Tag Archives: Marijuana Policy Project

Oregon Measure 91: No Need to Add Commercial Pot Industry

“There’s little in the way Oregon handles medical marijuana that inspires confidence it could do well as a regulator of marijuana for recreational use.”  Clatsop County District Attorney argued this point in the debate of October 20, 2014 at Portland State University.  

Marijuana has been decriminalized in Oregon since 1973.   Oregon’s Measure 91 proposes to add recreational sales of marijuana , which would be in addition to the state’s large medical marijuana program.   Oregonians vote by mail and ballots are due on election day, November 4.   (See PopPot’s 1st post about Oregon, 2nd post and most recent post on Oregon.)

Oregonians voted in medical marijuana back in 1998, but the program gained about 8,900 new registrants this year.  There are at least 193 marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, and it’s quite easy to get a medical marijuana card. Marijuana is low priority for law enforcement, particularly in Portland.   There were  around 2,000 marijuana arrests last year, not more than 12,000 as stated by the Yes on 91 campaign.  It’s hardly a number that takes up too much police enforcement.

Oregonians, be careful.  Under Measure 91, new marijuana stores would be able to open in any neighborhood, unless a community gets 10% of residents to sign a petition denying it.  Please join the Vote No on 91 – Oregon campaign, and check out their news on the Vote No on 91 – Oregon Facebook page.

In Colorado, lots of communities have trouble keeping out the marijuana shops, grows and processors; politicians often listen to businesses before the residents.  As a Coloradan explained, “commercialization’s goal is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs.”     It would not lead to fewer arrests, because as DA Josh Marquis said in a debate, the 71 people in Oregon jails for marijuana-related offenses would still be in jail under Measure 91.OregonNoon91

Oregon Voters Will Decide

1) Do they want the marijuana tourism that Colorado has experienced?  Many people follow the “green rush” to get into the hot new businesses.  Those who do not find jobs end up adding to number of people seeking places at the homeless shelters, and “dumpster diving” for weed.   How strange it would be if a state that does not commercialize its beaches would commercialize sales of a drug to attract businesses to the state.

2)  Fires and explosions from butane hash oil (BHO) production sent 17 people to a Portland burn unit in a 16-month span, according the Oregonian report in May.  The BHO-explosions   caused numerous injuries, extensive property damage and at least one death in Oregon. These blasts happen when amateurs use flammables to extract hash oil from marijuana; the process is becoming more and more popular.   By May of this year, the explosions increased in Colorado by 3x what they were the previous year, up to 31.

Downloadable Fact Sheet

Get the Parents Opposed to Pot Hash Oil Facts! Download our new flyer, which describes the hash oil explosions in states which have permissive marijuana laws: POPPOT-Hash Oil Statistics.

Will the new taxes adequately cover fire protection services for these explosions? Cost of treating the burns can run over $1 million. Oregon’s only burn center could be overwhelmed, not to mention property damage.  Do the regulations adequately ban non-professionals from making BHO and other marijuana derivatives?  When the Denver mayor called a meeting in September to fine amateurs making BHO in homes, apartments and motels, there was too much objection.  Although Measure 91 says that  making marijuana derivatives at home is not allowed, this practice is extremely popular and legalization is likely to make it even more common.   The Oregonian did a series of articles on BHO production in May.

3)  Is Oregon ready to handle marijuana the fact that marijuana edibles often imitate popular children’s foods and candies?   Beginning last year in Colorado, and this year in Washington, a much larger number of children have been hospitalized.   The problems with edibles and explosions are summarized in the HIDTA report which outlines a report from Colorado released in August.

4) The taxes received are far less than expected in Colorado.  Oregon will have a lower tax rate than Colorado, around 15% rather than 40%.  A problem will emerge if users sign up for the lower cost of medical marijuana, rather than the full tax of recreation marijuana.  Black markets are still strong in Washington and Colorado.  It’s not likely to be different in Oregon.

5) A person can grow up to four plants in the home, and can possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana in a public place, and a person can deliver up to 1 ounce of marijuana to someone else, as long as they are over 21.   (This amount for recreational users is much more expansive than in Washington and Colorado.)  Public use and public marijuana grows will not be allowed, but in Colorado and Washington, it still happens.  Seattle has decided to stop all citations for public pot smoking.

6)  Will communities struggle to keep out marijuana businesses? One Portland neighborhood is already having a problem keeping out medical marijuana business.  Places in Colorado and Washington have been forced to go to Court, or put referendums on the ballot.

