Legal Sector

Sirs,

I believe that a state’s Attorney General and Secretary of State have the obligation to reject any petition that is obviously in violation of any law.

Whether a ballot initiative is properly worded or not, if it proposes, facilitates or allows the violation of any law – it is illegal.

EXCERPT:  “In an opinion dated Tuesday and released Wednesday, Rutledge said the ballot title of the proposal is ambiguous and “that a number of additions or changes” are needed “to more fully and correctly summarize” the proposal.

“The proposal [to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state] by Larry Morris of West Fork would allow for the cultivation, production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use in Arkansas.”:

As you can readily see, Mr. Morris’ proposal would violate federal law and place persons who engage in any of those activities at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.

I draw to your attention a  LEGAL PRIMER(BELOW) ON: ENFORCING THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ACT IN STATES THAT HAVE COMMERCIALIZED MARIJUANA by Mr. David Evans, Esq. in which he concludes that: “Anyone who participates in the growing, possession, manufacturing, distribution, or sales of marijuana under state law or aids or facilitates or finances such actions is at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.”

I ask that you continue to reject these illegal proposals to legalize marijuana in any form in our state of Arkansas.

I reiterate, it is your job to UPHOLD the LAW, not facilitate LAWBREAKING.

Jeanette McDougal

Board Member, Drug Watch, Intl.

Director, NAHAS – National Alliance of Health and Safety dems8692@aol.com

During the 2015 election, the Liberals campaigned on a plan to greenlight marijuana for recreational use to keep it out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals.

The party’s election platform said Canada’s current approach — criminalizing people for possession and use — traps too many Canadians in the justice system for minor offences.

Last month, the government spelled out its plans in legislation, setting sweeping policy changes in motion.  The new law proposes setting the national minimum age to legally buy cannabis at 18 years old. It will be up to the provinces should they want to restrict it further.

Is it true, as Wilson-Raybould and the Liberals suggest, that legalization will in fact keep cannabis out of the hands of kids?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below)

This one earns a lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth. Here’s why:

THE FACTS

There is no doubt cannabis is in the hands of young people today.

In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of teenage and early-age adulthood use of marijuana, says Dr. Mark Ware, the vice-chair of the federally-appointed task force on cannabis and a medicinal marijuana researcher at McGill University.

“We don’t anticipate that this is going to eliminate it; but the public health approach is to make it less easy for young adolescents, young kids, to access cannabis than it is at the moment,” he said.

Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria who specializes in adolescent behaviour, said as many as 60 per cent of 18-year-olds have used marijuana at some point in their lives.

The aim of a regulated, controlled system of legalized cannabis is to make it more difficult for kids to access pot, Ware said, noting the principle goal is to delay the onset of use.

So will a recreational market for adults coupled with a regulatory regime really keep pot out of the hands of kids?

THE EXPERTS

Public health experts — including proponents of legalization — say that probably won’t happen.

“I don’t exactly know what they are planning to do to keep it out of the hands of young people and I think some elaboration of that might be helpful,” Leadbeater said. “It is unlikely that it will change … it has been very, very accessible to young people.”

Benedikt Fischer, a University of Toronto psychiatry professor and senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, agrees the expectation that legalization will suddenly reduce or eliminate use among young people is counter-intuitive and unrealistic to a large extent.

“The only thing we could hope for is that maybe because it is legal, all of a sudden it is so much more boring for young people that they’re not interested in it anymore,” he said.

Increasing penalties for people who facilitate access to kids will help discourage law-abiding Canadians from doing so, says Steven Hoffman, director of a global strategy lab at the University of Ottawa Centre for health law, policy and ethics.

“That being said, when there’s a drug, there’s no foolproof way of keeping it out of the hands of all children,” Hoffman said. “For sure, there will still be children who are still consuming cannabis.”

Cannabis will not be legal for people of all ages under the legislation, he added, noting this means there may still be a market for criminal activity for cannabis in the form of selling it to children.

In Colorado, officials thought there would be an increase in use as a result of legalization, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer at the Department of Public Health and Environment, but he said there’s been no increase among either youth or adults.    Nor has there been a noticeable decrease.

“What it looks like is folks who may have been using illicitly before are using legally now and teens or youth that were using illicitly before, it’s still the same rate of illicit use,” he said.

THE VERDICT

Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said the Liberal government could provide a more nuanced, realistic message about its plans to legalize marijuana.

“To suddenly go over to the rhetoric … that strict regulation is going to keep it out of the hands of young people doesn’t work,” he said.

“There’s a better chance of reducing the harm to young people through a … public health, regulatory approach. That’s ideally what they should be saying.”

Careful messaging around legalized marijuana — like the approach taken by the Netherlands — could make cannabis less of a tempting forbidden fruit for young people, said Mark Haden, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.

“What we know is that prohibition maximizes the engagement of youth, so if we did it well and skillfully and ended prohibition with a wise approach and made cannabis boring, it would keep it out of the hands of kids,” he said.

“It isn’t completely baloney, it just hasn’t gone far enough in terms of a rich, real discussion. It is just political soundbites.”

For this reason, Wilson-Raybould’s statement contains “a lot of baloney.”

METHODOLOGY

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

· No baloney – the statement is completely accurate

· A little baloney – the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required

· Some baloney – the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing

· A lot of baloney – the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth

· Full of baloney – the statement is completely inaccurate

Source:   http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/fact-check-will-legalizing-pot-keep-it-out-of-the-hands-of-kids-1.3397542   4th May 2017

In  2014, an estimated 22.2 million Americans aged 12 years or older had used marijuana in the past month.1

Under federal law, marijuana is considered an illegal Schedule I drug. However, over the last 2 decades, more than half of the states have allowed limited access to marijuana or its components, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol, for medical reasons.2 More recently, 4 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

Currently, evidence for the therapeutic benefits of marijuana are limited to treatment and improvements to certain health conditions (eg, chronic pain, spasticity, nausea).3 Recreational use of marijuana is established by patterns of individual behaviors and lifestyle choices. In either case, use of marijuana or any of its components, especially in younger populations, is associated with an increased risk of certain adverse health effects, such as problems with memory, attention, and learning, that can lead to poor school performance and reduced educational and career attainment, early-onset psychotic symptoms in those at elevated risk, addiction in some users, and altered brain development.4- 7

In September 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) released an issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report—Surveillance Summary describing historical trends in marijuana use and related indicators among the non-institutionalized civilian population aged 12 years or older using 2002-2014 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).8

During the last 13 years, marijuana access (ie, perceived availability) and use (ie, past-month marijuana use) have steadily increased in the United States, particularly among people aged 26 years or older, increasing from 54.9% in 2002 to 59.2% in 2014 and from 4.0% in 2002 to 6.6% in 2014, respectively. The factors associated with the national behavior patterns of marijuana use cannot be attributed solely to the heterogeneous body of state laws and policies that vary considerably with respect to year of enactment, implementation lag time, and access stipulations.

However, as state laws and policies continue to evolve, these data will be useful as a baseline to monitor changes in patterns of use and associated variables. Monitoring behavioral patterns is important given the possible increased risk of adverse health consequences due to potency changes—higher concentrations of THC (the psychoactive compound)—of the cannabis plant in the United States in the last 2 decades.9

Estimates from NSDUH data suggest that in 2014, 2.5 million persons aged 12 years or older had used marijuana for the first time within the past 12 months; this projected estimate suggests that there is an average of about 7000 new users each day (approximately 1000 more new users each day in 2014 compared with in 2002). In 2014, mean age at first use of marijuana was 19 years among persons aged 12 years or older and was 15 years among persons aged 12 to 17 years.8

During 2002-2014, the estimated prevalence of marijuana use in the past month, in the past year, and daily or almost daily increased among persons aged 18 years or older but

not among those aged 12 to 17 years, while the perceived risk from smoking marijuana decreased across all age groups. Conversely, the estimated prevalence of past-year marijuana dependence decreased from 1.8% in 2002 to 1.6% in 2014 among all persons aged 12 years or older and from 16.7% in 2002 to 11.9% in 2014 among past-year marijuana users.

Overall, the perceived availability to obtain marijuana among persons aged 12 years or older increased, and acquiring marijuana by buying the drug and growing it increased vs obtaining marijuana for free and sharing the drug. The percentage of persons aged 12 years or older perceiving that the maximum legal penalty for the possession of 1 oz or less of marijuana in their state of residence is a fine and no penalty increased vs perceptions that penalties included probation, community service, possible prison sentence, and mandatory prison sentence.8

These findings on perceived availability to obtain marijuana and fewer punitive legal penalties (eg, no penalty) for the possession of marijuana for personal use may play a role in the observed increased prevalence in use among adults in the United States. However, surveillance data do not reveal causal relationships; therefore, more granular research is needed.

As states adopt policies that increase legal access to marijuana, new indicators will be needed to understand trends in marijuana use and the risk of health effects. Questions regarding mode of use (eg, smoked, vaped, dabbed, eaten, drunk), frequency of use, potency of marijuana consumed, and reasons for use (ie, medical use, recreational use, or both) could be added to existing surveillance systems or launched in new systems.

Traditionally, understanding factors underlying the trends in marijuana use have been assessed by looking at 1 or 2 indicators (eg, perception of harm risk or dependence or abuse). A multivariable approach that includes environmental (eg, law enforcement, laws/policies) and cultural (eg, religion, individual choice) factors might be required to understand the relationship between the perceptions and attitudes toward marijuana and use behavior.

The health effects associated with marijuana use are still widely debated. Nonetheless, marijuana use during early stages of life, when the brain is developing, poses potential public health concerns, including reduced educational attainment, addiction in some users, poor education outcomes, altered brain structure and function, and cognitive impairment.4- 7

Given these potential health and social consequences of marijuana use, additional data sources at the federal and state levels may be required to assess the public health effects of marijuana use. These sources may include data from sectors such as health care (eg, emergency department data), criminal justice (eg, law enforcement data), education (eg, school attendance and performance data), and transportation (eg, motor vehicle injury data).

Assessing the prevalence and public health effects of marijuana use in the United States remains important given the evolving policies for marijuana for medical or recreational use at the state level. Therefore, it is vital to continue to monitor key traditional marijuana indicators but also to enhance public health surveillance to include monitoring of indicators that assess emerging issues so that public health actions could prevent adverse health consequences.

Given that legislation, types of products, use patterns, and evidence for potential harms and benefits of marijuana and its compounds are all evolving, clinicians need to understand the magnitude of marijuana use and associated behaviors so they can provide informed answers to patient questions, screen, counsel, treat, and refer patients to community treatment or counseling centers if abuse or adverse effects are identified.

Source: JAMA. 2016;316(17):1765-1766. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.13696

The “bud tender” had shoulder length black hair, a deep well of patience and a connoisseur’s pride in his wares as he spread tray after tray of marijuana-based products on the glass counter top.

There were fruit gums, chocolate caramels, granola packets, medicated sugar to drop in your coffee or tea in the morning, Rosemary Cheddar Crackers for a savoury taste, a bath soak and even sensual oil for the bedroom, Charles Watson explained.

Then he moved on to his dozen jars of green, frosted-looking marijuana lumps for smoking, all grown legally in Denver and all named and labelled with a percentage breakdown of their chemical composition to indicate their potency and character.

How marijuana changed Colorado

Mr Watson, a salesman for the prominent Colorado marijuana chain Native Roots, explained that he had a higher tolerance than most users to his products’ effects. For a novice he suggested Harlequin, which would be similar to the cannabis you would have found in the Sixties or early Seventies. It was milder than something like Alien OG with its sky-high THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, content. “Even smoking a tiny bit of that can get you nice and elevated,” Mr Watson said.

Almost anywhere else in the world Native Roots would be considered an unusually well-stocked drug den and Mr Watson could be facing time in jail. In Colorado, where sales of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 have been legal since January 2014, he is one of more than 27,000 people licensed to work in a booming new industry with global ambitions.

“We’re trying to show the world you can sell and regulate it in a responsible manner,” Mr Watson said. His clients are not only stereotypical stoners — they include everyone from the healthy guy that’s just run a marathon to wheelchair users who are inhaling oxygen.

Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, opposed legalisation at the time of the vote in 2012 and subsequently said that he wished he could wave a magic wand and abolish it. In May, however, he changed his tune. “If I had that magic wand now, I don’t know if I would wave it,” he said. “It’s beginning to look like it might work.”

By the end of this year, if a series of state referendums fall in favour of legalisation, recreational marijuana could be approved in nine states, including California, whose economy was the sixth largest in the world last year.

Colorado raised $135 million from marijuana fees, licences and taxes last year, a fraction of the overall state budget of $27 billion but welcome revenue all the same.

Recreational and medical marijuana customers pay a 2.9 per cent regular Colorado sales tax charge and any local taxes. Recreational consumers are also charged an additional 10 per cent state marijuana sales tax and the price of their marijuana includes a 15 per cent excise tax paid by the retailer when purchasing his wares from the grower. The revenue feeds into a state schools building programme. If it is legalised in California, voters will decide whether a portion of the taxes from recreational marijuana sales will go towards tackling the state’s homelessness problem.

There are still marijuana-related crimes in Colorado, for example where the supplier is unlicensed or the customer is under 21 but there are far fewer than previously. The total number of marijuana-related prosecutions fell by more than 8,000 a year between 2012 and 2015, and was down 69 per cent among the 10-17 age group.

Violent crime fell by 6 per cent and property crime dropped by 3 per cent between 2009 and 2014, the first year of the experiment, debunking pessimistic forecasts made before legalisation.

The state’s senior law enforcement official, Stan Hilkey, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said he was surprised by the results. “During the debate there was a ‘sky is gonna fall’ mentality from a lot of us, including me,” he said. “I haven’t seen that.” He said, however, that after three decades as a police officer he found it difficult “to shed my cop glasses”. Asked if legalisation had brought any benefits to the public or to law enforcement, he said: “None that I’m aware of.”

In May the state’s county sheriffs, prosecutors and police chiefs wrote to Colorado legislators to complain about the extra workload foisted on them by legalisation. They called for a two-year break from the constant tweaks to the regulation of

medical and recreational marijuana. Their letter said that there had been 81 bills on the subject introduced in the previous four years.

They wrote: “Industry forces are working constantly to chip away at regulations put in place to protect public health and safety.”

Mr Hilkey added that legalisation had failed to defeat the black market, which continues to thrive because its product is cheaper and not restricted by age. It has also created new problems, including the illegal export of licensed and unlicensed marijuana to neighbouring states and almost certainly brought greater profits to organised crime activity in Colorado.

The ban on marijuana sales at national level means that officially at least, banks will not open accounts for marijuana growers or vendors, so the industry remained a cash business, he said. Therefore this made it ripe for criminals.

There were 2,538 licensed marijuana businesses in Colorado last December, many of which hire security to protect against armed robberies.

Last month a former Marine Corps veteran working as a guard at the Green Heart dispensary in Aurora, near Denver, was shot dead in a botched robbery, the first killing at a licensed marijuana business, though not the first robbery.

Two days later a small group of Republicans in Congress blocked a measure backed by both parties that would have effectively opened the banking system to marijuana businesses.

You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely think twice if they smell weed

A spokesman for Blue Line Protection Group, one of the largest companies competing to provide security and compliance services to the new industry, said that it was a myth that there was no banking. In practice some local banks and credit agencies now feel comfortable offering services to the marijuana industry but the national chains are still waiting for approval from the federal government.

Andrew Freedman, the governor’s director of marijuana coordination, said that if California voters passed recreational legalisation, the federal government would feel compelled to step in to open up legitimate banking for the industry.

Mr Freedman, a lawyer who refuses to give a personal opinion on legalisation, said that Colorado had succeeded in creating a heavily regulated marijuana industry where consumers could safely buy a healthier product than was available on the black market.

He said that it was too early to answer many of the most pressing questions about legalisation, including what impact it had on alcohol, tobacco and opioid usage although he had been pleasantly surprised by how few tragedies there had been through marijuana overdoses.

His greatest worry is that over time people’s comfort with legalisation could make radically different patterns of marijuana use socially acceptable.

That may be happening already though. Evan Borman, 33, an architect who lives down the street from a medical marijuana shop, said attitudes in the state were shifting, though he claimed that he smoked “no less and no more” than he did before legalisation. He said: “You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely even think twice if they smell weed.”

Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/yes-it-s-legal-but-the-law-s-still-a-drag-j8rdh3nbj    August 22nd 2016

An ITV News investigation has uncovered how children as young as 12 are being ruthlessly groomed and exploited by organised crime groups who send them the length and breadth of the country to carry drugs and money.

Working round-the-clock as a 14-year-old drugs mule

ITV News has seen an internal Home Office document which describes this as a “new type of organised crime” that is “unreported”.

It also suggests the number of kids involved is “unrecorded”. And it contains a stark warning; suggesting that current government practice – including the inability of public services to work together – “might be making it easier for criminal gangs to exploit  vulnerable people”.

 Warning signs that your child may be involved in a gang

Speaking to ITV News, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield called for the same “mindset change” about these young adults being groomed to run drugs by gangs as that after child sex exploitation was uncovered across Britain in 2014.

One teenager described to ITV News how he was groomed by drug gangs.   We spoke to one 15-year-old boy, caught up in this dangerous world since the age of 13.

Daniel described how drug dealers groomed him, gave him gifts and made him feel part of their group.

“They’d pick me up around the corner from my house. They’d give me a lift to school and I’d get out and you just felt like you were important getting out of a nice big car.”

“Anything I ever wanted I got given and I thought it was all for free,” Daniel added.

But he soon realised they wanted something in return. They asked him to deliver shoeboxes of class A drugs and bags of pills, often having to travel long distances from home.

Daniel is still trying to escape this life.

And he’s not alone. We’ve discovered that young boys and girls are being sent out from major cities including Liverpool, London, Manchester and Birmingham to towns and coastal resorts right across Britain.

Others are directed from the capital to Winchester, Peterborough and towns along the south coast.

Children as young as 12 are being sent out from major cities. Credit: ITV News

We heard of boys being sent from Manchester to Aberdeen and Grimsby and teens from Liverpool turning up in Essex and Exeter. The police call it “county lines”, the children call it “going country”.

Home Office documents seen by ITV News describe it a “new type of organised crime” that is “unreported” and “unrecorded”. The department said the number of kids involved is “unrecorded” but our research suggests it runs into thousands.

Stephen Moore, a former senior detective at Merseyside Police and an expert in organised crime, says the drug syndicates see this as a business and children represent cheap labour, easy to exploit and easy to replace if anything happens to them.

“This is like mill owners using kids in Victorian times or sending kids down mines – cheap, easily replaceable labour, ” Mr Moore said. The gangs prey on school children but the Home Office documents warn they particularly target vulnerable young people from children’s care homes, or those who have been excluded from mainstream education.

It’s a growing problem. In just one small area of Essex around Clacton-on-Sea, police say there are as many as 19 ‘county lines’ running from Liverpool, London and Manchester Caroline Shearer runs the charity Only Cowards Carry, which works with young people to keep them safe.

“Once a child is in a drug ring it’s very hard to get out,” she told ITV News.

Really there’s three ways. You can run away and hope that nobody ever finds you. You can go to prison, which is probably the best bet to help you get out of it, unfortunately. You can die because you will not get out of it. And unfortunately this is something that most people don’t understand.

– CAROLINE SHEARER, CHARITY OWNER

Experts think many of the children who go missing every year in this country may have actually have “gone country”. In one London borough, Lewisham, the local authority believes half of its missing children have been groomed to carry drugs.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said there are parallels with child sexual exploitation and action is urgently needed to protect boys and girls.  The Children’s Commissioner said a mindset change is needed to tackle the issue.

“I think as a country we have had a very serious and overdue wake-up call about child sexual exploitation and saw that very starkly in areas such as Rotherham,” she said.

“There are youngsters involved in gangs who are in every other sense being groomed into that situation and being exploited and if we are going to protect them and prevent them being in those gangs and coming to harm we need that same scale of mindset change about them.”

It appears the UK’s drug trade has reinvented itself, expanding from inner cities to parts of the new country and exploiting children has allowed it to do this without detection.

In January we announced our Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation approach, which includes specific action to tackle county lines, protect vulnerable locations and safeguard gang-associated women and girls. The National Crime Agency published its first threat assessment of ‘County Lines’ in August 2015 and is working closely with the National Policing Lead for Gangs to ensure there is a national, coordinated response from law enforcement.

– HOME OFFICE STATEMENT

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2016-09-29/going-country-itv-news-reveals-the-scale-of-children-being-exploited-and-sent-around-britain-to-carry-drugs/ 

States that have legalized marijuana are contending with a new criminal tactic — smugglers who grow and process it for export to states where it’s illegal and worth a lot more.

Colorado is the epicenter of the phenomenon, although it’s popping up in Oregon and Washington too. Now as Maine, Massachusetts and Canada consider legalizing recreational marijuana, the question arises — will the Northeast see a wave of new-age bootleggers?

During the Prohibition era, it was whiskey being run from Canada or Mexico to the U.S. Now it’s marijuana that’s being smuggled — from Colorado, where it has been fully legal since 2014, to neighboring states and beyond.

“It’s probably our No. 1 concern.” says Andrew Freedman, who directs marijuana policy for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Freedman says organized criminals are exploiting legal loopholes by collecting home-grow licenses that allow for as many as 99 marijuana plants each. And more generally, he says, criminals are using the state’s fully legalized pot economy as cover.

“Different ways you can use Amendment 20 and 64, the medical and the recreational, to kind of cloak yourself in legitimate growing. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who want to do that in order to sell out of state because there’s a huge economic incentive to want to sell out of state right now,” he says.

As in, a pound of pot, worth, say, $1,500 at the counter of a legal Colorado marijuana shop is worth $3,000 or more when it crosses the state border, instantly transmuted into a prized black-market commodity. And criminal gangs are moving in, creating a headache for Colorado law enforcement, danger to public safety and a field day for the media.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says last year, state highway patrols intercepted more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana that was destined for states beyond Colorado’s border. That’s just a tenth, they estimate, of the actual cross-border market, making it, conservatively, a $100 million-plus proposition. Those numbers do not include busts of some pretty big syndicates, many of them recently involving Cuban nationals shipping product to Florida.

And for Colorado’s neighboring states, it’s a doubly-frustrating problem, because it’s not of their own making.

“In Nebraska, Colorado’s become ground zero for marijuana production and trafficking,” says Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s attorney general, who with his counterpart in Oklahoma is trying to sue Colorado and force it to overturn its marijuana laws. “This contraband has been heavily trafficked in our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the production and sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost. Virtually every aspect of Nebraska’s criminal justice system has experienced increased expense to deal with the interdiction and prosecution of Colorado marijuana trafficking.” One Nebraska study found that border counties saw gradual increases in pot-related arrests, jailings and costs since medicinal marijuana was legalized in Colorado, and a surge in 2014, when the recreational pot law went into effect. But the U.S. Supreme

Court recently declined to review the complaint by Colorado’s neighbors, which are looking for other venues to pursue their case.

Meanwhile, here on the East Coast, voters in Massachusetts and Maine are considering full legalization on the November ballot, and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for legalization there. If those measures are all approved, police in New Hampshire are wondering what it would be like to be nearly surrounded by legal pot territory.

Andrew Shagoury is Tuftonboro’s chief of police, and the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association’s point-man on pot. If Maine or Massachusetts does go for legalization, he expects that at the least, problems such as small-scale smuggling and intoxicated driving will spill over the border.

“If more does spill over, the direct effect I suspect will be more accidents with people under the influence — obviously that would be a public safety concern. And I think politically you’d see more pressure for it to pass here too,” he says.

And Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy expects organized crime to open up new fields of operation.

“What’s going to stop a drug cartel from purchasing property, renting property here and running an operation at the property? And that’s something that could be situated next to a school, next to a hospital, in a suburban neighborhood. That’s a real problem,” she says.

But some note that Colorado neighbors such as Nebraska and Omaha have relatively strict marijuana laws, creating a strong incentive for smugglers there. In New England there is a more relaxed culture around marijuana — every state in the region, except for New Hampshire, has decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and allowed use of medicinal marijuana, perhaps reducing potential black-market demand.

Essentially, says Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, Vermonters are already growing enough pot to meet most of their smoking needs. But Sorrell is worried about the introduction of edible marijuana products into the regional marketplace.

“And I really think the regulators have to do a lot more effective work on quality control so that buyers know what is the THC content, what is a legitimate serving or portion because I think there has been and will continue to be a problem with over ingestion of marijuana,” he says.

There are specific parts of the measures in Maine and Massachusetts that could make it harder for criminals to aggregate licenses for big grow operations. And advocates of ending pot prohibition point to what they believe would be the most effective way to end the black market economy — to legalize marijuana in every state.

Source: http://mainepublic.org/post/will-legalizing-marijuana-create-modern-bootlegger 21st Sept.2016

More of the U.S. workforce is testing positive for drugs, according to lab tests at Quest Diagnostics.

For the fifth straight year, the detection rate of amphetamine and heroin rose, while marijuana increased by 47 percent since 2013.

The analysis of 11 million workforce drug test results from 2015 shows a steady increase or a 10-year high in positive results, Quest said in a statement.

Here are some of the insights from the test results:

* Positivity rate was 4 percent in 2015, compared to 3.9 percent in 2014 for urine tests.

* The last year that positivity rate for urine tests was at or more than 4 percent was 2005.

* Post-accident urine test have been increasingly positive for drugs, from 6.5 percent in 2014 to 6.9 percent in 2015.

* An increase from 6.7 percent to 9.1 percent in marijuana positivity.

* Almost 45 percent of workforce tests were positive for marijuana in 2015.

“This report shows a welcome decline in workplace drug test positives for certain prescription opiates but a disturbing increase in heroin positives. This rise in heroin should concern both policymakers and employers. Substance abuse is a safety risk for everyone. This new workplace evidence is an additional sign of the rising national heroin problem, this time in the workplace,” said Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement through Quest.

