Ritchie King, from one of our favorite websites, FiveThirtyEight, recently released a fun Venn diagram helping us visualize where Cannabis legality currently stands in the United States.
With the big bucks of Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson backing them financially, opponents of the medical marijuana amendment on Florida’s November ballot are resorting to disengenous propganda tactics to defeat the popular measure. On Monday, the Drug Free Florida political action committee took to the air waves with a $1.5 million TV ad campaign that demonizes “caregivers,” people who make a living providing medical marijuana patients, whether it’s growing it or picking it up at a dispensary for them.
The TV spot has yet to appear online, but it is the typical fare meant to scare voters into believing the Sunshine State is going to be overrun by drug cartels and gang bangers looking to legitimize their marijuana trade. “Amendment 2 isn’t what it seems,” an ominous voice tells viewers. “Its caregiver provision gives legal protection to marijuana dealers. Even felons and drug dealers could be caregivers.”
“Our ad buy is all about the commitment we have to the voters – to make sure they understand the real motivation behind this effort and how bad it is for our state. And that will not stop until Election Day,” said Drug Free Florida’s spokeswoman, Sarah Bascom.
Drug Free Florida’s ad asserts that the amendment, which is hovering between 60 to 71 percent support, creates loopholes that will allow caregivers to serve as drug dealers, without criminal background checks. “So what looks like a safeguard is really a loophole,” the ad says. “They don’t call it the Drug Dealer Protection Act, but they should.”
It’s not the first time the group has stooped to the lowest level of political chicanery. In August, Drug Free Florida posted a video on its Facebook page making the audacious claim that medical marijuana leads to date rape.
John Morgan, a prominent lawyer from Orlando, FL, who has contributed $3.8 million of the $5.4 million that’s been collected in support of the amendment, called the ad tasteless and crass. “I’m mad as hell,” Morgan said. “It’s offensive, tone-deaf, and yet – they’re blasting it out everywhere with millions of dollars behind it.”
Morgan is using the offensive ad to rally donors to contribute to his cause. He and Barbara Stiefel, a prominent philanthropist from Coral Gables, FL, have pledged to each match contributions made by supporters until midnight tonight.
Drug Free Florida’s statewide ad blitz coincides with the first batch of absentee ballots sent to voters by mail, according to the Miami Herald. Republicans and conservatives are the most-likely to vote by absentee ballot and the least-likely to support the proposed constitutional amendment, which needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.
While Democrats and independents are polling between 61 to 70 percent in favor of medical marijuana, Republicans favor it by less than 60 percent. The Herald noted that the ads will mostly be seen in conservative North Florida.
The article also questions if Morgan will continue to spend millions of his own dollars given that he can’t compete with the deep pockets of Adelson, whom critics believe is only backing Drug Free Florida to get in the good graces of Gov. Rick Scott, who opposes medical marijuana. After all, Adelson has funded medical-marijuana research in Israel and his home state of Nevada has a more medical-marijuana law than the amendment being proposed in Florida. The running theory is that Adelson expects Scott to allow gambling in the state should the governor win re-election and the medical marijuana amendment is defeated.
Eric Holder, who recently announced he is stepping down as U.S. Attorney General, gave his strongest statements regarding marijuana prohibition during an interview with Yahoo News’s Katie Couric on Tuesday. He said it’s time to reconsider marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive classification the federal government places on narcotics. To provide perspective, other schedule 1 drugs include heroin and LSD. As a result, researchers and doctors are severely limited in how they can use these drugs.
Reclassifying marijuana under a less restrictive schedule would be a dramatic turnaround in the drug war and lend legitimacy for using medical marijuana at the federal level.
“I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves — whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin,” Holder said. “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
While Holder wouldn’t commit to decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, he said the country should closely monitor legalization in Colorado and Washington for insight.
“While decriminalization and legalization are largely up to an act of Congress, the US attorney general holds a lot of power in deciding when to review a drug’s schedule, as I explained before,” Holder said. “But the process also involves significant scientific and bureaucratic processes, some of which are already underway for marijuana.”
Earlier this week, an Alaska television-reporter-turned-marijuana-dealer went viral after her shocking resignation while she was live. As she reported on about the Alaska Cannabis Club for Anchorage’s KTVA CBS 11, Carlo Greene disclosed she is actually the club’s owner. After delivering a brief monologue explaining she would be devoting all her energies to legalizing marijuana, Greene lowered the boom: “Fuck it, I quit” and walked off stage. All that was missing was a dropped mike.
Of course, KTVA claims she was technically fired for her antics, but give Greene credit for burning her broadcasting career in the most epic way possible. Greene recently did an interview with New York City’s Hot 97, explaining that she definitely planned her on-the-air resignation, but that the F-bomb was spontaneous.
