Category Archives: Marijuana

Why the Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way

MJA CB

By Jim Patterson, Opinion Contributor – 08/16/17 02:10 PM EDT

Earlier this month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. To some, this bill may look like another liberal attempt to push for widespread legalization of marijuana across the country. But for those of us who work in this industry and understand the complexities and inequities of current marijuana policies, the bill is a bold step forward in transforming the industry as we know it.

I recommend that anyone who questions why marijuana should no longer be illegal under federal law, take the time to watch Sen. Booker’s three-minute video explaining his legislation. It will shine a light on how marijuana policies have negatively impacted targeted communities, specifically low-income communities of color. This bill seeks to undo some of the damage that Booker aptly describes as, “the unjust application of the law and economic bias.” For example, the bill would expunge convictions for those with marijuana use and/or possession charges at the federal level which, in turn, will allow for greater access to education and economic opportunities.

As CEO of a company which works in the legal marijuana industry, it is a priority for me that this industry gives everyone a fair and equal playing field. On a daily basis, I meet and speak with entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in becoming a part of the marijuana industry because of its huge growth potential and opportunity.

However, with opportunity come risks, and in this industry we take financial, legal and professional risks. That said, there is a large segment of the population that is not at the table for these types of discussions because they were previously targeted during the war on drugs and now cannot fully participate in the state legal boom of this business.

For them, the risks are still too high under marijuana’s current federal classification as a Schedule I drug. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to change this by taking steps to fix the system so that marijuana is not just legal, but that the industry as a whole can move forward in a direction that we can be proud of.

Additionally, this legislation is important because it would also address a number of challenges marijuana businesses face such as lack of access to ordinary banking services. It would also move towards regulating the marijuana market as a whole and by regulating legal access, it would discourage and replace illicit drug activity.

I applaud Booker for introducing thoughtful legislation that would legalize the industry in the “right” way and that truly has the ability to move the ball forward on some of the historically negative aspects of this industry. Now is the time for the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana should be legal and removed from the list of controlled substances.

A recent CBS News poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and use in states that have legalized it, and 61 percent of Americans want marijuana legal across the country. Additionally, in the first six months of this new Congress, over a dozen bi-partisan bills have been introduced aimed at moving marijuana policies and regulations forward. Like Booker’s legislation, these bills acknowledge that updated marijuana laws and policies will bring a plethora of economic and social benefits to our country through increased job opportunities and tax revenues.

Congress must acknowledge the position of the majority of the American public and respond accordingly. I call on lawmakers to support this legislation and will be doing my part to raise this bill as a priority in the technology, transportation, policy and marijuana business communities eaze is a part of.

Jim Patterson is the CEO of eaze, a cannabis technology that connects people to doctors and dispensaries for on-demand consultations and deliveries.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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Commentary: Support states’ rights on cannabis

Joey Gilbert

As a Nevada citizen, a marijuana special use attorney, and advocate for veterans, I write today to discuss important issues related to states’ rights, federalism, and cannabis regulation.

The Constitution of the United States codifies federalism, protecting the power of the states to speak, act and legislate in a constitutionally guaranteed and sovereign manner. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” I agree!

Currently, 29 states have legalized some form of cannabis. Individual states must be allowed to determine their own policies for the regulation of their legal, state-based cannabis industries.

The concept of federalism cannot and should not be selectively applied by D.C. policymakers. It is politically and philosophically lazy to be a selective federalist. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The people of Nevada have spoken. We favor legalized, regulated, adult use cannabis. Constitutionally speaking, the Federal government must respect our duly enacted laws and regulatory regime for cannabis. Federal intrusion into states that have medical or adult use cannabis is an assault on our constitutional system.

So the question is – what can be done? I urge Congress to adopt the McClintock-Polis amendment preventing the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with state cannabis laws. Authorization of this amendment will remove uncertainty and ambiguity from our state-based, state-legal, and state-regulated cannabis industry.

I also support H.R. 1810, authored by Representative Carlos Curbelo, reforming IRS Section 280(e), allowing for cannabis businesses to be treated like any other legal, state-based business. Congress must also reform federal banking laws so that legal cannabis operations have access to traditional banking services.

Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, any profit by companies in the marijuana sector is considered illegal. Banks who accept accounts from cannabis businesses become open to government seizure and criminal prosecution. This banking reform is currently part of the CARERS Act of 2017.

