Tagged: marijuana

Painkiller deaths reduced by 25% in states with medical marijuana

States that have legalized medical marijuana tend to experience an unexpected benefit — fewer overdose deaths from narcotic painkillers…

Access to medical marijuana is associated with 25 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths each year compared to states where medical pot is illegal, according to findings published Aug. 25 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

What’s more, states that pass medical marijuana laws see their overdose death rates decrease dramatically in the years immediately afterward…

The study authors believe that people suffering from chronic pain tend to rely on medical marijuana when they have that option, which reduces the risk of addiction and overdose that accompanies use of narcotic medications.

The study used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the prescription painkiller overdose death rate for each state between 1999 and 2010, and then took into account whether and when each state had passed a medical marijuana law…

Critics are trying hard to come up with rationales that support continued reliance on the profitable trade in prescription painkillers – and don’t confront idjit ideology that says cannabis is the Antichrist.

Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have skyrocketed over the past two decades, increasing 118 percent between 1999 and 2011, according to the CDC.

The agency estimates that every day 113 people die from drug overdoses in the United States, and another 6,700 land in the emergency room from an overdose…

States’ overdose death rates decline an average 20 percent in the first year following the passage of a medical marijuana law, the researchers found. By the second year, overdose death rates on average decline 25 percent, and as much as 33 percent by five years after legalization of medical pot.

Medical marijuana laws also are associated with a more dramatic decrease in overdose death rates than other means commonly used to tackle prescription drug abuse, the study noted.

There is no reason for Congressional opposition to medical marijuana other than it may cut down contributions from amoral corporations chartered to profit from pain and illness.

Creeps like Mitch McConnell and Erik Paulsen may as well take their contributions directly from the drug cartels instead of the painkiller producers. Cut out the middleman.

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Governor Susana opposes decriminalizing marijuana – and she really hates folks turning out to vote on it!

NM weed

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she opposes efforts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe to reduce marijuana possession penalties.

Martinez said at an event in Bernalillo that marijuana possession is illegal under federal law and she believes that’s the way it should remain. She called current penalties appropriate.

The Santa Fe city clerk said Monday that petitioners seeking to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana garnered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot…And Albuquerque city councilors voted Monday to ask voters whether they supported reduced penalties, although Mayor Richard Berry could veto the measure. [Count on it!]

Martinez called the efforts political moves to get young voters to the polls

Governor Susana’s statement – rooted in RNC ideology – the larger concern is that allowing marijuana initiatives to be placed on a ballot will result in a higher voter turnout primarily among younger people who might otherwise not vote – which has proven to reduce the prospects for Republican candidates being elected.

Thanks, Mike

High Time to repeal Prohibition, again!

NY TIMES Editorial

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws…

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide…

We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

Nice to see someone as safe and stodgy as the NY TIMES get off their rusty-dusty on questions about marijuana. And it’s worth a smile reading their comment about no expectations of this Congress doing anything about legalization – since they’re incapable of addressing any other national priorities either.

A worthwhile sign of the times we live in – a time when citizens in general are marching light-years ahead of politicians in Congress and even local and state politicians can be pushed into voting for somewhat sensible regulation of America’s favorite weed.

Oregon coppers arrest couple after 8-hour standoff which included mooning the SWAT Team

standoff

An Oregon man and his girlfriend were arrested Saturday after an eight-hour standoff with police that involved marijuana, Mountain Dew and the male anatomy.

James Marco Bryan and girlfriend Carrie Hurley refused to surrender to police when the authorities attempted to bring Bryan in on outstanding warrants for reckless driving and absconding.

The 44-year-olds were so uncooperative that the Oregon State Police SWAT team was called in.

“He was kicking out windows, yelling and screaming, standing in the window making gestures with his penis and showing his buttocks in the nude,” Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover told the Oregonian. “At one point, he was wanting a pack of cigarettes, a Mountain Dew, some marijuana.”

The house that Bryan and Hurley were holed up in also had signs outside that contained “some graffiti-style writings like supremacist-type group stuff.”

During the standoff, the couple called local TV station KATU to complain about the Clatskanie police…

After authorities eventually used tear gas to subdue the suspects, Hurley was charged with hindering prosecution and Bryan was charged with resisting arrest, indecent exposure and first-degree criminal mischief.

The United States is an equal opportunity country when it comes to looneybirds.

Research OK — doesn’t say anything about Reefer Madness!

Correlation does not equal causation, and a single exam cannot show a trend over time. Basic stuff, right?