Although a judge in Fife, Washington, has agreed with residents not to allow a commercial marijuana shop, the Washington ACLU is appealing the decision, making the business interests ahead of community decisions.

7) Three children have died in Colorado, from parents who neglected them when they smoked marijuana.  A four-year old boy died while the mother smoked marijuana, in a last week in Keizer, Oregon.    It’s not clear how the fire started, but the mother was very stoned at the time.   How will Oregonians protect the children under increased marijuana usage?

DwightHolton8) Medical marijuana in Oregon is regulated by the Health Board and recreational marijuana would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Commission.  Any criticism DA Marquis leveled at the Health Board or the Liquor Control Commission relates to the ability of regulatory authorities in keeping harmful substances away from those who should not be using.  Parents, communities, friends, etc. must have the same goal.  An industry’s input should be minimal.  As in the state of Washington, those who want to use marijuana for recreational will be tempted to get a medical marijuana card, finding it cheaper.

Measure 91 Does Not Change

The current bans on selling or giving marijuana to anyone under the age of 21 would stay in place, even if legalization is approved by voters.  Laws regarding driving under the influence will remain the same, also, although some opponents don’t think the Measure 91 goes far enough to discourage driving high on pot.

Governor John Kitzenhaber and his opponent, Dennis Richardson, advise voting against Measure 91.  Measure 91 is funded mainly by out-of-state donors, the Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Action Committee.  The campaign received another $580,000 from Drug Policy Action, in addition to the $800,000 from Drug Policy Action Committee given to Yes on 91 earlier this month.   The Yes on 91 campaign currently has over $4 million, at least  24x the amount No on 91 – Oregon has received.  Two years ago, when Measure 80 lost by 8%, the marijuana lobbyists did not fund the Oregon campaign.  They opted to finance the Washington and Colorado legalization efforts, which passed.

The suggestion that legalizing a dangerous drug to fund drug prevention and education is a bit backwards, kind of like creating a problem to solve a problem.   We  don’t believe there will be any money left to to pay for drug education, after paying for all the other services needed with regulation.

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The Pot Piper Leads, Children, Teens Follow

“I’ve seen far more examples of propaganda and unfair marketing practices than I have of reasoned arguments. Worst of all, this kind of marketing targets kids, teenagers, and college students. If we want to make progress in substance use issues, we will need facts and reason, not ploys to grab the attention of our nation’s youth.”  Wharton School of Business student research analyst Theodore Caputi,  recently wrote in an article,  Is Pro-Marijuana Pro-Propaganda?  He’d like to hear more true debate without hype.

Social Media Uses Kids, Teens, Young Adults

How did the push for marijuana legalization come about so rapidly?  The answer lies in a social media campaign by a rich  pro-marijuana lobby aimed at changing opinion.  The Pied Piper has become the Pot Piper.  Young people use social media much more than middle-aged adults and senior citizens.  The largest pro-marijuana Twitter site sends out  an average of 11 pro-marijuana messages per day, according to a study by Washington University psychiatry professor, Patricia Cavazo-Rehg.  Cavazo-Rehg also found that the tweeters targeted Black and Hispanic youth disproportionately, much more frequently than Caucasians.

While Twitter and Facebook have been growing so much over the last decade, the federal government’s funding for substance abuse education and prevention programs has been reduced by 48% during the same time period.  It doesn’t help that a national merchant, Urban Outfitters, has continuously made clothing to glorify marijuana, pill abuse, drinking and now depression.

Surveys of teens indicate they would use more frequently, if marijuana is legalized.  Marijuana lobbyists say they do not advocate for  usage under age 21.  There’s never been a marijuana legalization initiative that would allow users under age 21.  Yet, while NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project “officially” declare it’s not for children, they’ve targeted the youth who wouldn’t be allowed usage under their laws.

Studies show that children and teens have gained the false perception that pot is harmless; this change of perception began in 2005 and grew stronger after 2009,  corresponding to the growth in social media  over that time.

 As the perceived risk in marijuana goes down, teen usage goes up, according to recently-published findings from 2013.  Only Adderall, an ADHD medication, is also trending upward, and it’s being used by those without a prescription.  Cigarette smoking is going down, as is adult smoking, and alcohol use is declining among teens.

Souce: National Institute of Drug Addiction and Abuse, released Dec. 2013
Souce: National Institute of Drug Abuse, released Dec. 2013

Marijuana usage by children and teens has steadily grown along with the push to legalize marijuana and/or expand medical marijuana into more states.  College students use more than ever, probably reflecting this trend, also.

