Friday, August 21, 2009
The authors then put up an excerpt from their book on Alternet, "Campus Hypocrisy: Marijuana Is Safer, But Students Are Pushed to More Dangerous Booze" and I'm going to highlight my favorite bits:
Universities ... are not legally obligated to establish stringent penalties, such as enforcing zero-tolerance housing policies or barring students with minor pot violations from ever holding student office, as is the policy of the University of Maryland at College Park. More importantly, they are under no legal obligation to treat students who illegally possess marijuana on campus more severely than they sanction students who illegally possess alcohol. Yet most colleges do and often for no reason other than a perceived need to reflect existing societal differences. And by maintaining these disparate punishments in the face of student opposition, university governments and their boards of trustees are making a conscious, if inadvertent, decision to steer students toward the use of alcohol.
And what are the ramifications of these kinds of campus policies? First, as we all know, the use of alcohol by college students is rampant. According to data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, approximately 80 percent of college students drink alcohol. Figures for binge drinking are even more startling. For instance, more than 44 percent of students surveyed in 2001 said that they had engaged in binge drinking in the preceding two weeks, and more than 22 percent had done so at least three times in that time period. Predictably, these frequent binge drinkers?and those around them?often suffer as a result. As described by George Dowdall in College Drinking, "[F]requent binge drinkers were 7 to 10 times more likely than the nonbinge drinkers to get into trouble with the campus police, damage property or get injured, not use protection when having sex, or engage in unplanned sexual activity."
The social consequences of all this student drinking are even more alarming. At the most tragic level, alcohol abuse is a leading cause of fatalities on college campuses. In 2001, there were an estimated 1,700 alcohol-related unintentional-injury deaths among college students and others aged 18 to 24. (all emphasis mine) But these deaths are just the tip of the alcohol-related-injury iceberg. Researchers estimate that every year approximately 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol. Of course, those who drink are not the only ones adversely affected. Even more disturbing is the number of injuries to others that are caused by students under the influence of alcohol. Each year approximately 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by students who have been drinking, and close to 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Yet these raw numbers only tell part of the story. The much broader impact of alcohol abuse on campus is evident when one looks at the percentage of violent acts that are booze-related. According to a 1994 report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 95 percent of all campus assaults are alcohol-related, and 90 percent of all reported campus rapes involve a victim or an assailant who has been drinking alcohol.
"Virtually every sexual assault is associated with alcohol abuse. Almost every assault of any kind is related to drinking." - University of Maryland President C.D. "Dan" Mote, August 2008
But no, we have university presidents supporting the amethyst initiative while completely ignoring this SAFER alternative. I would hope that more women's groups (and also the men's group for that matter) start to recognize that supporting marijuana's legalization could have a seriously positive effect on the amount of sexual abuses of campus.
Smoke some weed. Seriously,
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
A book about marijuana has never hit #1 on Amazon.com. With your help that could change, and we can demonstrate to the country the depth of support for marijuana policy reform in this country. If it reaches #1, we will also draw national attention to the book's basic message -- that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
If you are planning to get yourself a copy of the critically acclaimed, Marijuana is Safer, we hope you will join hundreds of other supporters of more rational marijuana laws by making your purchase on August 20, 2009. (We would have preferred 4/20, but 8/20 will have to do.)I want to highlight one of the author before ending this post. Steve Fox, one of the three authors, was the lobbyist to congress for the Marijuana Policy Project from 2002 - 2005 and cofounded SAFER.... Oh and he's a TUFTS University graduate... yeah... go Jumbos.
Stay SAFER, Buy the Book August 20th,
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, it should take a clear-eyed look at how its current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel (D) of New York has introduced a bill to do just that.
Washington would be wise to back Congressman Engel's initiative because there has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades. The drug czar office's annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.
The cornerstone of US drug policy at home and abroad is to reduce the drug supply (from crop eradication to border seizures) in order to increase the domestic price of drugs. The idea is to deter both potential consumers and producers from entering the drug market.
Since May 1971, when President Richard Nixon proclaimed a "war on drugs," Washington and the Western Hemisphere have been unable to win it. Every claimed victory has turned out to be, in the end, a fiasco.
This article is like a lot of the really well written articles promoting various measures to rethink the drug war. The significance here is that during the spate of magazines encouraging marijuana's legalization in the spring, the Christian Science Monitor's editorial board wrote a lengthy article opposing legalization, becoming one of the rare legitimate news sources to come out and oppose the rethinking of our drug laws.
