The United States Marijuana Party

The United States Marijuana Party – is a motivated group of Americans who are tired of living in fear of their government because of marijuana prohibition. We are fed up with the intrusion into our personal lives, with urine testing at work and at school, with armed home invasions, and with the possibility of prison because of a plant. WE are Americans and WE do not piss in a cup for anyone!

WE feel it is time for the 20 million Americans who smoke marijuana on a regular basis to stop hiding their love for this plant and unite as one large body of voters to demand an end to the unconstitutional prohibition of marijuana and the drug war. The U.S. cannot lock up 20 million people.

The War on Drugs causes more harm than the drugs themselves ever will.

United WE are a potential 20 million vote political machine. WE want to live free and WE must be determined to stand up, be counted, demonstrate, rally, and write.

Waiting for the government to silence us all in the American prison system is not an option! Too many of our brethren are there, in prison right now.

More Americans are in jail today for marijuana offenses than at any previous time in American history. The war against marijuana is a genocidal war waged against us by a government determined to eradicate our plant, our culture, our freedom and our political rights.

Time Magazine Reports: U.S. Marijuana Party

U.S. Marijuana Party

By Christina Crapanzano Monday, Mar. 29, 2010
Top 10 Time Alternative Political Movements
Andrew Holbrooke / Corbis

Long before Loretta Nall campaigned on her cleavage, the activist’s cause was cannabis. The Alabama resident gained national attention during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign when she produced T-shirts with the caption “More of these boobs …” (with a photo of Nall in a low-cut shirt) “… And less of these boobs” (next to photos of her opponents). But the write-in candidate’s political roots date back to 2002, when a misdemeanor arrest for possession was the spark behind her forming the U.S. Marijuana Party (USMJP). The group — which demands “an end to the unconstitutional prohibition of marijuana” — has official party chapters in seven states, including Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky. While Nall left the USMJP to be a Libertarian Party governor nominee, the group continues to back candidates in local, state and national elections under the leadership of Richard Rawlings, who is currently running for Congress in Illinois.

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Medical marijuana patient wins employment discrimination suit in Rhode Island

 

This April 15, 2017 file photo shows marijuana plants on display at a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

 

By Andrew Blake – The Washington Times – Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rhode Island fabrics company violated the state’s medical marijuana law when it refused to hire a card-carrying patient who couldn’t pass a drug test, a state Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Christine Callaghan sued Darlington Fabrics Corp. for compensatory and punitive damages in 2014 after the company said her medical marijuana usage precluded it from offering her a paid internship position while she pursued a master’s degree at the University of Rhode Island. Ms. Callaghan promised not to bring weed into the workplace or arrive for work stoned, but Darlington said her failure to pass a pre-employment drug test prohibited her hiring, according to court filings.

In a 32-page ruling Tuesday, Associate Justice Richard A. Licht said Darlington broke the state’s Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act by rejecting Ms. Callaghan because she legally uses pot to treat migraine headaches in accodance with state law.

“Employment is neither a right nor a privilege in the legal sense,” Judge Licht ruled, but protection under the law is, he added.

While employers aren’t required to accommodate the medical use of cannabis in the workplace under Hawkins-Slater, the ruling noted, the law specifies that “no school, employer or landlord may refuse to reenroll, employ or lease to or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.”

Darlington had argued that it rejected Ms. Callaghan not because her status as a medical marijuana cardholder but her inability to pass a drug test. The judge called his claim “incredulous” in Tuesday’s ruling and took aim at its interpretation of the state’s medical marijuana law.

“This argument is not convincing,” he wrote, adding: “…it is absurd to think that the General Assembly wished to extend less protection to those suffering with debilitating conditions and who are the focus of the [act].”

“The recreational user could cease smoking long enough to pass the drug test and get hired… allowing him or her to smoke recreationally to his or her heart’s content,” he continued. “The medical user, however, would not be able to cease for long enough to pass the drug test, even though his or her use is necessary…”

More than 17,000 Rhode Islanders are currently members of the state’s medical marijuana program, the Providence Journal reported. While most of those individuals are patients who use marijuana to treat covered medical conditions, that number also includes people categorized as official “caregivers,” the newspaper reported.

