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Posts from the ‘Education’ Category

30
Jan

Smoking Pot Affects Employment Opportunities

For example, many high school graduates go into the military service.  In a recent article by Rob Powers at About.Com, he reported…

“Individuals applying to join the active duty Army, the Army Reserves, and Army National Guard are given a drug test as part of their medical physical at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Individuals who test positive for marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine may still enlist (with a waiver), if they pass a re-test after a specified waiting period.

Waiting periods are required under the following circumstances: Positive for marijuana and alcohol

  • If applicant’s first test is positive, he/she must wait 45 days for retest. (Recruiting battalion commander is the waiver approval authority.)
  • If applicant’s second test is positive, he/she must wait 1 year for a retest. (The Commanding General, HQ Army Recruiting Command is the waiver approval authority.) •If applicant’s third test is positive, he/she is permanently disqualified. Positive for cocaine •If applicant’s first test is positive, he/she must wait 1 year for a retest. (Recruiting battalion commander is the approval authority.)
  • If applicant’s second test is positive, he/she is permanently disqualified. Positive for drugs other than marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine
  • If applicant’s first test is positive, he/she is permanently disqualified. Prior service personnel
  • Prior service personnel who test positive at MEPS for any illegal drug or alcohol are permanently disqualified. All applicants who test positive will be required to have police records check accomplished as part of the waiver process regardless of any admission or record of civil offenses.
  • Applicants with an approved drug alcohol test waiver are prohibited from enlisting in any MOS or option that requires a security clearance.”

Read the article http://usmilitary.about.com/od/armyjoin/a/drugtestpos.htm

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30
Jan

American Society of Addiction Medicine on Pot

The American Society of Addition Medicine says Marijuana is a mood-altering drug capable of producing dependency. Its chief active ingredient is THC (delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol), but there are many other ingredients.

Marijuana has been shown to have adverse effects on memory and learning, on perception, behavior and functioning, and on pregnancy. Because of the widespread use of this drug, its effects on mind and body, and the increasing potency of available supplies.

Persons suffering from alcoholism and other drug dependencies should be educated about the need for abstinence from marijuana and its role in precipitating relapse, even if their original drug of choice is other than marijuana.

Treatment programs providing addictions treatment for chemically dependent patients should include tests for cannabinoids with other drug test panels and consider test results when designing treatment plans.

Read the report ASAM Statement on Marijuana

29
Jan

Joints Per Pound

Ever wonder what a pound of marijuana really is — how many joints can be made from a pound of Marijuana.

Of course there are variables, but at .5 grams of marijuana per points, one pound makes about 900 joints — almost 3 a day for a year! (Using half a gram per joint, 28.35 grams per ounce and 16 ounces per pound.)

Recently a Oregon man with a “medical marijuana” card was found in Idaho with almost 69 pounds of marijuana on his way to Utah.  He claimed it was legal because he had a card.  That was over 62,000 joints worth of pot headed for Utah consumption.

27
Jan

Neighborhood Crime Stoppers Watch Out for Pot Grows

As a concerned citizen, you can cast a watchful eye on the neighborhood looking for “marijuana grow operatioss” — houses used to grow marijuana in bulk.

There are a number of indicators, which may assist you in identifying a potential Marijuana Grow Operation in your neighbourhood, these include:

  • Rarely does anyone appear to be at home.
  • Visitors come and go at odd hours, entering/leaving the home quickly often through the garage and only for brief periods of time.
  • They avoid contact with neighbours. Windows are kept closed and covered to conceal activities inside.
  • Condensation may be present on window panes.  [There are numerous vents to remove excessive heat use to make the plants grow faster.]
  • Equipment used in the growing operation such as large fans, lights, plastic plant containers or bags of potting soil are carried into the home.
  • Sounds of construction or electrical humming from equipment may be heard.
  • If the home is serviced with an underground hydro service, evidence of digging in the soil around the hydro meter may be the indication of an electrical by-pass. There may be localized surges and decreases in power.
  • Strange odours are coming from the house. Marijuana plants produce a unique skunk-like odour that you may occasionally smell, usually at dusk and dawn.
  • Exterior appearance of the property may be untidy. There is little outside maintenance done (unshovelled snow, uncut grass, etc.), and garbage bags containing used soil and plant material may be discarded in areas surrounding the house or loaded into a vehicle for disposal.
  • Mail delivered to the house may not be collected regularly resulting in an overflowing mailbox.
  • Warning signs are posted in windows or around the outside of the building. These may warn people to “Beware of Dog” or that “Guard Dogs” are on the property.

Marihuana Grow Operations pose a number of potential risks and dangers to the neighbourhoods, in which they exist, including:

  • POISONOUS FUMES – These may result from alterations made to the chimney venting of furnaces and hot water heaters, from chemicals used in the growing process, or from moulds that flourish in these warm moist environments.
  • FIRES – Overloaded electrical systems, improper wiring and the extreme heat generated by high intensity light bulbs increase the potential for fire. A fire in a Marijuana Grow Operation has the potential to spread to neighbouring homes and present increased risks to fire fighters.
  • ELECTROCUTION – Improper wiring pose risks to the occupants and visitors to the Marijuana Grow Operations. Electrical bypasses are done to facilitate the theft of electricity and they create a potential for electrocution to persons outside the home as the ground near the home may become charged with electricity.
  • VIOLENCE – Operators of Marijuana Grow Operations often arm themselves with weapons, as they are potential targets of “home invasion” style robberies. This raises the risk for confrontation between the protectors and the invaders, as well as risk to police during a search warrant entry. Residents in neighbouring homes may fall victim to a “home invasion”, where the invaders target the wrong home.
  • INCREASED CRIME – Money to purchase illicit drugs, including marijuana is often derived from some form of criminal activity (theft, fraud, robbery), which poses both a financial risk and a potential risk of physical harm to all members of society.
  • BOOBY TRAPS – Traps may be set by the operators of Marijuana Grow Operations to protect their product from unauthorized persons entering the home or property. These traps represent a danger to the trespassers and to emergency responders.
  • HIGHER UTILITY COSTS – The cultivation of marijuana requires large amounts of water and electricity. To reduce costs operators of Marijuana Grow Operations will steal these utilities from or from the utility provider a neighbour. The cost for these thefts is borne the neighbour or by the utility providers, who in turn pass the costs on to all customers in the form of increased billing rates.
  • STRUCTURAL DAMAGE – Houses used as Marijuana Grow Operations are frequently modified to suit the needs of the growing operation. These modifications may affect the structural integrity of the home, as they do not comply with the Ontario Building Code. High humidity from the grow operation may also cause damage to the structure of the home or may cause excessive mould growth which may impact the health of future occupants.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE – Chemicals used in the grow operations may discharged onto the surrounding soil or dumped offsite in some other non-environmentally friendly manner.
  • HAZARDS TO CHILDREN – During investigations police have found children or evidence of children having been present in Marijuana Grow Operations. There are significant long-term health risks for children who live in or visit grow operations. Additionally the end product marijuana supplied to children is viewed by some as a gateway drug to harder drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine.

Source: http://www.nrps.com/community/marijuana.asp

24
Jan

Judge says Federal Law Trumps Montana’s Medical Pot Law

HELENA, Mont.—A judge has ruled that Montana’s medical marijuana law doesn’t shield providers of the drug from federal prosecution, delivering a new blow to an industry reeling from a state and federal crackdown.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Friday dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by 14 individuals and businesses that were among more than two dozen medical marijuana providers raided by federal agents last year across Montana.

The providers claimed the raids violated their constitutional rights in part because state law passed by voter initiative in 2004 allows them to grow and produce the drug for medical consumption.

