Pot Smoking Stats Real Eye Opener

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Do you smoke pot? According to stats I saw this week, 12 per cent of Ontario residents 15 and over smoked marijuana at least once over a recent 12-month period.  Which is about 1.3 million Ontarians.  Or about 130,000 people here in York Region.

This is according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey for 2012, which asked Canadians over 15 if they used cannabis or hash.

Keep in mind these were only the people willing to admit to using pot.

The real numbers could be a lot higher, pardon the pun, considering this is a type of behaviour not everyone would readily admit to on a government form.

For political prognosticators, that’s a lot of Justin Trudeau supporters.  Maybe that’s why Stephen Harper’s poll numbers seem to be going up in smoke.

And here I thought some people were just really happy, really hungry, or had the giggles.

Next time someone laughs at one of your jokes, you’ll be tempted to ask, “Did you actually think that’s funny, or are you just high?” And stop eating those Cheesies.

Obviously it can’t be just teenagers, whose current slang words for cannabis or getting high – according to this thing called Google I have on my computer – include to get blazed, chief, burn one, bent, kush and, well, by the time someone like me is using them in a community newspaper, they may already be obsolete.

Point is, considering the stats, there must be professors, lawyers, MPs ( such as the aforementioned Mr.  Trudeau ), journalists, the Ford family, and many others out there, who you would not think of as your typical pot smokers, who are, in fact.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have a whole lot against people who smoke up.

They used to bother me more, when I thought of all the mayhem created by the people growing the pot, with law enforcement chasing them – all in the quest to supply herbal refreshment to people who rationalized that their little illegal indulgence was harmless.

But as the pot laws become more relaxed, particularly in the U.S., the people who smoked up despite the laws and the negative consequences for society, seem a little less selfish, a little more mainstream.

Things are being legalized, taxed, in some U.S.  states, including Colorado and Washington.  In Canada, we are just getting a sniff of this brave new world.

So now, there is a rush by all kinds of people to get into Canada’s “medical” marijuana business.  Why?

Because of several recent court decisions, the projection in the next few years is that up to 400,000 Canadians will have gotten themselves permits to use medical marijuana, as in daily, up from 40,000, which now must be supplied by government approved growers ( think $ signs ), with Canada’s doctors forced to take part in the approval process for “patients”.

This despite what the Canadian Medical Association says is a lack of scientific evidence that marijuana is anything other than a recreational drug, even if it is, anecdotally – for some – helpful dealing with illnesses that cause pain or seizures.  Fine.  But 400,000 people?

Maybe, like the U.S., it’s time to give everyone the right to smoke pot ( responsibly – no driving ) and leave the doctors and Ottawa out of it.  Something to put in your bong and smoke before the next federal election.

Vermont Moves Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana

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Vermont’s legislature on Monday approved a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, a measure the state’s governor expects to sign into law in the coming weeks.

The move sets up the New England state to be the 17th in the United States to remove criminal penalties for having small amounts of pot. It does not go as far as Colorado and Washington, which in November became the first states to legalize possession, cultivation and use of marijuana by adults for recreational use.

Vermont’s House of Representatives on Monday gave final approval to a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult possession of up to one ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana and instead penalize with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Persons under age 21 caught with pot would be required to undergo substance abuse screening.

The House’s action upheld changes to the bill last week by Vermont’s Senate, including a provision that decriminalized possession of up to five grams of hashish, a potent pot derivative.

“I applaud the legislature’s action to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “Vermonters support sensible drug policies. This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities.”

A spokeswoman said the governor will sign the bill into law “within a few weeks.”

Currently in Vermont, possessing up to two ounces of pot is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for later offenses.

The measure was introduced in early February by state Representative Christopher Pearson of Burlington, with 38 co-sponsors from the Democratic, Republican and Progressive parties. A similar proposal also was introduced in the Senate.

The latest proposal is similar to “decriminalization” laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense, said NORML, a group that supports marijuana legalization.

Five other states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio — treat marijuana possession as a fine-only misdemeanor offense, NORML said.

Alaska also imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, after action by its state Supreme Court, said NORML.

Vermont already had legalized pot for medical use in 2004.

Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski

Source: Reuters (Wire)
Author: Zach Howard
Published: May 13, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Thomson Reuters

Make Money With Pot, Not War

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Are we about to see the end of the war on drugs?

Following ballot measures last November, producing and selling marijuana are now legal in both Colorado and Washington state.  Several other U.S.  states have decriminalized simple possession of marijuana, or allowed its medical usage.  The latter is also the case in Canada.

