D.C. Mayor Signs Bill to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Temporary law allows physicians to recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they think would respond favorably to the therapeutic use of marijuana and increases the number of plants D.C.’s licensed cultivators may possess from 95 to 500.

WASHINGTON, DC — On July 29, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014.  The bill was unanimously approved by the D.C. Council on July 14th.

The ordinance takes effect immediately, but it is only temporary, so another measure and Congressional approval are needed to make the compassionate changes permanent.

This temporary law allows physicians to recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they think would respond favorably to the therapeutic use of marijuana and increases the number of plants D.C.’s licensed cultivators may possess from 95 to 500.

This new law will automatically expire on October 27 unless the Council makes passes new legislation.

Washington, D.C. physicians participating in the medical marijuana program may now recommend medical marijuana to those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and a host of other conditions that were not previously included on a list of qualifying conditions, but whose symptoms have been shown to relent with marijuana use.

Increasing the number of plants that cultivators may possess ensures that our seriously ill friends and neighbors have access to the medicine their physicians think will work best for them.

Enactment of temporary legislation gave the Council the time it needs to debate and pass a permanent fix.

If you are a District resident, please ask your councilmember to continue to support compassionate legislation and then send this to our fellow Washingtonians who support medical marijuana.

If you have a qualifying condition and would like to know more about medical marijuana in the District, talk to your doctor and visit the District Department of Health’s medical marijuana program website.

You can also contact any of the three dispensaries operating in D.C.: Metropolitan Wellness Center at Eastern Market, Capital City Care on North Capitol Street, and Takoma Wellness Center in Takoma Park.

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Here’s Why Investing in Marijuana May Not Be as Risky as You Think

Best Marijuana Stocks

Economically, there’s never been a better time to invest in the marijuana industry. But despite the huge potential for profit, investors are often confused or hesitant to risk involvement in the legal medical marijuana business, and with understandable reason. The industry is a bit of double-edged sword. On the one hand, experts say the industry is poised to become wildly profitable, especially as legalization begins to seem more a matter of “when” than “if”; on the other hand, with marijuana still illegal at the federal level, it’s an industry with too many risks to justify the potential profits for many investors.

In recent weeks, though, it seems that the potential economic benefit of a legalized medical marijuana industry is beginning to tear down some of the political barriers which have, in the past, kept investors out of the game.

At the end of May, Congress made a decision — bipartisan, no less – that may change investors’ outlook on the marijuana industry. In a monumental move, Congress ruled to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Agency from conducting raids on medical marijuana patients as well as the growers and businesses that provide to them in states where the substance is legal.

It’s kind of a big deal. MSNBC notes that the House has never passed a measure that restricts the jurisdiction of the DEA before. The decision, an amendment which required 218 votes in order to pass, is a rare bipartisan decision in an era when it seems Congress can’t agree on anything.

The clincher? Money. The DEA’s raids on medical marijuana providers are  – or rather, were – funded by tax dollars. Simply put, Congress decided that it’s a waste of time and money to raid providers in states that have already decided to legalize pot. It’s important to note that while the amendment was primarily a Democratic effort, several more right-leaning senators were critical to its success.

The amendment isn’t the only big political news for the marijuana industry in the recent months and weeks. Last week, in particular, saw some important reforms. On Monday, the Obama administration called marijuana policy a “states’ rights issue,” and wrote that it opposes federal interference on reforms. On Wednesday, the House voted to allow banks to do business with state-level marijuana dispensaries, and on Thursday, Washington, D.C., passed a bill that decriminalized possession of marijuana, according to The Huffington Post and NORML, an organization working to promote the legalization of marijuana.

With these recent political measures changing the game for investors interested in what some are calling the next big American industry, it seems that legal marijuana sales will continue indefinitely into the near future, giving investors in the industry a bit more peace of mind and opening up the playing field for those more cautious investors who have previously found marijuana to be too much of a gamble.


The numbers indicate that it may be worth the risk, and the news lately seems to have established that the industry isn’t going anywhere. Thus far, 22 states have legalized medical marijuana. In 2013, medical marijuana dispensaries sold $1.43 billion worth of pot legally, and Californians spent more than $1 billion on legal marijuana last year, a figure that doesn’t include the sales which happen on the state’s black market.

ArcView Group, an organization that studies the marijuana industry, says it predicts the legal medical marijuana business will swell to become a $10 billion industry by 2018, with more than half of that money being generated by legal recreational sales.

According to BusinessVibes, other industry experts estimate that over time, the marijuana business may grow larger still, predicting that the industry has the potential to eventually reach $100 billion, a level that would make pot bigger business even than corn or soybeans, which are currently the two biggest cash crops in the United States.

A number of challenges associated with the marijuana industry remain. Perhaps one of the more difficult issues to surmount when considering investing in the marijuana business is the fact that the industry, having been previously underground, has no records and too little standardization to establish prices or quality standards.

