Great article from Josh Voorhees, our favorite SLATE contributor

Courtesy of Slate –

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable. We’ll soon find out if they’re right.

Voters in Alaska and possibly Oregon will decide this November whether their states will join Colorado and Washington in legalizing the commercial sale and recreational use of pot. Similar initiatives are at varying stages in more than a half-dozen other states—Nevada, Arizona, and California among them—where advocates are looking toward 2016, when they hope the presidential election will turn out enough liberals to push those efforts across the finish line. All told, more than 1 in 5 Americans live in states where marijuana use has a legitimate chance to become legal between now and when President Obama leaves office.

It’s not just at the ballot box where the pro-pot crowd is putting points on the board. Lawmakers in at least 40 states have eased at least some drug laws since 2009, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, proposals to treat pot like alcohol have been introduced in 18 states and the District of Columbia this year alone. Meanwhile, 16 states have already decriminalized marijuana, according to the pro-pot group NORML—Maryland will become the 17th in October. In large swaths of the country getting caught with a small amount of weed at a concert is now roughly the same as getting a speeding ticket on the way to the show. While not leading the charge, the Obama administration is allowing states the chance to experiment. The feds have given a qualified greenlight to Colorado and Washington to dabble in recreational weed, and have even taken small steps to encourage banks to do business with those companies involved in the quasi-legal pot trade.

Given this momentum, it’s not difficult to see why 75 percent of Americans—including a majority of both those who support and those who oppose legalization—told Pew pollsters in February that they now believe it’s a matter of when, not if, the nation’s eight-decade-long prohibition of pot ends. The question is: Are they right?

This moment isn’t the first time that the United States appeared on the cusp of legalization. After steep gains in popular support during the early and mid-’70s, support for legalization climbed to 30 percent in 1978, only to plummet back into the teens the following decade as Baby Boomers became parents and Jimmy Carter’s pro-decriminalization administration gave way to Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs. “This was supposed to be inevitable then,” says Kevin Sabet, a legalization opponent and former Obama drug policy adviser who helped found Smart Approaches to Marijuana after leaving the administration. “No one could have predicted that [support]would have been wiped away so quickly.”

The pro-pot crowd isn’t ready to declare victory either. Ethan Nadelmann, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance and has spent decades in the reform trenches, says he’s of two minds when he thinks about the future. “On the one hand we have this extraordinary momentum,” he says. “On the other, public opinion can be fickle and marijuana is not going to legalize itself.”

While such caution is reasonable, it’s obvious that things are different now than they were 40 years ago, when then-record levels of support for legalization were good for little more than a vocal minority. It wasn’t until 2013 that a majority of Americans said for the first time that they supported making it legal to use weed. Support now stands at 54 percent in the most recent Pew poll, 23 points above where the legalization effort stood as recently as 2000 and 13 points higher than in 2010. Even those fickle Baby Boomers are back on board, with 52 percent now in favor—5 points more than that generation’s 1970s-era high. Meanwhile, each passing year brings us an electorate more familiar and less fearful of marijuana.

It’s not just a matter of shifting demographics. There’s also the fact that voters have increasingly gotten an up-close look at state-legal weed in the form of medical marijuana. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot for medicinal purposes to varying degrees since California became the first to do so almost two decades ago. Voters in Florida are set to decide later this year whether they want to join that group, something that would give advocates their first voter-referendum victory in the South. (Florida law requires at least 60 percent support, however, making it a heavier lift than it has been in other states.)

Some pot opponents warn that medical marijuana serves as a Trojan Horse for the larger legalization movement, but that argument relies on Americans believing that the dangers of possibly legalizing recreational weed tomorrow outweigh the benefits of actually prescribing it to cancer patients and others in need today—a viewpoint shared by a diminishing number of Americans. While 54 percent of respondents told Pew they thought “the use of marijuana” should be made legal, things were more complicatedwhen the question changed from a simple yes-or-no to one where people were asked to pick between three choices: 39 percent said that pot “should be legal for personal use”; 44 percent said it “should be legal only for medicinal use”; and 16 percent said it “should not be legal.” Still, the answers to the original question—“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”—suggests in an all-or-nothing environment, most Americans choose the former.

Regardless, medical marijuana has already served as stepping-stone for states that have or are considering regulating the sale and use of recreational pot. In Colorado, where retail stores opened their doors on New Year’s Day, advocates were able to point to the state’s tightly regulated medical market, approved by voters in 2000, to allay fears that the state couldn’t regulate a marijuana market from scratch. To date, Colorado regulators have delivered on those promises, building a relatively hiccup-free commercial market on the back of the medical marijuana industry. (Things in Washington, where the medical market is unregulated, have proved a good deal more complicated. Residents are still waiting for the first retail stores to open 19 months since the 2012 vote.)

