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Why is Jeff Sessions So Afraid of Marijuana?

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On January 5th, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the Cole Memo which directed a hands-off approach to federal prosecutors for handling states with recreational and medical marijuana. With public support at an all-time high for both medical and recreational marijuana-nearly 60% and 71% respectively--Sessions’ decision is a rebuke to the will of the people and an affront to states’ rights. Everything seems to be in favor of regulated markets, i.e., popular opinion, economics, restorative justice,  so you have to wonder why is Jeff Sessions so afraid of marijuana?

 

For starters, Jeff Sessions is widely quoted as believing that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” If that wasn’t bad enough, it is also reported that he once said the Klu Klux Klan was okay until he learned they smoked pot. Unfortunately, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks marijuana users belong to an underclass of people. Jeff Sessions’ ideas and information about marijuana are hopelessly outdated, yet I don’t feel that it is reefer in the traditional sense that he’s mad about.

 

Jeff Sessions is terrified that marijuana has gone too mainstream.  He’s afraid of products like Medamints (marijuana mints) being in every corner store in the country. He’s afraid of shops like Lightshade becoming your friendly, neighborhood dispensary in every state. We all know he needs one, but he’s afraid of cannabis-infused massages being the next trend in home health care (thank you, Primal Therapeutics). A couple doobies burning down in the woods is one thing; if the feds aren’t around is it even a crime? What Jeff Sessions is cowering from is the inexorable popularity and growing economic prowess cannabis has taken on. Much like the banking system that was rescued by the Feds in 2008, marijuana is simply too big to fail.

 

Not only is marijuana mainstream, but it is expected to boost the U.S. economy with an expected 70 billion dollars of annual revenue and a quarter-million jobs by 2021. You see, Attorney General Sessions, we have a lot to fight for: our jobs, our well-being, our health, and billions and billions of dollars to go around. Like any industry that is a good steward of its communities, the cannabis industry is united in working with state legislatures across the country to create responsible, pro-consumer policies. Jeff Sessions can rant and rave and posture all he wants, but what he’s really doing is being a sore loser. Like Senator McCain told one of NORML's very own freedom fighters in Washington D.C. last September, we’re winning. And we won’t back down.

To learn more:

Medamints

Primal Therapeutics

Lightshade




 

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The Fight was Never Over

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The Fight was Never Over

Marijuana consumers still face numerous challenges. Whether it's having a place to consume, or job advancement and upward mobility, marijuana users are still marginalized in profound ways. When I learned just how far the fight for my rights was over, I had to join Denver NORML.  

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles began with a Single Step

"When everyone flows in one direction, the current will attempt to push you the same way... few will stand still, resist and with time diverge others into a new stream" 

Someone needs to tell others what they need to hear and NOT what they want. We live in a repetitive cycle throughout history and times may change, but the essence remains the same. Observe the course of humanity's journey and you will find in many circumstances a similar trend:

New idea --> resistance to the idea --> few fight for the idea --> many begin to understand the idea --> the idea is implemented --> the idea grows to become mainstream --> a new idea comes along --> resistance to the idea.... and it goes over and over and over again. 

A very simple explanation, though I hope I got the point across: how any paradigm that we as a society have constructed upon ourselves, originally stemmed from an unpopular and criticized new idea. We all, as human beings, naturally feel a sense of discomfort from something new, something we do not know. This particular behavioral trait has accompanied our specie since its inception and during the first steps of our evolution it most likely served a benevolent purpose: Our ancestors had to grow up in a harsh environment, needing to survive against natural cataclysms as well as other creatures roaming the earth. When you look at the way people instinctively behave we shouldn't be surprised when this psychological factor is placed in the context of millennia! Back then many things we were not aware of had a big chance of hurting or even killing us; thus we quickly learned that new phenomenons were to be taken very seriously and with extreme caution before accepting them as a group. 

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Surpassing a few thousand years and we see how external forces permanently shaped the way humans perceived the world around them. Where it gets really interesting is when a few individuals, supposedly with either greater knowledge, resources and ultimately influence on others, would condemn any new idea or concept because they were afraid that it would undermine their legitimacy and control. A new idea has never been the real problem, its the inevitable change that comes with such novelty is what many powerful individuals have always been terrified of. 

This crucial concept that has persisted throughout time can be traced all the way to the 20th century and how such behavioral construct played a decisive role after the demonization and subsequent criminalization of the Cannabis Sativa specie. With so many wonderful things someone could produce with this natural resource, it is obvious that certain people and organizations had a direct interest in subverting the use of Cannabis, its vast applicability into the economy and its newly discovered uses in the early decades of the century: Like bioplastics and biofuels as an example. 

