What Maureen West Learned From Running the Nation’s Leading Hemp Program

As with many emerging industries, getting ahead in the industrial-hemp industry often involves hiring the people who created the original regulations. In legal marijuana, for example, everyone from former state legislators to past Marijuana Enforcement Division officials have moved to the business side, helping companies and clients stay on top of Colorado’s strict cannabis laws.

One of the largest moves from government to the hemp industry (so far, at least) came last month, when Maureen West jumped from managing the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Program to take a job as compliance officer for hemp-oil company Functional Remedies.

As head of the CDA’s hemp program from 2016 to 2019, West witnessed the recent hemp and CBD booms in Colorado and had to deal with such issues as hot hemp with too much THC and lack of guidance from the Food and Drug Administration. Those challenges didn’t prevent Colorado from leading the nation in hemp farming acreage during that span, however.

We recently caught up with West to learn more about the future of the plant now that it’s legal at the federal level.

Westword: How would you compare Colorado’s hemp industry and regulations with those of other states? I hear some are relatively friendly, like Oregon, while others, like South Dakota, aren’t so much.

Maureen West: Over the course of my career as the head of the CDA Industrial Hemp Program, we built one of the most robust state-level industrial-hemp programs in the country. We worked closely with farmers across the state and listened to their needs and concerns. Hemp could be the next big cash crop that saves small farmers across America, and we are proving that to be true right here in Colorado at Functional Remedies.

What have you learned about hemp since you started at the CDA, and how did that help you with your new job?

Marijuana Deals Near You

Hemp has been a product in America’s history since the founding fathers; George Washington famously grew hemp. But today’s hemp landscape, because of stigma and prohibition, is confusing without clear guidelines at the state and federal levels. The work we did at the CDA was to put those guidelines in place to not only help legitimate businesses bring good jobs to Colorado, but also to protect consumers from products that they shouldn’t be ingesting. We did this all when there was no real blueprint. So my role will be to help Functional Remedies navigate, influence and stay within those guidelines, even as they are being created.

What challenges are hemp farmers and product makers facing today that the public might not know about?

One of the biggest challenges right now is that we aren’t getting any clear guidance from the FDA. This is leaving a huge gap for illegitimate companies to compete with legitimate companies, all while consumers lose trust with hemp or CBD products. The saying goes, ‘A bad apple spoils the bunch.’ With tighter regulations, it’s much easier to find and toss those bad apples.

Is the 0.3 THC limit a looming problem for hemp farmers as it becomes legal nationwide?

The 0.3 percent THC limit has already presented problems for companies shipping hemp across state borders. The hemp industry doesn’t have standard testing protocols across the United States. In part, we need the FDA or Congress to help set those standards. Another solution would be to allow an acceptable range. Plants are plants; the top of the plant can test differently than the bottom, and two plants of the same strain could test differently.

How ethical do you think the CBD industry really is? We hear a lot of snake-oil stories, but a lot of companies are operating in unregulated markets.

The problem is that we don’t have any real consistent regulations across the board, and many people and companies are happy to jump on what they see is a trend or act within that gray area. This is why it’s so incredibly important that we put them in place to protect consumers and help legitimate businesses thrive.

How far behind is America’s hemp industry from Europe’s or Canada’s?

America is just starting to overcome the decades of stigma against hemp because of its ties with cannabis. However, we are moving incredibly quickly as we see states enacting their own hemp laws across the U.S. The faster we can build this momentum and gain additional clarity from the FDA and Congress, the faster we can create a globally competitive hemp industry.

Toke of the Town

6 Things We Learned From Reading Records of Drug Busts at Love Field Airport

Part of a narcotics intake report includes this handy checklist.EXPAND

Part of a narcotics intake report includes this handy checklist.

Joe Pappalardo

Ah, the airport. It’s where national security, the transportation industry, human psychology, aeronautical physics and government personnel collide in an awkward dance. Add into this mix the police who respond to Transportation Security Administration drug-related discoveries, and a collection of travelers that for whatever reason caught their attention. 

The Dallas Observer filed a Texas Public Information Act request to the Dallas Police Department seeking records for a slew of drug arrests at various spots in the city — including Love Field Airport.

Within the ream of documents from the drug arrests, from 2013 to June 2016, are some tidbits that help lift the veil of what the airport workers, narcotic detectives and federal screeners are doing when it comes to the drug trade.  

