Category Archives: Marijuana

Marijuana Banking Measure Rejected By Congressional Committee

Tom Angell , Contributor

A powerful congressional committee voted on Wednesday to reject a measure to protect banks that open accounts for marijuana businesses from being punished by federal financial regulators. Supporters then scrambled to craft a more limited measure focused on medical cannabis businesses, but it was ultimately withdrawn before a vote could take place.

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

The broader measure would have prevented the U.S. Department of Treasury from taking any action to “penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products” in accordance with state or local law.

After a lengthy and impassioned debate during which at least 19 lawmakers spoke, it was defeated on a voice vote by the House Appropriations Committee.

Despite the fact that a growing number of states are legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use, many financial institutions have remained reluctant to work with cannabis businesses for fear of running afoul of money laundering laws under ongoing federal prohibition.

As a result, many marijuana growers, processors and retailers operate on a cash-only basis, which can make them targets for robberies.

The issue is “not whether or not one approves of marijuana,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), the chief sponsor of both banking amendments, before the vote. “This is about public safety and financial transparency.”

Either rider, if it were successfully attached to legislation to fund the Treasury Department for Fiscal Year 2019, would have provided added assurance to banks that federal officials won’t close them down for working with the cannabis industry.

A similar measure was approved by the full House of Representatives in 2014 by a margin of 231 to 192, but was not included in final spending legislation that year, and congressional Republicans have since blocked floor votes on most cannabis measures.

In the lead up to the Wednesday banking vote, several advocates and Capitol Hill staffers expressed confidence in interviews that the measure would pass. But a number of likely Republican supporters were absent during the debate, and others who are sympathetic to marijuana law reform expressed varying concerns about the specific proposal. As a result, supporters did not force a roll call tally following the defeat on a voice voice.

Joyce then went back to the drawing board and crafted the narrower medical-focused amendment, which he hoped would find enough support to pass. But after a brief debate on the second proposal, Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) asked Joyce three times to withdraw the amendment instead of forcing a vote. The Ohio congressman twice pressed ahead and said he wanted the committee to weigh in on the measure, only to give in at the last moment and pull the measure.

By seeking to adopt the language in the appropriations panel, before the overall spending bill heads to the Rules Committee, which is where marijuana amendments have gone to die for the past several years, advocates were attempting to circumvent an effective blockade that has prevented progress on cannabis reform in the House.

In a similar move last month, the Appropriations Committee approved a measure to protect state medical cannabis laws from Justice Department interference following several instances of that measure being blocked by the Rules Committee.

In a separate sign of the mainstreaming of marijuana politics on the other side of the Capitol, on Wednesday the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies included that far-reaching medical marijuana language in the initial version of the Justice Department funding bill as introduced by Republican leaders, meaning that no vote or amendment will even be necessary to advance the provision in that chamber this year.

The Senate panel is scheduled to take up its version of the Treasury Department funding bill, which is called the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, next week.

The Fraternal Order of Police, which opposes legalization, sent a letter this week urging House lawmakers to reject the cannabis banking move.

Letter to @USRepRodney & @NitaLowey advising them of our strong opposition to any amendment that would allow the marijuana industry full access to the American banking system. Drug cartels will be given the opportunity to launder money under the guise of marijuana normalization pic.twitter.com/y5a0gHPIUi

— National FOP (@GLFOP) June 12, 2018

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Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would allow states to regulate marijuana without federal interference.

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Warren and Gardner, who both represent states with legal recreational pot, introduced the legislation, known as Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, as a response to the Trump administration’s hard-line stance against the drug. 

The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a framework that says it no longer applies to those following state, territory or tribal laws “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of [marijuana].”

“It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies,” Warren tweeted with a video of her and Gardner speaking at a press conference announcing the measure. 

It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies. Watch live as @SenCoryGarder and I discuss our new legislation that would let states, territories, & tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana – without federal interference. https://t.co/BVcvxomhld

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2018

Gardner said outlawing legalized pot was like “putting the ketchup back in the bottle,” and hit current finance laws for making it difficult for marijuana businesses, because the substance is illegal according to the federal government.

“This city of Denver, the state of Colorado, can collect taxes … they can take it to the bank,” Gardner said. “But if you’re in the business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict between the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy.”

Warren and Gardner had announced a partnership in April in an attempt to hold President Trump to his word about respecting states rights.

Warren reportedly said the goal of the legislation is to “ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”

Warren and Gardner’s proposed legislation comes in the face of increasing opposition toward marijuana from the White House.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, in January rolled back an Obama-era policy that gave states freedom to manage recreational use.

In May 2017, he sent a letter to congressional leaders asking that they eliminate an amendment that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal money to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 29.

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Marijuana’s effects on young brains diminish 72 hours after use, research says

By Mark Lieber, CNN

Updated 11:17 AM ET, Wed April 18, 2018

(CNN)Marijuana is notorious for slowing certain cognitive functions such as learning, memory and attention span (maybe that’s why they call it “dope”?). But new research in young people suggests that these cognitive effects, while significant, may not persist for very long, even among chronic users.