BusinessVibes notes that all industries carry some risk, though now, it seems the marijuana industry’s legal risks may be lessening. As more states begin to legalize the substance, investors should soon be able to gain access to more credible numbers, as well.

Read more:…

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In most states, marijuana is a bargain compared to beer

Marijuana is really cheap relative to beer in most states—and really not in, well, only a few.

We used marijuana street prices from crowdsourcing site priceofweed.comto estimate the price of a single marijuana joint (or roughly 0.4 grams of weed, because academia says so) in each state. We also took the listed price for a six-pack of beer from online alcohol retailer and applied state-specific beer taxes to approximate the cost of a 12 ounce bottle of Bud Light (or roughly one drink, because the government says so) in each state. What we found is that the relative affordability of each drug varies quite a bit depending on where you live.

Measuring the price of marijuana relative to beer might seem a bit arbitrary. After all, marijuana, however cheap, is still illegal in most of the country. But there’s actually good reason to believe the comparison is not only telling, but a potentially significant indicator of future marijuana use in the U.S., especially among America’s poor and young.

For those in Oklahoma, for instance, a joint is quite the bargain. Marijuana costs only $2.09 per joint in the state (the least expensive of anywhere in the U.S.), while a Bud Light sells for roughly $0.87 a 12 ounce bottle —meaning that price of a joint is the same as the price of 2.4 beers. In Kentucky, where a joint costs about $2.61, and a Bud Light costs roughly $0.90, the ratio is closer to 2.9; in Arkansas, where a joint costs $2.58 and a Bud Light $0.86, it’s 2.99; and in Washington, where weed is $2.72 per joint and Bud Light $0.90 per bottle, it’s 3.01.

For those in Nevada, however, marijuana isn’t nearly as wallet-friendly. Marijuana costs more than $5.20 per joint in the state (the most in the country), while a beer runs for about $0.85—meaning a joint costs the same as more than six beers. In Wyoming, where a joint costs about $5.00 and a Bud Light costs just over $0.83, the ratio is roughly 5.99; In South Dakota, where a joint costs $5.02 and a Bud Light costs $0.86, it’s 5.86; and in Vermont, where weed is $4.51 per joint and Bud Light $0.86 per bottle, it’s 5.28.

“Cannabis is a remarkably cheap product to produce,” UCLA’s Mark Kleiman said in an interview. Kleiman is an expert on drug abuse and crime control policy. He says marijuana’s low price makes it more accessible to minors and low-income users, who are more sensitive to price differences. “If you’re a naive user [of pot] a half a joint should do you plenty. You’re now stoned for three hours for two bucks. The Doritos cost more.”

Widespread legalization of marijuana could cause the prices to fall even further. A 2002 study in Australia found that lower marijuana prices increased marijuana consumption and decreased alcohol consumption, with users substituting the former for the latter. Considering that many experts say that marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol on just about any measure, this may not be a bad thing.

This Article Was Taken from:…

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Washington D.C. Will Officially Vote to Legalize Marijuana!

America’s capital has joined Alaska and Oregon as the third jurisdiction with a chance to legalize cannabis this fall. Today, the D.C. Board of Elections decided that Ballot Initiative 71 has qualified for November’s election.After gathering over 57,000 signatures in favor of legalization–more than double the qualifying number–Washington D.C. voters will now decide the fate of the “Legalization of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014” in just a few months.If voters approve the measure, Washington D.C. would become America’s 3rd, 4th, or 5th legal area. And occurring right under the nose of Congress, that would be big news.While legalization for D.C. would not mean retail shops (at least not yet), it would follow Colorado and Washington’s possession models closely and lay the framework for future recreational sales”

Ballot Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, allows adults to give (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults, and allows for the cultivation of up to three mature marijuana plants at home. District law prevents ballot initiatives from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the DC Council is currently considering a bill that will tax and regulate marijuana within the District. []

But does the bill actually have a chance?Tom Angell, the founder of Marijuana Majority and a policy expert, believes that D.C. will indeed vote in favor of legalization. “If the polling to date is any indication, it appears extremely likely that marijuana will soon be legal for adults in the nation’s capital,” stated Angell. Having legal marijuana in Congress’s backyard is sure to elevate the national debate on this issue to new heights.”Just three years ago, you would have been called crazy if you suggested that America would have five legal marijuana “states” by the end of 2014.Three years later, and that insanity looks like a distinct possibility.SOURCE: HTTP://MARIJUANA.COM/NEWS/2014/08/WASHINGTON-D-C-WILL-OFFICIALLY-VOTE-TO-LEGALIZE-RECREATIONAL-MARIJUANA/

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Since marijuana legalization, highway fatalities in Colorado are at near-historic lows

