how mainstream this issue has become."
Mon, 07 Nov 2016 08:30:00 -0500Voters in five states will decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, while four states could legalize or expand access to medical marijuana. Polling is strongest in California, where general legalization is on the ballot, and Florida, which seems to be on the verge of becoming the first state in the Southeast to allow medical use. The latest survey indicates that Proposition 64, California's legalization initiative, is supported by 58 percent of likely voters. One of them is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who revealed her preference on Friday. In 2010—when, according to Gallup, 46 percent of Americans thought marijuana should be legal, compared to 60 percent today—Pelosi declined to take a position on Proposition 19, the last attempt to legalize marijuana in California. At least six other members of California's congressional delegation, including two Republicans, support this year's initiative. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who opposed legalization in 2010, says she is inclined to vote for it this year. Not so Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a diehard prohibitionist who warns that Proposition 64 will cause increases in underage consumption and traffic accidents. Feinstein seems to be the only member of Congress from California who has come out against the initiative. In contrast with 2010, newspaper editorials are also leaning in favor of legalization—15 to 10, by Ballotpedia's count. In addition to California, where Proposition 64 has received majority support in every poll taken this year, legalization looks likely in Massachusetts, where the latest poll puts support at 62 percent, raising the average for October from 52 percent to 55 percent. Legalization looks iffier in Maine, where the latest survey puts support at 50 percent, down from about 53 percent in two earlier polls. Support for legalization also hovers around 50 percent in Arizona and Nevada. Among the four states with medical marijuana on their ballots tomorrow, passage still looks likely in Florida, where 71 percent of voters favored Amendment 2 (which needs 60 percent to pass) in the most recent poll. In Arkansas, where one of two medical marijuana inititiatives was disqualified late last month, the remaining measure, Issue 6, was supported by 50 percent of voters in the latest survey. A Montana measure aimed at expanding patients' access to marijuana was favored by just 44 percent of voters in a survey last month, while there are still no polling data on North Dakota's medical marijuana measure.[...]
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 06:30:00 -0400The Drug Free America Foundation, which is fighting a medical marijuana initiative in Florida by warning that it will lead to cannabis candy in trick-or-treat bags, has latched onto a bogus report of such an incident in Illinois to show the threat is more than a figment of prohibitionists' imaginations. "The cruel and unfortunate incident highlights the very real dangers legal marijuana has on children," the organization says in a press release published yesterday. "These children were intentionally targeted by adults that were not their parents with the malicious intent of poisoning them." Calvina Fay, the foundation's executive director, elaborates on the threat to trick-or-treaters. "This shows that the potential for children accidently ingesting marijuana is a real danger," she says. "It also shows that this is not just a problem for children who have parents that use marijuana and leave it unsecured and accessible around the house and it is not something we can simply blame on bad parenting. This makes it clear that children, even with the best parenting, can be exposed to marijuana. These children were unsuspecting and taken advantage of by a mean-spirited person or persons with no regard for their safety or well-being." Actually, this incident shows none of those things, because it involved Japanese candy that the Bureau County Sheriff's Office misrepresented as THC-laced treats. The "small pictures of cannabis leaves" that Sheriff James Reed perceived on the wrappers of Crunch Choco Bars were actually small pictures of maple leaves, a symbol of the Japanese candy brand Iroha Kaede (a kind of maple tree). And unless Iroha Kaede is secretly doping its Japanese customers, the field test that supposedly showed the candy bars contained marijuana was erroneous, as such tests often are. In an interview with U.S. News reporter Steven Nelson yesterday, a spokesman for the sheriff's office was not quite ready to concede the embarrassing mistake. "I'm not making any official statement right now," said Sgt. Gary Becket. "A follow-up press release will be sent out once the final lab testing has been done." It has been two decades since California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use, and in that time two dozen states have followed suit. Four of them have also legalized marijuana for recreational use. Yet Sheriff Reed's Crunch Choco Bar confusion is the best example prohibitionists can find to substantiate their concern that strangers with candy are trying to get your kids high by passing off marijuana edibles as ordinary Halloween treats. The complete lack of actual cases, of course, does not stop opponents of legalization from continuing to warn parents about the mythical menace of marijuana in trick-or-treat bags, as illustrated by this TV spot from Nevada: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UqggDl4Xo64" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">[...]