According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey findings, five-year trends show a significant increase in current marijuana use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders.  For example, from 2008 to 2013, reported past-month use increased from 5.8% to 7.0% among 8th graders, from 13.8% to 18.0% among 10th graders, and from 19.4 % to 22.7% among 12th graders surveyed.  Alarmingly, the survey noted that this trend coincides with a decrease in the perceived risk of harm of marijuana use among the same group of students. The annual Monitoring the Future study surveys 6th, 8th 10th and 12th grade students for daily marijuana use, past month use and lifetime use.PiedPiper(13)

Of the top 23 states for teen marijuana usage, 21 of them were in states that had legalized medical marijuana.

How ironic legalization advocates would use ideas like building schools or funding early childhood education by legalizing and taxing a bad habit and dangerous substance like marijuana.   As Washington and Colorado are learning, their states suddenly need to spend money to offset a new problem set of problems.  Taxpayers have to pay for the unnecessary hash oil explosions that have gotten out of hand this year.

Colorado found it necessary to fund public service announcements to warn against stoned driving and against marijuana usage by those under age 21.  The state has decided to spend $2 million on the “Don’t be a Lab Rat” campaign.

Create a Problem to Solve a Problem

Legalizing marijuana to collect taxes and fund drug prevention is the way to create a problem — or make a problem worse — in order to solve the problem. Taxes collected from Washington’s legalization program are supposed to go fund drug prevention programs.   Already taxes in Colorado run far behind what was expected.

States that have had recent problems with pill addiction, cocaine and  heroin, had greater percentages of marijuana usage in youth, in 2010-2011.  They tend to have higher alcohol usage, too.  When asked,  Barbara Cimiglio, deputy commissioner for substance abuse in Vermont’s health department linked the heroin epidemic in Vermont to higher youth usage of marijuana.   “I think what drives this up tends to be the higher use of marijuana, and if you look at the states [with high illicit drug use], they tend to be the states that have decriminalized or have more favorable attitudes toward use of marijuana,” she said.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It becomes more challenging for many students to keep their educational options open, get jobs and achieve their goals.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry  warns about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell should speak out against the growing usage of marijuana at younger ages. The current spike in middle school and high school students using marijuana means that the time is now!

 

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Two.Is.Enough.D.C. Fights Washington Going to Pot

Two Is Enough D. C. has formed to fight off marijuana legalization in the  District of Columbia this fall.  Although it has taken years to reduce the smell and litter of cigarettes, the public health benefit could be erased and replaced with the widespread infiltration of marijuana smoke.

Polls show that DC voters favor legalization, but they need to look at what has happened in Colorado and Washington state.   One wonders how, after seeing what alcohol and tobacco do to health, voters can want a third vice.   The answer appears to be the huge amount of money backing full legalization.

The Money Behind Marijuana

The change of public opinion has gone hand-in-hand with the large influx of money to fund marijuana legalization.  Since the early 1990s, money-fund manager George Soros has been providing  financial backing to groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project.   Together Soros and the late Peter Lewis donated approximately 100 million dollars to legalization and medical marijuana campaigns.  The well-organized marijuana lobby has gained some backers in Congress: Dana Rohrabacher of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Stephen Cohen of Tennessee.

Laws revolving around marijuana have gradually changed.  Support is especially strong in the western states, where politics involves personal freedom and individual rights.  A movie released in 2011, Guns and Weed, reflects the views of many who have advocated for this freedom.  Unfortunately, the freedom issue has become stronger than protecting children.  Legalization legitimizes a vice and promotes the greed of both dealers and governments, at the expense of future generations.

The  normal course for changing marijuana laws has been decriminalization, followed by introducing medical marijuana and finally allowing voters to tax and regulate.  About a year ago, medical marijuana was implemented in the district.  This spring the city council voted to decriminalize pot, with a $25 fine.

Only one city council member in Washington, DC, Yvette Alexander, stood firm against the measure.  The fine for kids smoking marijuana in public is now less than the fine for smoking cigarettes. It is likely that the marijuana lobbyists, such as NORML and Drug Policy Action Committee, have worked long and hard to gain the support of politicians in Washington, DC.

Typically voters don’t even notice what is happening because these lobbying groups talk only from the side people going to jail or the inefficiency of drug wars and suggest that drug money could go to governments instead of criminals.  The first medical marijuana initiative passed in California back in 1996.  California voters rejected full legalization in 2010, despite being outspent 10 to 1.

How Congress Can Respond

One member of Congress, Andy Harris of Maryland, a physician, has tried to stall the implementation of decriminalized marijuana in Washington, citing the negative effects it has on children.   The marijuana lobby waged an expensive, negative advertising campaign against Harris and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who has also stood firm against the pot lobby.