Mark de Bernardo, executive director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace, said the numbers underscore the threat to employers and employees from drug abuse and should provide a wake-up call to all.

Source: http://www.njbiz.com/article/20160916/NJBIZ01/160919875/greater-number-of-us-workforce-is-testing-positive-for-illegal-drugs     Sept.16 2016

By Christopher Ingraham

Source: Washington Post

USA — An appeals court ruled last week that a federal law prohibiting medical marijuana cardholders from purchasing guns does not violate their Second Amendment rights, because marijuana has been linked to “irrational or unpredictable behavior.”

The ruling came in the case of a Nevada woman who attempted to purchase a handgun in 2011, but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder, according to court documents. S. Rowan Wilson maintained that she didn’t actually use marijuana, but obtained a card to make a political statement in support of liberalizing marijuana law.

Federal law prohibits gun purchases by an “unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance.” In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a letter that the law applies to marijuana users “regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.” Though a growing number of states are legalizing it for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, which considers the drug to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal law passes muster with the Constitution, as “it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior.”

The court then concluded that it is reasonable to assume that a medical marijuana cardholder is a marijuana user, and hence reasonable to deny their gun purchase on those grounds.

From a legal standpoint, the nexus between marijuana use and violence was established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Virginia, in the 2014 case of United States v. Carter. That case cited a number of studies suggesting “a significant link between drug use, including marijuana use, and violence,” according to the 9th Circuit’s summary.

In the words of the 4th Circuit, those studies found that: “Probationers who had perpetrated violence in the past were significantly more likely to have used a host of drugs — marijuana, hallucinogens, sedatives, and heroin — than probationers who had never been involved in a violent episode.”

“Almost 50% of all state and federal prisoners who had committed violent felonies were drug abusers or addicts in the year before their arrest, as compared to only 2% of the general population.”

“Individuals who used marijuana or marijuana and cocaine, in addition to alcohol, were significantly more likely to engage in violent crime than individuals who only used alcohol.”

Among adolescent males, “marijuana use in one year frequently predicted violence in the subsequent year.” The 4th Circuit argued that, on the link between drug use and violence, the question of correlation vs. causation doesn’t matter: “Government need not prove a causal link between drug use and violence” to block firearms purchases by drug users. A simple link between drug use and violence, regardless of which way the causality runs, is grounds enough. Still, the 9th Circuit did suggest causation was part of its decision, saying that irrational behavior can be “a consequence” of marijuana use.

This argument — that substance use increases risky behavior — applies to plenty of other drugs, too, and not just illegal ones. For instance, drug policy researchers Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken have pointed out that tobacco users also are more likely to engage in crime relative to the general population. “Compared with nonsmokers, cigarette smokers have a higher rate of criminality,” they wrote in their 2011 book Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. “Smoking in and of itself does not lead to crime, but within the population of smokers we are more likely to find individuals engaged in illicit behavior.”

The authors also point out that there’s a much stronger link between violent behavior and alcohol than there is for many illegal drugs: “There is a good deal of evidence showing an association between alcohol intoxication and pharmacologically induced violent crime,” they write. They added: “There is little direct association between marijuana or opiate use and violent crime. … it is also possible that for some would-be offenders, the pharmacological effect of certain drugs (marijuana and heroin are often given as examples) may actually reduce violent tendencies.”

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

Source: Washington Post (DC) September 7, 2016: 

On July 28 and July 29, agents of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assisted by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) responded to USFS property on Brush Mountain, Gainor Peak and Oak Knob in eastern Humboldt County after sighting marijuana being cultivated on USFS land. The deputies were also accompanied by three scientists, two from Integral Ecology Research Center, and one associated with UC Davis and Hoopa Tribal Wildlife Ecologist.

During the two days deputies seized 3,760 marijuana plants ranging in size from 18 inches to four feet. Deputies and scientists located water diversion, mounds of trash and 24 pounds of rodenticides, of which nine pounds were peanut butter flavored and 15 pounds were second generation rodenticide. Malathion and fertilizers were also located at the scenes. No suspects were located in the area of the trespass marijuana grows, however deputies obtained evidence from the scenes that is being processed and the investigation is ongoing.

The spring fed water sources, which had been diverted and used to water marijuana plants, flow into the South Fork of the Trinity River. The springs were part of a network of subterranean water sources. The scientists reported that impacts from the water diversions and chemicals used on the grows could affect Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, foothill yellow-legged frogs and the western pond turtles.

The scientists reported the rodenticides could potentially kill fishes, Northern spotted owls, American black bears, black tailed deer and Humboldt martens.

Below are some quotes from Dr. Mourad Gabriel of the UC Davis Wildlife Ecologist/Integral Ecology Research Center, who was present with the deputies and USFS agents.

“The removal of this massive amount of killing agents within prime spotted owl and fisher habitat is pertinent for the conservation of these species.”                                                        

“The illegal diversion of this amount of water prohibits the flow of cool water into tributaries that support our salmon populations.”

In light of the current drought and high water temperatures, this represents another blow to our already taxed watersheds.”

“The remediation efforts are crucial in protecting our forest ecosystems.”

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office crime tip line at 707-268-2539.

Redwood Times  Posted:   08/11/2014

http://www.redwoodtimes.com/news/ci_26315593/trespass-grows-found-usfs-land

 

 

 

I continue to be puzzled by an attitude that if something is difficult to enforce then we should abandon attempts and just legalize it. That is apparently the attitude of Oregon’s politicians (Republican and Democrat alike) and is reflected in the comments of the official spokesman for the government elites – The Oregonian – in its August 23 edition:

“Oregon has had a wink-wink, nudge-nudge relationship with recreational marijuana use since 1998, when legalization for medical purposes created a wide, open system that distributes pot cards to just about anyone with a vague medical claim and the signature of a compliant physician. We’re not suggesting that marijuana has no palliative value to those with genuine medical problems. But let’s be honest: Recreational marijuana is all but legal in Oregon now and has been for years. Measure 91, which deserves Oregonians’ support, would eliminate the charade and give adults freer access to an intoxicant that should not have been prohibited in the first place.”

There it is. The marijuana advocates foisted a canard on Oregonians by exploiting the plight of those benefiting from the use of medical marijuana. Having convinced Oregonians that those is need should not be denied, they set up a system that guaranteed abuses and then urged others to look the other way when the abuses became obvious and widespread. Wink, wink, nod, nod. There’s a solid foundation for change. (For those of you forced to endure a teachers union led education in Portland public schools, that is what is meant by “sarcasm”.)

And now the second canard is upon us with the assertion that “everyone is already doing it” and that recreational marijuana is not harmful. When the push began, those supporting it chanted “nobody has ever died from marijuana.” And that folks, is just plain bulls—t.

A New York Times article on May 31, 2014, noted:

“Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging.

“Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.

“There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities say. Some hospital officials say they are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana. Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming out of Colorado and through their towns.”

On May 24, 2014, Newsweek reported:

“Wednesday’s move in Colorado to tighten rules on edible goods made with pot comes after two adult deaths possibly linked to such products. Meanwhile, a Colorado children’s hospital said it has seen an uptick in the number of admissions of children who ingested marijuana-laced foods since the start of the year.

“’Since the … legalization of recreational marijuana sales, Children’s Colorado has treated nine children, six of whom became critically ill from edible marijuana,’ the statement from Colorado Children’s Hospital said.”

And The Raw Story reported on April 2, 2014:

“A Wyoming college student visiting Colorado on spring break is the first reported death related to the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

“Levy Thamba, a student at Northwest College, fell to his death last month from the balcony of a Holiday Inn in Denver.

“Autopsy results released Monday showed the 19-year-old Thamba, who was also known as Levi Thamba Pongi, died from multiple injuries caused by the fall. But the coroner also listed ‘marijuana intoxication’ from a pot-infused cookie as a significant contributor to the student’s death.”

And finally, CBS reported from Seattle on February 4, 2014:

“According to a recent study, fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S.

‘Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,’ Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study told HealthDay News.”

But the Oregonian is undeterred by the mounting evidence of harm:

“Opponents of the measure are right about a couple of things. Allowing retail sales of recreational marijuana inevitably will make it easier for kids to get their hands on the stuff, as will Measure 91′s provision allowing Oregonians to grow their own. It’s also true that outright legalization will increase the number of people driving under the influence, which is particularly problematic given the absence of a simple and reliable test for intoxication. There is no bong Breathalyzer.

“As real as these consequences are, Oregonians should support outright legalization. . .”

We have imposed safety requirements on a whole host of things including guns, automobiles, golf carts, children’s toys and food products that have a lower incident rate of death and injury than is being currently compiled by the unrestricted use of marijuana. Oregon is now tying itself in knots trying to eliminate the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) with no scientific evidence of harm and only a speculation as to what might become. But there is no apparent concern about the modification of marijuana to increase its potency which has resulted in numerous adverse health issues with children and adults alike.

And while the Oregonian acknowledges that there is no “simple and reliable test for marijuana intoxication” it fails to note that there is similarly no simple and reliable test for testing potency. There are no labeling requirements and no guidelines as to the limits of consumption and impairment. Contrast that with the liquor industry that has defined limits and labeling on the alcohol content of various beers, wine and liquors. There are exacting studies that demonstrate the effects of alcohol on a person given weight variations.

And yet the Oregonian ignores that in favor of addressing it sometime in the future – maybe.

And Oregon’s politicians are even less helpful because they are fixated on tax revenue opportunities from the unrestricted use of marijuana. Little thought is

being given to the problems that will be caused. Their sole focus is upon using regression analysis to determine how high the tax can be without seriously reducing the volume of consumption – it is the same myopic view used when determining the tax on tobacco. That amount of tax will increase over time as the use becomes more widespread and the dependency becomes more pronounced and as state government becomes more dependent on the revenue generated, the ability to correct the abuses of marijuana will be marginalized – just like tobacco.

In the end, this is all about the “me generation” and that pervasive attitude that “if it feels good, do it.” It furthers the myth of life without consequences. The only upside is for those who eschew getting high in favor of getting hired – your prospects for getting a good job and routine promotion are greatly enhanced.

Source: www.oregoncatalyst.com 27th August 2014

I live in Denver, where marijuana dispensaries outnumber pharmacies, liquor stores, McDonald’s and Starbucks. When I walk and drive the streets of this beautiful Rocky Mountain city, I often encounter the smell of marijuana smoke. Marijuana users are not allowed to smoke openly and publicly, but a bench in the front yard is considered private property, allowing the smell to pollute the clean mountain air. 

The problems in Colorado began 14 years ago with the passage of Amendment 20 legalizing medical marijuana. Abuse and fraud flourished under its provisions because medical marijuana became easily available for recreational use.

In November, Florida voters will be faced with the choice to legalize marijuana for “medical use.” Voters should instead ask themselves whether they want marijuana legalized in Florida for recreational use. That’s essentially what Amendment 2 will do. The amendment is so flawed that if it passes, medical marijuana will be readily available for anyone who wants to obtain it.

Like Colorado, Florida’s Amendment 2 allows “Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers” to develop edibles. These food products have been developed intentionally to allow discreet consumption of marijuana in public places, at schools and in the workplace, and to introduce the product to a larger – younger – consumer base.

In Colorado, marijuana is sold in soda, salty snacks like nuts, granola bars, breakfast cereals, cookies, rice cereal treats, cooking oil and even salad dressing. Some companies buy commercially available children’s candies like Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, lollipops or lemon drops and infuse them with marijuana. Others make chocolate bars, Tootsie Rolls and truffles.   So now in Colorado, parents who once taught their children not to take candy from a stranger must tell their children not to take candy from a friend because it could very well contain marijuana. Our emergency rooms report a striking increase in children who have unintentionally ingested marijuana edibles and require medical treatment.

Florida’s Amendment 2 allows for any medical condition, not just terminal, chronic or debilitating conditions, to qualify for marijuana treatment, as long as “a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” This exception will result in patients who use marijuana to get high, despite the stated intention of the amendment to prohibit such conduct.

Colorado’s marijuana patient registry statistics show that only 1 percent of patients list HIV/AIDS; 2 percent, seizures; and 3 percent, cancer. A whopping 94 percent of those using “medical marijuana” claim to have “severe pain,” a subjective and unverifiable condition.

Sixty-six percent of users are male with an average age of 41, despite severe pain being a condition more closely associated with older, female patients. In Denver, it is common to see young, 20-something able-bodied men flocking to medical marijuana centers Friday and Saturday nights to get their “medicine.”  Since outright legalization in 2012 for all persons 21 or older, Colorado has seen an explosion of medical marijuana patients between 18-20 years old.

Moreover, the long-term health implications from youth marijuana use are troubling. A longitudinal study found an association between weekly marijuana use by persons under the age of 18 and permanent decline in IQ.

You might think Florida won’t go as far as Colorado and Washington, but it will be one step closer. Every state that passes medical marijuana laws believes they will be able to correct the errors of those who have paved the way. This has yet to be accomplished.

The Colorado experiment is failing our children, and so will Florida’s. Coloradans may not be able to go back in time, but you can stop yours before it starts.

Rachel O’Bryan is a Colorado resident and an attorney who spent 18 months serving at the request of Governor John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Department of Revenue to aid in the development of recreational marijuana legislation and regulation. She is a founding member of SMART Colorado, a citizen-led nonprofit that protects Colorado kids from the unintended negative consequences of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Source:  http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2014/09/13/viewpoint-colorado-going-pot-let-florida/15534781/

Powdered alcohol was approved by a government agency on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. The product, called “Palcohol,” could arrive in stores this summer. Last year the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for powdered alcohol. It then said the approval had been a mistake.

Lipsmark, the company that makes Palcohol, plans to sell four powdered products: cosmopolitan, margarita, a vodka and a rum, the article notes. The product will be sold in foil pouches that can be used as a glass. A person pours in five ounces of water, zips up the bag and shakes it until the powder dissolves.

Several states, including Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont, have banned the use/sale of powdered alcohol, and a number of other states are considering similar legislation.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York introduced a bill last year to ban powdered alcohol. Last May Schumer urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent federal approval of powdered alcohol. He said it could become “the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking.” Schumer noted the product can be mixed with water, sprinkled on food or snorted. He asked the FDA to investigate the potential harmful effects of the product.

In a statement released last May, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) said it agreed with Schumer. “This product is the latest in a long list of specialty alcohol fads,” MADD said. “As with anything ‘new,’ this product may be attractive to youth. … In the case of Palcohol, we share Senator Schumer’s view that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should carefully review this product as it would seem to have the potential to increase underage drinking.” The FDA approved powdered alcohol last summer, the article notes.

Source: www.drugfree.org 12th March 2015

Filed under: Alcohol,Legal Sector,USA :

For decades, the Netherlands has been known for its tolerant cannabis laws – the poster nation for pro-pot advocates. Cannabis users from across the world have flocked to Amsterdam to patronize its many cannabis-selling “coffee shops.” Throughout this time cannabis has remained illegal in the Netherlands; although, the Dutch have not prosecuted anyone in possession of less than five grams of cannabis for personal use. This distinctive drug policy of tolerance toward cannabis is called gedoogbeleid, and known as the “Dutch model.”

Now, the U.S. now is the first, and so far the only, nation in the world to have fully legal production, sale, promotion, and use of cannabis for people 21 an older. In stark contrast, the Dutch are moving in the opposite direction, limiting the growth, distribution, and use of cannabis and showing no interest in “medical marijuana.” Cannabis with a THC level of more than 15 percent is now under consideration to be reclassified as a “hard drug.” In the Netherlands, that designation comes with stiff criminal penalties. Furthermore, the nation once had more than 1,000 coffee shops, 300 in Amsterdam alone. Now, there are fewer than 200 in the city and 617 nationwide. This is the result of the government’s actions to force coffee shops to choose either to sell alcohol or marijuana. Notably, many are choosing to sell alcohol.

While it has always been illegal to grow cannabis in the Netherlands, for years police acted as if they didn’t know where the shops were getting the drug. This is no longer the case. Now, new laws target even the smallest cannabis growers. In the past, anyone could grow up to five plants without fear of penalty. In 2011, the government issued new police guidelines declaring that anyone who grew cannabis with electric lights, prepared soil, “selected” seeds or ventilation would be considered a “professional” grower. This is a significant change because professional growers risk major criminal penalties, including eviction and blacklisting from the government-provided housing in which more than half of the country’s citizens reside.

What made the Netherlands make such a strong shift in its cannabis policy? The overall drug policy of the Netherlands – not just for cannabis but including cannabis – has four major objectives:

1. To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.

2. To reduce harm to users.

3. To diminish public nuisance by drug users (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighborhoods).

4. To combat the production and trafficking of recreational drugs.

The Netherlands has determined that its relaxed cannabis laws were a threat to these expressed public health objectives. The nation’s new, more restrictive laws on cannabis, including the banning of cannabis with THC levels of 15 percent or more, demonstrate that the government wants to reduce cannabis sale and use for reasons of public health.

As the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana spreads to more states in the U.S., we need to look anew to the Netherlands. The U.S. can benefit from what the lessons the Netherlands has learned about cannabis over the past four decades. How surprising is it that the American media frequently praised the Dutch cannabis policy when it seemed permissive but now that Dutch have become more restrictive their new cannabis policy is ignored?

Robert L. DuPont, M.D.

President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.

Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978) Former White House Drug Chief (1973-1977)

Source: www.ibhinc.org 15th March 2015

Should heavy drinking in pregnancy be a crime? A recent test case in the UK was thrown out, but in the US hundreds of women have been imprisoned. We meet women and children affected by foetal alcohol syndrome

I’d had problems all my life and I didn’t know why,’ says Stella, who found out at 19 that she has foetal alcohol syndrome.

Stella was 19 when she discovered she has foetal alcohol syndrome. “I found out in a horrible way, to be honest,” she says. She had taken her boyfriend to meet her father for the first time. Stella and her father had only limited contact, but her boyfriend hoped that he might help to explain some of Stella’s erratic, unreliable behaviour, and asked him upfront, “What’s wrong with your daughter? Why is she the way she is?”

That’s when he paused, and he breathed, and he said it,” Stella says, still distressed at the memory of the conversation. “I was shocked. I asked, ‘Why wasn’t I told about it?’ He said he didn’t want me to dwell on something like that.

My heart felt like it was jumping out of my mouth,” the 25-year-old remembers. “It killed me inside. Why have I lived all my life without knowing about it? It was a really bad time.”

Stella and I arrange to meet at her friend’s flat, and she arrives two hours late, hugely apologetic that she forgot all about it. She tells me she has struggled with timekeeping all her life. Articulate and thoughtful, she gives no real indication of having the disorder, aside from occasionally trailing off and losing her train of thought, asking, “What was I just saying there?” But she describes how catastrophically her life has been affected by the legacy of her mother’s drinking.

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the umbrella term for a range of birth defects associated with drinking in pregnancy. At the extreme end of the spectrum is foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a very rare condition caused by heavy or frequent alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS can cause a range of physical and cognitive problems. Some babies are born with facial abnormalities – thin upper lips, a flatter area between the lip and the nose, smaller eyes. Babies with both FAS and FASD are often smaller than other babies, and typically remain small throughout their lives. Some children may have no physical signs of the condition, but a range of developmental disorders – attention deficit, hyperactivity, poor coordination, language problems and learning disabilities. There is no reliable research on how common it is in the UK; some doctors believe FAS may affect one child in 1,000, and FASD between three and four times more. Adolescents and adults with FASD are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

Stella spent much of her childhood in care, until she was 11, when her aunt took her in. Her mother died before her father broke the news, so she was never able to ask her about the past. Instead, she went to her GP, who looked at her files. “She said, ‘Yes, you do have this. Your mum was a heavy alcoholic.’” The GP printed out a document that said Stella had been diagnosed in 1993, aged three.

She took to researching the condition online. “It described things that made sense,” Stella says. “All my life, things had been happening to me, and it was suddenly explained. I’m not good with organisation, bills, day-to-day things. I can’t read and write. I’m not good at maths. I’d had these problems and I didn’t know why.” She has never had a job and wonders if she would manage. “I want everything to be simple. If it isn’t, my head feels scattered. I can’t focus. I can’t concentrate.”

Women shouldn’t be prosecuted – they should be given alcohol rehabilitation

At the end of last year, a controversial British court case hinged on whether a woman should be considered to be committing a crime if she drinks heavily during pregnancy. The case looked at whether the council caring for a seven-year-old girl with FAS was entitled to extract compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on her behalf. Lawyers examined the legal rights of an unborn child and asked whether alcohol consumption by the mother constituted the crime of poisoning.

The court of appeal ruled in December that the mother, who inflicted lifelong damage on her child by consuming large quantities of alcohol while pregnant, had not committed a criminal offence, and that her daughter was not, therefore, entitled to compensation. To date, no woman has been prosecuted under English law for harm she caused to her child in utero, but hundreds of women in the US have been imprisoned for drinking or taking drugs during pregnancy. And the legal battle here is far from over; lawyers representing the seven-year-old (who remains anonymous), and around 80 other children affected by FASD, are considering whether to pursue the case in the supreme court.

We’re not talking here about the effects of drinking a couple of glasses of wine at a friend’s wedding. The test case involved a woman who drank, by her own account, half a bottle of vodka and several cans of strong lager daily. But there is a growing sense among politicians and doctors that drinking during pregnancy is an issue that is not taken seriously enough. In Westminster, politicians have been debating whether official guidance over drinking in pregnancy is sufficiently clear. The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists recently hardened its advice, saying women should avoid alcohol altogether in the first three months of pregnancy. NHS Choices, the government’s health advisory website, states that the UK chief medical officers’ advice is that abstinence is best, but adds, “If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, we recommend they should not drink more than one or two units once or twice a week and should not get drunk.” The chief medical officer for England is currently reviewing these guidelines.

Lost in all these discussions, however, have been the voices of adults affected by the condition, and those of mothers who have given birth to, and brought up, children with FAS. Among them, there is little appetite for further stigmatising of mothers. But there is agreement that pregnant women need clearer guidance and help, and that affected children need much more support.

Stella thinks she can identify in herself the facial characteristics that sometimes go with the condition (although they are not discernible to others, or me; she looks lovely). But, she says, “It is more mental. I am not capable of doing things. I was hyperactive when I was young. I never listened. I got picked on a lot at primary school; there was a lot of spiteful behaviour. I went to a special needs secondary school – that was better – but I should have had more support as a teenager.”

Although she finds it painful to talk about her childhood, Stella is determined to raise awareness of the syndrome. Recently, she has spoken at conferences arranged by support group the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (Nofas), which has helped find a charity that provides regular support sessions, allowing her to live independently: “They help with finances and forms, things I am not capable of doing.”

Stella feels ambivalent towards her mother. “I feel some sort of hate and some sort of love,” she says. “I want to be able to go back and ask her questions – questions that will never be answered, because she is dead.” She wishes she had known earlier what the cause of her difficulties was, but she is clear that moving towards prosecuting women is not the right answer. “What difference will it make? She hasn’t committed a crime – she has an issue with alcohol.”

No woman I have met ever wants to harm her baby. This is an illness, not a choice

 Laura has two sons with FASD: ‘I need to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people.’ Photograph: Sophia Spring for the Guardian

Laura has two teenage sons who were diagnosed with FASD a few years ago. She was pregnant with them in the 1990s, when – as she remembers it – there was real ambiguity about the levels of safe alcohol consumption for pregnant women, and she doesn’t remember being confronted by her midwives. Her partner was violent, she was beaten during the first pregnancy, and had panic attacks. “I was a social drinker, but increasingly I was using alcohol to cope. I went to all my appointments, they were aware that I drank – I was drinking beer, mainly, Holsten Pils. The midwife knew I was a four-times-a-week drinker.”

Laura’s first pregnancy progressed without any problems, and she “gave birth to a beautiful child”. Over the next few years, her relationship with the child’s father deteriorated, she lost her job and her home, and began to drink more and more. By the time she was pregnant with her second son, she was an alcoholic. “I had to go into hospital early, and by that time I was drinking 24/7 – mainly beer, a few cans a day, not massive binges. But nobody mentioned the drink: not the doctors, not the midwives. They didn’t advise about the risk of FAS. I had no suspicion that my child could be affected.”

Her second son was born a few weeks prematurely. Neither child had any of the physical features of FAS, and both went to mainstream schools, but their behaviour was very challenging. Gradually, as her life became more stable and she stopped drinking, Laura began to be aware that both her sons had serious issues.

Her younger son had learning difficulties and was diagnosed with ADHD. She had taken him to a hospital appointment and was carrying his notes from one doctor to another, when she spotted a note on his file that said: “Possible FAS.”

I was devastated,” Laura says. “I knew in my gut that’s what it was.” Both children were later given a formal diagnosis at Great Ormond Street hospital.

Laura is dynamic and energetic; she has a good job now, as she did when she was first pregnant. We meet in a cafe near Hampstead Heath in London, at teatime, and it soon becomes obvious from the discreet twitching of other customers’ heads that her calm, powerful account of this rarely discussed subject has them all engrossed.

She knows people will blame her for her actions, and is very conscious of her own responsibility for her sons’ difficulties, but she is adamant that mothers need support, not criminalisation. “There is sometimes a witch-hunt to go after the mothers, but I am living with my guilt every day. That’s a real life sentence.” She has coped by devoting herself to making sure her sons get all the support they need, and by volunteering to help other mothers who also drank during pregnancy, through the European Birth Mother Network.

I need to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people,” Laura says. “Women shouldn’t be prosecuted – they should be given alcohol-rehabilitation services. No woman I have ever met ever wants to harm her baby. This is an illness, not a choice. But people need to be told if they do drink, what will happen. There aren’t enough clear guidelines. I think midwives are scared sometimes to confront women.”

Although Laura drank more during her second pregnancy, she thinks her older child has struggled more with the consequences of his condition. “My younger son got support earlier. For the older one, it was harder – we didn’t understand, so he was always being told, ‘You are awful – why do you behave like that?’ He had an organic brain injury; he couldn’t read people’s facial expressions, he had problems with social skills, he was overwhelmed by noise. We didn’t understand that.”

