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Jeff Sessions Claims Marijuana Only "Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 19:59

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again displayed his ignorance about drugs Wednesday as he claimed that marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than heroin. In the same speech, he acknowledged rising heroin and prescription opioid overdose death levels, but failed to note that no one dies from overdosing on marijuana.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Heroin produces physical addiction and is linked to thousands of overdose drug deaths each year. Marijuana does not produce physical addiction, and although it may lead to psychological dependency for a small percentage of users, the dependency rate is much lower than it is even for users of alcohol and tobacco, both of which are more dangerous than marijuana.

Sessions' uninformed claim is likely to increase jitters in the country's nascent legal marijuana industry as it confronts an attorney general whose rhetoric so far has strongly suggested he would like to crack down on legal weed -- although he has yet to take any concrete steps to do so.

Sessions made the claim in prepared remarks for a speech to state, local, and federal law enforcement in Richmond, Virginia. The long-time foe of marijuana and marijuana law reform again sketched his stance toward pot, saying "life-wrecking dependency" on marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than heroin addiction.

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana -- so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

Sessions would not be so "astonished" at the notion that access to marijuana lead to declines in opioid overdose deaths if he actually followed the field. At least three recent studies have found a link: A 2014 Johns Hopkins study found that states with medical marijuana laws have a 25% lower opioid death rate than other states; a 2015 RAND study found a decline in opioid deaths of between 16% and 31% in states that had medical marijuana dispensaries; and a 2016 Health Affairs study found that doctors in medical marijuana states wrote fewer opioid prescriptions for Medicaid patients.

Actual science notwithstanding, Sessions suggested he was prepared to embark on a 21st Century version of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" and the "this is your brain on drugs" anti-drug propaganda campaigns of the 1980s:

In the '80s and '90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse.

But if Sessions wants to educate Americans on "the terrible truth" about drugs, he should probably start with himself. An attorney general who cannot recognize the difference between marijuana and heroin is not one who is fit to pronounce on such matters.

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CN ON: Film Festival Takes On Tough Topic

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 07:00
Sentinel Review, 15 Mar 2017 - Young filmmakers in Oxford County will have the chance to take on a tough topic: The effects of drugs and substance abuse. The Oxford Drug Awareness Committee (ODAC) is asking young people between the ages of 14 to 24 across Oxford County to make and submit a short three-minute video that illustrates the effects of substance use relating to one of four topics: Overdose, alcohol, marijuana and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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CN ON: Owner Of Busted Cannabis Dispensary Pleads Guilty To Two

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 07:00
Northumberland Today, 15 Mar 2017 - COBOURG - The owner of a full service pot dispensary store that was busted last year pleaded guilty to two charges in February in Cobourg court. South Shore Wellness - Full Service Cannabis Dispensary, which was located at 8987 County Road 45 in Roseneath, was busted on Aug. 17, 2016 by members of the Ontario Provincial Police Central East Drug Unit, assisted by Northumberland OPP.
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CN ON: Marijuana Legislation In Spring - MP

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 07:00
North Bay Nugget, 15 Mar 2017 - 'We'd rather take our time and do it right than rush into something and regret it later' Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota expects to see legislation this spring to legalize marijuana. The challenge, Rota says, is "making sure we get it right.
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CN AB: City Staff Have Pot On The Brain

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 07:00
Metro, 15 Mar 2017 - Officials mull ground rules for looming legalization City staff are laying the ground rules for possible legal pot shops in Edmonton. Councillors discussed a city report Tuesday that provides an initial look on what legal pot could look like as the city waits for the federal government to release more details on plans to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use.
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Chronicle AM: Bolivia Defends Coca Law at UN, MA Activists Oppose MJ Law Fix, More... (3/14/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 20:45

Welfare drug testing bills are under consideration in Florida and North Dakota, Massachusetts legalizers warn lawmakers not to mess with the state's voter-approved pot law, Bolivia is set to defend its new coca law, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Massachusetts Initiative Campaign Tells Lawmakers to Back Off. The Yes on 4 Committee, the people behind the successful campaign to legalize marijuana in the state, is now urging legislators to back away from meddling with the state's new marijuana law. "The new law requires no fixes," said Yes on 4's Jim Borghesani. The legislative committee charged with "fixing" the law is set to open public hearings on possible revisions of the law next week.

Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Senate Again Rejects Ban on Smoked Medical Marijuana. For the second time in a week, the Senate has rejected Senate Bill 357, which would have banned smoking of medical marijuana. The Senate rejected the bill Monday night on a 15-11 vote and slapped down a later motion to allow it come back for yet another vote by a margin of 11-0.

Drug Testing

Florida Welfare Drug Testing Bill Advances. A bill that would require adults previously convicted of drug offenses to undergo drug screening and possible drug testing before their families could receive welfare payments passed the House Children, Families, and Seniors Subcommittee on Monday. The measure, House Bill 1117, is still before two other committees in the House.

North Dakota Welfare Drug Testing Bill Gets Trashed in Hearing. A welfare drug testing bill that has already passed the House came under sustained attack at a hearing in the Senate Human Services Committee Monday. The measure, House Bill 1308, would require welfare applicants to undergo drug screening and possible drug testing, but various witnesses testified it was not the way to go. One, Mandan small business owner Susan Beehler, said she had been on welfare in "It's a complicated issue, and it's not going to be solved by a pee cup," said Beehler, adding she's seen no hard data proving that drug screenings for TANF would be cost-effective for the state. The committee took no action on the bill.

International

Bolivia Will Defend New Coca Law at UN Meeting This Week. A Bolivian government delegation is headed for Vienna to attend the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting this week to defend its new coca expansion and drug trafficking laws. The European Union has questioned the new coca law, which almost doubles the amount of legal coca cultivation in the country, but President Evo Morales said Bolivia has "all the arguments" it needs to justify the increase.

German Medical Marijuana Cultivation Will Begin in 2019. Germany will begin state-regulated medical marijuana growing operations in 2019, German authorities said. The parliament voted to allow medical marijuana in January, but it will take time to get things up and running. Until then, medical marijuana prescriptions will be filled by imports from Canada and the Netherlands.

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CN ON: Column: Selling marijuana: First, Do No Harm

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 07:00
Ottawa Sun, 14 Mar 2017 - For those who believe there is no potential harm from illegal marijuana stores in the city, consider Shelley Marshall's story. Marshall is a suicide survivor who wrote and performs her story through her excellent, one-woman play: Hold Mommy's Cigarette.
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CN ON: Column: Selling marijuana: First, Do No Harm

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 07:00
Toronto Sun, 14 Mar 2017 - For those who believe there is no potential harm from illegal marijuana stores in the city, consider Shelley Marshall's story. Marshall is a suicide survivor who wrote and performs her story through her excellent, one-woman play: Hold Mommy's Cigarette.
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Chronicle AM: Conyers Racial Profiling Bill, Competing FL MedMJ Proposals, More... (3/13/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 20:54

The senior member of the House files a racial profiling bill, Colorado lawmakers move to reduce medical marijuana homegrow limits, Kansas lawmakers mess with a medical marijuana bill, Texas lawmakers get a hearing on decriminalization, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Texas Decriminalization Bill Gets Hearing Today. The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee today held a hearing on House Bill 81, which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the bill, offenders would face a ticket and fine rather than jail time and a criminal record. The Sheriff's Association of Texas opposes the bill, arguing that marijuana is "a gateway drug."

Medical Marijuana

Colorado House Gives Preliminary Approval to Cutting Home Grow Plant Limits. The House voted last Friday to give preliminary approval to House Bill 17-1220, which would limit medical marijuana home grows to 16 plants per residence. The current limit is 99 plants. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and law enforcement support the bill as a means of reducing diversion. The House must vote on the bill again this week before sending it to the Senate.

Florida Lawmakers Have Six Competing Medical Marijuana Plans to Choose From. Voters approved medical marijuana at the ballot box last November. Now, the legislature is trying to figure out how to implement it. Here's an overview of the six competing plans.

Kansas Senate Committee Approves CBD Cannabis Oil Bill, But Activists Unhappy. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a CBD cannabis oil bill last Thursday, but only after gutting the original bill, Senate Bill 155, and replacing it with Senate Bill 151, which would only allow doctors to recommend "non-intoxicating" cannabinoid medications. "This is not the scope of what those who want to see prescriptive authority for medical marijuana want," said Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), who sponsored the original bill. Haley said he would attempt to restore the original bill this week.

Race

Conyers Files Federal Racial Profiling Bill. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the longest serving member of the House (he's been there since 1965), filed House Resolution 1498 last Friday. The bill calls for "eliminat[ing] racial profiling by law enforcement."

