United States: Legalize Pot Now

With support from the unlikeliest circles, this could be marijuana's moment

By Mike Miliard, Boston Phoenix

There is a truth that must be heard! The Obama administration, already overtaxed with two foreign campaigns, made headlines this past week when it waved a white flag in a fight much closer to home. Gil Kerlikowske, the White House's newly minted director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — the so-called drug czar — called for an end to the "War on Drugs."

Granted, Kerlikowske wasn't signaling an intention to lay down arms and pick up a pack of E-Z Widers. His was a semantic shift — a pledge to abandon gung-ho fighting words and imprisonment in favor of treatment. But it was newsworthy nonetheless. As Bruce Mirken, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project — the biggest pot-policy-reform group in the country — puts it: "Can you imagine [Bush administration czar] John Walters saying that? The Earth would open up!"

California: Scientists Hunt For Green Building Materials

By Michael Torrice, Mercury News

There is a truth that must be heard! The plank looks like a polished piece of plywood, and someday people may build coffee tables with it. But this wood was not grown in a forest — it was born from the greenhouse gasses seeping from landfills.

The Stanford University researchers who produced this wood alternative are part of a movement to support greener buildings by developing construction materials that are created and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

Green buildings are not only about replacing standard light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs or toilets with low-flush alternatives. Because manufacturing traditional building materials requires large amounts of energy and emits greenhouse gases, finding green alternatives will improve a building's overall environmental footprint.

However, inventors still must convince the construction industry that these products can replace centuries-old building materials.

"When it comes to construction and the environment, structural engineers make a mess and environmental engineers clean it up," said Sarah Billington, the Stanford researcher who leads the wood project. "We wanted to fix the mess from the start."

Building materials are responsible for about 20 percent of the greenhouse gasses emitted by a building during its lifetime, said Brent Constantz, founder of Calera, a company that is producing green cement.

United States: Ex-Seattle Police Chief Heads to D.C. to Fight War on Drugs

by Kimberly A.C. Wilson, The Oregonian

There is a truth that must be heard! SEATTLE -- During nearly a decade as Seattle's top law enforcement officer Gil Kerlikowske was confronted with concerns about corner drug dealing almost daily.

"I would meet with community folks and they would say 'about two blocks from here,' or 'over in Belltown near where I live,' or 'down the street from my house, there's people selling drugs on the corner at all hours.' "

Kerlikowske's response as chief was playbook police work -- deploying officers to the scene, arresting players along the illegal drug trade food-chain and seizing territorial, if temporary, victory on the drug corners.

But a week into his new assignment as President Barack Obama's drug czar, Kerlikowske is using the platform to recast the "War on Drugs" as a matter of national public health and not simply the domain of the criminal justice system.

"I'd be happy if I can change the conversation about drugs. We recycle people through the criminal justice system but it's more than that," Kerlikowske said Thursday during a visit to Seattle before wrapping up his move to Washington, D.C., to direct the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Michigan: New Medical Marijuana Act Creates Local Dialogue

By Audrey LaFave, Daily Press

There is a truth that must be heard! ESCANABA - The new Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is starting a conversation locally. The director of the new U.P. NORML group recently discussed the issue in an interview with the Daily Press.

U.P. NORML is a chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Jerry Glasscock, executive director, said the new act should be regarded as a right declared by the people of the state.

"This right started through a different way, it was a law the people were directly involved in and voted for themselves, instead of a select few voting in Lansing and deciding how we should live," Glasscock said.

He said the effective date of the act should be the date it was voted into law, Nov. 4. When people could start legally growing marijuana has been a source of controversy and debate.

"Right now, I see a lot of splitting hairs over this and that is not what should be happening here," he said. "If somebody started growing medical marijuana in November or December for someone who has cancer or has a doctor's prescription (it is legal). Why are we splitting hairs over the date? That is a waste of time and that is what will clog up the courts."

Glasscock said local law enforcement should be support the law, as it is their job to do so. He said although police and prosecutors may be against the medical use of marijuana now, he hopes in time they will accept it.

Europe: Hempcrete Warehouse for Wine Society Completed

Wine Society's warehouse uses preformed panels of hemp and lime that locks in carbon dioxide

By Stephen Kennett

There is a truth that must be heard!The UK's first warehouse building to be constructed using preformed wall panels made out of hemp has now been completed.

