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San Francisco to Wipe Out Thousands of Marijuana Convictions

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:06
The city is going proactive on getting past pot busts off people's records.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office will wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions going back decades, opening up new job and housing opportunities to those arrested for cannabis-related offenses, the city’s top prosecutor announced Wednesday.

“We want to address the wrongs caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said when announcing the new policy at a press conference Wednesday.

Proposition 64, the voter-backed ballot measure that legalized marijuana in 2016, allows those convicted of marijuana offenses to petition to have their convictions overturned or sentences reduced.

Instead of waiting for people to petition to get their records cleared, Gascon said his office would proactively expunge 3,038 misdemeanor convictions and review nearly 5,000 felony convictions, many of which may be downgraded to misdemeanors with reduced sentences.

“As progressive as San Francisco is, a misdemeanor or felony conviction for marijuana can have significant implications for your employment ability, housing, education and many other benefits,” Gascon said.

An estimated 2.8 million Californians were arrested for cannabis-related offenses over the last century, but less than 5,000 people have petitioned to have their convictions overturned since Proposition 64 took effect, Gascon said.

The process for getting marijuana convictions cleared can be time consuming, the district attorney said. It often requires individuals to file petitions, hire lawyers and go to court.

“You shouldn’t have to come to court and miss a day of work to get your record expunged,” Gascon said. “We will do all the work for them.”

When asked how long the effort will take or how much it will cost, Gascon could not offer a specific timeline or price tag. He said the work of expunging misdemeanor convictions would mostly be done by paralegals, but reviewing felony convictions will take more time and effort.

Some felony convictions could be related to other offenses, and each case must be reviewed individually to determine if a sentence reduction is appropriate, he said.

Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, hailed the new policy as an important piece in the effort to undo the wrongs of an “unjust system” that has disproportionately arrested and jailed people of color on drug-related crimes.

“I feel this is a giant step toward justice, and it is a stride toward setting black people free to live in the community, to have jobs, to have healthcare and to have decent education,” Brown said, adding he hopes trade unions offer jobs to those who get their criminal records expunged through this new program.

San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Malia Cohen said this initiative will go “hand-in-hand’ with the city’s new equity program, intended to help low-income residents, people of color and those convicted of drug offenses find job and business opportunities in the city’s cannabis industry.

“Those people most adversely affected by the war on drugs will get a little bit of a break from a system that’s been targeting African American, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities since the 1980s,” Cohen said.

Nicole Elliot, director of the city’s Office of Cannabis, encouraged other top prosecutors across the state to follow Gascon’s lead.

“My hope is that this same effort will be replicated across the state by other district attorneys,” she said.

On Jan. 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era marijuana policy and authorized federal prosecutors to enforce cannabis laws in states like California that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal use.

Gascon said while the federal government appears to have taken a step “backwards” on drug policy, San Francisco will continue working to reverse the harms caused by the 47-year-old war on drugs.

“While the national government has taken a direction sort of going backwards when it comes to drug policy, here in San Francisco again we have an opportunity to lead the way,” Gascon said. “We want to address the wrongs caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country and begin to fix some of the harm that was done not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color.”



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Here’s The Latest Research Results On Marijuana And Heart Health

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 11:54
To shed more light on this subject, researchers went back to examine the data from dozens of studies on marijuana and the heart.

Although some preliminary research from last year frightened the cannabis community when it suggested that regular pot smokers were three times more likely to succumb to hypertension, a more recent analysis finds this is not necessarily the case. It seems that until the more research is conducted on the herb, the scientific world remains mostly in the dark about the overall affect of cannabis on cardiovascular health.

To shed more light on this subject, researchers went back to examine the data from dozens of studies on marijuana and heart health. Essentially, the main focus was to learn whether marijuana causes elevated cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. The study group searched for any evidence linking marijuana to heart disease. But what they ultimately discovered was that all of the previous research surrounding this topic is flawed.

“Evidence examining the effect of marijuana on cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes … is insufficient,” researchers concluded, according to a report from Business Insider.

The results of the latest study are consistent with a much larger investigation published last year. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which consists of some of the leading scientific minds in the country, determined there was “insufficient evidence” that smoking marijuana was a detriment to heart health. More specifically, the group was unable to establish whether cannabis could trigger a heart attack.

Still, science says that marijuana does in fact increase a person’s heart rate by up to 50 beats a minute. Some believe this means the herb definitely has a negative affect on heart function. Yet, all of this “limited evidence” is all over the place. Some smaller studies have shown that marijuana might actually have the power to lower blood pressure, rather than increase it. In the end, the scientific community remains stumped.

But it is not likely we will have any definitive answers with respect to marijuana and the heart anytime in the near future. Until the federal government chooses to downgrade the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant under the Controlled Substances Act, research will be hard to come by. As it stands, scientists have a tough time getting green lit for studies to examine the health benefits of cannabis because of all the red tape they have to cut through to get approval from all of the pertinent government agencies. This has caused researchers like Dr. Sue Sisley to get jammed up in her years-long exploration of medical marijuana as a treatment for patients with PTSD.

Considering that marijuana is legal in over half the nation for medicinal and recreational purposes, now would be a good time for the Trump administration to initiate the rescheduling process. Because not knowing how marijuana impacts the heart and other factors is the real risk to public health and safety.


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Historian Creeped Out By Trump's "Fascist" Story About Cop Adopting Addict's Baby -- Here's Why

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:35
The president's feel good story has a dark side.

President Donald Trump praised a New Mexico police officer in his State of the Union address for adopting a heroin addict’s baby — but a historian noticed some disturbing parallels in the anecdote.

The president highlighted Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets, who while on duty in September encountered a pregnant, homeless woman as she prepared to inject heroin.

“When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep,” Trump said. “She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby. In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: ‘You will do it — because you can.’ He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.”

“Ryan and Rebecca: You embody the goodness of our nation,” the president added. “Thank you, and congratulations.”

Historian Angus Johnson couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the language Trump used to tell that story and his rhetoric against Latino and other immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“In the context of the full speech, of Trump’s presidency, this story is a question and an answer,” Johnson tweeted. “What do we do with the children of those we despise? If they’re brown, we expel them from our land. If they are white, we take them for ourselves.”

The City University of New York professor paid attention to the details Trump’s speechwriters chose to omit from Holet’s story, and those they chose to highlight.