International

Philippines President Creates New "Joint Command" to Wage Bloody Drug War. President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating an Interagency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD). The order mobilizes 21 executive agencies to prioritize "high value" targets and go after all levels of the drug trade. Since Duterte took office last year, more than 8,000 people have been killed by police or shadowy vigilante groups. Another 48,000 have been jailed.

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CN ON: Tory Backs Police Raids To Weed Out Pot Dispensaries

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 07:00
Toronto Star, 13 Mar 2017 - Mayor backs legalization, but says cannabis capitalism has jumped the gun in the city Mayor John Tory "strongly supports" the latest Toronto police crackdown on marijuana dispensaries even though the federal government will soon introduce legislation to legalize pot.
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US OH: As Heroin Infests Farms, A Grieving Parent Fears For The

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 07:00
New York Times, 13 Mar 2017 - BLANCHESTER, Ohio - A life of farming taught Roger Winemiller plenty about harsh twists of fate: hailstorms and drought, ragweed infestations and jittery crop prices. He hadn't bargained on heroin. Then, in March 2016, Mr. Winemiller's daughter, Heather Himes, 31, died of an opioid overdose at the family farmhouse, inside a first-floor bathroom overlooking fields of corn and soybeans. Mr. Winemiller was the one who unlocked the bathroom door and found her slumped over, a syringe by her side.
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CN AB: Blood Tribe Battles Drug Woes

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 08:00
Edmonton Sun, 12 Mar 2017 - Suboxone offers hope for fentanyl addicts as reserve marks period of progress Nearly every day, Darcy Medicine Crane catches a ride in a medical transport truck to a pharmacy in Stand Off, a community on the Blood reserve in southern Alberta, to take his daily dose of Suboxone.
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The 23 States That Allow Medical Marijuana for PTSD

Drug War Chronicle - Sat, 03/11/2017 - 22:47

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not rare. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about eight million adults suffer from it in any given year, including tens of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. Somewhere between 11% and 20% of those vets will suffer from it each year.

[image:1 align:right]PTSD isn't limited to vets, though -- trauma comes in many forms -- and 7% to 8% of the population will suffer from it at some point in their lives. That figure rises to 10% for women.

Treating PTSD can be tricky, but numerous anecdotal reports and testimonies suggest medical marijuana can be of help. Even the stodgy VA, which tends to see marijuana use among PTSD patients as "cannabis use disorder," and notes that there have been no randomized, controlled clinical trials on the efficacy of marijuana in treating PTSD, concedes that some studies have shown positive results.

The good news for PTSD sufferers is that there are an awful lot of places in the country that have medical marijuana laws authorizing its use for PTSD. More than two dozen states, US territories, and the nation's capital allow its use, and acceptance seems to be accelerating, with seven states -- Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island -- joining the list in the past year.

Colorado could be next. Legislation to PTSD to the state's list of qualifying conditions has passed the state Senate and is moving through the House. It could be on the governor's desk by the time you read these words.

Colorado is a marijuana legal state already, so PTSD patients don't have to wait for the law to change there to be able to obtain it. But making PTSD a qualifying condition would mean that patients would then be eligible for an exemption from the state's 10% tax on recreational marijuana, paying only state and local sales taxes.

Here are the 23 states, two territories, and one city that either list PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana or otherwise allow its use:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. Florida
  7. Guam
  8. Hawaii
  9. Illinois
  10. Maine
  11. Maryland
  12. Massachusetts
  13. Michigan
  14. Minnesota
  15. Montana
  16. Nevada
  17. New Jersey
  18. New Mexico
  19. North Dakota
  20. Ohio
  21. Oregon
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Puerto Rico
  24. Rhode Island
  25. Washington
  26. Washington, DC
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Chronicle AM: CO Senate Passes Pot Club Bill, Pentagon Expands Recruit Drug Testing, More... (3/10/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 21:40

The Pentagon adds a bunch of opioids and new synthetics to the drug panel it uses to test new recruits, a Colorado bill to allow social marijuana consumption advances, Canada doesn't take kindly to Marc and Jodie Emery's latest efforts, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Colorado Senate Approves Bill to Allow Marijuana Social Clubs. The state Senate on Thursday voted to approve Senate Bill 184, which would allow local governments to permit BYOB cannabis clubs, as long as the businesses seeking them do not serve alcohol or food beyond light snacks. The bill doesn't specify whether indoor smoking would be allowed, which means a private club with no more than three employees could allow it under state smoking laws. The bill now goes to the House.