The financial consequences of a complete and general legalization across the continent would certainly be huge.

Over the past couple of decades, billions of dollars have been spent fighting this unwinnable war, which has fuelled corruption, organized crime, and violence.  Thousands of people are killed in drug fights every year in Mexico.  In Canada and the U.S., it has justified growing government intrusion in commercial and private life, from the money-laundering bureaucracies to civil forfeiture laws.

Despite this, recreational use of drugs is as popular as ever.

The simple economic fact is that when there is a demand, a supply will be forthcoming — legally or illegally.  We should therefore reconcile ourselves with what economists call “consumer sovereignty,” that is, let people consume what they want, and let’s prosecute only real crimes.

From an economic perspective, it would be a lot more profitable for everyone if we stopped wasting resources trying to suppress this trade, and instead let it develop legitimately and have governments regulate and tax it.  I don’t like taxes, but in that case, that would mean a huge improvement in terms of economic efficiency.

In British Columbia only, where a lot of marijuana is illicitly being grown, legalization could generate $2.5 billion in government tax and licensing revenues over five years, according to a recent research paper from Simon Fraser University.

Both the Wall Street Journal and The Economist have been convincingly arguing for many years against the war on drugs.  And for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans now favour legalizing the use of marijuana.  In Canada, public support has also been high for several years.

My point is not that drug consumption is a good thing or that I encourage it, but merely that any rational person can see that the current policy has not been a success despite all the money spent and all the people jailed.  It is high time we rethink our strategy in this regard.  Let’s end the war on pot and make money with it instead.

Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Sun Media
Contact: http://www.thewhig.com/letters
Website: http://www.thewhig.com/
Author: Michel Kelly-Gagnon

Advocates Eye Legalizing Marijuana in Alaska

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Alaska, known for its live-and-let-live lifestyle, is poised to become the next battleground in the push to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The state has a complicated history with the drug, with its highest court ruling nearly 40 years ago that adults have a constitutional right to possess and smoke marijuana for personal use in their own homes.

In the late 1990s, Alaska became one of the first states to allow the use of pot for medicinal reasons.

Then the pendulum swung the other direction, with residents in 2004 rejecting a ballot effort to legalize recreational marijuana. And in 2006, the state passed a law criminalizing possession of even small amounts of the drug — leaving the current state of affairs somewhat murky.

Supporters of recreational marijuana say attitudes toward pot have softened in the past decade, and they believe they have a real shot at success in Alaska.

The state is reviewing their request to begin gathering signatures to get an initiative on next year’s ballot. The proposal would make it legal for those 21 and older to use and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, though not in public. It also would set out provisions for legal grow operations and establish an excise tax.

It’s a significantly different version of the failed 2004 ballot effort that would’ve allowed adults 21 and older to use, grow, sell or give away marijuana or hemp products without penalty under state law.

“The whole initiative, you can tell, is scaled down to be as palatable as possible,” said one of the sponsors, Bill Parker.

If the initiative application is accepted, backers will have until January, before the next legislative session starts, to gather the more than 30,000 signatures required to qualify the measure for the primary ballot.

The effort could determine whether the pendulum swings back.

The Alaska Supreme Court, in its landmark 1975 decision, found possession of marijuana by adults at home for personal use is constitutionally protected as part of their basic right to privacy, though the court made clear it didn’t condone the use of pot.

The laws tightened again with a 2006 state law criminalizing marijuana possession. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, saying the law conflicted with the 1975 ruling. The state maintained marijuana had become more intoxicating than in the 1970s, a point disputed by ACLU.

But the high court, in 2009, declined to make a finding, concluding any challenge to the law must await an actual prosecution.

Parker said the lack of clarity regarding marijuana possession is a problem, but he noted police aren’t exactly peeking into people’s homes to see if they have the drug.

Deputy Attorney General Richard Svobodny said in an email that home-use marijuana cases in Alaska are few because authorities have no reason to get a search warrant unless something else is going on inside a house that attracts their attention.

The proposed initiative includes language that says it’s not intended to diminish the right to privacy interpreted in the 1975 case. But it notes that case is not a “blanket protection for marijuana possession,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“In order to have a system where individuals can go to a store, buy an ounce of marijuana, drive home, and enjoy it at home, it is necessary to make up to an ounce of marijuana entirely legal,” Tvert said.

Alaska is one of many states mulling changes to marijuana laws. Last fall, voters in Colorado and Washington state passed initiatives legalizing, taxing and regulating recreational marijuana.