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 06:30:00 -0400According to the latest American Values Survey, conducted last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, a record 63 percent of Americans favor "making the use of marijuana legal," up from 43 percent in 2012 and 44 percent last year. That result, which was released on Tuesday, comes a week after Gallup reported that 60 percent of Americans think "the use of marijuana should be made legal," a record for that survey, and two weeks after the Pew Research Center reported that 57 percent of respondents in its latest survey endorsed that proposition, yet another record. But as Washington Post drug policy blogger Christopher Ingraham notes, these results do not necessarily signal a clean sweep for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots a week from Tuesday, since the surveys use national samples and do not ask about production and distribution of cannabis. A look at the latest initiative-specific polling suggests that marijuana will be legalized for recreational use in California, Maine, and Massachusetts, while Florida will become the first Southern state to recognize marijuana as a medicine. General legalization looks iffier in Arizona and Nevada, while medical marijuana intiatives seem headed for defeat in Arkansas and Montana. A lack of recent polling makes the outcome in North Dakota harder to predict. Here is the breakdown: Recreational Marijuana Arizona: Support for Proposition 205 in three polls conducted since my last update on October 6 averages 48 percent. California: Support for Proposition 64 in two new polls averages more than 55 percent. The average for all eight polls conducted so far this year is 59 percent. Maine: Two polls conducted in March and September found about 53 percent of voters favor Question 1. Massachusetts: A new poll, completed last week, puts support for Question 4 at 55 percent. The average for September and October, based on four polls, is 53 percent. Nevada: Support for Question 2 in two new polls averages 50 percent, slightly less than the seven-poll average for the year. Medical Marijuana Arkansas: A new poll, conducted last week, puts support for Issue 6 and Issue 7 (both of which would legalize medical use) at 45 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Florida: Amendment 2 needs approval from 60 percent of voters to win. A new poll, sponsored by the Yes on 2 campaign and completed last week, puts support at 74 percent, about the same as the three-poll average for September. The 2016 average, based on 12 polls, is about 70 percent. Montana: A new poll, completed on October 12, puts support for I-182, which would expand patient access to marijuana, at 44 percent. North Dakota: I still can't find polling specific to Initiated Statutory Measure 5. According to a 2014 poll, 47 percent of likely voters thought marijuana should be legal for recreational use. UPDATE: On Thursday the Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified Issue 7, the more permissive of that state's two medical marijuana initiatives. The court said 12,000 of the signatures collected for Issue 7 were invalid because the measure's supporters had failed to comply with state rules for registering petition circulators.[...]