“This decision sends a strong message that people with disabilities simply cannot be denied equal employment opportunities because of the medication they take,” Carly Beauvais Iafrate, a volunteer American Civil Liberties Union attorney and Ms. Callaghan’s legal counsel, said in a statement after Tuesday’s ruling.

Darlington plans to appeal the ruling before the state Supreme Court, defense attorney Meghan Siket told the Journal. Neither the company nor its lawyer was immediately available to comment Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Medical marijuana laws are currently on the books in 29 states and Washington, D.C., including Rhode Island, notwithstanding the federal government’s prohibition on pot.

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Shop owner pleads guilty in marijuana pipe case

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Daniel Borunda , El Paso Times Published 6:30 p.m. MT May 16, 2017

An El Paso woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge for selling marijuana pipes to undercover officers at her smoke shop in Sunland Park, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico said.

Brenda Riveroll, 36, pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Cruces to a charge of selling drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to five years’ probation as part of a plea deal, prosecutors said in a news release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Riveroll was the owner and only employee of The Smoke Shop on Palomas Court, which sold bongs, glass and metal pipes, scales and grinders for marijuana.

On May 12, 2016, the shop was raided by law enforcement a few weeks after Riveroll had sold the pipes to the undercover officers. On April 3, Riveroll was arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after she was indicted.

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Companies need workers — but people keep getting high

By Danielle Paquette May 17 at 1:50 PM

Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert — but prospective hires keep failing drug screens.

“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver.

The state’s unemployment rate is already low — 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates. 

“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”

Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends. An analysis of about 10 million workplace drug screens from across the country in 2016 found positive results from urine samples increased from 4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2016.

The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012.

Although state laws have relaxed over the past four years, employers haven’t eased up on testing for pot, even where it’s legal.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada moved last year to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washingtona. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, permit medical marijuana.

Under federal law, however, weed remains illegal — and employers in the United States can refuse to hire anyone who uses it, even if they have a prescription, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

In the oral fluid testing category, which picks up on recent drug use, and is typically used to test workers on the job, positive drug tests for marijuana surged about 75 percent in the United States over the past four years — from 5.1 percent in 2013 to 8.9 percent in 2016, according to Quest. The data show smaller increases in urine and hair testing (a 4.2 percent increase over the past year).

Colorado and Washington, which became the first two states to legalize weed in 2012, showed the largest growth in positive tests. Urine screens that detected pot rose 11 percent in Colorado and 9 percent in Washington, the first time either state outpaced the national average since residents could lawfully light up a joint.

Quest noted that employers are also increasingly encountering job applicants who take other illicit substances. Tests that turned up cocaine increased 12 percent in 2016, hitting a seven-year high of 0.28 percent, up from 0.25 percent in 2015. Positive test results for amphetamine jumped 8 percent.

The culture change in pro-marijuana states hasn’t broadly altered the way employers screen applicants, said Sample, the scientist. “Ninety-nine percent of drug panels we perform in Colorado and Washington,” he said, “still test for marijuana.”

Companies such as McLane, where employees operate heavy machinery, keep testing for marijuana out of concern for everyone’s safety, said Stephens, the human resources manager.  The firm conducts follicle tests, which can catch traces of weed for up to three months after someone smokes.

She said the company saw “a big spike” is failed tests after pot became legal.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s legal marijuana business is booming. By 2016, Colorado had 440 marijuana retail stores and 531 medical dispensaries, one report showed last year — double the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks stores in the state.

Curtis Graves, the information resource manager at the Mountain States Employers Council, a business group in Colorado, said a small number of his members have dropped THC testing from drug screens, but others don’t have that option,

Truck and school bus drivers, for example, are required by law to prove they don’t have marijuana in their system before taking a job. Same goes for pilots, subway engineers and security guards. The Department of Transportation does not recognize medical marijuana as a “valid medical explanation” for failing a drug test.  