The second link I have for you today comes from Democracy Now for their interview with Charles Bowden, author of "We Bring Fear," a story I've linked to at least 3 or 4 times now. He also wrote a great piece for Harper's, "The Sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks."(segment of the article on CNN. Harper's doesn't put their content online for free)
Charles Bowden has done a lot of reporting on how the drug war has been affecting Mexico and he has some real interesting things to say on the issue. What drew me most from this interview was:
What people have to understand is Mexico would collapse without drug money. Our agencies estimate Mexico earns $30 billion to $50 billion a year in foreign currency from selling drugs. Remittances from Mexican workers here is their number two official source of currency, and that’s about $20-$25 billion. But the drug industry is essential. It’s penetrated the whole culture, and it isn’t going away. And nobody is going to destroy it.
I’ll give you another statistic. The consumption of drugs in Mexico has exploded. Last week, a public health official in Juarez, a city of a million and a half, said there’s at least 150,000 addicts in the city. Think of it this way: trying to eradicate the drug industry in Mexico is like trying to eradicate gambling in Las Vegas. It is the economy. And it’s the unspoken part of the economy.
While I've spent most of my time ranting about the corruption, Bowden's opinion bring in another idea about why government is in no rush to end the drug war, they fear the complete collapse of the Mexican economy.
Unfortunately, I'm not conniving enough to understand the positives of plans like these so I can't elaborate. All I know is that 20-30 million people aren't going to stop smoking pot and doing cocaine so unless American strategy changes, it looks like Mexico's drug cartels and military will keep reaping the benefits.
Happy Birthday Jon.
Get high, stay high,
Sunday, August 9, 2009
"Traffic of heavy weaponry from American gun stores to Mexican drug cartels will once again feature in talks between the U.S. and Mexico when President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet at a North American summit in Guadalajara on Aug. 9 and Aug. 10. Mexico with its strict gun laws has long complained that the vast majority of firearms used by the gangs wrecking havoc here are brought in El Norte. Meanwhile, Obama has said more unequivocally than any president before that the U.S. has responsibility to stop American guns getting into the hands of the mobsters."
First things first, what the fuck is with the phrase, "El Norte?" Seriously TIME, have your standards dropped so low.
Second, while the mainstream media has always loved the topic of Mexican gangsters getting their expensive weapons from Arizona, it has done so for all the wrong reasons. Its a great story for anti-gun lobbyists who can now use redneck racism against the redneck 'keep your hands off of my guns' attitude. These stories will tell you, what many politicians from Bush to Obama will tell you, 90% of the weapons used by the Cartels come from American gun stores. Unfortunately for our politicians sense of honesty, that fact just isn't true. (for those not going to the link, 90% of guns tested are from American gun stores but the rest aren't tested because they're ruled out as non-American in origin before they reach American testing).
As Peter McCary Notes in The Devil's Advocate (Duke Law's independent newspaper):
"this narrative has frequently been untrue even for weapons traced back to the U.S. Over the past six years, more than 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected and begun to work for the drug cartels that they formerly opposed. Many defectors have taken their M-16 rifles with them; Colt sold these weapons to the Mexican government with permission from the U.S. government. Admittedly, the evidence above leaves open the possibility that the cartels are primarily arming themselves with weapons bought in American stores."
Back to the article. The laughability continues:
"seven months into Obama's administration the guns keep flowing south and show no sign of abating. Mexican government raids continue to turn up vast arsenals of brand new firearms that can be traced to shops north of the Rio Grande. Another sign of the gangster's abundant supply of firepower is that they can afford to leave some weapons at murder scenes to avoid detection.
The first two sentences have no substance or proof of accuracy or anything to convince a cynic this isn't just a journalist saying what his pal in government wants him to. The last bit just shows how little this reporter knows about crime. I'm a pacifist, sissy stoner and even I know that any professional will leave his weapon at the scene; I've seen The Godfather.
Finally, the Time article mentions the Merida Initiative (or Plan Mexico as its critics call it) in the final paragraph as if it were something beneficial to the situation:
Calderon will be especially keen to see new efforts on the U.S. side because a large chunk of the American money promised for Mexico has been delayed. Under the Merida Initiative, $1.4 billion was earmarked to help Mexico fight cartels over three years. But following accusations of Mexican army abuses — including torture, rape, and murder — the Senate has held back 15% of those funds until it can certify that Mexico is making efforts to clean up its human rights record. Mexico's Congress this week issued a statement condemning this certification process.
It's nice to see Mexico's government condemning America for not sending them money for their soldiers to use to steal from, intimidate, and murder their citizens. I actually sent a message to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, thanking him for being responsible for this holdup. (p.s. that's not a bad idea for anyone who wants to help out but doesn't know how... just write to elected officials, thanking them when they do things you agree with.)
Hey, I know a great way to end the worry about Mexican gangs getting access to American weapons, whether its from gun stores, theft, or just Colt selling M-16s to corrupt military with US government approval... STOP GIVING THEM A WAY TO MAKE MONEY AND JUST FUCKING LEGALIZE ALREADY... Wow, I must be upset, I'm shouting on the internet... Or maybe I'm just sober.