Medical Marijuana

West Virginia House Kills Surprise Bid to Reschedule Marijuana. Seeing that medical marijuana legislation was going nowhere in Charleston, Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) attempted to inset an amendment into a routine drug scheduling bill that would have moved marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule IV. The amendment excited several hours of debate, but was ultimately killed on a 35-64 vote. "Why are we so scared of helping people?" Fluharty argued in closing floor debate. "That's exactly what this does."

Asset Forfeiture

New Hampshire House Passes Bill to Close Federal Asset Forfeiture Loophole. The state House voted Thursday to approve House Bill 614, which would bar state law enforcement agencies or prosecutors from agreeing to transfer seized property to the federal government unless that seized property includes more than $100,000 in cash. That would end the loophole through which cops and prosecutors seek to end-run a 2016 law that barred civil forfeiture in most cases. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Drug Testing

Pentagon Announces Expanded Drug Testing of New Recruits. The Defense Department is expanding the drug testing of new recruits to include the same 26-drug panel used for active military members. The change will be effective April 3. Currently, recruits are only tested for four substances -- marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA -- but the new drug test will also look for heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and a number of synthetic cannabinoids and benzodiazepine sedatives.

International

Canadian Cops Raid Marc and Jodie Emery's Cannabis Culture Stores. Police on Thursday morning raided Cannabis Culture stores in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver, as owners Marc and Jodie Emery awaited bail hearings in Toronto. The well-known marijuana reform couple were arrested Wednesday night at the Toronto airport on their way to a cannabis expo in Spain. Police raided seven Cannabis Culture stores and two residences, Toronto police said. The Emerys have been selling marijuana at the shops without waiting for Canada to actually get around to legalizing it.

Filipino Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana. The Philippines House on Wednesday approved a bill to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The move comes as the government of President Rodrigo Duterte wages bloody war on other drug users and sellers. The legislation approved by the House would create a government-issued ID card for patients and designates certain qualifying diseases and conditions, as well as allowing for caregivers and dispensaries.

Categories: Latest News

CN ON: Pot Crusaders Nabbed At Airport Before Police Raid Their Shops

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Toronto Star, 10 Mar 2017 - Stores and homes in Ontario, Vancouver hit in 'Project Gator' Prominent pot crusaders Marc and Jodie Emery will appear in a Toronto court for a bail hearing Friday after police raided the couple's seven marijuana dispensaries in Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton.
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CN ON: Column: Room For Everyone To Get A Buzz

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Toronto Sun, 10 Mar 2017 - You'd think they'd be out of doobies. Even after Toronto Police cleaned the place out of all their pot, the stench of marijuana was ripe inside the store. Police took out tens of thousands of dollars worth of product from envelopes and jars. But they didn't get it all. Staff found police left behind some rolled joints and undetected envelopes of pot.
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CN ON: Weed Renegades Vow To Reopen

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Toronto Sun, 10 Mar 2017 - Cop raids on pot shops catch staff by surprise "Oh great." That's the first thought 26-year-old Rebecca said she had when she saw police officers enter the Cannabis Culture store on Queen St., near Broadview, in a Thursday morning raid that targeted the chain of dispensaries nationwide.
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Canada: Dispensaries Raided Countrywide

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 10 Mar 2017 - Following arrests of Marc and Jodie Emery, police target shops even as Ottawa prepares for legalization Police officers in several Canadian cities raided illegal marijuana dispensaries linked to activists Marc and Jodie Emery on Thursday, charging them and several others with drug offences as part of an investigation led by Toronto police.
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Canada: Marc Emery's Pot Shops Raided Across Country

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Metro, 10 Mar 2017 - Activist couple arrested in Toronto, face 15 drug charges Vancouver police raided Cannabis Culture, headquarters of marijuana activists Marc and Jodie Emery, Thursday morning at the request of Toronto police.
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CN AB: Preparing For Legal Pot Shops

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
Metro, 10 Mar 2017 - City report addresses marijuana dispensaries The city is getting a head start on preparing for the expected growth of legal pot shops in Edmonton, but at least one business owner eyeing a future store wants more answers.
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