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Readers: The US War On Drugs Is A Failure; Drug Policy Lecture/Panel Friday

October 8, 2014 Crime, Drug Policy, Events/Meetings, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: The US War On Drugs Is A Failure; Drug Policy Lecture/Panel Friday
Dr. Hart will be in St. Louis Friday
Dr. Hart will be in St. Louis Friday

In the poll last week readers overwhelmingly felt our ‘War on Drugs’ is a failure, here are the results:

Q: Currently, the US ‘War on Drugs’ is…

  1. a failure 98 [89.09%]
  2. neither a success or failure 9 [8.18%]
  3. Unsure/No Opinion 3 [2.73%]
  4. a success 0 [0%]

Why does this matter? Because police continue wasting resources raiding homes growing okra. Thankfully more and more people, like businessman Richard Branson, are calling for an end to this failed war.

Friday a leading researcher on drugs, Carl Hart Ph.D.,  will be in St. Louis. Dr. Hart will meet with leaders and activists in Ferguson and participate in two public events at Washington University. Having watched his Ted Talk a few times now, watched his congressional testimony, I look forward to seeing him in person. I’ve not read his book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society.

Dr. Carl Hart Lecture: Demystifying the Science of Drug Addiction: Neuroscience, Self-discovery, Race, and U.S. Drug Policy

Date:  October 10, 2014 – 11:00am – 12:00pm
Location:  Anheuser-Busch Hall Moot Courtroom, Room 310

Join the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellows as we welcome Carl Hart, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, Columbia University and 2014 winner of the PEN/E O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

Dr. Carl Hart Keynote Group Discussion & Panel

Date:  October 10, 2014 – 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location:  Umrath Lounge, Umrath Hall

Panel and Group Discussion, 2 to 3:30pm
Book Signing & Reception, 3:30 to 5pm

Panel Moderator:
Ken Freedland, Ph.D. – Panel Moderator
Professor of Psychiatry
Washington University

Panel Participants:

  • Carl Hart, Ph.D.Professor of Psychology & PsychiatryColumbia University
  • David Patterson, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Social WorkWashington University
  • Rumi Price, Ph.D.Professor of PsychiatryWashington University
  • Juliette IacovinoPh.D. Candidate, PsychologyWashington University
  • Mario OrtegaPh.D. Candidate, NeurosciencesWashington University

Click here for a campus map.

I now agree with a majority of Americans that possession of all drugs should be decriminalized, see the study here. This was not easy for me, I came of age at the time First Lady Nancy Reagan was encouraging everyone to “just say no.” We’ve learned a lot in the last 30-40 years, we need to apply this knowledge to our policies.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Poll: The US ‘War On Drugs’ Is…

September 28, 2014 Drug Policy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Poll: The US ‘War On Drugs’ Is…
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Over four decades ago the United States declared a “war on drugs:”

In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer. In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations. (Drug Policy Alliance

Every administration up to the present has continued this war on drugs, with variations in policy, emphasis, and implementation. The poll question this week asks, “Currently, the US ‘War on Drugs’ is…”  A range of answers are provided, presented in random order. The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

 

Three St. Louis Aldermen Will Sponsor a Marijuana Legalization Panel Discussion Monday 3/24 6-8pm

Entrance marker to Harris-Stowe State University. Compton and what was once Laclede Ave
Entrance marker to Harris-Stowe State University. Compton and what was once Laclede Ave

Last year the St. Louis Board of Aldermen reduced penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana, see Reduction in marijuana penalties approved by St. Louis Board of Aldermen.  This year Colorado began allowing the legal sale of marijuana for recreational use, Washington state will do the same later this year.  New polls show a narrow majority of Americans support the legalization.  The debate comes to St. Louis Monday evening:

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The debate over legalization of marijuana will be the subject of an open forum in St. Louis later this month. Three members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are hosting the forum the evening of March 24 at Harris-Stowe State University. The panel discussion will address the disproportionate number of marijuana arrests for African-Americans, the safety of the drug, and whether a marijuana tax would benefit government revenues. (KSDK)

With the legalization of marijuana being such a hot topic these days, Sixth Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia will address various issues surrounding the debate during an open forum at Harris-Stowe State University, Monday, March 24, 2014, 6-8 p.m. in the Emerson Performance Center’s Bank of America Theatre. Held in collaboration with Alderman Chris Carter, 27th Ward, and Alderman Shane Cohn of the 25th Ward, the panel discussion will address how marijuana arrests disproportionally affect people of color; whether marijuana is safer than alcohol; how legalization would affect black market drug sales and whether a marijuana tax would benefit declining government revenues. (St. Louis American)

The history of the drug and how it became illegal is interesting, and a reflection of our racial fears:

The political upheaval in Mexico that culminated in the Revolution of 1910 led to a wave of Mexican immigration to states throughout the American Southwest. The prejudices and fears that greeted these peasant immigrants also extended to their traditional means of intoxication: smoking marijuana. Police officers in Texas claimed that marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a “lust for blood,” and gave its users “superhuman strength.” Rumors spread that Mexicans were distributing this “killer weed” to unsuspecting American schoolchildren. Sailors and West Indian immigrants brought the practice of smoking marijuana to port cities along the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans newspaper articles associated the drug with African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and underworld whites. “The Marijuana Menace,” as sketched by anti-drug campaigners, was personified by inferior races and social deviants. In 1914 El Paso, Texas, enacted perhaps the first U.S. ordinance banning the sale or possession of marijuana; by 1931 twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana, usually with little fanfare or debate. Amid the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by the Great Depression, public officials from the Southwest and from Louisiana petitioned the Treasury Department to outlaw marijuana. Their efforts were aided by a lurid propaganda campaign. “Murder Weed Found Up and Down Coast,” one headline warned; “Deadly Marijuana Dope Plant Ready For Harvest That Means Enslavement of California Children.” Harry J. Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, at first doubted the seriousness of the problem and the need for federal legislation, but soon he pursued the goal of a nationwide marijuana prohibition with enormous gusto. In public appearances and radio broadcasts Anslinger asserted that the use of this “evil weed” led to killings, sex crimes, and insanity. He wrote sensational magazine articles with titles like “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth.” (NPR – Reefer Madness)