“We don’t know what process was followed in this adoption,” Johnson said. “We don’t know where the mother of this child is now, how she’s doing, what her relationship with her kid is. Trump’s people could have said. They chose not to. They chose to erase her.”

Johnson drew a parallel between the presidential anecdote and the history of los desaparecidos — or, the disappeared — Argentinians who vanished after a military junta took over in 1974, and many of the political prisoners’ babies were stolen and given to party loyalists.

“The children of subversives were seen, (historian Marguerite) Feitlowitz explained, as ‘seeds of the tree of evil,'” reported New York magazine. “Perhaps through adoption, those seeds could be replanted in healthy soil.”

Johnson pointed out the baby’s mother was still homeless as of December and not in contact with her child or the adoptive family — and the historian was disturbed by the way Trump wrote the woman out of her own story.

“That erasure wasn’t accidental,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t merely rhetorical. It was ideological. It was an expression of a specific kind of ethno-natalism we’ve seen before. It was fascist.”


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Weed and Bitcoin Are Luring Millennials to Wall Street

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:22
That 2017 was a banner year for the stock market probably helped, too.




Cannabis stocks and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin helped fuel an explosion of millennial investors on Wall Street in 2017. ... Ameritrade's CEO Tim Hockey told Business Insider last week. Hockey said marijuana and blockchain stocks helped entice millennials, who have been historically distrustful of the market that crashed during either ...

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Drug Companies Sell Us Remedies for Problems Caused by Their Own Products—And the Federal Government Helps Them

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 12:07
Click here for reuse options! This should be a clear violation of antitrust laws.

Like most folks, you dutifully rub shampoo into your hair daily or a few times each week. After it strips out your hair’s natural moisture and liveliness, you apply a conditioner to get that moisture and liveliness back.

Much about modern life seems to follow this general pattern.

Mounting evidence suggests multinational companies negligently sell products to the public that are leading drivers of public health issues, while at the same time another division presents the “remedy” for that same harm. A panacea for their own poison, as it were. In this way, they profit twice: once when they supply the cause of our ailments, and again when we come to them for the cure.

It is clear that all is not well in Big Pharma these days. Americans have yet to coalesce around a plan to impose transparency and integrity on health care and pharmaceutical companies. Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests the industry persists in the peddling hundreds of products each year with dubious claims and even more dubious real-world effects — all while maintaining stupefyingly high profit margins.

Sick and Getting Sicker

The real topics today are corporate consolidation and corruption. There may be no better example of this problem than Johnson & Johnson, a corporation made up of more than 250 subsidiaries. You may recall that the pharma giant’s talc-based baby powder is now inextricably linked to incidences of ovarian cancer. Websites that concern themselves with preventing this type of cancer specifically recommend omitting talcum powders from your daily constitutionals.

Fortunately for Johnson & Johnson’s bottom line, at least one company from its panoply of subsidiaries — Janssen Pharmaceuticals — charitably offers chemotherapy drugs for ovarian cancer patients for a mere $2,758 per dose. You can recognize it by the marketing-friendly name “Doxil.”

Let’s do another example.

You’re probably familiar with the sugar alternative called Equal. Equal and Canderel represent the Merisant Corporation’s two most common and most profitable sugar substitutes currently on the market. Mind you, such products are largely marketed toward health-conscious consumers who wish to eliminate sugar from their diet.

The only trouble is, these products contain aspartame — and mounting evidence links aspartame with Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers and multiple sclerosis.

Thankfully, MacAndrews & Forbes — the multinational that owns Merisant — also owns vTv Therapeutics, which (you guessed it) makes a pretty penny selling treatments for literally every health horror aspartame allegedly contributes to.

Selling Snakeoil (With Government’s Help?)

The False Claims Act exists for a reason in America, theoretically. Under its guidance, corporations paid around $38.9 billion in damages and restitution between 1987 and 2013 for lying to the public about what their products actually do.

But context is everything here. For scale, the United States’ entire GDP in 2016 was $18.5 trillion. What good is a $38-billion slap on the wrist, spread across 25 years and dozens of corporations? And where’s the evidence that these weak, punitive, reactionary measures actually get results? We need a system that prevents fraud — not one which reacts as an afterthought after it’s already taken place.

How do we fix this?

The Politics of Corporate and Human Dignity

To begin with, we have to recognize that America is one of only two developed countries in the world that allows pharmaceutical companies to market directly to consumers. They take advantage of this by spending, collectively, $3 billion on advertising to convince Americans to convince their doctors that they have a health concern worth writing a prescription for.

But what about the flagrant conflicts of interest like the ones we described above? How can it be that corporations wield power equal to governments and owns both the means to make us sick and to cure us?

The answer is simple: America stopped enforcing antitrust laws some time ago.

Part of the reason is because nearly everything about commerce is vastly different than it was when anti-monopoly laws first hit our books. We didn’t envision a world where companies could grow so diversified in the products they sell. We wrote our laws to tackle monopolies within a single industry. We didn’t anticipate that a single company could dominate several very different sectors. Look at what happened to the stocks of supermarket companies after Amazon bought Whole Foods. That shouldn’t really be possible.

Then, overlay all of this with the cancerous influence of money in politics. Money has always shaped policy, but it’s been getting worse and worse since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Now, if policy is on the table — which might rein in corruption in a given industry — that industry mobilizes its army of lobbyists to kill that particular piece of legislation. Think of how Big Telecom frequently buys off local politicians and then instructs them to put up roadblocks to municipal broadband projects, which would easily deliver faster and cheaper service than American ISPs are “legally” required to provide. And then they charge extra for higher speeds.

These are all symptoms of the same disease, and that disease is institutional greed. Greed is why health care and many other products in America — even those which serve the public good in an obvious way, such as health care, education and access to the internet — gets worse and worse while simultaneously more expensive.

As the saying goes, they’ve got us coming and going.

Government for the Little People

When all else fails, we can turn to the smallest government there is — the minority — and vote with our wallets for the sorts of companies and world we want. We have more information than ever before and we can share it more effectively than ever. Being aware is the first and most critical step in this fight.

But it’s also clear we need a more organized resistance against multi-continental, multinational health, food and cosmetics empires that operate with the autonomy of sovereign nations. We need greater public awareness and then we need homegrown public servants who act on it by speaking truth to power and greed, which often arrive conveniently packaged as a set, much like shampoo and conditioner.

