Recreational cannabis is legal in Denver, Colorado, but folks are still feeling a little bit iffy about its sudden visible, and potentially sniffable, presence. The Denver police are now using an instrument called the “Nasal Ranger” (yes, that’s really what it is called), to measure and track the scent of pot in order to better enforce laws regarding smell complaints. They began using the tool fairly recently, purportedly after pot-related odor complaints more than doubled. Doubling sounds like a lot, right?
Oh wait, except that the numbers were pretty negligible to begin with.
In a city of around 634,000 people, there were 98 smell complaints in 2010, seven involved weed. In 2012, there were 288 complaints, with sixteen having to do with marihuana. While that’s an increase overall, complaints about pot actually decreased by about 1.5%, and this was all prior to the legalization of pot for recreational use. In 2013 (up until September 20th), they recorded 85 complaints, eleven of which were attributed to marijuana, a slight increase since 2010, but the city isn’t exactly being hot-boxed. And let’s be honest, at least some of those complaints were made by anti-pot tattle-tales and buttinskies. I only know a few Denverites, but none I’ve spoken to have complained of a sudden pervasive skunky smog enveloping the Mile-High City.
I looked up the Nasal Ranger, attempting to find a price, but apparently you have to request a quote, which is far too much work for an (cough) groggy young woman like myself. It sounds to me like the police department bought an expensive-ass toy in order to assuage some stuffy reactionaries. In all fairness, the Nasal Ranger actually seems like a pretty tame measure when you learn there are people in Denver attempting to pass laws making the very smell of pot punishable by up to $999 or up to a year in jail.
And at least the Nasal Ranger uses measurable data. That way, they can punish only the truly egregious odor levels—smells most likely produced by a dispensary or farm, not personal use. And at most, it’s a $2,000 fine, nothing completely outrageous. The more potentially unjust part is the provision declaring that five household complaints in a 12 hour period constitutes a violation. That could so easily abused by a few vindictive, lying, busybody neighbors.
On some level, I sympathize with a fear of overpowering smells. I grew up next to a donut factory that ran the ovens at 5 am, right when I was driving to my awful job as a hotel maid. I used love the smell of donuts, but after living in a cloying corn syrup fog for a year, I can now only stand the aroma when the odd donut craving hits me. Of course, now I live in a West Indian neighborhood, so guess what my street smells like in the summer heat? Barbecue, you racists! (Seriously, 95 degrees and a smoker full of jerk chicken in front of every brownstone.)
“Ma’am, what primary factor would you attribute your astonishing longevity to?”
A new study published in the American Journal of Medicine finds that heavy pot smokers tend to be slimmer than former marijuana users and non-smokers.
In the abstract, the researchers went into the background of the study:
There are limited data regarding the relationship between cannabinoids and metabolic processes. Epidemiologic studies have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus in marijuana users compared with people who have never used marijuana, suggesting a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes. To date, no study has investigated the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance.
We found that marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR, and smaller waist circumference.
This would suggest that cannabinoids have a positive effect on metabolic processes.
I’m not a scientist, but the first thing that occurred to me is that this doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that bigtime potheads tend not to drink alcohol very much, if at all. I wonder how many of the non-smokers control group were in fact drinkers? I’d like to see a study pitting the physiques of big stoners versus moderate to heavy drinkers.
NASCAR fans attending the 2013 Brickyard 400 races are being greeted by this ad on a jumbotron at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The spoof beer ad produced by the Marijuana Policy Project highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol by characterizing marijuana as a “new ‘beer’” with “no calories,” “no hangovers,” and “no violence” associated with its use.
No doubt many more people will see this spot on the Internet than at a NASCAR race.
KIRO did an interesting investigative report the other day where they got three drivers—medical marijuana patients all of them—stoned to the gills and then put them behind the wheel of a car to test their driving skills vs. the legal allowable limits of THC in their bloodstreams, as measured by Colorado and Washington. And then some. Each was accompanied by drivers-ed instructor, as a police officer visually inspected their performance for signs of impairment.