Molloy wrote in his order that the providers can be prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act even if they are following state law. He cited a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause applies in medical marijuana cases.

The supremacy clause says that federal law prevails if there is any conflict between state and federal statutes.

“Whether the plaintiffs’ conduct was legal under Montana law is of little significance here, since the alleged conduct clearly violates federal law,” Molloy wrote. “We are all bound by federal law, like it or not.”

The medical marijuana providers also argued that the Justice Department had said it would not prosecute them, citing a 2009 agency memo called the Ogden Memo after its author, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden.

In that memo, Ogden wrote that federal prosecutors would not pursue “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

Molloy wrote that Ogden’s memo was not a free pass to produce and consume marijuana, and the memo itself says complying with state law does not create a legal defense to violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

“A reasonable person, having read the entirety of the Ogden Memo, could not conclude that the federal government was somehow authorizing the production and consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he wrote.

Carl Jensen, a Great Falls attorney representing the medical marijuana providers, said Molloy’s ruling should serve as a warning to other providers still operating in the state.

“The supremacy clause has been used by the federal government to hammer anything they want to,” Jensen said. “Absolutely, they should be concerned. If the federal government ever decides it wants to go after them, it can.”

Timothy Baldwin, another plaintiffs’ attorney, said he, Jensen and their clients were discussing whether to appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This is too important for us not to appeal to the 9th Circuit,” Baldwin said. “It’s disappointing to see how the states have essentially paved a path for citizens to engage in what they believe is lawful activity, only to set them up for federal intrusion like this.”

U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Jessica Fehr said federal prosecutors had no comment on the ruling.

The federal raids in March 2010 placed a chill over Montana’s booming medical marijuana industry, causing several providers to close down because their inventories had been seized or out from fear that their businesses would be next. Several raided providers have pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.

Lawmakers struggled last year to come up with a solution for what many people perceived to be an industry that at that time was growing too quickly and with too few rules. The final bill repealed the original voter-approved law in favor of one that aimed to dramatically curtail the for-profit medical marijuana industry.

That legislative action is currently under legal review, and will also appear on the November ballot for voters to endorse or reject.

Portions of the new law have been temporarily blocked by a state judge, but the result has been a dramatic decline in the number of medical marijuana patients and providers. There were 18,012 registered marijuana users at the end of December, compared to 31,522 at the end of May, according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

There were 395 registered marijuana providers at the end of December, compared to 4,650 at the end of May.

By MATT VOLZ Associated Press

Posted: 01/23/2012 12:40:42 PM PST

Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_19800588?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-secure.www.mercurynews.com

11
Jan

The Facts About Marijuana

1. Our current legal drugs—alcohol and tobacco—are examples of commercialized products with addiction potential and high usage rates fueled by easy availability. Although these products are taxed, neither produces a net economic benefit to society. The healthcare and criminal justice costs associated with alcohol and tobacco far surpass the tax revenue they generate, and little of the taxes collected on these substances is contributed to the offset of their substantial social and health costs.
 
2. Federal excise taxes collected on alcohol in 2007 totaled around $9 billion and states collected around $5.6 billion.   Taken together, this is less than 10 percent of the more than $185 billion in alcohol-related social costs such as healthcare, lost productivity, and criminal justice system expenses.53 Nor does tobacco carry its economic weight when taxed: each year, tobacco use generates only about $23 billion in taxes but results in more than $183 billion per year in direct medical expenses as well as lost productivity.
 
3. Advocates of legalization say the costs of prohibition, mainly through the criminal justice system, place a great burden on taxpayers and governments. While there are certainly costs to current prohibitions, legalizing drugs would not cut costs associated with the criminal justice system. 
 
4. Marijuana use is the highest it has been in 8 years. In 2010, daily marijuana use increased significantly among all three grades surveyed (8th, 10th, and 12th graders) in the Monitor The Future (MTF) study. 
 
5. One in 11 people who start marijuana use will become addicted—a rate that rises to one in six when use begins during adolescence.   In 2009, marijuana was involved in 376,000 emergency department visits nationwide.
 
6. Making matters worse, confusing messages being conveyed by the entertainment industry, media, proponents of “medical” marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana use is harmless and aim to establish commercial access to the drug. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.
 
7. The Administration steadfastly opposes drug legalization. Legalization runs counter to a public health approach to drug control because it would increase the availability of drugs, reduce their price, undermine prevention activities, hinder recovery support efforts, and pose a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth.

8. There is no substitute for the scientific approval process employed by the FDA. For a drug to be made available to the public as medicine, the FDA requires rigorous research followed by tests for safety and efficacy. Only then can a substance be classified as medicine and prescribed by qualified health care professionals to patients.
 
9. In the wake of state and local laws that permit distribution of “medical” marijuana, dozens of localities have been left to grapple with poorly written laws that bypass the FDA process and allow marijuana to be used as a so-called medicine. John Knight, director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children’s Hospital Boston, recently wrote: “Marijuana has gotten a free ride of sorts among the general public, who view it as non-addictive and less impairing than other drugs. However, medical science tells a different story.”
 
10. Similarly, Christian Thurstone, a board-certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, an Addiction Psychiatrist, and also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado, said:  In the absence of credible data, this debate is being dominated by bad science and misinformation from people interested in using medical marijuana as a step to legalization for recreational use. Bypassing the FDA’s well-established approval process has created a mess that especially affects children and adolescents. Young people, who are clearly being targeted with medical marijuana advertising and diversion, are most vulnerable to developing marijuana addiction and suffering from its lasting effects.
 
11. Outside the context of Federally approved research, the use and distribution of marijuana is prohibited in the United States.

24
Dec

Marijuana Traffic Fatalities Incease

A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes.

The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.

The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the ‘decriminalization’ of Medical Marijuana in January 2004.

For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%. In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20%.

Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670 fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.

If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.

Read the full report CA Motor Fatalities Study.

23
Dec

California AB 390 – Gone Up In Smoke

AB 390, a bill to legalize marijuana in California, has gone up in smoke at the State Capitol. 

Children need to grow up in safe neighborhoods and attend schools free of marijuana users and sellers.  We need to continue to protect our youth from the dangers of drugs. That starts with stopping the proliferation of pot.

The demise of this disastrous California bill goes to show that our voice was heard at the State Capitol and legislators on both sides of the aisle agreed we don’t want a proliferation of WEED in our streets and communities…our churches…parks and schools.   

Legalizing marijuana is bad public policy and most of the legislators know it.  In my opinion, once the public wakes up and understands the dangers of legalizing marijuana, legislators voting to legalize may find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion.  A lot of voters are going to let their representatives know they will not stand for legalizing such a dangerous drug. 

Marijuana is a dangerous and destructive drug…and we must not rest until the pro-legalizers are defeated once and for all. 

To think some California lawmakers would resort to legalizing the sale and manufacture of drugs to generate tax revenue in which to balance our state budget is an outrage! 

There are many ways to get the economy moving again.  Putting a flood of mind altering drugs on the streets and then taxing their sales is not one of them. 

It doesn’t make sense for our legislators to ban cigarette usage in public places because it is harmful to health, while at the same time saying “yes” to marijuana smoke, which is also carcinogenic.  

California lawmakers recently banned trans fat because it is harmful to health.  And now they want to make marijuana legal because it’s supposedly good for consumption in certain cases?   

If we say marijuana is okay for adults…then what message do do send our children?  That it’s okay for them too? 

How do we expect our youth to say “No!” to drugs when the adults are saying “yes.” 

Why would our public policymakers legalize marijuana, tax it and then go back and use that same money AND MORE for drug prevention programs to convince kids to not smoke dope.  It’s bad public policy. It doesn’t make sense.       

