As Floridians get set to hit the polls on Nov. 4 and decide the fate of legalizing medical marijuana in the Sunshine State with Amendment 2, another debate is brewing: do the benefits of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain outweigh the risks?
According to a recent survey conducted online in October by Harris Poll on behalf of Miami Jewish Health Systems among over 2,000 adults, two out of three Americans – some 68 percent – believe that yes, the benefits of using medical marijuana to treat pain outweigh the risks.
When looking at age groups, those between the ages of 55-64 (74 percent) are more likely to agree with the statement "the benefits of using medical marijuana to treat pain outweigh the risks" than those age 45-54 (63 percent) and those age 65+ (59 percent). Men and women feel the same way, with 68 percent of men stating the benefits of marijuana to treat pain outweigh the risks and 69 percent of females indicating this.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Miami Jewish Health Systems from October 8-10, 2014 among 2,060 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
Graphic: Hydroponic Supplies
Local advocate willing to go ‘hit for shot’ with Chief Edward Googins — who said, ‘Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny’ — to prove once and for all that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol
David Boyer will be waiting for Googins at high noon in the Mill Creek Park gazebo — with enough alcohol to kill a man — to determine who will be the last one standing for a 7 p.m. debate
In order to prove once and for all that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, marijuana initiative proponent David Boyer is challenging South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins to a drug duel. Boyer will be in the Mill Creek Park gazebo at high noon on Wednesday prepared to take a hit of marijuana for every shot of alcohol consumed by Googins to see who will be the last man standing for a previously scheduled debate for 7 p.m. that evening.
In an October 14 news story Chief Googins said, “Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny.” He also said marijuana is too dangerous to make legal for adults because it “continues to create and perpetuate other problems.”
Chief Googins made a similar comment during a press conference at the Mill Creek Park gazebo earlier this year. He is actively campaigning against a citizen-initiated referendum on the November ballot that would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older under city law.
Second sheriff endorses Measure 91: “The evidence keeps coming in: Our new approach is working”
The Sheriff of King County, Washington, which includes the greater Seattle area, has taken the unprecedented step of endorsing a marijuana regulation measure on the ballot in the state next door.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart supported I-502, Washington state’s successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana, and he said he supports Oregon’s Measure 91 because, he said, Washington state’s regulated approach to marijuana is working.
“Month by month, tax dollars are going to schools and police, not the drug cartels,” Urquhart says in a new ad from Oregon’s Yes on 91 campaign (you can view the ad at the bottom of this article). “Wasteful arrests are way down. DUIs are down. Drug prevention programs are getting funds. Strict regulations are working.”
GreenWave Advisors, LLC, a newly established independent research and advisory firm serving the burgeoning marijuana industry, on Tuesday released its inaugural research report, “The GreenWave Report: State of the Emerging Marijuana Industry – Current Trends and Projections.” The firm estimates that retail marijuana industry sales could reach $21 billion by 2020 and separately, suggests that if marijuana is legally sold in all states and D.C. by 2020, the consolidated market for retail medical and adult use sales could total $35 billion in the first full year of a federally legalized market.
The firm is the first to provide a state by state bottom up fundamental analysis of the U.S. medical and adult use marijuana retail markets. The analysis also provides a first glimpse of the similarities in reported results in the legalized markets thus far.
“We are pleased to offer investors the first independent, comprehensive, detailed and transparent look at the market potential of the retail marijuana industry,” said Matt Karnes, founder and managing partner at GreenWave Advisors, LLC.
In the upcoming election, Florida residents will vote on a measure to legalize medical marijuana and the citizens of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia will decide on full legalization. “We want investors to be ready for the imminent changes that will profoundly impact investment strategies in the marijuana industry”, Karnes said.
Moms from Oregon, Washington and Colorado on Friday gathered at the Yes on 91 headquarters to show their support for Measure 91, which would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older in Oregon.
“My top priority is the safety of my children,” said Leah Mauer, who founded a Facebook group called Moms for Yes on 91. “The current approach is failing to keep them safe.
"A better approach is to take marijuana away from illegal dealers and cartels and put it behind the counter at a regulated, inspected and properly zoned store,” Mauer said.