By Radley Balko August 5 at 11:29 AM  Since Colorado voters legalized pot in 2012, prohibition supporters have warned that recreational marijuana will lead to a scourge of “drugged divers” on the state’s roads. They often point out that when the state legalized medical marijuana in 2001, there was a surge in drivers found to have smoked pot. They also point to studies showing that in other states that have legalized pot for medical purposes, we’ve seen an increase in the number of drivers testing positive for the drug who were involved in fatal car accidents. The anti-pot group SAM recently pointed out that even before the first legal pot store opened in Washington state, the number of drivers in that state testing positive for pot jumped by a third.The problem with these criticisms is that we can test only for the presence of marijuana metabolites, not for inebriation. Metabolites can linger in the body for days after the drug’s effects wear off — sometimes even for weeks. Because we all metabolize drugs differently (and at different times and under different conditions), all that a positive test tells us is that the driver has smoked pot at some point in the past few days or weeks.It makes sense that loosening restrictions on pot would result in a higher percentage of drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents having smoked the drug at some point over the past few days or weeks. You’d also expect to find that a higher percentage of churchgoers, good Samaritans and soup kitchen volunteers would have pot in their system. You’d expect a similar result among any large sampling of people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana caused or was even a contributing factor to accidents, traffic violations or fatalities.This isn’t an argument that pot wasn’t a factor in at least some of those accidents, either. But that’s precisely the point. A post-accident test for marijuana metabolites doesn’t tell us much at all about whether pot contributed to the accident.Since the new Colorado law took effect in January, the “drugged driver” panic has only intensified. I’ve already written about one dubious example, in which the Colorado Highway Patrol and some local and national media perpetuated a story that a driver was high on pot when he slammed into a couple of police cars parked on an interstate exit ramp. While the driver did have some pot in his system, his blood-alcohol level was off the charts and was far more likely the cause of the accident. In my colleague Marc Fisher’srecent dispatch from Colorado, law enforcement officials there and in bordering states warned that they’re seeing more drugged drivers. Congressrecently held hearings on the matter, complete with dire predictions such as “We are going to have a lot more people stoned on the highway and there will be consequences,” from Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). Some have called for a zero tolerance policy — if you’re driving with any trace of pot in your system, you’re guilty of a DWI. That would effectively ban anyone who smokes pot from driving for up to a couple of weeks after their last joint, including people who legitimately use the drug for medical reasons.It seems to me that the best way to gauge the effect legalization has had on the roadways is to look at what has happened on the roads since legalization took effect. Here’s a month-by-month comparison of highway fatalities in Colorado through the first seven months of this year and last year. For a more thorough comparison, I’ve also included the highest fatality figures for each month since 2002, the lowest for each month since 2002 and the average for each month since 2002.

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SEC, federal prosecutors charge NW promoters with stock manipulation

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged several Pacific Northwest residents reaped more than $2.5 million in illegal profits by pumping up penny stocks, including marijuana-related companies.


By Rami Grunbaum

Seattle Times deputy business editor



@kick Hey, I didn’t vote for him but what an utterly moronic statement to make. I think you need a “kick” in the head. (August 5, 2014) MORE
Wait…I’ve seen this movie before!! (August 5, 2014) MORE


The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged several Pacific Northwest residents with reaping more than $2.5 million in illegal profits by pumping up two marijuana-related penny stocks and other microcap companies.

Two of the men and an associate in Florida also face criminal charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to launder money stemming from one of the microcap stock promotions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

“The defendants’ manipulative trading created the illusion of an active market in these stocks, which caused the stock price to artificially increase,” the SEC said in a federal civil suit seeking an emergency order to freeze the promoters’ assets and force them to surrender profits deposited overseas.

All were inexpensive, thinly traded stocks in which the promoters conducted prearranged trades and then sold their shares after “aggressive promotional campaigns that urged investors to buy the stocks because the prices were on the verge of rising substantially,” according to the SEC.

The promoters sued by the SEC are: Mikhail Galas, 25, and Tovy Pustovit, 20, both of Vancouver, Wash.; Alexander Hawatmeh, 24, of Lincoln City, Ore.; and Christopher Mrowca, 25, of Bradenton, Fla.

Galas, Hawatmeh and Mrowca also were charged by federal prosecutors with manipulating, in 2011 and 2012, the stock of ISM International. “During that period the men accounted for 85 percent of the trades in the particular stock related to a purported flea-market business in Florida,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The men sent “fraudulent and misleading ‘blast’ emails through promotional websites and email addresses under their control with the intent of increasing demand for the stock,” and then dumped their shares for a profit of $223,000, prosecutors say.

The defendants could not be reached for comment.

The two stocks related to marijuana are GrowLife, which recently moved its headquarters to Seattle, and Hemp, based in Las Vegas. GrowLife sells lights and other equipment to growers; Hemp says it sells products made with hemp.