“Some employers are extremely worried about filling jobs,” Graves said. “Work that is considered ‘safety sensitive’ typically requires that test, and that’s not changing.”

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Federal Appeals Court Sidesteps Major Marijuana Ruling

The Associated Press / May 17, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has sidestepped making a ruling on whether U.S. prison officials can hold people who were convicted of marijuana offences that were legal under state medical marijuana laws.

In a decision Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused instead on a narrower issue.

The court was considering a legal challenge by prisoner Matthew Davies, who was convicted of federal marijuana charges. Davies said he ran medical marijuana dispensaries that complied with California law.

He argued that the Bureau of Prisons could not hold him because of a federal regulation that restricted interference by U.S. officials in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

The 9th Circuit avoided the issue, ruling instead that Davies’ plea agreement did not allow his legal challenge. Davies’ attorney, Cody Harris, said he is analyzing the ruling.

Leafly News has obtained the court’s full ruling and uploaded it to Scribd:

LINK

 

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“…We need support in dealing with transnational criminal organizations and dealing with human trafficking – not in going after grandma’s medicinal marijuana,”

marijuana

Kamala Harris to Trump: Leave grandma’s marijuana alone

By Sean Cockerham

scockerham@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON

Sen. Kamala Harris of California used the year’s first big 2020 presidential spotlight Tuesday to rail against Trump administration drug policies and call for easing laws governing marijuana.

“Let me tell you what California needs, Jeff Sessions. We need support in dealing with transnational criminal organizations and dealing with human trafficking – not in going after grandma’s medicinal marijuana,” she said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Tuesday’s Ideas Conference, put on by the influential liberal think tank Center for American Progress, was a widely watched testing ground for a Democratic Party that is desperately in search of new leadership. More than 100 reporters signed up to cover the event, with hundreds of spectators in the audience at a ballroom in the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown.

Harris’ address comes as the freshman senator broadens her profile, including in recent days an extended appearance on CNN’s “The Lead” and the commencement address at Howard University, her alma mater. Harris was among the most anticipated Democratic up-and-comers in an Ideas Conference lineup that also included oft-mentioned potential presidential candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Harris insists she’s not thinking about a run for president but progressive leaders at the Ideas Conference were closely watching her with 2020 in mind.

Michele Jawando, vice president for legal progress at the Center for American Progress, was struck by Harris’ decision to focus on Sessions’ criminal justice policies – an issue that’s been lost amid the fire hose of news about Trump’s Russia controversies.

“(Harris) is without question someone we’re going to continue to talk about,” she said.

Harris focused on Sessions’ new dictate that federal prosecutors pursue the toughest criminal penalties possible – including mandatory minimum sentences – for drugs and other crimes. Sessions is threatening to pursue federal marijuana prosecutions even in states like California that voted to legalized pot.

“While I don’t believe in legalizing all drugs – as a career prosecutor I just don’t – we need to do the smart thing, the right thing, and finally decriminalize marijuana,” Harris said, in one of the strongest pro-pot statements that she has made in her political career.

Harris called Sessions’ push for maximum sentences a revival of a failed war on drugs in which Latinos and African-Americans were disproportionately incarcerated and the nation’s drug issues only got worse.

“Instead of going after violent crime, drug cartels, and major traffickers, we’re worried about the neighborhood street-level dealer,” she said. “Instead of addressing the core issue of addiction and getting folks into treatment, we’re going to overcrowd and build more prisons.”

Harris told the progressive crowd that the issue offers an opening for them to ally with conservatives. Republicans including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky oppose harsh sentencing such as mandatory minimum terms as a useless destroyer of lives. And opioid addiction is devastating red and blue states alike.

The Ideas Conference had Californians at the forefront of the Democratic Party’s search for leadership. California Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters were featured and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, a potential candidate for governor of California, made an appearance.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, also a possible candidate for governor next year, gave the opening address.

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Nevada’s new DUI marijuana testing is improvement but still poses concerns

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Ray Hagar, rhagar@rgj.com

The state of Nevada is poised to mandate the use blood tests and eliminate urine tests in DUI convictions for marijuana.