Taxing marijuana is “blood money” plain and simple.  And California lawmakers would have blood on their hands if they voted to legalize this dangerous drug. 

Pot should never be legal for general use in California.  It’s bad for health, it’s bad for our communities, it’s bad for kids and it’s bad for our brains. 

California will go down a dangerous path for which there will be no turning back if voters legalize marijuana.  To think people will smoke pot while driving on our roads, visiting our parks, walking in our neighborhoods, sitting in their backyards (with the odor wafting over our fences) and passing near our schools.  It is a disaster waiting to happen of enormous consequences.  Has anyone given any thought to this? 

Rogue legislators like Tom Ammiano want to legalize marijuana because they say it will be a windfall for the economy.  Many others think it would actually be a drain on the state budget and the root cause of many job losses due to absenteeism and lost productivity. 

There is no guarantee that legalization would undercut the black market, especially if the drug is taxed.  Drug pushers would simply sell it “tax free.”

Legalizers think the revenue from a new marijuana tax will solve California’s budget woes, but AB 390 specifically states that people can grow their own weed, which many will do. How do you tax that?

Where will we get the money to pay for a new watchdog agency to regulate the drug?  And will employees of this same agency be allowed to smoke it during their work breaks since it will be legal?   

AB 390 to legalize marijuana was passed in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee (Tom Ammiano’s committee) on January 12, 2010.  Increase the use of drugs, and our public will be safer? Was there another motive?

President Obama was right to declare he wants to usher in a new era of responsibility; and that includes ensuring marijuana remains classified as an illegal drug.  There’s no excuse for legalizing another harmful drug known kill through the inducements of carcinogens and mental instability.    

Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, one can imagine California becoming a favored destination for drug buyers – and an exporter of drug dealers.

The “legalizers” will argue we are overcrowding our prisons with people arrested for simple possession of marijuana. The truth is: no one ever stays in jail for more than a day just for possessing it. Anyone that is in jail or prison for marijuana either:

  • Also had a role in distribution; or,
  • Pled down to possession in exchange for information; or,
  • Violated terms of parole/probation, and their original crime was much more serious 

Legalizers say:  “If marijuana is legalized we can tax it and bring in much needed revenue to our state.”

The truth:

  • In 2005, the State of California spent $19.9 billion dollars on substance abuse and addiction or $545.09 per capita on alcohol and tobacco.  But, the State of California collected $1.4 billion dollars of tax revenue or $38.69 per capita on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products.  The costs far exceeded the revenue, and marijuana would likely follow a similar trend.
  • The tax revenue does not account for the additional public health concerns and costs, such as cancer risks due to smoke inhalation or increased mental illness due to prolonged use.

Legalizers say:  “People with medical issues should be able to smoke marijuana to relieve pain or other debilitating symptoms.”

The truth: 

  • There is likely medical benefit from components in the cannabis plant.  This is very different than legalizing smoked marijuana.
  • Medicine should never be determined by voters.
  • The general public does not have the knowledge necessary to vote on whether a particular pill or patch is beneficial for the treatment of heart disease, attention deficit disorder, or diabetes. Why is this different?
  • The 1999 IOM report said that smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for medical use; we don’t “smoke” medicine. 

Legalizers say:  “Marijuana toxicity has never killed anyone.”

The truth:

  • Marijuana contributes to dependence, mental illness, lung obstruction, lung cancer, memory loss, motor skill disruption and other harms in a way that tobacco does not, and its harms are underappreciated.
  • ER admissions for marijuana-related illness (psychotic episodes, etc.) exceed those of heroin.
  • There have been numerous cases of fatal car and other accidents caused by someone under the influence of marijuana.

Smoked marijuana is not medicine. Pot smoke contains more carcinogens than cigarette smoke and is simply not healthy for you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration routinely tests new drugs according to a rigorous protocol to prove their safety before they are allowed to be sold to the public as medicine. Marijuana has passed no such test.

Legalization will increase drug use and health care costs. Marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users. Recent studies have linked marijuana use to birth defects, respiratory system damage, cancer, mental illness, violence, infertility, and immune system damage.

The latest information from the U.S. Treatment Episode Data Set reports that 16.1% of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse, compared to 6% in 1992. 
 
Legalization will increase crime-related costs. 75% of children in foster care are placed there because of a parent’s substance abuse. Sexual assault is frequently facilitated by substance use – some experts put the number at over 60%. The U.S. Department of Justice found that 61% of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems.

All forms of marijuana are mind-altering (psychoactive). In other words, they change how the brain works. A lot of other chemicals are found in marijuana, too — about 400 of them, some of which are carcinogenic. Marijuana is addictive with more teens in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit.

Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50–70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke.

Driving experiments show that marijuana affects a wide range of skills needed for safe driving — thinking and reflexes are slowed, making it hard for drivers to respond to sudden, unexpected events. Also, a driver’s ability to “track” (stay in lane) through curves, to brake quickly, and to maintain speed and the proper distance between cars is affected. Research shows that these skills are impaired for at least 4-6 hours after smoking a single marijuana cigarette, long after the “high” is gone. Marijuana presents a definite danger on the road.

Emergency Room admissions for marijuana-related illness (psychotic episodes, etc.) exceed those of heroin. 

 

 

 

          

23
Dec

Analysis of 2010 California AB 390

Is the quality of  ‘street’ marijuana in question? Does it contain contaminates like heavy metals, fungus, bacteria and pesticides?

There are various laws and agencies that control the quality of food, drink and medicine we consume.

California AB 390 brought many of these issues to the forefront.

For the full report lick here 2010 Analysis of AB390.

23
Dec

History of Drug Laws and ‘Normalization’ In California

Abstract

Since the 1970’s, California has taken drastic steps towards decriminalizing and normalizing marijuana.  In 1975, California State Senate Bill 95 (SB95) was signed into law, which decriminalized not more than one ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor.  The effect of SB95 allowed individuals to avoid booking and imprisonment by only having to pay a nominal fine.  Subsequently, in 1996, the people of California initiated Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA)

The basics of the CUA were designed to allow authorized individuals to cultivate, possess and use marijuana for medical purposes with the recommendation of a physician.  Within a decade of passing the CUA, California Senate Bill 420, also known as the Medical Marijuana Protection Act (MMP), was enacted. 

The MMP established an identification card system to give further immunity to marijuana users under the CUA.  In 2010, for the first time, a voter’s initiative act received enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the full legalization of marijuana in California.  Although the voter’s initiative act to legalize marijuana did not pass, marijuana was further decriminalized that same year from a misdemeanor to an infraction via Proposition 1449. 

The first step back from marijuana deregulation by the State of California was in 2011, when Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1300 (AB 1300).  AB 1300 gave local governments the power to regulate how and where marijuana dispensaries can be operated and also gave local governments the power to exile dispensaries completely.  At the time of this report, the Regulate Marijuana like Wine Act of 2012 is attempting to garner enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the 2012 elections.  This report looks at the shifting marijuana policies and their effect on the normalization of marijuana in California. 

 Introduction

In the state of California, since the mid 1970s, minor possession of marijuana has gone from a felony to a misdemeanor to an infraction; punishable similar to a seat-belt violation.  Furthermore, California has attempted to fully legalize marijuana via a ballot proposition in 2010 without success.  The information regarding the dangers of marijuana and its adverse effects on youth, public health and safety, education, and the economy have been met by public apathy and general disregard.  From decriminalization in the early 1970s to boldly defying federal law in the 1990s, California has been pushing the boundaries of marijuana drug policy. This report is an in depth analysis of the history of marijuana drug policy in California and the misconceptions that are often attached with the drug.  