There is a witch-hunt to go after the mothers, but I am living with my guilt every day. That’s a real life sentence”

Twenty years on from Laura’s pregnancy, the medical guidance is still confusing and contradictory. There are those, such as paediatrician and former children’s commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green, who argue for total abstinence. “Exposure to alcohol before birth is the most important preventable cause of brain damage in children, that could affect up to one in every 100 babies in England,” he says. “Its effects range from devastating physical and learning disabilities to subtle damage causing bad behaviour, violence and criminality.”

At the other end of the spectrum are groups such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, who point out that most women are already very sensible and warn against demonising their behaviour. According to BPAS, the main consequence of publishing excessively frightening advice is that women come to its clinics unnecessarily considering abortions, concerned about damage they might have inflicted on their foetus before they knew they were pregnant.

In the submission made by BPAS to the court case last year, it was pointed out that there are a wide variety of substances that may cause damage to an unborn baby, from food to plastics and household products. Lawyers in the case questioned whether demanding criminal injuries compensation for alcohol poisoning could mean by extension that “a pregnant mother who eats unpasteurised cheese or a soft-boiled egg, knowing that there is a risk of harm to the foetus might also find herself accused of a crime”.

At the frontline, Jo Austin, a midwife who works with vulnerable mothers in London, says it’s easier to get women to talk about heroin or crack addiction than it is to get them to confront their drinking during pregnancy. “We have lots of leaflets for women who take heroin and crack, who are quite a small minority of the women we see. But alcohol is more socially acceptable and it is legal. A large proportion of society drinks, at least socially. Our feeling is that it is a problem that women don’t admit to, perhaps because of stigma, guilt or fear of social services involvement.”

Austin says most of the pregnant women she sees are better informed about the risks of smoking during pregnancy. “There has been so much health promotion done on smoking, but the effects of alcohol are potentially much worse.”

Gail Priddey, CEO of Haringey Advisory Group on Alcohol, which supports families affected by alcohol, says she is currently writing an advice leaflet for midwives that attempts to navigate a line between being straightforward with the facts without “scaring pregnant women witless”. “It is such an emotive and difficult subject,” Priddey says. “You say, ‘Best not to drink when you’re pregnant,’ then someone says, ‘Well, actually, I’ve been drinking heavily. I didn’t realise.’ Where do you go from there? Do you say, ‘You may have done some damage’? It’s an area professionals don’t want to touch.”

The flipside of this is that children with FAS and FASD are not diagnosed early enough, and often do not receive the help they need. Raja Mukherjee, a neurodevelopmental psychiatrist and lead clinician at the national FASD clinic, says awareness of the condition has risen dramatically in the 12 years he has worked in the area, but diagnosis remains complicated. He believes doctors are often unwilling to label a child as suffering from FASD because it is “too stigmatising”. “It is easier to say, ‘You have ADHD,’” he says.

Yet Mukherjee is uncomfortable about the fight for criminal injuries compensation for children, because “criminalisation just pushes it underground. We struggle already with people who tell us, ‘I didn’t drink at all in pregnancy’ – yet they were an alcoholic before and an alcoholic afterwards.”

Neil Sugarman, the lawyer for the unidentified local authority in the north-west that took the legal action, said they were motivated by a quest to get adequate funding for the girl’s care. “This wasn’t about trying to get women prosecuted,” he says. “My job as a lawyer is to look at the interests of terribly badly impaired children. We have a state scheme that if you can show you are a victim of a crime, you are entitled to compensation.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has never required someone to be prosecuted – no one needs to be taken to court, charged, sentenced or convicted. All it requires is that a judge has to be satisfied that what happened can be recognised as a crime. It is very difficult for young people to get access to their therapeutic needs on the NHS – the occupational therapy and speech therapy they need is not always readily available. The true benefit of compensation would be to open up access to private treatment for these children and enhance their lives.”

I didn’t know the kids’ mother was an alcoholic. She loved them, but couldn’t cope. It didn’t put me off adopting them

 Kay Collins adopted three children, two of whom have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Photograph: Sophia Spring for the Guardian

Kay Collins, 61, would also like to see more funding for children with FASD, but not if it means prosecuting their mothers. Ten years ago, she adopted three children, two of whom have the condition. She knew them before she adopted them, because they lived in a flat upstairs in the west London mansion block where they still live.

We’d meet on the stairs and say hello, and I got to know them – they were lovely kids. I didn’t know their mother was an alcoholic. It was only as time went on, I realised. She was somebody who needed help, not someone to abuse or to judge.

You saw that she loved the kids, but she couldn’t manage. She was in her 20s, the children’s father was there on and off. She never harmed the kids in any way. She loved them – she just didn’t know how to care for them.”

Eventually, the children were taken into care. Collins, who was working as a teaching assistant and had four, much older children of her own, decided to adopt them – a girl of 17 months and boys of four and five. She knew nothing about FASD until she was called by a paediatrician who was helping to prepare the adoption papers. She was told the two younger children might have learning disabilities and was asked how she would cope. “I said, ‘If I knew that now, I would be a genius. I can only know when I am dealing with it.’ It didn’t put me off. I knew that the children just needed a lot of love and attention.”

Now that she knows more about the condition, she can see some of the facial characteristics of FASD in pictures of the youngest as a baby. These have become less noticeable as she has grown up, but her cognitive problems have become more evident over time. “When they were about seven, it was clear things were not happening as with normal children. They both didn’t speak very well for a long time, they didn’t understand a lot of things. The younger one still doesn’t. Her brother understands better, but his behaviour is worse. If you try to correct him, he gets very angry.”

Collins is fighting for the youngest, now 12, to be given a place in a special needs school. “She has language difficulties. If things are not explained to her at a slower pace, she is not going to understand them. At the moment, I’m at loggerheads with the local authority and in a tribunal because they don’t think that’s necessary. They don’t want to pay for it. It’s down to cost.”

Collins thinks her 12-year-old daughter won’t take GCSEs and knows that, long-term, life will be complicated for her. “She will live independently, but she will need a lot of support – she is quite vulnerable because she thinks everyone is her friend.” But she doesn’t like the idea of fighting for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. “It would be nice to have the money; we could use it to get them educated in the right environment,” she says, but she is uncomfortable with the idea that this might be a step in the direction of criminalising troubled women. “Mothers who drink when pregnant need more support and understanding. No one sits down and just starts drinking. There has to be something that triggered it.”

Meanwhile, she just tries to help her children understand. “My daughter keeps asking, ‘Is there something wrong with me?’ I say, ‘Yes, you have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.’” The middle child is angry about his mother’s role in his condition. “He says, ‘I hate my mum’, but I try to explain: ‘She couldn’t look after you. It doesn’t mean she didn’t love you. She was never a bad mum.’”

• Some names have been changed. To contact Nofas UK, call 020-8458 5951 or go to nofas-uk.org.

Source: http://gu.com/p/475mq April 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/04

Roll Call Video Advises Law Enforcement to Exercise Extreme Caution

DEA has released a Roll Call video to all law enforcement nationwide about the dangers of improperly handling fentanyl and its deadly consequences.  Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley and two local police detectives from New Jersey appear on the video to urge any law enforcement personnel who come in contact with fentanyl or fentanyl compounds to take the drugs directly to a lab.

“Fentanyl can kill you,” Riley said. “Fentanyl is being sold as heroin in virtually every corner of our country. It’s produced clandestinely in Mexico, and (also) comes directly from China. It is 40 to 50 times stronger than street-level heroin. A very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”

Two Atlantic County, NJ detectives were recently exposed to a very small amount of fentanyl, and appeared on the video.

Said one detective: “I thought that was it. I thought I was dying. It felt like my body was shutting down.”

Riley also admonished police to skip testing on the scene, and encouraged them to also remember potential harm to police canines during the course of duties.

“Don’t field test it in your car, or on the street, or take if back to the office. Transport it directly to a laboratory, where it can be safely handled and tested.”

The video can be accessed at: http://go.usa.gov/chBWW

More on Fentanyl:

On March 18, 2015, DEA issued a nationwide alert on fentanyl as a threat to health and public safety.

Fentanyl is a dangerous, powerful Schedule II narcotic responsible for an epidemic of overdose deaths within the United States. During the last two years, the distribution of clandestinely manufactured fentanyl has been linked to an unprecedented outbreak of thousands of overdoses and deaths. The overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate and are the basis for this officer safety alert.

Fentanyl, up to 50 times more potent than heroin, is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. As a result, it represents an unusual hazard for law enforcement.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate painkiller, is being mixed with heroin to increase its potency, but dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingesting. Many users underestimate the potency of fentanyl.

The dosage of fentanyl is a microgram, one millionth of a gram – similar to just a few granules of table salt. Fentanyl can be lethal and is deadly at very low doses.

Fentanyl and its analogues come in several forms including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray.

Risks to Law Enforcement

Fentanyl is not only dangerous for the drug’s users, but for law enforcement, public health workers and first responders who could unknowingly come into contact with it in

its different forms. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or accidental inhalation of airborne powder can also occur. DEA is concerned about law enforcement coming in contact with fentanyl on the streets during the course of enforcement, such as a buy-walk, or buy-bust operation.

Just touching fentanyl or accidentally inhaling the substance during enforcement activity or field testing the substance can result in absorption through the skin and that is one of the biggest dangers with fentanyl. The onset of adverse health effects, such as disorientation, coughing, sedation, respiratory distress or cardiac arrest is very rapid and profound, usually occurring within minutes of exposure.

Canine units are particularly at risk of immediate death from inhaling fentanyl.

In August 2015, law enforcement officers in New Jersey doing a narcotics field test on a substance that later turned out to be a mix of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, were exposed to the mixture and experienced dizziness, shortness of breath and respiratory problems.

If inhaled, move to fresh air, if ingested, wash out mouth with water provided the person is conscious and seek immediate medical attention.

Narcan (Naloxone), an overdose-reversing drug, is an antidote for opiate overdose and may be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or subcutaneously. Immediately administering Narcan can reverse an accidental overdose of fentanyl exposure to officers. Continue to administer multiple doses of Narcan until the exposed person or overdose victim responds favorably.

Field Testing / Safety Precautions

Law enforcement officers should be aware that fentanyl and its compounds resemble powered cocaine or heroin, however, should not be treated as such.

If at all possible do not take samples if fentanyl is suspected. Taking samples or opening a package could stir up the powder. If you must take a sample, use gloves (no bare skin contact) and a dust mask or air purifying respirator (APR) if handling a sample, or a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for a suspected lab.

If you have reason to believe an exhibit contains fentanyl, it is prudent to not field test it. Submit the material directly to the laboratory for analysis and clearly indicate on the submission paperwork that the item is suspected of containing fentanyl. This will alert laboratory personnel to take the necessary safety precautions during the handling, processing, analysis, and storage of the evidence. Officers should be aware that while unadulterated fentanyl may resemble cocaine or heroin powder, it can be mixed with other substances which can alter its appearance. As such, officers should be aware that fentanyl may be smuggled, transported, and/or used as part of a mixture.

Universal precautions must be applied when conducting field testing on drugs that are not suspected of containing fentanyl. Despite color and appearance, you can never be certain what you are testing. In general, field testing of drugs should be conducted as appropriate, in a well ventilated area according to commercial test kit instructions and training received. Sampling of evidence should be performed very carefully to avoid spillage and release of powder into the air. At a minimum, gloves should be worn and the use of masks is recommended. After conducting the test, hands should be washed with copious amounts of soap and water. Never attempt to identify a substance by taste or odor.

Historically, this is not the first time fentanyl has posed such a threat to public health and safety. Between 2005 and 2007, over 1,000 U.S. deaths were attributed to fentanyl – many of which occurred in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

The current outbreak involves not just fentanyl, but also fentanyl compounds. The current outbreak, resulting in thousands of deaths, is wider geographically and involves a wide array of individuals including new and experiences abusers.

In the last three years, DEA has seen a significant resurgence in fentanyl-related seizures. In addition, DEA has identified at least 15 other deadly, fentanyl-related compounds. Some fentanyl cases have been significant, particularly in the northeast and in California, including one 12 kilogram seizure. During May 2016, a traffic stop in the greater Atlanta, GA area resulted in the seizure of 40 kilograms of fentanyl – initially believed to be bricks of cocaine – wrapped into blocks hidden in buckets and immersed in a thick fluid. The fentanyl from these seizures originated from Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

Recent seizures of counterfeit or look-a-like hydrocodone or oxycodone tablets have occurred, wherein the tablets actually contain fentanyl. These fentanyl tablets are marked to mimic the authentic narcotic prescription medications and have led to multiple overdoses and deaths.

According to DEA’s National Forensic Lab Information System, 13,002 forensic exhibits of fentanyl were tested by labs nationwide in 2015, up 65 percent from the 2014 number of 7,864.  The 2015 number is also about 8 times as many fentanyl exhibits than in 2006, when a single lab in Mexico caused a temporary spike in U.S. fentanyl availability.  This is an unprecedented threat

Source:  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration dea@public.govdelivery.com  11th June 2016

April 20, 2015

For Immediate Release

For More Information Contact: Lana Beck (727) 828-0211 or (727) 403-7571

Weeds 3: A Documentary Showcasing Legitimate Scientific Research or an Infomercial to Legalize Marijuana?

(St. Petersburg, FL) Drug Free America Foundation stands with other major medical associations whose positions support the research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. These associations include: the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association. However, Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary blurs the lines between legitimate research and propaganda. The important take-a-way from the show was that research on the potential benefits of marijuana is taking place today without the rescheduling of the drug. Unfortunately, the show failed to point out the multitude of harms of marijuana use and the impacts in states that have determined medicine by popular vote.

Two things about the documentary that really upset me as a medical professional are that Sanjay Gupta had a chance to drive home the point that because research is underway on the potential benefits of components in marijuana, there is no need to legalize it through referenda where dosages can’t be controlled and various strains can’t be cloned. Nor is it necessary to reschedule the drug,” said Dr. Eric Voth, an expert on drug policy and Chair of the Institute on Global Drug Policy.

The other disappointing aspect about this show is the lack of discussion about the myriad of scientific research out there that shows the other side of marijuana that is harmful and addictive,” continued Voth. “If we are going to have open dialogue about marijuana research, then Gupta shouldn’t muddy the water by sending an incomplete message to the public about the right and the wrong way to approach true scientific research. I think this was an intentionally missed opportunity by Gupta to further a less-than-scientific agenda,” concluded Voth.

By ignoring the potential harms of marijuana use and not acknowledging the big problems that Colorado and California have experienced since marijuana has been legalized in those states, CNN and Dr. Gupta failed to cover this issue honestly,” said Amy Ronshausen, Deputy Director of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs. “This show failed to cover Colorado’s increases in drugged driving fatalities and emergency room visits because of marijuana use. Nor did the show discuss the alarming trend surrounding high potency marijuana edibles sold as ‘medicine’ and marketed to be appealing to youth,” continued Ronshausen. “There was a lot of discussion about how marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, but none about the mounting research on how the drug exacerbates psychotic symptoms,” concluded Ronshausen.

Source: Press Release DFAF 20th April 2015

The impact that so-called medical marijuana and later the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado, USA has had serious consequences, a few are show in snippets below.  The items shown are taken from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report.  The complete report can be found at:

http://www.rmhidta.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/687/MenuGroup/RMHIDTAHome.htm.

The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Vol. 3 Preview 2015 

 

Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Cards 

December 31, 2009 – 41,039

December 31, 2010 – 116,198

December 31, 2011 – 82,089

December 31, 2012 – 108,526

December 31, 2013 – 110,979

December 31, 2014 – 115,467

 

Colorado: 

505 medical marijuana centers (“dispensaries”)1

322 recreational marijuana stores1

405 Starbucks coffee shops2

227 McDonalds restaurants3

 

Denver: 

198 licensed medical marijuana centers (“dispensaries”)1

117 pharmacies (as of February 12, 2015

 

  • In one year, from 2013 to 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 167 percent increase in explosions involving THC extraction labs.

 

Marijuana Related Exposure - Children Ages 0 to 5

Marijuana Related Exposure – Children Ages 0 to 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Findings 

There has been an upward trend of marijuana-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations since medical marijuana was commercialized in 2009.

There has also been a significant increase in both categories in the first six months of 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating

 

Average Percent Positive THC Urinalyses Ages 12 to 17 years

Average Percent Positive THC Urinalyses Ages 12 to 17 years

It is important to note that, for purposes of the debate on legalizing marijuana in Colorado, there are three distinct timeframes to consider. Those are:

The early medical marijuana era (2000 – 2008),

the medical marijuana commercialization era (2009 – current)

and the recreational marijuana era (2013 – current).

 

2000 – 2008: In November 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20 which permitted a qualifying patient and/or caregiver of a patient to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and grow 6 marijuana plants for medical purposes. During that time there were between 1,000 and 4,800 medical marijuana cardholders and no known dispensaries operating in the state.

 

2009 – Current: Beginning in 2009 due to a number of events, marijuana became de facto legalized through the commercialization of the medical marijuana industry. By the end of 2012, there were over 100,000 medical marijuana cardholders and 500 licensed dispensaries operating in Colorado. There were also licensed cultivation operations and edible manufacturers.

 

2013 – Current: In November 2012, Colorado voters passed Constitutional Amendment 64 which legalized marijuana for recreational purposes for anyone over the age of 21. The amendment also allowed for licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation operations and edible manufacturers.

 

Youth (Ages 12 to 17 Years) Past Month Marijuana Use National vs. Colorado

Youth (Ages 12 to 17 Years) Past Month Marijuana Use National vs. Colorado

 

 

Findings 

Youth (ages 12 to 17 years) Past Month Marijuana Use,

2013 o National average for youth was 7.15 percent

o Colorado average for youth was 11.16 percent

Colorado was ranked 3rd in the nation for current marijuana use among youth (56.08 percent higher than the national average)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2006, Colorado ranked 14th in the nation for current marijuana use among youth

In just one year when Colorado legalized marijuana (2013), past month marijuana use among those ages 12 to 17 years increased 6.6 percent

 

Percentage of Total Referrals to Law Enforcement in Colorado from 2004-2014 Years

Percentage of Total Referrals to Law Enforcement in Colorado from 2004-2014 Years

June 6th. 2015

Dear Jessica McDonald

President and CEO BC Hydro:

I am writing to bring to your attention the fact that there are 93+ illegal marijuana dispensaries operating in the City of Vancouver. If your company is supplying these illegal businesses with hydro power you should seriously consider seeking advice from your legal counsel for being in conflict with the drug laws of Canada and laws pertaining to and potential penalties for facilitating criminal enterprises.

You will find it of benefit to review several court cases that have been filed by plaintiffs in the State of Colorado. These pleadings advance claims for damages from parties who are engaged in aiding and abetting marijuana businesses operating in violation of federal law. The Canadian Federal Government has verified, and made well publicized public statements that the marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver are illegal enterprises. BC Hydro customers should not be known illegal operations.

In Parksville BC, the RCMP closed down a marijuana dispensary and issued a warning to the landlord that if they rent to the company or a company conducting illegal business they could face charges under the provisions of Canadian law that prohibit any business from profiting from crime.

It is the position of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada – a national organization with representation from the medical and legal sectors, that these illegal businesses should be closed and federal drug laws be respected, adhered to.

We ask BC Hydro to comply with Canadian Federal Drugs Laws. We ask that BC Hydro disconnect all hydro service to these illegal businesses immediately and a public statement be made of this action. We respectfully also request that a letter be sent to the Mayor and Council, and the Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose that clearly states your actions on this matter.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/256277197/Colorado-marijuana-legalization-lawsuit-Civil-Action-No-15-349-Safe-Streets-Alliance-lawsuit-1

https://www.scribd.com/doc/256279229/Colorado-marijuana-legalization-lawsuit-Civil-Action-No-15-350-Safe-Streets-Alliance-lawsuit-2

Pamela McColl

Member of the Advisory Council of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada

samcanadanet@gmail.com

 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada (SAMC) Mission:

The mission of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada (SAMC) is to promote a health-first approach to marijuana policy that neither legalizes marijuana, nor demonizes its users. SAMC’s commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety. At SAMC we reject dichotomies — such as “incarceration versus legalization” — that offer only simplistic solutions to the highly complex problems stemming from marijuana use. Our aim is to champion smart policies that decrease marijuana use, like prevention and early intervention. Yet in rejecting legalization, we also do not believe that low-level marijuana users should be saddled with criminal records that stigmatize them for life.

 

SAMC’s Vision is to:

  • inform the public on the science of today’s marijuana;
  • have an honest conversation about reducing the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to criminal records;
  • prevent the expansion of a Big Tobacco-like industry that will target children and vulnerable populations;
  • promote scientific research on marijuana in order to obtain scientifically-approved, cannabis-based medications.

 

SAMC Will Advocate For:

  • a complete Health Canada assessment of the impact of marijuana use on Canadian society;
  • a public health campaign focused on the harms of marijuana, including the devastating impact on mental and physical health, especially for youth;
  • sensible policies that do not legalize marijuana

 

SAMC’s Actions Will Consist Of:

conducting information briefings for the public and decision makers about the science of today’s marijuana and the evidence of effectiveness for different law makers;

  • engaging with the media, key stakeholders, the business community, families, and other sectors of society on the issue of smart marijuana policy;
  • advocating, alongside leaders in the medical and scientific fields, for smart marijuana policies that do not legalize nor demonize marijuana;
  • advocate for medical education addiction and the harms of marijuana.

 

Marijuana and Public Health:

People often refer to their own experiences with marijuana, rather than to what science has taught us. No matter what people think about the drug and the policies surrounding it, it is vitally important to be well-versed in the science and public health and safety impacts of marijuana use and addiction:

  • Today’s marijuana is four to five times stronger than it was in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • One in eleven adults and one in six adolescents who try marijuana for the first time will become addicted to marijuana.[1]
  • Because their brains are in development, marijuana acutely affects young people before age 25. Marijuana use directly affects memory, learning, attention, and reaction time. These effects can last up to 28 days after abstinence from use.[2]
  • Marijuana use can contribute to psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.[3]
  • Marijuana use can reduce IQ by six to eight points among those who started smoking before age 18.[4]

 

Marijuana and the Criminal Justice System

Statistics show that very few people are actually in prison for simple marijuana-only possession. Majority of offenders in Canada who are sentenced to prison have a prior criminal history or are found in possession of marijuana while committing other serious offences such as impaired driving or domestic violence. For instance, in 2011 in British Columbia, only 3% of founded cases of marijuana possession were cleared by a charge. And of that 3%, only seven cases (1.3% of the 3%) resulted in a custody sentence.[5]

 

Marijuana and Big Business

Tobacco companies lied to Canada for more than a century about the dangers of smoking. They deliberately targeted kids and had doctors promote cigarettes as medicine. And today we are paying the price.  Tobacco use is our nation’s top cause of preventable death and contributes to about 37,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use costs our country at least $17 billion annually — which is about 3 times the amount of money our state and federal governments collect from today’s taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. If it is legalized, marijuana will be commercialized just as tobacco was. The examples of tobacco and alcohol should teach us that legalizing any third substance would be a public health disaster

 

Hall W & Degenhard L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.  Lancet, 374.

Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pauls, K., et al. (2013). The nature and extent of marijuana possession in British Columbia. University of Fraser Valley Center for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.

 

Source:   www.learnabout.ca  June 2015

[1] Wagner, F.A. & Anthony, J.C. (2002). From first drug use to drug dependence; developmental periods of risk for dependence upon cannabis, cocaine, and alcohol. Neuropsychopharmacology 26.

[2] Hall W & Degenhard L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.  Lancet, 374.

[3] Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

[4] Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[5] Pauls, K., et al. (2013). The nature and extent of marijuana possession in British Columbia. University of Fraser Valley Center for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.

Dakof G.A., Cohen J.B., Henderson C.E. et al.

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment: 2010, 38, p. 263–274..

US researchers may have found a better way to support mothers at risk of losing custody of their children so they engage in and benefit from substance use treatment and meet family court requirements, meaning more children can safely stay with their parents.

SUMMARY The family environment of the children of problem substance users is often compromised by instability, neglect, and poor parenting. Improving parental functioning – especially reducing substance use – makes children safer and improves child welfare outcomes. However, substance use treatment completion rates among parents who come into contact with the child welfare system are low. For solutions to these problems, many communities have turned to family drug courts. Adapted from the adult drug court model, family drug courts were established to enhance the effectiveness of child welfare agencies by increasing enrolment and retention in substance use treatment, motivating parents to address their addiction, and coordinating the many services needed to stabilise families. Unlike typical drug courts, these courts do not operate in the criminal justice system, most participants are women, and the court addresses the dual issues of parental addiction/recovery and child safety and custody. Most family drug courts employ court counsellors who refer clients to substance use treatment and other services, develop a recovery plan, and monitor and report clients’ ongoing progress to the court.

 

Key points 

Family drug courts aim to enhance the effectiveness of child welfare agencies by promoting engagement in substance use treatment, motivating parents to address their addiction, and coordinating the services needed to stabilise families. 

To further promote treatment engagement and family court compliance of mothers facing loss of custody of their children, a programme was developed for court counsellors which involved the mother’s family and other significant figures in their lives. 

Compared to a more typical case management role, the tested programme led to more mothers retaining their parental rights and greater improvements in substance use, health, family functioning, and risk of child abuse. 

However, samples were small and by the end of the study several of the differences between the two sets of mothers were also small. 

The Engaging Moms Program – the focus of this study – is a family-oriented intervention shown to have succeeded in its objectives of facilitating treatment entry and short-term retention among mothers of infants who have been exposed to parental substance use. It was then adapted for use in a family drug court context and (relative to usual case management services) found in a non-randomised trial to improve completion of the drug court programme (72% versus 38%) and the proportion of mothers reunited with their children (70% versus 40%). Although the results were encouraging, this study had several limitations, leading to the current randomised trial comparing in a family drug court context the effectiveness of the Engaging Moms Program versus intensive case management of the kind recommended for such courts.