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Marijuana Use Doesn't Affect the Odds of Getting Pregnant

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 11:50
Hoary old myths notwithstanding...

Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple’s chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study.

About 15 percent of couples experience infertility. Infertility costs the US healthcare system more than $5 billion per year, and thus identifying modifiable risk factors for infertility, including recreational drug use, is of public health importance. Marijuana is one of the most widely used recreational drugs among individuals of reproductive age. Previous studies have examined the effects of marijuana use on reproductive hormones and semen quality, with conflicting results.

“Given the increasing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana across the nation, we thought it was an opportune time to investigate the association between marijuana use and fertility,” says lead author Lauren Wise, professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was the first to evaluate the link between fecundability—the average per-cycle probability of conception—and marijuana use.

In Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), a web-based prospective cohort study of North American couples, the researchers surveyed 4,194 women aged 21 to 45 living in the United States or Canada. The study specifically targeted women in stable relationships who were not using contraception or fertility treatment. Female participants had the option to invite their male partners to participate; 1,125 of their male partners enrolled.

The researchers found that during the period from 2013 through 2017, approximately 12 percent of female participants and 14 percent of male participants reported marijuana use in the two months before completing the baseline survey. After 12 cycles of follow-up, conception probabilities were similar among couples that used marijuana and those that did not.

The researchers stressed that questions about the effects of marijuana use remain. As one example, they say, classifying people correctly according to the amount of marijuana used, especially when relying on self-reported data, is challenging. “Future studies with day-specific data on marijuana use might better be able to distinguish acute from chronic effects of marijuana use, and evaluate whether effects depend on other factors,” they write.

Additional coauthors are from Boston University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

Source: Boston University

Original Study DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-209755


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The Medical Marijuana Movement Has Lost a Founding Father: RIP, Dennis Peron

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 00:18
He founded the nation's first dispensary, and his activism helped shape our world.

The individual most responsible for the medical marijuana movement in CA, and eventually in more than 30 states across this country, was San Francisco gay rights and marijuana advocate Dennis Peron, who died this past weekend from lung cancer at age 71.

Peron was drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1966, where he first discovered marijuana. When his tour of duty ended and he returned home, he also managed to bring wo pounds of marijuana with him – starting a career that he later acknowledged would last more than 40-years. In the 1970s, he opened the Big Top, a café in San Francisco where marijuana was openly sold and customers could smoke and socialize. The café was eventually closed by San Francisco police, who arrested Peron on numerous occasions.

Peron was among the earliest marijuana and gay rights advocates to recognize that marijuana could provide relief to HIV-positive and AIDS patients. In 1991 he organized the nation’s first medical marijuana initiative, Proposition P,  approved by 80% of voters of San Francisco. Subsequently, he founded the nation’s first medical marijuana dispensary, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club, where patients with HIV and other illnesses could openly buy, use and share marijuana.

The “buyers club” served as many as 11,000 patients before eventually being forced to close by the courts in 1998.

In 1996, with the help of Dale Gieringer and CA NORML, Peron organized the first state initiative to legalize medical marijuana, the Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215), which went on to be approved by 56% of California voters. The favorable experience with medical marijuana in CA eventually led to the adoption of medical marijuana laws in an additional 29 states and growing.

But Peron’s influence went well beyond the medical use of marijuana. Of the 9 states that have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults, each one has first adopted the medical use of marijuana. Only after the states had grown comfortable with medical use, and had seen first-hand that marijuana was an important medicine that helped tens of thousands of seriously ill Americans, were they willing to move forward to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, regardless of why they smoked.

All of us who smoke marijuana, whether for medical or recreational use, are truly indebted to the courageous early work of Dennis Peron. Without his willingness to stand-up publicly and fight for the medical use of marijuana, despite it’s illegal status at that time, we would not be where we are today.

May he rest in peace


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GHB Is Making a Comeback: What You Need to Know

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:45
The drug GHB gained notoriety during raves decades ago, but it is resurfacing again.

A highly potent drug called GHB is making a comeback in nightlife scenes, along with overdoses and even death. On Jan. 23, 2018, “Storm Chaser” star Joel Taylor died on a cruise ship. Celebrity news site TMZ reported that Taylor may have used GHB in the hours before his death.

GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate, has been referred to as a “date rape drug” by the media for decades, as it has been involved in instances of sexual predators spiking unsuspecting womens’ drinks to take advantage of them while unconscious. However, much of the public is unaware that most of use of this highly potent drug is actually intentional.

I am a public health researcher who studies party drug use in the nightclub scene. I have learned a great deal through my research and through what I have witnessed firsthand in my years in this scene. Use of this drug largely disappeared from the scene, but it appears to be emerging again in popularity.

Initially, a sleep aid

GHB gained popularity in the 1990s, when it was sold over-the-counter in vitamin supplement stores as a sleep aid and growth hormone enhancer. In 1990, at least 100 people were reportedly poisoned using GHB, and the Food Drug Administration banned sales of the substance. However, availability continued, as did outbreaks of poisonings.

Use can lead to a range of adverse effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to seizures, repressed breathing, and even death. Despite the ban, GHB use increased throughout the 1990s, and the drug was made illegal to possessin March 2000. Recreational use eventually decreased, but there appears to be a recent uptick in use — especially in the gay party scene.

While GHB induces sleep, the drug causes users to feel high before falling unconscious. Therefore, in my observation, most users of GHB attempt to take small doses in order to experience the high without falling unconscious. This practice of using GHB to get high began in the 1990s and led to GHB’s popularity in nightclubs.

However, doses of GHB are difficult to calibrate as it is highly potent with a steep dose-response curve, and co-using GHB with alcohol increases its effects. Higher than intended doses or combining it with drugs like alcohol can easily render someone unconscious.

The party scene

What is particularly unique about GHB is that onset of unconsciousness can occur quickly. A user can be dancing and talking with friends, yet a few seconds later fall on the floor unconscious and temporarily unwakeable. In fact, most users expect to “overdose” at some point and fall unconscious.

Witnessing the problems associated with GHB use so often in nightclubs was the main reason I became a drug researcher. I was deeply immersed in the after-hours New York City nightclub scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when GHB popularity was at its peak.

GHB was especially popular in dance clubs, where dancers could get a quick high. KK Tan/

By 2001, almost every week I witnessed multiple overdoses. I’ve helped carry unconscious bodies from dance floors, I’ve had good friends of mine die after using GHB, and I had even witnessed some of the infamous hidden rooms in some nightclubs that held bodies of unconscious users where nightclub staff waited for them to gain consciousness hours later. Some New York City nightclubs even had their own private ambulance services in order to not alert authorities about the GHB problem in their venues.