But judging by coverage of a study just out in the Journal of Neuroscience, these are apparently foreign concepts for many folks in the media.

In the study, researchers at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Northwestern University in Chicago performed MRI brain scans on 20 young adult “casual” marijuana users and 20 age- and sex-matched nonusers. They found that, in the users, gray matter densities in the nucleus accumbens were higher than in controls, and the right amygdala and left nucleus accumbens were shaped differently.

Interesting, but remember that these findings only reflected differences between the marijuana users and controls at a single point in time. The researchers did not, could not, demonstrate that the differences resulted from marijuana smoking or even that the “abnormalities” relative to controls reflected changes from some earlier state.

You wouldn’t know that from the media coverage.

RTFA for a small sampling of almost universal crap

…Note that the study did not identify any cognitive or behavioral abnormalities in the cannabis users versus controls — it was strictly an MRI study.

That, however, didn’t stop senior author Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern from opining in the SfN press release that the study “raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences.”

Um, no, it doesn’t — not without before-and-after MRI scans showing brain structure changes in users that differ from nonusers and documentation of functional impairments associated with those changes.

Further studies may – or may not – indicate one or another cause-and-effect relationship. That kind of study must be constructed differently than this one. And hopefully the press release and editors who get the email won’t be in a hurry to construe the study as something it isn’t.

Maryland lawmakers vote to decriminalize marijuana

State lawmakers in Maryland’s House of Delegates voted Saturday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The state’s Senate has already approved a similar measure – but some changes made by the House would still need to be approved by the Senate in order to pass the bill before the legislative session ends at midnight Monday…

Some of the “decriminalized” penalties are crap and overblown. No doubt to be reduced at a later date.

Maryland’s Democratic governor will review the bill if it passes the General Assembly, said Nina Smith, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley…

Republicans had introduced several amendments to the bill – such as requiring a public service campaign highlighting the dangers of smoking, or letting it remain a criminal offense to smoke pot in public. None of the measures made it through.

“We don’t have to notify the public that they’re not supposed to use marijuana,” said Delegate Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery. “It’s still illegal.”

Much of Saturday’s debate focused on whether decriminalization would encourage teens to smoke marijuana…

Dumais said a better way to deal with drug abuse is to encourage treatment, rather than imprisonment.

Arguments in support of the bill tended to focus on racial disparities in drug law enforcement. The American Civil Liberties Union found last year that black people in Baltimore are 5.6 times more likely than the city’s white residents to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Golly gee. Maryland politicians actually noticed that racial disparity, eh? Must be gaining slightly better vision – along with a touch of backbone.

No correlation between medical marijuana legalization and crime

The legalization of medical marijuana has sparked debate across the nation for decades…Some have argued that medical marijuana’s legalization will lead to higher crime rates. But according to a new study at UT Dallas, legalization of medical cannabis is not an indicator of increased crime.

It actually may be related to reductions in certain types of crime, said Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of criminology and lead author of the study…

The UT Dallas team began its work in summer 2012 after repeatedly hearing claims that medical marijuana legalization posed a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crime.

The study tracked crime rates across all 50 states between 1990 and 2006, when 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use…Since the time period the study covered, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Using crime data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the researchers studied rates for homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft, teasing out an effect for the passing of medical marijuana laws…

None of the seven crime types increased with the legalization of medical marijuana…

While it’s too soon to say if there are definitive drawbacks to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Morris said, the study shows that legalization does not pose a serious crime problem, at least at the state level.

Anyone with a studied view of crime and criminology isn’t in the least bit surprised by the finding. If you pay attention to what makes crime a growth industry – we usually witness the quest for scarce goods dramatically and artificially shaped by restrictions that have nothing to do with reality.

Cannabis is no more deleterious to human beings than alcohol. As thoroughly as I advise moderation in food and drink, especially booze, I would encourage the same about cannabis consumption. In fact, in my own life I don’t even drink beer anymore though I appreciate it as a natural product of fermentation just like the bread I bake every week.

If and when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use here in New Mexico, I’ll hunt down a recipe for Alice Toklas brownies. Probably make one batch for family consumption. And never bother again.

That has nothing to do with the need to support an end to the stupidity that infects our legal system.

Is your banker ‘Dazed and Confused’ over White House assurances about banking for pot dealers?

OK. So, maybe Dazed and Confused isn’t the pot classic that Up in Smoke is, but the cult coming-of-age film set in the ’70s featured enough grass to rank as Rolling Stone’s No. 2 “Stoner Movie of All Time.” More important, Dazed and Confused seems to perfectly capture the reaction to Friday’s announcement from the Justice and Treasury Departments aimed at addressing the biggest challenge facing the almost-legal marijuana industry today — lack of access to banks.

