To the surprise of virtually no one who has been following public opinion polls for the past 18 months, the call to legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis placed #1 in the 2010 Change.org online vote for the “Top 10 Ideas for Change in America.” Open voting at the Change.org website took place for six weeks; during which time citizens voted nearly 210,000times on over 2500 different ideas. The website has released the top 10 results at http://www.change.org/ideas. Legalization’s first place victory was expected. After all, the issue topped a similar Change poll last year. Legalizing marijuana also finished #1 in the White House’s first ever Change.gov poll; it finished #1 in Barack Obama’s first-ever online Town Hall vote; and it finished #1 in the White House’s 2009 Citizens Briefing Book. Yet despite these consistent first-place finishes, the administration and the mainstream media remain dismissive. President Obama has twice publicly retreated from the issue; the second time chuckling that such a question would even be asked of him. His press secretary discounted the issue’s true public support, claiming that groups like NORML had somehow stuffed the online ballot box. As if! Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets brushed off the results as the work of “internet trolls. Trolls, huh? How do ‘trolls’ explain the consistent victories racked up by marijuana law reformers at the polls last year? And how do trolls explain the rising public opinion poll numbers that now show that over 80 percent of the public supports legalizing medical cannabis, and a solid majority also backs legalization for all adults. Will today’s latest poll results finally be the time that President Obama, his press secretary, stuttering Robert Gibbs, Drug Czar Gil “legalization isn’t in my vocabulary Kerlikowske, and the members of the mainstream press start to heed the public’s message that marijuana legalization is not a political liability, but rather it is a political opportunity? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to stop telling them that it is.
Speech by Paul Armentano explaining students control on the war on drugs.
My name is Paul Armentano and I’m the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and I’m the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink.Max, Amber, Stacia, and the many good folks at SSDP invited me to come here today to talk to you about how and why students have a vital role to play in ending marijuana prohibition. First let’s talk about the “why”: self-preservation. The federal government has declared war on you. Since 1965 law enforcement in this country has arrested over 20 million people for marijuana offenses. But when you take a closer look at who is actually arrested you find that, for the most part, it isn’t the folks sitting on this panel; it’s all of you sitting out there – it’s young people. In short, the so-called ‘war’ on marijuana is really a war on youth. According to a 2005 study commissioned by the NORML Foundation, 74 percent of the 800,000 or so Americans busted for pot each year are under age 30, and one out of four are age 18 or younger. That’s nearly half a million young people at risk of losing their school loans, or being saddled with a lifelong criminal record at a time when they are just entering the workforce. We’re talking about an entire generation – and that’s you out there – that has been alienated to believe that the police and their civic leaders are instruments of their oppression rather than their protection. And the sad fact is: you’re right! The question is: What are you going to do about it? If we’re going to finally end this 70+ year failed public policy known as marijuana prohibition, then we need students to play a lead role. Obviously those of you in this room have already taken a critical first step in leading this charge by joining SSDP and attending this conference. There’s a lot more to be done and there’s a lot more that you can do. I believe that it was Gandhi who demanded that those who are oppressed be a part of their own liberation, and marijuana prohibition is no different. I want you to look around you because it’s you all who will ultimately bring about an end to prohibition.
For several years some have postulated that marijuana is not, in the strict sense of the word, an intoxicant.
As wrote in the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009), the word ‘intoxicant’ is derived from the Latin noun toxicum (poison). It’s an appropriate term for alcohol, as ethanol (the psychoactive ingredient in booze) in moderate to high doses is toxic to healthy cells and organs. Of course, booze is hardly the only commonly ingested intoxicant. Take the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to the Merck Online Medical Library, acetaminophen poisoning and overdose is “common,” and can result in gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) “within hours” and hepatotoxicity (liver damage) “within one to three days after ingestion.” In fact, less than one year ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for tougher standards and warnings governing the drug’s use because “recent studies indicate that unintentional and intentional overdoses leading to severe hepatotoxicity continue to occur.” By contrast, the therapeutically active components in marijuana, cannabinoids, appear to be remarkably non-toxic to healthy cells and organs.Further, they mimic compounds our bodies naturally produce; so-called endocannabinoids that are pivotal for maintaining proper health and homeostasis. In fact, in recent years scientists have discovered that the production of endocannabinoids (and their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body) play a key role in the regulation of proper appetite, anxiety control, blood pressure, bone mass, reproduction, and motor coordination, among other biological functions. Just how important is this system in maintaining our health? Here’s a clue: In studies of mice genetically bred to lack a proper endocannabinoid system the most common result is premature death.Armed with these findings, a handful of scientists have speculated that the root cause of certain disease conditions; including migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional conditions alleviated by clinical cannabis may be an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency. Now, much to my pleasant surprise, Fox News Health columnist Chris Kilham has weighed in on this important theory.