The meta-analysis, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, combines data from 69 previous studies that look at the effects of heavy cannabis use on cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults. It found that those young people who identified as heavy marijuana users scored significantly lower than non-users in a variety of cognitive domains such as learning, abstraction, speed of processing, delayed memory, inhibition and attention.

“There have been a couple of meta-analyses done in adult samples, but this is the first one to be done specifically in adolescent and young adult samples,” said Cobb Scott, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a lead author of the study.

    “We looked at everything from learning and memory to different aspects of executive functioning such as abstraction ability,” Scott said. “And we basically showed that the largest effects — which was around a third of a standard deviation — was in the learning of new information and some aspects of executive functioning, memory and speed of processing.”

    Weed users found to have poorer verbal memory in middle age

    Weed users found to have poorer verbal memory in middle age

    But when the researchers separated the studies based on length of abstinence from marijuana use, the difference in cognitive functioning between marijuana users and non-users was no longer apparent after 72 hours of marijuana abstinence. That could be an indication “that some of the effects found in previous studies may be due to the residual effects of cannabis or potentially from withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users,” Scott said.

    The study comes as America continues to debate the merits of marijuana legalization. Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana use, with at least three additional states potentially deciding on the issue in the upcoming November election, according to Melissa Moore, New York deputy state director for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance.

    Studies on the long-term cognitive effects of marijuana use among adolescents and young adults have shown inconsistent results. A 2008 study reported that frequent or early-onset cannabis use among adolescents was associated with poorer cognitive performance in tasks requiring executive functioning, attention and episodic memory.

    A 2014 study also warned against the use of marijuana during adolescence, when certain parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning — such as the prefrontal cortex — are still developing.

    “There have been very important studies showing evidence for irreversible damage (from marijuana use), and so there needs to be more research in this area,” said Kevin Sabet, assistant adjunct professor at the Yale School of Medicine and president of the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was not involved in the new study.

    “I hope they’re right. We want there to be little effect after 72 hours. But given the other studies that have had very large sample sizes that have been published over the past five years in prominent journals, I think we need to look into that more,” added Sabet, whose group is focused on the harms of marijuana legalization.


    Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

    But a number of recent studies have also shown that the association between marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning disappears after controlling for factors such as psychiatric illness and substance use disorders, according to Scott.

    In an attempt to make sense of these discordant results, the new research combined data from 69 previous studies, resulting in a comparison of 2,152 frequent marijuana users with 6,575 non-users. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 50, with an average age of 21.

    The researchers found that, overall, the cognitive functioning of frequent marijuana users was reduced by one-third of a standard deviation compared with non-frequent marijuana users — a relatively small effect size, according to Scott.

    “It surprised, I think, all of us doing this analysis that the effects were not bigger than we found,” Scott said. “But I would say that the clinical significance of a quarter of a standard deviation is somewhat questionable.”

    But according to Sabet, even a relatively small effect size could be important, especially in a large meta-analysis such as this one.

    “The small effect size may be meaningful in a large population, and again, all (cognitive) measures are worse for those using marijuana,” Sabet said.

    “The study is pretty bad news for marijuana users,” he added. “Overall, I think this is consistent with the literature that marijuana use shows worse cognitive outcomes among users versus non-users.”

    In an effort to identify other potential factors that could have affected the relationship between marijuana use and cognition, the researchers also separated the studies based on the length of marijuana abstinence, age of first cannabis use, sociodemographic characteristics and clinical characteristics such as depression.

    Of these, only the length of marijuana abstinence was found to significantly affect the association between chronic marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning. Specifically, cognitive functioning appeared to return to normal after about 72 hours of marijuana abstinence — a threshold identified in previous studies, according to Scott.

    “The reason we chose the 72-hour mark is that in looking at the data on cannabis withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users, 72 hours seems to be past the peak of most withdrawal effects that occur,” he said.

    Marijuana legalization by the numbers

    However, the 69 studies included in the review did not have a uniform definition for “chronic” or “frequent” marijuana use, one of the study’s main limitations, according to Sabet.

    “When you put all of these studies together that have different definitions of marijuana users and are from different times, it’s not surprising that you’d get a smaller effect size,” Sabet said.

    The studies also relied on a variety of tests to determine cognitive functioning, including the Trail Making Test, the Digital Span Memory Test and the California Verbal Learning test, according to Scott.

    “The other thing that’s important to highlight is that we’re only looking at cognitive functioning. We’re not looking at risks for other adverse outcomes with cannabis use, like risk for psychosis, risks for cannabis use problems or other medical issues like lung functioning outcomes,” Scott said.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    But the results still suggest that the negative cognitive effects of marijuana use, while significant in the short-term, probably diminish with time. They also shed light on the need for more research in this area, particularly as cannabis policy in the United States continues to change at a rapid pace.

    “As attitudes change about cannabis use and cannabis use becomes a little bit more accepted in terms of policy and government regulation and medical cannabis use increases, I think we need to have a real understanding of the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use,” Scott said.

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    420 bringing massive marijuana party to Denver for nation’s largest public light up

    420 means big money: $1.1 billion in pot sales expected

    Author: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

    Published: 2:01 PM EDT

    DENVER — Marijuana stores across the country are expected to sell more than $1 billion worth of cannabis as pot enthusiasts celebrate the annual “420” holiday by lighting up in public across America.