These policies, if enacted, will allow our state to prioritize limited law enforcement assets and curtail the cash and cartel-based operations of the marijuana black market.

If you believe in Federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and the power of the states to regulate and grow their own economies, within their own borders, let your federal officials know that state-legal, state-based cannabis laws should fall under state jurisdiction. Also, let them know that you support commonsense reform of federal laws in order to provide for state-first regulation of these burgeoning cannabis industries.

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Trump’s DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana

Image result for marijuana

By Lydia Wheeler – 07/23/17 07:30 AM EDT

The Trump administration is readying for a crackdown on marijuana users under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking the plant. 

Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.

“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” he wrote. 

Criminal justice reform advocates fear Sessions’s memo signals stricter enforcement is ahead.

“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. 

“We’re worried there’s going to be something in the recommendations that is either saying that that’s true or recommending action be taken based on that being true.”

Sessions sent a letter in May asking congressional leaders to do away with an amendment to the DOJ budget prohibiting the agency from using federal funds to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” said the letter from Sessions, first obtained by Massroots.com and verified by The Washington Post.

As for the task force, Sessions said another subcommittee would “explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies, and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.”

On Wednesday, Sessions reportedly re-established a controversial criminal asset seizure program ahead of the committee’s recommendations.

Local law enforcement leaders say a crackdown appears to be next, though they argue there’s no need for it.

“From a practitioner’s point of view, marijuana is not a drug that doesn’t have some danger to it, but it’s not the drug that’s driving violent crime in America,” said Ronal Serpas, the former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department and co-chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.

“That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powdered cocaine, heroin and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and another 21 states allow the use of medical marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, but marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.

If Sessions ignites a fight over states’ rights, Chettiar wonders whether it will spur Republicans into a showdown with the Trump administration on criminal justice reform.   

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who publicly criticized Sessions for reversing Obama-era guidelines on criminal charges and sentencing in May, said he’s not in favor of the DOJ interfering with state policies regarding marijuana. 

“I will oppose anybody from the administration or otherwise that wants to interfere with state policy,” he told The Hill this week.

Paul is part of a bipartisan group of Senators pushing legislation to allow patients to continue accessing medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution.

Legislation introduced last month by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Paul introduced — known as the The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act — would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies.

According to Politifact, Trump pledged to leave marijuana legalization up to the states while on the campaign trail. But last month he reportedly pushed back against the congressional ban on the DOJ interfering with state medical marijuana laws in a signing statement, asserting that he isn’t legally bound to the limits imposed by Congress.

The DOJ’s likely move on marijuana comes amid rising tensions between Trump and Sessions.

Trump in an interview with The New York Times publicly dressed down Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, calling that decision “very unfair” to him.

Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone argued this week that Trump has been disappointed in Sessions.

“The president initially bonded with Sessions because he saw him as a tough guy,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.

“Now he’s saying: ‘Where’s my tough guy? Why doesn’t he have my back?’ There’s a lack of aggressiveness with Sessions, unless it involves chasing people for smoking pot.”

In an interview with The Hill, Booker called Sessions “one of the greatest threats to the safety of our local communities in America.”

“If you try to start prosecuting marijuana … you create more violence and more danger as well as greater government cost,” he said. “These policies that he’s doing ultimately go to the core of the safety of our communities.”

Though Sessions appears to be an obstacle for lawmakers and advocates who want sentencing reform, Booker said he’s not “insurmountable.”

“If we can overcome Strom Thurmond’s filibuster against the civil rights bill, we can overcome a U.S. Attorney General who is out of step with history and out of step with his party,” he said. 

But Sessions isn’t alone in his views on pot. Though he said he believes in the need for sentencing reform, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seemed to agree this week that there needs to be stricter enforcement.

“I believe marijuana probably needs to be cracked down on, but we’ll see when he sends it over,” Graham said of the task force report.

Tags Kirsten Gillibrand Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Jeff Sessions Al Franken Rand Paul Mike Lee

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(KY) GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR GET SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA!

BECAUSE THIS STORY IS SO IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY I HAVE INCLUDED TWO SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS AIRED ON WLKY.

THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED TODAY, JUNE 14TH, 2017, IN JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY AGAINST GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR BY DANNY BELCHER OF BATH COUNTY, AMY STALKER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, AND DAN SEUM JR OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.

ky mj lawsuit

ABOVE:  LINK TO PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON WLKY

FACEBOOK – WLKY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH COMMENTS

Mark Vanderhoff Reporter

FRANKFORT, Ky. —

Three people are suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over Kentucky’s marijuana laws, claiming their rights are being violated by not being able to use or possess medicinal marijuana.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court, was filed on behalf of Danny Belcher of Bath County, Amy Stalker of Louisville and Dan Seum Jr., son of state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale.

Seum turned to marijuana after being prescribed opioid painkillers to manage back pain.

“I don’t want to go through what I went through coming off that Oxycontin and I can’t function on it,” he said. “If I consume cannabis, I can at least function and have a little quality of life.”

The plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Seum does not believe the state can legally justify outlawing medical marijuana while at the same time allowing doctors to prescribe powerful and highly addictive opioids, which have created a statewide and national epidemic of abuse.

That legal justification lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ legal challenge, which claims Kentucky is violating its own constitution.

The lawsuit claims the prohibition violates section two of the Kentucky Constitution, which denies “arbitrary power,” and claims the courts have interpreted that to mean a law can’t be unreasonable.

“It’s difficult to make a comparison between medical cannabis and opioids that are routine prescribed to people all over the commonwealth, all over the country, and say that there’s some sort of rational basis for the prohibition on cannabis as medicine when we know how well it works,” said Dan Canon, who along with attorney Candace Curtis is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also claims Kentucky’s law violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy, also guaranteed under the state constitution.

Spokespeople for Gov. Bevin and Beshear say their offices are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit.

In a February interview on NewsRadio 840 WHAS, Bevin said the following in response to a question about whether he supports medical marijuana:

“The devil’s in the details. I am not opposed to the idea medical marijuana, if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. Again, it’s a function of its making its way to me. I don’t do that executively. It would have to be a bill.”  CONTINUE READING…

Lawsuit challenges Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban

By Bruce Schreiner | AP June 14 at 6:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s criminal ban against medical marijuana was challenged Wednesday in a lawsuit touting cannabis as a viable alternative to ease addiction woes from opioid painkillers.

The plaintiffs have used medical marijuana to ease health problems, the suit said. The three plaintiffs include Dan Seum Jr., the son of a longtime Republican state senator.

Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother.

“She comes back to her home state and she’s treated as a criminal for this same conduct,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Canon. “That’s absurd, it’s irrational and it’s unconstitutional.”

Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: “I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I’m able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard.” CONTINUE READING…

Cannabis and the Constitution: A Brief History of Cannabis in the U.S.

Lisa Rough

The Constitution of the United States is arguably the most important document in the history of this country, aside from possibly the Declaration of Independence. It forms the backbone of America’s most basic rights, liberties, and laws upon which democracy is founded.

In its original form, the Constitution contained no mention of drugs or alcohol. In order to enact alcohol prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment was introduced and ratified in 1919, specifically stating that the production, transport, and sale of alcohol was illegal. The prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, until the Twenty-first Amendment was introduced to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment in its entirety and re-legalize alcohol.

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

The first international prohibition of drugs came in the form of the International Opium Convention, an international drug treaty commissioned in response to the rising opium trade. The International Opium Convention was signed on January 23, 1912 and went into force globally in 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. The initial objective of the treaty was not prohibition or criminalization of drugs, but rather restricting exports of opium, coca, and cannabis.

In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to deem cannabis, along with alcohol, morphine, and opium, as “addictive and/or dangerous.” The law required drug labels to list any of these ingredients, and was primarily a “truth in labeling” law, although it was credited with paving the way for the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Curiously, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other such drugs continued to be available legally without a prescription, so long as they were properly labeled.

Then, along came Harry Anslinger.

RELATED STORY

The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

As head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger took note of the rising use of cannabis in the 1930’s. In 1935, he urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt the Uniform State Narcotic Act, using the Hearst newspaper chain to promote the campaign. The Uniform State Act defined “habit forming drugs” as coca leaves, opium, “cannabis indica,” or “cannabis sativa,” and although only nine states adopted the regulations, it was drafted without any scientific study or evidentiary basis for the marijuana section.

Anslinger continued on a nationwide campaign against cannabis, declaring that marijuana causes temporary insanity. He produced films and advertisements that featured young people smoking cannabis, committing crimes, and killing themselves or others. This is exemplified in the infamous propaganda film, Reefer Madness.