The SEC in April suspended over-the-counter trading in GrowLife shares, citing questions “about the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace and potentially manipulative transactions” in its stock. The move was part of a broader effort to squelch penny-stock promotions of companies claiming they will profit from a boom in medical and recreational marijuana.

GrowLife’s new CEO, Marco Hegyi, said in a mid-July interview that it’s working to regain SEC compliance. The civil suit doesn’t allege any wrongdoing by company officials.

The other stocks cited by the SEC along with ISM are Riverdale Oil and Gas, Allied Products Corp and Aden Solutions.

According to the SEC civil case, filed in federal court in Tacoma, Mrowca and Galas engaged in several bouts of coordinated trading in GrowLife, which uses the ticker PHOT.

From Jan. 9 to 14, as part of a broader promotion of several marijuana-related stock, they allegedly traded 6.4 million shares of GrowLife in “wash trades” designed to mislead others into thinking there was active demand for the stock. During the manipulative trading, the stock’s price increased 196 percent from about 16 cents a share to a high of almost 47 cents, says the suit.

Again from March 6 to 18, during another promotional effort using Mrowca’s MoneyRunnersGroup website, they traded about 17 million GrowLife shares, helping to lift the stock more than 100 percent to nearly 78 cents a share.

They sold their holdings by March 18, pocketing about $134,000 in profits, according to the SEC.

GrowLife shares now trade at 8 or 9 cents.

Rami Grunbaum: 206-464-8541 or [email protected]

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GB Sciences, Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) Announces the First Fully Functional GrowBLOX(TM) Cultivation Chamber Has Arrived in the United States; Additional Units to Follow

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GrowBLOX Sciences, Inc. (GBLX), a medical marijuana research and development company, announced the first fully functional model of their cutting-edge GrowBLOX(TM) Cultivation Chamber has arrived in the Unite…

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ETST, a Florida Based Company, Receives 25 Liters of Its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil Targeted for the Health and Wellness Market(s) and Announces It’s Ready for Wholesale Distribution

LAS VEGAS, NV, Jul 30, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Earth Science Tech, Inc. (otcqb:ETST) (“ETST” or “the Company”), a unique biotechnology company focused on nutraceuticals, bioceuticals and dietary supplements, announced it has received the first major shipment of 25 liters of its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil. To view the photos taken of the delivered 25 liters visit: . This scientifically formulated Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil is regarded as “food based” and can be distributed in all 50 states and 40 countries as a nutritional and dietary supplement designed to support overall health and wellness. It is not marijuana so it does not require a medical license of any kind to authorize purchase. ETST’s High Grade CBD Rich Hemp Oil is 100% natural and derived exclusively from the federally legal industrial hemp plant. Our innovative hemp cultivars, utilizing proprietary technologies, produce the Highest Grade and Quality CBD Rich Hemp Oil in the world. This natural and scientifically formulated oil is not only of the highest quality but is lab tested multiple times, from seed to distribution. This includes micro-biological testing, CBD profiling testing, other cannabinoid content testing, yeast, mold, fungus, and bacteria testing to ensure the utmost degree of safety and the highest quality available.

ETST has confirmed test results showing its High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil is specifically supportive of overall health and wellness for the nutritional and dietary supplement markets. ETST is now capable of supplying and offering this Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil at wholesale prices to resellers, third party distribution companies and/or consumers in all 50 states and 40 countries. With this advanced and innovative oil ETST has a significant cost advantage and ability to scale up in the CBD arena as a leading provider and wholesale distributor.

CEO of ETST, Harvey Katz, PhD, stated, “Our Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil is designed to yield overall health and wellness benefits by utilizing CBD (Cannabidiol). As previously stated, our mission is to educate the public on the many and varied nutritional and health benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil, to help optimize purity in formulation, and to find new product delivery systems. There’s a lot of misconception in the marketplace right now with regard to the proper dosing and percentage of CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil needed to be consumed as a nutritional and dietary supplement for overall health and wellness. We are here to help the market understand that with our advanced oil sometimes less is more, saving the consumer money and making dosing that much more affordable and effective. The market and most consumers don’t realize that the proper dosing needed is much lower than might be expected to help with particular health disorders and conditions as well as general wellness. Furthermore, when it comes to percentages of CBD Oil, it doesn’t really matter because what you need to look for is the CBD molecule content you are taking per dosage. If you focus on the CBD molecule content inside the industrial hemp base oil it makes it much easier to see what you are paying for CBD. More importantly, this makes dosing much easier and more effective and allows for huge cost savings if you use our Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil as compared to others in the marketplace. ETST plans on developing certain guidelines for the correct dosages of its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil as a nutritional and dietary supplement to be used for various disorders and conditions through upcoming publications and clinical trials.”

