All posts tagged: California

Dennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72

Activist was prominent in San Francisco gay community and co-wrote California Proposition 215, legalizing medical pot

Dennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72

  • Activist was prominent in San Francisco gay community
  • Peron co-wrote California Proposition 215, legalizing medical pot

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Marissa SafontDennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72
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Pot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry

When his medical cannabis operation was raided in 2008, Virgil Grant wound up in prison. Now hes back in business, and determined to make space for people of color in an industry thats fast being whitewashed

Pot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry

When his medical cannabis operation was raided in 2008, Virgil Grant wound up in prison. Now hes back in business, and determined to make space for people of color in an industry thats fast being whitewashed

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Marissa SafontPot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry
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Why federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed

Dont panic, legalization advocates say: Jeff Sessions anti-marijuana policy will have little practical impact and may even hasten the formal end of prohibition

Now that the dust has settled around attorney general Jeff Sessions promise of harsher federal marijuana enforcement, advocates of legalization have largely exchanged their initial disappointment over the move for one of long-term optimism.

I think there was a knee-jerk reaction of something approaching panic, but once everyone calmed down, theyve come to realize that practically this is going to have little impact, said Patrick Moen, a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who now works as council to an investment firm in the nascent legal marijuana industry.

Some, like Moen, even believe the decision could be the best thing for the growing marijuana movement, hastening the formal end of weed prohibition in the US.

There will probably a short term chilling effect, but this could ultimately be the best thing thats ever happened to accelerate the pace of change, Moen said.

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2:19
California’s marijuana muddle video explainer

The markets have reflected this somewhat counterintuitive sentiment. The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks 15 leading publicly traded legal marijuana-related companies, initially dropped 21% on the heels of the Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement, but it turned out to be a blip. By early this week the index had rebounded to within a few points of its one-year high.

Sessions announcement formally rescinded guidance, known as the Cole Memo, issued by the Obama-era DoJ that essentially told federal prosecutors to respect state laws with regards to marijuana. Importantly, though, Sessions decision did not direct or incentivize US attorneys to pursue marijuana cases, it just allowed them to if they so choose.

The Cole Memo guidance was eminently reasonable and was a common sense good policy, Moen said. I think that despite the fact that its been formally rescinded, federal prosecutors will effectively continue to abide by it.

Donald
Donald Trump with attorney general Jeff Sessions. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

One of the primary reasons concern has been tempered is that Sessions announcement is not actually likely to ensnare individual marijuana users into the criminal justice system.

Federal prosecutors almost never pursue simple possession charges against recreational users, whether in states where it is legal or not.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 99% of those serving federal sentences for marijuana-related crimes were convicted of trafficking offenses, which typically relate to quantities far in excess of what individual recreational users would have.

It is unlikely that this will affect them in any tangible negative way, other than depriving of the ability to buy marijuana legally, said Justin Strekal, Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

The Sessions memo is unlikely to trigger a nationwide dragnet of marijuana users, and is also unlikely to cause wide-scale disruptions to legal cultivators, Moen notes.

If federal prosecutors decide to go rogue and start charging otherwise compliant state businesses, theres going to be repercussions with regard to their relationships with the local [law enforcement], Moen said.

Strekal notes, however, that because of civil-forfeiture laws, local law enforcement would have one very good reason to work with federal agents seeking to enforce marijuana laws on legal weed businesses. Although local law enforcement cant bust those businesses on their own they arent breaking any state or local laws by joining with feds to enforce federal law, they get to claim a portion of any assets seized in a potential drug raid.

The
The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance protests the Jeff Sessions decision to rescind the Obama-era policy. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

In an area where you have a prohibitionist minded sheriff or a law enforcement agency, they will look at state-lawful marijuana facilities and see a big pile of money, Strekal said.

The 4 January move by Sessions was sandwiched by two major wins for legalization advocates. On the first of the month, recreational weed became legal in California, after more than a decade of a quite lax medical marijuana program. Then on 10 January, Vermont became the first US state to legalize the substance with an act of legislation, rather than a popular referendum, as has been the case in states like California, Colorado and Oregon.

The decision may ultimately precipitate another win, as Moen observed. Within hours of Sessions announcement, a bipartisan group of legislators had come out against the decision and some, including Hawaii senator Brian Schatz, announced that legislation was already being crafted that could overrule Sessions, by changing the extent to which Marijuana is classified as illegal at the federal level.