This year, bills were filed in more than half the states to enact a medical marijuana law, decriminalize or reduce penalties for simple possession, or to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. However, many of those proposals died, stalled or will be carried over.

Tvert said his group is working to promote initiatives allowing recreational marijuana in a handful of other states, including California, Oregon, Maine and Nevada. He thinks those states will be ready to pass such a measure in 2016.

“Ultimately we are starting to see the marijuana policy debate shift away from whether marijuana should be allowed or prohibited and toward how we will treat it,” Tvert said.

The U.S. Justice Department has not said how it will respond to the laws in Washington and Colorado. A bipartisan group of congressmen, including Alaska’s lone U.S. House member, Don Young, recently introduced legislation that would ensure the federal government respects stat e marijuana laws. For the Republican Young, it’s a states’ rights issue, his spokesman said by email.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who consistently has fought the feds when he believes they’ve overstepped their bounds, supports a state’s right to establish its own laws and appreciates Young’s effort, Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. But he also considers marijuana a “gateway drug that can lead to more serious patterns of substance abuse and criminal offenses,” she said by email. He has not stated his position on the proposed initiative.

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Author: Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
Published: April 26, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Associated Press

Mysterious Player Shakes Up Marijuana Game

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The name appeared out of nowhere, unfamiliar to the players who have worked for months to influence how recreational marijuana will be regulated in Colorado.

On March 28, someone named Matt Taylor hired high-powered lobbying firm Axiom Strategies to work on “marijuana issues,” records show. Taylor has since expanded his lobbying team to rival that of anyone with a stake in adult-use marijuana legalized by Amendment 64 in November.

“No one knows who he is, and with a name like that, no one has been able to find out much,” said Joe Megyesy, who lobbies for a law firm that specializes in marijuana and for the Marijuana Policy Project, the main funder of the Amendment 64 campaign. “I haven’t seen anything like it — but we’ve never seen anything like Amendment 64.”

Colorado’s marijuana mystery man, it turns out, describes himself as a former Marine and failed race-car driver who made his wealth in home heating oil on the East Coast and wants to get in on the ground floor of a budding industry worth untold millions in his home state.

Big Spender

The appearance of a new, big-spending character comes at a key moment as Colorado enters unchartered territory of legalized pot. Disparate interests and unlikely alliances are trying to shape the rules that will determine who can enter a highly lucrative business and how the market will be structured.

Marijuana interests — led by medical marijuana business groups and dispensaries — already have paid at least $137,475 to lobbyists in the fiscal year that began in June, a Denver Post analysis found.

And the real battle has not begun: Bills in the General Assembly to establish rules for recreational pot have yet to be introduced, and fewer than three weeks remain in the session.

One issue has proven especially controversial: whether to let recreational pot stores and commercial growers operate independently.

Snipped

Complete Article: http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_23058748/

Source: Denver Post (CO)
Author: Eric Gorski, The Denver Post
Published: April 19, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Denver Post
Website: http://www.denverpost.com/
Contact: [email protected]

Weird 1972 Experiment In Marijuana Use

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marijuana_grow_1In the winter of 1972, 20 young women took part in one of the weirdest scientific experiments in this country’s history.

For 98 days in a downtown Toronto hospital, their brains, hearts, kidneys, livers, blood and urine were rigorously tested and analyzed.  A team of nurses kept round-the-clock records of their behaviour, logged at half-hour intervals.

Just how was marijuana affecting the 10 who had to smoke it every day?

Forty-one years later, these women are still wondering what exactly happened to them during their three-month stretch as human guinea pigs.

Doreen Brown, who now lives in Cambridge, is one of the women who took part in the study while in her 20s.  She turns 63 this month.

In the late 1960s, Brown moved to downtown Toronto to live on her own after her mother died.  She was 17.

“I was full of grief, a brick wall,” says Brown.  “I did things I knew weren’t good for me.”

Acid, mescaline, marijuana.

Though high or tired, she never missed a shift as a department store secretary.

But by the time she was 21, the lifestyle was wearing on her.  When a co-worker told her a group of scientists was looking for female volunteers to participate in a marijuana study for money, she saw an escape.

“It was a very split-second decision,” Brown says.  “I didn’t like what I was doing.  I wanted a change and thought, ‘Why not?’ ”

The research was part of a million-dollar program, the last in a series of provincially funded experiments designed to answer one of the country’s most pressing questions, raised when then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau entertained the idea of legalizing marijuana.

The study was lead by C.G.  ( Bill ) Miles, a British psychologist working in Toronto.

