Of Pot and Percocet

OP-ED from the NY Times about reductions in opiate deaths and medical marijuana states. Click for the article.

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The post Of Pot and Percocet appeared first on Tennessee NORML.

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Virginia Governor McAuliffe Expresses Support For Medical Marijuana

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Earlier this week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe took a question about legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, as Colorado has done. While he is not “yet” supportive of this sensible policy change, he did use the question as an opportunity to express his support for medical marijuana. The Virginia General Assembly should follow suit by sending Gov. McAuliffe a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in 2015.

Virginia law already recognizes marijuana’s medicinal benefits, but, because of the way the law is written, patients are left without a legal way to access, possess, or even use their medicine without a change in federal policy. Virginia can and should enact a law similar to the laws in 23 states and D.C. that allow the terribly ill to use, possess, and access medical marijuana in state despite the failed and draconian federal prohibition.

If you are a Virginia resident, please email your lawmakers urging them to pass compassionate legislation.

Rhode Island Primary Is Two Weeks Away – Where Do The Candidates Stand?

Tuesday, September 9, is Primary Election Day in Rhode Island. With an open race for the top slot in the state, all eyes are on the gubernatorial primary races. Next year, the legislature will continue discussing whether Rhode Island should replace marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations, so it is important to know how the candidates for governor view the issue.

Democratic primary gubernatorial candidates: When asked in March, all three major candidates — Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell — indicated that they are monitoring the effects of regulation and taxation in Colorado and Washington. However, all indications are that Taveras is the least open to marijuana regulation — he stated that he is “not currently supportive of legalization.” This is not too surprising considering Taveras has received public support from prominent marijuana prohibitionist and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Republican primary gubernatorial candidates: On the Republican side of the coin, Ken Block has said he will withhold judgment until he can “see the results in Colorado and Washington.” His opponent, Allan Fung, not only opposes “the legalization of marijuana for recreational use,” but also makes no mention of even being interested in results from Colorado and Washington.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please get out and vote on Tuesday, September 9, and pass this message on to other Rhode Island voters who support humane and fiscally sound marijuana policies. The New York Times agrees that regulation — not prohibition — is the more sensible approach to marijuana policy; we hope the next governor of Rhode Island does, too.

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Dylan and the Beatles Make Marijuana History, 50 Years Ago

Dylan and the Beatles Make Marijuana History, 50 Years Ago


CANNABIS CULTURE – Today marks the 50th anniversary of an important event in marijuana and musical history. It was the date, in 1964, when Bob Dylan reportedly turned the Beatles on to weed at the Delmonico hotel in New York City.

In their early days in Hamburg, the Beatles were expected to play four and a half hours each night, and six hours on the weekend. Club owners freely dispensed Preludin, an amphetamine marketed legally as a diet pill, to their musicians. George wrote to a friend of “eating Prellie sandwiches” and John washed copious amounts down with alcohol. Paul was cautious about them and only then-drummer Pete Best abstained altogether.

The Beatles came to America in 1964, and New York Post columnist Al Aronowitz took Dylan to meet them at the Delmonico. When offered Drinamyls and Preludins, Dylan shook his head saying, “How about something a little more organic? Something green … marijuana.” (Dylan had mistakenly thought their lyric “I can’t hide” from “I wanna hold you hand” was “I get high.”)

By Aronowitz’s account, Dylan rolled a joint and passed it to John, who handed it to Ringo Starr, calling him “my official taster.” Ringo went to a back room and smoked it down, emerging wearing a grin. Paul recounted, “We said, ‘How is it?’ He said, ‘The ceiling’s coming down on me.’ And we went, Wow! Leaped up, ‘God, got to do this!’ So we ran into the back room–first John, then me and George, then Brian [Epstein, their manager].”

Pretty soon, the mop tops were taking millions with them on a Magical Mystery Tour, experimenting with sounds as they did with drugs (which they called “droogs”). They may have even smoked pot before being decorated by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1965.

Paul McCartney helped pay for a July 24, 1967 advertisement in the London Times that called for legalization of pot possession, release of all prisoners on possession charges, and government research into marijuana’s medical uses. All the Beatles, plus Epstein, signed on to the ad.

Later, John Lennon was nearly deported from the US, ostensibly on a pot charge, after he appeared at a concert to free Michigan pot activist John Sinclair in 1971. Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, the author of Marijuana Reconsidered, met Lennon when he testified as an expert witness at his INS hearings. Grinspoon told Lennon that cannabis appeared to make it possible for him to “hear” his music for the first time. He writes, “John was quick to reply that I had experienced only one facet of what marijuana could do for music, that he thought it could be very helpful for composing and making music as well as listening to it.” George Harrison has expressed similar sentiments.


Now that McCartney has admitted that his 1966 song “Got to Get You Into My Life” was written not to a woman, but to marijuana, it makes you wonder whether Dylan and the other Beatles wrote similarly about pot.

