Marijuana Superstore Opens In Seattle

A building in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, instead of a state-run liquor store, now holds “the Whole Foods of weed,” according to the man who owns the business inside.

Green Ambrosia opened last Saturday and is the biggest medical marijuana dispensary of the city. The opening comes as Washington’s Liquor Control Board and lawmakers decide how to regulate the sales of recreational marijuana in the wake of initiative 502, which legalized the use and possession of small amounts of pot.

“This could be the face of what I-502 enabled pot looks like,” explained Green Ambrosia owner Dante Jones.

The business of Jones has operated since 2011, but only recently opened a storefront. Behind a bamboo wall inside is a large glass table loaded with jars of marijuana and there are restrictions on how much medical marijuana a business can have on sale.

Jones while planning for whatever regulations may come from I-502 said he is not sure how the licensing will work.

“We’re preparing for it,” he said, “As a business owner, the only thing I can hope for is that they’re going to continue the same set of standards (included in the initiative).”

Public forums are being held across the state on how to license recreational marijuana and it is still possible no matter what the state decides that the federal government could take action against Washington State since, according to federal law, marijuana is still illegal.

Minor Pot Offense Makers Don’t Commit Violent Crimes

Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization that focuses on human rights violations worldwide, has revealed that arresting and prosecuting low level marijuana offenders in New York City has little or no long-term impact on law enforcement efforts to reduce violent crime.

It was reported by a study released by Human Rights Watch that criminal records of nearly 30,000 people who had no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession in public view [NY State Penal Law 221.10] in 2003 and 2004 was tracked.

The researchers reported: “We found that 3.1 percent of [marijuana arrestees] were subsequently convicted of one violent felony offense during the six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years that our research covers; 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions. That is, 1,022 persons out of the nearly 30,000 we tracked had subsequent violent felony convictions. Ninety percent (26,315) had no subsequent felony convictions of any kind.”

The study found that the New York City police arrest more people for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view than for any other offense. Police between 1996 and 2011 made more than half-a-million (586,320) arrests for this misdemeanor, including a total of around 100,000 in just the 2 years of 2010 and 2011.

Investigators concluded: “The rate of felony and violent felony conviction among this group of first-time marijuana arrest’s appear to be lower than the rate of felony conviction’s for the national population, taking into account age, gender, and race. … Neither of our findings nor those of other researchers indicate the arrests are an efficient or fair means for identifying future dangerous felons.”

Ban On Commercial Marijuana Operations Approved By Douglas County

Marijuana may be legal for recreational use in Colorado, but it would not be available for purchase in Douglas County, one of the most conservative counties in the state. Commercial marijuana operations have been banned in the conservative county while adults over the age of 21 can still legally possess and use marijuana in Douglas County.

Douglas County has approved a ban on commercial marijuana operations that will go into effect that makes it the first county to ban store and grow operations in the state. Despite the fact that Douglas and other counties will have no ability to stop adults 21 or older from possessing up to an ounce of the drug or using it after the passage of Amendment 64, the new legislation does give the authority to regulate marijuana business operations to counties as they want. Douglas County’s decision to ban the commercial marijuana industry would seem to well-represent a constituency that voted down the amendment with 54 percent of the vote.

The Colorado Department of Revenue is expected to have rules set for the industry by July 1st of next year, while other counties are free to pass legislation on commercial marijuana regulation between now and then.

Weld County may be the next county to ban commercial marijuana sales, according to several reports.

Marijuana Use Does Not Harm Lung Function

According to one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently does not harm the lungs.

The 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana does not the kind of damage tobacco does suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there were not enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions. The authors still recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”

The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said marijuana users unlike cigarette smokers tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. Kertesz said cigarette users on an average smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while the average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month.

The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, California, and Minneapolis. The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. The analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Marijuana Users Should Not Be Targeted In States Legalizing Pot

Federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states that voted to make it legal, given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance, says U.S. President Barack Obama.

The first comments of Obama on the issue come weeks after voters in Washington state and Colorado supported legalizing cannabis last month in ballot measures that stand in direct opposition of federal law.

“It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal,” he said in part of an interview released on Friday. “At this point in Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And, as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,” Obama said.

Under the U.S. federal law, marijuana still remains an illegal drug but Washington and Colorado on November 6 became the first states in the nation to give it a legal status for individuals to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for private use.

Spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said that the “DEA’s focus has always been to disrupt and dismantle large-scale drug trafficking organization – not to arrest individual users,” when asked whether Drug Enforcement Administration agents were arresting people for possessing pot in Colorado and Washington.

Obama called the situation “a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law.” He added that “what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about” how to reconcile federal and state laws and he has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for examining the issue.

Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy said, “In a time of tight budget constraints, I want law enforcement to focus on violent crime,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement. “But now that we have a gap between federal and state laws on marijuana, we need more information and a wider discussion about where our priorities should be,” and called Obama’s comments Friday “common sense.”

Pot Compound Reduces Anxiety

According to clinical trial data published online in The Journal of Psychopharmacology, the administration of the non-psychoactive component of marijuana [cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD)] reduces anxiety in subjects with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

The anti-anxiety activity of oral doses of CBD in ten subjects was assessed by investigators at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil in a double blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Researchers concluded, “CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”

This study is the first clinical trial to investigate the effects of cannabinoid cannabidiol on human pathological anxiety and its underlying brain mechanisms.

Previous studies in the context of CBD have suggested that the compound possesses anti-inflammatory activity, anti-cancer activity, and neuroprotective effects – among other therapeutic properties.