Its great that weve had a number of members of Congress over the course of the last six days last week step up and say what the attorney general did is wrong. Now time for every single one of those members of Congress to put their names on the pending legislation, Strekal said.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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California rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana

Adults can grow up to six plants and possess an ounce of cannabis as about 90 businesses receive licenses to sell pot in most populous state

The arrival of the new year in California brought with it broad legalization of marijuana, a much-anticipated change that comes two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.

The USs most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nations capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.

But finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California wont be easy, at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Years Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because local regulations were not approved in time to start issuing city licenses needed to get state permits. Meanwhile, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside are among the communities that have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.

Just after midnight, some Californians were raising blunts instead of champagne glasses.

Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated New Years Eve by smoking Happy New Year blunts with his cousins.

This is something weve all been waiting for, he said. It is something that can help so many people and theres no reason why we should not be sharing that.

Hernandez said he hoped the legalization of recreational marijuana would help alleviate the remaining stigma some still believe surrounds marijuana use.

People might actually realize weed isnt bad. It helps a lot of people, he said.

For those who worked for this day, the shift also offered joyful relief.

Were thrilled, said Khalil Moutawakkil, founder of KindPeoples, which grows and sells weed in Santa Cruz. We can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the specific regulations, but at the end of the day its a giant step forward, and well have to work out the kinks as we go.

The state banned loco-weed in 1913, according to a history by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the pot advocacy group known as NORML. The first attempt to undo that by voter initiative in 1972 failed, but three years later felony possession of less than an ounce was downgraded to a misdemeanor.

In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clintons drug tsar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.

Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.

Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.

Theres going to be a public health cost and a public safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations, said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.

At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Marissa SafontCalifornia rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana
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This Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital

All it took was a little marijuana to lift this Canadian town’s spirits.

Smiths Falls, Ontario — population 8,885 — is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer.

“We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada — and we’re proud of that,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. “The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.”

Smiths Falls is on the rebound, with more younger people relocating to this town 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of the capital in Ottawa. There’s renewed interest in commercial property, new businesses are arriving and there’s even the odd bidding war on homes.

“We’re seeing positive impacts really across the economy,” said Pankow, 52, who also runs a financial advisory firm. “People are recognizing that Smiths Falls is a community that’s on the upswing.”

Canopy has since become one of the darlings of the Canada’s benchmark stock exchange. It’s the S&P/TSX Composite Index’s best performer in 2017 with returns of more than 250 percent as of Friday at noon in Toronto, and is up 40 percent in the past week alone with pot stocks surging ahead of legalization both in Canada and in California.

Town Welcome

Tweed took over a former Hershey factory with ambitious plans to grow medical marijuana. Today, the firm has 360 employees — a well-educated workforce that runs the administration, research, growing operations, packaging and shipping from the facility that still has signage and other remnants of its chocolate past. Construction crews hammer away on the next expansion. The parking lot is packed.

“Smiths Falls welcomed us and we appreciated that,” said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton, who says he’s tapping local labor, suppliers and businesses as much as possible as the business gears up for the legalization of marijuana in Canada next summer. “The effect is the town becomes more desirable, and as it becomes more desirable my ability to recruit people who are senior or worldly increases.”

It’s a stark contrast from a decade ago, when Smiths Falls faced an industry exodus with the shutdown of a Stanley Tools Manufacturing facility and a shuttering of the Hershey plant. That followed months later by the closure of the Rideau Regional Centre for the developmentally disabled. The closures affected more than 1,500 people — one-fifth the population.

Smiths Falls has faced ebbs and flows of industry throughout its history, stemming back about 190 years when crews came to build the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston. Decades later, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived to provide a rail connection to the outside world, helping support commerce.

Reinvents Itself

“It’s a town that constantly reinvents itself,” said Leisa Purdonbell, 33, who oversees the historical collections in the basement of an 1860s-era house that doubles as a museum. “Businesses have come and gone.”

Frost & Wood Co., which began making farming equipment in 1846, evolved into a munitions factory during the Second World War that once employed 1,200 people before it closed in 1955. Coca-Cola Co. bottler Rideau Beverages was around until the 1970s.

RCA Victor, which came to town in 1954, helped introduce The Beatles to North America: the band’s vinyl single “Love Me Do” was pressed at the plant in 1963. RCA Victor, which employed 350 people at its height, left in 1978.

Hershey came in 1963 and within 25 years had 750 workers and a bustling plant that drew thousands of visitors. At one point, the town’s water tower boasted an image of a Hershey bar and the slogan “Chocolate Capital of Ontario.”

