Reefer Madness

U.S.: Attorney General Sessions to Rescind Memo on State Cannabis Laws

Jeff Sessions

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Earlier this morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to rescind Obama-era guidance, aka the Cole Memo, which has generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference.

The Obama Justice Department deputy attorney general, who authored it in 2013, set out certain criteria that would allow states to implement their own laws mostly without intervention, if followed. The focus of the memo was interstate trafficking and abuse.

Illinois: High School Newspaper Confiscated For Cannabis Content


By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, prohibitionist administrators at Evanston Township High School confiscated an issue of the student newspaper, declaring it glorified drug use, drug dealing and promoted illegal conduct. Last week, at the meeting of the District 202 school board, the student journalists and first amendment legal advocates argued that the school may have violated state law by failing to show justification before confiscating the paper, which included coverage on cannabis use and policy.

United States: Trump Administration Rhetoric Against Cannabis Includes Mandatory Minimums

Sessions Trump

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In May, the Trump Administration upped its tough-on-crime rhetoric, which would put in place policies that would take our country back into the dark era of the 1980's. A memo last month from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which directed federal prosecutors to pursue the severest penalties possible for any crime, including drug offenses, sought mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes.

Sessions, recently proclaimed, “We know that drugs and crime go hand-in-hand. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business. If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it by the barrel of a gun.”

One of the key architects of Sessions' sentencing memo was Steven Cook, a former federal criminal justice prosecutor.

Study: Long-Term Marijuana Use Linked To Changes In Brain's Reward's System?


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sometimes you really have to wonder about the "scientific" studies which are being done on marijuana. Now there's a new one which says that because people who've smoked marijuana for years show more reaction to photos of objects used to smoke it than people who don't smoke marijuana when shown the same photos, that means cannabis "changes the reward system of the brain."

Researchers led by Dr. Francesca Filbey at the University of Texas at Dallas said they found that people who had used marijuana for 12 years, on average, showed "greater activity" in the brain's reward system when looking at pictures of objects used for smoking cannabis than when they looked at pictures of a "natural reward," their favorite fruits, reports Agata Blaszczak-Boxe at Fox News Health.

As if marijuana wasn't a natural reward, eh? It's no accident we have a human endocannabinoid system, people.

U.S.: 'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claims Debunked By Leading Researcher


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When a study was released last week claiming that marijuana use damages DNA, and that damage could be passed to one's children, of course it made headlines around the world. For many of us who have been acquainted with cannabis for a long time, the study sounded like nonsense, and now one of the field's leading researchers is calling "reefer madness" on the flawed study from Australia.

While the study from the University of Western Australia claims that smoking pot will give your kids cancer, cannabis has been shown in cell, animal, and limited human trials to prevent, halt, or kill cancer, researchers note, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. The study, released last week by Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at UWA, had the lengthy, scientific-sounding title, “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” and was published in the July 2016 issue of the journal Mutation Research.

Arizona: Halloween Billboard Highlights Fact That Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Alcohol


Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona on Monday launched a Halloween-themed billboard that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The orange and black ad, which satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style anti-marijuana propaganda, comes as opponents of the proposed initiative are ramping up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”

“Marijuana is illegal thanks to decades of anti-marijuana propaganda and fear mongering,” said campaign chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Once people find out it is actually safer than alcohol, they tend to agree it should not be a crime for adults to use it responsibly.

“Over the next 12 months, our opponents are going to do everything they can to scare Arizonans into keeping marijuana illegal,” Holyoak said. “We just want voters to remember that we’re talking about a substance that is proven to be less harmful than alcohol.”

Marijuana dependence is significantly less likely and less severe than than alcohol dependence, according to researchers at the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute more than 2,000 U.S. deaths per year to alcohol poisoning, whereas there has never been a confirmed marijuana poisoning death in history.

Indiana: Schools Debut Bogus 'Weed Goggles' To Illustrate Reefer Madness


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Schools and anti-marijuana groups in Hancock County, Indiana, are debuting "marijuana goggles" at a community event this weekend, in what they call an effort to "fight teen drug use."

"The goggles allow the teens to see through the eyes of someone who has been smoking, without ever lighting up themselves," reports Jessica Smith at WISH TV.

"It's a huge problem in our community, underage drinking and use of substances," said wide-eyed Blair Viehweg, a Mount Vernon senior. "A lot of friends and teammates I've had have gotten caught and I just think it would make our community a better place if we eliminated it."

