Community Groups, Elected Officials Support Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s Proposal to Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Cannabis Possession Cases
Major Step Will Dramatically Reduce the Number of People in Brooklyn Unfairly Saddled with Lifelong Criminal Records
Advocates, Community Groups Applaud DA Thompson for His Leadership and Demand Reform at City Hall and in Albany
Elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, on Friday at 11 a.m. will rally on the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to applaud DA Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
DA Thompson’s office hopes that “individuals, and especially young people of color, do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized by involvement in the criminal justice system for engaging in nonviolent conduct that poses no threat of harm to persons or property,” according to The New York Times. The Times obtained a confidential policy memo that was sent by the district attorney to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
What: Press Conference about Marijuana Arrests in Brooklyn
When: Friday, April 25th 11am
Where: Steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall – 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
By Steve Elliott
One common refrain from those opposed to medical marijuana is that its legalization would increase use among adolescents, but a new study indicates that's just not true.
According to the study from Rhode Island Hospital, which compared 20 years of data from states with and without medical marijuana laws, legalizing cannabis for medicinal use did not lead to any increased use among adolescents, reports ScienceDaily. The study is published online and will be in the upcoming print issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Any time a state considers legalizing medical marijuana, there are concerns from the public about an increase in drug use among teens," said Esther Choo, M.D., attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at Rhode Island Hospital. "In this study, we examined 20 years' worth of data, comparing trends in self-reported adolescent marijuana use between states with medical marijuana laws and neighboring states without the laws, and found no increase in marijuana use that could be attributed to the law."
"This adds to a growing body of literature published over the past three years that is remarkably consistent in demonstrating that state medical marijuana policies do not have a downstream effect on adolescent drug use, and we feared they might," Choo said.
By Steve Elliott
Organizers this week announced Spokannabis Fest, which they describe as "perhaps the biggest and best a two-day music, comedy and weed-smoking event of them all," to be held August 30-31 near Spokane, Washington.
The event will be held at Chamokane Creek Pines, a rustic campground 40 minutes northwest of Spokane, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 30, and running through 11 p.m. on Sunday, August 31. Admission is $30 for one day and $50 for the weekend. Camping is also available.
Vendor packages costing between $300 and $1,750 are available for merchants who'd like to lease retail space for the weekend.
"There will be plenty of vendors selling marijuana accessories and paraphernalia, and lots of food vendors, too," said promoter Michael Antler. "You can camp out under the stars and smoke all weekend. It's a great time."
Alcohol is strictly prohibited at the event; it cannot be brought in, nor can it be purchased. Also, there will be no cannabis sales at the event. Per Washington state law, under I-502, attendees are permitted to bring in and consume marijuana at the festival.
Saturday's planned events include rock music, a wet t-shirt contest and a K-Y Jelly wrestling competition. There is a $1,000 first prize in both contests.
Vincent Mehdizadeh, the founder and chief operations officer of Medbox, Inc., which provides consulting services and medicine storage and dispensing systems to the medical and retail cannabis industries, on Monday announced that he has personally funded campaigns "aimed at educating the general public as to all aspects of cannabis" in medical and recreational states.
A public awareness campaign led by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research, is designed to better inform the national dialogue on medical cannabis by first letting the public know that cannabis medicines can be regulated and secondly that the therapeutic experience of the over one million legal medical cannabis patients goes beyond "feeling better."
The campaign will include production of new materials and ads, new communication outreach, and grassroots education campaigns to empower citizen-advocates to participate in the effort nationwide.
ASA has created a groundbreaking third-party industry certification program to help promote and publicize best practices in medical cannabis that will serve as the platform for this education campaign.
By Steve Elliott
The first cannabis college in Florida opened on Tuesday, starting classes in an old cigar factory in Tampa.
The school, named Medical Marijuana Tampa, offers a four-week course for $499 including the e-textbook, videos and articles, according to the college's website, reports Adrienne Cutway at the Orlando Sentinel.
Included on the syllabus are classes on the history of cannabis, types of marijuana, cultivation, making bubble hash and edibles, and building the grower network.
"It will cover the historical, legal, botanical aspects of medicinal marijuana, plus what's going to happen in the marketplace in Florida in 2015 based on our analysis of the ballot language," Jeremy Bufford, the proprietor, told Deirdra Funcheon at Broward Palm Beach New Times.
"We can make educated guesses and prepare our students for careers or opportunity that's going to develop in that space," Bufford said.
"We do know according to the language that we'll be able to cultivate and w'ell be able to procure that medicine on behalf of our patients," he said, reports Jason Beisel at ABC Action News. "
By Steve Elliott
GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday said he wants President Barack Obama to lock up people in Colorado who are violating federal law by smoking marijuana.