GHB use declined in response to the abundance of overdoses and increased stigma toward use. In New York City, some major venues closed, largely in response to so many GHB overdoses.

The popularity of GHB

GHB is by no means a popular drug in the general population. Only about 3 out of 1,000 young adults (age 18-25) in the U.S. are estimated to have ever knowingly used the drug.

But things are much different in the nightclub scene. My colleagues and I, for example, found that among electronic dance music attendees in New York City in 2015, nearly 1 out of 10 attendees reported ever using GHB. However, most of the individuals we surveyed identified as heterosexual.

Use is more prevalent among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in party scenes. For example, a recent study of MSM nightclub attendees in South London found that more than half reported GHB use in the past year.

But GHB is not only popular in the nightclub scene for dancing and socializing; it is a leading “ChemSex” drug — meaning it is often used intentionally to intensify sex. This is particularly prevalent among MSM.

What can be done to prevent more deaths?

GHB, due to its high likelihood of leading to overdose, is one of the most deleterious drugs to ever reach the party scene. Stigma toward users was a leading method of reducing prevalence in the early 2000s, and anti-GHB campaigns in the nightclub scene have already begun in Canada in response to recent overdoses. However, while stigma might prevent some people from using, this will lead others to resort to hiding their use. And hidden use is riskier.

The new generation of partiers needs to learn from the past. Yes, there are plenty of partiers who use GHB “safely,” and harm reduction techniques should be used among those who insist on using. But GHB commonly results in overdoses, and as is shown by the death of Joel Taylor who is suspected of taking GHB, sometimes use can lead to fatal outcomes.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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The Next Step After Legalizing Marijuana: Eliminating the Color Barrier

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:29
Under Chris Christie, black people were targeted more than whites for pot possession. Proper legislation will fix that.

Efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state of New Jersey have rapidly accelerated as the new Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has been ushered into office.

Throughout his campaign, Murphy pledged he would legalize marijuana in the state for recreational use. Last Tuesday, he ordered a review of the state's medical marijuana program. His goals were to allow home delivery, permit purchases greater than the two-ounce limit and increase the amount of licensed dispensaries to expand patient access.

"This is the more immediate priority. We will get to, in due course, I think sooner than later, the whole recreational process," Murphy said after he signed the executive order.

Murphy's order was a step in the right direction, and plans to legalize recreational use in the state should develop in the coming months. But it's not simply just about legalizing marijuana — it's also about making an attempt to provide equality for New Jersey residents who have seen the war on marijuana destroy communities of color. That's why New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR), an alliance of "public safety, medical, civil rights, faith, political, and criminal justice reform organizations" has advocated not just for the end of the prohibition on marijuana but for efforts to create a fairer criminal justice system.

"The time is ripe for us to get a bill together that actually embodies racial justice and social justice," Dianna Houenou, policy counsel for the ACLU of New Jersey, told Salon. The ACLU is a member of NJUMR's steering committee.

Houenou pointed to measures nationwide to legalize marijuana "and then having to go back and fix some problems that arise after legalization."

"We think here in New Jersey we can get it done right from day one," Houenou explained. That requires getting people to understand the issues at play and "getting them to understand that we can address concerns in the legislation, so we can protect kids, we can make sure that money is reinvested into communities that have been targeted by the war on drugs and make sure that legalization can happen in a way that benefits all of New Jersey's communities."

In New York, even with its liberal decriminalization laws, law enforcement has still targeted people of color. Shaun King, a longtime criminal and racial justice journalist, writes:

Decriminalization efforts also don't go far enough and are not an effective way to make marijuana less of a criminal issue.

"It's not enough to just legalize marijuana and say that racial justice is achieved because we won't have any racially disproportionate arrests, that's not enough," Houenou explained to Salon. "To truly embody racial justice, legalization has to include expungements of peoples' prior records, we want to see money reinvested into communities that have been hit the hardest. We want to see meaningful access to the jobs and the ownership opportunities that are going to come with this new industry."

She added: "We want to see people be permitted to grow a limited number of plants, in their own home, for personal use. We think those are the basic four components that really capture racial justice and social justice."

Marijuana efforts in New Jersey were essentially halted for eight years under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration, who embraced tough on crime rhetoric and stood firmly against legalization. The reality is that in recent years, New Jersey has cracked down on marijuana on a massive scale, arresting more for possession than ever before, a recent ACLU report highlighted. A possession arrest in the state occurs "on average every 22 minutes." Of course, this also means systematic racial disparities have skyrocketed as well.

In 2013, "Black New Jerseyans were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite similar usage rates," the report showed. In 2000, blacks were only 2.2 times more likely.

But Murphy has a bold progressive vision for the state and has aspired to transform New Jersey into "the California of the East Coast."

Marijuana is one area in which New Jersey should follow the progressive West Coast state's lead. California has been trying to right the ship and undo the abuses that come from marijuana prohibitions — prohibitions that largely hurt people of color. Pacific Standard, a magazine with a focus on social justice and public policy issues, elaborated:

It's imperative that any legalization bill in New Jersey follows a model such as this, to usher in a new era and attempt to make any sort of amends for the old. With 59 percent of New Jerseyans supporting legal marijuana, it's a vision that is more than attainable.

Despite President Donald Trump administration's decision to turn back the clock on the so-called war on drugs, states across the country have made the conscious choice to move forward. Though, it's important to note that moving forward also means restoring what was destroyed to get to this point. There is no sense in legalizing marijuana if it doesn't properly address, and correct, the social and racial injustices that have boiled over and sparked the movement to end prohibition in the first place. In New Jersey, the new Murphy administration has already taken commendable progressive steps and has vowed to stand up to the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions who have threatened to crackdown on legalization efforts. While the Democrats appear to be fractured in many ways, this is one issue that can, perhaps, help unify.


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8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don't Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 23:43
Click here for reuse options! We can now measure what happens when pot is legalized, and the picture is pretty bright.

The great social experiment that is marijuana legalization is now five years old, with six states already allowing legal marijuana sales, two more where legal sales will begin within months, and yet another that, along with the District of Columbia, has legalized personal possession and cultivation of the herb.