 National Overview

The 1960’s saw a sharp increase in drug use by American youth.  In response, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1969.  In 1971, the United States passed the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), codifying the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.  By 1979, the U.S. had seen its highest rate of illicit drug use; with marijuana the most abused of all illicit drugs.  In general, society has not treated marijuana with the same caution as other illicit drugs and today several states have passed legislation allowing marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes.  However, the federal government has not changed its position regarding marijuana.  The CSA is still in effect and continues to list marijuana as an illegal, illicit drug.  Because the CSA outlaws marijuana, with some minor exceptions (i.e., federal government testing of the drug) and several states have passed legislation for certain medicinal uses of the drug beyond what the CSA allows, there is a conflict between state and federal law.  The issue is not whether federal law trumps state law, because the Constitution tells us (via the Supremacy Clause) that the federal law is the supreme law of the land, but whether Congress has the power to regulate intrastate commerce.  This issue is addressed below, but the short answer is yes; Congress does have the authority to regulate intrastate commerce in certain circumstances and the control of marijuana is one of those circumstances.    

 Historical Background of Senate Bill 95

Prior to the introduction of California State Senate Bill – 95 (SB95), California State Senator George Moscone led a committee to “ascertain, study and analyze all facts relating to the administration and effect of laws relating to control of the use and availability of marijuana, and report thereon to the Legislature including in its report its recommendations for appropriate legislation.” (Moscone Report) The committee was named the Senate Select Committee on the Control of Marijuana, but is most commonly known as the Moscone Committee (Committee) because Senator Moscone was the chairman of the Committee.  The Committee reported 10 general conclusions with an additional 21 “further” conclusions to the State Senate.  In addition, the Committee submitted 10 recommendations of policy to adopt.  The report is commonly referred to as the Moscone Report.

Moscone Committee’s Conclusions

The 10 general conclusions basically relayed a message to the California State Senate that criminal law and punishment was not the way to handle marijuana.  Their general reasoning was that marijuana use is an individual, private act and the state should not interfere with such individual rights.  Contrary to their individual rights argument, the Committee ignored some invaluable information regarding the adverse collateral effects marijuana can have on user’s families, surrounding communities, and society in general.  The ignored information was attached to the Moscone Report, found in the same articles selectively used by the Committee to base many of their “decriminalizing” arguments.  The ignored information warned of the hazards associated with drug use and the negative effects that leak into society.  Instead of making a disclaimer or addressing these dangers as potential issues, the committee simply ignores the warnings and does not mention them in their conclusions. 

In support of their individual rights argument, the Committee believed marijuana laws were unfair because of law enforcement’s ability to selectively enforce the law against some individuals, while allowing others to use or possess the drug without penalty. The Committee believed that any such law which can only be selectively enforced was not justifiable.  Although this argument is partly true and understandable, it is oversimplified and does not take into consideration how law enforcement is conducted.  What the Committee did not mention here is that their theory that police discretion should be grounds for repealing a criminal law would cause almost every criminal law to be repealed.  Police discretion is a fundamental part of law enforcement and to base a policy argument against it is just the beginning of the misconceptions the Committee relayed as fact to the state senate regarding the relationship between law making, law enforcement, and drug policy.

In addition to the argument of individual rights, the Committee concluded that marijuana use does not threaten society in a way which would justify making it unlawful.  According to the Moscone Report, “Marijuana use is not a threat to public health, safety or morals so as to warrant state intrusion.”  However, the Committee ignored many findings in the same reports which they relied on to make their arguments; which were attached to the report as references.  It is important to note that, although some of the reports ended in inconclusive scientific correlations between marijuana and adverse effects, the conclusions of these reports gave firm warnings about the potential problems with the drug.  For example, in one of the reports used by the Committee, Cannabis, there were major social concerns discussed regarding the negative effect of cannabis on adolescent maturation, negative effect on motivation and productive capacity, the demands upon the “over taxed” resources of medical and social service facilities, and the emotional distress and disturbance on one’s family.  In addition to the social concerns given by the Cannabis article, the article further warned of physical threats to the body.  There were discussions warning of potential bronchial pulmonary disorders and lung cancer and their connections to smoking marijuana.  Instead of reporting on the potential dangers associated with the drug, the Committee focused on the lack of scientific conclusiveness, but it was clearly stated in these reports that the research being conducted would need time to develop.  Regardless, the Committee concluded that there were no known adverse effects to marijuana and that the law against the drug should be an infraction, “if anything.”  

Further Conclusions

The additional 21 “further” conclusions gave statistical data regarding the growth of user rates, costs to the state, and the social issues the Committee believed were due to the then current laws against marijuana.  By the Committee’s own admission, “obtaining accurate quantitative estimates about marijuana law enforcement, court and prison activities is just about impossible.  Records keeping systems are inadequate, interpretation difficult, and conclusions dangerous.”  Although the Committee was warned and gave warning that making conclusions regarding marijuana statistical data was dangerous, they nevertheless made bold conclusions regarding the fiscal costs of the then current marijuana laws.  The Committee’s conclusions regarding the fiscal costs associated with marijuana as an illegal substance are still used today to support decriminalization.  However, the methodologies used to calculate the costs are questionable.  These numbers were based on a method of estimating the aggregated costs of the entire process of arrest through trial, appeal and incarceration.  (Need to finish this section) 

Their statistical data concluded that the state was spending about $1,630 per arrest and the overall average cost per year (1960-1972 inclusive) was $44,407,941. 

 In addition to the fiscal concerns, the Committee believed the then current marijuana laws created social dilemmas for those working within the criminal justice system.  For example, “those who are preparing for careers in the criminal justice system; what to do when they themselves or their superiors are users or have used marijuana, or do not use it but are confronted with situations where friends do; having to prosecute an arrestee for behavior they do not consider wrong.”  The logic here is that because a law enforcement agent is breaking the law or does not agree with the law, the law must be inherently wrong.  In other words, because the police captain is a drug user or the officer is or the officer’s friends are, then the drug must be okay.  This is the same argument as, “everyone’s doing it, so it must be okay.”  Basically, the Committee is telling the senate to circum to peer pressure.  This was the attitude of the Committee and this is what was reported to the California State Senate.  This line of thinking is so facially flawed that it should have raised concerns regarding the motive and intent of the Committee.  Instead, perhaps for pure fiscal concern, conclusions like this were overlooked and this bill made it through to become a law. 

 Furthermore, under “further” conclusion no. 20, the Committee stated, “The impact on the increase or decrease of marijuana use will be minimal, if any, if the law is changed.  It was determined the stated fear California will become a ‘pot-smoking’ state is greatly exaggerated and decriminalization will not put the imprimatur by the legislature of approval on marijuana possession and use.”  Let us fast-forward from 1972, when the Moscone Report was written, to 2011, when this report was written.  It would be difficult to argue that the Committee predicted correctly.  Today, marijuana has become widely accepted subsequent to the State of California’s decriminalization laws.  Perhaps unknowingly, the Moscone Report is believed to be the genesis of the decriminalization laws regarding marijuana in California.  Since the decriminalization of marijuana, California has undoubtedly become a “pot-smoking” state and the increase in use has been far from minimal. 

Committee Recommendations

Basically, the Committee recommended abolishing any criminal offense pertaining to simple possession.  The Committee stated, “Legislature should adopt a program of decriminalization making simple possession of marijuana for private adult use an infraction, if anything.”  (emphasis added)  Inconsistently, the Committee did believe that the laws regarding “cultivation, transportation, sale and selling or giving to a minor, and as they pertain to concentrated marijuana” should remain as they were.  Thus, it would be okay for an individual to have and use marijuana, but the law should still prevent the growing, transporting, and selling of the drug.  The committee seems to have left out a link in the chain of how the drug would get into the market.  How can possession exist without cultivation and transportation?  Where would the drugs come from?  Perhaps, based on the inconsistencies in the statements above, the Committee believed that marijuana users would find the drug naturally growing in the wild and share it amongst themselves, but not with minors.  