After the reefer madness movement ensued and took the United States by storm, virtually every state of the union, by the end of the 1930's, had established some sort of ban or limitation for the cultivation, sale and distribution of cannabis derived products. For decades only a few voices echoed in the vast sea of disbelief and ignorance, due to the fear of social exclusion and prosecution from what we imposed on ourselves as a new cultural paradigm. Collectively we are able to achieve the greatest endeavors and inflict the worst tragedies on ourselves, simply because we let the fear of the unknown dictate drastic measures to make us feel safe in the short term. A vast majority of the public would rather live in its own lies, while condemning others for trying to find the truth and break free, because they believe that if more people depart from the status quo, that they too will need to change and adapt sooner or later. The greatest tragedy of all is that Cannabis was never something new, though the power of language and ideological manipulation allowed thousands of years of history to be erased; allowing powerful interests to rewrite a new reality for this plant. 

For decades the public simply agreed on the lies originally propagated by a select number of individuals and once the seed of Marijuana demonization was planted, it took a life of its own and the original drafters of the criminalization movement just had to sit back and watch as people took their idea, became ambassadors for such cause and spread it like wildfire. During the 1st half of the 20th century very few people publicly expressed support for Cannabis, or commonly misrepresented as "Marijuana". During the late 1950's and throughout the 60's you can witness the first signs of rebellion, the rejection of conventional values imparted by society as a whole, stemming from the Beat generation as well as the more popular and universally recognized "Hippie movement". More people were waking up to the lies and manipulation of information from their own government and that was an early sign of a distinctive crack in the wall... the light was seeping through and some had caught on the brightness of the other side. 

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We can list many historical figures and organizations that were of great importance to the origins of the Cannabis legalization movement, such as: LeMar (aka Legalize Marijuana) founded in 1964 by Allen Ginsberg and Amorphia, which was founded in 1967 by Blair Newman. Nonetheless these groups shy in comparison to the pivotal role that the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, NORML, played in the success of the legalization movement. The founder of NORML, Keith Stroup, started the organization in 1970 and since then it has grown to become a monumental grassroots movement with 150 chapters across the US and now expanding internationally. For many it is easy to accept the success of NORML in the 21st century, however the true courage, determination and vision resided in the almost 2 decades, from the late 1970's all the way to the mid 90's, where the legalization movement saw virtually no real progress due to the backlash of prohibitionist groups and proponents of harsh drug laws that managed to control the narrative and successfully lobbied to maintain and expand the war on drugs. 

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NORML took a stand to conserve its legitimacy and keep up the good fight to advocate for the rights of all marijuana consumers! Many people now a days often forget the heavy lifters and are now constantly amused by new organizations that have sprung from the rapidly growing support of legalizing Cannabis.... but what about the past? What about the years of loss, constant discrimination and down right discrediting of marijuana activists all across the country? The original freedom fighters belonged to a rare culture of society, often times standing alone in the crowd, because others were too afraid to speak up or just couldn't believe that change was possible. We owe NORML and its countless grassroots activist this brave new world we live in and the civil liberties we are able enjoy...... such liberties originated from struggle, determination, unwillingness to give up, a true sense of leadership to stand your ground and not allow dissidents and skeptics to stop someone from doing the right thing.

We live in a reality that is dictated by predetermined rules, a constant fear of change and a convergence towards a faulty status quo. In 1970 someone became the catalyst, the genesis of a revolution: Whom strongly believed in an objective truth, dictated important principles of personal freedom, by being morally inflexible throughout time, while constantly portraying great resilience and courage. Such individual managed to create its own gravitational force to where lies and deception found no escape and after many, many years people saw in him an objective truth.

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A Unique Corner Of The Earth

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A Unique Corner Of The Earth

Many people in our society can say with confidence that the State of Colorado has become a pretty special place since 2012.

For decades the entire world fell into the abyss of ignorance and bigotry, towards a natural resource that has brought nothing but good in this world, spearheaded by the one nation that is now turning it all around, again! Cannabis, or what had been recognized by almost every individual, lawmaker, enforcement agent, journalist and world government as marijuana, has finally come out of the shadows after more than 80 years of condemnation, oppression and isolation from the world.  