ETST welcomes and invites all interested parties to contact the company directly at [email protected] in regards to securing its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil. Furthermore ETST is also open to forming new strategic partnerships, joint ventures and/or supplying vendors, resellers and third party distribution companies its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil at wholesale prices in order to better help supply the health and wellness markets on a large scale. The company feels it can grow at a much faster pace by focusing on becoming a large wholesale distributor of its Advanced High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil and by aligning itself with key strategic partners and third party resellers that are already well diversified in the nutritional and dietary supplement markets.

Additionally, ETST is pleased to announce its new corporate office is:

Earth Science Tech, Inc. 2255 Glades Road Suite 324A Boca Raton, Florida 33431

To view the photos of the new corporate office location visit .

ABOUT ETST: ETST is a unique biotechnology company focused on delivering cutting edge nutraceuticals, bioceuticals and dietary supplements designed to excel in industries such as health, wellness, sports and alternative medicine so as to be a prominent factor in improving the quality of life for consumers worldwide. ETST is dedicated to providing natural alternatives to prescription medications such as nutritional supplements and dietary supplements that help improve common disorders and illnesses. This may include products such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, personal care products, homeopathics, functional foods, CBD (Cannabidiol) as a natural constituent of hemp oil and other products. These products may be in various formulations and delivery forms including but not limited to capsules, tablets, soft gels, chewables, liquids, creams, sprays, powders, and whole herbs.

ETST has an exclusive distribution agreement for the purchase of raw hemp-based CBD (Cannabidiol) rich oil. ETST does not grow, sell or distribute any substances that violate the laws of the United States or the controlled substance regulations of any state. ETST is focused on certain High Grade CBD (Cannabidiol) Rich Hemp Oil that is considered to be “food based” and therefore legal in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Cannabinoids (cannabidiol/CBD) are natural constituents of the hemp plant, and CBD is derived from hemp stalk and seed. Hemp oil is a well-known dietary supplement and the naturally occurring CBD in hemp has provided overwhelming evidence of significant health and wellness benefits. CBD possesses no psychoactive properties and therefore is a ready for market non-THC hemp-based product. According to scientific and clinical studies, CBD has the potential to help a range of conditions, including epilepsy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, alcoholism, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, and various neurological disorders (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information ). CBD has demonstrated neurogenic and neuroprotective effects and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and abroad.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently considers non-THC hemp-based Cannabinoids, including CBD, to be “food based” and therefore legal. These new non-psychoactive CBD-rich hemp oil products that ETST will look to market and distribute are completely lawful to distribute and available to consumers in all fifty states and in more than forty countries. CBD (Cannabidiol), a naturally-occurring constituent of the industrial hemp plant, promotes and supports the nutritional health of aging bodies. Source: US Government patent #6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) DISCLOSURE: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

FORWARD LOOKING DISCLAIMER: This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Readers are referred to the Securities and Exchange Commission filings filed by the Company on EDGAR at , specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts’ expectations or estimates or to publicly release any revisions to any forward-looking statements. The information contained in this press release should not be construed as any indication of the Company’s future stock price, its revenues or results of operations.

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Will Marijuana Farming in Mendocino County, California, Lead America to Pot?

Why does the political class in DC persist in promoting a “reefer madness” image of marijuana as a dangerous drug? After all, even the Obama administration periodically cracks down on states that have legally allowed the dispensing of medical marijuana. Congress has made no moves to ease up on federal prosecution of marijuana growing and distribution, as it continues to finance a war on drugs that is fueled by taxpayer dollars and law enforcement and contracted-industry financial incentives.

But there is a populist revolt brewing. Beginning with state legalization of marijuana use for easing medical pain, the movement to fully decriminalize pot has picked up steam as the voters of Washington and Colorado approved an end to marijuana prohibition.

As with many trends, California is pointing the way. Doug Fine, author and rancher, detailed how the de facto tolerance for marijuana farms and use in Mendocino County is likely a harbinger for a new green economic revolution in the United States: a legalized pot industry.

Truthout talked with Fine about the issues covered in his book “Too High to Fail” and what he calls “the coming drug peace era.”

Get your copy of “Too High to Fail” now with a $30 minimum contribution (including shipping and handling) to Truthout. Click here.

Mark Karlin: Let’s take a look at a recurring focus that you adopt in “Too High to Fail.” Why should marijuana be legalized for its positive economic impact on the US economy? How much tax revenue and spinoff economic development could it create as legally taxed product that could be grown in the United States and sold here?

Doug Fine: Following a year of field-side research alongside farmers of America’s number one crop (cannabis), I believe most conventional estimates about the size of the crop are way low. In “Too High to Fail,” I studied the progress of one California county, Mendocino, whose deciders legalized and permitted the regional cannabis farmers, out of economic necessity. The sheriff signed on, as did the local government. Why? $6 billion. That’s a conservative estimate of the plant’s value to local farmers (on paper) in one of California’s poorest counties.