“When you decided to curse on air, let’s call a spade a spade, that was the troll,” one of the Hot 97 hosts asked her. “You new you would get tons of press more so than if you queitly resigned am I right?
“Oh yeah,” Greene says. “The plan was stepping out big…The F part wasn’t planned…No one knew it was happening. I didn’t know it was happening until the moment it came out of my mouth.”
Greene insisted her motives are altruistic, noting that Alaskan patients “go to back alleys” to get their medical marijuana because the state has never implemented a dispensary system even though Alaskans approved use of pot for medicine in 1998.
Huffington Post.If Liz Krueger gets her way, New York City cops won’t be able to arrest minorities, anyone for that matter, for marijuana possession after 2015. The New York state senator plans to reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January, according to the
Krueger’s bill would open the Empire State to recreational marijuana allowing for retail dispensaries regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The state would collect an excise tax on all marijuana sales, and adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use.
Since New York is not a referendum state, if Krueger’s bill gets signed into law, it will immediately go into effect, bypassing a statewide referendum. Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 at the ballot box. In November, Alaska and Oregon voters will get their turn to legalize weed.
New York already joined 22 other states in the country that allows marijuana for medicinal purposes. Even though the state decriminalized possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana more than 30 years ago, law enforcement officials New York, especially the Big Apple, still lock up an inordinate number of people for low-level marijuana arrests. Thanks to a 1977 loophole that lets cops charge weed heads with a criminal misdemeanor for public possession of marijuana, people are still going to jail for holding small amounts of cannabis.
Since 2010, New York City has averaged between 30,000 and 50,000 marijuana arrests each year. And during the period between 2002 and 2012, 87 percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession in the city were black or Latino, despite evidence suggesting that whites use marijuana at about the same rate as either group.
Brad Usher, Krueger’s chief of staff, told HuffPost: “While Krueger doesn’t smoke pot and doesn’t think anyone else should, she doesn’t think the policy of prohibition has been successful in controlling marijuana use, and [thinks] that it should be treated more as a public health issue.”
Still, Krueger has her work cut out. She introduced a similar bill in 2013 that also aimed to legalize the possession, use and sale of limited amounts of recreational marijuana, but the bill never made it out of committee. Even if she was able to get the bill in front of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he will likely not sign it into law. In January, Cuomo said that Colorado-style legalization in New York is “a nonstarter for me.”
“Quid pro quo. Yes or no?” – Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs
In news that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, leading researchers who have come out against legalizing pot are taking payola from pharmaceutical drug makers. VICE reports that many anti-marijuana academics get paid by companies that manufacture products that could easily be replaced by cannabis. Of course, these prominent individuals fail to disclose their possible conflict of interest when they stump against marijuana.
Here are the anti-marijuana academics highlighted By VICE:
Dr. Herbert Kleber, Columbia University professor, has been a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro). He’s been quoted in NPR and CNBC, and written anti-pot Op-Eds for CNBC.
Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer, as well as being a consultant for the pharmaceutical giant. In 2011, Phizer acquired King Pharmaceuticals (the makers of several opioid products) and is currently working to introduce Remoxy, an OxyContin competitor. She’s written Op-Ed pieces against marijuana use in the New York Times.
Dr. Mark L. Kraus, a board member to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, has served on the scientific advisory panel for painkiller companies such as Pfizer and Reckitt Benckiser in the year prior to his activism against a medical pot bill.
After threatening to fire Don DeZarn if he participated in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, Princeton University has placed the campus dining employee on paid administrative leave until the face-off is resolved.
DeZarn had returned to work on Sept. 2 for the first time since he informed Princeton officials two weeks ago that he would be using medical marijuana to treat symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Times of Trenton. A public safety administrator informed DeZarn that he could not work for the university even if he was treating himself at home.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s a great place to work. I’m just hopeful that this whole thing has just been an oversight on someone’s part,” DeZarn told the Times of Trenton. “I hope somebody up the chain of command will look at what I’m requesting and have an open mind and some common sense.”
As a political candidate the past two years, medical marijuana has been DeZarn’s platform. He was arrested twice on possession charges while attending marijuana legalization protests in Philadelphia last year.
Human Resources officials told DeZarn and local reporters that the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act does not require employers to let employees use pot in the workplace.
“The law seems to support an employer’s right to maintain a drug-free workplace, including prohibiting the use of marijuana during work hours as well as working while under the influence of marijuana,” university vice president Lianne Sullivan-Crowley wrote in an Aug. 27 letter.
DeZarn said he was prescribed a specific strain of marijuana that contains low amounts of THC, the intoxicating component of the drug, and higher amounts of CBD, an ingredient which studies have shown helps spasms, including those suffered by irritable bowel disease patients.