The study “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report,” appeared online in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Criminal Sanctions For Cannabis Should End

According to the recommendations of a six-year study that was released recently by a coalition of leading British drug policy experts, treatment specialists, and law enforcement, the possession and cultivation of marijuana (cannabis) for personal use should no longer be a criminal offense in the United Kingdom.

Commissioned by the UK Drug Policy Commission, the study argues that police and prosecutorial costs would be reduced by decriminalizing minor cannabis offenses without adversely impacting levels of illicit drug use.

As per the study, criminal penalties for cannabis “could be replaced with simple civil penalties, such as a fine, perhaps a referral to a drug awareness session run by a public health body, or if there was a demonstrable need, to a drug treatment program. … These changes could potentially result in less demand on police and criminal justice time and resources. Given the experience of other countries, our assessment is that we do not believe this would materially alter the levels of use, while allowing resources to be spent on more cost-effective measures to reduce harm associated with drug use. … We would expect the net effect to be positive.”

The authors of the study didn’t recommend the removal of “criminal penalties for the major production or supply offences of most (illicit) drugs,” they do acknowledge that such non-criminal approaches out to be evaluated for cannabis, concluding: “For the most ubiquitous drug, cannabis, it is worth considering whether there are alternative approaches which might be more effective at reducing harm. For example, there is an argument that amending the law relating to the growing of it, at least for personal use, might go some way to undermining the commercialization of production, with associated involvement of organized crime. … Perhaps the most expedient course to take here would be to re-examine sentence levels and sentencing practice to ensure that those growing below a certain low volume of plants face no – or only minimal – sanctions.”

Marijuana Possession Cases Going Up In Smoke

Prosecutors in the two most populous counties of Washington state plan to dismiss scores of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases after after the passing of a landmark voter initiative to legalize pot for adult recreational use.

Washington and Colorado recently became the first U.S. states that removed criminal sanctions for personal possession of an ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana with voters approving ballot measures for legalizing recreational use of the drug, setting up a possible showdown with the federal government.

The legalization measure of the Washington measure passed by more than 55 percent of voters supporting it and less than 45 percent opposed, and will take effect next month. However, prosecutors in King and Pierce counties of Washington that contain the cities of Seattle and Tacoma moved in a swift manner to announce that they were dropping 225 pending possession cases currently in the pipeline. All the cases slated for dismissal constitute the relative few in which the possession of marijuana alone is charged.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, “I don’t believe any jury is going to convict on a simple marijuana case after this initiative has passed.” Lindquist said conviction for possession of an ounce or less carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail. “The people have spoken loudly in Initiative 502, and there seems to be no point in continuing to prosecute cases for conduct that’s going to be legal in a couple of weeks,” King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said.

Washington state and Colorado were put by legalization efforts at odds with federal law that classifies marijuana as an illegal narcotic and the U.S. Justice Department has yet to say what if any actions it will take in response to the votes.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Washington when asked to comment on the charge dismissals said the Justice Department was reviewing the newly passed ballot initiatives and “has no additional comment at this time.”

The new Washington and Colorado laws, in addition to legalizing personal possession of marijuana, will permit cannabis to be legally sold and taxed at a state-licensed stores in a system modeled on what many states have in place for sales of alcohol.

The two states already have laws on the books legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, along with 15 other states and the District of Columbia.

Medical Marijuana Legalized By Massachusetts

According to estimates, Massachusetts with a current vote total of 63% in favor and 37% opposed (with 40% of the vote tallied) is all set to become the eighteenth state in the United States of America to allow for the use of marijuana under physician supervision.

The state now joins its fellow Northeastern states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maine in recognizing and permitting the medical use of cannabis. The law when implemented will eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients.

A patient, to qualify, must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. The law will permit patients to possess a marijuana supply of 60 days for their personal medical use and the amount will be determined by the Department of Public Health.

A personal caregiver may be designated by the patient and he or she must be 21 years old and could assist with the medical use of marijuana for the patients but the caregiver would be prohibited from consuming that marijuana. The patients and caregivers will have to register with the Department of Public Health submitting the physician’s certification. Massachusetts will also allow for the approval of up to 35 non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers to grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers.

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Medical Cannabis Often Consumed For Pain And Muscle Spasms

According to population data published in the present issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, patients in California with the recommendation of a physician are predominantly using cannabis to treat symptoms of pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

Data from 1,746 consecutive admissions to nine medical marijuana assessment clinics operating throughout California was analyzed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Authors reported, “Relief of pain, spasms, headache, and anxiety, as well as to improve sleep and relaxation were the most common reasons patients cited for using medical marijuana.” Patients usually reported that cannabis offered them with more than one therapeutic benefit.

Of those sampled, three-fourths of the patients were male and three-fifths were Caucasian. Compared to the US Census of California, the patients in this sample were on average “somewhat younger, reported slightly more years of formal education, and [were] more often employed.” Two-fifths of patients in the sample “had not been using marijuana recreationally prior to trying it for medicinal purposes.”

It was also reported by investigators that use of tobacco by patients was somewhat higher than in the general population, but [that their] prevalence of alcohol use was significantly lower” than that of the general population.

Authors concluded: “Compared to earlier studies of medical marijuana patients, these data suggest that the patient population has evolved from mostly HIV/AIDS and cancer patients to a significantly more diverse array. … This suggests that the patient population is likely to continue evolving as new patients and physicians discover the therapeutic uses of cannabis.”

The study “Who are medical marijuana patients? Population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics,” appeared in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.


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