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Monday, November 30, 2009

Medical Cannabis Wave Has Been Sweeping Across The Country

The medical cannabis wave has been sweeping across the country with increasing speed; there is not a day that goes by without buzz about it in the media. States that have legalized medical marijuana have essentially opened the door for everyday people to become pharmaceutical manufacturers; let's face it, classifying marijuana as a medicine means some one has to produce and distribute the drug. New grow ops are going up every night and people who don't even smoke marijuana are witnessing the profit margins in that business. In Michigan, you can now attend pot college in order to learn crucial skills for participating and succeeding in the marijuana industry. Med Grow Cannabis College, located in Southfield, offers a wide variety of classes covering everything from soil nutrients to cannabutter; upon graduation you should have the skills required to grow and sell marijuana legally. Med Grow offers new classes every month and on their website they ask you if "you're ready to begin your new career"; medical marijuana is truly becoming less about medicine and more about money.

Every year pharmaceutical companies profit from selling legal drugs, some of those drugs are narcotics and are legal. Marijuana is now considered a medicine in many states but federally it is illegal. This discrepancy in classification is probably leading a lot of people down a path that could wind them in jail. People should not be led to believe that the marijuana enterprise is a particularly safe path. If marijuana is going to be taken seriously as a pharmaceutical then it needs to be treated that way before people start running off to start their new career in the drug game. According to the New York Times, "the students are a diverse group: white and black, some in their 20s, some much older, some employed, some not. Some keep their class attendance, and their growing plans, close to the chest". It's not just pot heads and drug addicts going into the marijuana industry, have people forgot that when you make drugs you have to sell them. How many forty year old accountants have ever sold drugs, pot or not?

It appears that the progression with medical marijuana, almost naturally, has transitioned towards business; it's now more about making money than it is about treating illness. Marijuana has become legalized under the guise of medicine and well being; people are hopping on board not fully understanding what is actually taking place. Is marijuana a medicine, economic relief, or just a way to make a buck? It's becoming all those things, but it is also one more thing too - addictive.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Diane Schuler Wasn't Drunk or High, She Ordered Chicken Selects!

At this point it is probably safe to say that the majority of Americans are familiar with the Taconic Parkway tragedy from back in July. Where Diane Schuler drove the wrong way down the Taconic Pkwy with five children in a minivan, drunk and stoned; crashing head-on with a SUV carrying three people. A total of eight people died in the wreck, the sole survivor was Diane Schuler's five-year-old Brian Schuler; it's is a blessing that more were not injured in that horrific accident. Schuler's husband Daniel has repeatedly claimed that Diane was not an alcoholic and that she hardly ever drank, furthermore, Daniel states that he had never seen her drunk. As for the marijuana, well, apparently that was only for medicinal purposes to help her sleep. Daniel Schuler went so far as to hire a private detective to dispute the toxicology findings, but, basically the investigator Tom Rushkin has been hired to poke holes in the case against Diane. The latest defense put forth is interesting to say the least! Tom Ruskin stated, "That Taconic mom Diane Schuler couldn't have been drunk and high when she crashed her car driving the wrong way down the Taconic because she ordered Chicken Selects from McDonalds four hours earlier", reports The Village Voice. One has to wonder how it is possible, after seven innocent people lost their lives, that Rushkin and Schuler's husband could think that would prove her innocence.

Apparently, Schuler could not have been drunk or stoned, she argued with a McDonalds' employee and demanded to speak to a manager about ordering something not on the breakfast menu - Chicken Selects. A McDonalds' employee who served Schuler filled out an affidavit and failed to mention that Schuler seemed intoxicated, and that is the argument in a nutshell. Maybe Schuler wasn't inebriated at the McDonalds, but, there was another four hours until the fatal crash which would be plenty of time to drink and smoke. Diane "was seen by three witnesses vomiting at the side of the road on the morning of the crash. At the time of that report, Ruskin said that if it was Schuler vomiting, it proved that she was incapacitated by illness and not by pot and alcohol", according to The Village Voice. It is unbelievable how hard evidence against Diane Schuler keeps popping up and Rushkin keeps dreaming up magical alternatives to why Schuler couldn't be intoxicated. Incapacitated by illness, like alcohol has never made people vomit when they mix alcohol with pot?

Diane Schuler was an alcoholic who took the lives of many people with her addiction. The evidence all points in the same direction and the longer people try to cover for Diane the worse it makes her and the entire family look. Is it possible that Diane hid her disease from everyone, sure it's possible; but, there are people out there who know what happened on that tragic day and they are not speaking up. If anything, the truth is owed to the loved ones of the deceased; why belabor this tragedy any longer. Everyday, people get behind the wheel intoxicated even with children, as we saw in Schuler's case; New York just passed a bill that makes driving intoxicated with a child in the car a felony. Unfortunately, laws have very little sway against an addicted mind.