If the idea of having a marijuana deficiency sounds laughable to you, a growing body of science points at exactly such a possibility. Endocannabinoids also play a role in proper appetite, feelings of pleasure well-being, and memory. Interestingly, cannabis also affects these same functions. Cannabis has been used successfully to treat migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and glaucoma. So here is the seventy-four thousand dollar question. Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient endocannabinoids? The idea of clinical cannabinoid deficiency opens the door to cannabis consumption as an effective medical approach to relief of various types of pain, restoration of appetite in cases in which appetite is compromised, improved visual health in cases of glaucoma, and improved sense of well being among patients suffering from a broad variety of mood disorders. As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find its proper place in the home medicine chest.
Perhaps, or maybe at the very least society will stop misclassifying cannabis as a ‘toxic’ substance when its more appropriate role would appear to be that of a supplement.
Update! Big Advocacy Groups...
Response from NORML:
I do not wish to spend a lot of time arguing with you, but I did want to make sure you understand that the marijuana laws are subject to constitutional challenges all the time, by criminal defense attorneys who have no factual defense and have lost their motion to suppress the evidence, so it is the only option available.
Unfortunately, only Alaska has found the marijuana laws unconstitutional, based on the right to privacy. That was a decision back in 1977, and as you would expect, every state in the country has had similar challenges multiple times since then, and the theory has been rejected by the other 49 states.
So I am not saying that examining the constitutionality of the marijuana laws is not an appropriate step; rather I am simply saying that this has been tried and rejected in 49 of the 50 states, and if you wish to raise this challenge yet again in Idaho, you will likely have to hire an attorney to handle it. I would be shocked if any attorney would offer to do this pro bono, as it is unfortunately a theory that has already been rejected by your courts.
But I do wish you well and intended no insult when I rejected your offer to be the subject of a constitutional challenge. At NORML we simply do not have the resources to continue to raise the same losing legal argument time and again in the courts. We have to focus our limited resources on legislative efforts, and voter initiatives, where we have been making significant progress over the last few years.
We use the law to try to keep marijuana offenders out of jail, but we do not anticipate this is an avenue that will lead to legalization. We will have to do that the old fashioned way.
My best to you.
Keith Stroup, Esq.
NORML Legal Counsel
My Final Reply:
NORML was all over helping Marc Emery. I am the most acting activist I know in my area, if convicted that's going to make a significant effect on what I'm going to be able to do in my area do to the rules of probation here. Being as short on funds as I am I went out last night and passed out 194 fliers that had proven the drug laws invalid under US Code. You can view my petitions on Change.org or you can follow this link http://www.hemp4victory.com/take-action.html Support your strongest activists, or make way for them. I'm not trying to argue with you Keith; I'm simply trying to bring groups closer together. The closer we are, the more connected we are, and the more organized we are, the stronger we will be, and the louder our voices and actions will be seen and heard. I feel somewhat abandoned right now, and am almost willing to bet you haven't even bothered to look at my site. NORML made me a believer and is now letting me down. 1 win is worth 1000 losses, I know this and I'm willing to make the stand against our government. I'm willing to march on the steps of the White House peacefully...I've been ready to rally since 2004 at the age of 15. There’s strength in numbers Keith. I guarantee if a million American citizens got together, marched to the White House grounds, and waited out our country's leaders, that the war on the American people would be over in less than 2 weeks. Our contact back and forth will be posted to other advocacy groups that I feel will be more responsible for the final surge than NORML ever will be at this point. NORML left a mark that may be forgotten. People like me will leave a mark that will always be remembered.
Keith I'm off to plant my seed in an attempt to overgrow the government, however, when you come to the terms and understanding that more needs to be done than feel free to contact me. Until then I guess we'll watch many more recreational marijuana smokers, and medical marijuana patients have their lives destroyed by this corrupt system of ours.
Peace and Hope,
Big advocacy groups are just like corporations...about the money! NORML, DPA, MPP, DRCNet
First email to NORML:
Update to previous e-mail: After further thinking on what had just happened I came to realize that the officer that detained me failed to read me my Miranda rights.
To whom it may concern,
My name is Sean Crystal and I am writing today to get some legal advice an help in a situation where my rights were violated under the constitution. In end I wound up abiding to avoid injury to myself. I am not currently working so an attorney is not going to be an easy thing for me to obtain. In attempt to use my freedom card the officers refused to hear or read it. The officers also continued to ask questions, and refused to honor my decision of no consent to search my vehicle The officer would not allow me to close my door as I stepped out of my vehicle, all answers and consent given were under protest and duress. Please NORML this would be a big case for the state of Idaho if you would help me win it. In order to legalize we must stand together, and I need you to stand with me.