1) Those holding small amounts do get pinched, especially if they are dumb.
The vast majority of the reports were small quantities, and it seems like bad luck or rank stupidity attracted the attention of authorities. In one case, a 29-year-old from Colorado forgot to remove a bag of weed from his back pocket before entering a body scan. The bag held a gram of marijuana, an embarrassing misdemeanor. Some drug cases came about after TSA spotted something else — for example, a 2015 traveler thought it was a good idea to bring a slingshot in his carry-on bag. The ensuing
search found two zip lock bags containing smaller bags of pot and hash.  

2) Bigger amounts of drugs are moving, and there may be a pattern. 
Any substantial seizure of drugs sticks out as an anomaly at Love Field, but the drugs are moving. The biggest case in these files began in May, and not with an X-ray machine or drug dog but a Southwest Airlines ramp worker who caught a smell from a roll-away suitcase he was loading on a plane destined for Austin. When detectives got there they found “large packages of marijuana” inside the suitcase, along with some layers of dryer sheets. The cops passed the name on the luggage tag to the pilot, who said the plane wasn’t moving until the case’s owner identified himself. Detectives arrested him and a female companion. He told detectives that he “traveled to the Sacramento, California, area and got the marijuana from someone named ‘Dirty.'” The cops tallied 15 bags containing 17 pounds of weed. 

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Here’s where it gets interesting. According to media accounts, there have been similar-sized busts in Austin’s airport of weed smugglers bringing product from California through Dallas. In February, police in Austin found 35 pounds in luggage from California and arrested two men. And in September, Austin police nabbed 22 pounds of marijuana from the checked luggage of an inbound flight that originated in Sacramento.   

So this is either a coincidence born of legal medical weed in California and standard suitcases sizes, or there is California-Texas smuggling route operated by a guy named Dirty. Take your pick.

3) Authorities are more than happy to seize cash.
It’s amazing how much counter-narcotics work at airports involves seizing wads of cash, even if those carrying it are not arrested. Love Field is no exception.   

First things first: If you are on a domestic flight, there’s no limit to the amount of cash you can legally carry. For international trips, travelers have to declare anything more than $ 10,000. But going through security with what the TSA calls “bulk cash” is a surefire way of attracting law enforcement attention — those TSA agents will call the cops on you for some questioning.

That’s what happened to one guy at Love Field in March 2015. This is a pretty representative example, according to the reports we reviewed. It started when TSA screeners called police after they found two bundles of cash, each around $ 4,000, in his carry-on bag. The guy said he was in club promotions “and was going to Sacramento for work.” (Sacramento again.) Even after he nervously and clumsily answered some questions — how much money he made last year, why didn’t he bring enough clothes for a three day trip, he had no business cards, that sort of thing — the police escorted him to his gate, to make the flight. And that’s when the radio check came back: He had a warrant for outstanding tickets. His subsequent arrest for those warrants gave police the time to bring a drug detection dog to sniff his cash. The canine, Jan, alerted to the odor of narcotics on the cash.

Uh oh.

Here’s some of the rationale given on the incident report for the detective’s determination that the traveler’s cash was related to the drug trade, and eligible for seizure:

A) The drug dog alert on the money.
B) Arrested Person’s uncertainty over the amount of money he was carrying.
C) His vague work history.
D) The fact that AP waited until just before flight time to arrive at the airport.
E) AP was traveling from a user city to a source city.
F) AP was traveling without any luggage at all and planning to stay three days at his destination.   

This is a local variation on what the federal Drug Enforcement Agency does all the time. A USA Today report earlier this year put a nice bow on it: “Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers — though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases.” In civil forfeiture, prosecutors need only make their case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” a far lower legal standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required of criminal cases. 

This is, as can be imagined, frustrating for those losing money. The police in the March 2015 case took the $ 8,245 the traveler was carrying. When detectives told him that they believed the cash “was proceeds of drug sales, he became uncooperative, stated he wanted his lawyer and that the detectives could ‘suck his dick.'”  

4) The TSA and police do practice profiling — on your cash and your belongings.
One interesting thing about how police target money are the inferences that are made based on the breakdown of the cash being carried. “The money was bound with rubber bands and in several denominations, which is consistent with bundling characteristics of drug proceeds,” one report reads. 

