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U.S.: New Poll Shows More Than Half Of American Adults Have Tried Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new Marist poll that was conducted in partnership with Yahoo shows that more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives.

The poll found that 52 percent of U.S. adults have tried marijuana at least once and 56 percent of Americans find the drug "socially acceptable."

While eight out of 10 Americans strongly support legalizing medical marijuana, the poll shows that forty-nine percent of American adults support legalization for recreational adult use while forty-seven percent oppose it.

"As marijuana has been accepted medically, it's less about the marijuana high," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance. He pointed out that people may now increasingly see elderly family members use the drug to help cope with a variety of ailments.

The poll shows that fifty-one percent of Americans think consumption of marijuana is a health risk. However, far more Americans say drinking alcohol regularly (72 percent) is a threat to health over regular marijuana use (20 percent.)

More Americans also think that regular tobacco use (76 percent) is far more risky than regular marijuana use (18 percent.)

The poll was done by surveying 1,122 adults between March 1 through March 7 of this year. The Marist Poll was sponsored and funded in partnership with Yahoo.

Arizona: Marijuana Supporters Call On Opposition To Return $10K Alcohol Contribution

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), the committee backing an initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona that is expected to appear on the November ballot, on Wednesday called on leaders of the committee opposing the measure to return a contribution from the alcohol industry.

According to a report published earlier this week by the Phoenix New Times, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP) received a donation of $10,000 last month from the Arizona Wine and Spirits Association, a trade group representing various alcohol wholesalers.

The leaders of ARDP, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, and radio host Seth Leibsohn have repeatedly argued that marijuana needs to remain illegal because it is too dangerous to regulate for adult use. Yet, by every objective measure, marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol. See http://marijuana-vs-alcohol.org for details.

“Using alcohol money to fund their campaign to maintain marijuana prohibition is grossly hypocritical,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “They want to continue punishing adults for using marijuana, but they have no problem accepting five-figure donations from purveyors of a far more harmful substance.

Vermont: Lawmakers Seen Drinking In Hallway Just Before Voting No On Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the Vermont House on Tuesday soundly rejected a Senate proposal to legalize marijuana and create a regulated retail market for it -- and even failed to decriminalize possession and cultivation of just two cannabis plants -- their unfortunate lack of political courage didn't shock many political observers.

What was a bit more upsetting, though, was that at least two of the politicians who voted "No" on legalization were seen (and photographed!) drinking alcohol in the hall shortly before the vote, according to multiple sources. Photos tweeted by reporter Neil Goswami depict Rep. Gary Viens (R-Newport) and Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans City) enjoying alcholic beverages at the State House during a 15-minute recess from the marijuana debate.

"Drinking in the State House is cool, according to these people who voted against legal pot," Goswami tweeted.

Both Viens and Parent are widely grinning in the photos, apparently believing themselves to be quite clever in taking a drink in the hall before batting down a bill that would have treated marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Initiative Backers' Campaign Highlights Alcohol Hypocrisy

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Backers of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts are launching a campaign Friday to highlight the hypocrisy of elected officials who oppose the initiative but promote the use of a more harmful substance — alcohol.

Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol held a news conference Friday morning in front of the Massachusetts State House. They showcased a large, provocative sign featuring their first two targets, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who just announced they have formed a committee to oppose the proposed initiative because they believe marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use.

Baker has proposed legislation to loosen the state’s liquor licensing regulations and expand the number of locations in which alcohol can be served. He also supported repealing the state alcohol tax and opposed a Boston alcohol tax. Walsh proposed legislation to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., providing an extra two hours of drinking time.

U.S.: Morgan Freeman Not Picky When It Comes To Marijuana Strains

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In an intimate, wide-ranging interview, Morgan Freeman sits down with Larry King on the Emmy-nominated series “Larry King Now,” where he opens up about not seeing many scripts, his relationship with President Obama, and his love of marijuana.

The Oscar winner says he’s not picky when it comes to what strain of marijuana he smokes, and makes his case for legalizing the plant. “They can’t continue to say that it’s a dangerous drug when it’s safer than alcohol,” Freeman tells Larry in the interview.

