the Willamette Valley NORML > News > 2010
Weeding Through The Hype: Interpreting The Latest Warnings About Pot and Schizophrenia | Once again members of the mainstream media are running wild with the notion that marijuana use causes schizophrenia and psychosis. To add insult to injury, this latest dose of reefer rhetoric comes only days after investigators in the United Kingdom reported in the prestigious scientific journal Addiction that the available evidence in support of this theory is “neither very new, nor by normal criteria, particularly compelling.” (Predictably, the conclusions of that study went all together unnoticed by the mainstream press.)
Yet today’s latest alarmist report, like those studies touting similar claims before it, fails to account for the following: If, as the authors of this latest study suggest, cannabis use is a cause of mental illness (and schizophrenia in particular), then why have diagnosed incidences of schizophrenia not paralleled rising trends in cannabis use over time? In fact, it was only in September when investigators at the Keele University Medical School in Britain smashed the pot = schizophrenia theory to smithereens. Writing in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the team compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Researchers reported that the “incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” during this period, even the use of cannabis among the general population was rising. Click > here < for more.
Researchers Find Study of Medical Marijuana Discouraged | Despite the Obama administration’s tacit support of more liberal state medical marijuana laws, the federal government still discourages research into the medicinal uses of smoked marijuana. That may be one reason that — even though some patients swear by it — there is no good scientific evidence that legalizing marijuana’s use provides any benefits over current therapies.
Mike Mergen for The New York Times | Buddy Coolen with marijuana plants he grows for medicinal use. He said smoking was “as good as any medicine I have.” Lyle E. Craker, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Massachusetts, has been trying to get permission from federal authorities for nearly nine years to grow a supply of the plant that he could study and provide to researchers for clinical trials.
But the Drug Enforcement Administration — more concerned about abuse than potential benefits — has refused, even after the agency’s own administrative law judge ruled in 2007 that Dr. Craker’s application should be approved, and even after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in March ended the Bush administration’s policy of raiding dispensers of medical marijuana that comply with state laws. “All I want to be able to do is grow it so that it can be tested,” Dr. Craker said in comments echoed by other researchers. Click > here < for more.
US Senate Committee Passes The National Criminal Justice Act | Earlier this morning the United State’s Senate, Committee on Judiciary, unanimously approved Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. NORML first blogged about this federal legislation back in November, and encouraged NORML supporters to contact their U.S. Senators in favor of this long-needed reform. Fortunately, many of you did so, and today the Senate Judiciary responded accordingly.
As amended, Senate Bill 714 will establish a `National Criminal Justice Commission’ to hold public hearings and “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. … The Commission shall make findings regarding such review and recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.” It’s been many years since a federally appointed commission has taken an objective look at American criminal justice policies, and it’s been nearly 40 years since federal lawmakers have undertaken a critical examination of U.S. drug policy. As affirmed by the bill’s chief sponsor, Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia: Click > here < for more.
Washington: Lawmakers Vote For “Continued Chaos” | They say that the will of politicians often lags behind the sentiment of the public. Nowhere is this adage more clear than when it comes to marijuana law reform.
It was business as usual today in Olympia, as lawmakers on the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness voted down a pair of bills aimed at reforming the state’s failed criminal marijuana laws. House Bill 2401 sought to regulate the adult production, use, and distribution of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
House Bill 1177 was much more limited in scope, seeking simply to reclassify minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor to a fine-only civil infraction. (Note, its Senate companion bill, SB 5615, awaits floor action in the Senate.) This change, known as decriminalization, is already the law in over a dozen states. Click > here < for more.
BID TO LEGALIZE POT ADVANCES; Initiative Backers Gather What Is Likely to Be Enough Signatures to Put Their Measure on the California Ballot in November. | Los Angeles, California, USA: Proponents of an initiative to make California the first state to legalize marijuana have collected about 693,800 signatures, virtually guaranteeing that the measure will appear on a crowded November ballot. "This is a historic first step toward ending cannabis prohibition," said Richard Lee, the measure's main backer.
Advocates, trailed by television cameras and photographers, dropped off petitions with elections officials in the state's largest counties, including Los Angeles, where organizers said 143,105 voters signed. Lee, a successful Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, bankrolled a professional signature-gathering effort that circulated the petition in every county except Alpine, which only has about 800 registered voters. Click > here < for more.