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned marijuana & industrial hemp in the US, even though the drug had been used by doctors until then. In 1969 the US Supreme Court said the act was unconstitutional, see Leary v. United States. In 1970 congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which listed marijuana among the most dangerous drugs. From the US DEA:

Schedule I Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote  Schedule II Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are: cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin Schedule III Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are: Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone Schedule IV Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien Schedule V Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are: cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin

Yes, since 1970 marijuana has been listed as more dangerous than cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. For many marijuana does indeed have medical uses:

Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription, says Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center. It could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain. (webMD)

Some parents say medical marijuana stops severe seizures in their children, the reason a Missouri parent is fighting for medical marijuana here.

Again, the event is Monday 6-8pm at the Emerson Performance Center at Harris Stowe, see map.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers: Missouri Should Fully Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana is everywhere, in the news, these days:

With a majority of Americans now in favor marijuana legalization, President Barack Obama is now saying weed is no more dangerous to individuals’ health than alcohol. (Huffington Post — Obama: Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol)

This is a blazing moment for American stoners. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. (Business Week – Legal Weed’s Strange Economics in Colorado)

To be sure, ending prohibition won’t singularly eliminate the underground market or end racism in law enforcement. But it is a constructive step toward those goals, especially considering the aforementioned White House ad correctly acknowledging that marijuana isn’t egregiously dangerous. Sure, the government’s “safest thing in the world” line may have been an overstatement – but it was certainly closer to the truth than all the fear-mongering about our decision to embrace reefer sanity here in Colorado. (Salon – Reefer sanity takes hold in Colorado)

New York is one of the only states in the Northeast without a medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was opposed to medical marijuana, and attempts to create a law have failed to get through the state Senate for years. Now Cuomo has reversed himself, proposing a medical marijuana research program run under exacting federal guidelines that would be the most restrictive in the country.(NPR — New York’s Medical Marijuana Experiment Begins With Caution)

News articles will continue on the topic as more states legalize medical & recreational marijuana, Illinois Dept of Health released draft medical marijuana rules yesterday. What about here in Missouri? 

Thirteen initiative petitions related to the legalization of marijuana and hemp products were approved for circulation by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander Wednesday, clearing the way for voters to decide on the issue during the November 2014 election.

For marijuana legalization to make the ballot, petitioners have to get enough signatures to account for eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor’s election from six of the state’s eight congressional districts. (KSDK)

The advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis submitted the petitions for approval but hasn’t yet determined if they’ll work to collect the needed signatures:

But before we launch a full campaign, however, we must assess whether likely 2014 voters will pass any of these measures at the ballot box in November. For that reason, we are hiring a firm to conduct scientific polling on the official ballot language approved by the Secretary of State. Polling is most accurate when respondents are presented with the specific question as it would appear on the ballot, so that is why we could not conduct this polling earlier.

We hope to receive results of the poll by the beginning of February, and if around 60 percent of likely 2014 voters surveyed say they will vote for our measure, we will very likely pursue a campaign this year. 60 percent is considered to be a very safe benchmark because even if support decreases somewhat by Election Day, which is common with initiatives, it will still pass. I am optimistic that the polling will show strong support, but that hunch needs to be tested scientifically. (Show-Me Cannabis)

The weekly polls here are not scientific, but since the same poll last April support of full legalization jumped from 53% to 63%!

Comparison of the results from a non-scienticfic poll conducted in April 2013 and last week.
Comparison of the results from a non-scienticfic poll conducted in April 2013 and last week.

From these results it appears increased full legalization support comes from the legalize medical/decriminalize recreational camp. It’ll be interesting to see the scientific polling of likely Missouri voters. Other states will likely have medical or full legalization on their November ballots.

Why am I so interested? Several reasons: prohibition on marijuana doesn’t make sense from a law enforcement, policy, health, or economic perspective. With the latter — the “green rush” is creating new opportunities, employing people, etc.  For full disclosure: about 14% of my portfolio is comprised of marijuana-related stocks: (CANV, CBIS, FSPM, GRNH).

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: How Should Missouri Treat Marijuana?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The poll this week is an exact duplicate of a poll from last April, I want to see if there are any changes as a result of legal recreational marijuana in Colorado as of January 1st.

The results of the poll in April were:

  1. Fully legalize 71 [53.38%]
  2. Legalize for medical / decriminalize for recreational use 32 [24.06%]
  3. Keep it illegal 21 [15.79%]
  4. Legalize for medical use only 6 [4.51%]
  5. Unsure/no opinion 3 [2.26%]

We’ll see if the current results differ from last year, the poll is in the right sidebar. Mayor Slay’s campaign website currently has a 10-question “mini-poll” on marijuana.

I’ll share more thoughts with the results on Wednesday the 22nd.

— Steve Patterson 

 

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