And while the Oscars were held last weekend, the Academy Award winner and ‘Best Picture’ presenter argues, “I’m not quite sure that there is a diversity issue in Hollywood.” He notes that while there no African Americans were nominated for the Oscars, “There were no Asians, either.”

Freeman also explains that the Academy is not the root of the problem, saying “I think if you’re going to talk about diversity in movies, let’s not talk about the Academy Awards. We need to go way way back, we need to go back to people who are making the movie: directors, producers and people behind the camera.”

Although the Oscar winner has been in his fair share of movies, he’s not shy to admit what few actors will: sometimes he takes roles for the money. “Yes [it’s an art], but I don’t want to die a pauper,” he reveals. He also shares why he loves working with Clint Eastwood, saying, “He doesn’t fool around. He respects the actor.”

U.S.: Susan Burton Is A Voice From The Front Lines Of The Drug War

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After her son was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department, Susan Burton medicated her grief with alcohol and drugs. Instead of receiving the support and services she needed, she cycled in an out of the criminal justice system for nearly 15 years.

In 1998, Susan gained her freedom and sobriety and founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project. Named a CNN Hero in 2010, Susan’s organization provides support and resources for women recently released from prison.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) works to end the Drug War by supporting organizations like A New Way of Life. Susan’s video is the second installment of a new video series, "Voices from the Front Lines of the Drug War," chronicling the people and organizations addressing the worst harms of the Drug War and creating new policies based in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Here is the direct link to the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjR_8nAURA

Survey: Americans More Concerned About Driving Effects of Alcohol Over Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, there's a scare campaign by drug war advocates who want the American public to be afraid of the supposed menace of pot-impaired drivers. Many Americans, however, aren't really buying it, according to a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Despite the inclusion of per-se impairment levels for blood THC in Washington state's Initiative 502, for example, the Foundation's annual Traffic Safety Culture Index reveals that, compared to alcohol, Americans are significantly less concerned about the thread of marijuana impairment behind the wheel.

The survey found that while two-thirds feel that those who drive after drinking pose a "very serious" threat to their personal safety, just over half feel the same way about pot use. In fact, one in six Americans repoprt that, where they live, "most people" feel it's acceptable to drive one hour after using cannabis.

The scare campaigns are, unfortunately, having some effect. The survey found that nearly half of Americans reported feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a "bigger problem" today than compared to three years ago. Fully 85 percent support some form of marijuana-impairment laws when it comes to operating motor vehicles.

But Americans are quite unclear on impairment thresholds (naturally, since there's no convincing science showing a "bright line" cutoff point for THC), as well as on safety implications and legal ramifications.

California: L.A. Alcohol Delivery Service Nestdrop Expanding Into Medical Marijuana

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Popular alcohol delivery app expands market reach to bring medicinal marijuana to Los Angeles patients in need

Nestdrop, a popular Los Angeles alcohol delivery service, is introducing what it calls "the country's first in-App, on-demand medical marijuana delivery service for both iOS and Android."

Available today for alcohol deliveries for L.A. area residents, Nestdrop medical marijuana delivery service will launch in the next few weeks in the same app. Medical marijuana patients will be required to upload a photo of their doctor's recommendation to Nestdrop's securely encrypted vault to receive approval before ordering.

Unlike other online medical marijuana delivery services, Nestdrop says it is the first to provide an entirely in-app marketplace experience.

"After our initial success with alcohol deliveries, we decided to expand when we saw how this platform could be used to bring difficult-to-obtain products to people who really need them," said Nestdrop co-founder Michael Pycher. "We began talking to patients and found a genuine need out there for improved access to this medicine."

As part of the simple registration process, medical marijuana patients must upload a photo of a doctor's recommendation and Medical Marijuana Identification Card to order from Nestdrop's medical marijuana section. Once manually approved by a local dispensary, which can take as little as five minutes, patients will have full access to the same medicine that they are used to getting in-person, for the same donation amount.

U.S.: Americans Think Sugar Is Worse Than Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Many Americans think sugar is worse for health than is marijuana, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week.

Poll participants were asked to rank the relative harms of alcohol, marijuana, sugar, and tobacco in order of the most harmful to the least harmful in the survey of 1,000 American adults last week, reports Beth Reinhard at The Wall Street Journal.