Low Point

“When we received notification of Hershey’s leaving and pulling out, and then Rideau Regional quickly after that, we kind of hit that low point,” Purdonbell said. “Thankfully, at the moment, it seems that everybody’s changed their way of thinking into something more positive, and I think businesses see that as they’re coming into the community.”

Four Degrees Brewing Co. recently opened. European canal boat operator Le Boat has occupied an 1840s-era Lockmaster’s House on the waterway that bisects town. It’s ramping up plans to bring 16 rental boats next summer for tourists to cruise the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Linton, whose company has soared to a market value of more than C$4 billion ($3.1 billion), sees room to further improve Smiths Falls. He wants to expand a retail area at his plant to draw visitors — akin to days when busloads of tourists toured Hershey’s and bought broken chocolate bars on the cheap. Beyond that, he’d like to see more restaurants, meeting places and a hotel to make it a destination spot.

Hotel Needed

“What the town lacks is a really great place for people to actually stay,” Linton said.

Aside from the hubbub over weed, Smiths Falls has another claim to fame: It’s the hometown of Brooke Henderson, the 20-year-old golfer who ranks sixth in earnings this year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit. 

“We’ve been to Ireland and people there are not familiar with Canopy Growth Corp. or Tweed, but they know who Brooke Henderson is,” Pankow said. “Brooke has been really the face of the community over the last few years, and I would say she still probably carries a bigger presence.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

    Marissa SafontThis Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital
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    Hippy dream now a billion-dollar industry with California set to legalise cannabis

    The state that is the worlds sixth biggest economy will legalise cannabis on New Years Day and expects a boom time for jobs and investment

    While Arctic conditions gripped Americas north-east, balmy sunshine bathed Los Angeles last week but that was not the only reason denizens of the Venice boardwalk were feeling mellow. An astringent, earthy aroma infused the Pacific zephyrs wafting through the buskers, joggers, skateboarders, tourists and panhandlers.

    Weed is part of the culture here, said Oni Farley, 30, perched on a sandy mound, watching life go by. Its part of the LA/California scene, the laid-back vibe. He ignored a police patrol car that inched through the throng. Ive blazed in front of cops and they dont say anything. To be honest, most of the time Im so high I dont notice them.

    Pot wasnt hiding. In multiple different ways it was on display.

    Addicted to weed, anything green helps, said a scrawled sign tilted against the backpack of Alexander Harth, 36, a dusty member of the boardwalks homeless population.

    On the pavement, Marc Patsiner hawked wooden ornaments etched with Californian symbols: sunglasses, palm trees and marijuana leaves. Its pretty bohemian out here. People associate us with the leaf.

    A vape shop offered glass pipes and other pot paraphernalia. T-shirt stores peddled images of Barack Obama smoking a joint alongside other herb-themed garments saying best buds and just hit it.

    On Monday, California, the USs most populous state, and the worlds sixth biggest economy, will officially hit it by legalising cannabis.

    Think Amsterdam, but sunnier and vaster a watershed event for the legalisation movement. Overnight a shadow industry worth billions of dollars annually will emerge into the light, taking its place alongside agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and other sectors that are regulated and taxed.

    It will answer to the newly created Bureau of Cannabis Control bureaucratic confirmation that a day many activists did not dare dream of has indeed come to pass.

    A product pilloried in the 1936 film Reefer Madness will become culturally normalised and economically integrated, said Philip Wolf, an entrepreneur who runs a cannabis wedding company and a firm that pairs pot with gourmet food. Its going to help destigmatise the plant. Theres going to be a lot of people making money and people will want to tax those dollars. This is going to spread. California is a trend-setting state.

    California legalised pot for medicinal purposes in 1996, ushering in a web of dispensaries, spin-off businesses and creeping mainstream acceptance. That culminated in voters last year approving proposition 64, a ballot initiative which legalised pot sales for recreation. History will mark the date it came into effect: 1 January 2018.

    It is expected to unleash profound changes across the state. The Salinas Valley, an agricultural zone south of San Francisco nicknamed Americas salad bowl, has already earned a new moniker: Americas cannabis bucket. Silicon Valley investors and other moneyed folk are hoping to mint fortunes by developing technology to cultivate, transport, store and sell weed. Entrepreneurs are devising pot-related products and services. Financiers are exploring ways to fold the revenue estimated at $7bn per annum by 2020 into corporate banking.