"A whole lot of folks now are talking about legalizing pot," Senator Cruz said during his keynote speech at the policy orientation session of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. "And you can make arguments on that issue. You can make reasonable arguments on that issue.
"The President earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes," Cruz said. "Didn't change the law."
Obama's Justice Department in August announced that it would not target adults for arrest when they use marijuana in compliance with state laws.
Cruz said the Obama Administration should continue arresting people for cannabis until federal law is changed.
"You can go to Congress, you can get a conversation, you could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, 'We ought to change our drug policy in some way,' and you could have a real conversation, and you could have hearings, you could look at the problem, you could discuss common sense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn't happen," Cruz said.
By Steve Elliott
The Portland City Council on Thursday told the city's Parks & Recreation Bureau, which denied Hempstalk Festival a permit for Tom McCall Waterfront Park, to negotiate with the festival's organizers in order to find a place and time for the event in the park. After more than two hours of testimony, during which the Mayor went to bat for the event, they left the door open for the pro-cannabis group to hold its 2014 gathering on the waterfront.
"It seems to me that the place it ought to take place is Waterfront Park -- if the event is manageable," said Mayor Charlie Hales, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian.
Thursday's hearing was the first time city parks officials could remember an appeal of a permit ruling going before the City Council. The Parks Bureau usually doesn't deny permits for events it has approved in previous years.
Hempstalk 2014 would be the 10th annual event, which has been held at several locations in the Portland area over the years, including at Waterfront Park in 2005 and 2006.
By Steve Elliott
A majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, according to a new poll.
The CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 55 percent support the legalization of cannabis, while 44 percent are opposed, reports Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. The 55 percent support for legalization represents a rise of 12 points from just more than a year ago.
Polls from both Pew and Gallup have recently shown similar numbers, with majorities supporting cannabis legalization for the first time in American history. Gallup's poll showed support for legalization at 58 percent in October.
Most Americans don't view marijuana as being physically or mentally harmful, according to the new CNN poll. They are evenly split on whether pot is addictive, and whether it leads to other drugs. Only 19 percent describe marijuana use as a "major problem" in society today.
The rise in support for legalization comes as voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, have approved legalization measures. Colorado pot shops began selling weed last week, and Washington's are expected to join them sometime around mid-year.
By Steve Elliott
At 8 a.m. on January 1, an ex-Marine named Sean Azzariti became the first person in Colorado to legally buy a bag of recreational marijuana under legalization measure Amendment 64, approved by state voters last year.
Azzariti, an Iraq veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had been unable to buy marijuana under Colorado's medicinal cannabis program, because PTSD isn't an authorized condition under the state's MMJ law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. He bought an eighth ounce (3.5 grams) of Bubba Kush for $40 and some cannabis-infused truffles for $9.287, comprising the very first legal sale under Amendment 64.
"It hasn't even really sunk in fully, but it's a huge honor to say the least," Azzariti said, reports CBS News.
The implementation of Colorado's marijuana legalization law makes it the first U.S. state -- and the first political jurisdiction anywhere on Earth -- to permit recreational marijuana since the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was adopted through the United Nations back in 1961.
Corinne Tobias, an author, cook and farmer living in Durango, Colorado wants to teach cannabis users how to create simple and organic edibles from the legal marijuana that will be available starting on January 1. She says Wake & Bake: a Cookbook will be the first legal cannabis cookbook released in the state and will be available online, in dispensaries, and at independent bookstores in early 2014.
The project began in September when Tobias became surrounded by fresh marijuana prunings and an abundance of produce. She began infusing organic Coconut Oil with the trim and started incorporating the healthy and potent alternative to butter in breakfast, brunch and baking recipes. The coconut oil was dubbed the “Green Monsta Oil” for its electric green color and its strength.
The book features organic, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes, and includes an ingredient conversion chart so everyone can use the book regardless of dietary restrictions or habits.
Tobias’ childhood friend Aja Kolinski signed on as the book’s designer and in November, they launched a small Kickstarter campaign to fund the book’s first printing. In less than 8 days, the project was fully funded.
“After living in the North, the South, and the Midwest, I never thought I’d live in a state where marijuana would be legal," said Tobias. "It feels so free. Like anything is possible.
By Steve Elliott
Self-help author and poet Peter McWilliams never got the chance to finish his last book, A Question of Compassion, because he died after the government arrested him and took away his medical marijuana, which the author used to control the nausea associated with AIDS and cancer. But now a special reading of the unfinished book is available on YouTube, thanks to Julia (she prefers to go by her first name only), the young lady behind the website PeterMcWilliams.org and the Facebook page Peter McWilliams Remembrance.