Although Washoe County already uses blood tests for pot, the state Senate this week gave the final vote of approval for the testing change for the entire state. Now, this measure only needs the final ‘John Hancock’ from Gov. Brian Sandoval to become law.

The final Senate vote floor vote comes less than two months before the July 1 starting date for sales of legal marijuana for “recreation” across Nevada for everyone 21 and over.

The blood-test/pot bill’s sponsor, Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, sold the bill to fellow lawmakers as a “common sense” approach to DUI testing for pot. Current urine testing for pot is not reliable because it does not test for the psychoactive element that gets you high — THC, he said.

“A urine test will tell you if someone has ingested marijuana in the past,” Yeager said on Nevada Newsmakers. “But it does not tell you if the person is actually impaired at the time the testing is done.”

Blood tests can reveal THC in the blood, Yeager said. He called it “a step in the right direction.”

Yet this is not a perfect science. Determining marijuana impairment is more complicated than determining alcohol impairment, according to a study by the AAA, the nation’s largest auto club.

Yeager’s bill may be an improvement over the old method but it is still not a great way to test for marijuana intoxication, according to the AAA.

That study states it is not possible to set a blood-test threshold for THC impairment because there is no science that shows at what level drivers become high after ingesting THC, according to a CBS News story about the AAA report.

Some drivers with high levels of THC in their blood may not be impaired, especially if they are heavy pot users, the study stated. Others, who may not use marijuana often, could have relatively low levels of THC in their blood and be impaired for driving, according to the study.

In Nevada, however, almost any amount of THC in the blood will get you into trouble. The legal limit is 2 nanograms of active THC in the blood, which Yeager said is a very low limit.

“I’ll just say, our levels and laws are very, very low. So it is virtually impossible to test positive on a blood test and not be over the allowed limits under the (Nevada) statute,” Yeager said.

Nevada is about to embark on society-changing era where marijuana is legal. The AAA study, however is concerning. It suggests consuming this herb can make you a victim of a legal system that has no universally-accepted and accurate way of testing for DUI marijuana.

Perhaps Yeager’s bill will give Nevada a law based on the best technology available. It appears better than the current system.

Yet science marches on.

Yeager believes that the question of testing for marijuana DUI may need adjustments in the near future. It is a subject that the Legislature may need to revisit when better technology and testing methods become available, since this legal recreational pot business is projected to be popular and profitable in Nevada.

“I think everyone is open-mined about it,” Yeager said about marijuana DUI testing. “It (possible new state law) is a small step forward. But I think it is significant in that it gets us moving in the right direction. Hopefully, we’ll have some studies in the near future so we can continue to tweak these laws.”

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AG Sessions paves way for stricter sentencing in criminal cases

By Laura Jarrett, CNN

Updated 7:54 AM ET, Fri May 12, 2017

(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a new directive for federal prosecutors across the country: charge suspects with the most serious offense you can prove.

Friday’s announcement follows a line of several other significant departures from Obama-era domestic policies at the Justice Department, but this decision crystalized Sessions’ position in the criminal justice realm.

In a brief one-and-a-half-page memo, Sessions outlined his new instructions for charging decisions in federal cases, saying that his new first principle is “that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”

    “The most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences,” Sessions later adds.

    While the federal sentencing guidelines are advisory — and take into account everything from a defendant’s criminal history to cooperation with authorities — some judges have felt handcuffed by mandatory minimums, which provide a statutory sentencing minimum of months below which the judge cannot depart.

    The move was harshly criticized by the New York University School of Law Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute focused on democracy and justice.

    “The Trump administration is returning to archaic and deeply-flawed policies,” Inimai Chettiar, the center’s justice program director, said Friday. “Sessions is leaving little to no room for prosecutors to use their judgment and determine what criminal charges best fit the crime.”

    “That approach is what led to this mess of mass incarceration,” she added. “It exploded the prison population, didn’t help public safety, and cost taxpayers billions in enforcement and incarceration costs.”