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:15:00 -0400In 2014, the last time Florida voters considered a medical marijuana ballot initiative, opponents warned that doctor-approved pot cookies would abet rape. This year anti-pot groups are warning that cannabis candy made for patients could be surreptitiously handed out to children on Halloween, despite the fact that there are no confirmed cases of anything like that happening in the two decades since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. "It is almost impossible for anyone, let alone a child, to tell a marijuana gummy bear or cookie from the real thing," said Calvina Fay, director of the Drug Free America Foundation, at a press conference on Monday, a week before Halloween and two weeks before voters decide the fate of Amendment 2, which would allow the use of marijuana for the treatment of eight specified diseases as well as "other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated." The No on 2 group Don't Let Florida Go to Pot says "Florida children who go door to door for candy on Halloween may one day be at risk of receiving edible marijuana products if Amendment 2 comes to pass." The group claims "it's a very real scenario playing out in states like California, Washington and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized." The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) has joined other opponents of Amendment 2 in hyping the mythical menace of marijuana edibles in trick-or-treat bags. "After other states approved legislation," said FSA President Jerry Demings, the Orange County sheriff, "they saw a surge in marijuana edible products that are clearly attractive to children, advertised and marketed in commonly recognized edibles such as lollipops, candy bars, Pot-Tarts, and Krondike Bars." What those states did not see, however, was a surge in tots tripping on THC-tainted treats they got from sneaky strangers on Halloween. The hazard described by Fay and Demings did not materialize in Colorado after medical marijuana became legal there in 2001, after dispensaries began proliferating in 2009, or after state-licensed recreational sales started in 2014. If surreptitious dosing of trick-or-treaters with cannabis candy has happened in any of the two dozen other states where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use, it seems to have escaped the attention of police and the press. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Demings "could not offer examples of children receiving laced Halloween candy in states where medical marijuana is legal." Miami New Times noted that "zero cases" have been documented in Colorado or Washington, the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That's hardly surprising, since pranksters have little incentive to substitute expensive marijuana edibles for cheap Halloween candy, especially since they would not get to witness the results, which would kick in up to two hours after ingestion. The fear of cannabis-infused Halloween candy, which goes back a decade at least and has been used for political purposes in the past (against California's Proposition 19 in 2010, for instance), is a variation on older urban legends about poison, needles, razor blades, and glass shards lurking in trick-or-treat bags. Last Halloween hysterical cops and yellow journalists put a new twist on these stories, warning parents that candy-colored MDMA tablets might be mixed in with their kids' Jolly Rancher gummies and miniature peanut butter cups.[...]
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:25:00 -0400There isn't much to divine from John Podesta's hacked emails (published earlier this week by WikiLeaks) when it comes to Hillary Clinton's supposed evolution on marijuana legalization. But in an email circulated among senior Clinton campaign staffers concerned about the content of Clinton's paid corporate speeches and appearances—which includes an 80-page attachment detailing "a lot of policy positions that we should give an extra scrub"—a brief portion of Clinton's Q & A with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns in 2014 shows Clinton's staunch opposition to any form of marijuana legalization: URSULA BURNS: So long means thumbs up, short means thumbs down; or long means I support, short means I don't. I'm going to start with — I'm going to give you about ten long-shorts. SECRETARY CLINTON: Even if you could make money on a short, you can't answer short. URSULA BURNS: You can answer short, but you got to be careful about letting anybody else know that. They will bet against you. So legalization of pot? SECRETARY CLINTON: Short in all senses of the word. (emphasis added) That was in March 2014, and even if it's the briefest of exchanges, it says something that the Clinton campaign suspected this message of staunch prohibitionism needed "an extra scrub." Clinton was on the record opposing medical marijuana in 2007—she supported "research," but not decriminalization—but just three months after saying she opposed marijuana legalization "in all senses of the word," she said on a CNN town hall that "there should be availability (of marijuana) under appropriate circumstances." She also said she would allow Colorado and Washington—which had just fully legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults—to serve as "laboratories of democracy" and reserved the right to offer her opinion on the subject at an unspecified later date. Also in 2014, she offered the standard "gateway drug" trope as a defense of prohibition in a KPCC radio interview: I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can't be a total absence of law enforcement, but what I want to see, and I think we should be much more focused on this, is really doing good research so we know what it is we're approving. The Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016—who had to "evolve" a number of her long-held policies and supposed principles just to make it through her bruising primary battle with Bernie Sanders—now fully supports both medical marijuana and the removal of the drug from the DEA's Schedule I classification. The question is, which Hillary Clinton should be believed? The lifelong drug warrior who as recently as 2011 seemed to misunderstand both prohibition and supply-and-demand when she said drug legalization was an impossibility "because there is just too much money in it"? Or the chastened Democratic presidential nominee hoping to energize the youth vote and perhaps even convince some libertarians she can be trusted in her promises regarding criminal justice reform? src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TXLkQVcpjmY" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">[...]