Colorado and Washington are already experiencing successful results from their approval of the regulated use of marijuana:
By Steve Elliott
A new University of Delaware poll finds that 56 percent of Delaware adults support legalization of marijuana.
The university polled 902 state residents between September 10 and 22, finding just 39 percent are opposed to legalization, reports Jonathan Starkey at The News Journal. Residents older than 60 and self-identified conservatives were the only demographic groups to strongly oppose marijuana, while young adults and liberals were heavily in support.
Support crossed racial and geographic boundaries, with respondents in all three of Delaware's counties saying they back legal weed.
"I would say the numbers suggest solid support for fully legalizing marijuana in Delaware," said Paul Brewer, political communications professor at the University of Delaware, who supervised the poll. "The results also reflect what's going on in public opinion at the national level, where the trends show a growing majority favoring legalization."
Just 36.9 percent of Delawareans 60 or older favored legalization, while 68 percent of those under 30 supported the move. Among self-identified conservatives, just 39.2 percent favored legalization; among liberals, 73 percent said they think cannabis should be legal.
By Steve Elliott
A new poll shows that Amendment 2, the Florida ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to allow medical marijuana, falling short at the polls next month.
Even supporters acknowledged on Thursday that the drive for medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State is struggling in the face of well-funded conservative opposition, reports Bill Cotterell at Reuters.
After a two-week barrage of attack ads, the poll showed just 48 percent of Florida voters supporting the amendment to allow doctors to authorize cannabis for medicinal purposes. As a constitutional amendment, the measure needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.
The University of Florida Poll found 44 percent of voters were opposed to medical marijuana, with just 7 percent undecided.
"It's like a cliche in political races, but we're at a point when the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," said Ben Pollara, who runs United For Care, the group behind Amendment 2.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, fiancee of Governor John Kitzhaber, has confessed to planning an illegal marijuana grow operation with her then-boyfriend back in 1997. The revelation comes less than a week after Hayes admitted she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant that same year.
Hayes said she was living on the property with her then-boyfriend in Okanogan, Washington, near the border of Canada, for the purpose of growing and selling marijuana, reports Sara Roth at KGW.
"Last Thursday, I admitted that 17 years ago I was in the middle of a very difficult and unstable period of my life," Hayes said. "I said then, and I'll say again ... I was associating with the wrong kind of people and making mistakes."
"I am not proud of that brief period of time," Hayes said. "I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized."
The man who sold the property, then repossessed it, indicated that a marijuana grow was already in progress. "There was a full-sized pool table upstairs in the house and that was the first clue," broker Patrick Siemion told KGW's Mike Benner. "There were marijuana trimmings on the table.
New tool makes political candidates' positions, records on medical marijuana more accessible to voters
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online TV advertisement to launch its groundbreaking, election-cycle voter education campaign "Vote Medical Marijuana." The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Washington State.
The campaign features an interactive online voter's guide at VoteMedicalMarijuana.org that provides information on political candidate positions as well as voting statistics and a report card for each Member of Congress and certain state elected officials.
"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Our elected representatives in Congress and in state legislatures are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S."
President Barack Obama intends to nominate Vanita Gupta, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Sari Horiwitz at The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. This news comes not long after Attorney General Eric Holder announced his imminent resignation, and indicates a continued initiative of positive federal drug policy changes.
Gupta has been outspoken on a number of issues, including racial sentencing disparities, federal incentives to state police that prioritize the investigation of drug arrests over violent crime, mandatory minimum sentences and related disparities, as well as marijuana legalization. She currently leads the ACLU’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration. Gupta has also garnered bipartisan support with conservatives Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and David Keene, former president of the NRA, both speaking highly of her.
D.C. Working Families, SEIU, and UCFW Endorse Initiative 71
Labor Groups Point to Elimination of Discriminatory Enforcement and Opportunities to Advance Worker Rights
The Service Employees International Union, United Commercial Food Workers, and D.C. Working Families on Tuesday endorsed Initiative 71, D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative. Initiative 71, which is on the November 4th ballot, would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allows individuals to grow up to six plants in their home.
D.C. laws prevent the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, however, the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill which would account for such provisions.