In ’64, the year he turned the Beatles on, Dylan recorded “Mr. Tamborine Man”:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow

In 1970 Dylan wrote a song with Harrison called “I’d Have You Any Time” with the lyrics “let me roll it to you/let me grow it on you.” Makes you wonder if the Dylan song, “I just wouldn’t have a clue … if not for you” is about a person or a joint. Dylan and Harrison performed that song together, giggling, at the Concert for Bangladesh in ’71.

At Superbowl 2005, McCartney played “Get Back” with the lyric, “Jo Jo left his home in Tucson Arizona, for some California grass.” He recently played a concert to close San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, where the Beatles played in 1966.


The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz (2005)
Barry Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now (1997)

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website VeryImportantPotheads.com and blogs at Tokin Woman.

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Santa Fe City Council votes to decriminalize pot possession


By Daniel J. Chacón

Santa Fe made history Wednesday by becoming the first city in New Mexico to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Hoping to avoid the costs of taking the issue before voters and the uncertainty of the question even making the November general election ballot, the City Council voted 5-4 to adopt a citizen initiative outright.

“I don’t think that by supporting this there’s going to be many more potheads,” said City Councilor Carmichael Dominguez. He voted in favor of adopting the ordinance, which calls for making possession of an ounce or less of marijuana and marijuana-associated paraphernalia civil infractions punishable by a fine of no more than $25.

Dominguez said he was leaning toward putting the question before voters, calling the ability to vote the most democratic process. But he said he’s had the “unpleasant experience” of working in corrections and seeing the negative effects it can have on “really good people.”

“The real reason I’m in support of this is because I’ve seen what incarceration does on a firsthand level,” he said.

The other councilors who voted to adopt the ordinance were Patti Bushee, Peter Ives, Signe Lindell and Joseph Maestas. Mayor Javier Gonzales and councilors Bill Dimas, Ron Trujillo and Chris Rivera cast the dissenting votes.

The ordinance, which goes into effect five days after it’s published, also would make possession of small amounts of marijuana “a lowest law enforcement priority” for Santa Fe police.

Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said she had “mixed emotions” about the council’s decision. Drug Policy Action, the advocacy and political arm of Drug Policy Alliance, and ProgressNow New Mexico led the effort to gather petition signatures with the intent of putting the question before voters in November.

“I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed voters who really wanted to show their direct support,” Kaltenbach said. “That’s the reason that we went out to gather all the signatures. One vote, one voice really is probably the most pure, direct form of democracy, and unfortunately, those voters won’t have a chance to have their voice heard directly because of this evening.”

Still, Kaltenbach said, “the people won tonight no matter what.”

“I’m disappointed the voters won’t have a voice, but I’m ecstatic that we made history tonight by changing our laws in our city,” she said.

Dimas, whose daughter died of a drug overdose at age 32, urged his colleagues to put the question before voters.

“I as a citizen can tell you that I support it going to the voters because it gives me an opportunity to decide if I want to vote for it or against it based on what’s happened in my personal life,” he said.

“It should go to the voters. That’s what people signed the petitions for,” he said.

Gonzales also tried to make the case for putting the question before voters. He said the council has known since at least June that there was an initiative to reduce the penalties for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. He said the council had opportunities to adopt it since then but didn’t.

“We actually allowed for the petitioners to go out and through hundreds of hours of civic engagement get 11,000 signatures of people who are asking this council to put this measure to the vote,” Gonzales said.

“They’ve asked for the vote. They should have the vote,” he said.

But when it would go to a vote was up in the air.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Dianna Duran raised concerns about putting the two-part question on the November ballot, saying it could’ve been difficult to accommodate on an already crowded ballot. Elections officials also faced a tight timeline to resolve what the city attorney on Tuesday called “significant logistical details,” since Duran has until Sept. 9 to certify the ballots in all of New Mexico’s 33 counties.

The estimated $80,000 cost associated with putting the question on the November ballot was a major sticking point for some councilors, though City Clerk Yolanda Vigil said the cost could be lower.

“I’m concerned about the fiscal impact,” Maestas said.

A special election not held in conjunction with the November election was estimated to cost between $90,000 and $100,000.

“Those are just the kind of numbers I don’t like,” Lindell said.

Councilors considered waiting until the next municipal election in March 2016 but struggled with waiting that long to put the question before voters.

Despite adoption of the ordinance, the issue may not be entirely resolved.

Gov. Susana Martinez has expressed opposition and doubt that a municipality could decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana without legislative action.

However, City Attorney Kelley Brennan issued an opinion stating that Santa Fe is within its authority to enact such an ordinance.

“Home Rule municipalities do not need to look to the legislature to act, but only to ensure that the legislature has not placed limits on a municipality’s power,” she wrote.

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Tennesseans United

Tennessean United – Please give them your support.