Medical marijuana has become so relatively uncontroversial that late last month the House of Representatives shocked almost everyone when a bipartisan majority voted to block the Drug Enforcement Agency from pursuing medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. “Watershed is probably too strong of a word,” says Nadelmann of the unexpected vote for a bill that had repeatedly stalled in the same chamber for the last decade, “but it was pretty close.”

Legalization in theory is different than legalization in practice, and an unforeseen disaster in Colorado or Washington—be it from the production of hash oil or the next time a New York Times columnist overindulges in baked goods—could always affect public opinion. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed his state’s 2012 legalization initiative, for one, has warned his fellow governors to take a wait-and-see approach to their own state’s legalization efforts. But it’s looking increasingly like the voters may not be so patient if given the choice.


A new laboratory has opened in a building that once analyzed hops for beer-makers, but the green matter going under the microscope now is hop’s more notorious cousin, marijuana.

A Seattle company that operates a medical marijuana testing lab, Analytical 360, was the first authorized by the state Liquor Control Board to certify recreational marijuana at its new lab, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Sunday.

The lab will measure the level of THC, which produces the high. It also will check for mold, bacteria, parasites and pesticides.

“It’s not only providing the relative dose, but safety for the consumer,” said Randall Oliver, Analytical 360’s chief scientist.

The state requires that marijuana producers provide a 7-gram sample from every 5-pound lot of marijuana buds. For liquids, a producer must give a 2-gram sample from each batch, while edible marijuana producers have to supply a single item from each batch for testing.

The full battery of tests takes about a week to complete. If a sample fails a test, it is retested again and rejected if it fails a second time. The company will post the results on its website for the public to see, just as it now does with medical marijuana.

Information on CBD, the chemical said to give marijuana its medicinal properties, will also be listed on product labels, lab director Lara Taubner said.

The company expects testing to begin in three weeks. More than a dozen people will work at the lab, which was already set up for laboratory work when it was sold last year.

Hops are from the same plant family, Cannabaceae, as marijuana and share some common chemicals that give the plants their distinctive taste and aroma, Oliver said.

Although, Yakima has banned the production, processing and sale of marijuana, it welcomes the lab, which tracks test samples to make sure none are diverted.

The Associated Press

The Tax Revenue From Legalize Weed Is Pouring Into Colorado

(Denver Post) Colorado recorded its biggest recreational marijuana tax haul yet in April, topping more than $3.5 million in sales and excise taxes, according to numbers released Monday.

In all, the state’s recreational marijuana stores sold more than $22 million worth of product in April, likely boosted by the 4/20 marijuana holiday that brought hundreds of cannabis tourists to town. Overall, though, medical marijuana sales continued to outpace recreational sales, with lower-taxed medical-marijuana stores doing more than $31 million in sales during the month.

So far this year, Colorado has brought in nearly $11 million in sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana. The total take of recreation and medical marijuana taxes and fees is nearly $18 million.

The new numbers were released on the same day that marijuana activists announced plans to sue the state over recreational pot taxes. According to a copy of the lawsuit sent to the media, the activists argue that the taxes are unconstitutionally high.

Shoppers at recreational marijuana stores pay 12.9 percent in general and special state sales taxes, as well as a 15 percent excise tax that is applied at the wholesale level.

The lawsuit argues those rates violate the constitutional provision voters approved in 2012, which specified that recreational marijuana should be taxed “in a manner similar to alcohol.” The activists say alcohol taxes are much lower.

Attorney Rob Corry, who is representing the activists, said he filed the lawsuit Monday.

More marijuana dispensaries continue to open. As of June 3, more than 200 marijuana dispensaries were licensed, according to the state Department of Revenue. That’s about half of the more than 500 total shops statewide that are eligible to obtain a retail marijuana sales license.

Girl Scout Munchies

Girl Scouts are getting entrepreneurial in their efforts to sell their delicious cookies near dispensaries. Are they taking advantage of folks with the munchies, or just smart business-girls?


An essay from Higher Ground correspondent Michael Stusser.

As I write this, I’m stoned to the bejeezus. Most my writing sessions begin
this way, firing up a bowl, cranking the stereo, and then hitting the
keyboard for all-night diatribes of psychedelic discourse (editing sessions
are done sober, as a more steady hand is required for sentence structure,
syntax, and coherent thought). Sorry, what was I saying? Oh, right. Thank
god I’m not an air traffic controller.