    April 20 has long been a day filled with civil disobedience by marijuana users, who gather in public to light up at 4:20 p.m. The phrase “420” is a code for marijuana users, who work it into dating profiles or post it on signs to show their shared interest.

    While it used to be a celebration held with a certain level of furtiveness, the rapidly expanding legalization of cannabis means more and more Americans no longer face significant, if any, punishment for smoking pot.

    More: Pot lore: The true story of 420, a marijuana tradition, told by the stoners who invented it

    “It’s holiday season for cannabis retailers right now,” said Ryan Smith, the CEO of cannabis sales platform LeafLink. “Last year was the biggest day ever. This year will be the biggest day ever. And next year will be even bigger than this year.”

    Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in Denver for what’s considered the world’s largest 420 celebration, filling hotel rooms and packing restaurants during what would otherwise be a quiet time of the year. In advance of the actual event, dozens of companies are offering tours and arranging visits to commercial growing operations, aimed at tourists who fly in to partake in state-legal weed.

    Denver’s Mile High 420 Festival this year features performances by Lil Wayne and Lil Jon, along with dozens of food trucks.

    “To us, this is a cultural celebration for a year in a life of cannabis,” said Kyle Speidell, the CEO of The Green Solution, a chain of 16 marijuana stores in Colorado. “It gives everybody the opportunity to unify at a time when we’re really ostracized as an industry.”

    Speidell’s stores are sponsoring a separate cannabis festival in Denver over the 420 holiday. Called 420 on the Block, it’s a three-day music-centered festival featuring Action Bronson and Matisyahu that expects to draw up to 15,000 people.

    Every year, April 20 is the single-biggest sales day, and the days leading up to it are a combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Black Friday rolled into one. Since Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in January 2014, participation has risen nationally. Now, nine states and the District of Columbia permit recreational marijuana use, and 30 states permit some form of medical use.

    LeafLink predicts retailers will sell about $1.17 billion worth of cannabis products for this year’s 420 celebrations, and sales are common. In Denver, Terrapin Care Station, for instance, is offering 1 gram joints for just $5— half off the usual price.

    LeafLink’s analysis also shows a consistent shift away from loose “flower” marijuana and into branded products. When marijuana stores first opened, buyers flocked to purchase pieces of marijuana flowers, which they smoke. But there’s been a significant shift toward pre-packaged joints and, particularly, branded marijuana-infused foods like chocolate or candy.

    A large reason for the shift toward products known as “edibles” has been driven by laws banning public marijuana consumption, although those are widely ignored during Denver’s 420 celebration at Civic Center Park, when the mass light up leaves a heavy cloud of pot smoke hanging over the crowd. Edibles are also far easier to travel with, especially for cannabis tourists willing to risk smuggling them back home.

    At My 420 Tours in Denver, most slots for the company’s upcoming party bus trips are already sold out for the end of the week even through they’ve tripled the number of offerings, said company spokeswoman Cynthia Ord. Tour participants first visit a dispensary to buy marijuana, and then consume it on the bus before visiting grow houses.

    “People are both wide-eyed and bleary-eyed at the same time,” she said with a laugh. “It can get pretty emotional for people.”

    Ord said about 90% of the company’s customers are out-of-state tourists, largely from Texas and other southern states. The company also offers 420-friendly hotel rooms for people visiting during the celebration, but all 70 are sold out, she said. She said the company hasn’t seen much of a change since California began legal sales on Jan. 1.

    “Business is as strong as ever,” Ord added.

    The service Weedmaps, a Yelp for marijuana stores, sees its traffic triple on April 20 each year, with peak time coming from 8-10 a.m. as users “wake and bake,” according to the company. Search traffic normally peaks in the evening, she said.

    The Colorado State Patrol is planning enhanced patrols around the 420 events; troopers have written more than 3,000 marijuana-related driving citations since 2014, the agency said.

    Mason Tvert, who led Colorado’s legalization initiative, said marijuana consumers are no different than drinkers who can attend beer festivals and wine tastings: “Adults are able to go out and openly consume alcohol all the time, but 4/20 is the one day of the year that many feel comfortable being open about their cannabis use.”

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    Martellus Bennett: ‘About 89%’ of NFL players use marijuana

    cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

    A.J. Perez, USA TODAY Sports Published 7:13 p.m. ET April 11, 2018

    Estimates on the percentage of NFL players who use marijuana have been made, but recently retired tight end Martellus Bennett pinned the number pretty high.

    “I want to say about 89%,” Bennett said on a Bleacher Report podcast hosted by Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe.

    Asked if it’s shocking when he finds out a teammate doesn’t smoke weed, Bennett responded, “You don’t smoke, bro?”

    Bennett explained NFL players use it for reasons other than getting high, reasons which have been behind the push by many to allow the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs.

    “There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

    How many players in the NFL smoke weed? Over/Under: 70%
    Martellus Bennett says WAY OVER pic.twitter.com/Nf8041rvNZ

    — Simms & Lefkoe (@SimmsAndLefkoe) April 11, 2018

    Medical marijuana already is legal in many jurisdictions where NFL teams are based and an increasing number of states allow the recreational use of weed, including California and Colorado.