Congress has the ability to slow legislation in the district.  A House budget bill passed last month included a provision to block not only a legalization effort but the decriminalization bill  that is now in effect.   Rep. Harris argued that the law has no drug-treatment component, even for minors, and that the fine for a young teen who is caught with a joint would be half that of the city’s $50 ticket for underage smoking of a cigarette.

A three-member D.C. Board of Elections voted unanimously today to approve the ballot initiative.  Malik Burnett, leader of the D.C. Cannabis Coalition, turned in more than 57,000 signatures to get the referendum on the November ballot.   However, he was not sure how Congress would ultimately react to this legalization effort, but he said that the vote “will send a message that D.C. is serious about reforming its marijuana laws.”

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Marijuana Puts Education, Kids Futures at Risk

Heather Mizeur naively campaigned for the governorship of Maryland by supporting universal pre-Kindergarten and paying for it by legalizing marijuana.  Her support came from NORML and the marijuana industry.

What good does earlier education do for child welfare when you introduce a whole set of new problems?

Look at what is going on in Colorado and Washington, and the unusual types of child endangerment that have gone on with legalization.   Many very young children have gotten into marijuana edibles which look like cookies and candy.

“Encouraging marijuana commercialism and consumption to fund and support education are two inconsistent goals,” explained Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Bravetracks, a non-profit devoted to encouraging youth activity, employment and engagement in Colorado.  “Even before Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana, Denver, where marijuana was first commercialized, had some of the highest youth use rates in the nation,” she said.

“The THC content of marijuana is extremely potent with levels reaching 20% and above in Colorado, due to competition in the industry.  Highly potent pot has become incredibly commercialized here and yet our kids have been told it’s benign. Increased access and use is a huge issue for Colorado teens who have no idea how such highly potent products can impact their health and their futures,” according to Carlson.

Since legalization, the pot problem only seems to be getting worse. “Disturbingly, Colorado kids will suck on lollipops, chew on gummy bears, or munch on granola bars without anyone knowing highly potent marijuana is being consumed. They have ‘vaped’ on pens, asthma inhalers or highlighters loaded with a concentrated form of THC that can go undetected in class.”

One high-school teacher in Denver, who wishes to remain anonymous, exclaimed, “Our job is so difficult and there are so many challenges to educating kids well in the best circumstances.  She added, “So why did the state add this other layer of challenge to our jobs and make it harder for our students to achieve success?”

Marijuana Money

“Where Commerce Meets Revolution” is how the Marijuana Policy Project (MMP) describes the Cannabis Business Summit held yesterday and today in Denver.  This title leaves no doubt that the MMP and other pot advocacy groups are about the money.

Amendment 64 passed in Colorado despite warnings of the teachers’ union and a persuasive letter from teacher Christina Blair to the Huffington Post.  It is probably because big money paid for the win in Colorado, with most of that money coming from the industry’s out-of-state lobbying groups.

One year later, by December 2013,  school administrators and law enforcement noticed the changes that came into the schools.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has warned the governors of other states not to follow Colorado’s example.

Revolutionary ideas grab attention, but Heather Mizeur didn’t win her primary.  She only promoted an idea which was heard all over the nation’s capital region.

Most likely the children who heard Mizeur’s TV commercials about marijuana will end up believing marijuana is completely harmless and could indeed be tied to education.

The pot industry regularly promotes it as a way to fund education.   It is an ironic that they would suggest a solution that only makes a problem worse.

Beware that many local candidates and representatives in Congress are taking money from the marijuana industry.   We need to watch out for the fallout from this “green rush.”  It could be worse than the mess left by the mortgage industry.

Marijuana and Teens

With the push to legalize and expansion of medical marijuana, children and teens have gained an erroneous perception that pot is harmless, studies show.  Surveys of teens indicate use would definitely go up, if marijuana is legalized.

According to David G. Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition,  “Studies indicate that usage will increase to levels near between those of tobacco and alcohol users.”   The annual survey show that all teen marijuana use, and daily marijuana use, have consistently gone up over the last five years.  As a nation and for our individual children, we need to be concerned.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It is not a way of saying “yes to life, yes to love, yes to opportunity and yes to education,” as recommended by the Pope Francis in a recent address at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.

Dr. DuPont and Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, wrote an article to suggest that changing policy necessitates a large, multi-year study using technology that has developed over the past 2 decades.  The study would aim to understand more about the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain.  Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry gives  a warning about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

 

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