Time to go smoke a joint and continue to prove that all this conflict isn't accomplishing anything.
Peace, Love, and Bowls,
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Their description of their work:
Newsy.com videos analyze news coverage of important issues from multiple sources. Its unique method of presenting how different media outlets are covering a story gives context to complex policy issues.
I've watched a ton of the videos and they are really interestingly put together. I'd encourage those of you with interests beyond reefer to go to their site and check out the other videos. Since I just care about weed (at least on the this blog), I'll just show this great video:
The most interesting part of this video is that it very clearly shows that capitalism, that great American past time, will be responsible for the continued growing of illicit substances (like sweet Afghan Kush). If the US makes it unprofitable for Afghan farmers (and the Taliban) to produce opium then they can just produce cannabis, a plant that's even easier to grow.
"Our fathers and grandfathers cultivated marijuana." says one Afghan. He sounds just like a 50-year-old Californian I've seen in a video I can't now find who learned to grow reefer from his grandfather who started in the 1930's. Across nations and cultures, growing weed to subvert the US government is a hobby enjoyed by many.
If we forgot about cannabis, it is also worth mentioning that the US could just skip all the bullshit and allow pharmaceutical companies, that currently buy their poppies from Turkey, to purchase from Afghan farmers.
Here is the New York Times video on "Afghanistan's New Cash Crop" that was used in the Newsy segment.
p.s. this clip was sent to me by a staffer at Newsy who thought it might be good on this blog. If any other readers have material they think would be good to post, please e-mail it to me and feel free to include some of your own commentary for me to post (I'll even give you your own pseudonym if you want).
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is soliciting proposals from qualified organizations having the capability to (1) grow, harvest, analyze, store and distribute GMP grade cannabis (marijuana) on large and small scales; (2) extract cannabis to obtain purified phytocannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), analyze, and store; (3) prepare marijuana cigarettes and related products; and (4) distribute marijuana, marijuana cigarettes and cannabinoids, and other related products for research and other Government programs upon NIDA authorization.
So, the federal government is looking for a new person to grow pot for them. This is very interesting as very recently, the DEA prevented a UMass Amherst Professor, Lyle Craker, from growing marijuana for research purposes continuing the monopoly that the University of Mississippi has been holding for the past 40 years.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) who had been pushing for Craker's case as documented all the steps as the case has and continues to move along.
The basic plotline of the story is as follows:
MAPS, led by Rick Doblin, set out to find someone to end the monopoly that NIDA has on growing government pot because it is shit at 1%-2% THC and is often left in storage for months or even years which turns it almost useless. They found Craker, who is in no way an activist for or against marijuana, to grow many different strains of marijuana for government testing. In legal terms, they needed to get him a Schedule I grower's license.
After a whole bunch of hurdles that you can read about here, in February of 2007, DEA administrative judge Mary Ellen Bittner officially recommended that Craker should "be permitted to grow research-grade marijuana for use in privately-funded government-approved studies that aim to develop the marijuana plant into a legal, prescription medicine."
The DEA immediately went into block mode and stalled and delayed and finally said "No." Despite support from 38 Members of Congress and both Massachusetts Senators, they just went ahead and ignored Judge Bittner's ruling.
Its very similar to how they ignored Judge Francis L.Young's 1989 decision: "The cannabis plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is no lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II. The judge recommends that the Administrator transfer cannabis ."
And now, they need someone else to grow some pot for them. The One issue I really take with the "job posting" by the government is that it specifies "GMP grade cannabis." Meaning, the same shitty weed they've been growing and testing forever. Marijuana is a beautiful plant (as I wrote about in The Observer) and one of the amazing things is the variety of plants and the very potent differences between them. How can the government claim it is even doing research into marijuana when it only uses something barely any stronger than industrial hemp? Oh right, because most of the people in Washington are lying sacks of shit.
Well, I know when I've ranted too much so I'll end this post with my best wishes for all of you, especially if your wishes are to get stoned.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I’ve been writing for nearly a year, and still I haven’t yet focused on the idea of marijuana as medicine. That’s mainly because up until a few months ago, I actually sided with ex-Drug Czar John Walters when he said in 2003 that medical marijuana made as much sense as “medical crack.” I felt then, and still do now, that by looking at cheeba as medical issue, we gloss over the more important civil rights and security issues that I’ve tried to cover in previous columns.
But one simply can’t pay attention to the ongoing marijuana debate as closely as I do and continue to believe that administering crack rocks from the local bathtub-lab to patients has the slightest similarity to suggesting they puff leaf of Mother Nature’s homegrown bounty.