Webmaster: http://www.hemp4victory.com <http://www.hemp4victory.com/>
I am afraid we are not in short supply of victims of the marijuana laws, with more than 850,000 marijuana arrests nationwide last year. So you should focus on getting through this experience with the least amount of harm, and leave the political work until you have this behind you.
Let me suggest that at your arraignment, you advise the judge that you cannot afford to hire private counsel, and ask the court to appoint counsel for you. That is not as good as having private counsel, but it is far better than nothing.
R. Keith Stroup, Esq.
NORML Legal Counsel
I understand where you are coming from, however, big wins mean big change. 1966 Miranda vs. the State of Arizona caused our Miranda Rights to finally be upheld properly. The officers that arrested me failed to read me my Miranda’s before any questioning or interrogation. I thought NORML was about making change to the marijuana laws. NORML has become just like every other large group (DRCNet, MPP, and DPA). It's become about the money; if the groups were really there to make change NORML would help win this big case to help restore our constitutional rights. Idaho is a lot closer to legalization than many think. NORML's assistance in winning a case that was in direct violation of constitutional rights would help push this along. Tom Trail (R-Moscow) is planning on introducing a medical marijuana bill to the Idaho Senate later this year that could legalize medical marijuana for Idaho by January.
Unless NORML is willing to change their mind and help win a big constitutional rights case, then NORML has failed me, as well as the hundreds of thousands of pot smokers that are being arrested every year. NORML, put down the money and go back to fighting for what you started for.
As the webmaster of http://www.hemp4victory.com I know that there never needs to be a charge, or a donation made to make something move up. I've spent less than $100 on my site, and have made it on to Google’s first page for Hemp Homes Organization. I've never paid Google a single cent to get my site ranked anywhere near the first page. I haven't put a single penny into SEO...Every penny spent on my site went to domain registration and domain certification. As of this moment NORML has lost my support and unless changed future links to NORML may be removed from my site. I can't be associated with a company that's changed what they claim to believe in. I believe that NORML understands that the longer prohibition continues, the more money they make in donations, and the richer they become off of a constitutionally incorrect failed war against the American People
P.S. I really hope this awakens NORML directs, founders, and officials and pushes them into fighting for what I thought they believed in.
Watch for updates regarding this. I will be posting with NORML's response soon!
To whom it may concern,
My name is Sean Crystal and I am writing today to get some legal advice an help in a situation where my rights were violated under the constitution. In end I wound up abiding to avoid injury to myself. I am not currently working so an attorney is not going to be an easy thing for me to obtain. In attempt to use my NORML freedom card the officers refused to hear or read it. The officers also continued to ask questions after attempting to invoke my 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments. Officers also failed to honor my decision of no consent to search my vehicle. The officer would not allow me to close my door as I stepped out of my vehicle, all answers and consent given were under protest and duress. Please friends and members of all pro-marijuana advocacys, this would be a big case for the state of Idaho if you would help me win it. In order to legalize we must stand together, and I need you to stand with me.
Details about Britain’s biggest marijuana importing operation emerged in March following the conviction of its three managers in Southwark Crown Court. The enterprise earned the equivalent of as much as $300 million at such a rapid pace that the partners apparently were unable to use much of it, despite buying real estate, jewelry, and expensive cars. An inspector said that Scotland Yard found “moldy” cash “rotting away,” hidden under floor boards “It was no good to anybody.”