The video below seems slow and pointless until the end when everything suddenly speeds up. Or at least that is how it appears. We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The First Marijuana Coffee Shop Opens In America

The first marijuana coffee shop opens in America which will inevitably be one of the first tests Obama faces after announcing a relaxed approach against marijuana. Marijuana cafes have been operated in Europe for many years rather successfully; it will be interesting to see how this new cafe will be received by the public. The Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon is the first place medical marijuana patients in Oregon can get their marijuana and smoke it as long as it is out of public view. Unlike California, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon where patients can get their medicine, forcing them to grow it themselves or know someone who is growing it. The new cafe in Portland is a big move in America, what happens in Oregon could trickle down and affect other states; neighboring states will probably be setting up cafes in the near future if Oregon's attempt at it is a success.

According to the Telegraph(UK): "Madeline Martinez, who runs NORML, a group seeking legalisation of the drug, said: "This club represents personal freedom, finally. 'We hope to have classes, seminars, even a cannabis community college, based here to help people learn about growing and other uses for cannabis'". A month ago the Obama administration told federal lawyers, with regard to medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, not to prosecute in those states which have permitted medical use. In the state of Oregon there are 21,000 medical marijuana patients compared to the staggering 150,000 in California. California, legalized medical marijuana in 1996, since then, another 12 states including Oregon followed suit.

With each day that passes it appears that America's view on marijuana echoes Europe's more and more. The way things are going it does not seem like there will be any distinction before long. I think we need to remember that marijuana is still an addictive illegal drug and can have the ability to have an adverse affect on your life. The more the United States accepts medical marijuana the more it will accept its use in general - prescribed or not. Medical marijuana may be a progressive movement for the United States and in the end may be the right thing; but, we dare not forget that just because it becomes recognized as a medicine does not mean that it's not an addictive drug and needs to be monitored.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are Addictive Drugs Legal in America?

It appears that the United States has become much more permissive of illegal drug use unlike never before. Many people are confused, and are asking, "are addictive drugs legal in America?"Across the world jails are filled to the max, economies have gone into recession, and a war on drugs with no end in sight continues to be fought. In the United States, the Obama administration has recently announced that registered cannabis dispensaries will no longer be raided by federal authorities; this is a pretty big deal considering that Marijuana is still classified as an illegal drug. Just about anywhere you go in the western United States you can see the marijuana trend exploding; more and more states are accepting or considering Marijuana as a legitimate medicine. The hope is that relaxed marijuana laws in the U.S. will have a heavy toll on the Mexican cartels. Cartels make most of their money from trafficking and selling marijuana.

The trend is happening all over the world, countries are not looking at drugs in the same way they once did. Governments are relaxing their laws regarding many different substances. The Economists reports that, "from heroin 'shooting galleries' in Vancouver to Mexico's decriminalization of personal possession of drugs, the Americas are suddenly looking more permissive. Meanwhile in Europe, where drugs policy is generally less stringent, seven countries have decriminalized drug possession, and the rest are increasingly ignoring their supposedly harsh regimes. Is the 'war on drugs' becoming a fiction?" This goes beyond just medical marijuana; many states are considering full on legalization of marijuana and are having serious discussions about it.

It appears to be a new era all over the world regarding the war on drugs. I have to wonder if we are being too hasty, many countries are trying to determine how all narcotics from cannabis to crack can be regulated. There needs to be a limit to all the legalization talk and we need to remember that drugs ruin people's lives and if they are not monitored appropriately then there will be chaos. There is certainly a problem with drug policy throughout the world, but, how we alter those policies needs to be done carefully.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Zetas Most Powerful Drug Trafficking Organization in the World

Zetas Drugs Mexico US Gangs
The brutal war in Mexico wages on over territory and drug trafficking routes from Mexico into the United States. The Zetas, who number about 4,000 according to U.S. Intelligence, are a cartel of Mexican Army Special Forces soldiers, who have dominated northern Mexico and the United States through murder and intimidation of public officials. It hasn't been proved, but, it is reported that some of the Zetas' members were trained in the United States. The Zetas' have a lot of influence as a result of their size and power; they operate throughout Mexico and the U.S. trafficking large amounts of narcotics and will let nothing stand in their way as is evident from the outrageous death toll. There is very little question that the Zetas are the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.