"These major labor endorsements show that the elimination of marijuana prohibition is an issue of significant importance to workers in the District of Columbia," said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Initiative 71 would eliminate unfairly harsh punishments for minors offenses, making it less likely that our young people get a lifelong criminal record that makes it harder to get a job, an apartment or credit card."
The possession of one ounce of marijuana is currently decriminalized in the District of Columbia, and persons found with more than this amount face a $25 civil infraction. Data from the Metropolitan Police Department reveals that 77 percent of tickets written during decriminalization have been in communities of color.
By Steve Elliott
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has thrown its support behind a clinical trial of medical marijuana, with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird revealing that a deal was struck at Friday's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
NSW will lead the collaborative, national trial, with the support of the Commonwealth and other states and territories, reports Simon Thomsen at Business Insider.
The health ministers discussed medicinal cannabis at their meeting, but underlined their continued opposition to the recreational use and legalization of marijuana, claiming it is linked to mental illness.
Premier Baird last month announced that the NSW government had formed a working group to set up the clinical trial, due to report back at the end of this year. "A NSW working group is already driving this reform and we welcome the support of the Commonwealth and the states and territories for the conduct of the trial," Baird said.
“NSW is playing a leadership role but our historic agreement to work collaboratively on this significant issue means we have a far greater chance of success,” Baird said.
Citizens for a Safer Maine on Friday announced it will not appeal a judge’s decision to allow the York Board of Selectmen to prevent a vote on a ballot measure that would make marijuana legal for adults.
“We’re confident an appeal would be successful, but at this point we cannot afford to continue playing this game with the selectmen,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the measure. “We know there is support for ending marijuana prohibition in York, and we’re going to focus our resources on giving them a chance to vote on it in 2016 with a statewide ballot initiative.
“It’s unfortunate that three out of the five selectmen have needlessly and very likely illegally prevented their constituents from voting on this measure,” Boyer said. “It’s a disservice to the voters who elected them, and they’ll have to live with that.”
Citizens for a Safer Maine initially submitted more than 200 signatures of registered York voters to place a measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen in July. The board voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot and, based on local initiative rules, provided the group with 30 days to collect an additional 641 signatures.
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted nearly 1,000 signatures in August 27, but the Board of Selectmen again voted 3-2 against placing the measure on the ballot. In September, Superior Court Judge Paul Fritzche did not grant an injunction requested by the group to place the initiative on the November ballot.
By Steve Elliott
Federal marijuana prisoner Randy Lanier, 60, a former race car driver, will be released from prison after serving 26 years of a life sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida for a 1988 conviction on leading a marijuana drug ring.
U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert has granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier's life sentence and has approved his pending release, reports Jon Saraceno at Autoweek.com. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal to reduce sentencing for convicted drug dealers, while seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
"He has served his time with dignity and respect," said Stephen Ross Johnson, lead attorney for Lanier since 2002. "He has helped mentor young people in the prison system."
The brief order issued by Judge Gilbert gives no reason for the sentence reduction. In addition to his life sentence, Lanier was given an additional maximum of 40 years on a distribution charge and another five years on an IRS fraud charge.
Lanier's release comes with heavy restrictions, including drug-and-alcohol tests, no consumption of alcohol or patronizing of establishments that sell it, no firearms, and no lines of credit without approval from his probation officer.
By Steve Elliott
The Basque Parliament on Wednesday urged the Basque Government to legalize and regulate the activity of cannabis clubs, and give legal support to marijuana cultivation for club members' collective consumption.
The Basque Chamber is concluding two years of work on a study of the clubs with adoption of a recommended solution towards regulating them. The recommendations approved "will place Basque Country at the head of the regulation of these places," the group said.
The political parties PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), EH BILDU (Basque Country United) and PSE-EE (Socialist Party of the Basque Country) have all advocated taking steps towards non-confrontational legal existence for the cannabis clubs, and have urged the Basque Government to devise a system which offers regulation, legal guarantees and security for the clubs.
These groups said that until there is such governmental regulation, cannabis clubs should establish their own self-regulation and standards of good practice. Also, it is expected that medicinal and therapeutic uses of cannabis will be excluded from the regulations governing the clubs.