During the recruitment period of the trial, 62 of the 69 mothers who attended a family drug court in Miami in the USA agreed to join the study. They averaged 30 years of age, were mainly black or Hispanic, poor, unemployed and poorly educated. Just 1 in 10 were married. As children, many had been victims of physical and sexual abuse and most currently suffered serious mental health problems. They used a mixture of drugs including alcohol and cocaine and averaged about three lifetime arrests.

Mothers in the study were subject to the usual 12–15 month regimen of court hearings, supervision and support. Additionally, court counsellors were specially trained and supervised to deliver one of the programmes being compared as alternative ways to engage and retain these mothers in substance treatment and improve child and parental outcomes. The 62 women were randomly selected such that equal numbers were allocated to the Engaging Moms option or the comparator.

Neither option was a treatment in its own right, but sought to promote treatment entry, retention and benefit, as well as satisfactory completion of the drug court programme. Intensive case management counsellors aimed to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with the mother, assess her needs, plan support, link her to services, monitor progress, and advocate on her behalf. In contrast, the Engaging Moms Program (based on  multidimensional family therapy) engaged not just with the mother and with services but with the mother’s social network, especially her family. For example, in stage two of the programme focused on changing behaviour, counsellors conducted individual and joint sessions with the mother and her family and or partner. These dealt with: the mother’s motivation and commitment to succeed in drug court and to change her life; the emotional attachment between the mother and her children; her relationships with her family of origin; her parenting skills; her romantic relationships; and emotional regulation, problem solving, and communication skills. Considerable attention was devoted to repairing the mother’s relationship with her family, often damaged by hurts, betrayals, and resentments. Also the counsellor facilitated the mother’s relationship with court personnel and service providers and helped prepare her for court appearances, during which they advocated for the mother.

Regardless of the approach to which they had been allocated, during the trial mothers saw their counsellors for on average about 40 hours, but the Engaging Moms Program included seven hours of family sessions versus just under four in the case management option.

Research workers assessed the mothers several times up to 18 months following drug court intake (97% of assessments were completed), when information on child welfare status was extracted from court records. This primary outcome was defined as positive if the mother retained her parental rights, either having sole or joint custody of the children, or when the children were under the guardianship of a relative. Other outcomes considered not to be positive involved termination of the mother’s parental rights and the child being placed with a relative or in foster care.

The small number of mothers in this pilot study limited the chances of statistically significant findings, so the focus instead was on whether the differences between outcomes from the Engaging Moms Program and case management were large enough that with a bigger sample they might have proved statistically significant.

Main findings

Of the 31 Engaging Moms mothers, 24 had retained their parental rights compared to 17 of the 31 case management mothers, an advantage for Engaging Moms which narrowly missed the conventional criterion for statistical significance. These figures included 16 Engaging Moms mothers who had sole custody of their child compared to 12 allocated to case management. Over twice as many case management mothers had their children removed to foster care – 9 versus 4. Two-thirds of Engaging Moms mothers satisfactorily completed the drug court programme compared to about half the case management mothers.

Over the first three months both sets of mothers significantly improved in terms of their substance use, mental and physical health, family functioning, risk posed to child, and employment, improvements maintained or augmented through the remainder of the 18-month follow-up. In no case were these improvements significantly greater among Engaging Moms mothers, but several outcomes substantially favoured these mothers. They were more likely to further reduce their drinking, experience greater improvements in mental and physical health and family functioning, and more steeply decreased their risk of child abuse. At the three-month follow-up, on all three relationship dimensions they also reported significantly stronger therapeutic relationships with their counsellors.

The authors’ conclusions

The Engaging Moms Program delivered in the context of a family drug court increased the likelihood of positive outcomes for mothers (retention of parental rights and improved welfare and functioning) in comparison to intensive case management. In all domains of functioning, families assigned to Engaging Moms showed improvement that was equal to or better than families assigned to case management. Arguably the primary mechanisms leading to better results were a stronger therapeutic alliance with the counsellor and more extensive family involvement.

Although the results of this pilot study are encouraging, there are important limitations. The primary one is that a small sample size limits the scope for testing differences between outcomes in the two sets of mothers and weakens the reliability of the results; different results might be obtained with larger samples.
COMMENTARY Commending the Engaging Moms Program is its apparent non-punitive humanity and the plausibility of its strategy of repairing what may have been a damaging social network and engaging it in supporting the mother, promising not just the short-term gains which the study was able to document, but a more stable, long-term future for mother and child. Particularly encouraging is the non-diminution of the gains and sometimes their augmentation over the period after the interventions ended. As well as benefiting the families involved, long-term reduction in social costs can be expected. With family drug and alcohol courts spreading in the UK, the Engaging Moms model might be adapted to further improve their outcomes for parent and child.

However, convincingly demonstrating the advantages of the approach for maternal and child welfare is a difficult task when so much else is going on in the mothers’ lives, when the basic family drug court programme is the same for both intervention and comparison mothers, and when the comparator is itself seemingly a humane and well structured approach. Details below.

As the authors observed, if replicated with a larger sample, the difference in the retention of parental rights, and probably too in resort to foster care, would have been statistically significant, but also a larger sample may show these to have been unreliable findings. On the other measures of maternal welfare and family functioning and safety, though there were substantial extra improvements among the Engaging Moms group, in some cases this mainly reflected a drop from an initially higher level of severity. By the end of the study the differences in absolute terms between the two sets of mothers were generally very small. Several of the researchers were involved in developing the programme they evaluated, raising the possibility of their somehow favouring the programme, a  risk endemic  in substance use research. Also it has to be acknowledged that termination of a mother’s parental rights and placement of the child elsewhere is not necessarily a negative outcome from the point of view of the child’s long-term welfare. On this issue we can only rely on the professionalism and child-centredness of the Engaging Moms counsellors, and on the presumption that if there had been over-enthusiastic advocacy, the court would not have been unduly swayed.

UK research and practice

The first family drug and alcohol court in Britain was piloted at an inner London family court initially for three years to the end of 2010. Researchers concluded that more parents seen by these specialist courts than by comparison courts had controlled their substance misuse by the end of proceedings and been reunited with their children. They were also engaged in more substance misuse services over a longer period. Evidence of cost savings were noted in relation to court hearings, out-of-home placements, and fewer contested proceedings. Parents and staff felt this was a better approach than ordinary care proceedings. A  later report  from the same study with a longer follow-up of more families reinforced the earlier findings. More family drug and alcohol court parents had stopped misusing substances and dealt with other problems, and more mothers had been reunited with their children, but this 36% v 24% gap was not statistically significant.

The main weakness of this UK study is that in some known respects and perhaps in others not known, the comparison families differed from the family drug court families in ways which might have affected child welfare outcomes, regardless of the type of court proceedings. Also, through a preceding feasibility study the researchers had been involved in developing the programme they evaluated. As with the featured study, this raises the possibility of their somehow favouring the new intervention they helped to create.

Three NHS professionals who helped develop the first court in London  have explained that it differs from normal family courts in its multi-disciplinary assessment and intervention team made up of both child workers (child protection social workers and a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and adult workers (substance misuse workers and an adult psychiatrist), plus volunteers with personal experience of overcoming substance misuse, some of whom are court ‘graduates’. Court proceedings form an integral part of the treatment process. The family works with the same judge throughout and compared to normal courts, the court takes a less adversarial approach to care proceedings, the parent speaking directly to the judge in the absence of lawyers.

Similar courts have now opened in Gloucestershire and Milton Keynes and  as reported  in 2015, more were due to open in 2015/16 in areas including East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire, funded by the Department for Education. Despite this significant expansion, as in London, these courts  will sit  once a week and hear relatively few cases.

Large-scale US evaluation

From the USA the  first large-scale outcome study  of a family drug court compared the progress (as revealed by court and administrative records) of mothers and children processed through three such courts with those processed through normal channels either in the same areas or in similar areas without a family drug court. An attempt was made to statistically even out relevant differences between the two sets of families. Findings favoured the family drug courts. Mothers processed through these courts were more likely to be unified with their children, who spent less time in out-of-home placements. More drug court mothers entered substance use treatment and they did so more rapidly, stayed longer and were more likely to complete the programme. However, the relative benefits arising from the family drug courts were at best a minor influence on child custody outcomes, and the study could not be sure that all relevant differences between the two sets of families had been accounted for.

An Effectiveness Bank hot topic  has explored  the issues involved in protecting children and offers one-click access to all Findings analyses relevant to child protection.

Source:   A randomized pilot study of the Engaging Moms Program for family drug court http://findings.org.uk/PHP/dl.php?file=Dakof_GA_2.txt Last revised 28 May 2015. First uploaded 20 May 2015

A recent example of the logical abandon of today’s backers of legal marijuana is the plan to defund the Drug Enforcement Administration’s program to eradicate illegal marijuana (DEA/CESP), an $18 million program that eliminates millions of plants a year and arrests thousands of criminals, many of whom were brought here to labor for Mexican drug cartels controlling the marijuana black market.

Yet Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) wants to end the effort as a “ridiculous waste” of federal resources, when multiple states “have already legalized marijuana,” use of which should “no longer be a federal crime.” Clearly, the congressman has not thought this through. He is, in fact, arguing against his own legal marijuana case.

A central tenet of the legalization movement is that criminal marijuana was to be supplanted by “safe, regulated and taxed” marijuana under careful control. It is a contradiction of that principle to foster, by cutting the DEA program, the proliferation of unregulated, untaxed and “unsafe” marijuana plants controlled by violent criminals, thereby corrupting the entire point of a “legalized” marijuana market.

While a “regulated and taxed market” was the position sold to legislators, the real objective seems to be a dope-growing paradise, unregulated and unopposed. Congressman Lieu doesn’t even try to explain how this is supposed to advance America’s well-being.

For years now, Americans have been subjected to efforts by advocates for legalized marijuana to make their case. Today, the arguments often come from legalization lobbyists, often with legal or political training, seeking to legitimize what they hope will become a billion-dollar business in addictive toxins – repeat customers guaranteed.

Or consider the argument that marijuana is “safer to use” than alcohol. That alcohol is dangerous all acknowledge, costing the health of thousands. But the proper argument is that each intoxicant presents its own unique threats. It is not productive medically to “rank” them. But what is the logical implication of the alcohol talking point?

The regulation of alcohol is precisely the idealized model that lobbyists put forth for legal drugs. Hence, every time they insist that alcohol is the more damaging substance, what they are actually showing is that the model of legal, regulated sales of addictive substances produces widespread harm to adults and adolescents.

A major dimension of alcohol damage is the sheer prevalence of use, some six times greater than the prohibited marijuana, driving up the “disease burden.” Were regulated marijuana to reach the proportions of use of alcohol, the public health impact would be staggering.

One cannot argue simultaneously that marijuana should be treated like alcohol in order to reduce societal harm, and then reveal this model fails as policy, as witnessed by the ensuing alcohol damage (to be compounded by vastly expanded cannabis use). Once again, one suspects that the regulated alcohol model is but a stalking horse, useful to advance the cause, but not to be taken as serious policy.

Further, advocates claim that a legalized regime will better keep marijuana out of the hands of children. Yet a recent pediatric journal reported on the nearly 147 percent rise in emergency episodes for children from marijuana “edibles” nationwide.

Marijuana lobbyists counter that poisoning happens “in all states,” and therefore legalization in some states can’t be blamed. But in states with medical marijuana dispensaries, the rate increase was four times greater (610 percent) than in states without.

Repeatedly, when such facts are presented, they are ignored by the marijuana lobbyists.

In like fashion you hear “marijuana is medicine” (case not made by medical standards); that the criminal element will be eliminated (the black market cartels are thriving in Colorado); that legalization will not promote nationwide smuggling of high-potency dope (it’s rampant, even leading to interstate lawsuits); or that legal drugs will do more good than harm to America (What family is stronger or safer or healthier with drug use?).

If marijuana legalization were a good idea, the facts would support it, and the arguments of advocates wouldn’t be so lame.

Murray and Walters direct the Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. They both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration.

Source:   By David W. Murray & John P. Walters  San Diego UT July 30, 2015

 

no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot

A currently hip cause is to rail against sentencing pot smokers to jail time. It sounds good considering alcohol is legal, smoking pot is not considered harmful to others, and our jails are already overcrowded, straining taxpayers’ wallets. The only problem is there isn’t a shred of truth to it.

Sadly, many on the right have fallen into this trap. Attend a Republicans for Liberty meeting and some young, charismatic leader will give an impassioned speech ranting and raving about how terrible it is that we lock up people for simply smoking pot. To a cheering audience, they declare it’s all about liberty and stopping big government from its unsuccessful war on drugs.

I was a prosecutor for several years, and the facts are quite different. Smoking pot has actually been “de facto” legalized across the U.S. The police look the other way, even if a neighbor rats on someone. There aren’t enough police officers to enforce marijuana possession laws. In fact, when states began legalizing pot for medicinal and recreational use, most pot smokers didn’t bother leaving their illegal dealers, because there is so little risk.

As a county prosecutor, I came across thousands of criminal cases (I frequently covered multiple hearings in different cases on a daily basis for other prosecutors assigned to those cases). I never saw a single defendant who was really sentenced to jail for marijuana possession. Former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley once said, “No first-time offender arrested in California solely for drug possession goes to prison — ever.”

Here is why there is confusion: the only time someone is sentenced to jail for smoking pot is if there is a more serious crime they are clearly guilty of, and the prosecutor or judge wants to give them a lighter sentence. Theft or burglary were the most common crimes I came across. Instead of being required to sentence a defendant to a year imprisonment for stealing, a defendant could plead guilty to marijuana possession instead and get a much lesser sentence. So on paper, it looks like they are serving time for drug possession, but in reality, they were let off the hook for a serious crime.

Police arrest individuals for other crimes and discover marijuana in the process — which can then, ironically, be used to the defendant’s advantage to get a lighter sentence! Additionally, no judge wants to go on record sentencing someone to jail for merely marijuana possession unless the defendant has a serious crime accompanying it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the defendants I came across had long rap sheets; pages and pages of criminal history. Much of it was not permitted to be disclosed to the judge, it was considered inadmissible; things like arrests with no conviction, dismissals, juvenile crimes, convictions older than the statute of limitations, etc. Many defendants had been arrested 10 to 20 times and it was clear they had a pattern of theft or other crimes — and generally caught with drugs every time — but the outcome was always the same, they were allowed to plead guilty to some lesser crime and often escape any jail time. It was eye-opening to see how many crimes a defendant had clearly committed based on their rap sheet, yet they would only end up getting sentenced for one of them.

Additionally, it has been found that the average criminal is only caught once for about every 12 crimes committed. FBI crime data from 2013 reveals that only 13.1 percent of burglary offenses are ever solved. Add that to the crimes criminals do get caught committing, but escape consequences due to a good defense attorney, technical error by the prosecution, or other factor, and it becomes pretty clear that these folks are actually getting pretty lucky pleading guilty to marijuana possession.

Harder drugs and pot dealers don’t fare quite as well. But as long as they stay away from other criminal activity, they too are frequently left alone by the law. When caught, prosecutors also let them plea down to a lesser crime.

The problem is no one has the guts to stand up to this myth, afraid of being called a big government, authoritarian conservative. It’s much easier to look hip and make vague statements like “The war on drugs is not working.” There is no longer a war on drugs. There is the occasional ad campaign to warn teenagers against using drugs — and usually just hard drugs — but even those are directed at youth, not your average adult pot smoker. No one cares and no one enforces the law, it is treated like illegal immigration with law enforcement and the legal system looking the other way.

Obama is calling to end mandatory minimum sentencing, claiming there are too many nonviolent offenders behind bars. Several prominent Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon with him. Last month, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 “nonviolent drug offenders.” Does anyone actually believe even one of them was really serving time for drug possession, much less marijuana possession? Only the prosecutor and defense attorney will ever see their entire rap sheet, and are prohibited by law from disclosing it, so Obama gets away with this ruse.

Conservatives and libertarians shouldn’t buy into this typical rhetoric from the left, which is to stand for something because it sounds good on the surface, when in reality the truth is much different. Regardless of one’s position on drug legalization, stop saying that people are serving time behind bars for marijuana possession. You just look silly.

Source:  http://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2015/08/03/no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot-   August 3rd 2015

Let us provide a rational answer to a nonsensical question. It is a nonsensical question because blood is never impaired by THC. Never. Alcohol doesn’t impair blood either. These drugs only impair the brain, not the blood.

We can only test for drug content in the brain by means of an autopsy, something most drivers would reasonably object to.

We test blood as a surrogate for what’s in the brain. For alcohol, blood is a very good surrogate. Alcohol is a tiny, water-soluble molecule that rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and quickly establishes and maintains an equilibrium concentration between what’s in the blood and what’s in the brain.

Blood is a terrible surrogate for learning the amount of THC in the brain. It’s used because we blindly follow the precedence set by alcohol, perhaps even believing the pot lobby’s mantra that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. It’s also used because we haven’t proven anything else that’s any better. Oral fluid likely is somewhat better, but that may only be because it can be collected more quickly at the roadside.

Blood is a terrible surrogate because unlike alcohol, THC is a very large fat-soluble molecule. This results in three major differences in behavior compared to alcohol:

  1. THC crosses the blood-brain barrier much more slowly than alcohol. This is why studies show that the blood level of THC can be dropping at the same time that the feeling of being high is increasing.
  2. THC migrates very rapidly from the blood to the body’s fat stores. This is why the THC level in blood drops by 90% within the first hour after smoking, even though the metabolic half-life of THC is estimated to be about four days.
  3. Because of the high fat content in the brain, THC remains in the brain long after it can no longer be detected in the blood. This is why pot users consistently have higher levels of THC in their brains than in their blood, according to autopsy results.

Perhaps this explains why researchers agree that marijuana impairs driving, but none claim there is a good correlation between blood levels of THC and impairment.

The fact is that there is no level of THC above which, everyone is impaired, and below which, no one is impaired.

The same is true of alcohol. In spite of common belief, the .08 BAC limit wasn’t determined by science. It can’t be, due to the reality of biological variability. The .08 BAC limit was determined by politicians, using scientific input as well as societal input. That explains why the alcohol per se limit varies from .02 to .08 gm/dl in various developed countries of the world, and those countries based their decision all on the same science! It’s other societal inputs such as risk tolerance and desire for freedom that come into play to make that decision.

None of this proves it’s safe to drive after smoking pot. It’s not. It simply explains why a defined per se limit of THC in blood that proves someone is impaired can never be supported by science.

This also may explain why the preferred means to deal with drug impaired driving is not to establish per se limits, but rather to establish a zero tolerance policy for mind altering drugs in a driver that has been shown to be impaired.

Source:  http://www.duidvictimvoices.org/   April 2015

New drunken-driving laws in British Columbia have led to a dramatic decrease (roughly 50%). Officials ramped up penalties on drivers who tested at a lower blood alcohol level (.05, as opposed to the current .08 legal standard) and authorized police to immediately impound cars.

TRANSCRIPT

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Six years ago, a terrible family tragedy occurred here in rural British Columbia.  But over time, it became much more than that. This tragedy set in motion dramatic changes to the laws governing drinking and driving — changes that supporters say have already saved dozens of lives. That tragedy involved a four year old girl. Her name was Alexa Middelaer

LAUREL MIDDELAER: Well, it was a beautiful May long weekend and my daughter, Alexa, loved this one particular horse and she really wanted to show her grandparents that horse.  I remember saying good bye to her, and then very shortly after that we heard all kinds of sirens. And at that moment I just– I just knew.  I said, “It– it’s Alexa.  Something happened to Alexa.”

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A 56 year-old woman doing nearly twice the speed limit, lost control of her car and smashed into the exact spot where Alexa stood feeding the horse on the side of the road.  The woman – – who was later convicted and sent to prison — admitted to police she’d had three glasses of wine before getting into her car.

LAUREL MIDDELAER: When we knew, roadside, that our daughter was dead, I remember my husband just — in the ambulance — we both held each other and he said, “This will not break us.  This will define us.  There will be some good in this.”

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After the accident, Alexa’s parents – Michael and Laurel – launched a campaign to try and change the culture around drinking and driving … and to deter people from doing it….  Their events became a regular feature on local news

LAUREL MIDDELAER (from local news) We will honor our daughter and we will make the necessary changes that, number one…

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But they soon realized it would take more than that – they realized they’d have to change the drunk driving laws, which, like in the U.S., sets the legal blood alcohol limit at .08 percent.  After lobbying the government for nearly a year — alongside groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving – their efforts paid off.   In 2010, the Provincial Government not only stiffened penalties against driving at.08, but more importantly, it targeted drivers who fall below that level — to .05 — drivers who are not legally drunk.  The rationale?  Even a few drinks – as few as two for a woman, and three for a man — can impair your driving ability

The big change was that if you were now caught driving with a .05 blood alcohol level, the police were authorized – on the spot — to fine you, suspend your drivers license, and immediately impound your car for at least three days.  They’d get you out of the vehicle, and a tow truck would haul it away. 

In late 2010, police began enforcing the new laws, and police impound lots across British Columbia began filling up. The changes sparked an uproar.  Civil libertarians argued it gave the police too much power – and restaurant owners like  Mark Roberts said the new laws damaged the economy… he says his business dropped between 10 and 20 percent.

MARK ROBERTS: When the change of drinking-driving laws came out, we knew that was going to have a strong impact on our business.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What did you think?  That customers would suddenly be afraid and that they wouldn’t come to your door?

MARK ROBERTS: We thought that there was a lot of unknowns about what that meant.  How many drinks could people have?  There was very little information about how that was going to be enforced, how it was going to impact what people could drink. We were creating non-alcoholic drinks to make up for the lost sales.  It was a lot of fear, a lot of unknowns, and some real changes in people’s behavior.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the impact was immediate.  During the first year the new law was in effect, the number of drunk driving deaths in British Columbia plunged. Critics argued that first year was just a fluke.  But the second year?  The number declined again.  A 55% reduction in deaths in just two years.

The message, it seemed, had started getting through to drivers

TIM STOCKWELL: So it was quite well-publicized.  And for deterrence to work it’s as much about knowing and expecting there being a consequence than it actually be likely.  People’s perception that they were likely to be caught was probably way higher than it actually was.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that’s key?

TIM STOCKWELL: That is key.  It’s very important….

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tim Stockwell is an expert on alcohol policy at the University of Victoria. He told us he can’t think of a single reform that’s had this big an impact, this quickly.  He and his colleagues recently published a peer-reviewed study of the effectiveness of the new laws.

TIM STOCKWELL: These laws epitomize a perfect deterrence theory in action.  And it is very important to understand that you don’t need draconian, severe penalties. They have to be severe enough.  It’s more important that they are certain, and that they are swift.  So on the spot, losing your car for three days, a week, that’s severe enough.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The new laws have faced some setbacks: the police had problems with some of their breathalyzers, the government had to ammend the laws when courts ruled that drivers deserved a better appeals process.  And last fall a judge ruled in favor of a driver who appealed his 2012 driving suspension.  Critics say that ruling that could force a rewriting of the laws.  For now, the heart of the new laws though remain intact.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What about the argument that there have been so many lives saved by these new rules that yes, it may have taken a hit out of your business, but that to save a bunch of people’s lives that that’s an OK price to pay?

MARK ROBERTS:  Yeah.  Well, it’s hard to argue that.  I’m certainly not going to sit here and say well, we should allow people to drink whatever, and whatever the consequences are, that’s the way it is going to be.  I certainly wouldn’t advocate that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why do you think this has been so effective?

LAUREL MIDDELAER: I think because the consequence is firm.  I think that people respond when there’s a harsher consequence.  And I think, too, because it’s aligned to a larger goal.  Just like secondhand smoke, we have no tolerance for that anymore, just like when seatbelts came in, there was that fundamental shift.  My goal has always been that there will be a fundamental shift that it’s not OK to drink and drive.  Drinking is fine.  Absolutely — drink whatever you like and enjoy and partake, but just don’t mix it with driving.

Source:   http://www.pbs.org/newshour  Jan.2014

Definition of a Nightmare: Trying to Enforce Colorado’s Conflicting Marijuana Regulatory Laws
The Police Foundation and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police released the above report this week to guide law enforcement about marijuana in other states. The report points to the Byzantine layers of regulations that evolved from constitutional amendments voters passed to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 (Amendment 20) and recreational marijuana in 2012 (Amendment 64).

From June 1, 2001 to December 21, 2008, Colorado issued medical marijuana cards to 4,819 patients. Each cardholder could designate a caregiver to grow marijuana for up to five patients. In 2009, a court decision overturned the limit of five patients per caregiver. That year, with virtually no limits on the number of patients caregivers could supply, 41,039 citizens obtained medical marijuana cards, an increase of 762 percent.

The legislature responded by passing bills in 2010 and 2011 to create the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code. Among other things, the Code legalized commercial medical marijuana centers to grow and sell medical marijuana, reinstated the five-patient limit for caregivers, set up a business-licensing regimen, and allowed for marijuana-infused products to be sold to patients. In 2012, citizens passed Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana, and new sets or regulations were created for both home growers and commercial growers, processors, and retail sales outlets. This resulted in four models of regulation.

Caregiver/Patient
Caregivers can grow medical marijuana for up to five patients and themselves.
Patients licensed by the Department of Public Health and Environment
Regulatory authorities: Department of Public Health and Environment & local law enforcement

Medical Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division

Recreational Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division

Recreational Home Grows
Anyone age 21 or older can grow up to six plants
Law enforcement seeing “co-op cultivations” where many home growers are growing at one location
No license required
Regulatory authority: local law enforcement

Caregivers must register the location of their cultivation sites, but no punishment is specified for those who do not, and many don’t. Because of privacy laws, patient information cannot be accessed to check for whom caregivers are growing. Caregivers have no cards and no sanctions if they fail to register. Attempting to establish probable cause under conflicting regulatory mechanisms makes it difficult to prosecute those who ignore the regulations.