As for me, I credit cannabis with helping me overcome long-term anxiety issues that exploded during my first semester. I started smoking daily soon after I had my first panic attack. I haven’t had one since. The only times I’ve felt my classic feeling of anxiety come around tend to be on vacations when I haven’t been able to medi … I mean smoke for several days.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an advertisement for self-medicating with illegal drugs. Marijuana affects many people poorly, adding additional pressure and paranoia to their lives or evenings. This is just my personal experience, and it should go without saying that you need to find what works best for you—and don’t you go blaming anyone else if it your experience is no good, especially not some pot columnist.
But marijuana’s beneficial psychological effects—including alleviation of depression, schizophrenia, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—pale in comparison to its effectiveness in addressing the physical. Pot and its derivatives have repeatedly been proven powerful and singular methods of treatment for pain, nausea, inflammation, weight loss, PMS, and cancer.
Yes, I did just say cancer. For cancer patients, cannibanoids address the debilitating side effects of conventional treatment strategies in ways that, for some, are irreplicable. While this particular utility is just now gaining attention, older anecdotal and recent scientific evidence has made the beneficial connection between compounds in cannabis and actually fighting cancerous cells themselves.
Much of my anecdotal evidence comes from Rick Simpson, who has been giving out hemp oil (often for free) as medicine for several years. Rick has dozens of patients; patients who were sent away from their doctors with nothing to look forward to but death. These conventionally “doomed” survivors have testified to the power of Rick’s medicine. I encourage everyone to challenge their skepticism, check out those testimonials, find out more about Rick at his website: www.phoenixtears.ca and download Christian Laurette’s documentary on Rick: “Run From the Cure.”
More anecdotal evidence comes from Professor Donald Tashkin of UCLA who recently completed a 30-year study of marijuana users. In 2006, he reported: “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”
Concerning the more experimental and scientific, work is currently being done—almost exclusively outside of the US—to investigate the cancer-fighting properties of cannabis. Manuel Guzman from the University of Madrid has done significant work investigating just how THC kills cancerous cells and if any bio-chem major wants to look it up and give an explanation, I’d be very appreciative. It has something to with blocking pathways or connections… I don’t know.
What’s really going to piss you off, if you’re anything like me, is that while all of this information seems new, our government has known about the amazing powers of the cannabis plant and its derivatives for the last 20+ years. Did you know that in 1988, a senior DEA judge named Francis L. Young completed a massive study of the appropriateness of re-scheduling marijuana from class I (no accepted medical use) to class II. He concluded:
“The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”
Over 20 years later, cancer patients are having their homes raided by SWAT teams and sent to prison.
What’s keeping reefer unstudied and illegal? I’ll leave just one fact: The non-profit group Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) has received millions and millions of dollars from tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies who, for some odd reason, also give money to many of the same politicians opposed to seriously discussing marijuana. *cough* Obama *cough.*
Anyways, I like to end these on a high note so I will say that things are looking better. More and more states are investigating plans to allow the sale of marijuana for medical uses. Eric Holder has announced that the DEA will stop raiding California dispensaries (this has already been violated but at least he said it). Meanwhile, the research is pouring in, showing the power of cannabis to help and heal.
I’ve been stressed by work all week so I think it’s about time for me to medicate.
P.S. Since I wrote this article I've been made aware of Granny Storm Crow's List, a very thorough list of legitimate medical studies into cannabis and it's effects. Please go check it out.
Today, I'm going to highlight Matthew Engel's "Why it's Time to End the War on Drugs" in the Financial Times.
For nearly 40 years, since the habits established in the 1960s took root in society, there has been a stand-off. Across the free world, and most of the unfree, anyone seriously interested in smoking, snorting, swallowing or injecting illegal substances can acquire the wherewithal with a little effort, and proceed without much fear of retribution, particularly if they are wealthy enough. Police and politicians say they are interested in punishing the suppliers and not the users. This is an intellectual nonsense, but it has suited everyone who matters. The drug users don’t care; governments have felt no pressure to attempt a politically dangerous reform; and above all it suits the international gangsters who control the drug business, which offers massive rewards and – for them – minimal risks.
It's worth reading through the whole thing but I'm just going to highlight one more part which I feel is important:
The case for legalisation is not about allowing baby-boom couples to enjoy a joint after a dinner party without drawing the curtains or being obliged to visit a dodgy bloke called Dave. Decriminalisation or even legalising cannabis on its own would achieve little. Something more radical is required. The crucial issue concerns the supply chain: the way prohibition has enriched and empowered gangsters, corrupt officials and indeed wholly corrupt narco-states across the planet. It was a point made eloquently by the Russian economist Lev Timofeev, when interviewed by Misha Glenny for his book about global organised crime, McMafia. “Prohibiting a market does not mean destroying it,” Timofeev said. What it means is placing a “dynamically developing market under the total control of criminal corporations”. He called the present situation a threat to world civilisation, which international public opinion had failed to grasp.
The more I see these articles, the more I smile and I've been smiling an awful lot lately.
Please pass this article along, every little bit of information helps.