In 1971, the Addiction Research Foundation opened a research and treatment hospital where Miles’ marijuana study, Project E206, would be held.

He assembled a team that included two behavioural psychologists, one doctor, a psychiatrist, a social worker and a full-shift complement of registered nurses and attendants.

The hospital welcomed the 20 women to the ward with a formal dinner on Jan.  31, 1972.

Brown, then 21, scanned the long table.  None of the women, aged 18 to 35, looked familiar, though some seemed to know each other.

The ward was clean and modern, with blue carpet underfoot and the smell of fresh paint in the air.

It seemed an ideal place for a personal reinvention.

“I was hoping that maybe in there I would solve some of my issues – to be more open, happier,” Brown says.  “I was definitely a lost soul at that point.  Directionless.  I needed help but I didn’t know where to go to get it.”

The women were quickly split into two groups in two different areas of the hospital.  Half of them – the experimental group – were required to smoke increasingly potent doses of marijuana twice a night, while the other half – the control group – did not.  Both sides could buy as many relatively mild joints as they wanted for 50 cents apiece at a store that also sold alcohol, junk food, toiletries, cigarettes and magazines.

And then they got to work.

A key element of the study was its microeconomy.  The women were required to cover the cost of their existence, except for their bed and water, for 98 days.  Whatever money they earned and did not spend on food, clothing or entertainment, they could keep.  A $250 bonus awaited those who stuck with the experiment until the end.  Those who quit early would lose the extra payout and up to 75 per cent of their savings.

They made their living on a primitive-looking wooden device, a Guatemalan backstrap loom, on which they wove colourful, fuzzy, woollen belts with knotted tassels.  For every belt that passed inspection – it had to contain at least two colours and measure 132 centimetres in length – the women received $2.50.

After a few days of practice, the task got easier.

One participant bought chalk from the ward store to draw murals on the lounge walls.  Another, a professional bartender, mixed drinks.  Women in both groups were known to walk around naked.  Living on locked, separate wards didn’t stop women from the two groups from communicating with each other or people in surrounding office buildings – like the men who were being held in the forensic psychiatry unit at the Clarke Institute, which was next door.  The women wrote friendly, short messages on large placards and flashed their signs through the large windows that faced the street and an interior courtyard.

The carefree vibe didn’t last long.

The joints became so potent that some sought a doctor’s note to get out of their nightly obligations, saying they felt too sick to smoke.

“We were asking them to take it away,” Brown says.  “They knew we wanted it taken away; there was no doubt.  I felt comatose.  I couldn’t do anything.

“It became torture,” Brown says.

In the last week, the women who were left on the mandatory smoking unit refused to continue.

On May 8, 1972, the women left the centre.

Brown expected relief, some sense of freedom, but she felt paranoid instead.

“It was very scary,” she says.  “I thought, ‘Where am I going to go? What am I going to do?’ I was afraid to get on the subway.

“I was hoping that being in there for those 98 days might give me some perspective.  But if anything, for me, it magnified my problems.”

She spent a few years in therapy and went to the University of Toronto to study political science and history.

In her late 30s, she got pregnant and moved to Cambridge to raise her son.  She still works full-time at a local hearing clinic.  She has a granddaughter.

She still wonders what became of the results of the experiment.

Brown says she made several inquiries during the ’80s and ’90s.  She would have been more aggressive but feared she might lose her job at the time if word got out that she had taken part in a marijuana experiment.

She’s less concerned now.

“I want to know, I want to know,” she says.  “The dosages.  What they found psychologically, physically.  I feel ripped off, taken advantage of.  It’s just like it didn’t happen.  I feel like, yeah, you gave three months of your life for what?

“Were the results that horrible that they didn’t give them to us? You wonder.  I think they might have supported legalizing marijuana.  That’s why they didn’t come out.  I don’t know.  It leaves you with a lot of questions.”

Miles died in 2009 at the age of 74, but there are still some people who can help fill in the blanks of the women-and-marijuana study.

Janet McDougall was one of the junior researchers on the project.

She recalls the group disbanding suddenly and being left virtually alone with a few binders and reels of brown data tape.  On Miles’ instructions, she sent portions of it to economists at Texas A&M University.

Among them was John Kagel, now a professor of applied microeconomics at Ohio State University.  “Our analysis showed these people were perfectly rational, worked their butts off.  There was a beautiful, inadvertent event where they went on strike because they were making them smoke too much marijuana and it was interfering with their earnings, which appeared to be a primary motivation for some of them going into the thing.”