The £3.7m warehouse for the Wine Society in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has been designed by architect Vincent & Gorbing and has exterior walls built of Tradical Hemcrete, which is a mixture of hemp stalk and modified lime. It is a development of cast insitu hemp-lime walling that locks carbon dioxide within the wall construction.

Mark Chandler, architect and director of Vincent & Gorbing, said: “The design responds to the requirement for minimal heating and cooling equipment with the resultant reduction in energy consumption.”

The cladding offers good insulation properties, explains Chandler, and helps maintain a stable internal air temperature throughout the summer and winter.

The 8.5m2 panels, which are 300mm thick, are mounted on the building's steel truss frame, while a 40mm-thick composite aluminium panel is used to provide weather protection on the external face.

Together with the highly insulated roofing system, it provides an insulated internal space that exceeds Building Regulations requirements.



United States: Supreme Court Will Not Review California Medical Marijuana Law

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not get involved in a dispute over California's medical marijuana law.

By Fox News Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! The case presented a direct conflict to the justices of California's Compassionate Use Act which its detractors say contravenes federal laws prohibiting drug use. A California appeals court ruled last summer that the state's medical marijuana law does not preempt a federal drug ban. Monday's decision by the high court effectively affirms that ruling.

Thirteen states have laws allowing for the limited use of marijuana. California's law allows for individuals and their caregivers to "possess, cultivate and transport" marijuana as long as it used for medical purposes. Local officials in San Diego objected and filed a lawsuit saying the state law violates the federal Controlled Substances Act.

In its argument to the Court, the local officials said the California law is contrary to federal efforts to limit drug use. They argued "it is inevitable that marijuana originally grown for medicinal use will fall into the hands of recreational drug users."

California joined a handful of pro-Marijuana groups in asking the Court to not take the case. They argued the specifics of this case made it a "poor vehicle" for the high court to use in deciding such a controversial issue.


United States: Marijuana Does Not Raise Lung Cancer Risk

People who smoke marijuana do not appear to be at increased risk for developing lung cancer, new research suggests.

By Salynn Boyles, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

There is a truth that must be heard! While a clear increase in cancer risk was seen among cigarette smokers in the study, no such association was seen for regular cannabis users.

Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or nonusers.

The findings surprised the study’s researchers, who expected to see an increase in cancer among people who smoked marijuana regularly in their youth.

“We know that there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes,” researcher Donald Tashkin, MD, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine tells WebMD. “But we did not find any evidence for an increase in cancer risk for even heavy marijuana smoking.” Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer.

Tashkin presented the findings today at The American Thoracic Society’s 102nd International Conference, held in San Diego.

Boomers Reaching Cancer Age

The study population was limited to people who were younger than 60 because people older than that would probably not have used marijuana in their teens and early adult years.

“People who may have smoked marijuana in their youth are just now getting to the age when cancers are being seen,” Tashkin says.

United States: Plans Shaping Up for 2009 ‘Tour for Compassion’ Cross Country Bicycle Tour

By Ms Sylence Dogood, Hemp News Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! Get your bicycles ready and pack a few spare tubes and tires, because the 2009 Tour for Compassion is about to begin, and it’s gone international. Beginning May 15th, 2009 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, the group plans to ride across the United States by bicycle to raise awareness about Medical Cannabis Patient Rights and Freedoms.

Group organizer Ken Locke hopes the ride will educate people to the benefits of the Cannabis plant. Locke, a Medical Cannabis patient himself, has shared his personal story of dealing with a life-altering injury and how Cannabis has helped him live a functional and healthy life, free from prescription medications. He states in his story, “My personal experience has convinced me that the Cannabis plant must be for the use of all mankind. To this end, I ride across the United States of America. I hope that my bike ride will bring about awareness of the beneficial and healthy effects of medical marijuana.”

It is Locke’s belief (shared with a growing number of Cannabis supporters around the globe) that the past 70 years have been filled with false education and misinformation about the Cannabis plant. It is his goal to show the United States that there is a place for Cannabis in our society, but believes a re-education must take place. He hopes that the 2009 Tour for Compassion will have even more impact than the last ride.

France: Flax and Hemp Featured in New Era Bio-Composites

By Innovation in Textiles

There is a truth that must be heard! Paris - At the recent JEC Composites exhibition at Porte de Versailles, Paris, CELC Masters of Linen showcased the use of flax and hemp fibres in the future world of renewable composites. According to CELC, the environmentally sustainable properties of these two European-grown fibres are proving increasingly attractive to manufacturers seeking to incorporate sustainable solutions into their products.

