Toke of the Town

Oregon: Portland City Councilman Backs Measure 80 Pot Legalization

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town

There is a truth that must be heard! Adding to the chorus of political and community leaders around Oregon and the nation that is calling for an end to America's catastrophic War On Drugs, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard has officially endorsed Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.

"As a career Portland firefighter, a State Legislator and a Portland City Council member, I have always fought for funding for our first responders and resources for our social safety net," Leonard said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana for adults is just common sense, because it allows us to get pot out of kids' hands, focus our public-safety resources on dangerous drugs, creates jobs and provide a new revenue stream to fund much-needed social services."

According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, Oregon has spent more than $60 million a year on marijuana-related offenses, from local police enforcement costs to court-room costs to the millions spent on incarceration.

Measure 80 would replace a failed system of prohibition with an effective taxation-and-regulation model. While adults 21 and older would be able to purchase cannabis products only at state-licensed stores, Measure 80 introduces tough new criminal penalties, such as felony charges for selling cannabis to a minor, and criminal misdemeanor charges for providing cannabis to a minor.

Florida: Huge Show Will Bring Truth About Med Marijuana To Seniors

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town
Photo by Lance Draizin

There is a truth that must be heard! We've pointed out before that one Florida man -- legendary former pitchman and marijuana smuggler Robert Platshorn -- may hold the key to cannabis legalization in the United States. The reason we say that is that skilled pitchman Platshorn has proven he can sway senior audiences to support medical marijuana, and most of us are aware, seniors vote in heavier numbers than any other age group.

Platshorn, through the Silver Tour, brings the truth about marijuana to senior citizens in Florida and nationwide, and one of the biggest events yet on that tour will take place on January 29 in Boyton Beach, Fla.

The show, "Learn the Real Facts About Medical Marijuana," will be free and all ages are welcome. It will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, January 29, at the Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach.

Besides Platshorn -- the author of Black Tuna Diaries and director of NORML of Florida, who is featured in the hit film, Square Grouper -- the film Cannabis Science, which features Dr. Donald Abrams, Dr. Robert Melamede, and Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, among other medical marijuana experts, will also be screened.

United States: The Secret Weapon That Can Get Marijuana Legalized Nationwide

By Steve Elliott Toke of the Town/Special to The Silver Tour

There is a truth that must be heard! What if I told you there is a secret weapon that, if understood and utilized by the cannabis reform community, could fairly quickly and very decisively decide the issue of marijuana legalization once and for all?

Everybody knows that cannabis legalization is very, very near the tipping point in the United States. Even the folks at Gallup, not exactly known for wild-eyed political statements, said this month after examining their latest poll results -- which showed that a record-high 50 percent of Americans support legalization -- that "If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation's laws into compliance with the people's wishes."

Drilling down into the results of that same Gallup poll reveals our potential secret weapon for marijuana legalization.

Support for legalizing cannabis is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62 percent approval among those 18 to 29, down to only 31 percent among those 65 and older.

United States: The Silver Tour - Teaching Seniors About Medical Marijuana

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to The Silver Tour

There is a truth that must be heard! Almost every time a poll is taken on public levels of support for medical marijuana, one of the groups most resistant to the idea is one that stands to gain the most from it: senior citizens. If we, as a community, can find a way to educate seniors on the health benefits and palliative qualities of medicinal cannabis, it will be a huge step towards achieving the numbers it will take to legalize medical marijuana on the federal level. Seniors are known as the most powerful voting bloc in the nation, and they always show up at the polls.

That's where the legendary Robert Platshorn, the Black Tuna himself, comes in. Platshorn -- who started as a pitchman, became one of the biggest marijuana smugglers of the 1970s, and then spent almost 30 years in federal prison -- has taken on the job of informing his fellow senior citizens about the health benefits of cannabis.

The Silver Tour is the only organization reaching out to seniors about medical marijuana, according to Platshorn, and its work consists of informing them on ways to organize, petition and contact their local politicians to demand legal, safe access to medicinal cannabis.