The way I came to that figure was that the 600,000 plants seized by law enforcement in 2010 were estimated (also by law enforcement) to be 10 percent of the crop. I gave the 6 million plants that did make it to market a very low-end value of $1,000 per plant. In other words, cannabis is not just America’s number one cash crop, it is that by far. We shouldn’t be surprised. One hundred million Americans have used the plant, including the past three presidents. Tax that plant nationwide, and you not just generate billions in tax revenue (Harvard’s Jeffrey Miron estimates $30 billion annually) but you cripple criminal enterprises, the way that the end of alcohol prohibition pretty much put bootleggers out of work.

California already generates $100 million annually from its medical cannabis industry, and that’s with the majority of farmers still operating underground until federal prohibition ends. Space is preventing me from getting into ancillary industries, but in Mendocino County alone the legalizing of the local economic engine supported inspectors, contractors and flower trimmers (where skill and experience matter and are well-remunerated) – dozens of jobs per farm.

Mark Karlin: We’ve engaged in a decades-long “war on drugs” that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Mexico and Latin America and enriched drug cartels. Would the end of legal prohibition in the United States put the narcos out of business and reduce the dramatic death toll in Mexico?

Doug Fine: Without question ending the war on cannabis will be devastating to criminal enterprises south of the border. This is why Latin American governments (as well as an increasing number of European ones) are lining up behind ending the drug war. The Mendocino County, California, experiment I followed in “Too High to Fail” itself hurt criminal cartels by bringing the local industry aboveground. The administrator of what was called the Zip-tie Program (for the bright yellow bracelets every permitted plant wore) is named Captain Randy Johnson. A 27-year veteran of the force, most of those as a conventional drug warrior, Johnson told me that most important reason the program is an important model nationwide is not just the revenue it raised (saving seven deputy jobs locally). “It’s that we brought an entire community back into the law-abiding fold.”

South of the border, Bill Martin at Rice University estimates that up to 70 percent of cartel profits derive from cannabis (just as most drug war funding goes to the fruitless and unnecessary war on cannabis). Whenever I throw these numbers out in debates with the last of the taxpayer-funded drug war boosters (they’re becoming rare), I hear, “Oh, that’s exaggerated. Cannabis is only responsible for 50 percent of cartel proceeds, and they’ve diversified.” Hmm, I’d hate to lose 50 percent of my income.

Mark Karlin: What is the story with the ongoing stigmatization of marijuana on a political level that is far out of touch with its use on a social level? How can it be more evil than alcohol when liquor counts for far, far more road accidents, more addictions, deaths and violent encounters?

Doug Fine: The war on drugs, America’s longest and most expensive (with a price tag of $1 trillion to you and me already, with $40 billion more added to our tab every year), is based at core on a crucial lie: that cannabis is very dangerous. Now, I’m a father, and I want my kids to grow up in a safe, responsible society. Guess what? Even youth cannabis use rates go down, without fail, in places that legalize cannabis, whether completely (Portugal) or for medicinal use (New England).

So why does such a fundamental lie endure? The easiest way to understand it is through the concept of a tipping point. Along with “soft on crime,” “soft on drugs” has, for 40 years, been something every politician fears hearing in an opponent’s television spot. The good news, for those interested in a stronger, safer America, is that the Drug Peace tipping point has been reached. Across the nation, across all demographics, Americans want to end the Drug War. Forty percent of Colorado Republicans voted to legalize cannabis in 2012, and youth turnout (the holy grail for Democrats since 18-year-olds got the vote in 1972) was up 12 percent in Colorado in 2012 vs. the 2008 “Yes We Can” election. This is the issue that galvanizes all Americans.

Even in my very conservative New Mexico valley, the cowgirl next to me in the post office line might believe that our president was born in Kenya, but she knows from seeing our border region chaos with her own eyes that cannabis is not the problem with our region’s public safety. The war on cannabis is the problem (along with meth and prescription pill abuse). In fact, it was a massive raid of my AARP member retiree rancher neighbor for something like a dozen cannabis plants that spurred me to write “Too High to Fail.” The raid, paid for by you and me, pointedly ignored criminal cartels operating with impunity nearby. Eighty percent of Americans call the drug war a failure, which it is. Almost everyone is onto the myths and lies that allowed the war on cannabis to endure for ten times longer than World War II.

Mark Karlin: A lot of urban rumors have circulated that the cigarette industry is sitting on brand names and marketing plans for selling marijuana when “the time is right.” Where does big tobacco stand on marijuana legalization?

Doug Fine: More than one tobacco company has, at some point during the war on drugs, said or done something that indicates it wasn’t opposed to profiting from cannabis when the time was right. But having spent so much time with small farmers, I take to heart the views of Tomas Balogh, co-founder of the Emerald Growers Association farmer trade group, which is creating a brand of Northern California’s sustainable, outdoor-cultivated, third-generation cannabis culture. In his view, the cannabis crop is already decentralized and farmer-controlled, and it’s up to consumers to keep it that way after legalization.