The natural mechanical properties of flax and hemp bring high performance and competitive cost to new composite materials now being used in the Automotive, Furniture, Boat Building and Leisure Industries, the organization says.

“As renewable fibres, European grown flax and hemp help safeguard the environment, as their cultivation requires no irrigation, little or no artificial fertilisation and no pesticides. Their use within an otherwise intensive crop rotation regime, allows the land to recover fertility and quality, to enjoy an “environmental pause” , encouraging bio-diversity.” A spokesperson for CELC Masters of Linen said, adding:

“The mechanical properties of flax and hemp fibres, comparable to those of glass-fibres, offer lightness, low density and flexibility and are increasingly being used to reinforce PVC, PE and PP polymers replacing traditional synthetics. Both fibres can be structured into complex forms by extrusion or injection moulding."

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Special Report Part 1 - WNDU 16

By Sarah Platt, WNDU 16

There is a truth that must be heard! It received an emphatic 63% of the vote and majority support in all of Michigan's 83 counties.

You may recall, last November, Michigan residents voted to approve the use of medicinal marijuana for patients with serious ailments-- like cancer or chronic pain.

It's now been a month since the new medical marijuana law took effect. Michigan patients must get a doctor's recommendation and apply for a state permit to grow their own marijuana or designate a caregiver to do so.

Tonight, Newscenter 16's Sarah Platt begins her special report on the new law and who will benefit from it.

Viewers might not be aware that Michigan's medical marijuana law completely by-passed the state legislature. Because enough signatures were gathered, it went on the ballot as a public referendum and passed.

Here's a breakdown of the number of Michigan residents applying for medical marijuana.

As of May 1st, officials at Michigan's Department of Community Health tell us they've received 1,142 applications for medical marijuana. So far, 389 registration ID cards have been issued and 108 caregivers (or legal growers) have been given ID cards. These numbers are changing by the week.

Despite some controversy surrounding the new medical marijuana law, supporters say this is a big step for those who are dealing with serious and painful illnesses.

California: Novel Processes Developed to Make Faux Wood, Synthetic Fuel

By Bryan Sims, Biomass Magazine

There is a truth that must be heard! A university and a plastic recycling company are taking the lead in developing novel, cost-effective methods to produce saleable biobased products.

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a synthetic wood substitute made from hemp fibers fused with a biodegradable plastic resin called polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which can be recycled to produce more of the same. PHB can also be used to replace the petrochemical plastics used to manufacture disposable water bottles, according to Sarah Billington, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university.

Last year, the California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Billington and her colleagues a three-year $1.5 million grant to help the researchers develop biodegradable plastic beverage bottles. In 2004, the group received a two-year Environmental Venture Projects grant from Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment to develop durable and recyclable faux wood.

The hemp-PHB biocomposite material has several characteristics similar to wood from trees, according to Craig Criddle, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, who collaborated on the project. “It’s quite attractive looking and very strong,” he said. “You can mold it, nail it, hammer it and drill it a lot like wood. But, bioplastic PHB can be produced faster than wood, and hemp can be grown faster than trees.”

Washington State: Rick Steves Nominated for EMMY as Host of Program on Marijuana Laws

By ACLU Washington

There is a truth that must be heard! Travel writer Rick Steves has been nominated by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Northwest Regional Chapter, to receive an EMMY Award for his role as host of the ACLU of Washington's "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation." The half-hour television program examines the history and current impacts of state and federal marijuana laws and invites viewers to
consider, and discuss with others, whether those laws are working for our communities.

"Conversation" has been viewed more than 30,000 times in western Washington households subscribed to Comcast On Demand. It has received print and radio media coverage locally and nationwide, and it has been screened to capacity audiences at Spokane's Metropolitan Performing Arts Center and the Kirkland Performance Center. The associated website,, has received over 320,000 hits.

Seattle network stations sparked some controversy when they refused to air the program during evening hours when most adults would be likely to be watching. KING-TV and its affiliate KONG would only run the program at 1:00 a.m. KOMO and KIRO refused to air the program at all.

China: Officials Promote Growing of Hemp

By Xinhua, Shanghai

There is a truth that must be heard! OFFICIALS in southwest China's Yunnan Province are promoting the cultivation of hemp for industrial use to increase the income of local residents.