The U.S. government official also made no compunctions about who, exactly, the campaign was aimed against. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” Anslinger said. “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” He also offered a charming portrait of the average cannabis consumer, to his knowledge. “Most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

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It’s Time to Treat Medical Cannabis Like Medicine

In 1937, Anslinger drafted the Marijuana Tax Act, which did not criminalize the possession or use of cannabis; rather, it imposed a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone commercially dealing in cannabis or hemp.

Dr. William Woodward, legislative counsel to the American Medical Association, vehemently opposed the bill, noting that much of the “evidence” presented originated from Anslinger himself, and that the use of the word “marijuana,” which was largely unknown at the time, prevented physicians from realizing they would lose cannabis as medicine. “Marijuana is not the correct term,” argued Woodward. “Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”

Anslinger may not have actually created the law to prohibit cannabis, but he is certainly responsible for changing the public perception of cannabis from an innocuous substance available in many tinctures and medicines at the pharmacy to a dangerous, addictive, stigmatized drug, a perception that persists today.


RELATED STORY

How Mexican ‘Herbolarias’ Transformed Hemp into Psychoactive Marijuana

In 1969, Richard Nixon drafted the Controlled Substances Act, the legislation that criminalized the use and possession of cannabis, and ruled that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no established medicinal value. The term “controlled substance” was defined to exclude alcohol and tobacco, an important exemption, as these are two of the most widely used drugs (with some of the most addictive properties).

The United States Constitution was drafted in order to spread power among many groups, by a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person has too much power. Thus, the Controlled Substances Act could be changed by the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, or by petition from any interested party.

Since 1970, there have been numerous petitions to reschedule cannabis. The first petition was filed by NORML in 1972 and was not given a hearing until 1986, and another attempt in 1981 from Representative Stewart McKinney was also shot down. Since then, it has been a recurrent theme of petition and denial through the years.

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge

During a hearing on the subject in 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that, “In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Whether or not the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether the prohibition of cannabis is truly for the safety of the country, or simply for the peace of mind of a few select opponents still entrenched in the past.

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Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

fresh toast logo

Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.

It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.

The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.

Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.

By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.

Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.

It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.

GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.

Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.

Be careful what you ask for.

More Mike Adams.

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Oakland-Based Startup Develops Marijuana ‘Breathalyzer’ to Sell to Police Departments

pot leaf

When the governor of Vermont vetoed a marijuana legalization bill this week, he said he was especially worried about stoned driving. He wants to hear more about an “impairment testing mechanism” to detect it.

The problem is that no such mechanism exists. There is no Breathalyzer for pot.

Urine and hair tests can detect whether a person has used marijuana or other drugs within the last few days or weeks, but they can’t tell when a person is stoned at any one moment.

A couple of startups are racing to change that.

Oakland-based Hound Labs and Cannabix Technologies of Vancouver, British Columbia, are developing small handheld devices with tubes that people can blow into, just like the roadside tests that detect drunken drivers.

Hound Labs announced on Tuesday that it has raised $8.1 million from the venture capital company Benchmark, which funded Uber and Tinder, and has started clinical trials in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco.

The Hound device is designed to detect both marijuana and alcohol in human breath. Dr. Michael Lynn, the CEO, said his company is planning to sell it by the end of the year.

“We tested on so many people now that we’re quite confident,” he told CNNMoney.

He said his company’s device will cost $600 to $800 and will be sold to police departments — and employers, too. In the eight states where recreational pot is legal, companies might not care whether their workers smoked weed the night before, but would definitely care if they are driving trucks or school buses while stoned.

Lynn, an emergency room doctor, said the device uses chemistry to pick up THC molecules in the breath, which are detectable for about two hours.

In Canada, which is moving to legalize recreational marijuana next year, Cannabix Technologies is working on a similar device to detect THC molecules.

Kal Malhi, the company president, hopes to start selling it in about a year and half, for $1,000 to $1,500. Testing began in March.

“We know it works,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a forensic toxicologist and science adviser to the company.

Unlike an alcohol Breathalyzer, which estimates the amount of alcohol in the blood to determine a degree of drunkenness, both pot devices simply give a yes or no on the presence of THC.

Police don’t have a roadside drug testing tool like this. Goldberger said police in other countries sometimes use saliva swabs that can detect drugs, but those haven’t caught on in the United States.