It’s always fascinating to watch corporations flail about cluelessly while society is in the throes of epochal change. One has to go no farther than Starbucks for an example; their recent crash course in societal change involved incurring the wrath of marijuana users, as it turns out a sizeable portion of their target demographic. Starbucks only took a couple of days to come around after pot users threatened a national boycott after spotting the coffee giant’s logo on a virulently extremist anti-marijuana website. Huge behemoths like Starbucks and Wal-Mart exercise their corporate policies with the implicit assumption that American society as a whole is in their corner, philosophically speaking. Playing the middle of the road is just smart business, after all. Nobody gets rich by alienating huge groups of consumers. But the interesting thing about social change is that sometimes the corporations get left in the dust. Starbucks was careful to make sure that didn’t happen; I’m betting Wal-Mart may not be so smart, if its atrocious labor policies are an accurate marker. During these periods of rapid and dizzying change, a perfect and current example being the huge shift in American attitudes toward marijuana, major corporations often reveal themselves to be big, dumb, lumbering beasts. That was exactly what Wal-Mart, notorious for its corporate stance of social conservatism, looked like this week when it summarily sacked a cancer patient who had been “Associate of the Year” for using medical marijuana with his doctor’s recommendation in Michigan, a state where that is perfectly legal. Wal-Mart, so far at least, hasn’t budged. But the wave of revulsion and outrage over their treatment of Associate of the Year Joseph Casias hasn’t crested yet, and it’s going to get a lot bigger before it does. For now, Wal-Mart seems completely oblivious that what just a few years ago was solid political ground under its feet is simply no longer there. The ritual corporate shaming of marijuana and its users, extending even to legal medical users, is now so disconnected from science, medicine, and mass perception that we can only watch in horror as companies like Wal-Mart mistreat employees, fully confident they’ll get away with it “just like they always have.” This moralistic and intolerant stance towards medical marijuana patients flies in the face of modern American sensibilities. More than 80 percent of Americans now support the medicinal use of pot. Wal-Mart was completely unapologetic. “In states such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter from company headquarters. “We believe our policy complies with the law, and we support decisions based on the policy,” "It's despicable that Wal-Mart would fire such a hardworking and seriously ill employee simply for treating his symptoms with a medicine that he is authorized to use under state law," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project and lead drafter of Michigan's medical marijuana law. "Would Wal-Mart also fire someone for taking doctor-prescribed Percocet, or any of the other legal medications sold in many of Wal-Mart's own stores?" Casias's firing violates the "Michigan Medical Marihuana Act," which reads in part that a qualifying patient shall not be "denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to...disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana." Under the law, the definition of "medical use" contains "internal possession"- having marijuana in one's system. The law does not require employers to allow the "ingestion of marihuana in any workplace" or employees to work while under the influence, but there is no allegation that Casias used marijuana at work or worked while impaired. To add further insult to injury, Wal-Mart is contesting Casias's eligibility for unemployment. It’s time to teach Wal-Mart that mistreating medical marijuana patients isn’t just dumb and cruel; it is also very, very bad for business. The national Wal-Mart boycott by medical marijuana supporters begins in 5…4…3…2…1…now!
Now that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, can an employer fire a worker who tests positive for the drug? Wal-Mart says it can, so it did.
"I was terminated because I failed a drug screening," says former Wal-Mart employee Joseph Casias. In 2008, Casias was the Associate of the Year at the Wal-Mart store in Battle Creek, despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. At his doctor's recommendation, Casias says he legally uses medical marijuana to ease his pain. "It helps tremendously," he says. "I only use it to stop the pain; to make me feel more comfortable and active as a person." During his five years at Wal-Mart, Casias says he went to work every day, determined to be the best. "I gave them everything," he says. "110% every day; anything they asked me to do I did. More than they asked me to do. 12 to 14 hours a day." But last November, Casias sprained his knee at work. Marijuana was detected in his system during the routine drug screening that follows all workplace injuries. Casias showed Wal-Mart managers his state medical marijuana card, but he was fired anyway. "I was told they do not accept or honor my medical marijuana card," says Casias. In an e-mail from headquarters, Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter explained the company policy. It states: "In states, such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen. We believe our policy complies with the law and we support decisions based on the policy." "No, I never came to work under the influence, never," Casias stated. "I don't think it's fair. Because I have a medical condition I can't work and provide for my family?" Casias has been collecting unemployment compensation since he was fired in November but this week he says he was notified that Wal-Mart is challenging his eligibility for benefits.
A recent study reports that more 12-year-olds have used inhalants to get high than marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens combined. These potentially deadly inhalants include aerosol, computer cleaners, glue, hair sprays, paint solvents, and gasoline. They're "huffed" or sniffed and can cause addiction or sudden death from cardiac arrest. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported on statistics from 2006-2008 national surveys. They show that almost seven percent of 12-year-olds report sniffing inhalants, compared to 1.4 percent who say they've used marijuana, 0.7 percent who've used hallucinogens, and 0.1 percent who've used cocaine. Around five percent reported using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. At a press conference held this week on the issue, 17-year-old Ashley Upchurch, a recovering inhalant abuser, said the habit can take a debilitating toll. "Inhalants were a cheap, legal, and an intense high that would also enhance the feeling I would get from other drugs," she said. "These highs nearly destroyed my life." "With data showing that young people often don't perceive the great risk of abusing inhalants, we must redouble our efforts to inform adolescents of the dangers and to encourage parents to be more vigilant in protecting their children from inhalants often present in common household products," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of national drug control policy, in a statement.