    Customers
    Customers at MedMen, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Use of the drug to ease pain and disease has already been decriminalised in California. Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP

    California is not the trailblazer. Colorado grabbed that mantle in January 2014 when it became the first jurisdiction in the world beating Washington state and Uruguay by months to legalise recreational cannabis sales. California is one of 29 US states where pot is legal for medical or recreational use. With medical certificates you can criss-cross the country getting legally stoned.

    But cultural, political and economic heft makes California a landmark in the global legalisation campaign. This is the state that incubated the political careers of Richard Nixon, who launched the war on drugs in 1971, and Ronald Reagan, who continued hardline prohibition policies under his wife Nancys slogan just say no.

    Californias path to yes wound through Venice, a gritty beachside haven for beat poets, artists and musicians long before hippies wore flowers on their way to San Francisco. The Doors, among others, kept the counterculture torch lit in Venice: here they wrote Light My Fire, Moonlight Drive and Break on Through. A giant mural of a shirtless Jim Morrison still peers down from a wall. It was in Venice that generations of Angelenos and tourists toked illicit spliffs. They still do, though it is now a gentrifying tech enclave.

    When California legalised pot for medicinal purposes many cities and neighbourhoods refused to issue licenses for pot dispensaries. In Venice they popped up like toast, as did clinics where for a fee ranging from around $20 to $40 doctors issued pot recommendation letters to ostensible patients. Some were genuine, with ailments and pain alleviated by the herb. Many just wanted to get high. Pretending you have an affliction just to smoke, thats ridiculous, said Farley, the boardwalk observer. Having served in the navy, he claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder. I dont, but thats what I said.

    The California Alternative Caregivers dispensary set up shop in 2005 on Lincoln Boulevard, on the second floor of a maze of little shops and offices. It was by design, upstairs, all the way to the back. We didnt advertise, said the manager, Jim Harrison, 46. Pot, medicinal or not, still needed to be discreet. If asked about his profession Harrison would say he was a healthcare professional.

    The sky failed to fall in on Venice, or other areas with dispensaries, and little by little pot became more mainstream, even respectable. Harrison, who wears a white coat and calls his patrons patients, is proud that his dispensarys protocols, such as sealing and labelling bags and containers, have been replicated in the new state regulations for recreational pot.

    Full legalisation feels historic, he said. Its pretty amazing. The cats out of the bag. His dispensary will create a new space for recreation customers and keep a separate room for patients. Tax on medicinal pot is lower so dispensaries expect that market segment to dwindle but not disappear.

    The new era may begin with a whimper. State authorities have given counties and cities authority and responsibility to govern the new industry. The result is a patchwork. Some places, such as Kern county, are still banning all commercial pot activity. LA and San Francisco only recently approved local regulations so it could be weeks or months before newly licensed pot shops start sprouting. Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Diego have licensed operators ready to open on Monday.

    Golden
    Golden State Greens budtender Olivia Vugrin (right), serves a customer in San Diego, California. Dozens of shops in the state will be selling marijuana for recreational use from tomorrow. Photograph: Elliot Spagat/AP

    Donald Trumps administration casts a shadow because pot remains illegal under federal law. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has compared the herb to heroin and threatened a crackdown. Fearful of federal prosecution, banks are shunning pot businesses, leaving the industry stuck with mounds of cash which must be transported under armed guard.

    Venices bohemians helped pave the way to Californias big experiment but it is another California, that of boardrooms and city halls, which stands to gain.

    Based on Colorados experience politicians across the Golden State are expecting tax windfalls. Labour unions are hoping to recruit tens of thousands of workers to cultivate and sell pot.

    Wealthy investors are snapping up land in Salinas and other cultivation areas with a view to mass production. Others are forming pot-focused business accelerators and management firms. Start-ups are devising new apps, products and services.

    Corporate expansion felt a world away from the patch of sand that Harth, the Venice panhandler, called home. Despite the sunshine drawing big crowds to the boardwalk he stuffed his sign Addicted to weed, anything green helps into his backpack. The dollars werent coming.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontHippy dream now a billion-dollar industry with California set to legalise cannabis
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    Dennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72

    Activist was prominent in San Francisco gay community and co-wrote California Proposition 215, legalizing medical pot

    Dennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72

    • Activist was prominent in San Francisco gay community
    • Peron co-wrote California Proposition 215, legalizing medical pot

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontDennis Peron, father of medical marijuana in California, dies at 72
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    After marijuana, are magic mushrooms next to be decriminalised in California?