Bob Griffiths, a retired officer and the director of police standards and training for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said saliva testing technology “has not proven reliable.” This is why it was never adopted in Alaska, where recreational marijuana sales became legal in October.

Griffiths said Alaska police currently conduct field sobriety tests that he described as “fairly rudimentary,” and that the marijuana Breathalyzer “shows promise.” But it still has to be tested by the police, and approved by the courts for use as evidence.

He said the technology is important because it could detect drug impairment in drivers who are not drunk.

“I’ve arrested people who had zero-zero alcohol but they could barely stand up,” he said. “I would say that recreational marijuana, whether legal or not, has always been a problem with impairment with drivers in Alaska.”

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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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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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What the Guys Who Coined ‘420’ Think About Their Place in Marijuana History

Submitted by Marijuana News on Thu, 04/20/2017 – 08:45

By now, you don’t have to be a smoker to know that April 20 is considered by many to be a sort of national holiday for cannabis culture. Some have suggested that the date comes from “420” being a code among police officers for “marijuana-smoking in progress,” while others say that there’s a connection to 4/20 being Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s birthday. But the most credible story about the origins of the illicit observance involves neither of those ideas.

Instead, it involves five high school students who, back in 1971, would get together at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana by a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School in Marin County, Calif. Known as the “Waldos” — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — they would say “420” to each other at some point during the school day as code to meet for a smoke.

Reddix’s brother helped him get a job as a roadie for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, and the term “420” caught on in that Deadhead circle. The legend goes that on Dec. 28, 1990, Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m — and one got in the hands of Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine. The publication published the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number, and before long those digits became known globally for their association with marijuana. In 1998, the outlet recognized the “Waldos” as the “inventors” of 420.

The Waldos still live in northern California, in Marin County and Sonoma County, and are still good friends. TIME caught up with Reddix, now a documentary filmmaker and former CNN cameraman, and Capper, who runs a business that works with staffing agencies, to learn more about the history behind the high.

The reasons for their meeting time, it turns out, aren’t very complicated: school ended around 3:00 p.m., and then came sports practice, and then it would be about 4:20. And the social circumstances that led to the ritual might be familiar to any number of high-schoolers.

“We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks,” says Reddix. “We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”

What happened after 4:20, however, could be a little more unusual. The group challenged each other to find new and interesting things to do while they were high — Reddix says he kept a log of their “safaris” — and tried, at least in some cases, to stay away from their homes as much as possible. (Reddix says he didn’t get along with his stepfather, and that Jeff Noel’s father “happened to be a high-level state narcotics officer,” which the boys sometimes took advantage of by trying to make off with contraband that might be locked in his car, but which also posed its own obvious risks.) In one stand-out example of such a safari, Capper says, the group drove out to a rural area and saw something “magical.”

“The car’s filled with pot smoke, and when we roll down the window, we see two single lines of cows following our car,” he recalls.

“We thought they were hamburgers,” Reddix jokes, but it turned out that they had been trained to follow the farmer’s truck if they wanted to be fed.

Magical cows aside, a lot has changed in the marijuana world between 1971 and 2017, they say — and not just that, in their experience, the weed available today is much stronger than it once was.

Capper says that the mainstream American perception of people who smoke marijuana has evolved significantly, as it’s more accepted that people who are marijuana enthusiasts can also be healthy and smart. He says that his business partner has at times worried that the publicity around Capper’s association with 420 might be bad for business, but that in practice, the people he meets at conferences who are aware of the connection are more likely to ask for a selfie than to judge him. (As for high school, “while I was smoking all this pot, I did two years of coursework in one year and got straight As,” he says.) More accepted medical use of marijuana has also changed the conversation about the drug; Reddix’s wife has used cannabinoids for migraines, and he says it seems to help. And, obviously, the spread of the legalization movement has brought marijuana much more into the open than it once was — “It’s cool that it’s legal, and people aren’t going to jail as much,” says Capper.

As for their own place in that history, they enjoy seeing “420” come up in pop culture — as in Pulp Fiction, in which some of the clocks are set to 4:20, or hotel room 420 in Hot Tub Time Machine — and hope their coded contribution to cannabis culture provides those enthusiasts who observe the day with a little bit of the “private joke quality” and the “brotherhood of outlaws” feeling that they experienced growing up, when their habit was strictly underground.

“Now legalization is happening so fast, you’ve got to stand back and go, this is weird,” says Capper. “This is a trip.”

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