As a number of state legislatures—including Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York—seriously contemplate joining the parade this year, it's more important than ever to be able to assess just what impact marijuana legalization has had on those states that have led the way.

The prophets of doom warned of all manner of social ills that would arise if marijuana were legalized. From hordes of dope-addled youths aimlessly wandering the streets to red-eyed carnage on the highway, the divinations were dire.

And they were wrong. In a report released Tuesday, From Prohibition to Progress, the Drug Policy Alliance takes a long look at just what has happened in the states have legalized weed. It's looking pretty encouraging:

1. Marijuana arrests plummeted.

Well, of course. If there's one thing you could predict about legalizing marijuana, this is it. The decline in the number of pot arrests is dramatic: 98 percent in Washington, 96 percent in Oregon, 93 percent in Alaska, 81 percent in Colorado, 76 percent in D.C. That means tens of thousands of people not being cuffed, hauled away, and branded with lifelong criminal records, with all the consequences those bring.

The savings in human liberty and potential are inestimable, but the savings to state criminal justice and correctional systems are not: The report puts them at hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. But the racial disparities in marijuana arrests have not ended.

While marijuana legalization dramatically reduces the number of people arrested for marijuana offenses, it clearly does not end racially disparate policing. The vast disparities in marijuana arrests remain, even in legal states. Black and Latino people remain far more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people, despite similar rates of use and sales across racial groups. There is work to be done here.

3. A tide of teenage weed heads is not unleashed upon the nation.

High school kids in the earliest legalization states smoke pot at rates similar to kids in states that haven’t legalized it, and those rates have remained stable. In the later legalization states, rates of teen use vary widely, but have mostly stabilized or declined in the years leading up to legalization. And in those latest states—Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, California—regulatory programs are either not yet in place or so new they're unlikely to have affected youth use rates.

4. The highways remain safe.

In the earliest legalization states, Colorado and Washington, the total number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs is down, and the crash rates in both states are statistically similar to states that haven't legalized it. In fact, there seems to be no correlation between legalization and crash rates.

5. States with legal marijuana have lower rates of opioid-related harm.

In Colorado, an upward trend in overdoses began to decline after 2014, the first year of retail pot sales in the state. Other positive indicia come from medical marijuana states, which report a nearly 25 percent drop in overdose death rates, a 23 percent reduction in opioid addiction-related hospitalizations and a 15 percent reduction in opioid treatment admissions.

6. Marijuana tax revenues are big—and bigger than predicted. 

Legalization states have collected more than a billion dollars in pot tax revenues—and that's not counting the monster market in California, where recreational sales just began this month. Likewise, slow roll-outs of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce in Maine and Massachusetts mean no tax dollars have yet been generated there. In the states that do have legal pot sales, overall sales and tax revenues quickly exceeded initial estimates.

7. Marijuana tax dollars are going for good things.

Like $230 million to the Colorado Department of Education in two years to fund school construction, early literacy, school health, and bullying prevention programs. Likewise, schools in Oregon get 40 percent of the pot taxes and schools in Nevada will get $56 million in wholesale pot tax revenues. Oregon also allocates 20 percent of pot taxes for alcohol and drug treatment, while Washington kicks in 25 percent. In Washington state, 55 percent of pot tax revenues fund basic health plans.

8. Legal marijuana is a job creation engine.

The legal marijuana industry has already created an estimated 200,000 full- and part-time jobs, and that's before California, Maine, and Massachusetts come online. As marijuana moves from the black market to legal markets, weed looks like a growth industry and job generator for years to come.

"Marijuana criminalization has been a massive waste of money and has unequally harmed black and Latino communities," said Jolene Forman, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance and author of the report. "This report shows that marijuana legalization is working. States are effectively protecting public health and safety through comprehensive regulations. Now more states should build on the successes of marijuana legalization and advance policies to repair the racially disparate harms of the war on drugs."

In addition to reforming police practices to reduce racial disparities, the report also says there is more work to be done on fostering equity within the marijuana industry and points to models for doing so, such as the California provision that having a prior drug conviction can't be the sole basis for denying a marijuana license.

Having places where people can actually smoke legal marijuana also remains an issue, the report noted. Public consumption is not allowed in any of the legal states. It's a ticketable offense in some and a misdemeanor in others. Public use violations are also disproportionately enforced against people of color, and the imposition of fines could lead to jail time for poor people unable to pay for the crime of using a legal substance.

And what about the kids? The report notes that while legalization has generally resulted in reducing historically high numbers of young people being stopped and arrested for pot offenses, these reductions are inconsistent, and in some circumstances, young people now comprise a growing percentage of marijuana arrests. A model could be California, where kids under 18 can only be charged with civil infractions.

Legalizing marijuana may be necessary for achieving social justice goals, but it's not sufficient for achieving them. As this report makes clear, how we legalize marijuana matters, and that's still a work in progress. But so far, it's looking pretty good.  

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Magic Mushrooms Fight Authoritarianism

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 13:40
Click here for reuse options! New research suggests that psilocybin use can promote an anti-authoritarian attitude.

Psychedelic drugs have been associated with anti-authoritarian counter-cultures since the 1960s, but a new study suggests using psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, actually makes people less likely to embrace authoritarian views, PsyPost reports. The study conducted by the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London was published in the journal Psychopharmacology

While other studies have linked the use of psychedelics to a greater sense of oneness with nature, openness to new experiences and political and social liberalism, this is the first to provide experimental evidence their use can leading to lasting changes in these attitudes.

In the study, researchers gave two oral doses of psilocybin to seven participants suffering from treatment-resistant major depression while a control group of seven healthy subjects did not receive psilocybin. Researchers surveyed participants about their political views and relationship to nature before the sessions, one week after the sessions, and 7-12 months later.

Subjects who received the psilocybin treatment showed a significant decrease in authoritarian attitudes after treatment, and that reduction was sustained over time. They also reported a significant increase in a sense of relatedness to nature.

"Before I enjoyed nature, now I feel part of it. Before I was looking at it as a thing, like TV or a painting… But now I see there’s no separation or distinction—you are it,” one participant told researchers.

Subjects who had not received psilocybin did not exhibit significant changes in attitudes.

"Our findings tentatively raise the possibility that given in this way, psilocybin may produce sustained changes in outlook and political perspective, here in the direction of increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarianism," wrote study authors Taylor Lyons and Robin L. Carhart-Harris.