Insofar as a description of the policy suggested, the Committee asked the Legislature to “go after the major or big pusher or trafficker, that is, the top levels of the distribution pyramid.”  In other words, take away the restrictions on the consumers and attack the suppliers.  Although this policy is attractive on first impression, it ignores the basic concepts of supply and demand.  Marijuana is a commodity and there is a substantial amount of money to be made in the illegal market.  By taking away restrictions on the consumers, the demand for the drug will presumably go up and thus the supply would need to go up as well to satisfy the demand.  Here, because it is an illegal market, this means more money to be made by illegal operations both within our borders as well as abroad.  With more money to be made by the “big pushers” or suppliers, more power is shifted in their favor.  Instead of focusing solely on the suppliers, legislation should have been considering the effect of supply and demand and kept a stronger attack against both.        

Summary

The Moscone Report was vital to the initial decriminalization of marijuana in California.  Senate Bill 95 was proposed and passed, which decriminalized minor possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

Unfortunately, some of the key facts which were used in the report were either ill supported or false.  For example, no. 5 of the 10 general conclusions stated, “Marijuana use is not a threat to public health, safety or morals so as to warrant state intrusion.”  (Moscone Report) Although this statement could be interpreted as an opinion, this report was submitted to the State Senate as fact.  The Committee was directed to “ascertain, study and analyze all facts relating to the administration and effect of laws relating to control of the use and availability of marijuana, and report thereon to the Legislature…” (emphasis added)

 Contrary to conclusion no. 5 of the Moscone Report, marijuana does impose a threat to public health, safety and morals, and (under federal law) does warrant intrusion (see section XI below regarding Case Law).  Marijuana is an illicit drug which is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).  As found in one of the studies relied upon in the Moscone Report, contrary to what was reported to the State Senate, marijuana can have detrimental effects on society and society’s youth if the general public is led to believe the drug is harmless.  Furthermore, this same study which Moscone repeatedly relies on adamantly warns of policy that would make the drug more available to adults by stating, “A policy of making cannabis available to adults would have the effect of making it more available to minors.  This is the lesson of our experience with alcohol.  It would also make cannabis appear to be relatively harmless.  Further, there is no reason to believe that we could effectively control potency and encourage moderate use by a system of administrative regulation or licensing.  People will consume the quantities they require to achieve the desired level of potency or they will seek more potent forms, if necessary, in the illicit market.  Moreover, our present knowledge about cannabis would not permit a policy of legal availability that could be accompanied by suitable assurances as to what might constitute moderate and relatively harmless use.” 

Another study continued their argument against the abolishing of the prohibition of marijuana.  In the following paragraph, the study stated, “The costs to the individual and society of maintaining a prohibition of distribution are severe but they are justified by the probable effect of such a prohibition on availability and perception of harm, in contrast to the likely effect on both of a policy of legal availability.”  Although the study did conclude that the then current penalties of marijuana were too severe, they did not suggest legalizing the drug as the Moscone Report did.  

In addition to the social costs of marijuana use, there are great physical costs to the individual as well.  The most common use of the drug is smoking.  There is no question that carcinogens are toxic to the body and create adverse physical effects.  However, the Moscone Report relied on information gathered from a Jamaican medical study of marijuana smokers, which could not conclude adverse physical effects of marijuana smoke because too many of the test subjects smoked tobacco as well as marijuana and it was not clear which of the two drugs were causing the adverse effects.  Today, there is no question that carcinogens are linked to cancers and other adverse effects on the human body.

The Committee’s ill supported notion that decriminalizing marijuana would not lead to an increase in use and would not make California a “pot-smoking” state has also proved to be false.  Today, California is the “pot-smoking” state in the United States and user rates have steadily increased since the 1970s.

The actual monetary costs reported may have been inaccurate and misleading.  The report relies on several different formulas to calculate the total cost per arrest.  Ultimately the Committee reported the highest estimated cost, disregarding data which would have significantly lowered the final number. 

Perhaps if the Committee would have thoroughly analyzed their then available data, they would have been able to come to more accurate conclusions regarding the facts of marijuana.  Instead, this report was published as fact and relied on by the California State Senate.  Consequently, the Moscone Report has been used as a catalyst for further decriminalization efforts and unfortunately has assisted the efforts to normalize marijuana.

Senate Bill 95 (SB 95)

Based on the Moscone Committee’s conclusions, in 1975, California State Senator George Moscone introduced Senate Bill 95 (SB95), which was signed into law that same year.  This bill made marijuana possession of an ounce or less a citable misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 with no necessary custodial booking or jail time.  Possession of marijuana on school grounds was also a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to 6 months and/or a fine not to exceed $500.  Also under SB95, any furnishing, possessing or transporting of an ounce or less of marijuana was treated as a simple possession; a misdemeanor instead of a felony.  In addition, offenders under the age of 21 could have an administrative penalty of a suspended driver’s license for up to one year.  Although furnishing, possessing, cultivating, or transporting more than an ounce, and possession with the intent to sell marijuana or hash oil remained felonies, repeat offenders were treated the same as first time offenders and were not subject to any additional penalties.  SB95 also provided the purging of an individual’s record after two years ending any criminal records of individuals arrested and convicted for an ounce or less of marijuana. 

Ultimately, SB95 significantly reduced the penalties and fines against small amounts of marijuana possession laying the ground work for further decriminalization of possession and use of marijuana in California. 

 Proposition 215

By 1993, after a two decade long push, numerous legislation groups were marketing marijuana as medicine to the citizenry of California.  By 1996, Californians passed Proposition 215 (by a 55% to 45% margin), also known as the Compassionate Use Act (CUA).  The CUA allowed people with certain chronic illnesses and other ailments to grow, obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a physician.  The stated intent of the CUA was to “ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes…that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”  (emphasis added) (Prop 215).  This final phrase allowed an open door system for extreme abuse of the act. 

The CUA also provided for the cultivation of marijuana for a patient or a patient’s “primary care giver”.  The CUA further defined a “primary care giver” as an individual designated by the person “who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health or safety of that person.”  Although the language defining the “primary care giver” is clear in plain language, many people have used this language to form collective or cooperative medical marijuana organizations.  The misconstruing of “primary care giver” has allowed for extreme abuse of the CUA and has directly sparked a medical marijuana industry.  Subsequently, these collectives and cooperatives have become commercial store fronts in the business of selling marijuana.    

In summary, the CUA:

  1. Exempts individuals from arrest for the use of marijuana which has been recommended by a physician in California State courts;
  2. Exempts an individual or group of individuals from arrest for the cultivation of marijuana for the use by an individual, who has the recommendation of a physician, in California State courts;
  3. Exempts a physician from arrest who recommends the use of marijuana to an individual;
  4. Exempts a “primary care giver” from arrest for the furnishing of marijuana to an individual that has been recommended by a physician, in California State courts; and
  5. Does not allow endangering conduct or condone the diversion of marijuana for purposes not explicitly stated in the initiative. 

 The CUA did not provide for the sale of marijuana.  However, it did not attempt to control access of marijuana in that it did not set limits on the amount of marijuana a person or caregiver could possess or cultivate.  However, the CUA did define “primary care giver” as “the individual designated by the person exempted under this section who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.”  (prop 215)

In conclusion, the CUA has aided in altering the perception of marijuana from an illicit drug to a “medicine”.  The result has been a growth in public apathy toward the drug and a misunderstanding of law.  The plain language of the CUA unambiguously defines who a “primary care giver” is, but this section of the act has been severely abused.  Under both state and federal law, the sale of marijuana is illegal.  The conflicts between the CUA and the CSA will be discussed below.  