    Still, marijuana remains on the NFL’s banned list, although it takes two positive tests for the drug before a suspension is issued. After an initial positive test, a player is put in the NFL’s “Stage Two” intervention program, which means for a span of up to 24 months the player faces more frequent testing.

    There’s also a shorter window in which players can be tested for marijuana and other drugs of abuse: April through August. Once a player passes that test, he won’t be tested again for another year.

    Beyond pain management, those advocating for marijuana’s use in the NFL point to research into the possibility the drug can be used to combat chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    A 2013 study at a Portuguese university found cannabis helped regenerate brain cells in mice, a 2012 Israeli university study showed low doses of cannabis can aid in the recovery from brain injuries and a 2005 Canadian university study showed cannabis could be used as an anti-anxiety treatment.

    “To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last year. “If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that.”

    Follow Perez on Twitter @byajperez

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    When marijuana was legal in Michigan: 22 days in 1972

    Ryan A. Huey, for the Lansing State Journal Published 7:30 a.m. ET Feb. 8, 2018

    THIS IS FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. 636536056957904088-John-Sinclair-w-John-Rosevear-1967.jpg

    John Sinclair, “Michigan’s hippie king,” walked out of Jackson’s State Prison of Southern Michigan on Dec. 13, 1971 after serving two-and-a-half years of what might have been a 10-year prison sentence for marijuana possession.

    Surrounded by a cheering crowd, a television reporter quizzed Sinclair as he embraced family and friends outside of the prison gate.

    “After all of the trouble you’ve gone through Mr. Sinclair, how do you feel about marijuana? Do you still feel…”

    “I wanna smoke some joints, man!” Sinclair interrupted.

    Standing well over 6 feet tall with a mane of curly dark hair, Sinclair was a minor celebrity in Michigan’s counterculture: the manager for the Detroit rock band MC5 and the gregarious chairman of the White Panther Party, a revolutionary organization named in solidarity with the Black Panther Party.

    He proclaimed that marijuana was safe, the government was oppressive and young people were going to take over the country.

    The press characterized him as “colorful and quotable.” Police labeled him a threat to public safety.

    The Michigan Supreme Court found him convincing. 

    The court fight that followed Sinclair’s arrest for marijuana possession in 1967 — and the “Free John Now!” publicity campaign launched by artist and activist Leni Sinclair, who was John’s wife at the time — briefly overturned Michigan’s marijuana laws and gave hope to Michigan’s more optimistic marijuana enthusiasts that legalization was within reach.

    “We were such utopianists,” Leni Sinclair recalls.                        

    Leni Sinclair in 1971.

    Leni Sinclair in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

    The Sinclairs helped to launch the Michigan Marijuana Initiative in 1972, the state’s first serious effort at marijuana legalization.             

    It failed, of course. Legal marijuana was a hard sell to a public that largely believed smoking reefer was immoral and dangerous. A 1969 national survey indicated that 84% of Americans thought marijuana should be illegal. By 1972, things hadn’t changed drastically.

    But 2018 is different.

    In November, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted around 360,000 petition signatures to legalize the consumption, production and distribution of recreational marijuana in Michigan. It is all but assured that the ballot proposal will reach the 250,588 valid signatures necessary to make it on the November ballot.

    With nearly 60% of Michiganders in favor of legalization, it’s also expected to become law.

    More: Nearly 50 marijuana dispensaries may be forced to close

    More: How to get a medical marijuana card

    Which might sound like vindication for Leni and John Sinclair. They don’t see it that way.

    Both say smoking marijuana in the 1960s was an affirmation of a fiercely do-it-yourself lifestyle and a form of protest against a national culture that sanctioned discrimination, demanded commitment to American militarism and protected individual liberty only within the bounds of consumer capitalism, Christianity and the nuclear family.

    “They are subverting the whole marijuana culture that we created, which was based on sharing, noninterference with others, high-mindedness, and spirituality,” said John Sinclair, from his upstairs apartment office in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.

    At 76 years of age, he is still heavily involved in marijuana legalization efforts. He and Leni have been divorced since 1988.

    “At first I thought it was a good thing” to legalize marijuana, said Leni Sinclair, who has been arrested five times on marijuana-related charges over her 77-year life.

    “In retrospect,” she said, when medical marijuana was legalized, “it destroyed the whole distribution system” that consisted mostly of friends getting together to share weed and hang out.

    They agree nonetheless that legalization is long overdue. 

    Photographer and political activist Leni Sinclair,

    Photographer and political activist Leni Sinclair, of Detroit, who is best known for her remarkable portraits and performance images of Detroit music royalty, from the MC5 to Bob Seger, as well as some of the world’s most important jazz musicians including John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, photographed in 2016. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press)

    “People are just ready for it,” said Jeffrey Hank, the Lansing attorney who founded MI Legalize, a grassroots organization that almost succeeded in getting an initiative on the ballot in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana.

    The failure of the 2016 initiative inspired Hank’s organization to found the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, up their fundraising efforts and professionalize their campaign.

