Although I doubt that the farmers in Humbolt County will have much to worry about in the short term, Arizona’s looking for its own piece of the medical marijuana gold rush, with the weGrow superstore catering to marijuana growers, opening yesterday in Phoenix. Think of it as a big hydroponic garden center that sells everything you need to lovingly grow the chronic save for the plants themselves. Two weGrow big box locations already exist in California, in Oakland and in the state capital of Sacramento. Via Reuters:
The 21,000-square-foot store offers some 2,000 products, including soil, grow lights and irrigation trays, specially designed for effective marijuana growing, [weGrow founder Dhar ] Mann told Reuters.
A doctor also is on site to furnish eligible patients the initial medical approval needed to apply to the state health department for cards authorizing them to legally grow and use marijuana as treatment for a variety of qualifying ailments.
Alluding to some of America’s leading big-box chains, the company’s own press materials describe the weGrow franchise as the “Wal-Mart of Weed,” while various media reports have referred to it as “Home DePot.”
The store’s opening came on the same day that Arizona was to have begun accepting applications from individuals seeking one of 125 permits the state plans to grant for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. But that process was put on hold last week.
On Friday, the state went to federal court seeking to clarify whether its citizens were at risk of federal prosecution for participating in activities sanctioned under Arizona’s medical marijuana act, passed by voters in November.
Arizona is the 16th state in the nation, plus the District of Columbia, to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes.
So far under 4000 people in Arizona have been approved for medical cannabis use, but Mann is taking his weGrow franchises going nationwide with a store to open in Washington, DC in July and outlets in Denver, Detroit and perhaps Los Angeles to follow soon after.
Zhar Mann told the San Francisco Chronicle that he already had contracts in hand for an additional 75 weGrow locations. The Oakland store, which I hear is 60,000-square-foot. supposedly made over $500,000 in the first two months of operation. The “grow your own medicine” movement is a market estimated to be worth billions of dollars. I think that’s a pretty good estimate!
When I read this, my first thought was “I wonder if everyone currently serving prison time for cannabis possession in America will be able to sing their way out of jail?” Good for this judge and good for Willie Nelson. This just goes to show what a mockery of justice the marijuana laws are in certain states. From Spinner:
Surprise, surprise—Willie Nelson was busted with a personal amount of marijuana on his tour bus last fall. Of course, it probably would’ve been a much bigger surprise if the search turned up nothing, but in this day and age, where many touring musicians have doctor recommendations allowing them to legally “medicate” in home states such as California and Colorado, not many people care. Especially when there are natural disasters, political upheavals and even revolutions to deal with.
Indeed, that’s kinda the stance that even the prosecutor in Nelson’s case seems to be taking. TMZ reports that the prosecutor would be willing to let Nelson’s punishment fit an increasingly popular perception of the crime—rather than let him face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, if Nelson sings ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ inside the courtroom, then all will be forgiven and the 77-year-old country singer will have to pay just a $100 penalty.
Both Nelson and the presiding judge must accept the terms for this to happen, but our guess is that Nelson’s expert attorney—Joe Turner, who got Nelson’s previous marijuana charge dropped, in 1994—is tuning up the guitar. Let freedom sing!
Willie Nelson is 77-years-old. There is no way in hell that any “law” is going to come between Willie and his “Willie Weed” (which I have personally sampled and it’s great). Shouldn’t they just issue him some sort of honorary “get out of jail free” card for when he’s touring, good in any state in America?
Below, the American icon sings “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” on the CMA awards show in 1975:
Frequent readers of this blog know that California’s thriving medical marijuana scene is rather…uh… near and dear to our hearts. Tomorrow night in Los Angeles, at The 7th Annual Artivist Film Festival, there will be a free festival screening of director Kevin Booth’s How Weed Won the West documentary at the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, at 7p.m. Booth will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening. He will be joined by NORML’s Allen St. Pierre and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s Lt. Diane Goldstein. All screenings at the Artivist Film Festival are free, tickets for How Weed Won the West can be reserved here.
While California is going bankrupt, one business is booming. How Weed Won the West is the story of the growing medical cannabis/marijuana industry in the greater Los Angeles area, with over 700 dispensaries doling out the buds. As a treatment for conditions ranging from cancer and AIDS, to anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia, cannabis is quickly proving itself as a healthier natural alternative to many prescription drugs. Following the story of Organica, a collective owned by Jeff Joseph that was raided by the DEA in August of ‘09, the film shows that although some things have changed with Obama in office, the War on Drugs is nowhere near over. From Kevin Booth, the producer/director of Showtime’s American Drug War, How Weed Won the West puts California forward as an example to the rest of the country by documenting how legalizing marijuana can help save the economy.