Many historians will look back at these so called "dark ages", of the cannabis plant's journey, as a very strange phenomenon in the decision making rpocess that our ancestors brought forth as a means of manipulation and concentration of power. Across the millennia this natural resource has been utilized by human beings in almost every aspect of our daily lives and has played a fundamental role in our evolution and progression towards the advanced society that we are now a days. Somebody will have to explain the students of tomorrow how in hell could our leaders be so blind, and down right ignorant? Unfortunately the archetypes of the marijuana demonization campaign were anything but ignorant, though they were surely blinded by something: Greed and power. 

Thanks to the countless efforts of activist groups, free thinking individuals and societal phenomenons of rebellion against government oppression over the past few decades since the 1960's, the cultural shift had finally taken place and the citizens of Colorado voted to overturn many years of injustice and strive forward in a new and brighter direction. The entire globe has been carefully watching ever since Amendement 64 was put in place, under the Colorado constitution, thus granting historical rights that will have forever changed the faith of this unique corner of the earth.

Many of us were not granted the privilege to live in this state before this colossal paradigm shift; which lead us to embark on a journey to reach the promised land. Cannabis as many of you know is not just a means of relaxation, an interesting hobby or a natural medicine: it's a way of life. Since we can remember this important aspect of our existence always had to be segregated into the deepest corner of our minds to avoid conflict, social isolation or even criminal prosecution in many cases. It is unbelievable to see the stark difference just by looking at our neighbors in every direction and it should make everyone feel so grateful of the fact that we live in a time where a massive conscious awakening is taking place and Colorado has definitely been a catalyst for this change.

Nobody really knows where this legendary legalization movement will bring us, though it is certain that it's not going to hault any time soon. Hopefully one day no human being will ever have to suffer simply because they decided to create their own unique pursuit of happiness!    The legalization of Cannabis perfectly coincides with the degradation, erosion and subsequent transformation of many structural foundations deemed to be eternal in the eyes of previous generations: Things such as education, labor, technology, relationships, financial systems and political ideologies are all being put to the test on our ability to adapt and survice the changes that we have brought upon ourselves. Whether you believe it or not many of the challenges we are currently facing as a specie could have been easily prevented if our governments saw Cannabis as a force for good and not as an enemy of profitable institutions.

There are many moving pieces on this highly complex puzzle we call life and with time, many will get the chance to sit back and be able to grasp the immense complexity and yet fascinating simplicity of our world; the level of intricacy that us humans generate in our lives is quite astounding and one day we will be able to observe nature for what it really is: a teacher and not a resource.        

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420 Day of Action

420 Day of Action

After marijuana won the 2016 elections by doubling the number of states allowing recreational use with four more for a total of 8 and the establishment of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus this year, it’s clear that consumers are catching the ears of decision-makers across the nation. It’s high time they listen and some simply need that personal touch. For example, Colorado Senator Chris Holbert of Douglas County initially opposed marijuana law reform because he didn’t know its medical benefits until he met a family of constituents using CBD to treat their son’s seizures. Now he’s open to meeting with advocates pushing legalization and supports marijuana law reform.

The pioneers of marijuana legalization paved the road that brought us to this pivotal moment. Now our voices remain on congress’ doorstep.

Do you know those commercials from truth.com urging this generation to halt big tobacco and the smoking epidemic? Truth.com does an excellent job of getting in the faces of industry executives with displays of facts on big orange signs and organized chaos outside metro high-rises housing corporate tobacco companies. They’re changing the way consumers feel about ciggarettes using education or factual knowledge, one of the principle catalysts in paradigm shifts. We can do that with marijuana. Advocates for reform have an obligation to present the truth and halt misrepresentation.

On April 20th, marijuana consumers and advocates gather with NORML around the world to put an end to marijuana prohibition by supporting the 4/20 Day of Action Campaign; a grassroots effort that will combine social media presence with a call to action targeting federal lawmakers. Through this effort, we will raise awareness and support for the growing number of marijuana reform bills pending before the House and Senate lawmakers.

RSVP and sign up for our Thunderclap Campaign today!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/55788-4-20-online-day-of-action

NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

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NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

 

|by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator | February 14, 2017 |

The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

  1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
  2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
  3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
  4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

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This was originally published on norml.org and reposted here.

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Pot Pioneer Colorado Just Now Taking Look at PTSD Treatment

 

Credit: thierry ehrmann

| By Kristen Wyatt Associated Press | Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 4:21 PM |

DENVER – The first state to legalize marijuana is just now taking steps to consider the drug medicine for people suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Colorado has authorized medical marijuana for nearly two decades, and the state approved recreational pot use in 2012. But doctors here still cannot recommend marijuana’s use to treat post-traumatic stress, forcing sufferers to pay higher taxes for recreational pot.