    Mayoral candidate near San Francisco seeks signatures to put decriminalisation on statewide ballot next year, saying drug could offer healing at time of crisis

    As California prepares for the legalisation of recreational marijuana in 2018, one man is pushing for the state to become the first to decriminalise magic mushrooms.

    Kevin Saunders, a mayoral candidate for the city of Marina, just south of the San Francisco Bay, has filed a proposal that would exempt adults over the age of 21 from any penalties over possessing, growing, selling or transporting psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms.

    If he can get 365,880 voter signatures by the end of April 2018, the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative will be placed on the statewide ballot.

    Saunders thinks that now is the right time because, he says, the drug can help bridge the current political divide and restore a sense of community.

    The world is really hurting and everybody is at a loss about whats going on right now with Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis and everything else. Im at a loss at what to do politically, but the only thing I feel like we could do is get psilocybin into more peoples hands, he said.

    It deflates the ego and strips down your own walls and defences and allows you to look at yourself in a different light, he said, adding: It could allow people to figure out what to do and could revolutionise the way we treat those with depression, addiction and cluster headaches.

    A profound magic mushroom experience helped Saunders get over a debilitating five-year heroin addiction in 2003, when he was 32. I got to the root of why I made a conscious decision to become a heroin addict; Ive been clean almost 15 years.

    California is one of eight states where voters have legalised marijuana for recreational use, even though its still included in the federal governments list of schedule 1 drugs. Saunders and Kitty Merchant, who is co-author of the measure and his fiancee, believe that magic mushrooms also listed as schedule 1 drugs are the next logical step.

    I think we have learned a lot from marijuana and we are ready as a society, he said.

    So far, they have about 1,000 signatures, but plan to ramp up signature-gathering efforts in early December at college campuses and events like the medical marijuana summit The Emerald Cup. Eighty-five thousand signatures will trigger hearings at the state capitol.

    Merchant and Saunders are not the first couple to propose legalising mushrooms. The husband and wife team Tom and Sheri Eckhert announced earlier this year that they were pushing for a similar ballot measure in Oregon, hoping to make it the first state in the US to legalise the drug.

    They have taken a more conservative approach than Saunders has, aiming for a 2020 ballot and seeking to legalise the drug to be taken only in licensed centres under the supervision of a certified facilitator. Individuals would not be able to just buy the mushrooms and consume them at home as they can with marijuana.

    Its not only amazing for mental health, theres also a lot of potential for self-development and creative work, Tom Eckhert told Vice in July.

    Their efforts run in parallel to several promising clinical trials in which psychedelic mushrooms have been used to successfully treat severe depression, anxiety and addiction.

    Robin Carhart-Harris, who has been studying the use of psilocybin to tackle treatment-resistant depression at Imperial College London, believes that it is a logical inevitability that the drug will become available to patients.

    However, such legalisation will only take place once final phase 3 clinical trials are completed and the drug is approved by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. To standardise the dose, the psilocybin would have to be administered in capsule or pill form.

    Depression is such a major problem and its not being treated effectively at the moment. A lot of patients arent seeing results with traditional antidepressants, Carhart-Harris said, adding that psilocybin could be a legal medicine to be administered in clinics within the next five years.

    Although magic mushrooms are the safest of all the drugs in terms of the number of people who require emergency medical treatment, according to last years Global Drug Survey, they still carry risks.

    They are drugs with very low toxicity and very low abuse potential, said psychiatrist Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, who said that if you take into account how often people take them, they are safer than cannabis.

    The only difference being the potential for mushrooms to distort your perceptions, cognition, emotions in a way that is totally outside of most peoples real of normal experience. For a minority of people, taken in the wrong situation, that could be terrifying.

    Winstock is inviting people to fill out the 2018 Global Drug Survey, an annual anonymous survey that analyses international drug use patterns.

    Winstock said hed prefer to see a well-regulated market for magic mushrooms where youd have to show a letter from a doctor saying you were not receiving any acute mental health care or medications. Buyers should also be given advice on how to use the drug, what the effects are and given links to online services to manage difficult situations if they arise.

    I would get people to treat mushrooms with the respect they deserve, he said.

    The Drug Policy Alliance, a not-for-profit group focused on ending the war on drugs, would not comment on the specific proposals in California and Oregon, but its director of legal affairs, Tamar Todd, said: We certainly agree that nobody should be arrested or incarcerated simply because they possessed or used drugs.