Data kept by the Denver Police Department and the Department of Revenue show the number of marijuana facilities in Denver and statewide:

Medical Centers–Denver 198, Statewide 501
Infused Medical Product Factories–Denver 78, Statewide 158
Medical Cultivations–Denver 376, Statewide 739

Recreational Stores–Denver 126, Statewide 306
Infused Recreational Factories–Denver 44, Statewide 92
Recreational Cultivations–Denver 190, Statewide 375
Labs Checking Recreational for THC–Denver 9, Statewide 15

Total Marijuana Facilities–Denver 1,021, statewide 2,186

The result of trying to enforce conflicting regulatory laws can be seen in another recently released Colorado report. It estimated that demand for marijuana in Colorado in 2014 was 130 metric tons but legal supplies could only account for 77 metric tons. The rest, according to press reports, came from criminals in the black market or legal cultivators selling under the table in the “grey” market.

“Colorado law enforcement officials . . . are convinced that the black and the grey markets are thriving in Colorado primarily through unregulated grows, large quantities of marijuana stashed in homes, and by undercutting the price of legitimate marijuana sales. In fact, police have stated that legalized marijuana may have increased the illegal drug trade.”

Source: www.The Marijuana Report.Org  February 2015

Law enforcement officials would love to have a clear way to tell when a driver is too drugged to drive. But the decades of experience the country has in setting limits for alcohol have turned out to be rather useless so far because the mind-altering compound in cannabis, THC, dissolves in fat, whereas alcohol dissolves in water.

And that changes everything. “It’s really difficult to document drugged driving in a relevant way,” says Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University, “[because of] the simple fact that THC is fat soluble. That makes it absorbed in a very different way and much more difficult to relate behavior to, say, [blood] levels of THC or develop a breathalyzer.”

When you drink, alcohol spreads through your saliva and breath. It evenly saturates your lungs and blood. Measuring the volume of alcohol in one part of your body can predictably tell you how much is in any other part of your body — like how much is affecting your brain at any given time.

That made it possible to do the science on alcohol and crash risk back in the mid-20th century. Eventually, decades of study helped formulate the 0.08 blood alcohol limit as too drunk to drive safely. “The 0.08 standard in alcohol is from decades of careful epidemiological research,” says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

But marijuana isn’t like that. The height of your intoxication isn’t at the moment when blood THC levels peak, and the high doesn’t rise and fall uniformly based on how much THC leaves and enters your bodily fluids, says Marilyn Huestis, who headed the chemistry and drug metabolism section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Because THC is fat soluble, it moves readily from water environments, like blood, to fatty environments. Fatty tissues act like sponges for the THC, Huestis says. “And the brain is a very fatty tissue. It’s been proven you can still measure THC in the brain even if it’s no longer measurable in the blood.”

From her research, Huestis found that THC rapidly clears out of the blood in occasional users within a couple of hours. While they’re still high, a trickle of THC leaches out of their brains and other fatty tissues back into the blood until it’s all gone.

That means a lab test would only find a trace amount of THC in the blood of occasional smokers after a few hours. “You could have smoked a good amount, just waited two hours, still be pretty intoxicated and yet pass the drug test [for driving],” says Haney.

And if you eat the weed instead of smoking it, Haney says, your blood never carries that much THC. “With oral THC, it takes several hours for [blood THC] to peak, but it remains very low compared to the smoked route, even though they’re very high. It’s a hundredfold difference,” she says.

But daily users are different. Huestis says that heavy smokers build up so much THC in their body fat that it could continue leaching out for weeks after they last smoked. These chronic, frequent users will also experience a rapid loss of THC from their blood after smoking, but they will also have a constant, moderate level of blood THC even when they’re not high, Huestis says.

It gets trickier when you try to factor in the chronic effect of smoking weed, Huestis says. “We found [chronic, frequent smokers’] brains had changed and reduced the density of cannabinoid receptors,” she says. They were cognitively impaired for up to 28 days after their last use, and their driving might also still be impaired for that long. “It’s pretty scary,” she says.

The attitude difference between stoned drivers and alcohol drivers seems clear, Huestis

says. Pot smokers, she says, “tend to be more aware they’re impaired than alcohol users.” Drunk drivers are more aggressive, and high drivers are slower. But in her studies, she found that being blazed enough, as when a smoker’s blood THC level peaks at 13 nanograms per milliliter, could be just as a dangerous as driving drunk. The marijuana advocacy group NORML emphasizes that driving high can be dangerous, and  advises people to drive sober.

This all translates into a colossal headache for researchers and lawmakers alike. While scientists continue to bang their heads over how to draw up a biological measurement for marijuana intoxication, legislators want a way to quickly identify and penalize people who are too high to drive.

The instinct, Huestis says, is to come up with a law that parallels the 0.08 BAC standard for alcohol. “Everyone is looking for one number,” she says. “And it’s almost impossible to come up with one number. Occasional users can be very impaired at one microgram per liter, and chronic, frequent smokers will be over one microgram per liter maybe for weeks.”

The shaky science around relating blood THC to driving impairment is unfair for people living in marijuana-legal states that have absolute blood THC limits for driving, says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In states like Washington, if a driver is found to have over 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood, they automatically get a DUI-cannabis. “If we are going to criminalize DUI marijuana, we need to take information from scientific studies and use it to decide if that risk is sufficiently high to be so morally blameworthy that we call it a crime. But we don’t, so picking 5 nanograms per milliliter is arbitrary,” Roth says.

The complicated biology of THC makes current DUI cases very tricky.

“Blood isn’t taken in the U.S. until 1.5 to four hours after the [traffic] incident,” Huestis says. By then, THC levels would have fallen significantly, and these people might have been impaired but passed the test. At the same time, a heavy user living in a state like Washington would get a DUI even if she or he hadn’t smoked in weeks.

As a result, it gets difficult to even understand how risky blazed driving is. Traffic studies that rely on blood THC measures could also be inaccurate if blood is drawn too late and THC has already left the system. And some state traffic databases, including Colorado’s, according to state traffic officials, link accidents to 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC, a byproduct of marijuana metabolism that marks only recent exposure and not intoxication. That might result in an overestimation of marijuana-related accidents.

In the meantime, Haney says, the challenge shouldn’t deter people from trying to find a marijuana DUI solution. People are working on breath tests, saliva, other blood markers and behavioral tests, just nothing that so far has stuck, she says. “We need something, because it’s an important public health issue. But how we’re going to get there? I just don’t know.”

Source:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/02/09/466147956  Feb.2016

Seeking a safe haven in Colorado’s legal marijuana marketplace, illegal drug traffickers are growing weed among the state’s sanctioned pot warehouses and farms, then covertly shipping it elsewhere and pocketing millions of dollars from the sale, according to law enforcement officials and court records consulted by The Associated Press.

In one case, the owner of a skydiving business crammed hundreds of pounds of Colorado pot into his planes and flew the weed to Minnesota, where associates allegedly sold it for millions of dollars in cash. In another, a Denver man was charged with sending more than 100 pot-filled FedEx packages to Buffalo, New York, where drug dealers divvied up the shipment. Twenty other drug traffickers, many from Cuba, were accused of relocating to Colorado to grow marijuana that they sent to Florida, where it can fetch more than double the price in a legal Colorado shop.

These cases and others confirm a longstanding fear of marijuana opponents that the state’s much-watched experiment in legal pot would invite more illegal trafficking to other states where the drug is still strictly forbidden.

One source is Colorado residents or tourists who buy retail pot and take it out of state. But more concerning to authorities are larger-scale traffickers who move here specifically to grow the drug and ship to more lucrative markets.

The trend also bolsters the argument of neighboring Nebraska and Oklahoma, which filed a lawsuit in late 2014 seeking to declare Colorado’s pot legalization unconstitutional, arguing that the move sent a tide of illicit weed across their borders. The Obama administration last month urged the Supreme Court to reject the suit, saying that the leakage was not Colorado’s fault.

No one knows exactly how much pot leaves Colorado. When illegal shipments are seized, it’s often impossible to prove where the marijuana was grown. But court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials indicate well-organized traffickers are seeking refuge in Colorado’s flourishing pot industry.

“There’s no question there’s a lot more of this activity than there was two years ago,” said Colorado’s U.S. attorney, John Walsh.

Some in the legal industry say police have exaggerated the problem and put unfair scrutiny on people who legally grow pot on behalf of patients. Lawmakers last year limited unregulated pot growers to no more than 99 plants in an effort to crack down on those selling untaxed pot.

The federal government allowed Colorado’s experiment on the condition that state officials act to keep marijuana from migrating to places where it is still outlawed and out of the hands of criminal cartels. Federal authorities acknowledge that both things are happening but say that, because the state is trying to keep its industry tightly regulated, there’s no reason to end the legal pot trade.

(MY NOTE: This is an insane position to take. The feds are allowing large-scale manufacturing and distribution to take place in Colorado and elsewhere. All of it is in violation of numerous federal laws that bring mandatory minimum sentences to traffickers. This administration’s absolute failure to enforce federal law is catamount to aiding and abetting drug traffickers on a scale seldom seen in the drug trafficking world prior to legalization. DOJ’s initial claim was that federal resources would not be used to prosecute “patients”

who are in compliance with state “medi-pot” laws. In order words, it was supposed to be about leaving users alone. Nothing about the current situation is about “patients.” It is about commercialization and trafficking, with legalized states producing high-grade pot for the rest of the country.

The feds could immediately stop 90% of this nonsense for the cost of postage stamps — sending letters written on DOJ letterhead that provide notice of impending forfeiture of all property used in furtherance of large-scale trafficking and money laundering. This would include all drug proceeds (and arguably would include the seizure of drug proceeds disguised as “tax revenue.” I spent more than 20 years doing these cases in federal court, so I know what I am talking about. Back to the article.  Monte Stiles)

The pot industry also acknowledges the criminal activity and insists it is doing all it can to keep legally grown weed from crossing state lines. Among other safeguards, Colorado law requires growers to get a license and use a “seed-to-sale” tracking system that monitors marijuana plants at every stage.

Many of the illicit growers come from elsewhere, never obtain a growing license and “don’t even attempt to adhere to the law,” said Barbra M. Roach, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Denver field division.

“It’s like hiding in plain sight,” she said.  (EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG)

Authorities in Washington state, which also allows recreational marijuana, have noticed more marijuana leaving the state. But more reports are coming from Colorado, which has the nation’s most robust commercial market and an international reputation for producing premium, high-potency pot.

“It’s a brand name now,” Roach said.

Jason Warf, head of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, said people are “coming from out-of-state, buying products from licensed stores and being arrested on their way home.”

That “is really hard to curb,” he said. “We can’t essentially babysit adults and their behavior.”

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s marijuana-enforcement division cites shops if pot is unaccounted for but “after it’s sold, we have very little control what happens to the marijuana,” Director Lewis Koski said.

Police agencies seized nearly 2 tons of Colorado weed from drivers who had intended to take it to 36 other states in 2014, the year legal pot shops opened, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federally funded drug task force. By comparison, they seized less than a ton in 2009.

U.S. postal inspectors seized about 470 pounds of Colorado pot from the mail in 2014, up from 57 pounds in 2010, according to the task force, whose findings are based on on voluntary submissions from law enforcement agencies and are largely anecdotal.

Some cases have comic overtones, like when a Wyoming patrolman discovered 7 ounces of high-grade weed in trick-or-treat bags the day after Halloween, or when police in northern Colorado seized stuffed animals full of marijuana destined for Florida.

Other operations are more sophisticated, like the one in which authorities say 32 people used skydiving planes and posed as licensed medical marijuana caregivers and small business owners to export tens of thousands of pounds of pot grown in Denver warehouses, usually to Minnesota. The organization made more than $12 million over four years, according to a state indictment.

When they busted illegal pot farms in southern Colorado in September, state and federal agents found 28 guns, more than 1,000 plants and $25,000 in cash.

A local UPS facility intercepts about 50 pounds of pot headed out of state each week, said Todd Reeves of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. “We don’t have the resources,” he said, “to be able to go after every single one of these cases.”

Source:   SADIE GURMAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS DENVER — Jan 28, 2016, 2:11 AM ET  http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/drug-traffickers-seek-safe-haven-amid-legal-marijuana-36564435

After the Police Chief of Gloucester, Massachusetts announced the town will connect people with treatment when they come to the police station with illegal drugs and paraphernalia, instead of arresting them, 56 police departments in 17 states have started similar programs.

An additional 110 police departments are preparing to start programs that emphasize treatment over incarceration, The New York Timesreports. Two hundred treatment centers nationwide have agreed to be partners in these programs. In May 2015, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello posted on Facebook, “We will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an ‘angel’ who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.” Since then, Gloucester has developed a national network of centers that are willing to provide treatment beds and take referrals by police, whether or not a person has insurance.

Several local pharmacies have agreed to make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available at a discount.

Most of the program’s costs are covered by the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which Chief Campanello founded with Gloucester businessman John E. Rosenthal. The initiative has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It has also received millions of dollars in in-kind contributions, including placement in treatment centers.

The program has 55 volunteers in recovery or who are familiar with addiction, who listen and offer moral support. Local taxi companies provide free rides to treatment facilities or the airport, if the treatment facility is far away.

Since the program started, 391 people have turned themselves in at Gloucester’s police station. About 40 percent are from the local area. All have been placed in treatment, the article notes.

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/join-together   26th Jan. 2016

By Mark H. Moore; Mark H. Moore is professor of criminal justice at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— History has valuable lessons to teach policy makers but it reveals its lessons only grudgingly.

Close analyses of the facts and their relevance is required lest policy makers fall victim to the persuasive power of false analogies and are misled into imprudent judgments. Just such a danger is posed by those who casually invoke the ”lessons of Prohibition” to argue for the legalization of drugs.

What everyone ”knows” about Prohibition is that it was a failure. It did not eliminate drinking; it did create a black market. That in turn spawned criminal syndicates and random violence. Corruption and widespread disrespect for law were incubated and, most tellingly, Prohibition was repealed only 14 years after it was enshrined in the Constitution.

The lesson drawn by commentators is that it is fruitless to allow moralists to use criminal law to control intoxicating substances. Many now say it is equally unwise to rely on the law to solve the nation’s drug problem.

But the conventional view of Prohibition is not supported by the facts.

First, the regime created in 1919 by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, which charged the Treasury Department with enforcement of the new restrictions, was far from all-embracing. The amendment prohibited the commercial manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages; it did not prohibit use, nor production for one’s own consumption. Moreover, the provisions did not take effect until a year after passage -plenty of time for people to stockpile supplies.

Second, alcohol consumption declined dramatically during Prohibition. Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. Admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.

Arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between 1916 and 1922. For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Third, violent crime did not increase dramatically during Prohibition. Homicide rates rose dramatically from 1900 to 1910 but remained roughly constant during Prohibition’s 14 year rule. Organized crime may have become more visible and lurid during Prohibition, but it existed before and after.

Fourth, following the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol consumption increased. Today, alcohol is estimated to be the cause of more than 23,000 motor vehicle deaths and is implicated in more than half of the nation’s 20,000 homicides. In contrast, drugs have not yet been persuasively linked to highway fatalities and are believed to account for 10 percent to 20 percent of homicides.

Prohibition did not end alcohol use. What is remarkable, however, is that a relatively narrow political movement, relying on a relatively weak set of statutes, succeeded in reducing, by one-third, the consumption of a drug that had wide historical and popular sanction.

This is not to say that society was wrong to repeal Prohibition. A democratic society may decide that recreational drinking is worth the price in traffic fatalities and other consequences. But the common claim that laws backed by morally motivated political movements cannot reduce drug use is wrong.

Not only are the facts of Prohibition misunderstood, but the lessons are misapplied to the current situation.

The U.S. is in the early to middle stages of a potentially widespread cocaine epidemic.    (in 2001)   If the line is held now, we can prevent new users and increasing casualties. So this is exactly not the time to be considering a liberalization of our laws on cocaine. We need a firm stand by society against cocaine use to extend and reinforce the messages that are being learned through painful personal experience and testimony.

The real lesson of Prohibition is that the society can, indeed, make a dent in the consumption of drugs through laws. There is a price to be paid for such restrictions, of course. But for drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which are dangerous but currently largely unpopular, that price is small relative to the benefits.

Source:  http://nyti.ms/U1QHdN  Published October 16 1989

1.     Prohibited the commercial manufacture, and distribution of alcoholic beverages

It DID NOT prohibit use, or production for one’s own consumption

2.     Alcohol consumption declined dramatically during prohibition.

Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 inn 1929

Mental hospital admission for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.

Arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conducted declined 50% between 1916 and 1922

Consumption of alcohol declined by 30 to 50%

3.     Violent crimes DID NOT increase dramatically during prohibition.  Homicide rates rose dramatically from 1900 to 1910 but remained roughly constant during prohibition’s 14-year rule.  Organized crime did become more visible during prohibition but it existed before and after.

4.     Following the repeal of prohibition, alcohol consumption increased.  Today alcohol is estimated to be the cause of 50% of traffic deaths and is implicated in more than half of the nation’s homicides.

Source:  J.McDougal 2001  –  re-printed Drug Watch International e-mails.

Few topics have been more distorted by politicians and media than claims about the criminal justice system in its various forms. When the offense involves illicit drugs (use, possession, or trafficking), the distortion becomes pronounced.

In large measure, a complicated set of data have been made even more difficult to grasp because of tendentious (and often false) assertions forwarded by drug legalization advocates, who seek to advance their own “reforms” by first misrepresenting the criminal justice facts. Moreover, though drug use overall is subject to confusion, distortion is even greater when marijuana is the drug in question. An example of agendas distorting understanding is the effort to blamedrug laws for the growth in incarceration. That effort seeks to convince a public otherwise disinclined to accept more drugs that current drug laws have created the supposed injustice of “mass incarceration.” This is demonstrably untrue.

To answer with the facts, we will address several distinct dimensions of legal institutions concerning illicit drugs: prison sentences, recidivism of released prisoners, and the relationship of drug use to the commission of criminal acts. (We addressed the parallel issue of drug arrests in a previous study, showing that they are far fewer in proportion to drug use than drug reform advocates claim.)

We start with prison inmates, found in both state and federal prisons, and contrast the cumulative numbers of those imprisoned with those entering in a single year. In all cases, we will find that the proportion of drug offenses to the overall number of prisoners has been much overstated. Cumulatively, all drug offenders in both systems constitute20 percent of inmates (303,800 out of 1,508,636 sentenced inmates).

THE FEDERAL PRISON SYSTEM:

The federal system holds 13 percent of all prisoners, but contains the larger proportion of drug offenders. This happens because many trafficking offenses, be they interstate or international, are specifically federal in nature. But even as the total number of prisoners has grown, the drug-offender percentage has declined steadily.

There were 52,568 federal prisoners in 1989 (those “under jurisdiction”), and by 2014, there were 191,374 (those “sentenced” – the categories shifted slightly over time, yielding slight variation in respective calculations). Yet the percentage of drug offenders in the total peaked in 1996, when it stood at 59.6 percent. A 2014 publication from the White House showing the cumulative total of federal prisoners broken down to show drug offenses as the most serious charge, reveals that the proportion of drug offenders had dropped to 44 percent of all offenders in 2011. By 2014, the most recent data on sentenced drug offenders in the federal prison system shifted back to 50 percent of all federal inmates, an increase from the previous ratio due largely to recent inmate releases.

When we turn to inmates entering federal prison in a single year, data are more current, but show the same trajectory. In 1998, the proportion of drug offenders incarcerated for that year was 41 percent (vs. 57.8 percent of the 1998 cumulative “jurisdiction” figure). By 2014, according to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), drug offenders (of all types) had fallen to only 32 percent (of 75,836 entering federal inmates, 22,193 were drug offenders). Importantly, 96.6 percent of entering inmates who were drug offenders were convicted of trafficking offenses, while only 0.9 percent were convicted of simple possession.

We can further break these data down by drug type, and by nature of the drug offense. Methamphetamine resulted in the largest subset of drug types with more than 6,304 incarcerations, while heroin produced 2,431.

Though recent legislative reforms have altered the mandatory sentencing guidelines regarding powder cocaine offenses (based on weight) compared to crack offenses (a former ratio of 100 to 1 has been amended to 18 to 1), there were only 4,959 powder cocaine convictions in 2014, compared to 2,439 crack convictions. Moreover, the number of crack cocaine inmates sentenced for simple possession was 0.3 percent, or no more than 7 people.

Finally, marijuana federal incarcerations totaled only 3,971. Marijuana offenses are overwhelmingly (97.6 percent) for trafficking, with a “simple possession offense” representing only 75 individuals (or 1.9 percent), with that conviction often resulting from downward plea-bargaining from more serious offenses.   To show the emphasis on traffickers, when asked in Congressionaltestimony how many drug possession offenders the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refers for federal prosecution, Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley stated, “virtually none.”

What, then, is currently driving the changing distribution of the federal inmate population? To a large extent it is a rising number of immigration offenses, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service. This fact is echoed for single-year entry for prisoners as well: in 2014 the USSC shows 29 percent were immigration offenders, while 32 percent were drug offenders.

THE STATE PRISON SYSTEM: The state prison system is larger, holding 1,317,262 sentenced prisoners cumulatively in 2014. The state prison inmate population has also grown over time, and the absolute number of drug offenders within that total has nearly doubled since 1989 from 120,100 to 208,000 (sentenced) in 2014.

Yet just as with the federal system, the percentage of drug offenders has declined since the peak year 1990 when it stood at at 22 percent. For 2014, those whose most serious offense involved drugs were only 16 percent of sentenced state prison inmates (drug possession offenses are only 3.6 percent of all state inmates).

While there has been a marked increase in the state prison population over the past few decades as America has gotten more serious about combatting crime, the data do not support the idea that drug offenses are the primary driver of those increases. Further, with regard to the current push to decriminalize or legalize drug use, there is no support for the assertion that convictions for drug use/possession are responsible for the sharp increases in either state or federal prison inmates.

SENTENCING REFORM AND RECIDIVISM:

And what of sentencing reforms leading to the release of large numbers of federal drug offenders? A substantial problem is recidivism, or re-offending within a relatively short period of time, as we have elsewhere recently argued. Yet the press persists in misrepresentation. According to the Economist, advocating for prisoner release, “Given how high America’s incarceration rate is, it is fair to say reducing it won’t precipitate a crime wave. Many convicts serving long sentences were never generally dangerous, or have mellowed with age, and no longer pose a threat to the public.” But the data show otherwise. According to a Bureau of Justice Statisticsstudy of prisoners released in 2005 and tracked for five years, 32 percent were drug offenders.

Of these, fully 77 percent of those released re-offended within that five- year-period (57 percent of all offenders re-offended at only one year).

It is worth noting two features of a further breakdown of the 404,638 released prisoners in the study. First, the outcome is the same regardless of the type of drug offense (trafficking or possession); that is, either type of offense has comparable re-offense rates. Drug possession offenders had 78 percent recidivism, drug trafficking offenders, 75 percent.

Second, the percent of re-offenses where the subsequent crime specifically involved drugs reached 51 percent. More compelling, violent crimes were fully 25 percent of drug inmates’ recidivating offenses.

These data clearly show if drug offenders are released through sentencing reform, both drug and violent crime will follow; to the extent that they are released early, the effect is to compress their criminal impact into a shorter period.

Further, inmates’ prior arrest history matters. In this study, for all offenders, the mean number of prior arrests per released prisoner was nearly 11.

For those who had ten or more prior arrests, 86 percent re-offended within 5 years. (Even for those aged 40 and over, the recidivism for drug offenders was 71 percent.)

DRUG USE AND THE COMMISSION OF CRIMES:

Finally, there is the role of drugs in the commission of crime. According to another Bureau of Justice Statistics study, one third of state inmates and one quarter of federal inmates committed their offenses under the influence of illicit drugs. That holds for all crimes, not just drug offenses.

For state prisoners, 69 percent used drugs “regularly,” and for 59 percent, that drug was marijuana (with 30 percent using cocaine/crack).

For federal prisoners, 64 percent used drugs “regularly,” with 53 percent using marijuana (and 28 percent using cocaine/crack). Even for federal trafficking offenders, 34 percent were using drugs at the time of the offense.

The same pattern holds for violent offenders. Of them, 49 percent of both federal and state offenders used drugs in the month prior to the offense. The number using drugs at the time of the violent offense reached 28 percent of state and 24 percent of federal prisoners. Homicide-specific rates of drug use in the month prior to the offense were 49 percent and 45 percent, respectively for state and federal prison inmates, with a respective 27 percent and 17 percent using at the time of the homicide.

POLICY CONCLUSIONS:

By these data, we may conclude the following:

1. Sentencing reforms that result in the early release of prison inmates will increase the number of future crimes, and crime victims, through recidivism, while the effect will be concentrated in time, thereby stressing law enforcement and rehabilitation services.

2. Drug intoxication (including the most prevalent drug, marijuana), is deeply implicated in crime commission, including violent crime. It follows that enabling greater drug use

will magnify the criminal impact, with the corollary that efforts to reduce drug use prevalence should help lower the incidence of crime.

3. In particular, decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana will have virtually no impact on prison overcrowding, but the attendant increase in drug-use prevalence nationwide will likely lead to increased commission of crimes, including non-drug offenses and violent offense

Source:  http://www.hudson.org/research  Nov. 2015

Filed under: Legal Sector :

David W. Murray and John P. Walters

At a Manhattan fundraiser yesterday (as noted by The Hill), potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke of the rioting in Baltimore by invoking a theme of the Obama administration: the need for reform of the criminal justice system.  According to this critique, the current crisis in our cities, in particular focused on violence involving the police and African Americans, has its roots in America’s policies of criminal justice.Former Secretary of State Clinton insisted that we must “reform our criminal justice system” and, according to The Hill, “made a reference to ending ‘mass incarceration,’ but the specifics were drowned out by applause.”