"The cartel was founded in the 1970s but emerged in its modern form in the mid-1980s, led by Juan García Abrego (now in a Colorado jail) and thereafter Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, who founded the Zetas and who is now awaiting trial in Houston, Texas. The Zetas are now led by Heriberto Lazcano – "El Lazco" or "Z3" – wanted in both Mexico and the US. It is Lazcano and the Zetas who control the cartel's drug operations and exercise the savagery with which its power is enforced and its terrain expanded", according to the Observer. Mexico's President Felipe Calderon focused the most energy on the Zetas' cartel with very little success. Peace in Mexico is when one cartel has total control over a given area. "The cartel and the Zetas have held their terrain and are broadening it, despite the high-profile arrests of key members of the group such as Jaime González Durán, alias "El Hummer". A spokesman for Calderón, Alejandra de Soto, told the Observer that "the army is proud of what it has achieved in Tamaulipas" – where the Zetas are based – "there is relative peace in the area. It has been brought under control".

Unfortunately, the Mexican government still has very little if any control over the cartel situation. Reports show that cartels like the Zetas are growing and their territory continues to spread with very little impediment. It still seems like there is a whole lot of talk and very little action directed towards the drug war and peoples' lives continue to be affected. Hopefully a solution can be found between the U.S. and Mexico.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans with Mental Health and Addiction Problems Belong in Treatment

In the late 60's and early 70's many soldiers returning from the Vietnam War came back home with mental health problems. Making the matter worse, many of those same soldiers had serious addiction problems as a result of trying to deal with what they experienced in war. Vietnam veterans did not receive the care that they needed forcing them into ineffective mental health clinics and jails; there were not many options for drug treatment in those days. Countless veterans suffered from our lack of understanding of mental disorders, including and especially addiction. Forty years later and America finds itself in a similar predicament, staggering numbers of soldiers are coming back from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with serious prescription drug problems, either to deal with pain or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This wave of addictions has veterans winding up in jails all over the country. Veterans with mental health and addiction problems belong in treatment, jails only exasperate the issue; if the United States does not provide its war veterans with adequate treatment, then we will see a repeat of history.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a report showing that current practices and policies in the United States has needlessly sent large numbers of handicapped and addicted veterans to jail. The report points out the advantages of drug courts and that treatment is always the better option. Drug and alcohol treatment has a much greater track record of keeping recidivism to a minimum. Guy Gambill, a long-time veterans' advocate, suggests, "In the aftermath of Vietnam, self-medication and its collateral behaviors landed tens of thousands of veterans in prison. This time, let’s be smarter than the problem". Unfortunately, many young veterans coming back from the war who get into trouble do not take advantage of drug court if it is offered; most states do not even have veteran drug court available.

Clearly, action needs to be taken to help or at least offer help to veterans coming back from the war addicted to prescription drugs and other substances. There is no reason why any non-violent addict should spend time in jail; the science is there to back up treatment as being more effective. The military will not provide any form of maintenance programs for their soldiers addicted to opiates despite the evidence world wide to support drugs like Suboxone and Methadone. What is certain is that the military still has a long way to go before soldiers and other veterans are adequately cared for and treated properly, hopefully this report will open peoples' eyes.

Today's post is written to honor our Veterans.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New York has Become aTesting Ground for the Potential to Expand Treatment Programs

About 37 percent of people who need and seek out drug and alcohol treatment do not get it because they cannot afford it. Sadly, many people end up in jail or prison before they ever go to treatment. In a lot of cases getting caught up in the legal system is a direct result of states not providing adequate drug treatment availability. In the last year a number of states have even cut spending on drug treatment. What is interesting about cutting spending on drug treatment is that sending someone to treatment is significantly less expensive than prison. New York has become a testing ground for the potential to expand treatment programs.

The Rockefeller drug laws enacted in the 70's were reformed this year, this is a huge step in the right direction and will save more lives. Now, nonviolent offenders who would have faced long, mandatory prison terms will be provided treatment and New York will be injecting $50 million in the treatment programs state wide. "An estimated 80 percent of the 60,000 offenders in New York's prisons have substance abuse problems", according to the Associated Press. Expanding drug treatment is the most logical decision and makes clear that the disease concept of addiction is starting to make sense to politicians.

