Washington: Activists File Initiative to Legalize Cannabis

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

There is a truth that must be heard! SEATTLE (AP) - Five activists filed a ballot initiative Monday that would legalize all adult marijuana possession, manufacturing and sales under Washington state law - one of the most sweeping efforts at marijuana reform playing out around the country this year.

Its sponsors include two Seattle lawyers and the director of Seattle's annual Hempfest. They call themselves Sensible Washington, and say that in a time of dire budget woes, the state's government should stop spending money on police, court and jail costs for people who use or produce marijuana.

Douglas Hiatt, a lawyer who represents medical marijuana patients, told The Associated Press the proposal would remove all state criminal penalties for adults who possess, grow and distribute pot - no matter how much. Criminal penalties for juveniles who possess marijuana and for those who provide the drug to juveniles would remain in place.

Driving under the influence of the drug also would still be against the law. And marijuana would remain illegal under federal law.

"It basically tells the federal government, 'Hey it's your prohibition - if you want it, you pay for it,'" Hiatt said. "We're tired of screwing around and wasting all this dough."

Volunteers are lining up to collect the more than 241,000 signatures required to place the initiative on the November ballot, Hiatt said.

United States: Washington, Other States Move to Legalize

By RACHEL LA CORTE Associated Press Writer

United States: Washington, Other States Move to Legalize OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington is one of four states where measures to legalize and regulate marijuana have been introduced, and about two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the herb.

"In terms of state legislatures, this is far and away the most active year that we've ever seen," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which supports reforming marijuana laws.

Nadelmann said that while legalization efforts are not likely to get much traction in state capitals anytime soon, the fact that there is such an increase of activity "is elevating the level of public discourse on this issue and legitimizing it."

"I would say that we are close to the tipping point," he said. "At this point they are still seen as symbolic bills to get the conversation going, but at least the conversation can be a serious one."

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren't happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal.

"There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot," said Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas. "There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

California: Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative Suspends Signature Gathering - Because They Have Enough Already

by Phillip Smith, Stop the Drug War

California: Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative Suspends Signature Gathering - Because They Have Enough Already The Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 initiative, sponsored by Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, has laid off its paid signature gatherers, saying they already have sufficient signatures to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.

Lee told the Chronicle this afternoon that more than 650,000 signatures have been turned in, and that he expects an additional 50,000 or so to dribble in in the coming weeks. Precisely 433,971 valid signatures of registered California voters are required for an initiative to be approved for the ballot. That leaves Lee and the initiative a substantial cushion of about a quarter-million signatures to make up for any invalid signatures.

The campaign will wait to turn in signatures until January 15. If they were turned in this month, the initiative would appear on the June ballot, not the November ballot. Lee wants the initiative on the latter.

United States: Support for Legalizing Marijuana Grows Rapidly Around U.S.

Approval for medical use expands alongside criticism of prohibition

Would you support medical marijuana?

By Karl Vick, Washington Post Staff Writer

United States: Support for Legalizing Marijuana Grows Rapidly Around U.S. The same day they rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, residents of Maine voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana over the counter at state-licensed dispensaries.

Later in the month, the American Medical Association reversed a longtime position and urged the federal government to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, which equates it with heroin.

A few days later, advocates for easing marijuana laws left their biannual strategy conference with plans to press ahead on all fronts -- state law, ballot measures, and court -- in a movement that for the first time in decades appeared to be gaining ground.

"This issue is breaking out in a remarkably rapid way now," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Public opinion is changing very, very rapidly."

The shift is widely described as generational. A Gallup poll in October found 44 percent of Americans favor full legalization of marijuana -- a rise of 13 points since 2000. Gallup said that if public support continues growing at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year, "the majority of Americans could favor legalization of the drug in as little as four years."

Global: The Botany of Desire: Cannabis - Intoxication

"In every culture and in every age of history, an enormous amount of human energy has gone into the production, distribution and consumption of psychoactive plants." – Dr. Andrew Weil in The Botany of Desire

There is a truth that must be heard! Plants have always excelled at the science of biochemistry, drawing sustenance by converting the sun's energy into organic compounds, discovering ways of poisoning or sickening their predators, evolving sights, tastes and smells that enlist animals in their reproduction. But a few plants have hit upon an especially ingenious approach to ensuring their survival, producing chemicals that have the power to alter how humans experience the world.