The charge of “mass incarceration” is often attached to changes in criminal justice sentencing that were put in place in the mid-1990s, and led by political figures such as Vice President Joe Biden, a strong supporter of so-called “three strikes” laws and author (as a senator) of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

It should be remembered that such measures were politically popular during that decade, driven by the striking damage done to our cities (as well as to vulnerable women), by rising crime rates, in particular, crimes of violence. The circumstance  has changed for the better so dramatically that current politicians can perhaps be forgiven for losing sight of the problems that such measures were crafted to address.

Reform of unjust laws is a constant duty, but we should not forget the genuine suffering of criminal victims that led to efforts at protecting those at risk. The reality is that the tough laws were put in place for a reason, to shelter those being devastated by crime and drugs and predatory behavior.

Few doubt that a result of the application of those laws, beyond unintended injustices, was that a great deal of predatory behavior was stopped, though as a consequence, incarceration numbers grew accordingly. The intended effect was produced, as the rate of crime fell dramatically and continues downward to this day.

A graph of forcible rapes reported to the police as found in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports can represent the nature of the overall criminal threat, and the impact of sentencing “reform” (as it was called then) has been surely one of the social factors driving this steep decline in crime. As can be seen, the incidence of “forcible rape” was climbing steeply until the time (1993-1995) that the reforms were implemented.

These laws were strong measures, but surely the sense at the time was that they were necessary, given the dangers to which they were the answer. It would be ironic, indeed, if we now, the very beneficiaries of the decline of violent crime were to reverse such conditions, in the hope of applause.  An implication of falling crime is that America is unlikely to see a continuation of the rate of incarceration from those years, simply because the number of committed crimes has dropped so greatly. When crime falls, incarceration should level off, and then decline as a result. That is, in some respects, we could be on the verge of harvesting the benefits from those laws, and even entering a period where the number of incarcerations will decline.  Further, because the impact of violent crime has fallen so steeply, we might even see that necessary and long-sought “structural reforms” of our inner cities (jobs, better schools, strengthened family formation), might begin to gain traction.

Yet because the political pressure behind the imposition of those laws has declined first, we could be on the verge of making a tragic mistake, by carelessly reversing the very steps that made vulnerable neighborhoods safer. Whatever new “reforms” we undertake

now, we must take heed lest we re-start the original conditions of crisis, simply to serve political opportunism, often from the very people who called for the initial intervention.

To sum up, it is possible to argue that faced with a threat, we made an intervention, and to a large degree that intervention worked, albeit at considerable social cost. Now is not the time to abandon those efforts. If proto-candidate Clinton and her allies succeed in an effort to abandon effective law enforcement in our cities, very soon, no one will be applauding.

Walters and Murray direct Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. They both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration.

Source:  http://www.weeklystandard.com)  29th April 2015

Filed under: Legal Sector :

– and “It’s Time to Regulate E-Cigarettes,” by David A. Kessler and Matthew L. Myers (Op-Ed, April 23):

We applaud your editorial and Op-Ed essay for highlighting the rise in electronic cigarette use among high school students and for condemning the tobacco industry for aggressively targeting kids.

Unfortunately, the noxious tactics of Big Tobacco — flavored products, colorful packaging, kid-friendly advertising — are not limited to the marketing of e-cigarettes. They also characterize the commercialization of marijuana in states like Colorado, where pot has been legalized. Attempts to ban edible marijuana products that target youth, such as “Pot Tarts” or “Pot Lollipops,” have been met with fierce opposition from a burgeoning marijuana industry eager to hook kids early, and ensure a steady stream of future profits.

As we condemn the harms of e-cigarettes and their marketing to youth, we should also acknowledge that the legalization and mass commercialization of marijuana means yet another industry that thrives on addiction and recklessly targets the most vulnerable in society. We can reform our drug laws and address the currents pitfalls of prohibition without giving rise to the next Big Tobacco.

PATRICK J. KENNEDY

KEVIN A. SABET

Princeton, N.J.

The writers, a former congressman and a former White House drug policy adviser, respectively, are leaders of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Source: Letters to Editor  nytimes.com  5th MY 2015

With the medical marijuana law cutting profits for street dealers, police believe that drug-trafficking organizations are turning to far more dangerous drugs, flooding the streets with cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Tempe Police, the DEA and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office attacked that trend in Operation Terminus, a 30-month investigation that resulted in the dismantling of what investigators described as an extensive drug trafficking network that stretched from Sinoloa, Mexico, to Phoenix, Los Angeles and Indianapolis. Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff pointed out that the one missing item in this case is marijuana. During the investigation, there were 77 indictments, with authorities seizing $7.5 million cash, 485 pounds of methamphetamine, 50 Kilograms of cocaine, 4.5 pounds of heroin and 37 firearms. “Here, in Arizona alone, you can go to a strip mall and purchase marijuana,” Ryff said. “Drug cartels are sophisticated, they are a criminal enterprise. If the money is not there, they are going to change their tactics.” Ryff praised the Cronkite School at ASU for their work in evaluating the impact of drugs in Arizona as seen in their recent semester long project: Hooked, Tracking Heroin’s hold on Arizona. “They are plowing marijuana fields and planting opiates. It’s killing our youths. It’s an epidemic,” said Lt. Mike Pooley, a Tempe police spokesman. Police believe that drug addiction is the root cause of many property crimes, including burglary and shoplifting. Mesa police arrested a suspect last week who told them he used an air gun resembling a pistol to rob a bank in order to pay his heroin dealer. Operation Terminus started in 2012 with the arrest of an individual named Jesus who was picked up from a different criminal investigation,Tempe police Commander Kim Hale said. The drug-trafficking organizations are based in the Sinoloa state in Mexico, but the drugs are distributed by local syndicates throughout the Valley and as far away as Los Angeles and Indianapolis, he said. “Arizona is ground zero for for drugs and our border states have been impacted just as is the borders in California, Texas and News Mexico,” Hale said. Tempe police released a list of 70 defendants who were charged with a variety of drug trafficking crimes as the result of Operation Terminus.

Source:  www.azcentral.com   6th March 2015

Filed under: Legal Sector,USA :
A speaker at yesterday’s drugs conference has accused its organisers of being biased in favour of those who want to legalise all drugs. 
Speaking at Homerton College yesterday, Neil McKeganey told those at the Home Affairs Select Committee’s drugs conference that too many of the selected speakers were those who wanted to push forward drug law reform.  Mr McKeganey, of the centre for drug misuse research, asserted the conference programme was “overwhelmingly skewed” in favour of those who hope to see drugs legalised, particularly for medicinal purposes.
He said: “Their programme is so overwhelmingly skewed in favour of those in favourof drug law reform it has to be a fundamental compromise of that principle of the select committee.
“There’s no way with any justification whatsoever that the range of speakers overwhelmingly in favour of legalisation should stand as a contribution of the select committee’s discussion of drug misuse.  The case for drug policy reform is based on the drug laws having failed. In actual fact drug policies in the UK have not failed.
“We have witnessed the most substantial reduction in the prevalence of illegal drug use since records began. The statistics here are very clear. It’s completely dishonest to present that situation as indicative of government failure.”
Mr McKeganey continued that it was “preposterous” to suggest that existing drug policies were doing more harm than illegal drugs themselves.  He added: “It is said it is more effective to set up a regulated market.   That is said by people who are not considering the evidence of the impact of a regulated market.
“How on earth do you propose to regulate an unregulated market? There will still be illegal suppliers of drugs – how do you propose to regulate those individuals?”
However opinion at the drugs conference remained divided, with several speakers giving whole-hearted support to drug law reform.  The safety of drug users was one of the key reasons cited, with claims that regulating drug use would help prevent people from taking drugs which had been mixed with harmful cutting agents.
Health problems are also caused by cutting agents used to make the drug more profitable – including levamisole used to worm sheep – which can lower blood cell numbers and phenacetin which can cause kidney problems.
Imperial College London academic Prof David Nutt, who is also the chair and founder of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, was one of those who spoke out in favour of drug law reform.   Prof Nutt told the conference that almost everything which had been done in the past 30 years to tackle drugs had led to greater problems.
He said: “Prohibition of cannabis has driven us into much more dangerous drugs.
“It’s the same with MDMA. The prohibition of MDMA has led to the massive rise in deaths from PMA.  The perverse consequences of the laws must be taken account of. You cannot think there is a simple solution.
“I am very sympathetic to the idea of recovery but the abstinence recovery programme will lead to more deaths.  A policy which focuses simply on reducing use but does not take account of deaths is missing the key element of drugs policy.”
Sarah Graham, an addictions therapist and member of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs, also lent her support to the government regulating drugs.  Ms Graham said she agreed with the argument that drug users should not be criminalised.
The support for drug law reform comes after the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in a report into the use of powdered cocaine in the UK and its impacts on society.
The report suggests powdered cocaine use remains most common among 20 to 29-year-olds.
 Source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge-drugs-conference-accused-8216/story-26163142-detail/story.html#LvCZKJOoxrosfdYp.99

Though many young people seem to perceive marijuana as harmless, its use may pose serious risk for adverse behaviors and health consequences.

An extensive research review published June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicineconcluded that marijuana use is linked to multiple adverse effects—particularly in youth.

“Despite some contentious discussions regarding the addictiveness of marijuana, the evidence clearly indicates that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction,” said lead author Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and three of NIDA’s top officials.

Stanimir G.Stoev/Shutterstock

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States, with an estimated 12 percent of people aged 12 or older reporting its use in the prior year. The 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey—supported by NIDA—found that 6.5 percent of 12th graders report daily or near-daily marijuana use, with 60 percent perceiving regular use of marijuana not to be harmful (Psychiatric News, February 6). Volkow and colleagues suggested that as more states move toward policies that legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, rates for marijuana use among teenagers and young adults will increase, as will the negative health consequences associated with its use.

“The regular use of marijuana during adolescence is of particular concern, since use by this age group is associated with an increased likelihood of deleterious consequences,” Volkow and colleagues cautioned.

The review, “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use,” provided science-based reasoning to explain the onset of marijuana addiction and gave an overview of the adverse health consequences associated with marijuana use from data of 77 studies and literature reviews.

From animal studies, the authors concluded that exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis—in early life can recalibrate the dopaminergic system, the reward system of the brain, to become more sensitive to stimulation with drugs. The authors speculated that the findings may help to explain the increased vulnerability to abuse of marijuana and other substances in later life, which have been reported by adults who initiated cannabis use during adolescence.

The review also highlighted studies showing an association between marijuana use and impaired regions of the human brain, including the precuneas, a key node that is involved in alertness and self-conscious awareness, and the hippocampus, which is important in learning and memory. Other adverse consequences of cannabis use included impaired driving, lowered IQ scores into adulthood, and a potential risk to exacerbate psychotic symptoms in those with mental disorders. The review suggested that risks for adverse effects increase when the drug is used along with alcohol.

“Some physicians continue to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes despite limited evidence of a benefit,” noted Volkow and colleagues. “Because older studies are based on the effects of marijuana containing lower levels of THC, stronger adverse health effects may occur with the use of today’s more-potent marijuana.”

The authors emphasized that more research must be done on the potential health consequences of second hand marijuana smoke, the long-term impact of prenatal cannabis exposure, and the effects of marijuana legalization policies on public health.

“It is important to alert the public that using marijuana in the teen years brings health, social, and academic risk,” said Volkow. “Physicians in particular can play a role in conveying to families that early marijuana use can interfere with crucial social and developmental milestones and can impair cognitive development.”

Source: http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/ June 26, 2014

This article, based upon the research of professor Troy Payne from the University of Alaska, documents facts that dispel these claims. I think you will find it extremely informative. Similar information should be available in every state fighting legalization. Monte Stiles, DrugWatch International.

 It’s complicated: Marijuana law enforcement numbers in Anchorage

There are numerous criminal justice statistics cited in support of and in opposition to Ballot Measure 2 (An Act to Tax and Regulate the Production, Sale, and Use of Marijuana). Recently, arrest numbers, prosecution outcomes, criminal sentencing practices, and incarceration rates, have all been referenced in ads, op-eds, and at debates.

Each of these statistics provides valuable information, but each represents only one aspect of the effect of marijuana on criminal justice in Alaska. The criminal justice system itself is comprised of multiple agencies (law enforcement, courts, corrections, each at local, state, tribal, and federal levels) which, while often working together, ultimately focus on separate tasks, then record, track, and monitor their progress differently and independently.

Focusing on arrests as the sole measure of the criminal justice impact of marijuana can be misleading. Often, marijuana crimes are accompanied by other criminal activity, so it is difficult to parse out what someone was actually “arrested for.” Many data sources will only report the most serious offense. Focusing on the number of prosecutions, convictions or incarceration rates does not provide an accurate overview either, because that number misses the people who had marijuana seized, but who were not prosecuted for marijuana offenses. Additionally, prosecutorial records, and any statistics drawn from them, may not be reliable indicators because as Dean Guaneli, former chief assistant attorney general for Alaska, pointed out in an Oct. 17 op-ed, to get the full view, “you have to look at the background facts in each case.”

As previous commentators have noted, no one in Alaska has completed a detailed analysis of marijuana-case processing from start to finish. Unfortunately, I do not currently have data for that either. But each piece of information is useful in light of the upcoming election. My goal is to bring another small amount of data to the public regarding this issue — a piece of data that illustrates one aspect of the effect of marijuana on criminal justice in Alaska: interaction with the Anchorage Police Department.

I looked at the beginning of the process — from the point police seized marijuana. Most other data sources (arrests, prosecution outcomes, sentencing, incarceration) deal with much later parts of the criminal justice system. None of these alone can provide a complete picture of marijuana-case processing in Alaska. Doing so is surprisingly complicated. (Readers are welcome to register for a few justice and legal studies classes at UAA to find out exactly why, but I will explain a few reasons here.)

I requested information on every incident in which APD seized any amount of marijuana from January 2010 through the latest date available, the end of June 2013. This allows me to describe all incidents in which marijuana was seized, regardless of whether an arrest was made or charges were ultimately filed — capturing all instances where individuals encountered law enforcement because of marijuana.

An “incident” can start with a citizen call to police or through proactive policing such as a traffic stop. “Incident” is the basic unit of police work. Marijuana is seized in less than one-half of 1 percent of all police incidents in Anchorage. Marijuana was seized in about 3,400 out of nearly 900,000 police incidents from January 2010 through midyear 2013, the latest data made available by APD. While that is a small percentage of overall police incidents, APD seizes marijuana between two and three times a day, on average.

The typical marijuana seizure in Anchorage involves a small amount of marijuana — 78.6 percent of incidents where marijuana was seized involved less than 1 ounce of marijuana. Over a third of incidents, 36.3 percent, involved less than 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana.

About three-quarters of incidents (76 percent) where marijuana was seized resulted in charges being referred to the prosecutor against at least one person. I examined what APD records noted was the primary, or most serious charge. The most common primary charge in these situations was use or display of marijuana (violation of AS 11.71.060(a)(1)). Nearly a third (31.4 percent) of persons had this as their primary charge. The next most common primary charges resulting from an incident where marijuana was seized were driving with no license or with a suspended license (10.6 percent), and possession of drugs within 500 feet of a school (10.2 percent).

Despite use or display of marijuana being the most common primary charge, most primary charges were for something other than marijuana use or possession. Over half (58 percent) of incidents where marijuana was seized began with a police response to something else, such as a disturbance or a burglary. Together with the primary charge data, this suggests either 1) that marijuana is most often seized during the investigation of other crimes which vary greatly, or 2) that marijuana use or display provides probable cause for a citizen to come to the attention of police, which then leads to more serious crimes being uncovered. Either way, the available evidence suggests that APD is not focused on making arrests solely for marijuana use, display, or possession.

Demographic data was available for incidents where a person was charged. Of persons charged, 18 percent were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. Another 23 percent of persons were between the ages of 18 and 21 years. Persons over the age of 21 but under 30 were the largest group by age, comprising 32 percent of persons charged, with people in their 30s making up 15 percent of persons charged. Those 40 years and older made up 12 percent of persons charged. The available data on race is consistent with general trends in criminal justice, with minorities over-represented relative to their percentage in the Anchorage population.

 I hope this has provided voters with more information to consider before heading to the polls in November. As I stated at the outset, these data do not present a complete picture of marijuana-case processing — doing that requires collecting, reviewing, analyzing, and synthesizing data from police departments, the state Department of Public Safety, Department of Law, Department of Corrections and the Alaska Court System. We do not yet have a comprehensive criminal justice data platform that would allow such cases processing analyses to be completed quickly.

Troy C. Payne, Ph.D. is assistant professor of justice at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He teaches data analysis, criminology, and crime mapping. His research has examined the effectiveness of policing and crime prevention strategies.

Source: Troy Payne, University of Alaska 25th October 2014

The drugs sent 28,000 people nationwide to the emergency room in 2011.

Attorneys general are fighting the illegal sale of synthetic marijuana with their pens.

A letter signed by 43 attorneys general — including Roy Cooper from North Carolina — was sent to nine major oil companies last Tuesday, urging them to eliminate synthetic marijuana from their gas stations’ convenience stores and retail locations.

Use of the drugs is a national problem — sending 28,000 people to the emergency room in 2011.

Given the significant danger synthetic drugs present to users, especially our young people, we are extremely troubled that these drugs have been readily available in well-known retail locations,” the attorneys’ letter said.

Synthetic marijuana is often marketed under names like “K2” and “Spice” and is not tested for safety, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which received 3,679 calls due to exposure to the drug in 2014.

Kelly Alanis-Hirsch, a researcher who studies substance abuse disorders at UNC, said the synthetic drug is not comparable to the organic drug, and the lack of regulation poses a serious threat to users’ health.

It is created by spraying various chemicals on herbs or other leafy material,” Alanis-Hirsch said. “The chemicals mimic the effect of THC that appears naturally in organic marijuana, but the synthetic marijuana compounds vary by manufacturer.”

Federal and state laws prohibit the manufacture, sale and consumption of synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana was made illegal in the state in 2011 when the N.C. General Assembly classified it as a controlled substance.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, which categorized 26 synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act — outlawing the drugs at the federal level.

But Alanis-Hirsch said that drug companies have evaded the federal law by manufacturing substances similar, but not identical, to those prohibited by the federal government.

Recipes are changed in response to governmental efforts to make the product illegal; thus, it’s marketed as a ‘legal high,’” she said.

Mary-Nel Saarloos, a medical doctor in Asheville, said she often treats patients who have overdosed, but the constantly changing chemical components make it difficult to diagnose. Blood and urine tests often can’t detect these components of the drug, she said.

The National Association of Attorneys General called for major oil companies to revoke franchises of gas stations that violate the federal controlled substances laws.

Young people should not die or be seriously injured from using products bought at gas stations or convenience stores,” the letter says.

Source: www.dailytarheel.com17th February 2015

It is widely known that drug legalizers will not be content with the legalization of pot. Their ultimate goal is the legalization of all drugs.

In using a few of their favourite tactics, they now argue that:

LSD and other psychedelic drugs are “safer than alcohol” 

LSD and other psychedelics have “positive psychological benefits” and the ability to “defeat addiction”

The prohibition of psychedelics is a violation of “human rights” (including the right to “belief and spiritual practice, full development of the personality, and free-time and play.”

In other words – safer than alcohol, with medical properties, and fun.

According to long-time legalization advocate David Nutt, speaking at a briefing in London:

We’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years. Truly, in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.”

The movement to legalize drugs follows a predictable pattern that must be recognized. 

1.  Ignore existing laws

2.  Decriminalize use

3.  Open the door for medi-pot (CBDs)

4.  Expand medical use to include everything under the sun

5.  Full legalization of marijuana for recreational use

Despite overwhelming evidence of their intent, states seems to be following this pattern as if the pro-drug forces are interested in only the next step, when in fact their long game is “all drugs, by anyone, and all the time.”

This surrender to the drug culture, where we allow a very small minority of the population to dictate policy, laws, and even constitutions, is creating disastrous results and permanent damage to society.

Drug education works when we do enough of it. Surrender is not an option.

Source: Letter from Monte Stile to DrugWatch International 7th March 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: KEVIN@LEARNABOUTSAM.ORG

Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) President Kevin A. Sabet released a statement on the lawsuit brought law enforcement officials in Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska against Colorado’s Amendment 64:

“Big Marijuana must be feeling the heat, and I’m sure they are lawyering up. This is now the latest in a series of lawsuits against legalization, and we support this action because Colorado’s decisions regarding marijuana are not without consequences to neighboring states, and indeed all Americans. The legalization of marijuana is not implemented in a vacuum. The current policy of denial about federal law is untenable. Surrounding states have seen a surge in marijuana-related trafficking activity. Dealers and traffickers are openly bragging about how they have been able to smuggle state-sanctioned marijuana out of Colorado. The underground market has thrived under Amendment 64, and ever-potent gummy bears, candies, and concentrates have flooded the national marijuana market.

“We don’t think people should go to jail for smoking a joint, but we also don’t want to create Big Tobacco 2.0. Although states should be able to determine appropriate penalties, we need uniform federal drug laws regarding legalization.

“We hope Attorney General-nominee Loretta Lynch will seriously consider the ramifications of ignoring federal law, and will understand that creating a Big Marijuana industry serves no one except the profiteers who hope to follow in Big Tobacco’s footsteps.”

Source: KEVIN@LEARNABOUTSAM.ORG 5th March 2015

It is widely known that drug legalizers will not be content with the legalization of pot. Their ultimate goal is the legalization of all drugs.

In using a few of their favourite tactics, they now argue that:

LSD and other psychedelic drugs are “safer than alcohol” 

LSD and other psychedelics have “positive psychological benefits” and the ability to “defeat addiction”

The prohibition of psychedelics is a violation of “human rights” (including the right to “belief and spiritual practice, full development of the personality, and free-time and play.”

In other words – safer than alcohol, with medical properties, and fun.

According to long-time legalization advocate David Nutt, speaking at a briefing in London:

We’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years. Truly, in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.”

The movement to legalize drugs follows a predictable pattern that must be recognized. 

1.  Ignore existing laws

2.  Decriminalize use

3.  Open the door for medi-pot (CBDs)

4.  Expand medical use to include everything under the sun

5.  Full legalization of marijuana for recreational use

Despite overwhelming evidence of their intent, states seems to be following this pattern as if the pro-drug forces are interested in only the next step, when in fact their long game is “all drugs, by anyone, and all the time.”

This surrender to the drug culture, where we allow a very small minority of the population to dictate policy, laws, and even constitutions, is creating disastrous results and permanent damage to society.

Drug education works when we do enough of it. Surrender is not an option.

Source: Letter from Monte Stile to DrugWatch International 7th March 2015

Can you put two and two together? Have a try. The authorities, and most of the media, cannot.

Did you know that the Copenhagen killer, Omar El-Hussein, had twice been arrested (and twice let off) for cannabis possession? Probably not.

It was reported in Denmark but not prominently mentioned amid the usual swirling speculation about ‘links’ between El-Hussein and ‘Islamic State’, for which there is no evidence at all.

El-Hussein, a promising school student, mysteriously became so violent and ill- tempered that his own gang of petty criminals, The Brothers, actually expelled him. Something similar happened in the lives of Lee Rigby’s killers, who underwent violent personality changes in their teens after becoming cannabis users.

The recent Paris killers were also known users of cannabis. So were the chaotic drifters who killed soldiers in Canada last year. So is the chief suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013.

I might add that though these are all Muslims, who for rather obvious reasons are to be found among the marginalised in Europe and North America, it is not confined to them.

Jared Loughner, who killed six people and severely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona in 2011, was also a confirmed heavy cannabis user. When I searched newspaper archives for instances of violent crimes in this country in which culprits were said to be cannabis users, I found many.

One notable example was the pointless killing of Sheffield church organist Alan Greaves, randomly beaten to death by two laughing youths on Christmas Eve 2012. Both were cannabis smokers.

By itself, the link is interesting. I wonder how many other violent criminals would turn out to be heavy cannabis users, if only anyone ever asked. But put it together with The Mail on Sunday’s exclusive story last week, showing a strong link between cannabis use and episodes of mental illness.

And then combine it with the confessions of two prominent British Left-wing figures, the former Tory MP and BBC favourite Matthew Parris, and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, who both tried ‘skunk’ cannabis (by far the most commonly available type in the Western world) for a TV documentary.

Mr Parris wrote: ‘The effect was stunning – and not (for me) in a good way. Short-term memory went walkabout. I would forget what I was talking about even while talking. I became shaky. Time went haywire.’

But immediate effects are one thing. What about long-term use? Mr Parris recounted that he had ‘too many friends’ for whom cannabis had seemed destructive. He quoted one as saying: ‘I think it changed me permanently as a person.’

He said his mainly socially liberal friends, including health workers, generally agreed that ‘heavy use of cannabis, particularly skunk, can be associated with big changes in behaviour’.

Jon Snow said simply: ‘By the time I was completely stoned, I felt utterly bereft. I felt as if my soul had been wrenched from my body.

‘There was no one in my world. I was frightened, paranoid, and felt physically and mentally wrapped in a dense blanket of fog. I’ve worked in war zones, but I’ve never been as overwhelmingly frightened as I was when I was in the MRI scanner after taking skunk. I would never do it again.’

This is not some mild ‘soft’ thing. It is a potent, frightening mindbender. If it does this to men in late middle age who are educated, prosperous, successful and self-disciplined, what do you think it is doing to all those 13-year-olds who – thanks to its virtual decriminalisation – can buy it at a school near you, while the police do nothing?

And yet it is still fashionable in our elite to believe that cannabis should be even easier to get than it already is.

It is hard to think of a social evil so urgently in need of action to curb it. Why is nothing done? Need you ask?

 Source: http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2015/02

The last time Derrick Bergman came to Amsterdam to buy cannabis, he did so behind a locked door with a long, thick curtain obscuring his activity from the canal-lined residential street outside, in the quiet Lastage neighborhood. The secretary of the Netherlands’s Union for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition, Bergman comes here to weekly gatherings of a two-month-old—and seriously clandestine—“cannabis social club” called the Tree of Life, because it’s the only place in town he can find one of his favorite strains: Super Silver Haze.