The things you pack in your suitcase can make the cash you carry seem suspicious and ripe for the picking. Last October, TSA stopped a Dallas-based owner of a glass smoking paraphernalia company who was carrying a little more than $ 20,000 in cash bundled in manila envelopes. Even worse for him, a drug detection dog named Tammy alerted to his bags. Inside the bag, police found an unused bong and two packages of rolling papers. “Those aren’t illegal,” the man stated, correctly. But the detectives had Tammy sniff the cash for good measure, and seized the money after she alerted to the stink of drugs on it. The cops gave the traveler a receipt for the money and sent him on his way.        

5) Cops will watch for your heartbeat, and comment when they can see it through clothes. 
An odd comment appears several times in these reports: “During the interview, [suspect] appeared nervous and the detective could see his heart beating through his shirt.” One such comment said  detective could see a heartbeat through woman’s sweater. These comments are always used to support the officers’ suspicions that those being interviewed are in the drug trade.

This brings to mind the chest thumping action when Bugs Bunny falls in love. But the condition is called a protruding heartbeat, and it’s most common not in criminals but skinny people.

In any case, criminal or no, an elevated heart rate is caused by being nervous. And who wouldn’t be nervous, once the TSA has publicly handed you off to local police or even DEA agents for more questioning? And if you have cash on hand that can be seized — or even unpasteurized cheese or a sex toy in that bag — those nerves will manifest in an accelerated heart rate. At that point, it’s better to have a thick chest and some loose clothing, because police use this as a sign of criminality.

6) Overdoing the camouflage of a drug hide can come back to bite.
Smugglers of recreational amounts of drugs can get better results by keeping it simple. Too often, efforts to conceal contraband are the very things that tip off the TSA, who then must pass the infraction to police. In a classic example from last July, a screener saw a strange cylinder on an x-ray screen. A hand examination found a rolled up issue of Texas Highways magazine with bags secured inside its pages with black electrical tape. “Inside the plastic bag were five folded pieces of paper that contained an unknown substance,” the incident report reads. A TSA supervisor “stated he was fearful the substance might be explosive.” Instead, it turned out to be 5 grams of THC oil. Detectives snared the bag’s owner after reviewing surveillance video that proved he showed up to the airport carrying it.  

In another case from this February, TSA personnel saw lead-lined bags in the checked bag of a traveler to Phoenix. This prompted a hand search that revealed $ 48,000 tucked inside the bags. Although drug detection dog (Tammy again) didn’t alert to the bags, she did smell drugs on the money. “Detectives believe that this currency is the illicit profits of narcotics distribution and seized it as such,” the incident report says.

Toke of the Town

Lessons Learned from the Debacle in Ohio

Issue 3, the marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in Ohio this past Tuesday, was surprisingly unpopular with the voters, and lost the vote by 65 percent to 35 percent. It was an old-fashioned ass kicking – a drubbing that came despite polls indicating a slim majority of the public in Ohio favored legalizing marijuana.

That dramatic difference between the generic support for the concept of marijuana legalization, and the far lower support for the provisions contained in Issue 3, lead to a number of conclusions.

First, it suggests that unlimited amounts of money may not be the magic bullet for enacting legalization in a traditionally conservative state. Obviously a fat wallet makes it possible to collect the signatures to qualify he proposal for the ballot, and to hire campaign workers to canvas eligible voters door-to-door, to encourage their support. But in the end, if specific provisions of the proposal are unpopular, money alone cannot overcome substantive weaknesses.

Investor Driven Initiatives

Clearly the fact that this initiative was investor driven, and would have enriched those who put up the money for the initiative, raised serious issues that were likely fatal to this initiative. Even many who favored marijuana legalization were unwilling to support this version, because of the oligopoly of commercial growers that would have been established for the state, assuring financial rewards for decades to come for those who were rich enough be part of the investment team.

In the run-up to the election in Ohio, the opposition focused far less on an argument that legalization was bad public policy that would somehow harm residents of the state (the traditional arguments favored by opponents to legalization), and far more on the fact that the small group of investors were guaranteed to get rich. There was significant opposition to allowing this small group of people to use the voter initiative process for such obvious self-enrichment.

Voter initiatives were a creation of the Progressive era, a method for average citizens to adopt public policy change without the involvement of the elected legislature, and the public perceived this effort in Ohio as a perversion of the voter initiative process. And they refused to permit that to occur, even though a slim majority supported the basic change that was being proposed.