There’s a new group out there working on MMJ in Tennessee. Tennesseans United will be working hard to bring change in the 2015 Tennessee Legislation sessions starting in early January.

Please give them your support. Please go to their petition and sign up.

Looks like there are several groups in Tennessee this year standing up for changing the laws so our friends and family can get the medication they need to ease their suffering and pain.

More news coming every day!

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The post Tennesseans United appeared first on Tennessee NORML.

Voters in Santa Fe to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

The list of localities considering making marijuana legal or decriminalizing possession of small amounts is steadily growing, and two New Mexico cities were just added to the list last week.

In Santa Fe, organizers submitted almost 11,000 signatures to allow voters to decide to remove criminal penalties for simple possession.

Currently in Santa Fe, first-time offenders in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana are charged with a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $50 to $100 and imprisonment of not more than 15 days. The proposal calls for possession to be treated as a civil infraction, requiring no jail time and punishable by a fine of no more than $25.

State and federal law would be unaffected by the change, if it were approved. Police officers would have discretion as to whether to charge violations under a city ordinance, handled in municipal court, or under state statute, adjudicated in magistrate court.

However, the petition called for possession of small amounts of marijuana and instruments used to ingest it to be considered “a lowest law enforcement priority.”

In Albuquerque, supporters were unable to get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, but the city council included a similar provision in a package of local legislative bills. The mayor has voiced his opposition and threatened a veto, but it is unclear if he has the legal authority to do so.

Studies Suggest Marijuana May Help Decrease Domestic Violence and Overdose Deaths

A pair of recent studies suggest that marijuana policy reform may be paving the way for a healthier, happier world in at least two ways.

The first, released by the University of Buffalo, found that couples who use marijuana are the least likely to engage in, or be the victim of, domestic violence and abuse.

The authors caution that while these findings are predictive–meaning couples who smoke are less likely to commit domestic violence–they don’t necessarily draw a causal line between the two behaviors. Among the connections they hypothesize, “marijuana may increase positive affect, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of conflict and aggression.” …

Another possible mechanism: “chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.”

The second study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, reported that states with medical marijuana laws have roughly 25% fewer painkiller overdose deaths than states which do not allow medical marijuana. While the authors caution that this could simply be a correlation, not a causal effect, a large amount of anecdotal research exists from patients who report weening or discontinuing their use of prescription painkillers once they are able to use marijuana to treat their conditions.

New Hampshire Begins Considering Dispensary Rules

The delays in implementing New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program have been very frustrating for patients. Fortunately, the state finally appears to be making progress toward the adoption of alternative treatment center (dispensary) rules. The Concord Monitor reported some details of the rule-making process this morning.

You can read the first draft of the proposed rules here. The Department of Health and Human Services will accept comments as part of an “advance comment period,” which ends tomorrow. After that, the department will enter its formal rule-making phase, which will include a public hearing and additional opportunities for public comment. The department released a timeline indicating that it hopes to secure final approval of the dispensary rules by November 20.

You can read the comments being submitted by MPP here. While we have identified a number of issues with the rules, we think the most troubling provisions are the onerous application fee of $80,000 and the annual renewal fee of $80,000. We understand that the law requires the Department to set fees that cover the costs of administering the program, but it is unclear whether New Hampshire will have any qualified applicants who wish to enter this heavily restricted dispensary market with fees this high.

For information on how to submit comments, please visit the department’s website for the “therapeutic use of cannabis” program.

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Prominent Think Tank Praises Washington’s Legal Marijuana System

On Monday, respected policy think tank The Brookings Institution published a paper analyzing Washington’s implementation of the law passed in 2012 to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The results: the state is doing well and is actively trying to learn from the process. The results could have far-reaching implications for marijuana policy reform in other states.

Brookings’ Philip Wallach interviewed advocates, researchers, and government policymakers in Washington to learn about the state’s novel approach. In this report, he highlights several noteworthy features:

  • Building a funding source for research directly into the law: a portion of the excise tax revenues from marijuana sales will fund research on the reform’s effects and on how its social costs can be effectively mitigated.
  • Bringing to bear many perspectives on legalization by coordinating research efforts across multiple state agencies, including the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Health, and the Liquor Control Board.
  • Mandating a cost-benefit analysis by the state’s in-house think tank, which will be nearly unprecedented in its scope and duration.

Wallach makes a number of suggestions to ensure that Washington’s knowledge experiment can be made to work, including:

  • Ensure political independence for researchers, both by pressuring politicians to allow them to do their work and by encouraging the researchers themselves to refrain from making political recommendations
  • Gather and translate research into forms usable by policymakers
  • Counter misinformation with claims of confident uncertainty
  • Have realistic expectations about the timeline for empirical learning, which means cultivating patience over the next few years
  • Specify which reliable metrics would indicate success or failure of legalization

The full report can be found here.