Tobacco was ranked as the most harmful by 49 percent of respondents, with alcohol coming in second at 24 percent. Sugar was voted the third most harmful, with 15 percent, while marijuana came in as least harmful with just 8 percent.

Respondents said they were more interested in following cannabis legalization stories in the news over other stories, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, reports Alexandra Ward at Newsmax.

"Among the more shocking numbers to me was the legalization story," Todd said. "This idea that more and more states are moving to legalize medical marijuana or recreational use is a story that, according to our poll, is being followed more closely than what's going on in Ukraine, than the healthcare rollout, than the battles over same-sex marriage.

"Over 90 percent of the public say they are following the marijuana story closely," Todd said.

U.S.: President Obama Says Easing Up On Marijuana Is Congress's Job

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Barack Obama said in a new interview that it's up to Congress to remove marijuana from its listing as a Schedule I controlled substance, implying that he might support such a move.

In an interview with CNN that aired on Friday, Obama was asked about recent remarks he made to The New Yorker that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, reports Zeke J Miller at Time. The President was asked if he would push to remove cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of the most dangerous drugs.

"First of all, what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama replied.

"I stand by my belief, based, I think, on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge," the President said. "But as I said in the interview, my concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly, and in some cases, with a racial disparity."

A spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had tweeted on Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder could reclassify marijuana after a scientific review, but that it was "not likely given current science."

U.S.: Would Regulating Marijuana Like Tobacco Reduce Teen Use?

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Following Release of Federal Report on Drug Use, the Marijuana Policy Project Calls on NIDA to Investigate Whether Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol and Cigarettes Could Produce Similar Reductions in Use Among Teens

NIDA-sponsored Monitoring the Future Survey Shows Drop in Current Alcohol and Cigarette Use Among 8th-, 10th-, and 12-graders; Slight Increase in Current Marijuana Use Among 8th- and 10th-Graders and Slight Decrease Among 12th-Graders

Following the Wednesday release of a national survey on teen drug use, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) called on the agency to investigate whether regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could produce similar reductions in use among teens.

Cigarette and alcohol use continued their long-term decline, reaching the lowest point since the survey began polling teenagers in 1975. Also notable is the decline in "synthetic marijuana" use (that garbage actually has nothing to do with cannabis) in 2013.

According to the annual "Monitoring the Future" national survey on drug use, the current use of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among teens in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Current marijuana use increased slightly among 8th- and 10th-graders and decreased slightly among 12th-graders. Current use is defined as use within the past 30 days.

U.S.: Thursday Marks 80th Anniversary of End of Alcohol Prohibition

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Thursday, December 5 marks the 80th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which ended the prohibition of alcohol in 1933. The amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, passed in 1920, after more than a decade of increased crime, dangerously unregulated products, and a failure to reduce consumption convinced the American public prohibition was an ineffective and destructive way to attack the problems associated with substance use.

Alas, it was a lesson quickly forgotten. Decades later America repeated the mistake with the prohibition of drugs -- heir to all of the same problems as alcohol prohibition and then some.

As former prosecutor and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) board member James Gierach says, "Al Capone and other gangsters thrived when government outlawed what people wanted. When booze went legit with the 21st Amendment, mobsters had to wait only 40 years before government did it again with drugs. Same problem, same solution: legalize, license, regulate and tax."

Two comparisons with the current War On Drugs are particularly worthy of note.

First, the prohibition of alcohol was actually closer to what reformists today call “decriminalization” – the removal of criminal penalties for use and possession while sales, distribution and manufacture remain prosecutable offenses.

Colorado: Moms For Marijuana Activist Jenny Kush Killed By Drunk Driver

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A widely recognized marijuana activist was killed on a highway near Denver, Colorado, early Saturday morning, by a drunk driver with a long record of DUI arrests.

Jenny Kush, 34, the mother of four and a founding member of Moms For Marijuana, died after an SUV in which she was a passenger was struck head-on by a vehicle driving the wrong way in the HOV lane on Interstate 25 in the Denver area, reports Jonathan Vankin at Opposing Views.

The drunken driver, Rebecca Maez, 27, was reportedly too intoxicated to notice she had gone the wrong way up the exit ramp onto I-25. She was driving south in the northbound HOV lane when her car hit the vehicle driven by Kush's boyfriend just after midnight as the couple returned home from a concert.