No one, except that small group of investors, liked the self-serving provisions contained in the language of the proposal, and even those of us who endorsed the proposal, because we felt it would stop the arrest of marijuana smokers years earlier that would likely happen if the change has to come through the state legislature, did so with strong reservations about that part of the proposal.

NORML begrudgingly endorsed the initiative, because we are a single-issue organization and the proposal did contain the basic changes we have been fighting for, for more than four decades. But we underscored our dislike for the self-enrichment terms in the language, and said we did not consider it a model that should be considered by other states.

But clearly a majority of the voters in Ohio put a higher priority on opposing those troublesome economic provisions, and were willing to continue prohibition rather than permit this attempt to pervert the initiative process to succeed. Whether this same conclusion will be shared by voters in other states is uncertain, but it surely should cause would-be investors hoping to cash-in in other states to proceed cautiously.

Some Problems Were Self-Inflicted

And frankly, some of the problems leading to this result had to do with the seemingly cluelessness of Ian James and the others at Responsible Ohio, who were in charge of the campaign. When opponents began to focus on the economic interests of the initiative funders, the sponsors attempted to sell what was an obvious liability as the price one had to pay to move the marijuana issue out of the hands of hippies and the counter-culture, and into the political mainstream. They insulted those who had worked long and hard to move public policy towards legalization for decades, and suggested they were doing us all a favor by agreeing to embrace our basic political goal of legalization, for a price.

Similarly, apparently unaware of the traditional low voter turnout by young voters in non-presidential election years – the strongest group of supporters for legalization — Responsible Ohio chose to run their initiative in 2015, rather than waiting for 2016 (as proponents have done in California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Maine and Massachusetts). Again, instead of learning from the many marijuana initiatives that have occurred in this country going back to 1996, this gang who could not shoot straight claimed they preferred to run it in 2015, because of the usual low voter turnout, thinking their money could somehow invigorate the youth vote and they could sneak in a victory while the older voters were not paying attention. Talk about arrogance and hubris. These guys make Donald Trump seem humble!

A further example of their cluelessness was their use of a colorfully decorated bus and a silly mascot named “Buddy” – a sort of superhero with a big marijuana bud for the head – in a state-wide tour, as their primary tactic for getting the youth vote energized and excited about the upcoming chance to legalize marijuana.

Apparently they had never heard of “Joe Camel”, the cartoon camel that was used for years by big tobacco as a device to entice young Americans to try tobacco smoking, where once addicted, they would be tobacco customers for life, although that life would likely be cut short because of their use of tobacco. Following the discovery by Congressional investigators of documentation proving that was the intent of spending huge amounts of money to publicize Joe Camel, the tobacco companies were finally publicly shamed into ending the campaign and retiring Joe Camel.

But when confronted by NORML and others for their eerily similar use of “Buddy,” James and the Responsible Ohio campaign ignored our warnings that many Americans, even those who favor marijuana legalization, remain concerned about the risk that legalization might somehow lead to an increase in adolescent marijuana smoking, and that they were setting themselves up as an easy target by long-time opponents of legalization (which, of course, came almost instantly). James actually insisted that their “Buddy” campaign was popular, was gaining them great press exposure, and the campaign continued all across the state, right up to the election.

Again, the arrogance of this group was amazing, and their failure to understand the caution that is required when dealing with the marijuana issue, as contrasted to many other issues of public policy, was astounding.

It is impossible, without exit polling (and I doubt Responsible Ohio will share their exit polling, assuming they even made the effort to find out why opponents voted the way they did) to know which of these several tactical and strategic blunders was primarily accountable for their embarrassing defeat. My personal belief is the economic self-enrichment was the major flaw in the campaign, but the decision to mount the effort in an off-year election clearly contributed to their defeat (the youth vote turnout was low), as did their use of “Buddy” with a tin ear to the likelihood it would appear they were appealing to adolescents.

Responsible Ohio had this plan to legalize marijuana and get rich at the same time, and they were simply not interested in learning from the past, or even consulting with others who had far more experience in running marijuana-related initiatives.

As a result, only James came out ahead, as he was allegedly paid more than $ 4 million dollars to run the ill-fated campaign. And even James may well learn to rue the day he took on this badly conceived campaign, as he is a professional who has made his reputation running more traditional campaigns, and it is difficult to imagine that his reputation will not suffer from this unnecessary debacle. Issue 3 will forever be a case study for how NOT to run a marijuana initiative.