Since 1976, authorities across the Netherlands have chosen to openly ignore that cannabis use is illegal here, and they prosecute no one in possession of less than five grams of marijuana for personal use. The policy, called gedoogbeleid, is known as the “Dutch model,” and it’s why hundreds of “coffee shops” sprung up across Amsterdam and the Netherlands, luring marijuana connoisseurs from across the globe to one of the few places they could roll and smoke a joint without fear. But that’s no longer the case.

Cannabis with more than 15 percent of the THC that makes it intoxicating is now under consideration to be reclassified as one of the “hard drugs” that come with stiff penalties. The government has also forced coffee shops where marijuana is sold to choose between alcohol and pot, prompting many to choose the former. Amsterdam once played host to nearly 300 coffee shops, of more than 1,000 scattered across the country. There are now fewer than 200 in the city and only 617 nationwide. While it’s always been illegal to grow marijuana in the Netherlands, authorities passively allow coffee shops to sell weed, often pretending not to know where the shops’ cannabis comes from.

But no longer. New laws target even the smallest of marijuana growers in Holland. In the past, people could grow up to five plants without fear of retribution. In 2011, the government issued new police guidelines and declared anyone who grew with electric lights, prepared soil, “selected” seeds or ventilation would be considered “professional.” It’s a significant change, as professional growers risk major penalties, including eviction and blacklisting from the government-provided housing in which more than half of the country’s citizens reside.

The result: Coffee shops are increasingly buying buds from criminal organizations willing to absorb the risk of prosecution by growing large amounts of cannabis in shipping containers buried underground, with little regard for quality or mold abatement. “It’s amazing how bad the quality has become,” says Bergman. “And the price is up. It’s what we’ve all predicted.”

That’s why Bergman travelled from his native Eindhoven to Amsterdam on a recent Monday, both to convene with other activists and to pick up five grams (the legal limit) of Super Silver Haze. Because the club is not-for-profit, its members can focus their efforts on finding and buying the best product and providing it to their members at much better prices than the coffee shops.  

Modelled after a proliferation of similar establishments in Spain, the social clubs offer a new way to subvert the harsher laws. As in Holland, cannabis is illegal in Spain, but the government doesn’t prosecute anyone for personal consumption and there’s no implicit limit on the number of plants a person can grow, meaning the government doesn’t care if you grow one plant or 15. In fact, signs point to the government not caring at all. Barcelona is developing a reputation as “the new Amsterdam,” meaning the old Amsterdam is losing out on a significant source of revenue: drug tourists.

Inside an Amsterdam coffee shop called The Rookies, 22-year-old John Bell rolls a spliff of tobacco and a strain called Dutch Kashmir, which Bell can’t find in his native Liverpool. Bell has been to Amsterdam 11 times in the past three years, not because it’s hard to find weed in the U.K., but because the quality here is better. He wouldn’t visit the city at all if not for these coffee shops and Amsterdam’s quasi-legal cannabis, adding: “It’s too expensive to drink here, for a proper night out.”

Such drug tourists represent a major element of the city’s economy. The union of coffee shops in Maastricht commissioned research in 2008 that found foreign visitors to the city’s coffee shops spent money in other businesses there as well: €140 million (approximately $170 million) annually. It’s a significant number and one of the reasons government officials in Amsterdam have fought to keep the coffee shops from going out of business.

About a third of all visitors to Amsterdam step into one of its coffee shops at some point; nationally, the number is one in five. Banning such visitors would hit tourism revenues hard, chasing off travellers who tend to be well-behaved. “If you’re really a deadbeat hippie punk, a no-money kind of guy, how are you going to afford a ticket to Amsterdam?” Bergman says.

Cities such as Maastricht, on the other hand, have banned foreigners from coffee shops since 2005. The result, insists Bergman and other critics, is a proliferation of street dealers. People still come from neighboring countries to score marijuana, but now they stock up and head back home in a day, instead of spending any time in local hotels and restaurants.

How did Holland get here? Some trace the backlash to 9/11. The world’s global panic about terrorism in the wake of the attacks on New York City and Washington led to a surge in the power of conservative political parties in places as far away as the Netherlands. Ever since Holland’s People’s Party for Liberty and Democracy began to consolidate influence here, its leaders have pushed for zero tolerance drug laws. “Our last prime minister [Jan Peter Balkenende] believed in his heart that weed comes from Satan,” says Mila Jansen, a legendary figure in Amsterdam, who once invented a way to make hash in a washing machine.

Other factors influencing the government crackdown are pressure from outside nations, especially France, which has pushed the International Narcotics Control board to sanction Holland for violating international treaties on drug laws with its permissive pot policy. Ironic, argues Bergman, because the rate of marijuana use is twice as high in France as it is in the Netherlands, and Holland has one of the lowest number of drug-related deaths in Europe.   

Hard drugs are still illegal in Holland, but we also see that there are still many people who want to try drugs on occasion,” said the city’s mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, in a statement provided to Newsweek. “This is a reality we cannot ignore. And this is one of the key principles to our country’s drug policies: Drug use is first and foremost an issue of public health. By not focusing on the criminal aspects of drug use, as is the case in many other countries, we can be more effective when it comes to informing the public, testing drugs and prevention.”

Unfortunately, van der Laan’s federal counterparts don’t agree. They also don’t see that prohibition amounts to little more than, as they say here, “mopping with the tap on.”

Now, activists like Bergman are trying to convince Holland to consider the American model—the legalization and regulation of all components of marijuana cultivation and sale. Citing Oregon’s law, which allows residents to grow as many as four plants, Bergman says: “I’m sort of jealous.”

That’s because America seems to be learning from Holland’s mistakes. Holland’s passive-aggressive policy doesn’t stop illicit activity or drug tourism or make anyone safer, say activists: It actually has the reverse effect. Quasi-legalization leaves too many entry points for criminals to line their own pockets from the drug trade. State by state, the U.S. is legalizing pot with initiatives that clearly spell out who is allowed to manufacture, distribute and consume it. That’s the key to a successful policy, and it’s one Dutch activists are now working to implement in their own country, before things swing too far the other way.

This article appears in the latest Newsweek Special Edition, “Weed Nation: Is America Ready For a Legalized Future?” by Executive Editor Jeff Ashworth of Topix Media Lab.

 Source: http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-and-old-amsterdam- 22nd Feb.2015

Risk of developing psychosis up to five times greater for those who smoke ‘skunk’ cannabis every day

One in four new cases of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia could be the direct result of smoking extra-strong varieties of cannabis, a major new study concludes.

The finding suggests that about 60,000 people in Britain are currently living with conditions involving hallucinations and paranoid episodes brought on by abuse of high-potency cannabis, known as skunk, and more than 300,000 people who have smoked skunk will experience such problems in their lifetime.

The six-year study, the first of its kind in Britain, calculates that daily users of skunk are five times more likely to suffer psychosis than those who never touch it.

Psychiatrists said there is now an “urgent need” for a drive to educate the public about the risks involved with the substance. It is believed that even newer varieties, some of them more than twice as potent as those currently available on British streets, have already been developed in the Netherlands.

The findings reopen the debate about the classification of cannabis as an illegal drug, with some supporters of liberalisation now considering tougher restrictions on some varieties.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said the findings underlined arguments against decriminalisation. Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat former Home Office minister who has called for drug laws to be relaxed, said that there may be a case for giving skunk a new classification. The study, by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, is due to be published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry later this week.

They studied almost 800 working-age adults from one area of south London, half of whom had been recently treated for a psychotic episode for the first time. The incidence of schizophrenia in the area has doubled since the mid-Sixties, a trend widely thought to be linked to drug use. Cannabis use in the UK overall has fallen by about 40 per cent in the past decade but, for those using it, the typical potency has increased sharply in that time.

Levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), the main psychoactive compound, are arbout 15 per cent in skunk, compared with about four per cent in traditional “hash” cannabis.

The study concluded that the strength of cannabis and the frequency of use play a crucial role in determining the mental health risks.

Compared with those who never used cannabis, individuals who mostly used skunk-like cannabis were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder if they used it less than once per week, almost three times as likely if they used it at weekends, and more than five times as likely if they were daily users,” the paper notes. It found that skunk use was the “strongest predictor” of psychotic illness in those studied and that 24 per cent of new cases in the area could be attributed to skunk.

It also noted that those who started smoking cannabis before the age of 15 had higher risk of developing psychotic disorders than others. “Our findings show the importance of raising public awareness of the risk associated with use of high-potency cannabis, especially when such varieties of cannabis are becoming more available,” the paper concludes.

The worldwide trend of liberalisation of the legal constraints on the use of cannabis further emphasises the urgent need to develop public education to inform young people about the risks of high-potency cannabis.” Dr Marta Di Forti, the lead author, said the significance of how regularly people smoked cannabis has often been overlooked in day-to-day treatment. “When a GP or psychiatrist asks if a patient uses cannabis it’s not helpful – it’s like asking whether someone drinks,” she said. “As with alcohol, the relevant questions are how often and what type of cannabis.”

Prof Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s, said: “It is now well known that use of cannabis increases the risk of psychosis. However, sceptics still claim that this is not an important cause of schizophrenia-like psychosis. “This paper suggests that we could prevent almost one quarter of cases of psychosis if no-one smoked high potency cannabis.” He added: “Education is the important thing – people need to know the risks of regular use of high potency cannabis.

Mr Grayling said: “Far too many of those who end up in our criminal justice system have got drug and mental health problems. “It’s clear to me that drug addiction is at the root of a large proportion of crimes in the UK and that it causes mental health problems which are all too apparent in our prisons. “That’s why mental health will be our next big reform focus – but it’s also why decriminalisation is not the right option.”

Mark Winstanley, the chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Essentially, smoking cannabis is like playing a very real game of Russian roulette with your mental health. Reclassifying cannabis isn’t the answer.” A Home Office spokesman said: “Our approach remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities and help dependent individuals through treatment and recovery, while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade.”

Edward Boyd, deputy policy director of the Centre for Social Justice, the think-tank founded by the Work and pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said: “This study provides yet more evidence that liberalising drugs laws is not the way to go. “It will only lead to more people suffering from the misery of drug addiction, which, as this study shows, could well include psychosis. “Instead, politicians should focus on improving the UK’s poor level of treatment for addicts by investing in residential rehabilitation.”

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: “This is yet another study that should worry all those who deny any direct link between skunk, a potent cannabis derivative, and psychotic breakdown. “While the scientists and politicians debate, we face the daily heartbreak of young people whose minds and thoughts have been altered through continued use and whose families feel helpless.

What we need is a strong, uncompromising message so that parents, teachers, the police and young people themselves know that a significant percentage who take skunk risk acute, and in some cases lasting, mental illness.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11414605 26th Feb. 2015

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US News and World Report reported today that George Soros plans to invest an additional $50 million to fundamentally change the way drugs are dealt with in society. Along with the support of the ACLU and other pro-pot groups, the goal is to decriminalize all drug use – paving the way to release thousands of drug dealers from prison. 

This follows California’s disastrous passage of Proposition 47. Now they want to replicate this in other states.We know how the country has fared in following California’s example on drug policy.  

As the commercialization of pot expands exponentially, the pro-pot groups have grown in power and influence. The only way to stop this madness is for the federal government to enforce laws relating to the large-scale manufacturing and sale of drugs. It is the inaction of the US Department of Justice that has allowed states to join in a drug trafficking conspiracy that disguises drug proceeds as “taxes.” It is a national tragedy. Monte Stiles 

Pot Legalization: Gateway to What?

Advocates look to further reduce drug-related arrests, incarceration.

Buying marijuana is now about as easy as shopping for liquor in Denver and Seattle.  Soon, four states will regulate and tax sales of joints and pot brownies, and drug policy campaigners see deeper reforms on the horizon. Flush with new funding and optimistic that Americans have turned a page, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to lead the charge.  “What the marijuana legalization votes tell us is the door is open to reconsidering all of our drug laws,” says Alison Holcomb, national director of the ACLU’s new nationwide campaign against “mass incarceration.”

A $50 million grant from billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations will fund the effort.

Holcomb wrote Washington state’s pot legalization initiative, which voters approved in 2012 along with a Colorado ballot measure. Residents of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted last week to follow.

“These votes are not about whether or not voters think marijuana is wonderful and that people should be using marijuana,” Holcomb says. “Instead they are really rejections of the laws that have existed for the last four decades.”  Marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has allowed broad leeway for states to allow recreational sales, despite President Barack Obama’s reluctance to administrativelychange the 1970 congressional classification of pot as among the most dangerous drugs.

The legalization votes, Holcomb says, “are a harbinger of a deeply felt desire on the part of the American voters to do something completely different.”  The ACLU plans to stay on the sidelines of future pot legalization campaigns – already supported by well-organized groups plotting about a half-dozen ballot campaigns in 2016 – and to instead pour resources into less-advanced fights for criminal justice reform.

One model the group hopes to replicate is California’s Proposition 47, approved by 58 percent of state voters last week to lower penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes. The proposition allows for retroactive reclassification of felony convictions as misdemeanors and sentencing reductions for current inmates.

Lenore Anderson, a co-author of Proposition 47 and executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, says she’s aware that people from other states are seeking to replicate the successful amendment.  “When it comes to criminal justice and drug policy, Americans are thinking differently about these issues,” she says. “The main message for policymakers is some of the old ways of thinking around prison-first policies and using the criminal justice system to deal with something like drug addiction is something the public doesn’t think is wise anymore.”

Holcomb says the ACLU plans to support measures similar to Proposition 47 in 2016, and – ideally – measures that would not only de-felonize but also decriminalize drug possession, meaning eliminating criminal penalties like jail time for drugs other than marijuana. She says, however, the group will not press to regulate the sale of all drugs like marijuana.

“We would love to be able to have ballot initiatives in a number of states that may look very similar to Proposition 47,” Holcomb says. “Hopefully we will be able to find states where we can go further and say, ‘Let’s decriminalize the possession of drugs and let’s talk about what we can do to address drug use and abuse.’”Most Americans behind bars are there for violating state laws, so that’s where the ACLU plans to focus.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says his organization would support decriminalization ballot measures in any state where polling indicates majority support.  But, he says, broad drug decriminalization probably lacks such support in any state-level jurisdiction aside from the District of Columbia.   Nadelmann says the pot legalization wins are “creating a sense of momentum, but with the other drugs it’s really about reducing dependence on arrest and incarceration.” He doubts there will be majority support in the near future for legalizing drugs other than marijuana, with the possible exception of certain hallucinogens.

Nadelmann’s group, a major national leader on marijuana legalization alongside the Marijuana Policy Project, has smaller steps in mind for drug policy reform. It supported an initiative approved this month by New Jersey voters to reform the state’s bail system so that low-income residents arrested on nonviolent charges be released pending trial and plans to push for Good Samaritan laws to encourage the reporting of drug overdoses and, ultimately, the establishment of harm-reduction measures such as safe injection sites.

“Drug policy reform has evolved from being the black sheep of criminal justice reform to being the cutting edge of criminal justice reform,” he says. “Basically, a majority of Americans clearly believe there are too many people behind bars for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses.”

About one in every 200 Americans was arrested for an alleged drug-related offense in 2013, according to data released Monday by the FBI. About 46.2 percent of those 1,501,043 drug-related arrests were for marijuana.  The U.S. famously has the largest prison population in the world. A September report from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports about 16 percent of the 1,314,900 inmates warehoused in state facilities in December 2012 were convicted of drug crimes. About 51 percent of the 193,775 federal prison inmates in September 2013 were jailed on drug charges.

State-level action isn’t the only front for drug policy reform. There’s federal-level sentencing and criminal justice reform efforts, too, and the ACLU hopes to help make the issue a presidential election year issue in 2016.

Localities are also creeping toward reform. New York City’s government announced Monday a discontinuation of using arrests to punish citizens caught with small amounts of pot – opting instead for court summons – following the July decision by Brooklyn’s district attorney to stop prosecuting most small-scale pot cases. District of Columbia voters’ decision to legalize weed will likely test the congressional waters for more permissive policies early in 2015.

In addition to pushing particular reforms, the ACLU campaign will seek to assemble better data. Some of the group’s campaign will focus on non-drug offenses.  As leading drug reform campaigners seek to either take a sledgehammer or chisel to current U.S. drug laws, idealists foresee a not-too-distant future where a comprehensive tax-and-regulate structure is established for most currently illegal drugs, a scenario that seemed implausible for marijuana not long ago.

“Legalizing all drugs and establishing a controlled and regulated market is what would really, really put the cartels out of business,” says Sean Dunagan, a former Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence specialist.  Dunagan worked five years on the front lines of the war on drugs in Guatemala and Mexico and came to the realization it’s impossible to smash the black market for illegal substances or permanently drive down drug consumption.

“You can get cocaine in just about any school, there are heroin arrests in small towns across the country,” he says. “There’s really no way to arrest and incarcerate our way out of the problems associated with illegal drugs. It doesn’t work and if it doesn’t work, common sense would dictate we look for alternatives.”  Dunagan, now affiliated with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, says the small user populations for drugs such as cocaine compared with marijuana makes it difficult to see how significant public pressure for legalization would mount in the near term, but he’s confident the day will come.  “For the government to do something that is so ineffective, and so costly and so deadly, I can’t believe that that policy would continue to exist in perpetuity,” he says.

Source:;  e-mail from Monte Stiles,  DrugWatch International  Nov.2014

By John P. Walters and David W. Murray

Mayor de Blasio seems to believe that law enforcement doesn’t so much protect minority communities as harm them. His administration’s latest effort will have the NYPD reduce enforcement of marijuana laws — a move toward legalization under the banner of social justice. The push for marijuana legalization begins with the claim that the drug is essentially benign or even beneficial.

It follows that arresting people for using marijuana is unjust, with possession arrests damaging lives, filling prisons and wasting police resources. Worse, the enforcement of marijuana laws causes the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of African-American males and represents an assault on civil rights, if not a “war” on communities of color.

The claims are wrong:

Actual risk of arrest while using marijuana is stunningly low. Roughly 5 percent of US arrests in a given year are for marijuana possession. We calculate about one arrest for marijuana possession for every 34,000 joints smoked.

Drug arrests simply aren’t a significant portion of law-enforcement activity, and possession arrests for marijuana certainly don’t fill our prisons. A 2008 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that fewer than 0.3 percent of those incarcerated in state prison (which is where most US inmates are incarcerated) are there for simple marijuana-possession offenses — and many of those have just “pled down” from more serious offenses.

Are African-Americans targeted victims of the drug laws? No — race is not the driver of “disparate impact.”

First, African-American drug-use rates are likely higher than most studies assume: Researchers usually rely on surveys of drug use, but such surveys undercount dropouts, the homeless and the imprisoned — populations in which African-Americans are disproportionately represented and drug use is high.

Second, African-Americans are arrested for drug trafficking more often than whites — crimes that more commonly lead to prison time.

Third, African-American drug use often occurs in areas with intensive policing, such as urban street corners, which means that the risk of arrest for African-Americans is higher than for whites, whose use of drugs is typically less conspicuous.

Fourth, it’s not just drug-related crime where we see racial disproportions in arrests and incarcerations: The same is true for almost all crimes. Eliminating drug-law enforcement would change little.

In short, Vanita Gupta, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is simply wrong to say that the “war on drugs has been a war on communities of color” — unless she’s willing to argue that virtually all efforts to combat crime are wars on communities of color.

That is, the disproportions of arrests, incarcerations and victimization that afflict many African-American communities are a direct consequence of the disproportionate crime (and devastating suffering from crime) that plagues those communities.

Responding to this reality in the 1980s, then-Sen. Joe Biden led the bipartisan effort to pass tough new laws against cocaine and crack. Lawmakers have since made efforts to ensure the laws are more fair, but we shouldn’t forget how bad the epidemic was, and how law enforcement worked to protect victimized communities.

The problem isn’t the presence of the laws against drugs. Rather, the problem is the presence and use of illegal drugs.

Drug use is strongly associated with failure to finish high school. It has crippling effects on securing employment or joining the military — critical pathways out of poverty.

Poor cognitive performance linked to drug use most affects those who already struggle to succeed because of family disruption, poverty, disabilities and discrimination.

Does any serious person believe young men and women of all races and backgrounds will be better off with more drug use? Where we find racial injustice or failed policies, we should correct them. But abandoning law enforcement through drug legalization presents a grave danger to all young Americans.

 John P. Walters and David W. Murray direct Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. Both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Source: http://nypost.com/2014/12/16/drug-enforcement-is-not-racist/

Although a growing number of states have approved post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use, new research shows that the drug may actually worsen symptoms and increase violent behavior.

A large observational study of more 2000 participants who were admitted to specialized Veterans Administration treatment programs for PTSD showed that those who never used marijuana had significantly lower symptom severity 4 months later than those who continued or started use after treatment. Veterans who were using marijuana at treatment admission but quit after discharge (“stoppers”) also had significantly lower levels of PTSD symptoms at follow-up.

On the other hand, the highest levels of violent behavior were found in the so-called “starters,” those who were not using the substance at admission but who started use after discharge.

At the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 25th Annual Meeting, lead author Samuel T. Wilkinson, MD, from the Yale University School of Medicine, in New Haven, Connecticut, told conference delegates that the findings suggest marijuana nullifies the benefits of intensive PTSD treatment.

“This wasn’t a randomized controlled trial. But at least in this study, we found that marijuana is not associated with improvement in PTSD and that initiating marijuana was associated with worsening outcomes in a number of measures,” said Dr Wilkinson.

Little Substantive Evidence

Despite the fact that a number of states have approved the use of medical marijuana for PTSD, there’s little evidence to support its use for treatment of the disorder.

“There have been a few longitudinal assessments, but no randomized controlled trials showing efficacy and safety,” added Dr Wilkinson.

The investigators evaluated data from the Northeast Program Evaluation Center for veterans who were admitted across the United States between 1991 and 2011 into specialized intensive PTSD treatment programs lasting a mean of 42.5 days.

A total of 2276 representative veterans were included in this analysis. They were split into four groups: in addition to the marijuana starters (n = 831), those with no use at treatment admission or after discharge were placed in the “never used” group (n = 850); those using at admission and after discharge were placed in the “continuing use” group (n = 296); and those who quit using after treatment were in the “stoppers” group (n = 299).

All were evaluated at admission and at a follow-up 4 months after discharge. Measures used included the short version of the Mississippi Scale (MISS) to assess PTSD symptom severity, the drug and alcohol subscales of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI), and reports of violent behavior.

Results showed that use of marijuana was significantly associated with higher PTSD symptom severity, as well as higher levels of violent behavior and alcohol and drug use.

Scores on the MISS showed that all groups except the starters had at least some improvement. However, the lowest levels of PTSD symptoms at the 4-month follow-up were in the marijuana stoppers, with a score decrease of 7.9% (P < .0001 vs the continuing users and the starters), and in the never users, with a score decrease of 5.5% (P < .0001 vs the starters).

Surprise Finding

Although there were changes in violence scores in all three groups, improvement was significantly less in the starters than in the other 3 groups (P < .0001 for all three comparisons). “This was a surprise because generally, marijuana is not thought to be associated with violence. There’s been a little bit of literature investigating this, but this was interesting,” said Dr Wilkinson.

The starters also had greater severity in scores on both the ASI drug use and alcohol use subscales vs the other three groups (P < .0001 for all).

On the other hand, the stoppers had significantly lower severity scores on the drug use subscale (P < .0001 vs the other 3 groups) and lower alcohol subscale scores (P < .0001 vs continuing users; P < .001 vs never users).

“This showed that those who started marijuana did turn to other drugs to cope with residual PTSD symptoms, which is to be expected,” Dr Wilkinson said. “However, there was no evidence that those who stop cannabis use turn to other drugs or alcohol.”

During the Q&A session after his presentation, an audience member pointed out that there was no implication that cannabis drove PTSD severity and asked whether it could just be that the patients with more severe symptoms use more cannabis.“There wasn’t a sense of that from these data,” replied Dr Wilkinson. However, he added that they found only an association and not causation, because the study was not prospective or randomized.

“When we looked at a different analysis, there was a dose response. Those who used more marijuana or who had greater change in marijuana use had worse PTSD symptoms,” he said.

When another attendee mentioned that she had seen violent behavior in some veterans who use marijuana and have traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), Dr Wilkinson noted that the investigators did not evaluate whether any of the study participants specifically had a TBI.

A Band-Aid Solution?

Session moderator Carla Marienfeld, MD, told Medscape Medical News that public perception has been that marijuana soothes those with PTSD.

“Addiction psychiatrists struggle a lot with how to communicate with our patients about this. People assume that there aren’t a lot of risks, but there are some papers starting to show that there really are,” she said.“Most people assume things based on their own experience. So when you talk to patients, they often say, ‘it’s the only thing that helps me sleep’ or ‘it’s the only thing that calms me down.’ But when you actually start looking into the symptoms of whether or not they get better with marijuana use, I don’t think studies, at least with these initial data, are going to bear that out.”

Although Dr Marienfeld, like Dr Wilkinson, is from the Yale University School of Medicine, she was not involved with this research. She noted that it could be that cannabis is acting as a Band-Aid instead of being a long-term solution.“Marijuana use may make patients feel better for the short term, and we need to look at that. Does it make things better for a few hours and then it gets worse the next day? That would be an important study to understand,” she said.

She added that because Dr Wilkinson presented an association study, “there’s not really a take-away for clinicians yet. But I think it’s important for them to bear this in mind and watch for this kind of data.”Dr Wilkinson reports having received a past grant from the American Psychiatric Foundation/Janssen through Yale University for a project involving electroconvulsive and cognitive-behavioral therapies.

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 25th Annual Meeting: Paper presentation 5, presented December 6, 2014.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/836588#vp_1

Health minister seeks court ban amid fears new cannabis-laced electronic cigarettes could incite further use of drug

Cannabis-laced electronic cigarette

Recreational use of cannabis is illegal in France.