    The Coalition is a diverse collection of activists, farmers and investors from both large companies and small businesses such as Lansing’s Wholesale Hydroponics.

    Its three largest donors have been the retail tobacco chain Smokers Outlet, the national lobbying group the Marijuana Policy Project and MI Legalize.

    And its efforts are aimed squarely at the political mainstream. The initiative includes a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales that would be divided between schools and road repairs and the municipalities where marijuana businesses are located.

    More: Why you’ll hear more about Lansing region’s marijuana industry

    Its campaign has focused on the failure of efforts to prohibit marijuana use —  one ad shows a Prohibition-era photo of men pouring a beer barrel into a storm sewer beside the caption “Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result” — and on “unnecessary” arrests.

    “You never get everything you want when you try to get something of this nature done,” said Hank.

    “You really have to appease people’s political opinions to have any chance at it.”

    Josh Covert is an attorney who works almost exclusively with clients facing marijuana-related legal problems, or involved in the business of marijuana. Nick King and Laura Trabka/Lansing State Journal

    Marijuana in Michigan

    In the 1950s, Michigan implemented some of the harshest penalties for marijuana in the country.

    Legislators worried publicly that “dope peddlers” and “bad associates” — which their listeners would have understood as code for black and working class — were manipulating white youth to smoke marijuana.

    A 1952 bill made the punishment for narcotics possession anything between probation and 10 years in prison, and the law treated marijuana as a narcotic. A second offense could mean 20 years behind bars. A conviction for selling carried a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison with no parole.

    In practice, these laws intensified the aggressive policing aimed at Michigan’s expanding black neighborhoods.

    By 1956, the Detroit Narcotics Bureau estimated that 89% of people arrested for narcotics were black, though they were only 20% of the city’s population. The conviction rate was a staggering 90%.

    When white and college educated John Sinclair was first arrested for “sales and possession” of marijuana in October of 1964, he got a slap on the wrist.

    Detroit Free Press archives
John Sinclair at 27 outside

    Detroit Free Press archives John Sinclair at 27 outside the Oakland County Courthouse in April 1969. (Photo: Tom Venaleck, Detroit Free Press)

    The judge dropped the sales charge, put him on two months’ probation and fined him $250.

    Still on probation, Sinclair started a Detroit chapter of LEMAR (which stood for “Legalize Marijuana”), the first group dedicated to legalization in the U.S.

    John and Leni Sinclair had recently helped found a beatnik-inspired artist collective called the Detroit Artists’ Workshop. Their commune became a home base for artists, musicians, activists, and entrepreneurs.

    The Detroit Police assigned an undercover agent to infiltrate the commune to keep tabs on Sinclair and the anti-Vietnam War activists who lived in the same building, which led to Sinclair’s second arrest.

    He pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and, this time, was sentenced to six months in the Detroit House of Corrections.

    Detroit’s Red Squad, a special police unit that investigated suspected communists, started compiling a detailed file on Sinclair for “possible narcotics and subversive activity.”

    Sinclair’s third arrest came under the auspices of a drug raid targeting narcotics traffic near Wayne State University’s campus. A month prior, he had given two joints to undercover police who had taken jobs at the commune in order to build a case against Sinclair.

    “They weren’t interested in marijuana,” Sinclair told the Detroit Free Press a couple days after the January 24, 1967 raid, “[t]hey’re just against our way of life.”

    “They couldn’t arrest people in America for saying things against the government,” Leni Sinclair said, “so they used the marijuana laws.”

    John vowed to appeal his conviction by challenging the legality of the state marijuana laws.

    Two years later, Judge Robert J. Colombo of the Detroit Recorder’s Court sentenced John Sinclair to nine-and-a-half to 10 years in prison.

    He also denied bond, which would have allowed Sinclair to stay out of prison during the appeal process, a move usually reserved for the most dangerous offenders.

    “The law means nothing to him and to his like,” Colombo said.

    Members of the White Panther Party and others on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing in 1971.

    Members of the White Panther Party and others on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

    Leni was “stunned.” She began urging voters to write members of Congress, participate in demonstrations and join her petition drive to change the marijuana laws.

    The commune printed and sold t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and buttons that read “Free John Now!”

    The strategy, she said, was “to get him out by any legal means possible.”

    Though they did step outside the law to make their point.

    Leni and a few friends rolled a pile of joints and mailed two apiece to every member of the state legislature, Gov. William Milliken and Wayne State University President William Keast with a note explaining that they were now in possession of narcotics and subject to a ten-year prison sentence.

    Ann Arbor was a strong base of support for their efforts. So was East Lansing.

    Students at Michigan State University swayed Republican Senator, Philip O. Pittenger, who represented East Lansing, to vote for a more lenient drug bill.

    The East Lansing City Council passed a resolution recommending Sinclair’s release from prison and the same for all Michiganders imprisoned for marijuana crimes.

    George Griffiths, a Democratic City Council member at the time and later, mayor of East Lansing, saw marijuana as “nothing more or less than alcohol.”

    “I have my wine or scotch and soda,” said Griffiths, now 88, “but if somebody wants to smoke their marijuana, that’s OK by me.”

    The “Free John Now!” campaign culminated in the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” on December 10, 1971, headlined by John Lennon.

