Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vermont Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

A bill that would create a system of state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries passed the Vermont Senate Friday on a 25-4 vote, but not before being amended to limit patients' ability to grow their own. The bill, Senate 17, is backed by Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and now heads for the House.

Vermont could be the next medical marijuana dispensary state. (Image via
In order to assure passage, bill sponsors accepted amendments limiting patients to registering with only one dispensary and barring patients registered with a dispensary from growing their own or obtaining medical marijuana from anyone other than the dispensary. Dispensaries would be regulated by the Department of Public Safety.

"We will protect patients by providing a legal source," Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham) told her colleagues during debate.

Sen. Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) recalled how his mother had asked him as a college student to procure marijuana for an aunt dying of cancer. He did so, but it meant he risked arrest and other negative consequences, he said. Vermont's current law puts patients in a similar bind, he said.

"For us to say we have sanctioned medical marijuana but will not provide legal access to that drug strikes me as not only potentially painful for families that are involved in these things, but also surreal," Baruth said.

Not everyone supported the bill. "I'm still amazed something illegal under federal guidelines is being made legal," said Sen. Richard Mazzo (D-Grand Isle/Chittenden)," before voting against it.

"This dispensary bill in addition to requiring our state's primary law enforcement agency to support misdemeanor illegal activity, on the federal level by having dispensaries of this type we now involve them in regulating and overseeing what essentially is a felony under federal law," said Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin).

But those sentiments were a distinct minority Friday. Now, with the clock ticking on the legislature session, the question is whether the bill can move through the House before the session ends.
United States

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jamaica to Look Again at Decriminalizing Marijuana

Ten years ago, Jamaica's government-appointed National Commission on Ganja produced a report calling for marijuana decriminalization, which the Jamaican government, under pressure from the US, promptly forgot about. But now, the government of Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced that it will again review those recommendations.

The Jamaican government just might give this Rastaman something else to smile about. (Image via Wikimedia)
According to the Associated Press, the decision was announced Monday in Kingston. Six cabinet ministers will review the 2001 report.

That report, which was authored by academics and physicians, found that pot smoking was "culturally entrenched" in the island nation and that most moderate users suffered no ill effects. While it called for decriminalization, ominous rumblings from the US Embassy in Kingston at the time ensured that the notion died a quiet death.

Ganja has broad -- although not complete -- public acceptance in Jamaica, where it is considered a sacrament by adherents of Rastafarianism. But its possession or cultivation is illegal under Jamaican law.

The Rev. Webster Edwards, who was a commission member, told the Associated Press Tuesday he was relieved that the report would be reviewed by cabinet members and that he hoped the review would eventually lead to loosening the marijuana laws. That would require legislative action.

"There have been many persons who have been lifelong smokers of ganja who have not moved to harder drugs at all," Edwards said. "Decriminalizing very, very small quantities will allow persons not to get strikes against them in the justice system."

The US has long worked with Jamaican authorities to eradicate marijuana cultivation and smuggling from Jamaica to the US. Embassy officials told the AP Tuesday that they did not know why the Jamaican government was taking up the issue, but that it was an internal affair.

"Whatever the impetus, it's an internal Jamaican issue, and we therefore don't comment on either the debate or the outcome," Embassy spokeswoman Yolonda Kerney said.

Has enough changed in the past decade for the Jamaican government to actually move forward on the ganja commission recommendations this time? Has enough changed for Washington to not interfere? Let's hope so.


You'd think Jamaica would have decriminalized it by now.

Stoner convo.