    Sessions also formally withdrew a signature part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Smart on Crime” initiative, which sought to target the most serious crimes and reduce the number of defendants charged with non-violent drug offenses that would otherwise trigger mandatory minimum sentences.

    “We must ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers,” Holder wrote in a 2013 memo. “In some cases, mandatory minimum and recidivist enhancements statutes have resulted in unduly harsh sentences and perceived or actual disparities that do not reflect our Principles of Federal Prosecution.”

    As a result, during the Obama era, federal prosecutors were instructed not to charge someone for a drug crime that would trigger a mandatory minimum sentence if certain specific factors were met: (a) the relevant conduct didn’t involve death, violence, a threat of violence or possession of a weapon; (b) the defendant wasn’t an organizer, leader or manager of others within a criminal organization; (c) there were no ties to large-scale drug trafficking operations; and (d) the defendant didn’t have a “significant” criminal history (i.e., prior convictions).

    All of those charging factors are now gone under Sessions’ reign and not surprising, as he has previously telegraphed his desire to prosecute more federal cases generally.

    The effects of Friday’s decision are likely to be felt most immediately in the narcotics context where federal mandatory minimums established by Congress can be harsh for even first-time offenders because the sentences are dictated based on drug type and quantity.

    CNN’s Eugene Scott contributed to this report.

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    Vermont lawmakers become first to approve legal pot

    AP MARIJUANA STATES OF PLAY A FILE USA CA

    April McCullum, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

    MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s Legislature become the first in the nation Wednesday to approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill.

    Vermont’s bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved in the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The state Senate already passed the bill, so it will go directly to GOP Gov. Phil Scott.

    Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state yet has legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization advocates said bills were pending in other state legislatures.

    “I think it reflects that Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states,” said Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a member of the Vermont Progressive Party who has worked on marijuana issues for the majority of his political career. “I think the public is ahead of us, but elected officials tend to be cautious when it comes to change.”

    Wednesday’s vote closed a debate over legalization, particularly in the state House. The divisiveness once prompted Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, a Democrat from Burlington, Vt., to predict that legalization would take a miracle to pass this year.

    Advocates hugged and shared high-fives outside the two chambers after the vote.

    “Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states.”

    Earlier in the day, the House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to support the limited bill, which was pitched as a compromise between the House and Senate approaches on marijuana.

    The proposal incorporates H.170, a House-supported bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, two mature marijuana plants or four immature marijuana plants for adults older than 21. The effective date was pushed to July 1, 2018.

    The bill also sets up a nine-member commission to study the best way to regulate marijuana.

    “There’s no slam dunk of any kind,” Rep. Barbara Rachelson, a Burlington Democrat, said about the prospect of a legal marijuana market. “It just is doing work that could be used next year or in subsequent years.”

    The proposal would continue to prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana and the use of marijuana in public places. Employers, landlords, schools and prisons could continue to restrict marijuana use.

    “The data indicates that our youth are using marijuana more infrequently, and I don’t think we should put that in jeopardy,” said GOP Rep. Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury, Vt., who voted against the bill.

    Democratic Rep. Susan Buckholz of Hartford, Vt., said declining marijuana use among the state’s high school students, measured at 37% in the latest Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, shows that anti-drug education is working.

    “We need to make a move to be treating this as a public health issue for those for whom it is a health issue and letting other people use this substance responsibly,” Buckholz said.

    Vermont's House minority leader, GOP Rep. Don Turner

    Vermont’s House minority leader, GOP Rep. Don Turner of Milton, speaks May 10, 2017, against a marijuana legalization bill at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt. (Photo: Glenn Russell, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press)

    If Scott signs the bill, a new commission would be responsible for drafting a system to tax and regulate marijuana and submitting the plan to the Legislature. The end result would need to be a marijuana regulatory system that  “increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.”

    “The administration will be at the table, along with the attorney general and others,” said Democratic Rep. Maxine Grad of Moretown, Vt., chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. “With Massachusetts and Maine starting up in 2018, I think we need to continue this conversation.”

    Scott repeatedly has expressed concerns about marijuana and highway safety. He has the choice to sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow it to become law without his signature.