The teens on the Hancock County Youth Council -- a group of teens from four different high schools, with the goal of keeping other young people from drinking or doing drugs -- tried the goggles for themselves, "so they could use them to warn other students."

"It just blows my mind," Viehweg said. "It's definitely crazy to think it can do something like that to you." Yeah, Blair... it definitely IS crazy to believe that.

The students, while wearing the "marijuana goggles," took part in a simulated driving exercise. The goggles unexplainably take away the ability to see the color red, which of course makes seeing brake lights and stop lights harder.

Exactly why "marijuana goggles" would do that wasn't explained. I mean, I've smoked weed almost every day since 1977, and I can still see red just as clearly as hell.

U.S.: PR Firm Refusing Offers To Work On Christie Campaign Due To Anti-Pot Stance


Hemp Public Relations on Tuesday announced that they are refusing all multi-million dollar offers to provide their expertise to Governor Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. For good measure, Hemp Public Relations has issued a lifetime ban on Christie for all company events.

“Governor Christie has publicly said as president, he would "crack down" on states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana," said Ryan McCormick, cofounder of Hemp Public Relations. "We feel that anyone who would threaten to subvert the will of the people and claim that their own personal ideology trumps that of the people is an affront to the very foundation of America.

"For this reason, Hemp Public Relations will refuse to work or assist the Christie campaign in any capacity for any amount of money,” McCormick said.

Hemp Public Relations helps individuals and businesses in the marijuana industry to achieve greater visibility in the public eye through the media. The company is founded by Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick, public relations professionals who are the creators of New York based Goldman McCormick PR ( and Legal PR Team (

U.S.: Legalized Marijuana Would Be Eliminated Under A Christie Presidency


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday promised to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska if he's elected president.

The rotund Republican, speaking on CBS' "Face The Nation," said his administration would use federal law outlawing marijuana to crack down on states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, reports Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media.

"Yes sir," Christie replied to host John Dickerson when asked if he'd go after Colorado and Washington for legalized marijuana.

"If you were President would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington state?" Dickerson asked. "Yes," Christie answered.

"So, if somebody's enjoying that now in their state, if you're President, that's getting turned off?" Dickerson pressed. "Correct," Christie responded.

The Obama Administration hasn't punished states which have legalized marijuana, nor has it forced them to roll back the initiatives that voters approved.

Christie, on the other hand, has been a vocal critic of cannabis legalization; ignoring science, he claims it's a "gateway drug."

Photo of Gov. Chris Christie: York Post

New York: Advocates Call NYPD's Statement Linking Marijuana and Shootings 'Reefer Madness'


Drug Policy Alliance: The Real Way to Address Violence Related to Marijuana is through Legalizing and Regulating It

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton this week gave a press conference about the rising number of shootings in NYC. Incredibly, Bratton went on to blame marijuana, of all things, for the increase in violence.

“Commissioner Bratton’s claims today about marijuana are straight out of the tired old drug war handbook and frankly, are ridiculous," said gabriel sayegh, managing director of policy and campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "What evidence is Bratton relying on in making these statements? Hasn’t he heard that correlation does not equal causation?

"Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the U.S. and in New York and, therefore, is far more likely to be found on New Yorkers than any other drug," sayegh said. "It appears that finding marijuana on the scene of a violent crime is enough for Bratton to assert a causal link.

"Using that rationale, we can make other causal links to violence – for instance, if police find a cell phone at the scene of a violent crime, then certainly the cell phone must cause that crime," sayegh said.

Utah: DEA Warns Rabbits May Stay High All The Time If Medical Marijuana Is Passed


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With even the Mormon-dominated state of Utah now considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of cannabis, it's clear that change is coming everywhere, regardless of political stripe.

But last week, that didn't stop an agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration from testifying to a Utah Senate panel that if the bill passes, the state's rabbits and other wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for marijuana and stay high all the time, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post .

"I deal in facts," claimed DEA Special Agent Matt Fairbanks, who's been working in Utah for a decade, as he warned the Senate of bhang-bombed bunnies. "I deal in science," said Fairbanks, who's a proud member of the "marijuana eradication" team in the state.

Fairbanks bragged about all the time he's spent pulling up back-country pot grows in the Utah mountains. He said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites, he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana."

"One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone," Fairbanks claimed of one stoned bunny.