(2:05:20 AM) Me: haha is that a sativa or indica
(2:07:05 AM) Adrian: sativa i think
(2:07:07 AM) Adrian: ROFL
(2:07:16 AM) Adrian: the face my bro just did was epic
(2:07:17 AM) Adrian: hahah
(2:07:22 AM) Adrian: he thought i didnt have any weed
(2:07:24 AM) Me: lol cus he knows ur baked?
(2:07:29 AM) Adrian: and i threw my 1oz bag at him
(2:07:32 AM) Me: ahahaha
(2:07:36 AM) Adrian: his face just turned like
(2:07:37 AM) Adrian: :OOOOOO
(2:07:39 AM) Adrian: LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(2:07:40 AM) Adrian: HAHA!
(2:07:44 AM) Me: rofl hes happy?
(2:07:47 AM) Adrian: yeah
(2:07:49 AM) Adrian: hahahh
(2:07:50 AM) Me: nicee
(2:07:52 AM) Me: dat stoner

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Do Cops Hate Hemp?
The effort to legalize hemp farming in California is heating up again, and unfortunately, law enforcement interests are still doing everything in their power to stand in the way:
Last week the California Narcotics Officers' and Police Chiefs Associations announced that they oppose Senator Mark Leno's hemp farming bill, SB 676. Their opposition letters were sent less than 24 hours before the hearing in Agriculture Committee and featured incorrect and outdated arguments against the bill. (Vote Hemp)

There's nothing too surprising about that, but it continues to amaze me that opposing hemp – which is used to make just about anything besides drugs – would actually be considered a political priority for the law enforcement lobby. Who in their right mind would even bothering making a scene over something like this?
The answer is John Lovell, the Sacramento lobbyist for both law enforcement groups. Fortunately Vote Hemp attended the hearing in force, thanks to your support, and we were ready to counter his tired old claims that hemp farming was somehow going to make life difficult for law enforcement. In fact, Lovell was on the defensive and ended up being removed from the witness table by the Sergeant at Arms during the hearing due to repeatedly interrupting other witnesses!

Wow, that sounds like an instant classic. Let's please get this up on YouTube if anyone has it, because this guy has been a nuisance for quite some time and hasn't received the recognition he deserves for his deranged drug war demagoguery.

The bottom line is that hemp is food, not drugs. If you have a problem with hemp, you're anti-food, and the very notion of being anti-food is so staggeringly absurd, it could only emerge from the perverted fantasies of paranoid, overzealous drug warriors.

They are actually claiming that allowing hemp farming would complicate the ever-so-effective methods by which they've been stopping people from growing pot across California. And this is all based on the theory that people will hide marijuana plants in their hemp fields, which would almost makes sense except that cross pollination would turn their sour diesel into a granola bush.

Leaving aside all the other reasons that marijuana prohibition promotes widespread waste, suffering, and idiocy, the simple fact that a healthy food plant is banned because it looks like pot is so intellectually and economically devastating that undoing this one insane injustice would by itself constitute sufficient grounds for making marijuana legal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


HAPPY 420!!

Some fine medical cannabis nuggs.

The Politics of Incarceration Will Have to Change When the Money Runs Out

Reducing incarceration rates is a hottopic this month as state governments desperately seek to decrease spending. It's an important and encouraging trend, but one that gets predictably sidelined when certain interests exert malicious influence over the process. This example from Indiana pretty much sums it up:
A criminal justice reform bill that Gov. Mitch Daniels hoped would save more than $1 billion by reducing the number of people held in prison is headed to the Senate floor.

But the bill, approved 8-2 by a Senate committee Monday, has changed so much because of pressure from prosecutors that it's no longer clear whether it will save any money in the long term. [Indianapolis Star]

It should come as a surprise to no one that prosecutors -- who've worked tirelessly to create this problem -- would vigorously oppose any effort to fix it. Their livelihood revolves around the concept that it's good to have lots of people locked up, and that we're lucky to have these bankruptcy-inducing incarceration costs because if we didn't, it would mean all those bad people were still on the streets forcing us to buy drugs from them.