As a modern-day pothead, I’ve replaced my hacky sack with a Saab, roll
joints rather than smoke out of an 8-foot Graphix, and sport Kenneth Cole
more often than tie-dye. But let not my closeted dope smoking be mistaken
for embarrassment. I’m a proud Rain-City Rastafarian and light up in public
as often as possible. Still, like the heads from yesteryear, I have no
interest in getting busted by the Man.

Folks have smoked weed ever since it originally sprouted out of God’s green
earth, not because it tastes great, but for the euphoric rush that
accompanies it. Through the centuries, this elevated state has been
responsible for colossal breakthroughs that would not have come about au
naturel: the notion that the world is not flat, for example–that guy was
stoned on pot brownies.

Whether for invention, inspiration, or just plain recreation, cannabis
continues to spark creativity and is damn festive fodder. Call me partial,
but parties with people passing the peace pipe seem a lot more fun than
bashes with bloated beer-bingeing and belching (not to mention less
calories). In addition, with ganja you can usually maintain if necessary
(unlike LSD), passing a joint is quite social (unlike blow), and, though
ecstasy seems the substance of choice for the new generation, when the
chemical effects make ravers forget where they live, you’ll be glad you
went organic.

Along with herb counterculture comes an “It’s all good” vibe that, in our
road-raging times, is helpful for keeping a lid on things (no pun
intended). Something about firing up a fatty hits the Hippie Nostalgia
button, harkening back to a “Make love not war” philosophy that’s as
relevant today as ever.

Marijuana affects different people differently. Many gave up grass because
it made them sleepy, comatose, or they started seeing dark figures slip
around corners. For me, ganja is like a quadruple latte–I’m jacked up and
nimble, having (seemingly) deep, meaningful realizations that my overly
stressed, multitasking, wildly distracted synapses cannot come to in their
normally abstemious condition. As they say in the brochure, sinsemilla
heightens the senses: Thus, Moulin Rouge was better baked, as is Laserium,
Isaac Scott, and a Dick’s hot fudge sundae. Once I become paranoid, tense,
obese, or can’t get it up, I’ll quit. And yes, that’s the talk of an addict.

No doubt there are harms to smoking marijuana; anyone who has ever had
bongwater spilled on their carpet can attest to that. Over time, it may
also make you stupid, fill your lungs with black sludge, and induce
indolence and the urge to buy a Lava Lamp. But like alcohol, firearms,
tobacco, and the freedom to drive a big-ass SUV, I should have the right to
kill my own brain cells in the privacy of my own hovel.

Speaking of which, my tobacco waterpipe calls. Please hold. . . .

Clearly, everyone should NOT get stoned; surgeons, psychos, and small
children should refrain at least until after hours or till their homework’s
done. As for the rest of us, the key is moderation. Those who “wake ‘n’
bake” are probably using the ##### in an unhealthy manner and should get off
the couch, bathe, and take a hard look in the mirror.

(God, I look awful.)

For those of us who do use responsibly (I like the sound of that), the
issue at hand is that we’re criminals (forcing our friends who are cops and
DAs to step out of the room each time we partake). According to NORML
(National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), almost 20 million
Americans fire up at least once a year (22 mil are on Prozac). And 700,000
of those are arrested annually for doing so, which is not only apt to harsh
your buzz, but costs taxpayers a mint.

Maybe you’re one of those Bill Clinton types: “Didn’t inhale, didn’t enjoy
it, don’t support it.” Well, that’s bullshit, and you know it. You probably
ran out of connections, and now have kids and conservative neighbors, but
secretly wish more folks in your hood passed a blunt around the BBQ. I’m
here ta tell ya, we Potheads need you. The country needs you.

Now that I think about it, maybe drugs DO lead to insurrection. My heart
and mind race with thoughts of freedom, personal rights, interconnectivity,
instant karma, and (back to the topic) legalization! I am angry. Not for
the sorry sick fuckers who need to overcome tremors or glaucoma or nausea
or chemo, but for the creative minds, seeking higher artistic heights,
searching for meaning in a world that has too many limitations already.

Legalization will come about when enough people have the courage to speak
up and admit to having smoked pot, enjoyed the experience, and support the
RIGHT to do so. (Plus, it’ll then make it a whole lot easier for you to get
some.) So go to HEMPfest (Help End Marijuana Prohibition). Sign a petition.
Burn one down. You may find it empowering to advocate something in this
blase age of nonradical politics. It might even make you more vigilant
about other issues that are pissing you off. Get up, stand up, and
“Question Authority,” dude.

See the original post at 420 Magazine

The Truth About Driving While Baked Outta Yer Mind

Since our initial investigative report on the dangers of smoking and driving (see video below)

others have taken up the cause. Here’s a comprehensive piece from our friends at The Daily Beast