Asia: China Censors Little Black Book Of Marijuana; Release Delayed

Communist Bosses Won't Even Allow Book Inside The Country

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! The worldwide release of an American book on cannabis has been delayed, due to the refusal of the communist government of China to allow its binding on Chinese soil, according to the publisher.

The Little Black Book of Marijuana, by yours truly, Toke of the Town editor Steve Elliott, was scheduled for availability on August 1, but that printing schedule was thrown off after the totalitarian Chinese government decided the book was "too controversial" to even allow the printed pages inside the tightly-run dictatorship.

"Our printer is located in Hong Kong, with binderies in mainland China," production manager Ginny Reynolds of Peter Pauper Press explained to me Friday morning. "Usually it's no problem to move printed books from Hong Kong to China for binding.

"However, Chinese censorship is extremely tight," Reynolds told Toke of the Town. "Any content deemed 'sensitive' or 'controversial' by their standards is banned."

Steve Elliott: "You can always tell a totalitarian dictatorship, because they're afraid of the truth."

"We have the same problem with our books on sexuality," she told me. "The printer has to arrange for binding in Hong Kong, and facilities there are limited and overbooked in the summer season.

United States: Lawyer and Doctor Both Sentenced to Five Years for Following California Law

In 1996, the voters of California passed Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana at the state level, so why is the Federal Government continuing the persecution of law-abiding citizens?

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

Fry, Schafer and family at August 2007 demonstration (courtesy indybay.org) Sacramento, California - In a hearing set before Federal Judge Damrell, Doctor Mollie Fry, MD and her husband, Attorney Dale Schafer were ordered to surrender themselves to United States Federal Marshals on May 2, 2011 at 2:00 PM to begin their five-year minimum mandatory sentence in federal prison.

The married couple's draconian tribulations began in September of 2001, when the police raided their Sacramento home and found 34 plants. The couple thought they were on safe legal ground as they were well below the 90-plant limit established by the local city ordinance for cardholders such as themselves.

After a ten-day trial in 2007, it took a federal jury in Sacramento less than three hours to find them guilty of conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana. In this landmark case, the prosecution was allowed to add three years of cumulative plants together, totaling approximately 109 plants, thus forcing mandatory federal penalties.

United States: Federal Request For Michigan Patient Info Raises Privacy Issues

Medical marijuana proponents in Michigan say confidentiality of patient records is at risk if the federal government can obtain state-compiled records as part of a federal witch hunt, I mean "drug investigation."

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! "It would set a pretty significant precedent against patient privacy rights," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), reports John Agar of The Grand Rapids Press. "It's not just a problem in Michigan, it's all over the country."

The Michigan state agency that collects confidential medical marijuana patient information will comply with a federal request for access to its records if ordered to do so by a judge, the state said in court filings.

ASA had planned to protest Wednesday morning outside of U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids -- where the federal government's request was to be heard -- but the protest was canceled when the hearing was postponed by a last-minute filing from the Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs (MACC).

MACC filed an emergency brief in an attempt to stop the federal government's access to confidential medical marijuana records held by the Michigan Department of Community Health. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration subpoenaed records as part of their vendetta against, I mean "investigation" of, seven people in the Lansing area.

Colorado: Medical Marijuana Advocates Call For Full Legalization

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

Colorado: Medical Marijuana Advocates Call For Full Legalization Medical marijuana advocates Wednesday evening called for the full legalization of marijuana in Colorado, saying that until cannabis is fully legal, it will always be stigmatized and patients will be subject to harassment.

"No patient is really safe until it is legalized for everyone," attorney Robert J. Corry told the patients and advocates at a meeting in Denver, reports Scot Kersgaard at The Colorado Independent.

Corry and other attorneys said law enforcement officials, lawmakers and other officials will never really act as if anyone has a right to use marijuana until it is made legal for all.

"They are treating patients like criminals instead of the sick people we are," said Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute.