Banks have refused to do business with marijuana dispensaries operating within the bounds of state laws for fear of being prosecuted themselves. Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug on par with heroin, which means a bank doing business with a marijuana shop can be accused of money laundering and racketeering. This has left dispensaries in the 20 states and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana distribution in a challenging position; they can’t let their bankers know how they make money…

Friday’s moves by the Justice and Treasury Departments gave many hope that the Feds were making significant changes to address this banking problem. Instead, the memos show that the industry is still dealing with a basic issue: Despite all the changes to state laws, popular support and President Obama’s recent remark that he considers marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol, marijuana is still 100% illegal under federal law. So, it’s no wonder you might be dazed and confused listening to the reactions that followed the release of the memos…

The Colorado Bankers Association calls this guidance a red light for banks, stating, “At best, this amounts to ‘serve these customers at your own risk,’ and it emphasizes all of the risks…Where does this leave the fledgling multi-billion dollar industry? Very much where it’s been.

Although marijuana entrepreneurs are increasingly comfortable starting businesses under permissive state laws and a federal “look the other way” policy, the federally regulated banking system needs certainty

Trish Regan ends the piece by trivializing it all as election year politics. As cynical as I am, I don’t share the politics of many of those at Bloomberg. I’d like to presume that Obama and Holder went to the trouble of calling for opening service to the pot trade to save folks a lot of hassles. That brings in as many or more votes than a John Boehner tap dance.

She and Matt Miller got into a heated discussion on camera over the piece and though they both wasted time trying to talk over each other, I think she made the most sense. Fact is – and I’ve checked with my personal community banker, again – your community bank isn’t anymore likely than a chain store bank to open an account for a pot dealer who’s obeying all the local laws until and unless they receive assurances that would satisfy the most anal regulator.

US banks can accept legal marijuana money – if you believe?

The Obama administration has sought to lessen the fear of prosecution for banks doing business with licensed marijuana companies, further encouraging US states such as Colorado and Washington that are experimenting with legalising the drug.

The Justice and Treasury departments outlined the policy in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide…

The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks, but made clear that criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes was unlikely if they met a series of conditions…

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, and they therefore refuse to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses, the AP news agency reported.

The guidance was intended to increase the availability of banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to marijuana shops that typically deal in cash. Forced to deal in cash because of federal policy…

US Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that the administration was planning ways to accommodate marijuana businesses so they would not always be dealing in cash.

“There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective,” Holder said on January 23…

The American Bankers Association expressed scepticism that the guidance would make much difference…Marijuana sales still violate federal law, so banks are still at risk, said Rob Rowe, a lawyer with the trade group.

“Compliance by a bank will still require extensive resources to monitor any of these businesses, and it’s unlikely the benefits would exceed the costs,”…

I asked my favorite banker about this – and received the same answer given by Rowe. As long as the Feds base their practices on existing law, there’s no one willing to be the test case after being arrested for violating federal banking regulations. Even if the DOJ says go ahead – we won’t bust you.

Why should a bank trust pronouncements from a political body unwilling or unable to change their own regulations?

County fair traditions will include pot in Denver


Canning, crafts and…cannabis

Colorado’s Denver County is adding cannabis-themed contests to its 2014 summer fair. It’s the first time pot plants will stand alongside tomato plants and homemade jam in competition for a blue ribbon.

There won’t actually be any marijuana at the fairgrounds. The judging will be done off-site, with photos showing the winning entries. And a live joint-rolling contest will be done with oregano, not pot.

But county fair organizers say the marijuana categories will add a fun twist on Denver’s already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant and a contest for dioramas made with Peeps candies…

The nine marijuana categories include live plants and clones, plus contests for marijuana-infused brownies and savory foods. Homemade bongs, homemade roach clips and clothing and fabric made with hemp round out the categories.

Judges will look only at plant quality, not the potency or quality of the drugs they produce. Other contests — patterned after Amsterdam’s famed Cannabis Cup — already gauge drug quality and flavor.

Top prize is $20, plus of course a blue ribbon. The fair already has a green ribbon — awarded for using environmentally conscious methods…

Wait till we get legal ganja in New Mexico. I haven’t even had a contact high in 20 years – and I’m not likely to start smoking dope. But, I bet I could come up with a cashew, cannabis and sultana brownie that could challenge folks up north.