September 22, 2012
Despite what the talking political puppets and generals in the War on Drugs would have you think—pot is not much of a gateway drug, at least not when compared with the legal, but regulated and arguably more dangerous drug: alcohol. According to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, people who used alcohol in their youth are far more likely to abuse prescription opiates later in life. Yes, this means that alcohol could be a better indicator of future addiction than the illegal and much-vilified marijuana. Why is alcohol legal but marijuana illegal?
So Alcohol is the Gateway Drug…
According to the study, any previous substance abuse (including tobacco) was associated with an increased risk of opiate abuse later in life. Of the 12 percent of the survey population that used prescription opiates, 57 percent had previously used alcohol, 56 percent had used tobacco, and only 34 percent had used marijuana. While more girls than boys turned to opiates after only engaging in marijuana use, the numbers were much higher when looking at the risk of a young man moving from alcohol use to that of opiates.
A similar study published in the Journal of School Health found similar results—that alcohol was far more likely to lead to other drugs than marijuana. That study found the real gateway was the legal drugs and that someone who tried alcohol, for instance, would be more likely to try marijuana and other substances—leading them up the chain of illegal drugs.
So, all that talk about marijuana leading to harder drugs—while not entirely untrue, still not as simple as it seems. With prescription opiates killing more people every year than cocaine and heroin combined, perhaps the money spent on enforcing federal marijuana laws could be better invested in prescription drug treatment options. Research indicates prescription drug abusers are more likely to turn to heroin (cheaper and still an opiate) when their addiction reaches a tipping point. Must be odd for the pharmaceutical industry to see their prized possession be such a large gateway drug.
Instead, however, those in power would rather send armed and shielded cops into dispensaries and gardens, holding on to their drug war with white knuckles, and backed with flawed rhetoric, against the voters’ wishes.
Swiss Move to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession
Switzerland is on the verge of decriminalizing the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana after the lower house of parliament Thursday agreed to align itself with the Senate’s version of the legislation, according to the Swiss news portal Swissinfo.ch. A final reading of the bill is expected to happen before the end of the fall session next week.
That would bring Switzerland in line with most of its Western European neighbors, which tolerate small-time marijuana possession. The move comes four years after voters rejected outright legalization in a popular referendum.
Switzerland has an estimated 500,000 pot smokers, with 10% of people in their teens and twenties saying they are consumers, one of the highest figures in the world. Currently, punishment for small-time possession varies from canton to canton, with some having already virtually decriminalized it with a small fine, while in others, violators face criminal penalties. Swiss courts handle 30,000 marijuana possession cases a year.
Preliminary parliamentary approval came over the opposition of conservatives in the Swiss People’s Party and some members of center-right parties. People’s Party legislator Thomas de Courten unsuccessfully sought to double the proposed $108 fine and warned that decriminalization was “giving the wrong message” to young consumers.
“The very mention of the word cannabis seems to trigger psychotropic effects among some members of this chamber,” retorted Yvonne Gilli of the Green Party.
The proposal was pushed by the Christian Democratic Party, one of the five parties that make up Switzerland’s governing coalition, but government officials seem decidedly lukewarm about it. The cabinet supports the bill, but “without enthusiasm,” Interior Minister Alain Berset said.
For more information about marijuana legislation and the war on drugs, visit StopTheDrugWar.org
Fiona Apple facing up to 10 years in jail over Texas marijuana bust
By Stephen C. Webster
Singer Fiona Apple may face serious jail time in Texas thanks to a state law that classifies possession of any amount of hashish, no matter how small, as a third-degree felony.
In Texas, a third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or no less than two, along with a fine of up to $10,000.
Apple was arrested Wednesday at a west Texas narcotics checkpoint near the Mexican border. Hudspeth County, where she was stopped, is notorious for busting celebrities on their way through Texas from California. Other high-profile busts in Hudspeth include rapper Snoop Dogg, country singer Willie Nelson and hacker George Hotz.
Police said a drug dog alerted them to Apple’s tour vehicle. Inside, they discovered a backpack that contained about four grams of marijuana and four grams of hashish. Hashish is also marijuana, but Texas differentiates between the two because hashish is more expensive and has a higher concentration of the plant’s psychoactive compounds.
The state is one of a handful that’s implemented more severe penalties for people caught with what the law calls “resinous extractives of Cannabis,” which it categorizes similarly to synthetic substances that mimic the effects of marijuana, like “Spice” and “K2.” Most states treat hashish similarly to marijuana and impose identical penalties for minor possession.
Texas, however, counts up to four grams of hashish as a third-degree felony. Go even a hair over four grams and the state jumps the offense class up to a second-degree felony, carrying a potential jail term of up to 20 years. Suspects caught with more than 400 grams fall under the law’s first-degree felony classification, which carries a potential jail term of 99 years.
Apple reportedly posted a $10,000 bail bond on Thursday and was released. Her promoter did not respond to Raw Story‘s request for comment.
This video is from E! Online, published Friday, Sept. 21, 2012.
Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers
September 20, 2012
A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.
“It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited,” said Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery, to The Huffington Post. “We want to get started with trials as soon as possible.”
The Daily Beast first reported first reported on the finding, which has already undergone both laboratory and animal testing, and is awaiting permission for clinical trials in humans.
September 18, 2012
The war on drugs has most people believing there is no legitimate argument for marijuana, causing it to be highly looked down upon and illegal under federal law throughout the United States. But there is an exceptionally large body of research pointing to the positive impact marijuana can have on various health ailments, with recent research revealing a link between marijuana and Alzheimer’s – showing that THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients.