Also screening for free at the Artivist Film Festival in a similar “herbal genre” is Hempsters, 9:00pm on Friday December 3 at the Egyptian with the director in attendance for a Q&A afterwards:
This lively documentary directed by Michael Henning, begins with the arrest of Woody Harrelson for planting four feral hemp seeds in Kentucky and his subsequent trial and acquittal, then joins traveling Hemp activist Craig Lee and a number of featured old-school Kentucky tobacco farmers who just want to grow the multipurpose crop as a way to save their farms. Viewers meet Alex White Plume, leader of the Lakota “Tiospaye” (family clan), and the first family to plant industrial hemp on American soil since the 1950′s. He makes a startling case that his right to grow hemp is a sovereignty issue. Julia Butterfly Hill goes to extreme lengths to protest the pulping of old-growth forests by living for over two years at the top of a 1,000 year old redwood tree in Northern California. Gatewood Galbraith, the fiery orator of the US Reform Party, attempts to bring to the public at large to its senses in his own inimitable style. A hyper-paced ride with a sizzling soundtrack, this motion picture puts hemp at the heart of just about every grassroots issue in America today. Featured players include Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ralph Nader and Woody Harrelson. More than a political study of cannabis, Hempsters is a rousing portrait of our country’s most spirited and sensible free-thinkers.
Get free tickets for the Hempsters screening here.
Colorado residents with a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis will soon be able to purchase a mass-produced THC-infused soft drink that comes in several flavors. A Colorado-based company called Dixie Elixirs is preparing a line of marijuana-laced sodas for the medical-cannabis market that now numbers 14 states. Not sure exactly how something like this would work across state lines, but I suppose that they’re about to find out. Maybe they’ll have to have plants in each state, which will—HELLO—provide new jobs. Decriminalizing pot is a no brainer.
It’s amusing to note that “discretion” is one of the key advantages to the product (i.e. not smoking something) but maybe they’d want to leave the pot-leaf off the bottle, then! Strikes me as like when people have Grateful Dead bumperstickers. Might as well have one reading “I’ve got pot (and/or LSD) in the car!”
It’s also worth mentioning that a hundred years ago Coca-Cola famously used to have a coca leaf extract which provided its “kick.” This seems tame in comparison.
I’ve tried a similar type of cannabis soda (not a Dixie Elixer, to be clear) but it didn’t do much for me. Okay, I drank three and still felt nothing. Maybe these guys will get it right. The market for something like this could be massive, especially if California’s voters pass Prop 19.
According to several polls, the presence of marijuana reform initiatives on the ballet in states in the west, will probably bring many younger Democrats to the voter’s booth who might have decided to sit this mid-term election out, otherwise. I’m definitely looking forward to casting an affirmative vote for Prop 19 and I hope all of my fellow Californians reading this will chose to do the same.
Unofficial state estimates indicate that California’s cannabis crop is worth more—far more!—than the state’s wine industry. I’m confident that Prop 19 is going to pass. To leave tax money on the table isn’t something the state can afford to do right now. Besides that, legalization, according to a RAND Corp. study, could cause pot prices to drop considerably, something that will be seen as additional welcome economic relief to millions of the state’s unemployed tokers…
California’s pot crop is worth $14 billion, according to a state report. The Press Democrat points out that crushes the wine crop which comes in at $2 billion.
Legalization would be a huge shot in the arm for plenty of ancillary industries, such as banking and construction.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the federal government would crack down. That risk might make investors too skittish to get involved. Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the government would continue its dangerous raids.
Some regions, such as Mendocino County, have leaned on pot agriculture as other industries dried up. It’s estimated that at least half of that county’s economy depends on cultivation of the plant. [Half? Try three-quarters!—RM]
The only sure thing is that there’s no sure thing. Marijuana legalization is uncharted territory. Or at least, it’s uncharted in this country. Other countries have managed to figure it out, but here in The Land of the Free, we’ve clung to prohibition.
Earlier, the state estimated that it could rake in $1.4 billion in taxes if Prop 19 passes, but they’ve since backed off that estimate, claiming that there are too many unknown variables. Prop 19 would allow each individual municipality to set its own pot regulations, which some detractors have said will create an unwieldy patchwork of laws. Coincidentally, most of those who oppose legalization are those who make money from prohibition: law enforcement agencies and the alcohol industry.
Dangerous Minds pal, Michael Backes (who named the above strain) writes:
“Most books about marijuana are hampered by shoddy research and threadbare science. As cannabis legalization and decriminalization approaches its tipping point in the US, it’s refreshing that Dr. Julie Holland has published, The Pot Book, the most comprehensive overview available of cannabis, its medical uses and societal ramifications. What makes “The Pot Book” truly significant is the depth of its coverage and the breadth of its fifty contributors.