Cannabis—more commonly known as marijuana—seems to have long ago adopted a strategy of tying its fortunes to humans, appealing in particular to our innate desire to alter consciousness, a desire that spans nearly every culture and historical period. In exchange, humans have gone to extraordinary lengths, often at their own peril, to help the plant grow and reproduce.
Just what is the knowledge held out by a plant such as cannabis--and why is it forbidden?

Though marijuana has been in use in one form or another for as long as history has been recorded, the plant has undergone its greatest transformation only in the last few decades. Ironically, that change occurred just at the moment when the future of the plant seemed most in doubt.

California: Cannabis Tax Has $1.4B Potential

Proponents, Including Medical Marijuana Users, Say Untaxed Marijuana Means Needed Revenue Is Going Up in Smoke

By John Blackstone, CBS News

There is a truth that must be heard! (CBS) There is talk in California of what you could call a radical idea for the cash-poor state to raise money. It's controversial, but proponents say the plan could smoke out more than a billion dollars for the state, as CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

It is an unusual commercial: taxpayers demanding a new tax. It's an offer by marijuana users to help the state's battered budget.

"We're marijuana consumers. We want to pay our fair share."

It's estimated that $14 billion worth of marijuana is sold illegally in the state. Making it legal and taxing it at $50 dollars an ounce would bring in approximately $1.4 billion a year. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has been pushing the idea.

"I thought it was high time - no pun intended - that this was on the table," he said.

As many see it, marijuana is already virtually legal in California where state law allows it for medical use.

At one Los Angeles dispensary, The Farmacy, the cannabis comes in buds so you can smoke it of course, but you don't have to. There's also cookies and candy bars, also drinks with cannabis as the active ingredient, and gelato - so you can take your medicine like ice cream or lollipops.

One dispensary gave out free pot to anyone with a valid prescription. The line was out the door.

California: Tax Officials: Legal Pot Would Bring $1.4B

By MARCUS WOHLSEN, Associated Press

There is a truth that must be heard! SAN FRANCISCO – A bill to tax and regulate marijuana in California like alcohol would generate nearly $1.4 billion in revenue for the cash-strapped state, according to an official analysis released Wednesday by tax officials.

The State Board of Equalization report estimates marijuana retail sales would bring $990 million from a $50-per-ounce fee and $392 million in sales taxes.

The bill introduced by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano in February would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess, grow and sell marijuana.

Ammiano has promoted the bill as a way to help bridge the state's $26.3 billion budget shortfall.

"It defies reason to propose closing parks and eliminating vital services for the poor while this potential revenue is available," Ammiano said in a statement.

The way the bill is written, the state could not begin collecting taxes until the federal government legalizes marijuana. A spokesman says Ammiano plans to amend the bill to remove that provision.

The legislation requires all revenue generated by the $50-per-ounce fee to be used for drug education and rehabilitation programs. The state's 9 percent sales tax would be applied to retail sales, while the fee would likely be charged at the wholesale level and built into the retail price.

United States: First-Ever Nationwide Pro-Marijuana TV Ad Campaign Is Launched in Conjunction with 4/20

By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

There is a truth that must be heard!Boulder, Colorado: I have every reason to believe that 4/20 in 2009 will be the biggest and most momentous one to date as NORML launches 7,770 nationwide TV ads that advocate for cannabis law reform; NORML expects record numbers of supporters to join the organization for the celebratory one-day price of $4.20 because, I believe, there is a palpable zeitgeist in America right now favoring reform; the Obama administration appears amenable to some cannabis law reforms in ways that no prior president since Jimmy Carter has embraced; and lastly, with NORML’s nearly 600,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook and nearly 67,000 MySpace, more Americans than ever before who are keen on cannabis can create a viral effect that benefits reform.

Here in Boulder between 10,000-15,000 students and activists are expected to celebrate in what has become the biggest 4/20 event in the world.

United States: Dr. Ron Paul and Stephen Baldwin Debate Marijuana Legalization on Larry King

By Ms Sylence Dogood, Hemp News Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! This editorial is in regards to the video (posted above) of the debate about the Legalization of Marijuana between Congressman Ron Paul (R) and Actor Stephen Baldwin.

When can we find someone who will debate against medical marijuana and/or legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults who actually has actually read any research, studies, and statistics which back up their arguments? This time the chosen spokesperson is the actor, Stephen Baldwin. Wait, what? Stephen Baldwin? Is he an expert in anything other than sophomoric comedy?

NORML: California Assemblyman Introduces Legislation To Tax And Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

Speaking at a landmark press conference today, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced comprehensive legislation to tax and regulate the commercial production and sale of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.

“With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes”, Assemblyman Ammiano said. “California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana.”