    Lennon and Yoko Ono took the stage around three in the morning with a dobro guitar and an impromptu band. They closed their short set with a song written especially for the occasion.

    “It ain’t fair, John Sinclair, in the stir for breathing air,” Lennon sang.

    Three days later, John was free.

    His case convinced the Michigan Supreme Court that marijuana and heroin were not equally dangerous, though state law had treated them that way, misclassifying cannabis as a narcotic and imposing long sentences for possession and sales.

    The Court released Sinclair from prison and, three months later, declared the state’s marijuana laws unconstitutional.

    John Lennon and Yoko Ono play the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" in Ann Arbor in 1971.

    John Lennon and Yoko Ono play the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” in Ann Arbor in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

    There were no new marijuana laws in place, and so, in March of 1972, marijuana was effectively legalized in Michigan for about three weeks.

    To celebrate, several Ann Arborites half-jokingly advertised a “hash festival” to take place on the University of Michigan’s Diag the day the new marijuana law was to go into effect — April Fool’s Day.

    Hundreds of people showed up on the snowy Saturday to puff joints in public, the origin of what would become Hash Bash. No one was arrested. A few days later, the court ordered the release of 128 people in Michigan jails for marijuana offenses.

    Pressured by young people, Congress had passed a constitutional amendment in 1971 to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, the same age at which Americans became eligible for the draft.

    Hoping to capitalize on the momentum, the Sinclairs devoted their energies to registering young voters.

    Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck, both 22, won seats on Ann Arbor’s City Council in 1972 and immediately introduced an ordinance that would downgrade possession, use and sale of marijuana to a $5 civil infraction within Ann Arbor.

    It passed, making Ann Arbor the first city in the United States to implement a “traffic-ticket” marijuana ordinance and earning it the nickname, the “Midwest’s dope capital.”

    East Lansing quickly became the second.

    The Sinclairs began working furiously on a Michigan Marijuana Initiative that mirrored an ongoing campaign they had worked on in California. It called for “free, legal, backyard marijuana” through an amendment to the Michigan constitution.

    The blueprint they settled on was “don’t do anything but legalize it,” Leni Sinclair said.

    Their hands-off approach would “keep the distribution network that already existed all over the country,” she continued, where people mostly bought “an ounce and shared it with their friends.”

    Those networks weren’t run by large criminal enterprises, she said. “Everybody that was in that kind of business was helping their family put food on the table.” They “would just be legal and pay taxes.”

    They had two months to collect 265,000 signatures to put the proposal on the November 1972 ballot.

    They collected roughly 125,000, less than half of what they needed. Only around 40,000 of those were considered valid.

    The End of Marijuana Prohibition?

    Participants smoke during the annual Hash Bash at the

    Participants smoke during the annual Hash Bash at the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor in 2015. (Photo: Nicole Hester/Associated Press)

    In 1973, Ann Arbor’s newest state representative, the shaggy-haired Perry Bullard, invited his colleagues in Congress to attend the city’s 2nd Annual Hash Bash, where Bullard smoked a joint in full view of the media.

    “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.

    His constituency, he would say later, “wants an outspoken advocate.”

    Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero didn’t smoke a joint for the cameras and said he “got almost no contact buzz” when he spoke Hash Bash in 2015 to promote “sane, sustainable, enforceable policy” regarding marijuana.

    Bernero said he hoped to combat “misinformation” about marijuana, which he equated with the “reefer madness” propaganda of the 1930s.

    “It’s still a Schedule I drug for God’s sake,” he said, referring to marijuana’s classification under Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs. “It’s unbelievable to me that that’s still the case.”

    Bernero supports “normalization and legalization” of marijuana, noting that it’s “less fatal and less problematic in many respects than alcohol,” and he sees its potential to bolster both local economies and hard-pressed municipal budgets.

    “I think that it can be a real boon to the economy,” said Bernero, who hopes that it will remain an “indigenous industry.”

    Lowell, of MI Legalize, said the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol ballot proposal alleviates “the need for law enforcement to be concerned with adults with small amounts of cannabis.”

    “That goes a long way for me as an activist.”

    John Sinclair doesn’t trust the police to let go that easily. He anticipates that the “law enforcement bureaucracy” will swell to monitor the legal marijuana industry from “seed to sale.”

    Timothy Locke shares those concerns.

    Locke is the treasurer of Abrogate Michigan, which is running a separate petition campaign to legalize recreational marijuana but without an excise tax. The organization is pursuing a constitutional amendment, which is not expected to make it onto the ballot.

    In other states that have treated marijuana like alcohol, the excise tax “has not slowed down the arrests” and has actually “emboldened the black market because if people can find a cheaper product, they will,” he said.

    A rally-goer almost gets it right during the 30th annual

    A rally-goer almost gets it right during the 30th annual Hash Bash rally to legalize marijuana held on the University of Michigan Diag in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 7, 2001. Supporters tried and failed to get a marijuana legalization measure on the 2000 ballot. (Photo: Lon Horwedel, Copyright 2000 The Lansing State Journal;No)

    Which Lowell concedes is a possibility.

    Inside his organization, “there’s definitely a lot of discussion about that very thing,” he said. “It’s plausible.”