Dr. Holland, who spent a decade as an ER psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, is also the author of The Ecstasy Book, the standard work on MDMA and its medicinal applications. For The Pot Book, Holland has convened a who’s who of esteemed contributors, ranging from Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the discoverer of THC, to contemporary social critic, Douglas Rushkoff. The book covers everything from the latest on cannabis botany from Dr. Lyle Craker, the UMass professor that is attempting to break the US government’s monopoly on research-grade cannabis to Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum’s essay on how to speak to kids about marijuana. The book is supplemented by a website with additional articles and interviews that didn’t make the cut for the book, plus a collection of excellent links to cannabis science and sociology. All proceeds from sales of the book go to support research into cannabinoid medicines.”
After three years of putting this book together, I’m convinced that cannabis can be re-introduced to physicians and patients as the multifaceted medicine it once was. I think what we will see in the next decade or so is an explosion of research into the therapeutic use of cannabinoids as medications. If you’d like to donate to the Holland Fund for Therapeutic Cannabinoid Research, please click here.
Before pot was illegal, it was a medicine used for thousands of years to treat everything from muscle spasms to insomnia. Cannabis has powerful anti-inflammatory activity, it can act as a free-radical scavenger, and most importantly, cannabis has anti-cancer activity. Cannabinoids can kill cancer cells by apopotosis (triggering programmed cell death) while sparing healthy cells, and can also prevent tumor blood supplies from forming, which is called angiogenesis.
Cannabinoids also have a pro-metabolic effect, meaning they may be helpful in stopping the progression of diabetes (partially through its anti-inflammatory action on the cells of the pancreas), as well as helping to normalize blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Cannabis is a medicine that can slow the prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, the cause of many heart attacks and strokes) and can modify autoimmune diseases including arthritis, Chron’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. (Cannabis doesn’t just relax the spasming muscles and bladders of MS patients; it actually seems to modify the course of illness and may slow neurodegeneration through its neuroprotective effect. The United States has taken out a patent on the use of cannabis as a neuro-protectant, though they continue to keep the plant in Schedule I, reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse and no medicinal use. Groups of physicians and nurses including the American Medical Association have requested a review of this scheduling.
But there are other important uses of this plant. Cannabis seeds are a complete vegetarian protein and can be used as food for people, livestock, and birds. Hempseed oil not only provides the exact ratio of essential fatty acids our bodies need, but it can also be used as a fuel. Hempseed oil is a renewable fuel source, which could decrease our reliance on foreign oil. Hemp (the non-psychoactive stalk of the cannabis plant) can make many consumer goods including paper (decreasing deforestation that complicates our climate maintenance) rope, canvas, and clothing more absorbent than cotton. Importantly, with compostable cellulose, hemp can replace our current plastic bag and Styrofoam “plastic vortex”/landfill crisis.
Cannabis is an ancient medicinal plant used for thousands of years until it was made illegal in 1937, soon after alcohol prohibition was repealed. We are currently imprisoning more people than any other country on the planet, with nearly half of our prisoners serving time for drug offenses. New York City, where I practice medicine, arrests more people for marijuana offenses than any other city in the US. Although Caucasians constitute the majority of pot smokers, African-Americans and Latinos experience a disproportionate number of marijuana-related arrests.
Renewable bio-fuel, food, rope, canvas, clothing, paper, medicine, and relaxant, and America can’t have any of it.
Because it make them laugh. As a psychiatrist, I have to tell you: This is insanity.
As city officials grapple with the issue (notice I didn’t write “problem”) of what to do about the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, it seems likely that City Council members will ignore the calls from City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley for a citywide shut down of the cannabis clubs in favor of a more nuanced approach. But that won’t be easy either, as L.A .Times reporter John Hoeffel writes this morning.
Additionally, proposals to limit the number of dispensaries are likely to face several legal hurdles and courtroom challenges before they can be implemented and proposals to restrict the amount of cannabis each dispensary can have on hand per month have, so far, suggested totals that most Los Angeles-based collectives would currently sell every few days. The City Council will be challenged to balance concerns of patients, business owners and law enforcement with the potential for substantial revenues created from taxing cannabis sales—taxes that could result in more teachers and better road repairs for the city, advocates say.
Ironically, as L.A. prepares to crack down on medical marijuana, opinion seems to be trending nationally in favor of full decriminalization of marijuana and a tax on its sale. In 2009, there has been a noticeable sea change in how the issue is reported on in the mainstream media. While there are critics who believe, like Trutanich and Cooley, that marijuana dispensaries increase crime and provide outlets for Mexican drug cartels, the view from outside of Los Angeles doesn’t appear to be one of fear, but of curiosity, or dare I say it, even envy.