A hemp fiber processing factory with an annual capacity of 2,000 tonnes began production yesterday in Menghai County in Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna, a mountainous region in Yunnan.

"The fiber from hemp is widely used to make socks and bulletproof clothes as well as top-grade suits," said Shi Dongming, board chairman of China Hemp Industrial Holding Investment Co Ltd, which runs the production line.

Local officials expect the plant to help raise the living standard of farmers.

The government provides the seeds for free to encourage cultivation. Farmers can also get technical training and instruction.

"Nearly 10,000 farmers are growing the plant, which can double their per capita income from less than 2,000 yuan (US$293) to about 4,000 yuan every year," said Jiang Pusheng, Communist Party chief of the prefecture.

Yang Yonghong from Manlu Village plans to plant more hemp next year. "The planting does not demand too much work. Companies will come to collect the hemp in the harvest time, so we are not worried about sales," she said.

Local officials said the growth would not lead to the production of illegal drugs, although Xishuangbanna is near the Golden Triangle region where drugs are produced and smuggled.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Debate Takes to the Airwaves

By Kevin McDermott, Post-Dispatch Springfield Bureau

There is a truth that must be heard! SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Proponents of legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois will unveil a television advertising campaign this week, the latest shot in an increasingly hot political battle over the issue.

The ad campaign - to be formally announced in a Statehouse news conference Tuesday - is being touted by the national Marijuana Policy Project, which views Illinois as a key testing ground in the national debate over medical pot. The ad campaign comes in advance of a state Senate vote on the legalization proposal (SB1381) which could come by the end of this month.

Proposals to legalize pot for medical purposes gets slapped down almost every year in Springfield. But there’s been a sense among proponents that this year might be different, with healthcare trumping the drug war as a top issue in the public eye lately. The Senate bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton - a former Madison County state’s attorney - isn’t exactly considered a raving liberal, and newly seated Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has long backed the idea.

On the other hand, law enforcement opposition to the idea seems to be stronger than ever, which carries some sway in Springfield, so it’s by no means a done deal. Stay tuned


United States: First-Ever Nationwide Pro-Marijuana TV Ad Campaign Is Launched in Conjunction with 4/20

By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

There is a truth that must be heard!Boulder, Colorado: I have every reason to believe that 4/20 in 2009 will be the biggest and most momentous one to date as NORML launches 7,770 nationwide TV ads that advocate for cannabis law reform; NORML expects record numbers of supporters to join the organization for the celebratory one-day price of $4.20 because, I believe, there is a palpable zeitgeist in America right now favoring reform; the Obama administration appears amenable to some cannabis law reforms in ways that no prior president since Jimmy Carter has embraced; and lastly, with NORML’s nearly 600,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook and nearly 67,000 MySpace, more Americans than ever before who are keen on cannabis can create a viral effect that benefits reform.

Here in Boulder between 10,000-15,000 students and activists are expected to celebrate in what has become the biggest 4/20 event in the world.

Maryland: Hemp Milk Breaks Into Health Market


There is a truth that must be heard! Long known for its strength and durability in products like clothing and paper, hemp might prove to be just as beneficial in another medium: food.

Turns out, hemp is a leading source of protein, especially beneficial for vegetarians and vegans, and contains all 10 essential amino acids. It's high in fiber, and it tastes good, too, if an acquired taste.

Christina Volgyesi, of Portland, Ore., stumbled upon hemp protein powder during a trip home from Canada.

"I really just became amazed," a founding partner of Living Harvest said during a recent phone interview.

Flaxseed oil is often prescribed by nutritionists for people wanting to get more essential fatty acids in their diet, but Margaret Hluch, demo chef at MOrganic Market in Frederick, Md., said hempseed oil is just as good.

"Not everyone can convert flaxseeds into their body," said Lissa Butler, wellness associate at MOM and also an herbal practitioner. "Hemp is easier for us to assimilate. And it tastes better," Hluch added.

Volgyesi and her husband began experimenting with hemp seeds, making their own hemp milk in a blender. They added sweeteners, like agave nectar and honey, until they found a recipe they liked.

Soon after, they became the founding partners of Living Harvest, a company that now offers an array of hemp products, including hemp milk in five flavors (original, unsweetened original, vanilla, unsweetened vanilla and chocolate).