McWilliams, a New York Times best-selling author of books including How To Survive The Loss of a Love, How To Heal Depression and the Libertarian manifesto Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, inspired millions worldwide. After he started experiencing health problems in the mid 1990s, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1996.
In 1997, the author was arrested for possession and cultivation of marijuana and was released on $250,000 bail with the condition that he not use marijuana. He died on June 14, 2000, before he was able to go to trial or complete A Question of Compassion. Some say he choked to death on his own vomit, unable to control his nausea once the medicinal cannabis was taken away.
By Steve Elliott
More than 200 people attended a debate on marijuana legalization in St. Louis suburb Richmond Heights Wednesday night.
The National Narcotics Officers Coalition's vice president, Sgt. Jason Grellner, squared off with Executive Director John Payne of pro-legalization group Show Me Cannabis at the St. Louis Ethical Society. Show Me Cannabis plans to poll voters to see if there's enough support to put marijuana legalization on the ballot next year.
Payne argued that treating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy. "Cannabis prohibition does not actually achieve goals that it has set out to achieve," he said, reports KMOX.
But Grellner claimed today's marijuana is different. "The THC levels back in the 1960s and 1970s were around 1-2 percent; now we're seeing the regular street kids with 11 percent spiking at 20 percent." The narcotics associated vice president claimed that legalization would lead to more people smoking pot.
KSDK reporter Anne Allred described the 90-minute debate as "respectful" and "professional." It included written questions from the audience.
"It's probably about half and half, both arguments on both sides, very good," said Cecil King of St. Louis City, when asked who won. "It's something both sides should get involved in and take a look at."
By Steve Elliott
Colorado's legal marijuana stores are supposed to open on January 1, but there's a backlog in licensing the employees who will staff the shops, with dozens or hundreds of people showing up each morning at a small state office hoping for an appointment.
State officials said they are taking steps to speed up the licensing process, reports Eric Gorski at The Denver Post, but business owners want to know why Colorado wasn't ready for the crush. They are worried about having adequate staffing when the new shops open at the beginning of the year.
Employees are required to be fingerprinted before getting a state badge to work in the marijuana industry; they must clear criminal and financial background checks to qualify.
The state has been snowed under with applications in the past month as businesses preparing for recreational cannabis sales hire their staffs.
On a recent weekday morning at the Marijuana Enforcement Division office in Denver, the only would-be marijuana store employees guaranteed to have their license applications processed were the ones who had already come back 11 times. Those who hadn't yet made 11 visits to the office had to enter a lottery, drawing poker chips out of a Folger's coffee jar.
By Steve Elliott
Parents who use marijuana -- even those who use it medicinally -- face a lot of judgments, and can sometimes even lose custody of their children. Parents 4 Pot, a new group based in Northern California is fighting the stigma surrounding the subject.
The new group has a Facebook page and plans to launch a website, reports Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post. Next on the agenda is forming a board of directors and then advocating specific legislation.
"What we aspire to do is change the way people understand and talk about cannabis in our community," said organizer Mickey Martin, the author of Medical Marijuana 101 and founder of a company which produces cannabis-infused medibles. Martin is the father of two boys.
Martin in 2007 faced federal charges related to his medibles company, Tainted Inc., eventually being sentenced to probation for "marijuana manufacturing" and distribution charges that could have gotten him a decade in prison.
"There are many parents who lose their freedom, or whose children lose their freedom, every day to these policies and laws, and as a society we sit by and watch," Martin said. "It is not OK anymore."
Next to ObamaCare, cannabis is the hottest, most discussed subject in the media. Twenty states and D.C. have medical marijuana, 14 states have decriminalized marijuana, two states have legalized it for everyone and several more states are poised to pass legalization laws.
Americans still have questions, and beginning on November 23, Cannabis Planet TV has announced it will be taking to the airwaves in a dozen cites with the information on all things cannabis.
Originally seen only in California, Brad Lane’s Cannabis Planet will be aired weekly beginning November 23. TV stations in Massachusetts, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and California will air a new show every week. More stations are being added daily. Cannabis Planet is entertainment with an emphasis on medical research, cannabis cooking, cultivation, cannabis celebrities and legalization advances in American and around the globe.
The first show features longtime federal marijuana recipients, stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, who gets free government pot to treat his tumors, and glaucoma patient Elvy Musikka. Interviewees also include Dr. Julie Holland, author of The Pot Book, and Mara Gordon, international medical cannabis expert. There will be holiday cannabis cooking tips from Chef Mike Delao, hemp tips and music by the Trevor Green Band.