The boom town atmosphere brought complaints from some neighbors, but little of the crime associated with underground drug-dealing. Advocates cite the latter as evidence that, as with alcohol, violence associated with the marijuana trade flows from its prohibition.
“Seriously,” said Bruce Merkin, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group based in the District, “there is a reason you don’t have Mexican beer cartels planting fields of hops in the California forests.”
Meanwhile award-winning L.A. Times business columnist David Lazarus channels his inner Cheech and Chong with this droll video commentary on the matter:
With a philosophy seemingly diametrically opposed to that of elected law enforcement officials in Los Angeles, the attorney general of Colorado, John Suthers (a Republican), has advised the governor of that state that medical marijuana sales should be regulated and taxed like alcohol and tobacco (and not tax- exempt like pharmaceuticals are, as medical cannabis is not prescribed per se, but “recommended” by doctors). This plan seems consistent with the stark reality in these dark times that state and county governments need to seek new avenues of public funding that will not prove to be politically unpopular. Medical cannabis activists have long been pro-taxation, as it confers legitimacy on the space.
The taxation of medical marijuana sales is something that we hear a lot about in California, and the above graphic gives some idea of how much money would be left on the table should medical marijuana be banned—or merely hounded and harassed out of business—here in Los Angeles. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley have declared their intentions to continue fighting the medical marijuana dispensaries, but it’s important to keep in mind that 77% of Los Angeles residents indicated that they were for the regulation and taxation of dispensaries, according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll.
No matter what sort of spin you put on the issue, ignoring the revenue-creating potential of taxing cannabis sales—which will continue, legally or otherwise—hardly seems prudent when we live in an era in which local governments can’t afford to fix potholes or hire schoolteachers.
Limelight-loving L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has been making headlines and television appearances in recent weeks with his all-out legal assault on medical marijuana dispensaries. Unfortunately for Trutanich, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder feels that prosecution of medical marijuana patients should be a low priority for law enforcement officials and said so in a memo released Monday. Ouch. Trutanich and L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley got another setback on Monday as well when a circuit judge ruled that the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was illegally extended. Double ouch.
But what might be the most compelling reason of all for Trutanich and Cooley to back off the cannabis biz is the overwhelming support for medical marijuana of the voters who elected them both in the first place.
As John Hoeffel reports from the L.A. Times local desk, over three-quarters of eligible voters are strongly pro-medical marijuana and would prefer to see the dispensaries regulated and taxed, not forced to close:
The poll, completed Monday and Tuesday, also found that 74% support the state’s medical marijuana law, while 54% want to see marijuana legalized, regulated and taxed.
The Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C., commissioned the poll by an independent firm, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, after Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley threatened all dispensaries in the county with prosecution.
The poll of 625 voters found that 77% of voters want to regulate dispensaries, while 14% want them closed. Both Democrats (83%-7%) and Republicans (62%-30%) support regulation over prosecution. The Los Angeles City Council is on the verge of adopting regulations after two years of debate and almost 13 years after voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.
Even with the stated 4% give-or-take margin of error of the Mason-Dixon poll, this is a uniquely compelling report for Trutanich and Cooley to pay close attention to, especially since it will be these very same voters who’ll be determining their reelection prospects in the future.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall Monday when L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley got the dual bad news—well, bad news for them at least—about the U.S. Justice Department’s memo regarding marijuana policy and the California Superior Court’s injunction, which bans enforcement of the city’s moratorium on cannabis dispensaries, issued that same day.
Employees of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles have been showing up for work daily for the last few weeks fearing imminent police raids and participating in “raid drill” workshops, but these nerve-wracking preparations were for naught in the wake of the court’s injunction and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.‘s statement when he released the new guidelines. ?
Writing in the journal Science nearly four decades ago, New York State University sociologist Erich Goode documented the media’s complicity in maintaining cannabis prohibition.
He observed: “[T]ests and experiments purporting to demonstrate the ravages of marijuana consumption receive enormous attention from the media, and their findings become accepted as fact by the public. But when careful refutations of such research are published, or when later findings contradict the original pathological findings, they tend to be ignored or dismissed.”
A glimpse of today’s mainstream media landscape indicates that little has changed—with news outlets continuing to, at best, underreport the publication of scientific studies that undermine the federal government’s longstanding pot propaganda and, at worst, ignore them all together.
Here are five recent stories the mainstream media doesn’t want you to know about pot
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