Advocates said patient access is in jeopardy in Colorado because of rules that allow cities and counties to ban dispensaries, and because of patient fears that their medical marijuana records are not really confidential.

One attorney in particular brought the house down with her personal story of using medical marijuana.

Longmont lawyer Kristy Martinez described herself as a serious and successful attorney until one day a few years ago when her health took precedence over her law practice.

United States: Drug War Now Killing More People Than Afghanistan War

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

United States: Drug War Now Killing More People Than Afghanistan War More people were killed in Drug War-related violence in Mexico last year than died in the war in Afghanistan, according to year-end reports from both countries.

In Afghanistan, about 10,000 people -- 2,043 of them civilians -- died in the fighting last year.

Although that conflict involves air power, heavy weapons, and numerous roadside bombs, it was less deadly last year than the Mexican Drug War, with a death toll estimated at around 13,000 by CNN.

In mid-December, the Mexican attorney general's office reported that 12,456 people had been killed through the end of November, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet. With a death toll of more than 1,000 per month in 2010, a year-end figure of more than 13,000 looks to be accurate.

More than 140,000 U.S. and NATO troops are in the ninth year of a guerilla war with thousands of Taliban fighters who reap the profits of the illegal opium/heroin trade.

In Mexico, more than 50,000 federal troops are in the fourth year of a fight with the drug cartels, who all seem to also be at war with each other.


Source: http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/01/drug_war_now_killing_more_people_th...

Washington: It's Almost Time For World's Biggest Pot Party: Seattle Hempfest

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! If you've never been to Seattle Hempfest, the world's largest "protestival" based around marijuana, you really owe it to yourself. While it's hard to describe the vibe of being in a crowd of a couple hundred thousand like-minded people, those who have been there keep coming back again and again.

Hempfest, going strong since 1991, is one of the best and almost certainly the biggest marijuana rally in the world. This year's edition hits Seattle on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22, and is dedicated to the memory of legendary hemp activist Jack Herer, whom the movement lost this year.

Free admission, good music, friendly people, and a beautiful setting have always been among the reasons to attend -- and Myrtle Edwards Park on the lovely Seattle waterfront is guaranteed to be smelling really good once the party kicks in.

"The Seattle Hempfest is incredibly inspirational," said Paul Stanford of this year's primary sponsors The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF).

Michigan: Fired Medical Marijuana Patient Sues WalMart

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! Joseph Casias said on Tuesday that it was unfair of WalMart to fire him for legally using marijuana to treat his cancer pain.

With the backing of state and national branches of the American Civil Liberties Union and his attorney, Daniel Grow, Casias said he filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning in Calhoun County Circuit Court against WalMart Stores Inc for wrongful termination last November, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The 30-year-old Battle Creek, Mich, cancer patient had undergone a routine drug screening after hurting his knee on the job last year. The test showed that Casias had marijuana in his system and he was fired, even though he is registered as a legal medical marijuana patient in Michigan.

Joseph Casias: "They threw me away after all I did"
"I really cared and I wanted to become something there," Casias told Toke of the Town. "I gave them everything. Anything they asked me to do, I did. More than they asked me to do."

"I tried my best; I gave all I could to them and they always talked about 'family.' And they threw me away after all I did," Joseph told us.

"For some people, working at WalMart is just a job, but for me, it was a way of life," Casias said. "I came to WalMart for a better opportunity for my family and I worked hard and proved myself. I just want the opportunity to continue my work."

"I feel like I'm being treated like a felon," he said.

Oregon: Cannabis Legalization Effort Now Gathering Signatures

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Hemp News

 Oregon: Cannabis Legalization Effort Now Gathering Signatures Oregon's marijuana legalization initiative, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), is kicking off its signature-gathering phase at the OR NORML meeting in Portland this Saturday, April 10.

Petitions have just been approved for circulation by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, and OCTA said it expects more than 300 attendees to be among the first to sign the petition for this historic ballot measure.