That is a significant advance in the research on the links between psychedelics and anti-authoritarianism. That's because this is the first study to suggest that psychedelic use promoted such attitudes and not the other way around.

But while this study's design allows the drawing of some inferences about cause and effect, its small sample size limits the strength of its findings. As Lyon and Carhart-Harris noted in their study, "It would be hasty, therefore, to attempt any strong claims about a causal influence due specifically to psilocybin at this stage."

Still, one can't help but wonder what might happen if, say, Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump were to go tripping on 'shrooms. The world could be a better place. 

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Support for Marijuana Legalization Grows With 60 Percent of Americans Now in Favor

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 10:03
New poll shows majority of respondents up to age 64 support legalization.

A growing majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for personal use, according to a new poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said adults should have the right to buy marijuana, with even higher levels of support among Democrats and respondents under the age of 35.

The survey results were consistent with another recent poll taken by Pew Research Center earlier this month, which found that 61 percent of Americans back legalization.

Nearly three-quarters of people ages 18 to 34 supported legalization according to the new poll. While support was lower among those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64, majorities in both age groups said the substance should be legalized.

The poll showed an increase in support since 2014, when only 55 percent of Americans supported legalization.

The survey results came out days after Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults ages 21 and older, with a law that will go into effect in July. The state is the first to pass legalization through its legislature rather than a ballot initiative. Maine, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska have all decriminalized the substance in recent years.

New Jersey and Michigan are expected to vote on legalization this year, while groups in red states including Oklahoma and Utah are mounting efforts to include medical marijuana use on this year's election ballots.

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Q&A: America’s Marijuana Moments

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 00:48
Historian Emily Dufton discusses the prospects of a Sessions-led backlash to legal weed.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era policies in early January, which had prevented federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana cases in states that had legalized or decriminalized the drug, the staunch conservative rekindled the debate over a drug that some researchers and users believe is less toxic than alcohol.

In Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America, independent historian Emily Dufton, a former American Council of Learned Societies fellow at the Center for Public Integrity, details how 1960s social movements fueled both the marijuana decriminalization effort and the reactionary “parent movement” that sought to recriminalize the drug. She cautions that today’s marijuana activists should view marijuana’s history as a pendulum swinging between more liberal marijuana policies and harsher criminal penalties. The American Prospect spoke to Dufton about how attitudes toward the drug have evolved in recent decades. This interview has been edited and condensed.

The American Prospect: You describe the waves of activism surrounding marijuana, the first ones coming in the 1960s and 1970s, when marijuana gets entangled with the counterculture and the peace movement. How did marijuana become synonymous with these movements?

Emily Dufton: It really was not widely used prior to that point. There is a 100-year history of marijuana use in some form or other prior to the 1960s, but this is the moment where it becomes a signifier of generational break and protest. Prior to and in the immediate wake of World War II, America is a hardcore boozing country. Marijuana was a way to become intoxicated without alcohol. It’s a symbolic break with the alcohol-abusing, Vietnam-supporting hawks of previous generations. Marijuana is one of the largest signifiers of this break, along with changing clothing and commune-living.

What sparked your interest in marijuana and the grassroots struggle for its decriminalization?

I actually started researching this project in 2010, two years before any of the legalization laws passed. The 1970s and 1980s anti-legalization movement, which had formed in response to the widespread decriminalization laws of the 1970s, didn’t really get that much attention. It was called the “parent movement,” and people made fun of it—it’s just a bunch of grouchy parents, mad that their kids are smoking pot. The movement formed in response to widespread activism in support decriminalization and legalization, and actually inspired a renewed legalization movement as well.

That’s the real story, the way the pendulum keeps moving back and forth between expanded access to marijuana and tightening against it.

Those parental activists weren’t necessarily arguing from a conservative, law-and-order perspective. What was it about weed culture in the 1970s that worried them?

They did not expect the Reagan administration to essentially bastardize their movement so completely. The people who [started the movement]—Sue Rusche, Keith Schuchard, Thomas Gleaton—are well-known, incredibly liberal social democrats. But they truly were freaked out by rising rates of adolescent marijuana use in the 1970s. (If you’ve seen Dazed and Confused, that gives you a great idea of it.)

Kids have access to pot, which is, of course, a product of decriminalization rather than legalization—we don’t have the subsequent regulation and oversight. You have to keep in mind that people’s understanding of marijuana’s physical effects is pretty underdeveloped, so they read reports that say it’s going to make boys grow breasts and render girls infertile, and that’s really terrifying. Even amotivational syndrome is really terrifying to parents.

The [parents were] inspired by grassroots movements of the 1960s. They [formed] consciousness-raising groups, very much born of second-wave feminism, where parents got together, [realizing] “the personal is the political.” They’re saying, “Oh my god, my family is dying, how can we stop this, how can we pass laws, how can we change things in our own families, our own communities our own neighborhoods?”

This is as an outgrowth of 1960s activism and 1970s feminism, although with rather different effects. None of them really expected it to become the deeply problematic, punitive, and racialized drug war that Ronald Reagan [was] known for. Pot definitely paved the way, because it freaked people out about drug use and made all drug-using adults dangerous criminals and threats to the health and safety of our nation’s precious youth. But it was crack that really brought on the drug war as we understand it, and brought on extensive mandatory minimums and locked people up.

Are opiates playing a role today in the debates about marijuana?

National feelings about marijuana have always fluctuated based on whether we’re abusing another drug that’s more dangerous. Crack played that role, and even the heroin epidemic from about 1967 to 1976 helped pave the way to decriminalization during that time. When there is no other demon drug, pot fills that void.

But Sessions is doing something totally different. Over 50,000 people are dying each year of opioids, but Sessions said, “We’re going to target pot again.” It’s saber-rattling more than anything else: 95 percent of drug arrests occur at the state level, not at the federal level, and the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Justice Department don’t actually have the resources to crack down. But it’s a clear symbolic shift: It is so ahistorical and so unnatural, [but also] so unsurprising because we know who Sessions is.

What strikes you about the legalization fight today?

Probably how tied to other movements marijuana really is, and how deeply influenced it was by the anti-war movement and the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the fight for gay rights. Pot has become a part of so many larger movements. I wasn’t just writing a history of marijuana or marijuana activism, I was really writing a history of the entire United States, and of what people have been inspired by, impassioned by, and have been willing to fight for. Pot has been at the center of all these things.

Do you see a grassroots movement pushing for a crackdown on marijuana use again in the future?

