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


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 The amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, passed in 1920, after more than a decade of increased crime, dangerously unregulated products, and a failure to reduce consumption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.

Florida: Billionaire Marijuana Philanthropist, Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter Lewis Dies


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Peter Lewis, the billionaire chairman of Progressive Insurance and a prominent donor to marijuana legalization, died Saturday afternoon at age 80 at his home in Coconut Grove, Florida, according to his adviser Jennifer Frutchy.

Lewis was a high-profile backer of drug-law reform, reports Luisa Kroll at Forbes. He spent almost $3 million on the November 2012 election, contributing $2 million to the I-502 marijuana legalization drive in Washington state and another $1 million to the medical marijuana effort in Massachusetts; both were successful.

"We were, of course, incredibly grateful for Mr. Lewis's significant contributions that made Initiative 502 possible," I-502 author Alison Holcomb told David Holley of Bloomberg News. "We're very hopeful that others will follow in the example he set."

Cynics pointed out that Progressive Insurance is the chief source of the auto insurance policies that those convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana in Washington (cannabis DUI) under I-502 will be forced to buy; 502, in addition to legalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot, created a whole new crime in Washington state, that of driving with more than 5 ng/ml of THC in the blood (previously, law enforcement had to prove actual impairment to make a DUI stick).

Colorado: Under Denver Ordinance Just The Odor Of Marijuana Could Get You A Year In Jail


"Bad News, Dude: If That Pot You're Smoking Smells Like Pot, It's Not Legal Anymore"

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems the minute marijuana legalization was approved by voters in Colorado and Washington, some politicians started trying to find ways to undermine the will of the people. Now, in Denver, the mere smell of marijuana wafting from your backyard could be illegal if the city council passes a new ordinance.

The ordinance, which will be introduced at Monday's city council meeting, comes in advance of legal retail marijuana sales, which are scheduled to begin in January, reports Jeremy Mayer at The Denver Post.

The ordinance would prohibit pot smoking in parks and in the 16th Street Mall, and would also ban toking in private property if it is "visible to the public," such as on your front porch or in a car, or if the odor of cannabis could be detected from neighboring property.

"Your activities should not pervade others' peace and ability to enjoy," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive," the Mayor claimed. "I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your back yard." The mayor didn't explain why we should have to smell his intolerance from ours.

If the ordinance is approved by the city council, the mayor will sign it and it will take effect immediately. Offenders could face a fine of $999 and up to a year in jail.

Study: We're #1! Marijuana is the Top 'Illegal Drug' Used Worldwide


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

We're Number One! Marijuana is the most popular "illegal drug" in the world, according to the first-ever global survey of illicit drug use, but widely used opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin and codeine kill the most people. (Cannabis, of course, has never killed anyone in history.)

In addition to cannabis and opioids, researchers looked at abuse of cocaine and amphetamines in 2010, based largely on previous studies, reports the Associated Press. Ecstasy and psychedelic drugs weren't included, due to lack of data.

The scientists found that for all drugs studied, men in the 20s had the highest rates of "abuse." The countries where drug use was most prevalent were Australia, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States. Results of the study were published online Thursday in the scientific journal The Lancet.

There were few solid numbers upon which to rely, according to the researchers, who came up with modeling techniques to reach estimates.

"Even if it is not very solid data, we can say definitely that there are drug problems in most parts of the world," said Theo Vos of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the study's senior author.

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


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.

New York: Staten Island Traffic Sign Hacked To Read 'Smoke Weed Every Day'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A portable traffic sign in Staten Island, New York, invited motorists to "SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY" after someone apparently broke into the machine and changed its text.

That phrase apparently wasn't the only pro-marijuana sentiment to flash on the traffic sign last weekend, with at least one other passerby posting an Instagram picture of the sign reading something similar, reports Ryan Lavis at the Staten Island Advocate.

The text on the portable sign was soon restored to its original message, warning drivers of shifting traffic patterns.

The Department of Design and Construction is currently overseeing a large sewer project in the area, but responsibility for the sign itself falls on the contractor for the site, according to DDC spokesman Joseph Soldevere.

The contractor corrected the sign on Monday and put on new locks, Soldevere said. Construction on the project should end next summer, he added.

(Photo: Mike Tompkins/Staten Island Advocate)

United States: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Looks To Expand After 2012 Victories

By Alex Dobuzinskis, Huffington Post

United States: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Looks To Expand After 2012 Victories After a decades-long campaign to legalize marijuana hit a high mark in 2012 with victories in Washington state and Colorado, its energized and deep-pocketed backers are mapping out a strategy for the next round of ballot-box battles.

They have their sights set on possible ballot measures in 2014 or 2016 in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first in the country to allow marijuana for medical use. Although those states more recently rejected broader legalization, drug-law reform groups remain undeterred.

"Legalization is more or less repeating the history of medical marijuana," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If you want to know which states are most likely to legalize marijuana, then look at the states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana."

A political arm of the alliance spent more than $1.6 million as one of the main funders of the Washington state campaign.

The passage of the ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state in November allowed personal possession of the drug for people 21 and older. That same age group will be allowed to buy the drug at special marijuana stores under rules set to be finalized next year.

Moment in History: 1985 Oregon Marijuana Initiative Petition Signature Turn-In

Learning from the Past; Looking to the Future

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! In 1985, the Oregon Marijuana Initiative (OMI), with petitioners including Jack Herer, Paul Stanford, John Sajo and countless others, collected over 87,000 signatures necessary to place the issue of legalization on the ballot.

In 1986, the initiative officially became Oregon's Ballot Measure 5. The measure, which sought to legalize cannabis, united activists' from across the state. By some estimates, cannabis was Oregon's largest cash crop in 1986.

The ballot measure was ultimately rejected by Oregon voters with 279,479 "Yes" and 781,922 "No" votes, or 26.33% support.

It has been 25 years since that vote and societal attitudes have continued to change toward cannabis. The prohibitionist propaganda has faded with time and the debunking of racist mythology. We are clearer in educating ourselves and others about this valuable plant. Medicinal cannabis has become legal in Oregon and across the country. Farmers are beginning to see the value that hemp could bring to our economy as well with hemp food, fuel, clothing, paper, building materials and so much more.

Oregonians for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2012 are currently circulating petitions for Initiative 9, to make hemp and cannabis legal in Oregon.

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