 Senate Bill 420

On September 10, 2003, California Senate Bill 420, also known as the Medical Marijuana Protection Act (MMP), was signed into law by California Governor Gray Davis.  The primary intent of the bill was to “require the State Department of Health Services to establish and maintain a voluntary program for the issuance of identification cards to qualified patients and establish procedures under which a qualified patient with an identification card may use marijuana for medical purposes.”  (SB 420)  The MMP established a card holder program and provided immunity from arrest to these card holders and their caregivers as well as an affirmative defense in California state courts for group cultivation and possession of marijuana that would be provided to individuals under Proposition 215 (CUA). 

The MMP did not provide for the sale of marijuana. The bill required the California Attorney General to develop and adopt “Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use.”  (MMP)  It gave powers to the California Attorney General to further define the term “primary caregiver” and also allowed for the office to more clearly define how cultivation would be allowed to occur.  It also authorized the Attorney General to clarify details concerning possession and cultivation limits.

However, the attempt to set limits on the amount of marijuana that a person could possess or cultivate was determined to be against the California Constitution.  In People v. Kelly, a case that was decided in January 2010, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state of California cannot impose limits on marijuana that are more restrictive than those in State Prop 215.  (Id.)  Since the Compassionate Use Act is an initiative passed by the voters of California, under California law, any restrictions on the CUA would need to be brought back to the voters through the initiative process to impose any limits not explicitly stated in that initiative. 

Insofar as California State laws are concerned, the MMP gave further immunity to authorized individual users by issuing I.D. cards.  However, there was still a dispute as to whom or what could be considered a “primary care giver” under the CUA and MMP.  Thus, the California Attorney General wrote guidelines to clear any ambiguity.

 California Attorney General Medical Marijuana Guidelines

 In Aug 2008, California Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown Jr., issued Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use.  SB420 allows for the California Attorney General to establish guidelines to clarify issues not previously defined in Prop 215 and SB420.  The key conclusions of the Attorney General guidelines were:

  1. A “primary care giver” is someone who has a relationship with a patient and has assumed responsibility in housing, health or safety of that person, not just someone who provides marijuana to that individual. 
  2. Cooperatives or collectives are closed looped systems that are democratically operated and share the income and expenses with the explicit design of not making a profit.  That closed loop system is intended to combine resources to cultivate marijuana, especially for those who could not cultivate for themselves.
  3. Most importantly the guidelines do not allow and renders illegal storefront dispensaries defined as business operations that do not comply with the intent of the law. 

 Storefront dispensaries have owners who sell marijuana to individuals who have no voice in the operations of that establishment and designate the store or store owner as the “primary caregiver”, who only provide marijuana to that individual.  These establishments are for profit operations and typically make in excess of $1 million per year.  Yet it is these types of dispensaries that have proliferated the cities and counties of California, establishing a marijuana cottage industry from the normalization of marijuana. 

 Dispensaries in Los Angles

A case study of dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles reveals a problem that has been replicated in cities and counties throughout California.  In 1996, during the passage of proposition 215, there were no known dispensaries in Los Angles.  Proposition 215 only allowed for individual and small group cultivation of marijuana for personal use.  By 2003, SB 420 established the statewide identification card program for individuals and their caregivers and still there were no known dispensaries.  In 2005, the appellate court in People v. Urziceanu (citation), ruled that while Prop 215 may not have protected collective medical marijuana gardens and activities, HS 11362.7 (SB 420) did so.   As a result, 4 known dispensaries opened in 2005.  By 2006, 98 known dispensaries opened in Los Angles and by 2007 there were 187 known dispensaries. 

 In July 2008, the city of Los Angeles declared a moratorium on dispensaries, but there were loopholes which allowed dispensaries to proliferate.  In 2009, the number reached a staggering 966 (L.A. Times Nov 2009).  A Los Angeles City Councilman stated “It’s not about creating the Starbucks of marijuana sales, it’s about creating access for people who really need it.”  By 2009, dispensaries outnumbered Starbucks in Los Angeles 966 to 840.  By June 24, 2009, the city of Los Angeles finally closed the loopholes and by January 2010 the city adopted city ordnance 181069 to regulate dispensaries which became active on June 7, 2010 allowing the maximum of 187 dispensaries. 

 The 187 dispensaries that are allowed to remain open are still illegal under California law.  The Proposition 215 ballot pamphlet, which may be used to interrupt the overall intent of a law, stated that the proposition “only allows marijuana to be grown for a patient’s personal use.”  There is no provision under the CUA or Attorney General guidelines that authorize any sale of marijuana. 

In California, it is unconstitutional to violate the voter’s intent.  Dispensaries, however, continue to proliferate in California because of the confusion of the law at the conception of dispensary openings, complacency during the growth of dispensaries within an area, and a lack of political will to scrutinize the situation within a given neighborhood which ultimately boils down to political will vs. the law.  It is not until the problems in the community become so evident through  increased crime rates, dispensaries opening up next to libraries, schools, daycare centers or places of worship, and the proliferation of undesirable advertising, that the community speaks out, which is usually too late.  In addition, problems within the court room exist due to the indifference by judges and jurors of the problem.  The prosecuting attorneys are also reluctant to prosecute due to the complexity of the cases with little hope of a conviction.  The confusion of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and the public all result in inconsistent outcomes.  The lack of consensus within the medical community affords some doctors the opportunity to support a cottage industry because of the extraordinary amount of money it allows them to bring in.  The lack of oversight by the medical board and the immunity from prosecution provided by Prop 215 has allowed for doctors whose exclusive business it is to sell marijuana recommendations, commonly known as “pot docs”, to typically earn over $2 million per year. What has occurred in Los Angeles is also occurring throughout all regions of California.

 Assembly Bill 1300

On August 31st, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1300 (AB 1300), which gives local governments the authority to control medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives as they see fit.  According to AB 1300, local governing bodies now officially have discretion as to the “location, operation, or establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative or collective.”  In other words, local governments cannot only tell the cooperative where and how to operate, they can deny them altogether.

 In addition, AB 1300 provides the power of enforcing local ordinances under both civil and criminal laws.  This section of the bill is really just added to cast clarity regarding the authority given by this bill.  Thus, by including a section of enforceability, there is no ambiguity regarding the enforcement of any new ordinances.  Furthermore, AB 1300 opens the door for future laws that would be consistent with AB 1300. 

Basically, AB 1300 has swung the pendulum of power in favor of local governments.  Local governments now officially have the power to adopt local ordinances that can tell cooperatives or collectives where to operate, how to operate, and, most importantly, not to operate.       

 Proposition 1449

Approved by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010, Prop 1449 further decriminalized minor possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a mere infraction.  With the exception of concentrated cannabis and or possession on school grounds, any possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is now an infraction; punishable by a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars.  This decriminalization was further extended to the California Vehicle Code as regarding possession of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle.

 Proposition 19

The confusion surrounding marijuana has emboldened special interest groups to apply for the full legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California.  Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, garnered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in 2010.  It is important to note that Proposition 19 would have done none of what its title claimed: 

  1. Proposition 19 would not have regulated marijuana as its title claimed. It is the federal government’s responsibility to regulate drugs through oversight by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  States do not regulate the manufacturing of a drug; that authority is left up to the federal government.  States can only regulate the sales of a drug and Proposition 19 did not establish a California Food and Drug Administration.
  2.  Prop 19 would not control marijuana like alcohol as it claimed because it did not establish a marijuana control board.  In California, oversight of the control of alcohol is done through the authority of the Alcohol Beverage and Control Board (ABC).  The ABC also has law enforcement officers whose sole responsibility is to control alcohol and other beverages.  Proposition 19 did not establish a Marijuana Control Board. 
  3. Finally, there were no provisions for the state to tax marijuana as claimed by the proponents of Proposition 19; it only allowed for local sales tax of marijuana if a city or county chose to regulate those sales within its jurisdiction.