I see people trying to do that now. But the biggest opposition to legalization is coming from pharmaceutical manufacturers that make the opiates. In states with medical or recreational laws, opioid prescriptions have dropped dramatically, because people are using marijuana to treat their pain. That’s cutting into Purdue’s and Abbott Laboratories’ bottom line, and they’re spending oodles of money to lobby legislatures.

Additionally, there’s also a couple of large corporations interested in patenting marijuana in the same way Monsanto patents strands of corn. BioTech Industries has a few utility patents on specific strains of marijuana, so anyone who grows or develops or transports or traffics that particular strain is going to owe a lot of money to them.

This is a problem for small farmers who are already battling larger farmers, especially in California, and for states that allow people to grow in their home. Marijuana is becoming a multibillion-dollar business, and the anti-legalization movement has lots of money, lots of resources, and is a little bit more professional than those fighting for legalization. 


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What Is It About Music and Drugs?

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 00:31
Let's apply some science.

For centuries, musicians have used drugs to enhance creativity and listeners have used drugs to heighten the pleasure created by music. And the two riff off each other, endlessly. The relationship between drugs and music is also reflected in lyrics and in the way these lyrics were composed by musicians, some of whom were undoubtedly influenced by the copious amounts of heroin, cocaine and “reefer” they consumed, as their songs sometimes reveal.

Acid rock would never have happened without LSD, and house music, with its repetitive 4/4 beats, would have remained a niche musical taste if it wasn’t for the wide availability of MDMA (ecstasy, molly) in the 1980s and 1990s.

And don’t be fooled by country music’s wholesome name. Country songs make more references to drugs than any other genre of popular music, including hip hop.

Under the influence

As every toker knows, listening to music while high can make it sound better. Recent research, however, suggests that not all types of cannabis produce the desired effect. The balance between two key compounds in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiols, influence the desire for music and its pleasure. Cannabis users reported that they experienced greater pleasure from music when they used cannabis containing cannabidiols than when these compounds were absent.

Listening to music – without the influence of drugs – is rewarding, can reduce stress (depending upon the type of music listened to) and improve feelings of belonging to a social group. But research suggests that some drugs change the experience of listening to music.

Clinical studies that have administered LSD to human volunteers have found that the drug enhances music-evoked emotion, with volunteers more likely to report feelings of wonder, transcendence, power and tenderness. Brain imaging studies also suggest that taking LSD while listening to music, affects a part of the brain leading to an increase in musically inspired complex visual imagery.

Pairing music and drugs

Certain styles of music match the effects of certain drugs. Amphetamine, for example, is often matched with fast, repetitive music, as it provides stimulation, enabling people to dance quickly. MDMA’s (ecstasy) tendency to produce repetitive movement and feelings of pleasure through movement and dance is also well known.

An ecstasy user describes the experience of being at a rave:

I understood why the stage lights were bright and flashing, and why trance music is repetitive; the music and the drug perfectly complemented one another. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I could finally see what everyone else was seeing. It was wonderful.

There is a rich representation of drugs in popular music, and although studies have shown higher levels of drug use in listeners of some genres of music, the relationship is complex. Drug representations may serve to normalise use for some listeners, but drugs and music are powerful ways of strengthening social bonds. They both provide an identity and a sense of connection between people. Music and drugs can bring together people in a political way, too, as the response to attempts to close down illegal raves showed.

People tend to form peer groups with those who share their own cultural preferences, which may be symbolised through interlinked musical and substance choices. Although there are some obvious synergies between some music and specific drugs, such as electronic dance music and ecstasy, other links have developed in less obvious ways. Drugs are one, often minor, component of a broader identity and an important means of distinguishing the group from others.

Although it is important not to assume causality and overstate the links between some musical genres and different types of drug use, information about preferences is useful in targeting and tailoring interventions, such as harm reduction initiatives, at music festivals.

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Cannabis Investing 101: So You Want To Take Part In The Green Rush

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 12:39
Three pot-entials to grow your money whether you’re a first time investor or veteran of the cannabis space.

Ever since Colorado legalized weed in 2012 people are seeing green—asking, “Where they should invest in the cannabis industry?” And, they’re right to ask. According to Arcview Market Research legal cannabis sales in 2015 reached close to $7 billion, and are predicting that the overall industry could be worth a whopping $22 billion by 2020, and is showing no signs of slowing down. This past November’s recent election favorably indicates the public’s growing acceptance of cannabis with voters in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) approving measures to fully legalize cannabis for adult use; while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota adopted medical marijuana programs. Half of America live with some form of cannabis program within their state, whether it’s adult use or medical—and more than 60 million Americans can enjoy recreational weed.

John Kagia, Executive Vice President for Industry Analytics with New Frontier Data, recently helped to author the 2016 Cannabis Investor Study, providing valuable and objective research and analysis of the cannabis industry. When asked about the outcome of the recent ballot initiatives Kagia pointed out the bi-partisan nature of cannabis and how “public support has been growing robustly” in more than half of the United States. “We’re seeing affirmative validation that legalization at large has gained momentum,” says Kagia. “This really is a significant catalyst for growth in the industry.”

What’s beautiful about this entirely new industry is the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. “There are few moments in any generation where you’re literally watching the industry being birthed,” says Kagia. Couple that with cannabis finally ditching it’s social stigma and the time is absolutely on point to dive in and invest.

Where to put your money? Here are several ideas to consider when getting started cannabis investing:

Ancillary Businesses

The 2016 Cannabis Investor Study from Arcview Investor Network and New Frontier Data found investors most interested in ancillary commercial products. Anything ranging from vaporizers to LED lights is considered ancillary because they stay far away from touching the plant. These types of companies are great entry points for new cannabis investors because this class of company face “less scrutiny” and offer less “risk exposure” than those that touch the plant, according to Kagia. Given that cannabis is still not regulated federally and instead is guided by individual state law, it’s easier for ancillary services to expand their business state by state since they don’t face cross border problems—making this type of investment attractive for potential investors.