As published in the journal Molecular Pharmacology, a Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology study shows that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) both “competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) aggregation.” In other words, cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis could halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Marijuana and Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer’s Help without Nasty Drug-Induced Side Effects
Many drugs on the market today address symptoms of Alzheimer’s by targeting and inhibiting the AChE enzyme, a neurotransmitter. This leads to decreased levels of AChE, thereby resulting in reduced symptoms.
The problem with many Alzheimer’s drugs like donepezil (known as Aricept), however, is that they are associated with seizures, among other nasty side-effects. But it isn’t too surprising—donepezil is in the same class of chemicals as many insecticides and agents of chemical warfare like nerve gas.
THC inhibits AChE on par with Aricept, and it even prevents brain plaque buildup—AchE-induced amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) aggregation for the scientifically well-versed. The researchers studied the reduction of Aβ aggregation after administration of donepezil and tacrine, which resulted in 22 percent and 7 percent reductions, respectively. “Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” says study author Lisa M. Eubanks, “THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.”
This is hardly the first time research has shown that marijuana fights the very disease it’s been accused of causing. Dr. Sean McAllister’s research at the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco answers the age-old question: Does marijuana cause cancer? He shows that cannabidiol offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat aggressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy. Let’s not also forget about Mike Hyde, the father who helped his 3-year-old son beat brain cancer with oil from marijuana.
Alzheimer’s on the Rise
While the link between marijuana and Alzheimer’s may be exciting, not everyone has access to such a controversial treatment. And the escalation of the disease rates is not slowing – Alzheimer’s incidence is projected to triple over the coming 50 years. While we know that Alzheimer’s is primarily caused by an overall unhealthy lifestyle made up of a poor diet and lack of exercise, researchers are looking to see if stress is one of the factors that affect one’s risk of Alzheimer’s. Seeing as stress wreaks havoc on the immune system, there is no doubt that it also helps to breed Alzheimer’s.
So what else can you do to prevent the health condition? Shifting to an overall healthy lifestyle is the best option, but there are specific measures to take as well. Consuming foods rich in vitamin E can help prevent the health issue, while a direct relationship has been made between coconut oil and Alzheimer’s as well – a relationship that should not be overlooked.
Jury Nullifies Felony in Cannabis Grower’s Trial
(FREE KEENE) In a developing story that has hit Reason.com, an NH jury has acquitted a man facing a felony for growing cannabis! It’s our first real-life case of jury nullification here in NH and the jury nullification law hasn’t even gone into effect yet. Kudos to the judge for reading a fair and easy-to-understand jury instruction about nullifying as an option! Also, it probably helped that a free stater was on the jury!
If you are an self-described anarchist or agorist and you are not registered to vote, you need to remedy that now. Being on the voter’s rolls means you could be chosen as a juror, which means that even if you never actually cast a vote in an election, you could cast a vote on a jury that could stop someone’s life from being ruined. Here is the proof. Is there still any doubt the Free State Project is working? If you haven’t made the move, what are you waiting for?
Here’s the story from Reason, which includes the judge’s instruction to the jury:
A few months ago, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill declaring that “in all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.” Although the new law does not take effect until next January, a case decided yesterday in Belknap County illustrates the importance of the nullification power it recognizes. A jury unanimously acquitted Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian charged with marijuana cultivation, after his lawyer, Mark Sisti, argued that a conviction would be unjust in light of the fact that Darrell was growing cannabis for his own religious and medicinal use. More remarkably, Judge James O’Neill instructed the jury that “even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case.”
That is New Hampshire’s model jury instruction on the nullification issue, but each judge has discretion whether to give it. In this case, since Sisti argued in favor of nullification and the prosecutor, Stacey Kaelin, argued against it, O’Neill agreed to clarify the law by giving an explicit instruction. The jury, which deliberated for six hours on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, twice asked to hear the instruction again. Sisti, who has been practicing law for 33 years, says this is the first time he has persuaded a judge to tell jurors they have the power to vote their consciences. He hopes the new law will make such instructions more common, if not standard.
Darrell was arrested in 2009 after members of a marijuana eradication task force spotted his plants from a National Guard helicopter flying over his home in Barnstead. Sisti tried unsuccessfully to have the evidence suppressed, aguing that the aerial surveillance was illegal because the helicopter flew below what the Federal Aviation Administration considers a safe altitude, thereby violating Darrell’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The Belknap County Attorney’s Office, evidently eager to get rid of a case that involved just 15 plants and no distribution, offered Darrell a series of increasingly lenient plea deals, culminating in an offer that entailed a misdemeanor guilty plea with no jail time or fine. Darrell turned all the offers down, Sisti said, because “he didn’t think he was guilty of anything; it’s a sacrament in his religion.” Instead he went to trial on a charge of manufacturing a controlled drug, a Class B felony that carries a penalty of three and a half to seven years in prison. Darrell’s first trial ended in a mistrial last November due to prosecutorial error. His second trial ended in yesterday’s acquittal.
“Cases like this shouldn’t be brought,” Sisti says. “And when they are brought, I think that safety valve, that nullification safety valve, is very important. Other states had better start waking up, because without it, people are going to be convicted of very serious charges through hypocrisy. The jury’s going to think they can’t do anything else, and that’s wrong.”
Canadian Police Find $744K Worth of Drugs Using High-tech Pot-spotting Drones
September 14, 2012
Spotting marijuana plants from the sky isn’t difficult, says Sgt. Jeff Leder of the Halton Police guns and gangs unit, and it’s a lot easier than hunting through thick brush on foot.
That’s where drones come in handy in the war on drugs.
On Tuesday, officers used one of the unmanned aerial vehicles to locate 744 marijuana plants — with a street value of about $1,000 per plant — in a field in the north end of Milton.
Filed Under: DRUG WAR
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