Although I’m sure that there are a lot of people who would watch this and think “I can drive fine when I’m high,” that’s clearly not the case with these folks after a certain point. True, the control group does consist of just three people (with Addy appearing to be a shitty driver whether she’d be high or not). Regardless, there’s something significant (and wholly positive) about a report like this when the American people can see with their own eyes that drivers who have taken a few puffs (and even really stoned drivers) still tend to be better drivers than someone who’s liquored up.
Personally, I don’t like driving if I’m even slightly baked. I prefer to be a stoned passenger (and much to my long-suffering wife’s annoyance, I usually am). However, given the theoretical choice, I’d much rather have to deal with sharing the road with stoned drivers instead of people who are drunk or texting.
Admit it, Obama voters, this is the kinda thing you expected Mitt Romney to do if he got into office. What did this take, all of around 36-hours, to get floated to the press?
Maybe I should have voted for (unimpressive) Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (I probably agree with him on about 25% of the issues, around the same percentage as I agree with Obama, anyway). On election day it was more appealing to me to record a “fuck you” vote to the Republicans than to make a different sort of protest vote, but Obama is already making me regret that, as tiny a protest as that would have been, just TWO DAYS later!
Votes making Colorado and Washington the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana for recreational use could be short-lived victories for pot backers because the federal government will fight them, two former U.S. drug control officials said on Wednesday.
They said the federal government could sue to block parts of the measures or send threatening letters to marijuana shops, followed up by street-level clampdowns similar to those targeting medical marijuana dispensaries the government suspects are fronts for drug traffickers.
“This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates, but it will be short-lived,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration’s drug czar, told reporters.
“They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of ... presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition,” Sabet said.
Ian Millhiser, senior constitutional policy analyst with the left-leaning Center for American Progress, said the federal government, even if it sues to challenge the Colorado and Washington initiatives, cannot force police in those states to arrest people for marijuana infractions.
“If I were Barack Obama, I would look at this and say I would rather have young voters with me,” Millhiser said.
Damn, straight, Ian. I’d take it a step further and say that NO ONE was waiting to hear how Obama was going to crack down on… states’ rights.
If his DOJ does nothing about this, no one will even notice (Keep in mind that the Bush administration did very, very little to curb the explosive growth in California’s cannabis trade). Now they’re just going to get mad. Fuck Obama. What’s so “Forward” about this shit?
I have to laugh at people who think the Obama/Kumar video is a “secret message” dog-whistle to potheads that he’s going to make reform of marijuana laws a priority during a second term. Based on what readily available evidence? A “hunch”? It can’t be about looking at what’s actually happened during his administration thus far, that’s for fucking sure.
Stick with it. The footage of the raids is breathtaking.
It must’ve been a particularly fucking slow day yesterday at The Atlantic Wire: how else to explain the popular, much-shared, but curiously devoid of any real news, or worthwhile analysis post with the winning link bait headline: “Is Legalizing Weed Obama’s Secret Weapon?”
(Apologies for my own ironic posing of that same question in the title here. Yes I wanted to draw you in, but at least I’m honest enough put quotation marks around it!)
In 2004 George W. Bush’s re-election campaign worked to put anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives up for vote in several swing states in order to turn out more hard-core conservatives to the polls. This year the question is whether marijuana legalization measures will turn out young voters for Obama.
WHO is asking such a question? Certainly not many journalists with Google at their disposal, right?
But Reeve valiantly shoves on, nevertheless:
Bush’s plan to use gay marriage bans—in states that did not actually allow gay marriage—as a turnout booster led to signs featuring icky public restroom symbols proliferated and liberal panic that the Christian right had taken over. The press obsessed over “values voters.” One of Bush’s aides, Ken Mehlman, who later came out as gay himself, has apologized for the strategy, two others say it didn’t work.
This year there’s another incumbent president with modest approval ratings who could turn out his base with controversial ballot measures. But this time, the issue features no biblical or scatological imagery. In 2012, voters in swing states will decide whether they’ll allow their fellow citizens to bear joints. Unlike the gay marriage votes, there’s no indication that Obama’s re-election team is behind any of the pot legalization initiatives, but there are Democrats who are hoping that it will boost turnout among weed’s biggest fans: young people.