France has sought to stamp out a new electronic cigarette containing cannabis, launched on Tuesday with the claim that it provides all of the relaxation but none of the mind-altering effects of the drug.

The health minister, Marisol Touraine, said the product would incite the consumption of cannabis and she intended to approach the courts to ban it. “I am opposed to such a product being commercialised in France,” she told RTL radio.

The product was launched by a French-Czech company called Kanavape which said it hoped to offer millions of people a legal and flavourful way to consume cannabis.

Smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, is fashionable in France, and while people have long since figured out how to doctor them to smoke marijuana – as evidenced by hundreds of YouTube tutorials on the subject – Kanavape claims its product is legal.

The company extracts Cannabidiol – a compound in cannabis that does not contain the mind-altering THC ingredient – from hemp, a variety of cannabis grown for fibre and seeds.

The hemp is grown on farms in France, Spain and the Czech Republic without chemicals or fertiliser, the company claims on its website. “Kanavape provides you with a unique experience. Cannabidiol is a non-psychotic component of hemp. It does not have euphoric effects but helps you feel more relaxed,” it says.

Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in France, but the country allows the drug’s active ingredients to be used for medical purposes.

Source: The Guardian, Tuesday 16 December 2014 13.02 GMT

Two dozen doctors in Arizona are responsible for making medical marijuana available to more than 34,000 patients according to a new report, with several writing recommendations at the rate of one an hour for every business hour of the day.

The study being released today by the Arizona Department of Health Services finds these 24 doctors, most of them naturopaths, wrote close to two-thirds of all the recommendations in the most recent fiscal year.

State Health Director Will Humble said his agency has reported 30 of these doctors to their state licensing boards. But Humble said these were doctors where there was clear evidence that they were not following laws which require them to check a website run by the Arizona Board of Pharmacy to see whether their patients had prescriptions for other drugs. He does not know whether the boards ever followed up.

One physician, a naturopath, over that last fiscal year, did almost 3,000 certifications,’’ Humble said. `It does make you raise an eyebrow.”

Humble said he has no independent authority to investigate whether the doctors that are writing out the lion’s share of the recommendations are in fact complying with requirements that they adequately examine patients to ensure that marijuana is appropriate.

The new report also finds that the highest concentration of medical marijuana users is in Yavapai County, with close to 1.5 percent of the total population there having a state-issued card entitling them to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Gila County was a close second. At the other extreme, 0.3 percent of Yuma County residents are medical marijuana users.

Source:http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/politics/article_9140c3c3-34b7-5ac7-a46f-969eb5569091.html 13th Nov.2014

Filed under: Economic,Legal Sector :

Thanks to Derek in Washington who forwarded this important news story on a Washington sheriff who taped an ad for the pro-legalization campaign in neighbouring Oregon. The sheriff made what seemed to be grossly inaccurate or misleading claims about the state of legalization in Washington. King 5 News ran a fact check on the DUI portion of his statement.

Other claims made by the sheriff (along with the real facts).

1. “Month by month tax dollars are going to schools and police, not drug cartels.”

There is no money for schools (except 3/10 of 1% of second tier funding for the Building Bridges program at OSPI).

There is no funding for police, sheriffs, or state patrol. Enforcement funding exists for LCB enforcement officers–about 12 statewide.

2012 NW HIDTA report says cartels are staying in WA and modifying their business model accordingly. They are now positioned to compete in the only remaining marketplace where MJ is illegal–young people under age 21.

2.“Wasteful arrests are way down.”

Yes, marijuana is no longer illegal for adults over 21. Of note is that there was not, and is not, anyone in jail for simple possession. Of the 8 cases found in 2012 to be in jail for possession, all had plead down from more serious crimes.

Saying arrests are wasteful implies that enforcement is not appropriate. However the law is clear about it remaining illegal for youth and gifting MJ is a felony.  Also, law enforcement is now burdened with the additional, unfunded responsibility to police a new addictive commodity industry including DUI’s, gun violence when grows are burgled, and smoking in public. Of note is that in many jurisdictions, public smoking, and underage use for that matter, is not being enforced and sending a dangerous message to youth.

2. “DUI’s are down.”

Total DUI’s may be down thanks to Target Zero Task Forces and enforcement efforts, but, according to data adapted from the State Patrol/State Toxicologist, total driving cases testing positive for delta-9 THC increased by 33% the year after legalization, after decreasing by 7% the year prior.

3. “Drug prevention programs are getting funding.”

There has been no funding from I-502 to DSHS’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery which is responsible for community-based prevention efforts under 502. Nor has the Department of Health received any direct support from 502 proceeds. Funding has yet to “roll in” from marijuana sales and the amount that will is unknown.

Source:  http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/10/23/fact-checking-urquhart-marijuana-ad/17807305/

 

Over at Ezra Klein’s new site, Vox.com, German Lopez has an article claiming to show that Colorado’s recent marijuana legalization experiment hasn’t increased crime rates in Denver. In contrast, when we actually look at the raw data Lopez uses, the message isn’t so clear. In fact, using Lopez’s own methods, we might conclude pot legalization has dramatically increased crime in Denver.

Lopez claims that “three months into its legalization experiment, Denver isn’t seeing a widespread rise in crime.” To reach this conclusion, Lopez uses Denver’s crime data (available here) for the months of January and February in 2013 and 2014. When I look at the data, I see some potentially different findings.

Over the first two months of 2014, “simple assaults” in Denver are up an astonishing 70% over the same timeframe in 2013. The crime of “intimidation” is up 86%, and all “crimes against persons” have increased 32% compared to 2013. But the real changes are evident in the “all other offenses” category. Here we see that “disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace” has increased 1,144% (from only 18 offenses in 2013 to 224 in 2014), “family offences/nonviolent” are up 97%, “liquor law/drunkeness” is up 1,150%, “violation of a restraining/court order” increased 87%, “criminal trespassing” is up 339%, and the “all other offenses” subcategory have increased 400%.

Of course there is also data available back to 2009 that illustrates the anomalously high incidence level for these offenses during the first two months of 2014 following marijuana legalization, as shown in the table below.

The number of offenses in each of these categories during January and February of 2014 are, by far, the highest over Denver’s available historical record, in some cases by more than an order of magnitude.

Source:   Sierra Rayne       www.AMERICAN THINKER   4th Sept. 2014

On March 10, a college student from Wyoming bought four marijuana cookies for herself and her three friends at the 16th Street Mall in Denver.

Late into the night, restless and exhibiting erratic behavior, 19-year-old Levy Thamba leapt over the fourth-floor railing of a Holiday Inn into the lobby. He was pronounced dead at 3:51 a.m.  Thamba’s tragic death highlighted the deceptive nature of THC-infused foods: They affect the human body later in time after ingestion than smoked bud.

The case is not the only disturbing episode connected to marijuana edibles since Colorado opened up the market for legal recreational marijuana eight months ago. Some children have gotten their hands on edibles, and landed in the emergency room, while one man who allegedly killed his wife—and faces a first-degree murder charge—was said to have eaten pot candy beforehand.  The incidents have prompted changes in marijuana policies that are intended to make edibles safer to consume, keep them away from minors, and educate Coloradans and visitors on the differences between marijuana food and pot that you smoke.

Eating an edible is not like taking a shot of whiskey or smoking marijuana, said Ron Kammerzell, senior director of enforcement with the Colorado Department of Revenue. “You need to give yourself enough time to make sure you are feeling the effects of marijuana before you consume additional edibles,” he said in a phone interview.

While the effects of smoked bud are rather immediate, edibles are deceptive because it can take hours to feel anything from the THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Thamba, a native of Africa who was on spring break from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, may not have known that.

Bessie Gondwe, one of his college friends with whom he was staying at the Holiday Inn, told Denver police she had purchased the cookies and it was the first time she believed Thamba had ingested marijuana. During a search of the hotel room, police found wrappers with labels that identified the marijuana products as “Sweet Grass Kitchen, lemon poppy seed cookie.”  Gondwe and another friend staying in the room with Thamba told authorities the college students had begun eating the cookies around midnight. Each of the four cookies contained 65 milligrams (mg) of THC, or the equivalent of 6.5 servings; an employee at the marijuana store advised the students that they should split the cookie into six pieces and eat one piece at a time, according to the police report.

But Thamba revealed he wasn’t feeling anything from the marijuana cookie so he ate the rest of the edible all at once, Gondwe told police. Later in the night, the police report detailed, Thamba exhibited strange behaviour—screaming, speaking in French, apologizing for criminal behaviour that he had not committed, smashing fixtures and finally jumping off the balcony.

Thamba’s autopsy report said the cause of death was the result of “multiple injuries due to a fall from a height” and listed “marijuana intoxication” as “a significant contributing factor.” The college friends weren’t aware that Thamba had consumed any alcohol or other drugs, and other than detecting THC in his system, the blood results revealed no other “positive findings of toxicological significance.”

Limiting THC in Each Edible

In the wake of his death, Colorado regulators have adopted rules that are designed to encourage marijuana edible companies to make pot treats that contain no more than 10 mg of THC. Under emergency rules that were adopted on August 1, if a marijuana edible is more than 10 mg and up to 100 mg, “you have to score it or demark it in such a way that it is intuitively obvious to the consumer how to break off a serving size of that edible,” said Kammerzell of the Colorado Department of Revenue.

State regulators also gave marijuana edible makers an incentive to make products containing no more than 10 mg. If they do so, their products will be tested for potency fewer times than other edibles. Even before the emergency rule was adopted, a number of manufacturers had moved toward individual serving sizes of 10 mg, Kammerzell said.

“There is no lethal dose for marijuana other than maybe a 500-pound brick of it falling on your head, but we don’t want people to have a bad experience or get to the point where they are not functional,” said Andy Williams, president of Medicine Man, a marijuana dispensary in Denver.

As part of a responsible vendor training program modeled after one administered by the state’s liquor enforcement division, it is expected that marijuana establishments will educate consumers on the differences between eating an edible and smoking marijuana.

Williams and the owner of a recreational marijuana dispensary north of Boulder said their employees, or budtenders as they are affectionately known, already warn customers about edibles – “We take the extra step at the counter to really educate people on how to use them safely, how to get familiar with the effect of edibles,” said Dylan Donaldson of Karing Kind, who estimated edibles constitute 30 to 40 percent of sales on an average day. “It is quite different. It’s a whole other beast.”

Protecting Kids from Inadvertent Consumption

That beast has sickened some kids in Colorado. Since recreational marijuana was legalized on Jan. 1, “Children’s [Hospital] Colorado has treated 13 children, six of whom became critically ill from edible marijuana,” said Natalie Goldstein, a spokeswoman with the hospital, in an email last month.

In a May interview with the Denver Post, Michael DiStefano, the medical director of the hospital’s emergency department, said a number of children who accidentally ingested marijuana had been admitted for sedation or agitation and one child suffered breathing problems that required a respirator.

Earlier this year, a 10-year-old boy in Greeley, Colorado admitted to selling marijuana to other students on the playground while another child came to school with a THC-infused candy bar, according to CBS4. The kids reportedly obtained the pot from home where it was purchased by their grandparents.

Edibles today hardly are limited to the marijuana brownies of the 1990s. Other than the THC, the treats are the same ones kids savor at home and school: cookies, gummy bears, Lollipops.

“In Colorado, there is almost no limit to what marijuana can be put into whether that is infused or baked or sprayed,” said Rachel O’Bryan of Smart Colorado, an organization that is dedicating to protecting Colorado youth and advocates for policies that limit early marijuana consumption.  Said state Rep. Frank McNulty: “Many of these marijuana edibles look just like kids’ snacks.”

The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division requires that a seal be placed on packaging of marijuana products, but “that doesn’t mean anything to most kids or parents,” said McNulty, a Republican who represents Highlands Ranch, a suburb south of Denver.

Colorado lawmakers have moved to solve the problem. House Bill 1366, signed in May by Gov. John Hickenlooper, required that Colorado’s state licensing authority convene a stakeholder group to discuss recommendations on how to make edibles clearly identifiable.

Members of the working group include a wide range of interests from law enforcement representatives and a school resource officer to a marijuana baker and testing facility owner. An initial meeting was held on Aug. 1, and a second meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 in Denver.  Rules will be adopted no later than January 2016.

“It’s going to be a challenging topic for sure,” Kammerzell said.  But the edibles rule, once implemented, could save Colorado kids from unnecessary trips to the ER.

Source:   www.naturalproductsinsider.com      5th Sept. 2014

Top 20 Anti-Marijuana Crusaders Fighting Against Pot Legalization

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Even as a marijuana legalization gains traction around the U.S. and the world, the anti-pot contingent soldiers on to promote its own agenda. These advocates are on a mission to keep marijuana illegal where it is, make it illegal where it is not and to inform the public of the dangers of marijuana legalization as they see it.

So who are these anti-marijuana legalization crusaders?

They come from different backgrounds. Some come from the business world. Two are former White House cabinet members. Another is an academic. Two are former ambassadors. One is the scion of a famous political family. Many are psychiatrists or psychologists. Others are former addicts. Still others are in the field of communications. Oh – one is a Pope.

They have different motivations. Some act because of the people they met who suffered from drug abuse. Others are staunch in their positions for moral reasons and concern for the nation’s future; still others for medical and scientific reasons.

Here is a list of the most significant:

1. Calvina Fay

Calvina Fay

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS). She is also the founder and director of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse.

She was a drug policy advisor to President George W. Bush and former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. She has been a U.S. delegate and lecturer at international conferences.

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

She related during an interview that she became involved in the world of countering drug abuse as a businessperson. She started a company that wrote drug policy for employers, educated employees on the dangers of drugs and trained supervisors on how to recognize drug abuse. It was from this that she became aware of the gravity of the issue.

“People used to come to me to tell me they had a nephew or niece who had a drug problem,” Fay said. “This was when I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

After she sold her company, she was approached by the DEA and the Houston Chamber of Commerce to improve the way substance abuse in the workplace was addressed. After a while she built a coalition of about 3,000 employers.

During this time she kept meeting more and more people who were addicted or had loved ones who were. So it became important to her to be involved in drug abuse prevention and treatment. She then became aware of the movement to legalize drugs.

“I knew that we had to push back against legalization, because if we did not prevention and treatment would not matter,” Fay asserted.

2. Kevin Sabet

Kevin Sabet

Sabet is the director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, where he is an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the College of Medicine.

He is a co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and has been called the quarterback of the anti-drug movement.

Sabet served in the Obama Administration as a senior advisor for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from 2009-2011. He previously worked on research, policy and speech writing at ONDCP in 2000 and from 2003-2004 in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, respectively. This gives him the distinction of being the only staff member at ONDCP to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

He was one of three main writers of President Obama’s first National Drug Control Strategy, and his tasks included leading the office’s efforts on marijuana policy, legalization issues, international demand reduction,drugged driving and synthetic drug (e.g. “Spice” and “Bath Salts”) policy. Sabet represented ONDCP in numerous meetings and conferences, and played a key role in the Administration’s international drug legislative and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

He is also a policy consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab. His current clients include the United Nations, where he holds a senior advisor position at the Italy-based United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and other governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Sabet is published widely in peer-reviewed journals and books on the topics of legalization, marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, addiction treatment, drug prevention, crime and law enforcement.

He is a Marshall Scholar. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy at Oxford University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

3. Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Bennett was a former “drug czar” (i.e. director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that he was the Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. Bennett is a prolific author – including two New York Times Number- One bestsellers; he is the host of the number seven ranked nationally syndicated radio show Morning in America. He studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree from Harvard.

Bennett, along with former prosecutor Robert White, recently penned an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal calling marijuana a public health menace. The two are also finishing a book about marijuana legalization which is due out in February 2015.

Bennett frequently features on his radio show guests warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization. He is concerned that while the science shows that legalizing marijuana is not beneficial, public opinion is going in the other direction.

Why is he involved in this? Simply put, he thinks marijuana legalization is bad for America. The author of the acclaimed series of books about American history called America: The Last Best Hope thinks marijuana legalization will have deleterious effect on Americans, especially the youth of America.

“Because as Jim Wilson said, drugs destroy your mind and enslave your soul,” he told MainStreet.

“Medical science now proves it,” he added.

4. Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

The other co-founder of Project SAM is former Rhode Island Democrat congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. When he started SAM in Denver in 2013, Kennedy, who has admitted past drug use, was quoted as saying, “I believe that drug use, which is to alter the mind, is injurious to the mind … It’s nothing that society should sanction.”

His organization seeks a third way to address the drug problem, one that “neither legalizes or demonizes marijuana.” Kennedy does not think incarceration is the answer. He wants to make small amounts a civil offense. He emphasizes his belief that public health officials need to be heeded on this issue and they are not. He predicts that, if legalized, marijuana will become another tobacco industry.

The thought that we will have a new legalized drug does not make sense to me,” Kennedy said during a 2013 MSNBC interview.

.

5. Joseph Califano

Joseph Califano

This former Carter administration U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare founded, in 1992, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (since 2013, it has been called CASAColumbia). He is currently the chairman emeritus. The center has been a powerful voice for research, fundraising and outreach on the dangers of addiction. It shines the light, especially on the perils of marijuana for adolescents.

Recently Califano released an updated edition of his book How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents. He believes an update was needed because of the advances in science regarding youth and substance abuse that have occurred during the past five years.

He zeroes in on marijuana in the book, which he says is more potent today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. He points out – during an interview about the book published on the CASAColumbia website – the hazards of “synthetic marijuana” also known as Spice or K2. He says this is available in convenient stores and gas stations but is so lethal it was banned in New Hampshire.

Califano stresses that parents are the bulwark against substance abuse and addiction. He cited data during the interview that “70% of college students say their parents’ concerns or expectations influence whether or how much they drink, smoke or use drugs. Parental disapproval of such conduct is key to kids getting through the college years drug free. This is the time for you to use social media to keep in touch with your kids.”

He makes the analogy that “sending your children to college without coaching them about how to deal with drugs and alcohol is like giving them the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive.”

6. Stuart Gitlow

Stuart Gitlow

Gitlow is the President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a professional organization representing over 3,000 addiction specialist physicians.

In 2005, he also started the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. He is currently executive director. He is on the faculty of both the University of Florida and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

About ASAM’s attitudes toward marijuana, he said:

“Our positions and policies with respect to marijuana have been developed over many decades and have been updated based upon the latest scientific evidence. We are firmly opposed to legalization of marijuana and reject the notion that the plant marijuana has any medical application.”

That said, he believes anecdotal evidence supports that more research should be conducted to deduce which parts of the marijuana plan can havemedical value.

Why did he get involved in this?

“I didn’t get involved in this as a “crusader” or because of a specific interest, but rather because I serve as the spokesperson for ASAM,” he told MainStreet.com. “In fact, though, given that there is so much industry-sourced money financing the marijuana proponents, and that the science-based opposition has little funding at all, I recognize the need for the public to actually hear what the facts are, particularly given the media bias and conflict of interest in terms of being motivated by potential ad revenue.”

7. David Murray

David Murray

A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington D.C., Murray co-directs the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. While serving previous posts as chief scientist and associate deputy director for supply reduction in the federal government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Before entering government, Murray, who holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Chicago, was executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service and held academic appointments at Connecticut College, Brown, Brandeis and Georgetown Universities.

What motivated him to get involved in a campaign to oppose marijuana legalization?

“It results from a steady regress from encountering a host of social pathologies (homelessness, failed school performance, domestic violence, child neglect, poverty, early crime, despair and suicide) and then time and again stumbling over a common denominator that either was a trigger or an accelerator of that pathology – substance abuse,” Murray told MainStreet. “Yet one finds as a dispassionate social analyst that the matter is either discounted, or overlooked, or not given sufficient weight, in the efforts to remediate the other surface manifestation pathologies,” he continued. “Moreover, one keeps encountering a sense that there is a closet with a door that is shut and it holds behind the door a host of explanations or guides to understanding of our woes, yet few are willing to open that door and address what lies behind it.”

He notes that even those who acknowledge the impact of substance abuse across so many maladies seem to not approach the problem with an open and searching mind. He said often one finds a ready-made narrative that serves to explain away the impact. The more that narrative is refuted “with counter argument or robust data indicating otherwise” the more social analysts resist or are in denial about the inadequacy of the standard narrative.

Subsequently, people who do criticize this encounter pressure from peers essentially telling to accept the narrative or shut up.

He mentions a good specific example can be found by encountering the reaction to the “gateway hypothesis” regarding early marijuana exposure. The literature in support of the gateway is quite strong he says.

“Yet everywhere the dominant response is to evade the implications,” he points out. “Our analysts pose alternative and unlikely accountings that seem practically Ptolemaic in their complicated denial of the obviously more simple and more real mechanism: exposure to the drug does, in fact, increase the likelihood of developing dependency on other, ‘harder’ drugs in a measurable way.“

8. John Walters

John Walters

He was, from December 2001 to January 2009, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and a cabinet member during the Bush Administration. During this time he helped implement policies which decreased teen drug use 25% and increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system.

He is a frequent media commentator and has written many articles opposing the legalization of marijuana. He points out many of the fallacies of the pro-legalization movement. His editorials, essays, and media appearances have refuted the claims of the New York Times, pro-legalization libertarians and others.

For example, during a July 2014 appearance on Fox News Walters responded to the editorial boards condoning legalizing pot. Walters said when the science is increasingly revealing the risks of marijuana the “New York Times wants to act like it time to be ruled by Cheech and Chong.”

Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from the University of Toronto.

9. Robert DuPont

Robert DuPont

DuPont was the founding director of National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has written more than three hundred professional articles and fifteen books including Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family, A Bridge to Recovery: An Introduction to Twelve-Step Programs and The Selfish Brain: Learning from Addiction. Hazelden, the nation’s leading publisher of books on addiction and recovery, published, in 2005, three books on drug testing by DuPont: Drug Testing in Drug Abuse Treatment, Drug Testing in Schools and Drug Testing in the Criminal Justice System.

DuPont is active in the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He continues to practice psychiatry with an emphasis on addiction and anxiety disorders. He has been Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine since 1980. He is also the vice president of a consulting firm he co-founded in 1982 with former DEA director Peter Bensinger – Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. DuPont also founded, in 1978, the Institute for Behavior and Health a drug abuse prevention organization.

10. Bertha Madras

Bertha Madras

A professor of psychobiology for the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School. She is in a new position at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School hospital affiliate. She was a former deputy director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

She has done numerous studies about the nature of marijuana. She is the co-editor of The Cell Biology of Addiction, as well as the co-editor of the 2014 books Effects of Drug Abuse in the Human Nervous System andImaging of the Human Brain in Health and Disease.

She rejects the claims of pot proponents. For example, she states that the marijuana chemical content is not known or controlled. She also notes that the “effects of marijuana can vary considerably between plants” and that “no federal agency oversees marijuana, so dose or purity of the plant and the contaminants are not known.”

11. Carla Lowe

Carla Lowe

A mother of five grown children, grandmother of nine, graduate of UC Berkeley and former high-school teacher, Lowe got started as a volunteer anti-drug activist in 1977 when her PTA Survey to Parents identified “drugs/alcohol” as their priority concern. She organized one of the nation’s first “Parent/Community” groups in her hometown of Sacramento and co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Youth. She also chaired the Nancy Reagan Speakers’ Bureau of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Schools, and in 2010 founded an all-volunteer Political Action Committee, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM)

She has travelled throughout the U.S. and the world speaking to the issue of illicit drug use, primarily marijuana, and its impact on our young people. As a volunteer consultant for the U.S. State Department and Department of Education, she has addressed parents, students, community groups and heads of state in Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.

CALM, is currently working with parents, law enforcement, and local community elected officials to stop the proliferation of marijuana by banning “medical” marijuana dispensaries and defeating the proposed 2016 ballot measure in California that will legalize recreational use of marijuana.

She wants to go national and is part of an effort to start Citizens Against Legalization of Marijuana-U.S.A. that will also function as a Political Action Committee dedicated to defeating legalization efforts throughout the country.

Lowe is a strong proponent of non-punitive random student drug testing. She believes this is the single most effective tool for preventing illicit drug use by our youth, and will result in billions of dollars in savings to our budget and downstream savings from the wreckage to our society in law enforcement, health and welfare, and education.

12. Christian Thurstone

Christian Thurstone

He is one of a few dozen mental health professionals in America who are board certified in general, child and adolescent, and addictions psychiatry. He is the medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction.

According to a May 2013 interview posted on the University of Colorado website, Thurstone was named an Advocate for Action by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in October 2012 for his “outstanding leadership in promoting an evidence-based approach to youth substance use and addiction.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper named Thurstone to a state task force convened to make recommendations about how to implement Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters in November 2012 to legalize the personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

He became involved in the marijuana issue in 2009 “when a whole confluence of events occurred that led to the commercialization of marijuana….What matters is not so much the decriminalization; it’s the commercialization that affects people, especially kids. …95% of the treatment referrals to Denver Health are for marijuana. Nationwide, it’s two-thirds of the treatment referrals according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

13. Peter Bensinger

Peter Bensinger

Bensinger was a former DEA chief during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. He was in the vanguard opposing medical marijuana in Illinois. He acknowledges medical marijuana as a value but he notes that it is available as a pill or spray, so the idea of legalizing smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes is merely a ploy.

14. David Evans

David Evans

The executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition before becoming a lawyer he was a research scientist, in the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health. He was also the manager of the New Jersey intoxicated driving program. He has written numerous articles warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization.

15. Pope Francis

Pope Francis

The new pontiff, while being hailed by many as being a liberal influence in the Catholic Church has taken an intransigent line against marijuana legalization. This past June the new international pop culture icon told the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, “No a ogni tipo di droga (No to every type of drug).”

He was an active opponent of marijuana while a bishop in his native Argentina. He says now that attempts to legalize drugs do not produce the desired results.

He deplores the international drug trade as a scourge on humanity. Pope Francis has said it is a fallacy to say that more drug legalization will lead to less drug use.

16. Dennis Prager