When he returned to work, Princeton’s human resources department gave DeZarn guidance on how he can request accommodations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.A university spokesman said Princeton would research if DeZarn could be accommodated under the disabilities act.
In a Facebook post DeZarn wrote on Monday night, he said he would face whatever repercussions came from continuing in the medical marijuana program.
“I have decided that I will return to work at my regular position tomorrow and will conduct myself just like any other university employee,” DeZarn said. “When it becomes necessary to medicate with a medicine prescribed to me by a licensed physician, I will do just that.”
You can always count on a drug war zealot to say something dumb when addressing marijuana legalization questions. Carolyn Short, a retired lawyer who chairs the Arizona-based Keep AZ Drug Free and opposed marijuana legalization efforts in that state, recently bemoaned the infiltration of pot-related businesses in political campaign fundraising.
“I don’t think money from illegal activities, whether child porn or marijuana, should be used to fund political campaigns, and I think most people agree with me,” Short recently told ColoradoWatchdog.org. “The whole idea behind the money laundering statute that prohibits banks from taking in the money is you don’t want to encourage or abet criminal activity.”
Colorado Watchdog reached out to Short as part of a well-researched analysis of Colorado marijuana firms diving into the political process by handing out contributions to local, state, and federal political candidates. Even though federal money laundering laws prevent banks from accepting deposits from marijuana, there is nothing stopping federal elected officials, like Congressman Ed Perlmutter and several other members of the Colorado delegation, from taking checks provided by marijuana business owners.
Other legal experts interviewed by Colorado Watchdog provided responses that were more grounded in reality. University of Colorado constitutional law professor Richard Collins believes that the new federal banking guidelines for marijuana businesses, as well as the First Amendment right of political speech, gives candidates the leeway to accept pot political contributions. “I’m confident a candidate is in the clear,” he said. “As long as the activity within the state is legal, the contribution is legal.”
Obviously, marijuana businesses believe they are in the clear or else they wouldn’t be pumping money to candidates for office. Colorado Watchdog found that political action committees and individuals who operate marijuana-related businesses have contributed at least $20,000 to Colorado federal candidates. The report also noted that Perlmutter rounded up twenty grand at a July fundraiser.
New York is considered one of the most progressive states in the union. But not when it comes to marijuana legalization, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
The survey found that only 35 percent of New York State voters want to legalize marijuana for personal use, while 44 percent want to legalize marijuana for medical use only and 19 percent say marijuana should not be legal.
If personal use of marijuana were legal in New York, 62 percent of voters say they definitely would not use it, the poll found. There is also a huge divide when the numbers are broken down by gender and age. The Quinnipiac poll says 43 percent of men and 27 percent of women favor marijuana legalization. Support for personal use is 43 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 40 percent among voters 35 to 54 years old and 29 percent among voters over 55 years old.
Political party affiliation also confirmed that more Democrats favor legalizing weed than Republicans do. Support is 21 percent among Republicans, 37 percent among Democrats and 39 percent among independent voters.
Support for medicinal use only, now legal in New York State, is 34 percent among men, 53 percent among women, 46 percent each among Republicans and Democrats and 43 percent among independent voters.
“Almost all New Yorkers favor the use of medical marijuana, but many voters want to stop there. Just under a fifth would ban it completely and 44 percent say medical marijuana only,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll. “Almost two-thirds of New Yorkers say they would definitely decline to puff the stuff themselves and only 4 percent say they definitely would inhale.”
according to the Oregonian.A nonprofit group opposing the marijuana legalization measure on the Oregon November ballot scuttled plans to hold an anti-marijuana summit featuring Kevin Sabet, one of the most prominent drug war activists who is against legalizing pot. Sabet was scheduled to appear in October at an event in Madras, Oregon, to rail against the ballot measure that would permit recreational use of marijuana. The summit was canceled after complaints by ballot supporters that federal funds were being used for a poltical rally,
The sponsors of the legalization initiative, Measure 91, had criticized picking the former White House drug adviser as a keynote speaker. Sabet was also planning to appear in 12 other Oregon cities as part of an “Oregon Marijuana Education Tour” following the Madras summit. After ballot supporters raised the issue of a possible conflict, Sabet said he would not talk about the ballot measure at either the Madras event or on the tour.
Rick Treleaven, the executive director of BestCare Treatment Practices and the organizer of the Madras summit, conceded that there could be an appearance of a conflict, the Oregonian reported. Organizers of the other events are also using federal funds to help defray their expenses.
Anthony Johnson, chief sponsor of the marijuana legalization measure, said the anti-marijuana groups had placed a heavy focus on marijuana during the summit and that the tour smacked of electioneering using federal money — even if participants did not specifically discuss the initiative.
“Federal taxpayer dollars should not be used to influence an election,” said Peter Zuckerman, a spokesman for the campaign. “Calling this an educational campaign is ridiculous.”
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