What?!?! These two things have nothing in common.
This risible nonsense was forwarded by several of my friends and acquaintances yesterday (you know who you are) with their apparent approval, as if all of a sudden Obama and Eric Holder were going to appear smoking blunts on the cover of October’s High Times magazine as they announce a cabinet level “herb czar” post for Woody Harrelson!
The Atlantic Wire post—it should have been obvious to anyone—was a steaming crock of liberal projection of the worst type… and dig the non-logical logic: In 2004, George Bush cynically used the prevailing winds at the time blowing against gay marriage to get himself re-elected. Now Obama can do the same by jumping on the pro-marijuana bandwagon.
What the fuck Atlantic Wire? Child, someone has lied to you.
The Obama administration’s actual real-life history on the medical cannabis front is in diametric opposition to promises made on the campaign trail in 2008 and broken ever since! This is all, of course, a matter of public record, but to be fair to Elspeth Reeve, Google was broken the other day, wasn’t it?
In this article, the cynical way the Obama DOJ is going about “softly” dealing with the proliferation of medical cannabis dispensaries in California is laid bare (and it is EXACTLY what Bush’s DOJ was doing. The. Exact.Same.Thing.): The Feds are threatening the landlords who rent to the dispensaries under civil-forfeiture statutes that allow the government to seize real estate used to commit or facilitate drug trafficking. And this is cost effective for the Feds, too: Usually all they have to do is send a letter to the property owner, threaten to take their property away from them and there goes the problem in a puff of smoke.
Or at least this is generally how it works. Landlords with savvier legal advisers simply ignore such letters, while less clued-in building owners usually cave and kick the cannabis clubs to the curb:
Federal prosecutors are targeting medical marijuana shops in California, seeking forfeiture of the properties in which they do business.
The authorities are pressuring landlords to shut down the shops or face possible loss of the real estate through the unconventional and low-key use of a civil statute designed primarily to seize the assets of drug-trafficking organizations.
While some states, including California, have legalized medical marijuana businesses, the federal government does not recognize their authority to do so and has targeted the shops for violations of the 40-year-old Controlled Substances Act.
The goal of the Justice Department’s effort, part of a crackdown announced last October, is to fight the medical marijuana industry, estimated at $1.7 billion annually, without confronting it head-on with costly and potentially embarrassing criminal prosecutions, industry sources and legal experts said.
This indirect strategy is reminiscent of the department’s attempts, which have met with only limited success, to sever the medical pot industry’s access to banking services. Many businesses have found ways around those restrictions, experts said.
“Filing asset-forfeiture lawsuits against these commercial properties is a very clever way to handle an otherwise horribly difficult and controversial situation,” said Greg Baldwin, a partner at the Miami law firm Holland & Knight and a former federal prosecutor.
“If you bring criminal charges against these medical marijuana businesses, the federal government gets pilloried in the press for attacking California law and sick people.”
The idea that the Obama administration is going to all of a sudden turn on a dime and become pro-pot is a pipe-dream. Last week in Los Angeles the Feds brought asset-forfeiture lawsuits against several buildings housing marijuana stores and sent the so-called “warning letters” to dozens of property owners threatening similar legal action. The letters gave property owners just two weeks to comply. Although the odds of the Feds actually carrying through with the threat seem rather low, how would you feel if you owned rental property and you got a letter from the Feds like that? What if they are serious this time?
You see how that might wear on you. It’s not worth it, so bye-bye law-abiding, 100% legal as per the voters of the great state of California pot dispensaries. Even the dispensary owners who own the buildings they operate out of would have to have nerves of steel (and deep pockets) to stare down that kind of threat.
