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Dispatches from the Highlands

Marijuana news from contributing authors and staff writers on the latest in marijuana and medical marijuana

Volume #1
July 26, 2017
Denver, CO

President Jose Mujica has been busy defending his bill to regulate the marijuana market in Uruguay. First he asked the world to help him end marijuana prohibition, and now he is asking his country’s own politicians to understand the bill. As the bill approaches its final vote, which will be held in the full Uruguayan Senate, conservative opposition is calling for a referendum if the bill passes. Gerardo Amarilla, a member of the National Party and a conservative Member of Parliament has voiced his concern in interviews with media, stating that public opinion shows the bill is the wrong solution to the country’s drug problem. President Mujica has responded by explaining that the bill does not condone drug use, but seeks to monitor the market and protect Uruguayans.

We are not legalising cannabis,

We are regulating a market that already exists. We didn’t invent this market, it already

A city ordinance in Portland, Maine went into effect last Friday, December 6th that will allow those individuals who are 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. The government passed the ordinance in November, while similar ordinances passed in three cities in Michigan. While residents are still subject to state and federal laws regarding marijuana possession, they sent local law enforcement a clear message about their priorities: voters in Portland do not want penalties associated with marijuana possession. Unfortunately, the Portland Police Department has not listened.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck

There were only 54 marijuana citations given out last year in Portland. While Mayor Brennan expects the number to decrease this year, Police Chief Michael Sauschuck wants his officers to continue to use their own discretion when deciding whether or not to issue marijuana citations pursuant to state laws, just as they…

Gov. Mark Dayton

Is Gov. Mark Dayton – thankfully – softening his irrational opposition to medical marijuana? It appears as though that might be the case. Yesterday, ECM reported that Gov. Dayton will allow staff to work with patients and advocates on the issue of medical marijuana. He even expressed interest in researching the issue himself. While we still “don’t know where he stands,” according to Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Carewith your help, we can educate the governor’s staff and demonstrate just how ridiculous law enforcement’s “blanket opposition” to medical marijuana really is.

Twenty states and Washington, D.C. all have workable medical marijuana laws protecting seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation. Why should Minnesotans suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, Dravet syndrome, PTSD, ALS, MS, and other enumerated conditions be forced to break…

December 5th of this year marks the 80th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the United States. Prohibition lasted 13 years, between January 19, 1920 and December 5, 1933. Prohibition contributed to a failing economy, directly bolstered organized crime, and remains one of the biggest public policy failures in US history.

The restaurant and entertainment industries suffered under prohibition, while thousands of workers lost jobs as barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and every other job associated with the businesses of brewing and distilling.  Prohibition also cost the federal government $300 million to enforce and lost $11 billion in tax revenue. The problems weren’t just economic; the laws that enforced prohibition were also filled with loopholes. One law allowed pharmacists to prescribe whiskey to patients, which resulted in a huge surge of pharmacy registrations. Another resulted in a surge of church and synagogue attendance, not because of…

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released an email invitation this past Friday for the first White House Drug Policy Reform Conference in history. The email contained a graphic with a quote from U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske that read, Drug policy reform should be rooted in NEUROSCIENCE – NOT POLITICAL SCIENCE. Now, MPP is asking the office to explain the meaning behind their contradictory statement, since actual neuroscience has shown that marijuana harms the human brain far less than alcohol does.

For example, in 2005, Researchers at Harvard University reported in the American Journal on Addictions that marijuana use was not associated with structural changes within the brain.

When compared to control subjects, [marijuana] smokers displayed no significant adjusted differences in volumes of gray matter, white matter, cerebrospinal fluid, or left and right hippocampus. … These findings are consistent with recent literature suggesting that cannabis use is not

At a time when so many politicians seem out of touch with the realities of marijuana prohibition, Daylin Leach is a sight for sore eyes.  He is a state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for Congress and he understands the consequences of marijuana prohibition.

This Wednesday, head coach of the Florida Atlantic University football team, Carl Pelini, was forced to resign from his position in the dawn of his second season. It wasn’t Pelini’s 5-15 record or past personal issues that forced his hand, but the reaction to rumors of a party he attended. According to these rumors, Pelini and one of his assistants attended a party where marijuana was present.  That’s it. The university told Pelini and his assistant that it would be best for them to step down immediately.

While there are rumors that there was marijuana present, there is no doubt that there was alcohol available at this party, as it is at almost every other social event in college or elsewhere. Alcohol is far more toxic to the human body and dangerous to our society than marijuana. Yet, there would have been no repercussions for Carl Pelini…

Last Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial that compared marijuana and alcohol use, particularly the relative harms of the two substances and the influence people substituting marijuana for alcohol could have on road safety. 

But assuming the argument that alcohol and marijuana are “substitutes” bears out, that could be good news, especially for road safety. Of the two substances, alcohol is far more hazardous.

For the most part, marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on road tests. Several studies have suggested that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually overestimate their impairment. They slow down and increase their following distance. The opposite is true of drivers under the influence of alcohol. [MPP emphasis added]

It should be noted that no one should drive under the influence of any impairing substance, including marijuana. Still, the overall impact on public safety due to making marijuana legal will certainly…

One of the many predicted benefits of regulating marijuana is to allow police to focus on solving violent crimes, and an investigation into the Oakland Police Department shows just how imperative that focus is. In 2012, OPD solved only 28% of homicides, a figure that is largely due to an incredible backup of untested evidence.  The OPD’s crime lab has yet to test evidence pertaining to 659 homicide cases, some of which are 10 years old. Furthermore, the crime lab has no idea which of the cases with outstanding evidence have even been adjudicated or closed, meaning cases are being settled before the evidence has even been tested.

What makes all of this even more outrageous is that the OPD crime lab has processed evidence for 95% of all suspected drug cases within 24 hours of receiving it and has no backlog of evidence for drug cases. They have prioritized drugs over murder.

There is no excuse for allowing homicide…

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