Maez now faces charges of vehicular homicide in addition to another drunk driving violation.

"I had actually just talked to her about 10 minutes before the wreck happened," Paul Garrett, a friend of Kush's, told CBS Denver. "They were at a concert downtown. She was telling me about the t-shirt she got and how much fun she had had."

Kush's boyfriend, identified by activist "Rx MaryJane" as Jeremy Charles, was injured in the crash been has been released from the hospital.

U.S.: Federal Agency Takes Heat For Refusing To Admit Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One can kill you; the other doesn't. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

Well, it seems nothing is simple when it comes to federal bureaucrats, who demonstrated their tenuous grip on reality this week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a statement refuting a claim in a recent ad by the Marijuana Policy Project that described cannabis as being "less toxic" than alcohol. NIDA is part of the National Institute of Health, a federal agency.

"Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual," the agency lied.

Not surprisingly, MPP quickly fired back, rightly calling NIDA's statement "preposterous," reports David Knowles at the New York Daily News.

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report no marijuana-use-only deaths each year and there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the MPP. "It reports tens of thousands of people die from alcohol alone each year and hundreds die from acute overdose."

Citing statistics from the CDC, PolitiFact noted that there were 41,682 deaths attributed to alco0hol in 2010, while cannabis wasn't listed as the cause of any deaths.

Study: Frequent Users of Marijuana, Alcohol and Tobacco Already Know the Health Risks

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Users of marijuana and alcohol tend to know more about the health effects of those substances than those who abstain, according to new research.

The findings, drawn from a large sample of Swiss men, showed that men who regularly use marijuana, alcohol and tobacco looked for information about the health risks of those substances more than those who didn't use them, reports Tia Ghose of Fox News reports.

This calls into question the effectiveness of campaigns against substance abuse, which often count on scare tactics highlighting the health risks of drugs, according to the study, which was published in the International Journal of Public Health on July 11.

"When you know a lot about the risks and everything about the substances, it doesn't really bring you to consume less," said study coauthor Petra Dermota, a psychologist at the University of Zurich. "You even consume more." (Perhaps in the case of cannabis, at least, once folks have looked into it and learned it is virtually harmless, they aren't scared to use it anymore.)

To see whether health information kept people from using drugs, Dermota and her associates surveyed 12,000 men, all around age 20, who were entering the Swiss Army. Because the Swiss have universal, mandatory military service, the sample represents a cross-section of the young male population, Dermota said.

Australia: Alcohol Expert Says Legalize Marijuana To Protect Teens From Binge Drinking

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana should be legalized in order to help reduce binge drinking, which has a much stronger association with violence than any other drug of abuse, particularly among teens, the director of Australia's alcohol policy research board said on Tuesday.

It "makes sense to legalize marijuana in a controlled market," Robin Room told The Herald Sun. Room is director of Australia's Centre for Alcohol Policy Research; earlier this week he unveiled new ideas on how to curb binge drinking in Oz, reports Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story.

Some of his proposals include raising the legal drinking age, limiting sales to certain hours, creating a government monopoly to control all alcohol sales, lowering blood-alcohol limits for drivers, limiting the number of liquor stores, and taxing wine so that cheap wine is impossible to find.

He also threw his support to legalizing cannabis, saying it would particularly help teenagers who are most prone to injury from binge drinking.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers To Educate Voters At Portland Beer Festival

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The Marijuana Policy Project ­– which drew national attention with a pre-beer festival billboard in Portland, Oregon earlier this year – will distribute flyers in Portland, Maine, featuring a young woman explaining why she prefers to use marijuana instead of alcohol

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is backing the local ballot initiative to make marijuana legal for adults, will use a large beer festival being held in Portland, Maine this weekend as an opportunity to educate voters about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

In March, the organization drew national attention when it posted a billboard with the same message in Portland, Oregon just prior to a large beer and wine festival.

MPP staff and volunteers will distribute flyers near festival events that detail how marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to consumers and to the community. They feature a woman explaining why she prefers to use marijuana instead of alcohol, and asking, "Does that make me a bad person?"

"We want to make this weekend's beer festival just as educational as it is enjoyable," said David Boyer, Maine political director for MPP. "The goal is to get people thinking about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than the one that is being celebrated throughout the city this weekend.

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