    For most, these concerns are offset by the benefits of funding Michigan’s public schools and road repairs through the excise tax on legal weed.

    Jeffrey Hank touts the model of marijuana licensing in the ballot proposal as the most small-business-friendly of any state.

    The “microbusiness” licensing process — akin to that of microbreweries — will allow small business owners and entrepreneurs to get a fair share of the market, not to mention giving them protection under the law.

    However, licensing fees for the smallest dispensaries still exceed $10,000 and a “no felons” clause limits access to the market.

    As a result, the black and working-class communities most victimized under marijuana prohibition could be largely excluded from the legal marijuana industry.

    Leni Sinclair hopes that whoever does end up profiting from legalized marijuana will “pay some reparations to the people who have suffered the most.”

    She wonders “how much would it have cost the state of Michigan to house all these prisoners for 20 to life if we hadn’t changed the law?

    “How many millions or billions of dollars,” she asks, has “John Sinclair saved the state of Michigan?”

    PLEASE CONTINUE READING AND VIDEO / PICTURES

    Today Cory Booker discussed the “Marijuana Justice Act”

    cory booker

    Cory Booker was live.

    2 hrs ·

    Earlier this year I introduced the Marijuana Justice Act—a bill that aims to end the federal prohibition of marijuana in the United States and incentivize states to legalize it at the state level if they disproportionately arrest or incarcerate poor people or people of color.

    For decades, the failed War on Drugs has locked up millions of nonviolent drug offenders—especially for marijuana-related offenses—at an incredible cost of lost human potential, families and communities torn apart, and lost taxpayer dollars. The effects of the drug war have had a disproportionately devastating impact on Americans of color and the poor.

    The Marijuana Justice Act aims to right some of the wrongs of our failed War on Drugs—particularly for those communities hardest-hit by these failed policies—and do the right thing for public safety while helping to reduce our overflowing prison population.

    Since introducing the Marijuana Justice Act I’ve been working to build support in Congress, and today I’m excited to announce our first co-sponsor, my friend and colleague Senator Ron Wyden.

    Watch below as we discuss the bill in more detail. Please leave any questions you may have about the bill in the comments, and we’ll answer some of them live on camera.

    CONTINUE TO CORY BOOKER’S PAGE ON FACEBOOK AND LIVE VIDEO!

    Wisconsin’s Governor wants to disqualify weed smokers from welfare

  • Steve Elliott
  • Comments302
  • 15 December, 2017
  • Wisconsins Gov. Scott Walker Wants To Drug Test People On Welfare 2 of 3 800x400 Wisconsins Governor wants to disqualify weed smokers from welfare

    ABOVE:  NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 11: A Harlem resident chooses free groceries at the Food Bank For New York City on December 11, 2013 in New York City. The food bank distributes dry, canned and fresh food to needy residents and works with community based member programs to provide some 400,000 free meals per day throughout the city. Need increased in November when 47 million low-income people nationwide saw their food stamps cut as the federal SNAP program expired. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker believes that poor people who receive public assistance should have to undergo drug testing, and he’s taking steps to make sure that happens.

    Walker last week charged ahead with a plan to require drug testing for some recipients of Wisconsin’s food stamps program, formally referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), reports The Atlantic. The plan would make Wisconsin the first state in the union to drug test for food stamps, other states that have tried the move have been blocked by the feds.

    That comes on top of another plan to test Medicaid enrollees in Wisconsin. Oh, and don’t forget a law already on the books: That one requires drug testing for non-custodial parents getting funds Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

    If Gov. Walker’s proposals pass federal scrutiny, all three of the major welfare programs in Wisconsin will involve drug-testing the recipients. Walker’s move to “overhaul welfare” over the past three years has already included some such “reforms.”

    The proposed change to SNAP would affect those who take part in its Employment and Training Program (ETP). Healthy, childless adults already have to meet work requirements to qualify for food stamps through ETP.

    Under Gov. Scott’s proposed new rules, those who test positive would be required to undergo drug treatment, or lose their benefits. The state would pay for “drug rehab” for pot smokers who couldn’t afford to pay for it themselves.

    While alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, and barbiturates all clear out of a person’s urine after four days or so, marijuana can linger for 30 days or more. That means any drug testing, by definition, tends to catch more cannabis smokers than any other category of substance user.

    Arizona has published figures showing a net savings of just $3,500 for 26 individuals who either tested positive or failed to show up for their drug test appointment. That’s an overall saving of just $135 per person.

    According to state data, the seven states with existing programs— Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah— are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to detect very few drug users. The statistics show that welfare applicants actually test positive at a lower rate for drug use than does the general population.

    Meanwhile, the states have collectively spent almost $1 million on the effort, with millions more slated to be spent in years to come.

    Under the Obama Administration, Gov. Walker’s requests to add drug testing in the SNAP program were denied or delayed by the Agriculture Department because they were seen as an additional barrier to eligibility— one that Wisconsin wasn’t entitled to impose.

    While the state denied that, the argument had already been used successfully. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also denied requests for waivers from states which wanted to impose drug testing for Medicaid.