Research today indicates that while frequent cannabis smoking may well have harmful effects – including dependence and susceptibility to lung infections – motivation is not a problem.

Junior researcher McDougall does not know where the rest of the research data is today.

Dr.  Harold Kalant, the renowned former director of biological and behavioural research at the Addiction Research Foundation who, at 90, still works for its successor, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, knew in general terms what Miles was doing and what he found.

Did politics get in the way of Miles disseminating the data into a final report?

“My guess is that it probably wasn’t yielding anything that was going to have a direct influence on policy,” says Kalant.

For all the questions it raised, the study did answer at least one question convincingly, according to Ohio State’s Kagel.

“In terms of the central issue, if you legalize marijuana, were you going to get a bunch of stoned people just hanging out smoking dope all the time and not doing any work? This is fairly convincing evidence that wasn’t going to happen.”

Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://news.therecord.com/
Author: Diana Zlomislic

Why Legal Pot Is Coming to Nevada

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nevada-welcomeIt was no great feat, but as I predicted last October, Colorado and Washington have legalized pot, and Nevada is now in danger of losing our rightful place as the capital of forbidden fun.

On his tourism blog, Arthur Frommer wrote last year that we could “expect a torrent of new tourism to Seattle and Denver.”

The media is all over it, with a recent story filled with enough dumb pot puns and jokes to merit an editor’s termination, including references to “smoke signals,” grilled cheese sandwiches and food trucks, and fears that the feds could “harsh the mellow.”

Medical marijuana is already legal here, and Thursday a Nevada legislative committee approved the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

And last week, the Nevada Legislature took up a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.  It’s not going anywhere, but I applaud the Assembly Judiciary Committee for giving it a hearing.

Here’s why: There’s a better-than-even chance that recreational pot will be legal in Nevada after the 2016 election.

Wait, what’s that? you ask.

Let me explain.

For the first time, the Pew Research Center, the highly respected nonpartisan polling outfit, found that a majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization.

This wasn’t all that surprising, however, because a majority favored legalization for the first time in a Gallup poll last year.

More striking than the raw numbers is the trend, which points to rising support for legalization.

In fact, as an insightful recent piece in Talking Points Memo pointed out, the trend seems to parallel support for gay marriage.

The movement on gay marriage, recall, has been caused by a massive demographic shift whereby younger voters overwhelmingly favor marriage equality.  Same with marijuana.  Stay calm: Before you freak out, fearing the young are sitting around getting high all day, keep in mind that 6.9 percent of the population report using marijuana regularly, according to the most recent data.  Yes, that’s up from 5.8 percent in 2007, but way down from a high of 13.2 percent in 1979.

The real driver of the surge in popularity for both gay marriage and legalization of marijuana is a rapid increase in what I’d call the “Who Cares?” Caucus.  These younger voters – 1 in 5 of all voters in November were ages 18 to 29 – just don’t see the big deal with gay marriage or legal pot.

Conservatives have begun to throw in the towel on gay marriage, but on pot, some of them are actually leading the way, including National Review magazine, the organ of the establishment right.

So the trend is clear, and now, legalization advocates are looking for their next round of target states.  ( Just how the feds will react to this remains to be seen; marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of Washington.  )

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, told me that the big prize is California, home to 38 million people and a cultural bellwether for the rest of the nation.

But Nevada is also at the top of the list, he said.  It’s not hard to figure out why – we’re libertarian when it come to vices and have been able to integrate them into our culture and economy while maintaining a sense of normalcy.  ( OK, not entirely, but you get the point.  )

The voters rejected legal pot in the past, but that was seven years ago.

The target year is 2016, when lazy Democrats will get off the couch to elect the first woman president in American history.

Again, it’s happening.

Legalizers should temper their joy.  Yes, this is the right policy.  It could raise tax revenue and keep people out of the vortex that is the legal system.

And surely Nevada’s creative minds will figure out how to capitalize on legal pot.

But, as with end of the prohibition of gambling and alcohol, we need to put the right policies in place to deal with the relevant issues, including increased marijuana consumption, crime, underage use, driving while intoxicated, addiction, etc.

These are not simple issues, and while ending prohibition will relieve certain problems, it will create others.

If we don’t get the policy right, we could wind up with prohibition again.

So, in a way, it’s good that we aren’t taking action yet.  We can watch Colorado and Washington state, which are both pretty rational, decently governed states.  Then we can follow their lead, learning from their successes and failures.

But we need to start figuring this out, because it’s happening.  And 2016 will be here quick.

Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2013 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://www.lasvegassun.com/
Author: J. Patrick Coolican