As I often put it when “Emerald Triangle” farmers speak of creating a top-shelf, regionally based international brand (like Champagne), “If Napa is any model, get ready for the Bud and Breakfast.” When prohibition ends, some consumers will choose a Big Tobacco or Big Alcohol model, and some will seek out the co-op, farmers market or CSA farm. That’s why we have Dom Perignon and Two Buck Chuck.

Mark Karlin: Obviously, the jury is still out on the how the recent legalization of possession in Washington and Colorado will play out. What do you think the passage of the two statewide propositions mean to the pace of legalization?

Doug Fine: It’s the fall of the Drug War’s Berlin Wall – the end of America’s worst policy since segregation. The tipping point has been reached – I think we’ll see cannabis removed from the Controlled Substances Act entirely within five years. And not a moment too soon – states want to regulate it and need the revenue. Another huge event was last week’s inclusion of hemp cultivation provisions in the House side of the Farm Bill. It’s imperative that the Senate come on board, too. I’m researching a hemp book now, and it will play a significant role in America’s energy independence. Already, a Kentucky utility company is planning to plant hemp on coal-damaged land to use to generate electricity via ethanol and other processes.

Mark Karlin: The Washington and Colorado votes came after years of inroads in state approvals of medical marijuana use. In at least some jurisdictions, the Obama Department of Justice has pounced on medical marijuana dispensaries, including in California. Doesn’t Eric Holder have better things to do with our taxpayer dollars?

Doug Fine: If there’s one thing that pretty much full-time, front-line coverage of the cannabis plant during the drug war’s final battles has taught me, it’s that looking for rationality in the execution of this war is an exercise in futility. At this point the drug war, having lost both scientific and public support, operates on bureaucratic inertia, and even many of the law enforcers who have to fight the war admit as much.

The bottom line is that the people have spoken, their voices are only getting louder, and the people who are paid to win elections realize this. This is why President Obama, in his first major post-re-election interview in December 2012 (with Barbara Walters) for the first time took a cannabis legalization question seriously. He said he didn’t “yet” support it, but he had “bigger fish to fry” than harassing Colorado and Washington.

If you want to know why federal policy suddenly became laissez-faire, it’s about public opinion in swing states. Arizona, just about as silver and red a state as a Goldwaterite could wish for, is polling at 56 percent in support of regulating cannabis for adult use like alcohol. In heartland Illinois, 63 percent of voters support the about-to-be-enacted medicinal marijuana program. Heck, 60 percent of Kentuckians favor medical cannabis. The fact is, if President Obama were to step to the podium next week and announce that he was returning to his pre-2008 drug policy position, which called the Drug War an “utter failure,” his favorable numbers would go up in key swing states. This is true for anyone who’d like to succeed the president by spurring an energized youth turnout in 2016.

Mark Karlin: How does marijuana-growing in Mendocino County, which you feature prominently in your book, present a model for future breakthroughs in marijuana becoming a national and legal homegrown industry?

Doug Fine: As a sustainability journalist who lives on a solar-powered goat ranch, the Mendocino Zip-tie model is a vital one if small independent farmers are to retain a foothold in the industry that is born around America’s number one cash crop after prohibition ends. The craft beer model is illustrative here. Yes, Coors et al. control the corner store, but the microbrew sector is worth $10 billion annually. The Emerald Triangle farmers of Northern California acutely realize this – they are developing what Michael Pollan calls “supermarket pastoral.” This is the story that an organic food provider tells on her packaging – we imagine the chickens who lay our eggs playing cards and attending square dances.

If any cannabis cultivating region can brand itself as top shelf, the way we have fine wines coming from Washington to Vermont, it can beat Wall Street’s offerings. And as with wine and craft beer, farmers in plenty of places besides California, such as Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana and Colorado, to name a few, can claim to have top-shelf cannabis farmers. The most marketable branding model, I believe, will be family-owned, outdoor cultivating sustainable farmers explaining that they’re just growing a plant that the original American colonist cannabis farmers (including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington) did. When the kind of people who shop at farmer’s markets start asking how their cannabis is grown, models like this will be huge; I think even bigger than for high-end wine and beer.

Mark Karlin: How does the opposition to the growing of hemp hamper the US economically?

Doug Fine: Ah, that one is fresh in my mind. I’m just back from a whirlwind tour of the world industrial cannabis (hemp) industry, and it’s staggeringly large and growing 30 percent per year. Canadian farmers can’t grow enough hemp to satisfy US demand for hemp seed oil, and North Dakota’s farmers want nothing more than to take up the slack. In fact the Roughrider State’s agricultural commissioner, Doug Goehring, no liberal, called the half-billion dollars of hemp seed oil we import from Canada every year while not allowing American farmers to take part in the bounty “a lost opportunity” that “sometimes wants to make you shake somebody.”