But the real losers are the marijuana smokers in Ohio, who will continue to be arrested for years to come – nearly 20,000 each year — when a better drafted and more professionally run campaign could have ended prohibition and stopped the marijuana arrests.


19 weird facts about Xbox history we just learned

It’s hard enough to get games developers to open up sometimes, so the idea of getting console executives to talk freely about their time in charge seems like a pipedream. Somehow, it’s happened.

Podcast Unlocked assembled three generations of Xbox executives – original Xbox creator, Seamus Blackley, Xbox 360 lynchpin, Peter Moore and current Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer – and got them to talk about their time running the company. And boy do they talk.

I’ve put together a list of the most interesting little tidbits to come out of the conversation above, but if you have any interest in the history of Xbox, or console development in general, listen to the whole thing – it’s absolutely fascinating, with all three happy to talk about their successes and failures in equal measure.

Apart from anything else, it’s an illicit little thrill to hear men we’re used to seeing spout corporate mush-speak from our computer screens start swearing – like stumbling onto Winnie the Pooh telling Piglet to f**k off.

GamesRadar – Xbox News

6 Things I Learned About Storytelling From Animating SpongeBob


By Tuck Tucker

With The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water hitting theater screens this weekend, we at Animation Magazine received this great list from veteran SpongeBob animator Tuck Tucker. Now an animation professor at Longwood University in Virginia, Tucker was kind enough to share some SpongeBob life lessons:

1. Shows are sometimes better when the animators write the stories.

Ren & Stimpy, which debuted in 1991, almost ushered in a new era in television animation. The show was released just two years after The Simpsons hit the airwaves, and Ren creator John Kricfalusi dusted off an old model that hadn’t been used in television since the days of Merry Melodies: storyboard-driven plot. In a storyboard-driven show, the animators start with a blank canvas — literally. They come up with a plot and storyboard out the episode — and the art drives the show. Animators pitch the storyboard to producers, who send approved episodes to further development with writing teams.

Ren changed it all. Even though full-length movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Little Mermaid were board driven, it wasn’t used in television very much,” says Tucker. “Even with The Simpsons, which is a very good show, writers drove all of the plot, and animators had to work within a script. The advantage of letting animators be the driving force behind the show is that you put art at the center of the show, and quite often something spectacular arises.”

The show Tucker spent the longest stretch of his career working on, SpongeBob SquarePants, is storyboard-driven, and Tucker credits its popularity to the artistic license given to the animators.

2. It’s good to be a little naughty sometimes.

Think back. What are your favorite animated series? Is it The Simpsons? Powerpuff Girls? King of the Hill? Adventure Time? Even SpongeBob?

There’s a common denominator in all of those shows—they are all a bit naughty at times. That’s important — and intentional — says Tucker. “The best shows are ones that are not only relevant but are humorous to people of all ages,” he says. “Adding in a touch of blue to the jokes gives it a bit of sophistication that makes the show last longer. And, to be honest, sometimes it’s just funnier material.”

3. Working fast produces fresh results

We all get stuck in a rut in our jobs from time to time. It’s no different with animators, many of whom spent their formative years filling up notepads with endless doodles and sketches. So how to break out of a rut when you’re trying to come up with a story?

“Work fast,” says Tucker. “Work really fast. Work so fast your brain can’t think about what you are doing — and then you’ll come up with something that you hadn’t even considered before.”

4. When stuck on a story, try beginning at the end and working backward.

“You may think this is trite, and it’s advice given out all over the place, but working backward really works,” says Tucker. “When working on SpongeBob, as I sat down to storyboard out a potential episode, there were more than a few times I just stared at a blank sheet of paper for hours, trying to think of a place to start. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know where to begin.”

5. Draw your best and biggest ideas first.

Have you ever sat down to write a short story or paint a picture or draw a cartoon — and lost your way very quickly? It’s easy to get bogged down in the weeds and never get to the payoff. That’s why Tucker says to pull out the machete, chop down all the weeds and start with the biggest idea you have.

“Your biggest idea, the thing you are most excited about, is the thing that’s going to inject energy throughout the project,” he said. “Don’t waste time at the beginning trying to get there, just be there. And once you’ve drawn what you’re most excited about, draw the next thing that seems exciting. Soon enough, you’ll have the dots in place, and all you have to do is connect them. That’s really letting the art drive the story.”

6. Find a mentor.

Every great story has a mentor — the person who helps clarify the hero’s purpose and gives sound advice that carries them through the hardest times. Gandalf, Professor Dumbledore, Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, the list goes on and on.