In the same way that I hate it when conservative know-nothings nod in idiot approval at fantasy and emotional projection onto “leaders,” it’s no less grating on the nerves when it is progressives who are the ones who are being the lazy, brainless idiots when they hero worship a guy who clearly doesn’t deserve it…
Below, Bill Maher, Mos Def, Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens discuss what Obama actually said about marijuana legalization:
The results of a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely nationwide voters, conducted earlier this month, was released yesterday and the results show a surge of support for the legalization of cannabis. The question posed by the pollsters was “Would you favor or oppose legalizing marijuana and regulating it in the similar manner to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are regulated today?”
“And the survey says…” that a solid majority support legalized nature.
The poll affirms, once again, that the tide of public opinion continues to turn in our favor. Fifty-six percent of respondents stated they would support legalizing and regulating marijuana in a similar manner alcohol and tobacco. Only 36% were opposed to the concept and 8% were undecided.
You can view more information about the poll on Rasmussen Reports’ website here.
A previous poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports in April reported that 47% of adults “believe the country should legalize and tax marijuana in order to help solve the nation’s fiscal problems.” Forty-two percent of respondents disagreed, while ten percent were undecided.
In 2011, a nationwide Gallup poll reported that 50 percent of Americans support legalizing the use of cannabis for adults. Forty-six percent of respondents said they opposed the idea.
Bear in mind, anything coming from Rasmussen is likely to be suspiciously—and not even that subtly—biased in favor of the GOP. Considering the source, the results of this poll showing a SOLID majority for the first time seems especially promising. That the Obama administration’s record is worse than Bush’s when it comes to prosecuting cannabis offenses, seems all the more galling in this light.
“In layman terms this means that in order to induce death, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.”
Compare and contrast the damage that just two bottles of tequila would do to the human body (Been there, done that and won the booby prize of 4-day hangover...).
And while I’m on the topic, whereas you can see that it’s impossible for a human to OD on cannabis, the plant is HIGHLY toxic to dogs. That’s right, do not let your pooch near your stash. If you make pot brownies keep them out of your dog’s reach (Chocolate is also lethal to dogs. So are grapes and onions). If your dog eats cannabis, rush it to a pet hospital without hesitation.
Nut-job 700 Club host Pat Robertson, who normally prattles on about the end of the world, Obama being a Marxist and gay marriage—and who just last week insisted that people can stop hurricanes and tornadoes if they’d just pray hard enough (“Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms” WITH YOUR MIND!)—said some words in an order that made actual sense on a March 1, 700 Club broadcast, as reported by the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition blog:
We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners… Every time the liberals pass a bill—I don’t care what it involves—they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don’t feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.
I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.
We’ve said, “we’re ‘conservative, we’re tough on crime.” That’s baloney. It’s costing us billions and billions of dollars.
Think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. There’s something wrong about that equation.
We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties. Putting people in jail at huge expense to the population is insanity.
Folks, we’ve gotta do something about this. We’ve just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That’s a shocking statistic.
What is it we’re doing that is different? What we’re doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws—there’s this punitive spirit, they always want to punish people. It’s time for change!
More and more prisons, more and more crime. It’s just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses. It’s time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can’t do it anymore…You don’t lock ‘em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.
A government study, one of the most extensive examinations ever of the long-term effects of marijuana use, has found that smoking one joint a day for 7 years, or one joint a week for 49 years, does not impair lung function. In fact, “marijuana users performed slightly better on the lung function test” than people who don’t smoke anything. The study did not measure the effects of smoking a joint the size of a zucchini.
A Narco Polo comic by former inner-city teacher and public defender, Rob Arthur. Here’s a snippet from Rob’s website:
One way in which creativity can be described is the ability to find new and novel connections between concepts. In scientific terms the ability to find connections between words is called semantic priming. A 2010 study published in Psychiatry Research found that the use of marijuana induces a state of hyper-priming. (9) When presented with an activation word, subjects reacted faster to distantly-related words when high than when sober. (For a neuroscience journalist’s take on this study go here.) The flow of loose associations promoted by marijuana is a real phenomenon.
Credit goes to Jason Silva for introducing me to this study. His article on marijuana’s “butterfly effect” on thought can be found here.