 What Prop 19 would have done was legalized one ounce of marijuana for personal consumption.  It would have allowed each of the 478 cities and 58 counties to regulate and tax the sale, transportation and cultivation of marijuana within its jurisdiction.  It should be noted that this would have actually been a deregulation of marijuana distribution since the state could not have the authority to establish uniformed control from city to city or county to county.  It would also have increased the availability of marijuana within a given city and therefore increased youth use.  In addition, it would have put businesses in jeopardy with federal contracts, which require drug free work places.  It could have put the state in jeopardy of losing up to 80 billion dollars in federal contracts and education monies and it would have put an increased burden on the public health system.  Finally it would have put the state in direct conflict with federal law. 

Federal v. State Law

Under the Supremacy Clause under the United States Constitution Article 6 Section 1, clause 2, asserts and establishes federal laws made in pursuance of the constitution and treaties made by the United States with foreign nations shall be the supreme law of the land.  While nations have decriminalized marijuana no nation in the world has legalized it.  California would have been the first government to have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  This issue prompted strong warning statements from the United States Attorney General Eric Holder to state, “we will vigorously enforce the Controlled Substance Act against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacturer or distribute marijuana for recreational use even if such activities are permitted under state law.”  In addition, the United States Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, stated, “All options are open to the Federal Government.”  The options that exist for the federal government would be:

  1. to take California to court,
  2. withhold federal dollars; and/ or
  3. use the powers of arrest by its federal agents. 

 On November 2, 2010 Proposition 19 was defeated by a 54% – 46% margin.  However, at the time of this report there are two new initiatives collecting signatures in an attempt to get on the 2012 ballot. The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012 and the Legalization of Marijuana Act of 2012.  Both hope to achieve full legalization in the next election.

Case Law

After years of confusion, the Supreme Court of the United States has expanded Congress’s power to regulate commerce.  After United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative and Jeffery Jones (Oakland), which made clear that there was no medical necessity exception to the Controlled Substance Act regarding marijuana, the courts were faced with the burden of interpreting Congress’ commerce power.  Following Oakland, marijuana collectives and cooperatives ignored the injunction imposed by the Supreme Court and continued doing business.  Their argument was that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution limited Congress to only control interstate commerce and that their operations were solely based intrastate, which would make them immune to the federal laws of the CSA.

Does Congress have power over intrastate commerce?  In Gonzales v. Raich (2005) (Raich), the U.S. Supreme Court unambiguously ruled that congress does have power over intrastate commerce.  Raich was a case brought out of the state of California into federal court regarding medical marijuana and whether federal agents had the authority to arrest the respondents and seize their marijuana under federal law.  Raich argued that their possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana were protected by the CUA, under California law, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution limited Congress’ authority to only regulate interstate commerce.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and explained three general categories which authorize Congress to “engage under its commerce power.”  First, under Perez v. United States (1971) (Perez), “Congress can regulate the channels of interstate commerce.”  Second, “Congress has authority to regulate and protect the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, and persons or things in interstate commerce.” (Ibid).  Third, “Congress has the power to regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.”  (Ibid.; NLRB. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937)).  It is the third of these three general categories which is relevant to Congress’ control of intrastate commerce.

Medical marijuana dispensaries fall under the “class of activities” that has a substantial effect on interstate commerce.  (Gonzales v. Raich).  In Wickard v. Filburn, 87 L.Ed. 122 (1942), the U.S. Supreme Court stated, “even if (appelle’s) activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.”  (Id., at 125, 63 S.Ct. 82).  “When Congress decides that the ‘total incidence’ of a practice poses a threat to a national market, it may regulate the entire class.”  (Gonzales v. Raich).

 In Wickard, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the regulations set forth in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, which basically was designed to control the volume and price of wheat in both the foreign and interstate markets in order to avoid surplus and extremely low prices.  The respondent in Wickard argued that the surplus of wheat grown on his farm was for personal consumption and thus not subject to federal regulation because it was not intended for commerce.  The Court reasoned that although the personal surplus on respondent’s farm may have been trivial individually, the aggregated effect of others similarly situated would be far from trivial.  Thus, Wickard establishes that “Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself ‘commercial,’ in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity.”  (Wickard v. Filburn).    

 Furthermore, the Court explains the similarities between wheat surplus and marijuana grown for home consumption and their effects on interstate commerce by stating, “one concern prompting inclusion of wheat grown for home consumption in the 1938 Act was that rising market prices could draw such wheat into the interstate market, resulting in lower market prices.  (Wickard, 317 U.S., at 128, 63 S.Ct. 82.)  The parallel concern making it appropriate to include marijuana grown for home consumption in the CSA is the likelihood that the high demand in the interstate market will draw such marijuana into that market.  While the diversion of homegrown wheat tended to frustrate the federal interest in stabilizing prices by regulating the volume of commercial transactions in the interstate market, the diversion of homegrown marijuana tends to frustrate the federal interest in eliminating commercial transactions in the interstate market in their entirety.  In both cases, the regulation is squarely within Congress’ commerce power because production of the commodity meant for home consumption, be it wheat or marijuana, has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity.”  (Gonzales v. Raich)

 In conclusion, although medical marijuana is authorized under state law, it is still illegal under federal law.  Thus, regardless of any bill or initiative made by any state, marijuana will continue to be illegal unless our federal government makes a change.

Conclusion

Since the 1970s, California has led the way in decriminalizing marijuana in the United States.  From the Moscone Report in the mid-1970s, to the attempt of full legalization in 2010, California has become the “pot-smoking” state in the United States.  The results of the liberal marijuana drug laws in California have helped portray the drug as harmless, if not beneficial, to the general public.  However, the fact still remains that marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and thus remains illegal under federal law.  There have not been any significant medical benefits to support medical marijuana under the CSA, which would eliminate the Schedule I classification.  Therefore, even if California were to legalize marijuana via a voter’s initiative, the federal government would still have the power to enforce federal law.    


Authors: John Redman and Paul Gagliardi
23
Dec

Smoking Marijuana Increases Lung Cancer Risk

HONG KONG | Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:45am EST (Reuters) 

Smoking a joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk, scientists in New Zealand have found, as they warned of an “epidemic” of lung cancers linked to cannabis.

Studies in the past have demonstrated that cannabis can cause cancer, but few have established a strong link between cannabis use and the actual incidence of lung cancer.

In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, the scientists said cannabis could be expected to harm the airways more than tobacco as its smoke contained twice the level of carcinogens, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, compared with tobacco cigarettes.

The method of smoking also increases the risk, since joints are typically smoked without a proper filter and almost to the very tip, which increases the amount of smoke inhaled. The cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, facilitating the deposition of carcinogens in the airways.

“Cannabis smokers end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their bloodstream (than tobacco smokers),” team leader Richard Beasley, at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said in a telephone interview.

“There are higher concentrations of carcinogens in cannabis smoke … what is intriguing to us is there is so little work done on cannabis when there is so much done on tobacco.”

The researchers interviewed 79 lung cancer patients and sought to identify the main risk factors for the disease, such as smoking, family history and occupation. The patients were questioned about alcohol and cannabis consumption.

In this high-exposure group, lung cancer risk rose by 5.7 times for patients who smoked more than a joint a day for 10 years, or two joints a day for 5 years, after adjusting for other variables, including cigarette smoking.

“While our study covers a relatively small group, it shows clearly that long-term cannabis smoking increases lung cancer risk,” wrote Beaseley.