Unfortunately, California recently cut $250 million designated for rehabilitation services throughout the prisons and jails. This has done nothing but cost California more money in the long run by contributing to recidivism, in a prison full of addicts there is only one solution that has proven to work - treatment. Congress recently passed a bill that will in the near future prohibit insurance companies from denying insurance based on pre-existing health conditions. This will allow more people to get health insurance thus giving more addicts the option of life saving drug treatment - hopefully. Sadly, many insurance companies do not cover the cost of detox or treatment despite it being classified and accepted as a disease; perhaps, when this bill in Washington is completely worked out, that will no longer be the case. It is time to give people the care they deserve, treatment is always a better choice than prison.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Growing Marijuana for Profit Without the Threat Punishment

Medical marijuana in California has created a wave of people who have started growing the drug with the hopes of making a fortune. People are traveling from all over the country to get their foot in the door before it is closed. People think that because there are medical marijuana laws that it will protect them from the authorities. That is not the case, if you break the law and profit from growing pot under the guise that the plants are grown for medical purposes you will be incarcerated. There are more marijuana growers in the United States today than ever before, especially in California where laws are more relaxed. Unfortunately, the majority of marijuana grown in California is not for medical use and is being sold illegally. Marijuana is quickly becoming the next gold rush; the idea of growing marijuana for profit without the threat of punishment is inviting more people into the drug war. Federal officials plan to announce today 4.4 million plants have been seized since last summer, which is up 52%.

Since medical marijuana cuts into the Mexican cartels profits, they have become more aggressive with their guerrilla operations. The idea that legalizing pot would stop the cartels is not proving true. The United States legalizing medical marijuana will mean more pot will be grown to be sold illegally. Marijuana is an addictive drug that affects the lives of many people, more pot equals more addicts. Sadly, the Mexican cartels are using our national forests to grow marijuana, destroying our pristine habitats. According to the LA Times, "in 2008, 2.9 million plants were found, worth an estimated $11.6 billion. About 70% was grown on public lands. The campaign also seized 2.9 million plants in 2007".

The numbers are staggering and unfortunately they are our future. More people will be exposed to the drug than ever before, inevitably we will see addiction rates spike in America. It will be interesting to see how California goes about this transition and responds to the changes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bills and Measures that are in the Works for a Green California and Perhaps a Green America

There are so many bills flying around California that it is hard to keep track of everything going on with the Marijuana debate. What the future will hold is any one's guess, but, with the way things look it seems like it won't be long before Marijuana is a legal drug in California and perhaps the United States. There are a number of states who are tired of spending millions of dollars on prohibiting the production, distribution, and use of the drug. With the country in an economic recession more and more people are trying to find a way to generate revenue. The fact that more people will become addicted to the drug has become over-shadowed by the recession and the violent Mexican cartels. The argument is that legalizing marijuana will slow down the cartels and bring more tax money which could help pull us out of our economic woes. Whatever the case may be there will be a lot of heated discussion in the months to come regarding the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Listed below are some of the bills and measures that are in the works for a green California and perhaps a green America:

  • Assembly Bill 390: Introduced in February by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, it would legalize marijuana cultivation, sales, possession and use by people 21 and older, regulating it somewhat like alcohol. A license to grow for sale would cost $5,000 to start and then $2,500 to renew each year, and a $50-per-ounce tax would be placed on retail sales. Ammiano said he hopes this would bring upward of $1.4 billion per year for drug abuse prevention efforts. No taxation would occur unless the federal marijuana ban is lifted; otherwise, the bill's only effect would be legalization of personal cultivation and use. Ammiano held the bill in committee this year, and is now rewriting it to put it forth again in January.
  • The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010: Proposed by Oakland marijuana activists Richard Lee and Jeff Jones, it would legalize personal possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and up to 25 square feet of cultivation per home. It also would give local governments the option of whether to permit, regulate and tax commercial sales, a system akin to how alcohol is or isn't sold in "wet" and "dry" counties in some states. This seems to be the measure to watch; the proponents say their petition drive is surging, and its endorsements include that of Oakland mayoral candidate and former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. For details, go to Tax Cannabis 2010.
  • The Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010: Advanced by proponents Joe Rogoway, Omar Figueroa and James Clark, all of San Francisco, it would legalize personal cultivation and use without limits, but would require -- not just allow -- state and local governments to regulate and tax commercial marijuana cultivation and sales. Tax revenues would have to be spent on education, health care, environmental programs, public works and state parks. For details, got to the California Cannabis Initiative.
  • The Common Sense Act of 2010: Advanced by proponent John Donohue, of Long Beach, it would require the Legislature to adopt laws regulating and taxing marijuana within one year, but would let local governments choose whether to also tax marijuana's cultivation, sale, and use. For details, go to Grasstax.

-Info Provided by the Contra Costa Times-

I am curious to see what everyone thinks about the direction California is heading regarding this subject. Is California moving too quickly and not evaluating the big picture thoroughly? Once California passes the breaking point it is very unlikely that what has been done can be reversed. Both sides have well thought out arguments to support their views; but, what isn't clear is whether they have thought out plans to implement such a drastic shift into everyday life? Please send us your comments.

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