    The first-term Republican governor declined to say before Wednesday’s House vote whether he would veto the legislation.

    “I don’t believe this is a priority for Vermont,” Scott said. “I believe that what we should be doing is trying to find ways to protect those on our highways, deliver a level of impairment that is consistent throughout the Northeast, as well as to address the edibles for our kids before we move forward with legalization. Having said that, I’m going to review the bill as it’s passed.”

    Follow April McCullum on Twitter: @April_McCullum

    Note: Vermont legislators changed the effective date of the bill below to July 1, 2018.

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    PDF OF H 170 AND VIDEO

    Trudeau’s Legal Marijuana Could Produce A Problem At Border

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    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plans to legalize marijuana could make for longer lines at the U.S. border. Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman thinks legal pot in Canada — illegal in the U.S. — could mean more searches with dogs trained to detect cannabis in vehicles.

    Heyman, an appointee of former president Barack Obama, told CTV News that he was tasked with examining the potential effect of legalized marijuana on border security while he was ambassador from April 2014 until the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January. He specifically noted the role of sniffer dogs in the detection process.

    “The dogs are trained to have reactions to certain scents. Some of those scents start with marijuana. Others are something that are significantly more challenging for the border. But the dog doesn’t tell you this is marijuana and this is an explosive,” Heyman said.

    “The dog reacts, and these border guards are going to have to appropriately do an investigation. That could slow the border down.”

    Heyman noted that once the dogs are trained to detect the presence of marijuana it is a skill that stays with them for life. So new dogs would have to be introduced.

    Heyman noted that longer line-ups as a result of slower security checks would have a ripple effect on trade as it would be more time-consuming, costly and aggravating to move products and produce across the border. He said that is just one more variable to influence the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump apparently thought he could unilaterally dismantle without first consulting Congress.

    “He’s threatened all throughout the campaign that he was going to tear up NAFTA,” said Heyman. “That was a very clear and repetitive dialogue that he’s had all through the campaign. It was only at one day, at one time, where he used the word tweak… So I think that was the exception, the tweak, rather than what was being consistently communicated.”

    Heyman remains optimistic about overall U.S.-Canadian relations despite the increasing volume of the trade threats.

    “I don’t think the differences are any bigger now than they were before. I think the language being used is different now,” he said.

    Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the federal government is aware of the potential for longer waits at border crossings as a consequence of legal pot.

    Responding to questions from CTV News, Goodale press secretary Scott Bardsley said a secure but flexible border remains vital to trade because “400,000 people and $2.4 billion in trade cross our shared border every day. Both countries recognize the importance of an efficient and secure border for our shared prosperity.”

    Follow David on Twitter

    CONTINUE READING…

    Can pregnant women safely consume marijuana?

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    By Tracy Seipel • Today at 9:00 AM

    On many mornings, with a few puffs of pot — and one cannabis-laced chocolate-covered blueberry in the afternoon — Richelle has been able to stop the severe nausea that has accompanied her third pregnancy.

    The regimen not only ended the constant vomiting, but the San Jose, Calif. mother can now finally eat an entire cheeseburger — and keep it down.

    “The medical field frowns on pregnant women using marijuana,” said the 27-year-old bookkeeper, who lost 30 pounds early on in her pregnancy because of her condition, called hyperemesis gravidarum, which also causes dehydration.

    “But I possibly would not have kept the pregnancy without it,” said Richelle, who is now in her 25th week and asked that her last name not be used because she does not want to be publicly attacked for her beliefs.

    After two decades of allowing its medicinal use, California is now one of eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana for people 21 and older. Public health officials, however, say the implications surrounding its consumption by some people — like pregnant women and adolescents, who may be more vulnerable to its potential harmful effects — still must be addressed.

    Some states — including Alaska, Washington and Colorado — require warning labels saying the product should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. But California does not.

    Surveys show that most Americans don’t like the idea of pregnant women using marijuana.