The proposal is the first marijuana legalization bill ever introduced in California.

“It’s time for California taxpayers to stop wasting money trying to enforce marijuana prohibition, and to realize the tax benefits from a legal, regulated market instead,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, a sponsor of the bill.

MAP: Letter Of The Week - Calvin C. Acuff, M.D.

By Calvin C. Acuff, M.D.

I was a youngster when Franklin Roosevelt ran for president promising, among other things, to repeal Prohibition. My parents didn't want alcohol to be legalized. However, since then I have realized Prohibition was a tremendous idea, but one that didn't work because people were determined to drink and they got liquor from bootleggers, moonshiners or imported by Joe Kennedy ( making him fabulously wealthy ). Today alcohol is freely available and is controlled fairly well and taxed.


[MAP - Cannabis]

China: Oldest Marijuana Stash Found in Gobi Desert Grave

By Ethan Russo, Oxford University Press

Here is a great slideshow of pictures from the world's Oldest Marijuana Stash Found in Gobi Desert Grave.


[NORML Audio Stash]

Montana: Ex-Missoula neurologist pens paper on old stash


A 2,700-year-old bowl of marijuana, the world’s oldest pot stash, has been unearthed from a tomb in central China.

“The evidence all indicates that there was intent to utilize this cannabis for psychoactive purposes,” said Ethan Russo. “What we’ve found here is the oldest, clear-cut and proven sample of psychoactive cannabis in the world.”

Russo, who for 24 years worked as a neurologist in Missoula and still serves as a pharmacology faculty affiliate at the University of Montana was lead author on a paper describing the find, published this month in the peer-reviewed “Journal of Experimental Botany.”

The tomb, Russo said, belonged to “a shaman, or a chief, someone of extremely high stature.”

Found alongside the skeleton and the 2 pounds of marijuana were several other items, including horse bridles, archery equipment and a harp. (No pipes were found, however, and Russo remains uncertain as to whether the marijuana was to be smoked or ingested in the afterlife.)

The site is located amid the Yanghai Tombs, near Turpan in China’s Gobi Desert region. Locals stumbled across the sprawling graveyard some two decades back, while digging irrigation wells, but it was not until 2003 that formal archaeological investigations were launched.

To date, Russo said, only 500 or so of the 2,500 graves there have been excavated.

Europe: Report urges regulated market for cannabis to replace prohibition

By Duncan Campbell, The Guardian

UK: A report on cannabis prepared for next year's UN drug policy review will suggest that a "regulated market" would cause less harm than the current international prohibition. The report, which is likely to reopen the debate about cannabis laws, suggests that controls such as taxation, minimum age requirements and labelling could be explored.

The Global Cannabis Commission report, which will be launched today at a conference in the House of Lords, has reached conclusions which its authors suggest "challenge the received wisdom concerning cannabis". It was carried out for the Beckley foundation, a UN-accredited NGO, for the 2009 UN strategic drug policy review.

There are, according to the report, now more than 160 million users of the drug worldwide. "Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," according to the report. "Historically, there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, whereas alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone."

The report, compiled by a group of scientists, academics and drug policy experts, suggests that much of the harm associated with cannabis use is "the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment." Policies that control cannabis, whether draconian or liberal, appear to have little impact on the prevalence of consumption, it concluded.

Oregon: Enforcement Vs Regulation

By Hannah Guzik, Tidings correspondent

By the 1930s, using marijuana was illegal in Oregon and it has remained that way -- except for medicinal use -- ever since. A group of local residents is aiming to reverse history.

The Legalize Ashland organization hopes to make adult marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority and legalize the production of industrial hemp by May 2009.

Eventually the activists want to make legal recreational use of pot, giving it a similar status as alcohol, according to their Web site and MySpace page.

"It is time for Ashland's laws to reflect the priorities of its citizens. The majority of the citizens of Ashland believe that spending money on the enforcement of misdemeanor possession of marijuana is a waste of budget resources, and that public policy should reflect this," the group's Web site states.

Group members did not respond to e-mail messages sent to the address listed on the Web site.

The site states that the group held a meeting Sept. 13 at the Ashland Public Library to discuss putting an initiative on the city ballot next year.

A handful of cities across the country, including Seattle and Oakland, have passed similar laws.

Dan Rubenson, an economics professor at Southern Oregon University, said he would like to see a serious discussion about the implications of legalizing pot.

"I see us spending huge amounts of money for prosecuting and especially for incarcerating people for what I see as victimless crimes and so, from that perspective, I say, 'Let's talk about this,'" he said.

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