“Cannabis use could already be responsible for one in 20 lung cancers diagnosed in New Zealand,” he added.

“In the near future we may see an ‘epidemic’ of lung cancers connected with this new carcinogen. And the future risk probably applies to many other countries, where increasing use of cannabis among young adults and adolescents is becoming a major public health problem.”

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/29/us-cancer-cannabis-idUSHKG10478820080129

23
Dec

Columbia University Report – Decriminalization Leads to Higher Consumption

Researchers at Columbia University have found that marijuana use is almost twice as high in states with medical marijuana laws compared to states without them. This, according to an article published in an upcoming issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Another recent finding underscores that disturbing message. Among youths aged 12 to 17, marijuana usage rates are higher in states with medicinal marijuana laws, says a study in last month’s Annals of Epidemiology.

This is concerning, because marijuana, according to the National Institutes of Health, is linked with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects. In fact, more kids now go to treatment because of a primary marijuana condition than for any other drug, including alcohol.

Read the report Columbia University Teen Attitudes on Substance Abuse.

23
Dec

Facts and Comment by Steve Forbes, Don’t Inhale

Medi-Pot Setbacks

Advocates for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes are starting to suffer some scientific setbacks.

They made their case on the basis that cannabis can lessen pain in patients suffering such debilitating diseases as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

If marijuana has particular properties that can do this, those chemicals should indeed be extracted from the plant or artificially manufactured and then dispensed by proper prescription.

Cannabis does more harm than good.

A UCLA study has found a link between marijuana use and increased risk of head and neck cancers.

Another UCLA study, published in the Journal of Immunology, has found there is a chemical in marijuana that can cause cancerous cells to proliferate. The study also suggests that inhaling this substance may be a greater lung cancer risk than inhaling cigarette smoke.

It’s ironic that many advocates for legalizing marijuana are also fierce foes of the tobacco industry and cigarette smoking.

Source: Forbes Magazine, September 4, 2000

23
Dec

2012 Expectations of Legalizer – It’s All About the Money

Who profits from legalization?

  • Drug lords
  • Juvenile gangs
  • Politcians
  • Prviate prision corporations
  • Terrorist organizations
  • Pot shops and Pot doctors

Learn more about what Legalizer Plan for 2012 2012 Expectations from the Legalizers.

23
Dec

UN Drug Conventions Argument Against Legalization

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime and is organized to assist members in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

The three pillars of the UNODC projects include:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance capacity to counter-act illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  2. Research and analytical work to incease the knowledge and undestanding of drug sna crime issues and expand evidenced-based policy and operational decisions.
  3. Implementation of international treaties, development of domestic legislationon illicit drugs, crime and terrorism, and provision of services toward those ends.

Arguments Against Legalization

 In January 2009, UNODC published a landmark report in support of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) which governs how UN Conventions approach enforcement.  This report assesses the issues for an against drug legalization and comes out in support of the INCB stance against legalization based on:

  1. legal sanction have detered or delayed potential abusers thereby limiting growth the illicit market,
  2. subtantial drug consumption resulting from inceased availability and competive pricing would increae economic and social costs, particularly health care services and accident-related injuries,
  3. Organized crime would adapt efforts to maintain or increase their income independent of the legal status of certain drugs.

The report goes on to say that marijuana legalization would:

  1. increase use rates particularly youth age groups.
  2. today is much more powerful than in the 1960’s and leads to use of other drugs with destructive health consequences.
  3. result in higher addiction rates due to inceaed THC content in marijuana today.
  4. increase birth defects, respiratory system damage, has links to cancer, AIDS, imuume system damage and infertility.

Read the report in full 2009 UN Drug Conventions Argument Against Legaliztion.

22
Dec

Evidence Based Data and the Failed Portuguese Experiment

Despite claims by the pro-drug lobby regarding the “success” of drug legalization programs in Europe, the real truth is that Portugal and other countries have experienced significant societal harms from such programs. 

The Dalgarno Institute of Australia counters the recent claims of Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New York, that decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has resulted in the reduction in drug use, crime, and drug related illness. 

This critique includes facts and analysis from the Chairman of the Association for a Drug Free Portugal. 

Read the report : Portugal Failure

22
Dec

The Party’s Over

22
Dec

Grasstop Organizing and Strategy Development

Sue Thau, Public Policy Consultant for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) provide insight into leveraging leaders of grassroots organizations and opinion leaders in her presentation Grasstops Organizing and Strategy Development.

Potential Grasstops Leaders Can Be:

  • Local, state, and federal elected officials
  • Leaders of membership organizations, professional associations, and congregations.
  • Leaders of key constituency groups
  • Opinion leaders and others who shape public debate (such as syndicated columnists, scientists, economists, doctors, academics)

Learn more as Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

22
Dec

Guidelines for Advocacy: Creating Safer Environments for Youth

The purpose of this CADCA Strategizer is to clarify what constitutes “lobbying” activities for nonprofit organizations and to what extent these organizations can participate in lobbying activities in particular
and the legislative process in general.

Many people who work on public health issues such as substance abuse prevention find themselves frequently working on matters related to public policy and legislation. This makes good sense when you consider the impact public policies can have on the public’s attitudes and behaviors related to public health matters.

It is not uncommon, however, for substance abuse prevention advocates to have little or no background or direct experience with the creation, regulation and maintenance of public policy. This
can make people understandably skittish; especially when it comes to the legal restrictions on lobbying that the Internal Revenue Service places on nonprofit organizations.

Despite this skittishness, the fact is that many, if not most, public policy advocacy activities that nonprofit public health advocates engage in do not constitute lobbying. Even those activities that
do constitute lobbying are not prohibited by law.

While the IRS places limits on the amount of money that nonprofit organizations can spend on lobbying, the activities themselves are expressly allowed by law.

Read more CADCA Guidelines for Advocacy

22
Dec

The issues are Complicated, but the answers are Simple

The issues around marijuana may seem complicated, but the bottom line is simple: 

  • We know from analysis at RAND that legalization would cause the price of marijuana to fall and its use woould rise, especially among youth.
     
  • With more users, we will see more addiction. Marijuana addiction is real and affects about 1 in 9 people who ever start using the drug (a number similar to alcohol). If one starts in adolescence, that number jumps to 1 in 6 users.
     
  • If you care about educational outcomes, you need to oppose legalization because marijuana use reduces learning and memory, increases drop-out rates and lower grades.
     
  • If you care about economic competitiveness and jobs, you need to oppose legalization because employers will not hire those who test positive for drug use.
     
  • If you care about safe roads, you need to oppose legalization because smoking marijuana doubles a user’s risk of having an accident.
     
  • Taxes on marijuana would never pay for the increased social costs that would result from more users. Our experience with alcohol and tobacco shows that for every dollar gained in taxes, we spent $10 in social costs.
     
  • Legalization would jeopardize our ability to get Federal funds, because of drug-free workplace requirements and the fact that marijuana is against Federal law.
     
  • Our experience with even tightly regulated prescription drugs, such as OxyCotin, shows that legalizing drugs widens availability and misuse, even when controls are in place.
     
  • Legalization would not curb violence.  Marijuana accounts for only a portion of the proceeds gained by criminal organizations that profit from drug distribution, human trafficking, and other crimes, so legalizing marijuana would not deter these groups from continuing to operate.
     
  • Legalization wouldn’t even reduce the burden of the criminal justice system. Today, alcohol ~ which is legal- is the cause of over 2.6 million arrests a year.  That is a million more arrests than for all illegal drugs combined.
     
  • In places that have experimented with quasi-legalization, marijuana use and associated problems have skyrocketed.  That is why the Netherlands, the U.K., and other countries, after experiencing a wave of increased use, are now reversing their policies.
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