    Early on, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seems Verma signaled the agency would now accept work requirements in Medicaid waivers, like the one being considered in Wisconsin. Verma also announced in November that CMS “will approve proposals that promote community-engagement activities,” typically including work, community service, and job training.

    According to Kaiser Health News, healthcare experts expect this move heralds the agency’s support for further conservative reforms impacting aid eligibility such as drug testing. Advocates are concerned the changes are just a way for states to kick millions of poor people off welfare programs, and undermine their mission of providing food assistance and health coverage to the poor.

    PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

    Facebook Posts Indicate That Once Again, Dana Beal Has Been Arrested

    Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and outdoor

    John Penley

    Dana Beal [seen here speaking at the DNC protests in Philly] has just been arrested again for transporting a load of marijuana in Weaverville, California.

       SOURCE

    Wayward Bill

    Bummer. A fellow Yippie and friend.
    Dana Beal BUSTED IN NORTHERN CALIF
    BUSTED YESTERDAY IN TRINITY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA….
    HE IS LOCATED AT :
    TRINITY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
    101 MEMORIAL DRIVE
    P.O. BOX 1228
    WEAVERVILLE, CA 96093

    TRINITY COUNTY JAIL FACILITY
    101 MEMORIAL DRIVE
    P.O. BOX 1119
    WEAVERVILLE, CA 96093

    (530) 623-2611
    Fax: (530) 623-8180

    Follow Aron Kay ‘s wall for details and updates.

    Updates will follow…

    For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge

    Alain Miville de Chêne Entrepreneur, investor, student and lover of life.

    During the last 125 years, governments all over the world have repeatedly appointed commissions to analyze the use of marijuana and provide recommendations. All major inquiries, among them the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report (1894), the Laguardia Committee (1939), and the Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (1972), have come to essentially the same conclusion: as with any human activity, overuse is not good for you, but since pot is mostly used moderately, and the harmful consequences are rather minor, it is not worth making a big fuss. They especially agree that using the criminal justice system to limit its use is both futile and harmful to society.

    For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge. Something is imprisoning our mind. Why do we persist in resisting reason?

    A poster for Ray Test’s 1942 drama “Devil’s Harvest.”

    Morality laws

    Morality laws try to limit or eradicate permanent features of all societies: sex (adultery), sex (homosexuality), sex (sodomy), sex (prostitution), sex (pornography), sex (you get the idea!), gambling, and mind-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana and more.) Journalist H. L. Mencken summed it up nicely when he wrote: “Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

    Moralists latch on to some behaviour they fear or loathe, then hijack the criminal code in an attempt to magically will it out of existence, all the while blinded to the inefficacy of their solution and to the harms generated. When the behaviour doesn’t go away, because it has existed forever and there is no reason it should disappear now, the simplistic response is to squeeze harder.

    Deep down, moralists know that their position is contrived. Therefore, to remain impervious to facts, they shun impartial studies. Instead of being guided by reason, they use it to justify their fixed beliefs and emotions. Their preferred method of communication is creating fear through propaganda.

    Corbis via Getty Images “Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell” movie poster.

    Harms in perspective

    Since the 1920s we have been programmed to fear schizophrenia, car accidents, dropping out of school, cancer, gateway to other drugs and immorality in general. I took the time to survey the main purported harms, and it is always the same story: weak or non-existent consequences which are insignificant in proportion to other common life problems. For example, tobacco killed around 39,000 in 2002, alcohol killed around 4,200 in 2002, and more than 2,450 died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Nobody died from marijuana.

    The real and grave harm comes not from the product itself but from passing through the criminal justice system. In 2013, Canada registered its millionth arrest for marijuana possession. What good did that do? Why all the suffering? A criminal record or even an arrest record can bar a person from many types of jobs and easily deny their entry into the United States, even 24 years later.

    The prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. lasted from 1920 to 1933. It took the U.S. 13 years to learn the lesson that it doesn’t work. Our society still hasn’t learned this one after almost a century.

    Legislating in the land of fools

    The underlying hypothesis behind all this is that laws will make people behave as desired.

    Countless articles discuss if pot should be sold to 18 or 21 year olds in order to protect youngsters. Currently, pot is not authorized at any age, yet anyone who wants it can get as much of it as they want. Why on earth would a number on a new statute book change this stubborn fact? Of course, it makes sense to limit sales in shops to persons of a certain age, but there’s no reason to expect setting an age limit in the law will “protect the young.”

    Try to entertain the possibility that you might be enthralled by propaganda.

    The spectre of high-strength marijuana is regularly brandished: today’s pot is not what was available in the sixties. It is way more dangerous, therefore its THC content should be legislated. Why do we forget that the high strength stuff has been available for centuries? It is called hashish. It was available in the sixties, and it still is.

    By all means, let us establish lawful limits on all the parameters we want (age, THC concentration, number of plants grown at home, etc.) in order to make life easier for a lot of people, but we should stop thinking that everyone will from then on follow the new rules. They won’t.

    Look at how it works with opioids. No laws were changed recently, yet the consumption of illegal opioids is rising and deaths from fentanyl are at an all time high. People will take or abandon drugs for reasons other than the laws on the books.

    PLEASE CONTINUE READING…