    A Yahoo News/Marist College poll of 1,222 adults released this month found that 67 percent of Americans think it’s safer to use marijuana than opioids to relieve pain. But 69 percent said it’s not acceptable for pregnant women to use marijuana to reduce nausea or pain. Half of cannabis users — and 60 percent of those who have tried it — also don’t think pregnant women should use marijuana, according to the poll.

    Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and a leading researcher in the development of children prenatally exposed to alcohol and drugs, said a range of studies supports those concerns.

    “The general belief is that it’s not harmful,” Chasnoff said of cannabis consumption. “But there are all sorts of aspects of cognitive function — the way the brain works — that are impacted by marijuana exposure.”

    He pointed to research that shows low birth rates in babies born to women who have consumed pot during pregnancy, as well as data on higher rates of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as they get older. Other research has shown that those offspring later in life have problems with “executive functioning,” or the ability to plan and complete tasks, Chasnoff said.

    That’s why he believes guidelines that communicate the risk and discourage the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women — or women considering pregnancy — must be established. Research indicates that more U.S. women are now using marijuana during pregnancy, most often to treat morning sickness — which most physicians say can be better treated with more established medications.

    A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that in 2014 nearly 4 percent of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 reported having used marijuana in the past month, compared with 2.4 percent in 2002.

    In Oakland, 36-year-old Sarah — who runs a cannabis consulting business with her husband — said she has been using the drug during her 17-week pregnancy to help not only with morning sickness but also with sciatica pain and mood swings.

    Like Richelle, she takes a few puffs of a marijuana cigarette every so often, but also uses a few drops of liquid cannabis on her tongue at night. The pain disappears, she said, and she’s able to keep food in her stomach.

    She has read a host of studies on the potential side effects the drug might have on her baby. So have some of her relatives, who have told her that using marijuana will “risk having my child come out dumb,” said Sarah, who also said she didn’t want her last name published because she fears she’ll be ostracized.

    But she remains unconvinced by what she calls “limited research.” And she says that she doubts that an organically grown plant could harm her baby.

    A landmark 395-page study on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids released in January by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also wasn’t able to draw many conclusions.

    After reviewing the available research, the authors determined that the long-term effects of smoking cannabis during pregnancy are still unclear. But they did agree that there is substantial evidence that the babies of women who smoke marijuana while pregnant have lower birth weights.

    Sarah says she doesn’t abuse the drug but believes it helps to reduce the anxiety that comes with being pregnant. “There is a human inside me growing, and everyone is telling me what I can and cannot do,” she said. “It creates a lot of worry.”

    And in her line of work, she has also met many women who used marijuana when they were pregnant and whose children — of all ages — seem well-adjusted.

    “Everything in moderation,” Sarah said.

    Chasnoff strongly disagrees with that view — and with patients who tell him that cannabis is natural and organic. That doesn’t mean it can’t potentially harm a fetus, he said.

    “We know that marijuana’s THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) crosses very readily from the blood into the brain, so even a small amount has the potential for crossing over into the fetal brain,” Chasnoff said.

    The chemical is drawn to fat, he said, and because the fetal brain is almost all fat, the drug remains there longer. It’s one reason why marijuana, unlike other drugs, can be detected in a person for three days to three weeks afterward, depending on the amount and concentration of cannabis consumed.

    Marijuana also crosses readily into a mother’s breast milk, said Chasnoff, adding: “We have been able to measure the level of marijuana in the baby’s urine.”

    Dr. Frank Lucido, a primary care physician in Berkeley who for two decades has recommended medical marijuana to his adult patients if he determines it will benefit them, doesn’t believe there is enough significant research to warrant pregnant women avoiding cannabis.

    “With anything in medicine, you weigh the benefits and the risks,” said the 69-year-old physician. “Nobody has ever died from cannabis, but we know women die from hyperemesis gravidarum.”

    So if a pregnant patient is unable to keep food or liquids in her stomach, and marijuana would help, then he would advise it — as he does to perhaps one or two patients each year.

    “But I usually discourage it (smoking marijuana) because we don’t know — and smoking can cause low birth weight,” Lucido said. “And maybe smoking (the drug) is the problem.”

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    "Overgrowing the Government"

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