    An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Robin Carhart-Harris works at University College London. He is at Imperial College London.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontAfter marijuana, are magic mushrooms next to be decriminalised in California?
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    Pot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry

    When his medical cannabis operation was raided in 2008, Virgil Grant wound up in prison. Now hes back in business, and determined to make space for people of color in an industry thats fast being whitewashed

    Pot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry

    When his medical cannabis operation was raided in 2008, Virgil Grant wound up in prison. Now hes back in business, and determined to make space for people of color in an industry thats fast being whitewashed

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontPot entrepreneur and ex-felon fights for black role in California’s budding industry
    read more

    Why federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed

    Dont panic, legalization advocates say: Jeff Sessions anti-marijuana policy will have little practical impact and may even hasten the formal end of prohibition

    Now that the dust has settled around attorney general Jeff Sessions promise of harsher federal marijuana enforcement, advocates of legalization have largely exchanged their initial disappointment over the move for one of long-term optimism.

    I think there was a knee-jerk reaction of something approaching panic, but once everyone calmed down, theyve come to realize that practically this is going to have little impact, said Patrick Moen, a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who now works as council to an investment firm in the nascent legal marijuana industry.

    Some, like Moen, even believe the decision could be the best thing for the growing marijuana movement, hastening the formal end of weed prohibition in the US.

    There will probably a short term chilling effect, but this could ultimately be the best thing thats ever happened to accelerate the pace of change, Moen said.

    Play Video
    2:19
    California’s marijuana muddle video explainer

    The markets have reflected this somewhat counterintuitive sentiment. The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks 15 leading publicly traded legal marijuana-related companies, initially dropped 21% on the heels of the Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement, but it turned out to be a blip. By early this week the index had rebounded to within a few points of its one-year high.

    Sessions announcement formally rescinded guidance, known as the Cole Memo, issued by the Obama-era DoJ that essentially told federal prosecutors to respect state laws with regards to marijuana. Importantly, though, Sessions decision did not direct or incentivize US attorneys to pursue marijuana cases, it just allowed them to if they so choose.

    The Cole Memo guidance was eminently reasonable and was a common sense good policy, Moen said. I think that despite the fact that its been formally rescinded, federal prosecutors will effectively continue to abide by it.

    Donald
    Donald Trump with attorney general Jeff Sessions. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

    One of the primary reasons concern has been tempered is that Sessions announcement is not actually likely to ensnare individual marijuana users into the criminal justice system.

    Federal prosecutors almost never pursue simple possession charges against recreational users, whether in states where it is legal or not.

    According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 99% of those serving federal sentences for marijuana-related crimes were convicted of trafficking offenses, which typically relate to quantities far in excess of what individual recreational users would have.

    It is unlikely that this will affect them in any tangible negative way, other than depriving of the ability to buy marijuana legally, said Justin Strekal, Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

    The Sessions memo is unlikely to trigger a nationwide dragnet of marijuana users, and is also unlikely to cause wide-scale disruptions to legal cultivators, Moen notes.

    If federal prosecutors decide to go rogue and start charging otherwise compliant state businesses, theres going to be repercussions with regard to their relationships with the local [law enforcement], Moen said.

    Strekal notes, however, that because of civil-forfeiture laws, local law enforcement would have one very good reason to work with federal agents seeking to enforce marijuana laws on legal weed businesses. Although local law enforcement cant bust those businesses on their own they arent breaking any state or local laws by joining with feds to enforce federal law, they get to claim a portion of any assets seized in a potential drug raid.

    The
    The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance protests the Jeff Sessions decision to rescind the Obama-era policy. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

    In an area where you have a prohibitionist minded sheriff or a law enforcement agency, they will look at state-lawful marijuana facilities and see a big pile of money, Strekal said.

    The 4 January move by Sessions was sandwiched by two major wins for legalization advocates. On the first of the month, recreational weed became legal in California, after more than a decade of a quite lax medical marijuana program. Then on 10 January, Vermont became the first US state to legalize the substance with an act of legislation, rather than a popular referendum, as has been the case in states like California, Colorado and Oregon.

    The decision may ultimately precipitate another win, as Moen observed. Within hours of Sessions announcement, a bipartisan group of legislators had come out against the decision and some, including Hawaii senator Brian Schatz, announced that legislation was already being crafted that could overrule Sessions, by changing the extent to which Marijuana is classified as illegal at the federal level.

    Its great that weve had a number of members of Congress over the course of the last six days last week step up and say what the attorney general did is wrong. Now time for every single one of those members of Congress to put their names on the pending legislation, Strekal said.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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