OCTA will generate revenue by taxing commercial cannabis sales, which will be permitted to adults 21 and older. More than $140 million a year would be generated by OCTA for the state's General Fund, according to projections, paying for education, roads, health care, and other public projects.

"OCTA will transform Oregon," said co-chief petitioner Madeleine Martinez, executive director of OR NORML. "Supporting OCTA is a no-brainer."

According to OCTA's other co-chief petitioner, Paul Stanford of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), the potential of industrial hemp for Oregon's economy is limitless, as it will turn the state into a national leader in ecological innovation and sustainable jobs.

"The entire hemp plant is useful, from its seeds which create a food source to its oil which can be made into bio-diesel to its stalks which can be woven into fabrics or turned into paper," Stanford said. "Hemp is the future, not just for Oregon, but for a sustainable planet."

Alabama: House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Hemp News

Alabama: House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill An Alabama House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Heart of Dixie.

This is the first time in Alabama history that a medical marijuana bill has advanced out of committee to the House floor.

Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), who sponsors the bill, said it had no real chance of being approved by both the House and the Senate before this legislative session ends in five days, reports Scott Johnson of the Montgomery Advertiser.

The bill, known as the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act, is named after a medical marijuana patient with a brain tumor who fought to make the herb legal for medicine in Alabama. Phillips died in 2007 at the age of 38.

Marijuana was the only thing that allowed Phillips to function normally, according to his mother, Jackie Phillips. Without it, she said, Michael had seven or eight seizures a day.

"I could see the difference in him when he smoked and when he didn't," Phillips said.

Under the bill, patients would be allowed to purchase and possess marijuana if they have an official identification card.

The bill would allow for the licensing of dispensaries where patients could legally buy marijuana.

Rep. Todd has been working with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who assisted her in drafting the bill.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization: Full Speed Ahead

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town/Special to Hemp News

Oregon:  Marijuana Legalization: Full Speed Ahead It's full speed ahead for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), a ballot initiative which would legalize and tax marijuana in the Beaver State, as the Oregon Supreme Court has dismissed the only challenge to OCTA's ballot title.

The challenge -- filed by Bradley Benoit from the Beaverton, Ore., area -- came from an earlier comment regarding OCTA's summary explanation. The comment requested the summary of the measure describe in detail the fact that the Oregon Attorney General would be responsible for defending Oregonians, and the law itself, should a federal case arise.

The comment was addressed, and the Attorney General included Benoit's comments in the revised, certified ballot title, according to OCTA campaign spokesman Kyndall Mason.

"In an attempt to stall the signature gathering effort, Benoit filed a Supreme Court challenge to the title stating his comments were not fully addressed," Mason explained. "This decision from the Oregon Supreme Court sends a clear message to Benoit that his concerns were adequately addressed in the certified title released after the comment period."

According to Mason, the decision also marks a crucial step forward in the process to collect signatures for the ballot measure, which would end Oregon's prohibition on adult marijuana use and industrial hemp.

Michigan: WalMart Fires Associate Of Year, Cancer Patient For Medical Marijuana

 

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

Targeting:  Michael Duke (Walmart CEO) Despite medical marijuana being legal in Michigan, WalMart has fired a cancer patient and former employee of the year who tested positive for the drug, which was recommended by his doctor.

"I was terminated because I failed a drug screening," ex-WalMart employee Joseph Casias told WZZM-13.

In 2008, Casias was Associate of the Year at the WalMart store in Battle Creek, Mich., despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

United States: Recycling Reefer Madness: Why It Still Doesn’t Work

By Steve Elliott, NEWS JUNKIE POST

There is a truth that must be heard! It happens with an all-too-familiar regularity: Another “scientific” study that attempts to draw some connection, however tenuous, between smoking pot and schizophrenia.

Just this week, the findings of a study allegedly indicating that smoking marijuana can “double the risk” of psychosis received heavy publicity. Of course there were the inevitable “sky is falling” reactions on the part of faux-horrified commentators who already decided, years ago, that they were against pot and are all too happy to trumpet what looks like confirmation of their prejudice.