International Markets

Look abroad to Canada and beyond for investment opportunities. New Frontier’s investment study shows 64% of investors favoring opportunities in Canada, compared with the 57 percent of investors who expressed interest in California’s growing market. The same study also showed Israel as good potential, albeit only 34 percent of investors said they were interested, followed by Spain (20%) and Australia (15 percent). Canadian stocks are a safe bet because unlike the US, their Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations program is federally regulated and currently has its eyes on 30+ licensed medical cannabis producers. “So far the Canadian market is well regulated and a national legal market has raised robust interest from a number of sophisticated investors—which will only increase once the government releases their regulations in April 2017,” says Kagia. As for other international markets, Kagia points to Israel with their robust and long withstanding medical program; Australia which just got their medical program off the ground making it the first Asian Pacific country with regulate cannabis; and finally Spain which has piqued the interest of investors who are eyeing it closely for when the market eventually will activate.

Investment Groups

If you have the money to invest, but are unfamiliar with navigating the complexities of the cannabis market—a great place to start are by joining an investment group. Becoming an angel investor allows you to join forces with others who have experience within the space and have already researched, sought out and have teamed up with companies that would benefit from your financial support. “Like Arcview, members get the first stages of due diligence for investment brought to them along with investment targets,” says Kagia. Having an investment group’s expertise at your fingertips provide new investors with a sense of security in their investment, which is a huge benefit especially when the pace of change is so fast in this evolving industry.


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For Chinese Fentanyl Sellers, the U.S. Mail is the "Virtually Guaranteed" Route to Not Get Caught

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 12:31
Look for a move to tighten documentation and inspection requirements for packages coming into the country via the U.S.P.S.



For Chinese fentanyl sellers, USPS is the "virtually guaranteed" route to not get caught

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fentanyl - and likely more - is pouring into the United States through international mail - and the federal government isn't equipped to track ...

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New York City Sues Big Pharma Over Opioid Crisis

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:55
The Big Apple has now joined Philadelphia and Chicago in seeking redress from opoid manufacturers--to the tune of $500 million.



NYC sues Big Pharma over opioid crisis

New York City is suing eight companies that make or distribute prescription opioids, accusing them of fueling a deadly and nationwide epidemic of overdoses. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeks $500 million in damages to recover expenses the city has to incur in combating the crisis.

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Booze, Molly or Weed: Which Heightens Sexual Desire The Most?

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:45
Post-sex regret is most common with booze and almost non-existent with cannabis.

Ecstasy makes you horny. So does booze. Marijuana just makes you chill.  These three obvious sentences were confirmed by a study published this week in the scientific journal Psychology and Sexuality.

The report revealed that compared to marijuana, alcohol and ecstasy were more strongly associated with heightened perceived sexual effects, including attraction, sexual desire, and social outgoingness.

Increased attraction — both feeling more attractive and attraction to others — was most commonly associated with drinking alcohol, followed by ecstasy. More than six out of ten participants reported feeling more attractive on alcohol (67 percent) or ecstasy (61 percent), but only a quarter (25 percent) felt more attractive on marijuana. Similarly, most participants reported that alcohol (72 percent) or ecstasy (64 percent) led them to be more attracted to others, while marijuana only increased attraction to others in about a quarter (27 percent) of respondents.

Increased social outgoingness — defined as outgoingness making users more likely to meet a partner — was reported by the majority of people who drank alcohol (77 percent) or used ecstasy (72 percent), yet only a quarter (26 percent) of users reported an increase on marijuana. The report was conducted by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at NYU Meyers College of Nursing.

The researchers surveyed 679 young adults (ages 18 to 25) entering electronic dance music parties at nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City to examine and compare self-reported sexual effects associated with the use of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy.

“These results align with previous research on the social effects of alcohol use, which link alcohol use to increased feelings of self-acceptance and decreased feelings of social anxiety in social situations,” said CDUHR researcher Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of population health at NYU Langone Health.

Which Substance Leads To Post-Sex Regret?


Post-sex regret was most common after alcohol (reported by 31 percent) compared to ecstasy (13 percent) and marijuana (7 percent). Palamar, who was not surprised by this finding, explained, “Alcohol is more commonly associated with regretful behavior such as ‘one-night stands.’ ”

Ecstasy — also known as the “love drug” — was more associated with heightened sexual intensity, length of sexual interaction, and orgasm intensity compared to alcohol and marijuana. But there are issues with performance while on these substances.

“While alcohol and ecstasy can increase sexual desire, these drugs can actually hinder sexual performance of males,” said Palamar. “Alcohol can numb the body, which can delay or prevent orgasm, and impotence is common while high on ecstasy, despite the drug increasing body sensitivity.”

Women reported mixed sexual effects when using marijuana. Marybec Griffin-Tomas, a doctoral candidate at NYU College of Global Health and coauthor of the paper, said, “While females may feel more sensitive to sexual contact while high on marijuana, they are more likely than males to report sexual dysfunction resulting from use.”


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Trump's Opioid Commission is a 'Sham,' Member Says

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 11:46
The Trump administration needs to put its money where its mouth is, says Patrick Kennedy.



Trump Opioid Commission’s Work Is a ‘Sham,’ Member Says

The work of President Donald Trump’s opioid commission has been turned into a “sham” and a “charade” by Republican-led Congress, a member of the panel said. Trump in October declared a 90-day public ...

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Jessica Kwon reports for Newsweek. 

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Changes to Iran’s Criminal Code Could Save the Lives of 5,000 People Awaiting Execution for Drug Offenses

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 14:23
Click here for reuse options! Capital punishment for drug offenses does not deter drug use, is a violation of international law, and is inhumane.

Proper implementation of Iran’s recent changes to its penal code would save the lives of 5,000 people currently facing capital punishment for drug offenses in the country. After China, Iran executes more people than any other country in the world, and the majority of those sentenced to death are convicted of drug-related crimes.
Iran amended its penal code in 2016, replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment or fines for a number of drug related offenses. Earlier this month, the head of the Iranian judiciary announced that people awaiting execution for these crimes were entitled to have their cases reviewed.   
Iran’s new amendment does not eliminate the use of the death penalty for all drug offenses; distribution of over 50 kilograms of opium, 2 kilograms of heroin or 3 kilograms of crystal meth will still be punishable by death.
The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug related crimes and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly reiterated that international law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes”, which does not include drug sale, use or trafficking. Despite this, over 30 countries around the world continue to use capital punishment for drug offenses, executing thousands of people a year.
Far too many people have lost their lives to the drug war, including at the hands of their own state. Iran should commute the sentences of the 5,000 people awaiting executions and should eliminate the death penalty for all drug offenses. Capital punishment for drug offenses does not deter drug use, is a violation of international law, and is inhumane.

This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog




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