That’s just hemp seed. Kentucky, Hawaii, Colorado, California and a growing number of other states are ready to roll on both seed and fiber and energy versions of the crop the moment the absurdity of hemp prohibition ends. And that side of things might come to pass this year, since hemp looks poised to be approved, albeit at a moderate “university study” level, in this year’s Farm Bill. It’s another huge victory that reflects the will of the people. Folks would do well to get their U.S. senators on board for the fight, because the lobbyists for the Drug Enforcement Administration, bless them, are still sending the old laughable untruths about hemp in memos to legislators: kids could smoke it anyway, it looks like psychoactive cannabis. These have never been problems in the 15 years that Canada, like 55 other nations, has cultivated industrial cannabis. The rest of the world smacks its collective forehead in disbelief at this “debate.” Luckily it looks like it’s nearly over.

Mark Karlin: For decades, and particularly in recent years, black and Latino males have been jailed as unconscionably high rates for marijuana “crimes.” Wouldn’t legalization hopefully end this discrimination?

Doug Fine: Without question. It takes years of effort to work up to the position of a big-city police chief. You’re generally not a rebel. This is why I listened up when Norm Stamper, 34-year police veteran and former Seattle chief of police, said in 2011, “besides causing thousands of deaths worldwide and costing billions of taxpayer dollars, the Drug War’s most serious collateral damage has been to undermine the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society.” Stamper was talking about what can amount to law enforcement budgetary addiction to Drug War funding.

In cities, the racial profiling to build arrest numbers (and thus federal drug war finding) is unconscionable. On the production side that I followed in rural areas in “Too High to Fail,” it’s no better. In the U.S. today, millions of dollars of property is seized and homes raided for no crime other than alleged cultivation one of humanity’s longest-utilized plants. While I was researching the industry, a federal prosecutor in California handed Stanislaus County a $154,000 check for assisting with a raid. This process is not just addictive, it’s parasitic.

You don’t even need to be a cultivator to get profiled in cannabis-growing country – you just need to be youngish, male and driving out of the Emerald Triangle cultivation region. I know this because while I was researching the cannabis industry in 2011, I was pulled over and my truck searched based on a false claim of a marijuana smell. “I’m not a cannabis farmer,” I told the local narcotics squad as they pilfered my kids’ car seats. “But I am an author writing about the drug war. Can I come along on a ride to see how the taxpayers’ money is being spent in that effort?” I was very quickly released after that.

Later learning that cannabis couriers call this stretch of California’s I-5 “The Gauntlet,” I did the math and determined that I caused Sonoma County law enforcement to spend about $1,100 of taxpayer money fruitlessly digging through some fairly moldy recycling crates that morning. Even if they’d found a joint some hitchhiker had dropped, I’m not sure how hard that would’ve hit the cartels or justified the expense. But hey, it’s a living.

The worst part about the drug war catastrophe is that I’m a law enforcement supporter. I believe most cops at all levels are decent and trying to do their job. The problem is cannabis interdiction needs to stop being their job. It has single-handedly turned the United States the most incarcerated nation in history, with several hundred thousand more prisoners than China. Embarrassing, is my view on that. The drug war is an unnecessary, un-American war.

Mark Karlin: Aside from marijuana, more people in the US die from overdoses of prescription medications than illegal drugs. How much of a threat is the legalization of marijuana to the pharmaceutical industry?

Doug Fine: It’s not a threat. I think the bigger question is, how much of a threat is the pharmaceutical process for consumers who wish to use a whole plant medicinally, socially, spiritually or for health maintenance? Cannabis has more than 90 known cannabinoids (chemical components) whose interplay is just starting to be understood by Western science and medicine. In Chinese medicine, it’s just another herb. In fact, there are numerous cannabis remedies included in the oldest existing medical handbook, from China more than 2,000 years ago.

My general view about Wall Street is it’s going to do what it does. It’s up to the consumer to demand whole plant access and home cultivation rights as legalization comes about. If America allows these, it doesn’t matter if Coors markets its version of cannabis, Philip Morris its version and Merck its version. What is imperative is that cannabis be removed entirely from the federal Controlled Substances Act so states can regulate it like alcohol. Utah’s cannabis laws will very likely be different from Nevada’s. That’s the way it should be. The bottom line is prohibition doesn’t do anything except enrich criminal enterprises. It’s time to bring America’s far and away number one crop into the taxpaying economy. We’ll be stronger and safer as a result. I say that as a journalist, a voter, a patriot and a father.

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New York Times Calls For End of Marijuana Prohibition

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

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

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

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

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

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

There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.

In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.

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


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