Likewise, all great storytellers have a mentor — even if he or she is a figment of their imagination.

“I always used Chuck Jones, the animator of the old Looney Tunes, as silly as that may sound,” says Tucker. “When I’d get into a pickle, I’d always ask myself, ‘What would Chuck do in a situation like this?’ And after I ran through the ACME dynamite option — always a good fallback — just pondering that question really helped solve a lot of problems.”

The point is, you aren’t going to get anywhere without some help. And a mentor — real or imagined — can help you iron out some difficult plot lines or help you find your artistic voice when it all seems lost. “If I can play that role for students,” says Tucker, “that’s one of the most rewarding things I’ll do in my life. There have been so many people who have helped and steered me in the right direction, passing that gift along is a privilege. Even if I just tell them to throw in some dynamite and see what happens.”

Tuck Tucker

Tuck Tucker

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Animation Magazine

Year 1 of Legal Marijuana: Lessons Learned in CO

By R. Scott Rappold
WebMD Health News

Nov. 6, 2014 — When the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in modern history began Jan. 1 in Colorado, it was a bold experiment fraught with unknowns.

Would kids get easy access to the drug? Would stoned drivers make the highways more dangerous? Would drug addiction problems increase?

While there isn’t enough data yet to answer some of those questions, one thing is clear: There is a rising tide of public support for marijuana legalization in America. Voters in Washington State approved it in 2012, and earlier this week, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., approved legalizing recreational marijuana. 

Some of the lessons being learned in the Rocky Mountains could be instrumental in other states, as public health officials figure out how to regulate a drug that has been illegal for 8 decades.

Commercialization of Marijuana

Even before the first recreational stores opened in 2014, marijuana storefronts were a presence in most Colorado communities.

Since 2009, a loosening of regulations led to a growing medical marijuana industry, in which residents who received a doctor’s recommendation and applied for a state license could walk in and buy marijuana. There are today nearly 500 such dispensaries in Colorado.

Since Jan. 1, another 212 recreational stores have opened. In these stores, state residents 21 and over can buy up to an ounce of pot at a time. Out-of-state residents can buy a quarter-ounce. While some cities, including Colorado Springs, have banned the stores, in the Denver and Boulder areas and most resort towns, marijuana is visible and available.

Not everyone is happy about that. The mainstreaming of marijuana led Gina Carbone to co-found Smart Colorado, which calls for stricter regulations on the marijuana industry.

“What we’ve seen in the roll-out of this is the mass commercialization and the mass marketing of marijuana,” Carbone says.

“The more stores you have around, the more visibility, the more normalized it becomes, the greater the youth use is, because the perception of harm at the same time is plummeting,” she says.

Carbone would’ve preferred for Colorado to have followed the Washington model, where the number of marijuana stores are limited. Seattle, for example, will have just 21 stores.

Marijuana Edibles

When an adult comes to the University of Colorado Hospital complaining about ingesting too much marijuana, the symptoms are usually anxiety, nausea, or vomiting, but it’s not life-threatening unless associated with another substance or an injury. 

But when a child comes in, emergency department head Richard Zane, MD, has observed instances of a breathing problem called respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

Since legalization, he has seen a sharp increase in such cases, and he points the finger at edibles infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

WebMD Health

How America Learned To Stop Worrying & Love MJ

For nearly a century, the United States has been one of the fiercest advocates and practitioners of marijuana prohibition in the world. At the height of the America’s anti-pot fervor in the 1950s and ’60s, one could even receive life imprisonment for simple possession of the drug.

But the puritanical fervor that once dominated the national discussion surrounding cannabis has been conspicuously absent of late. Earlier this month, the Colorado State legislature, by order of a November referendum, passed bills to implement the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use. Washington State voters also approved legalization by referendum on election day. And these events have recently been followed by more good news for supporters of cannabis law reform.

The Organization for American States recently suggested that marijuana legalization could be a way to cut down on drug-violence in the western hemisphere. Perhaps most important, the movement has finally found a voice on Capitol Hill, as representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis submitted legislation earlier this year that would end federal prohibition of the drug, and allow states to tax and regulate it as they see fit. As Bill Keller put it recently in the New York Times, “Today the most interesting and important question is no longer whether marijuana will be legalized — eventually, bit by bit, it will be — but how.”