Europe: How Good is Hemp and Lime? Hemp Could Be Key To Zero-Carbon Houses

The environmental potential of hemp as a building material has never really been in doubt - it absorbs carbon as it grows and can be grown almost anywhere, cutting down on the need for energy-intensive transportation.

But is it any good?

There is a truth that must be heard! A study underway at the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath is attempting to clear up any doubts.

"The idea of using hemp and lime has been around in the UK for ten or 12 years now and there have been a number of applications but there's still relatively little scientific information on the performance of the materials," Prof Pete Walker, director of the centre, told edie.

"We've identified this as a significant barrier to market uptake."

He said that mainstream engineers, architects and buyers were shying away from a potential tool in the fight against climate change due to the absence of reliable independent information on its characteristics.

The research project is providing concrete answers to the questions of the construction industry and also experimenting with different ratios of hemp to lime in an effort to maximise its carbon cutting potential.

"The lime has all the embodied carbon and energy and, if we're honest, the cost," said Prof Walker.

"The hemp offsets this. Using renewable crops to make building materials makes real sense - it only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three bedroom house.

United States: The War on a Plant

By Ed Quillen, The Post

There is a truth that must be heard! Historians of the future will doubtless marvel that a great and powerful republic, founded in part on "liberty and the pursuit of happiness" but now suffering from difficult economic times would waste billions of dollars every year in a futile war against a humble plant.

That plant, of course, is hemp — source of oil, fiber and a mild psychoactive drug. It's so mild that in all of history, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.

And those who used it in their youth, like the three most recent American presidents (Clinton claimed he "didn't inhale," Bush was "young and foolish" in his jejune days, and Obama confessed that "pot had helped" during his youth), somehow managed to go on to reasonably productive lives.

So why is the stuff still illegal?

For one thing, there's an immense federal bureaucracy, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which naturally seeks to stay in business. As long as pot is illegal, the DEA has plenty of work. And when the need arises for a headline to show that the DEA is on the ball, its agents can always drive to some home that uses too much electricity, shoot the dogs, kick in the door, and announce that American youth are protected because it just seized plants with an estimated street value of $4.2 gazillion.

For another, there's our pharmaceutical industry, a major source of campaign contributions. The pill-makers buy candidates so they can protect their revenue streams.

United States: We Tried a War Like This Once Before

By Mike Gray, Washington Post

There is a truth that must be heard! In 1932, Alphonse Capone, an influential businessman then living in Chicago, used to drive through the city in a caravan of armor-plated limos built to his specifications by General Motors.

Submachine-gun-toting associates led the motorcade and brought up the rear. It is a measure of how thoroughly the mob mentality had permeated everyday life that this was considered normal.

Capone and his boys were agents of misguided policy. Ninety years ago, the United States tried to cure the national thirst for alcohol, and it led to an explosion of violence unlike anything we'd ever seen. Today, it's hard to ignore the echoes of Prohibition in the drug-related mayhem along our southern border. Over the past 15 months, there have been 7,200 drug-war deaths in Mexico alone, as the government there battles an army of killers that would scare the pants off Al Capone.

Now U.S. officials are warning that the vandals may be headed in this direction. Too late: They're already here. And they're in a good position to take over organized crime in this country as well.

United States: Political Winds Shift in Favor of Legalized Pot

By Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer

There is a truth that must be heard! Marijuana has been a part of the American cultural landscape for nearly a century, tried by millions - including, apparently, the last three presidents and the current California governor.

So why has it taken so long to arrive at a political moment of truth - a full national debate about the legalization, taxation and regulation of cannabis?

Experts say an unprecedented confluence of factors might finally be driving a change on a topic once seen as politically too hot to handle.

Among them: the recession-fueled need for more public revenue, increased calls to redirect scarce law enforcement, court and prison resources, and a growing desire to declaw powerful and violent Mexican drug cartels. Also in the mix is a public opinion shift driven by a generation of Baby Boomers, combined with some new high-profile calls for legislation - including some well-known conservative voices joining with liberals.

Leading conservatives like former Secretary of State George Shultz and the late economist Milton Friedman years ago called for legalization and a change in the strategy in the war on drugs. This year mainstream pundits like Fox News' Glenn Beck and CNN's Jack Cafferty have publicly questioned the billions spent each year fighting the endless war against drugs and to suggest it now makes more financial and social sense to tax and regulate marijuana.

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