Problem is, those findings are in conflict with previous reviews and ought to be interpreted with caution – but you won’t be reading that in mainstream news outlets.

Here’s something else you won’t see in the mainstream media. There is absolutely no empirical evidence – none – indicating that rising rates of cannabis use have resulted in parallel increases in rates of mental illness.

It would stand to reason, wouldn’t it? Considering modern rates of usage, if marijuana really produced psychosis, the streets would be choked with non-functional, burned out potheads. It doesn’t. They aren’t.

“I’ve said it for years now,” film director John Holowach, responsible for the documentary High: The True Tale of American Marijuana, told me. “If pot and mental illness were linked, the two should rise and fall with one another, but they don’t.”

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In Alabama Legislature

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In Alabama Legislature A bill which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Alabama is coming back before the Legislature in 2010.

State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in mid-February is introducing an as-yet unnumbered 13-page bill that outlines ways cannabis could be used for medical purposes in the state, according to spokesperson Loretta Nall of Alabamians for Compassionate Care.

The bill distinguishes between medical and non-medical uses of marijuana, according to Todd.

It lists debilitating medical conditions under which marijuana could be used. These include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic arthritis, cachexia, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, migraine, AIDS, anorexia, seizures, severe nausea and other symptoms that substantially limit the ability of a person to conduct major life activities.

Washington: Lawmakers Hold First-Ever Hearing On Marijuana Legalization

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! Washington State lawmakers on Wednesday heard, for the first time ever, testimony in support of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults.

Members of the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, in a heavily attended, two-hour hearing, heard arguments in favor of House Bill 2401.

HB 2401 would "remove all existing criminal and civil penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana."

Uruguay: Cultivate Hemp; First In South America

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! Uruguay has pulled into the lead in becoming the first country in South America to authorize the cultivation of industrial hemp, Paula Alvarado reports at Treehugger.com.

The Ministry of Cattle, Agriculture and Fishing has authorized "experimental" cultivation of hemp to take place in October 2010. If results are successful, Uruguay could grant permits to farmers to start growing, according to El Pais.

The location selected for hemp cultivation is a secret. The National Institute for Farming Technology will oversee the pilot project.

The goal is to learn the hemp productive capacities of Uruguay, and to learn how different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant respond to Uruguayan soil.

If the plan moves forward, farmers will only be able to grow hemp with special permits from the Ministry of Agriculture.

One of the companies behind the pilot project is The Latin America Hemp Trading, which aims to make Uruguay the first country in the region to enter the hemp industry.

As Alvarado reports at Treehugger, hemp is a great crop. The plant grows fast, needs few or no herbicides, and is incredible versatile. But the production of the cannabis plant is still banned in many countries because of its association with the psychoactive variety used as a drug.

Industrial hemp typically has less than 0.3 percent THC (a main psychoactive ingredient), while marijuana usually ranges from 5 to 25 percent.

Wisconsin: Public Hearing On Medical Marijuana Bill

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! The Wisconsin Legislature will hold a public hearing Tuesday to debate SB 368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow seriously ill patients to use cannabis without fear of arrest if their doctor recommends it.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the State Capitol, Room 412 East, Madison, Wis.

Qualifying patients with doctors' notes could grow their own marijuana or obtain it from "compassion centers" around the state if the bill becomes law.

Wisconsin is working to become the 14th state to allow medical marijuana. Legislation is in the works in at least 14 other states, according to Mike Meno, assistant director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

The bill is the namesake of Jacki Rickert, a 58-year-old grandmother from Mondovi who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and advanced reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and who founded medical marijuana advocacy organization Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY) in 1992.

Rickert led hundreds of medical marijuana supporters in an October rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in support of the legislation bearing her name.

The House Public Health Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue will host the hearing on the bill, which is sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pocan and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach.

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