Still, it's generally getting easier for our political culture to agree in principle with the notion that we're keeping far too many people behind bars at far too great a cost. That much is obvious, but the path that brought us here has also resulted in a massive criminal justice infrastructure that's become self-aware and lobbies aggressively on its own behalf. Accordingly, we've now entered a bizarre debate in which almost everyone feigns agreement about what must be done, but they just aren't actually doing it.
Obama's federal drug control budget maintains a Bush-era disparity devoting nearly twice as many resources to punishment as it does for treatment and prevention, despite his saying less than three weeks ago that, “We have to think more about drugs as a public health problem," which requires "shifting resources." [LEAP]

It's a stark hypocrisy, made possible in part by the fact that Obama's rhetoric of reform inevitably rings louder in the press than the reality of boring budgetary figures. For all the progress that's been made towards popularizing the idea that our jails aren't the best place for many who currently reside there, it's impossible to carve out cost-savings without shrinking the output of the factory that our criminal justice system has become. This requires admitting that certain practices are harmful, or at least unnecessary, and ultimately eliminating jobs right and left within a powerful industry that will threaten the public with rape and murder if they don’t get their way.

For better or worse, real progress towards resolving this enormous mess will take place not because politicians and prison profiteers voluntarily admit the error of their ways. It will happen when there literally exists no other option. When the inevitability of ever-increasing, plainly unsustainable incarceration costs becomes simply unbearable, the alternative approaches to which we've paid considerable lip service over the years will finally be given a chance to deliver on their promise. That's what has to happen, and when it does, even the most self-interested scumbags in this debate will eventually be found claiming disingenuously that they supported reform all along.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Czechs Ban New Synthetic Drugs, Salvia, Ketamine

The Czech Parliament has moved to ban some 33 synthetic substances now being sold in the country, including synthetic cannabinoids and mephedrone, which is often marketed as bath salts and has stimulant effects similar to cocaine or amphetamines. Also included in the prohibitionist legislation is salvinorin A, the active ingredient in salvia divinorum, and the weird hallucinogen ketamine.

packaged synthetics (image via
The European Union banned mephedrone last November, whilethe US DEA banned synthetic cannabinoids effective March 1. The DEA considers mephedrone a drug of interest, but has yet to ban it. About 20 US states have banned synthetic cannabinoids, with action pending in others this year, while similar moves against mephedrone in the states are just getting underway.

The Czech Senate voted 67-0 Wednesday to approve the legislation, which amends the Czech drug law. The House passed the bill last month. According to the Prague Daily Monitor, President Vaclav Klaus is expected to sign the bill into the law before the end of this month.

Some senators worried that rushing the legislation into effect would not allow merchants to get rid of their supplies in time, but that concern fell on deaf ears. Deputy Pavel Bem of the governing Civic Democrats, a sponsor of the legislation, argued that the ban should go into effect as quickly as possible.

The Czech government decriminalized drug possession
 in personal use amounts in January 2010. It is unclear how these newly criminalized substances fit into the decriminalization scheme or whether personal use amounts for them have been set.
Czech Republic

Saturday, April 16, 2011

If "No one goes to jail for marijuana," why keep it illegal?

There are so many stupid arguments against reforming marijuana laws that one could be driven to madness attempting to enumerate them, but there's certainly a place on the list for the claim that decriminalization is pointless because nobody gets punished for pot anyway:
Deputy House Republican Leader Themis Klarides of Derby doesn’t like the idea either. She argues that very few people are actually sent to prison in Connecticut for having less than an ounce of pot. “There are 10 different programs they can enter right now to help them stay out of jail,” she says. [Hartford Advocate]

Well, that's a start, but if you've got 10 different programs to keep marijuana users out of jail, maybe it's time to consider not arresting them in the first place. Everyone, apparently including you, seems to agree that locking these people up is just insane, so what purpose is served by a maintaining a penalty that no one wants to see enforced?

The whole concept of opposing simple decriminalization of marijuana is so devoid of rationality that virtually anyone who seeks to defend that position will be found arguing the following:

1. We must continue punishing people for marijuana, otherwise the kids will think it's ok and life as we know it will descend into a smoldering abyss.

2. We haven't actually been punishing people that much for marijuana.

Variations on these two equally preposterous and irreconcilable propositions largely encapsulate the case against decriminalizing marijuana, and you can't help but marvel at the straight-faced spokespeople who remain committed to rejecting incoherently even the most basic possible reform to our marijuana laws.