Many Colorado PTSD patients interested in pot say they lie to doctors about having chronic pain, allowing them to qualify for medical pot cards.

“Medical obviously comes at a lesser price, and needing it medicinally, we need a lot more than a regular person would,” said Ashley Weber, 32, a Longmont native who uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and PTSD from a car accident that left her in wheelchair.

A bill headed to the state Senate would make PTSD the 10th ailment eligible for medical pot in Colorado. Passage would make Colorado the 20th state to allow doctors to recommend pot for PTSD.

Colorado’s Medical Board has rejected post-traumatic stress as an ailment eligible for pot at least four times. Citing a lack of medical research showing pot’s effectiveness treating PTSD, the state’s major medical societies also oppose pot for PTSD.

“There are well-known, proven treatments for PTSD,” said Dr. Adam Burstein, testifying against the bill on behalf of the Colorado Medical Society and the Colorado Psychiatric Association.

But other physicians testified that marijuana treatments for PTSD are already common and that the change wouldn’t require pot treatment, just allow doctors to consider it.

“There is an institutional bias against marijuana in the medical profession,” said Dr. Irene Aguilar, who is also a state senator from Denver and sponsor of the bill, which awaits a Senate vote in the next few weeks before heading to the House.

Allowing PTSD pot treatments, Aguilar said, would “allow physicians to put marijuana in their toolbox if they so choose.”

Colorado has about 100,000 people registered for medical marijuana, a number that has stayed steady since the passage of recreational pot in 2012.

Medical pot users can possess twice as much pot as recreational users and their taxes are significantly lower. Also, some shops provide specialty strains to medical patients that are unavailable to the general public.

Colorado’s Health Department has also set aside some $3.3 million since 2015 for studying marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress, including an observational study of 76 military veterans. The studies have not yet been completed.

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This article was originally posted at durangoherald.com and has been reposted here.

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The Future of Home Grows in Denver

The Future of Home Grows in Denver

The first three months of 2017 may change the way consumers that grow at home do things. First with the city of Denver questioning its already stringent policy of 12 plants per household, now the state of Colorado is questioning the current allowance of 99 plants for medical patients that have been recommended that high plant count by their physician. The future of home grows in Colorado are beginning to look uncertain and the presentations at a recent meeting open to the public held by the Denver City Council Special Issues Committee for Marijuana shed some light on where the data they will be basing their decision making came from.

There were three presentations that provided various data on the topic of home grows and the possible diversion of marijuana. The first presentation Andrew Freedman, the state's first Director of Marijuana Coordination. During his presentation he informed city officials how home grows could be a large source for the diversion of marijuana across state lines via black market marijuana deals. He pointed out that there are decreased property values, increased violence and environmental impacts such as excessive water and power usage as well as improper disposal of chemicals and pesticides used in the growing process.

During the presentation by Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), Kristi Kelly the organizations Director explained that there are several sources for regulated and non-regulated marijuana in Colorado and they can fall under not just the black market category but a "grey" category as well. She informed the city council that the "grey" market could be defined as the non-licensed medical caregivers and the non licensed Amendment 64 home grows of 6 plants. She defined the black market sources of marijuana diversion to be coming from illegal warehouses and co-ops.

Ashley Kilroy, Director of Excise and Licensing gave a presentation on illegal growing and the distribution of marijuana. She informed everyone that the Office of Marijuana Policy has been monitoring and tracking issues with non-licensed marijuana cultivation since 2014 and recently established an internal coordinated team to examine home grows closer. She also stated that in 2016 several city departments formed the Non-licensed MJ Grows Inspections Team in August 2016 to identify and address issues related to illegal growing and distribution of marijuana. They are currently performing inspections daily.

It is unclear as of now what type of regulations are to come. Will Denver and the rest of Colorado see similar laws the way recent municipalities in California have seen, charging over $100 to register a home grow including inspections from the local fire department? With all of the uncertainty we are expecting in 2017 at both the local and state level our goal at Denver NORML is to help maintain our rights as residents of Colorado to grow in our homes. We will keep you informed and part of the conversation as it happens. If you are interested in joining our movement and staying up to date on current issues in our city and state please come to our monthly meetings or join our mailing list.

View all presentations here.