Apparently the spectre of high hares wasn't scary enough to keep the Senate panel from approving the bill; it was sent to the full Utah Senate, where it will be debated this week.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Narrowly Fails At The Polls


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida's voters have narrowly rejected the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. A big majority of state voters voted in favor of medicinal cannabis, but state law requires a 60 percent majority to amend the Florida Constitution.

The Associated Press has projected that Amendment 2, Florida's medical marijuana constitutional amendment, which needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, has narrowly failed. With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, about 57 percent of voters voted yes.

The campaign was among the most expensive ballot measures in the country, reports the Associated Press, with millions spent on both sides. Twentieth-century Reefer Madness myths were pulled out and aired as fact as part of the misleading tactics used by the No On 2 side, funded largely by Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Florida lawmakers had passed a very limited, CBD-only "medical marijuana law" earlier this year to allow non-psychoactive strains of cannabis for epilepsy patients. But Amendment 2 supporters argued a more inclusive law was necessary to make medicinal cannabis available to a broader group of patients.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Unveil Halloween-Themed Mobile Billboard


Mobile Billboard Highlights the Relative Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Billboard satirizing ‘Reefer Madness’-style propaganda calls Question 2 ‘[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston’ because it would allow adults to use a substance that is ‘Less toxic! Less addictive! Less scary than ALCOHOL!’

Backers of the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston unveiled a Halloween-themed mobile billboard Tuesday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The orange and black billboard, which will run through Halloween, satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda and calls Question 2 “[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston” because it would allow adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”

Facts regarding the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol are available at .

Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.

The measure also expresses support for ending marijuana prohibition in Maine and regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.

Maine: Backers of Lewiston Marijuana Initiative To Launch Mobile Billboard


Halloween-themed Mobile Billboard Highlights the Relative Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Billboard satirizing ‘Reefer Madness’-style propaganda comes as opponents ramp up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults; ad calls Question 2 ‘[a] safer marijuana policy’ because it would allow adults to use a substance that is, ‘Less toxic! Less addictive! ‘Less scary than ALCOHOL!’

Backers of the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston, Maine, will launch a Halloween-themed mobile billboard on Tuesday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will hold a news conference in front of the billboard at 10 a.m. ET in Heritage Park. The ad will run through Halloween.

The orange and black billboard, which satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda, comes as opponents of Question 2 are ramping up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”

It calls Question 2 “[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston” because it would allow adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer. Facts regarding the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol are available at .

Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.

Australia: Researcher Claims Marijuana Causes Mental Disorders, Loss of Intelligence


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Surprise, surprise: When you summarize the results of 20 years' worth of the most anti-marijuana studies you can find, you get anti-marijuana conclusions. In what is being touted in sensationalistic press accounts as a "definitive study," an Australian is claiming that his investigation into 20 years of marijuana research shows that cannabis is addictive, causes mental health problems and is a gateway to hard drug use.

Professor Wayne Hall, a drug advisor to the World Health Organization and specialist in addiction at the University of Queensland in Australia, said that heavy, daily use of pot can also lead to car crashes and unhealthy babies. He arrived at this conclusion by hand-picking the most anti-marijuana studies from the past 20 years and passing them off as a "definitive new study."

U.S.: Share of Arrests For Marijuana Possession Tripled Since 1991


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With thousands of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders symbolizing the futility of the "War On Drugs," even some of the most ardent supporters of the punitive approach are starting to view the issue of marijuana use through a public health perspective, rather than from a criminal justice point of view.

That shift is evident at the infamous White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the dreaded ONDCP, which for decades has been the command center of the federal War On Drugs, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. The ONDCP now uses words like "balance" as key components of federal drug control strategy.

"Drug addiction is not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated," the ONDCP website reads. "Drug policy is a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue."

But unfortunately, law enforcement agencies haven't gotten the message. While the number of arrests for all offenses has declined nationwide since 1991, the share of those arrests related to simple cannabis possession has more than tripled over the same period.

Colorado: Gov. Hickenlooper Uses Scare Tactics In Marijuana Prevention Campaign


Hickenlooper’s Marijuana Prevention Campaign Eerily Reminiscent of Failed “This is Your Brain” Effort

Approach Emphasizes Scare Tactics over More Effective Reality-Based Education

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has introduced his administration’s marijuana prevention campaign to deter underage consumption -- and unfortunately, it uses scare tactics rather than a reality-based approach. The campaign is slated to waste $2 million of taxpayer money.