Indeed, the feeling that the further liberalization of marijuana laws is inevitable is backed up by the polling trends. According to Gallup, as recently as 2005, two-thirds of Americans opposed legalization of marijuana. Now 48% percent of the population supports it. And a similar poll from Pew puts the number even higher – at 52%. But what exactly explains this sudden change in American attitudes towards pot?

Undoubtedly, part of the reason for the increased acceptance is demographic. It might make you feel old to read this, but on Friday, both Bob Dylan and Tommy Chong celebrated birthdays, turning 72 and 74 respectively. The aging of these counterculture icons hasn’t directly changed American attitudes towards marijuana, of course, but it does underscore the fact that the vast majority of Americans living today came of age during a time when marijuana was widely in use. The data bear out the prevalence of marijuana use in today’s society, with 48% of Americans claiming they have tried the drug at least once.

But familiarity with marijuana isn’t by itself going to drive changes in the legal code. Political consensus is necessary too. And while national political leaders aren’t necessarily falling over themselves to endorse marijuana legalization, there isn’t a lot of room in the current political climate to defend it, either. The political right has done an excellent job over the past thirty years convincing the American public of the limitations of government. They have argued that even when the government has the best of intentions it can be astoundingly ineffective at achieving its stated goals, and often creates unintended and pernicious consequences to boot. This is the same argument that has led to deregulation of industry, historically low tax rates, and legislative efforts like welfare reform. It’s only logical to extend it beyond social welfare programs to something like drug policy.

And supporters of ending marijuana prohibition do indeed point to the unintended consequences of the policy as reason to legalize. According to the FBI, in 2011, 1.5 million people were arrested on drug charges, and roughly half of those were for marijuana, costing billions per year in law enforcement and court costs. And that doesn’t count the human toll on those arrested, like potential loss of work, government benefits, the right to vote, and student aid. Meanwhile, the government simply hasn’t come anywhere close to achieving the stated goal of marijuana prohibition, which is to prevent drug addiction. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, since the beginning of the so-called war on drugs, the addiction rate in America has remained steady at 1.3%, despite the fact that each year state and local governments spend more and more money – over $ 1 trillion in total – fighting the drug war.

What’s more, the unintended consequences of marijuana prohibition do not stop at our borders. In fact, the brunt of the side effects may be being felt in places like Mexico. And as my college Tim Padgett wrote this week, it would appear that America’s allies in the Western hemisphere are looking seriously at ending marijuana prohibition as a strategy for reducing the drug violence that is ravaging much of Latin America. A study issued this month by the Organization of American States declared that it’s now time to seriously consider legalizing pot in order to cut down on this violence. It’s estimated, for instance, that legalizing marijuana in America could eliminate one-third of Mexican cartel’s $ 30 billion annual haul.

We are in a political moment where social conservatism has been somewhat sidelined as a political force by the growing influence of libertarianism in the Republican party. This dynamic emphasizes the tension between liberty and morality that has been with us since the founding of our country, and at this moment liberty appears to be ascendant. But make no mistake, the puritanical impulses that once made America the leading voice in marijuana prohibition haven’t gone anywhere — and advocates of reform should know that pendulums, once set it motion, swing back again.

Source: Time Magazine (US)
Author: Christopher Matthews
Published: May 28, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Time Inc.
Contact: letters@time.com
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Cannabis News – Medical Marijuana, Hemp, Marijuana News, Cannabis

U.S. almond farmers hire Asian movie stars to promote nuts Chinese movie star Gao Yuan Yuan ambled in front of blooming almond trees, smelled the flowers, learned about pollination and even got stung by a bee all while two Chinese television crews filme

smelled the flowers, learned about pollination and even got stung by a bee — all while two Chinese television crews filmed her for a documentary and television series focused on California’s almond country. The almond industry has hired Gao as its
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Lessons learned from asthma therapy

to be a complete dweeb. (…) Read the rest of Lessons learned from asthma therapy No comment | Tags: Drugs , Primary care , Specialist | Category: Diagnosis and treatment
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Organized from A-to-Z, this practical drug handbook offers rapid access to a wealth of information on the drugs that optometric or ophthalmic patients may be taking or may be prescribed. A consistent monograph format is followed, providing important ocular considerations relating to side effects, precautions, contraindications, and drug interactions. Herbal remedies and other drugs that may interact with ocular drugs are also covered. * Drug entries are organized from A to Z for the quick identi

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