NH House Committee Recommends Study of Bill That Would Tax and Regulate Marijuana; Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee votes 16-2 to consider details of H.B. 1652 before moving bill forward | CONCORD, N.H. - January 28 - Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 16-2 to "refer for interim study" H.B. 1652, a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. If the House concurs with this recommendation, the 20-member committee will proceed with a comprehensive study of the proposal. This vote is a promising sign that New Hampshire's lawmakers are willing to seriously discuss the possibility of ending marijuana prohibition in the Granite State.
Previously, a vote to recommend that the bill "ought to pass" failed 8-10. Five Democrats and three Republicans voted in favor. Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Milford), who voted against the first motion, told her colleagues, "I believe we should decriminalize marijuana," but said she felt the committee should take time to consider all the details of the bill before recommending it to the full House of Representatives. Click > here < for more.
THE FORFEITURE RACKET; Police and Prosecutors Won't Give Up Their License to Steal | Around 3 in the morning on January 7, 2009, a 22-year-old college student named Anthony Smelley was pulled over on Interstate 70 in Putnam County, Indiana. He and two friends were en route from Detroit to visit Smelley's aunt in St. Louis. Smelley, who had recently received a $50,000 settlement from a car accident, was carrying around $17,500 in cash, according to later court documents. He claims he was bringing the money to buy a new car for his aunt. The officer who pulled him over, Lt. Dwight Simmons of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, said that Smelley had made an unsafe lane change and was driving with an obscured license plate. When Simmons asked for a driver's license, Smelley told him he had lost it after the accident. Simmons called in Smelley's name and discovered that his license had actually expired. The policeman asked Smelley to come out of the car, patted him down, and discovered a large roll of cash in his front pocket, in direct contradiction to Smelley's alleged statement in initial questioning that he wasn't, in fact, carrying much money. Click > here < for more.
OPED: Evans: In Defense of Martha | As a Main Street lawyer, I rise in defense of Martha Coakley, who is not to blame for her inglorious defeat. Instead, blame belongs to Mike Capuano, the progressive and likeable congressman from Somerville who lost to her in the Democratic primary. But for a gross political miscalculation, he might well have been the Democratic nominee, with dramatically different results for Massachusetts and the nation.
-- In November of 2008, slightly over a year ago, Massachusetts voters elected Barrack Obama by 62%, and passed an initiative to decriminalize marijuana by 65%. (Yes, 65%!
-- Martha Coakley, long-resistant to marijuana reform, led a phalanx of prosecutors and law enforcement officials in opposition to the initiative. After the landslide victory for decriminalization, she resolutely stood her ground and encouraged cities and towns to pass new anti-pot ordinances, usually at the behest of local police, confident that her judgment was superior to that of the voters. Click > here < for more.
Marijuana should be legalized | Monday, January 25, 2010 - It is disappointing, though telling, to learn that the proposal by Virginia Del. Harvey B. Morgan (R-Gloucester) to amend the state's antiquated and overly punitive marijuana laws has been received "largely with amusement by his Republican colleagues" [Metro, Jan. 21].
In 2007, 18,000 people were prosecuted in Virginia for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana. Passage of Mr. Morgan's measure would spare these thousands of minor marijuana offenders from criminal arrest and incarceration, as well as the emotional and financial hardships that follow -- including the loss of certain jobs and student loans. The measure would also allow the law enforcement and court systems to reallocate resources toward activities that will more effectively target serious criminal behavior and keep the public safe. Click > here < for more.
STATE COURT RULING SHOOTS DOWN MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESTRICTIONS | A unanimous California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that sought to impose limits on the amount of marijuana a medical patient can legally possess, essentially sending Humboldt County's prosecution guidelines, and countless others throughout the state, up in proverbial smoke. The California high court ruled that state lawmakers overstepped their bounds in 2003 when passing Senate Bill 420, which sought to give law enforcement guidelines on when to make marijuana possession arrests by mandating that each patient could have a maximum of eight ounces of dried marijuana. The bill sought to add clarity to 1996's voter-approved Proposition 215, which made it legal for patients to possess and cultivate unspecified amounts of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
The case, The People v. Patrick Kelly, adds considerably more gray to an already murky legal area governing medicinal use of the drug, and what constitutes legitimate personal medical consumption. One thing is for sure, according to University of California Hastings School of Law professor David Levine, the ruling will make it much more difficult to prosecute medical marijuana cases. Click > here < for more.
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