The theme of the campaign is marijuana’s potential impact on the developing adolescent brain, using the slogan “don’t be a lab rat.” The administration plans to place human sized rat cages throughout the city of Denver, particularly at high-traffic bus stops.

While flashy and memorable, the campaign has raised concerns among advocates who question the credibility of this approach. Drug policy reformers and prevention experts invoke the cynicism generated by 1980s-era scare tactic efforts such as the notorious “This is your brain on drugs” ad, widely recognized today as far more attention grabbing than drug deterring.

Advocates recommend instead an approach that focuses on credible drug education delivered through programs and initiatives that focus on overall youth health and development. Reality-based efforts engage students and prevent the cynicism resulting from simplistic scare tactics. Furthermore, to be successful, parents and/or guardians should be directly involved in drug education and prevention efforts.

California Narcotic Officers' Association Asks Obama To Retract Marijuana Comments


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A California association of drug cops on Monday asked President Obama to retract his recent comments concerning marijuana being no more harmful than alcohol.

"The California Narcotic Officers' Association takes strong issue with your comparison of marijuana and alcohol," CNOA president Steve Riddle wrote to Obama in an open letter. The letter suggests that Obama "reevaluate" his comparison of alcohol and marijuana.

"Today's marijuana is far more potent that the marijuana that you have so honestly acknowledged using during your teens and early adulthood," Riddle writes. "Moreover, the increasingly popular Butane Hash Oil exceeds 80 percent THC, making it far more potent than the marijuana of one to three percent THC that characterized your era. Additionally, I would ask that you consider your recent comments in light of the documented material on marijuana harms that are posted on the White House Website."

"The comments of the President of the United States -- on any issue -- are taken very seriously," Riddle's letter reads. "When the President speaks, the media, teachers, children, and for that matter, the world listen. This is particularly true when the President speaks on an issue that is at the forefront of our culture such as drug use.

"It's not enough for the President to simply say that drug use is 'not something I encourage,'" Riddle wrote. "When it comes to the use of drugs, it is imperative that the President of the United States 'discourage' their use."

Kentucky: GOP Lawmaker Offers To 'Fill Committee Room' With People Affected By Marijuana Deaths


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Will somebody please drag Kentucky Rep. Robert Benvenuti into the 21st Century? The Republican lawmaker, in a hearing on legalizing medical marijuana in his state, said the risks of pot are too high, and offered to "fill this committee room" with "parents of dead children based on the effects of marijuana."

Rep. Benvenuti's acute case of Reefer Madness brought some unintentional comedy to the proceedings, but it would be a lot funnier if this clown weren't in a position of power, denying life-saving medical treatments to patients with terminal and debilitating illnesses.

The fact-challenged legislator cited Kentucky's high rates of illegal and prescription drug abuse as reasons why it would be too dangerous to legalize medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State.

"I do not believe in the recreational use of marijuana," Benvenuti said, "and I could likewise fill this committee room with first responders, law enforcement officers and parents of dead children based on the effects of marijuana."

The assembled crowd was having trouble believing that a public official could make such an outlandish statement in a legislative hearing. As a protest started to spontaneously erupt from the crowd that marijuana is not a deadly substance, Rep. Benvenuti forged ahead.

"In driving intoxicated, in child abuse, we've already heard today from folks who talk about intoxicants and its role in child fatality and child abuse," he said. "So we need no more recreational drugs in Kentucky."

California: LA Weekly Claims Marijuana Can Kill Your Dog (It's Not True)


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You can count on some clueless mainstream reporter, on a regular basis, claiming that marijuana can "hurt your pets" or is "bad for Fido" (it's not true; cannabis is non-toxic to all mammals). But when a reporter covering the weed beat for an alternative weekly -- i.e., a guy who should know way better -- claims that pot can kill your pooch, it's time for a public correction.

That's just what fact-challenged reporter Dennis Romero does on the LA Weekly's website today. Romero, who has (badly, often inaccurately, and with an obnoxiously condescending, anti-pot tone) for years covered the marijuana beat for the Weekly, actually touts the spectre of Rover OD'ing on marijuana in his latest ridiculously embarrassing bit of non-reportage.

Romero hangs his execrable piece on the peg of a year-old study from the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care that supposedly found a "fourfold increase" in the number of dogs that "had to be treated" for "cannabis exposure" from 2005 to 2010.

But, you see, there are problems with Romero's assumptions, here. Chiefly among them is the assertion that any dog "had to be treated" for "cannabis exposure," since, simply put, marijuana doesn't hurt dogs.

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