This Week: Obama Administration Increases Drug War Spending…Again; Obama Rejects Fed Up Latin American Leaders Call for Legalization; Drug Refomers Slam Obama for Prioritizing Low Level Arrests; Oaksterdam Reopens in Bare Bones State; Patients Oppose Privacy Change to MI Medical Marijuana Law; Early Parole Recommended for Spottedcrow; Dems and GOP Support Colorado’s Legalization Push; Marketers Bank on 420 Buzz; Wine Country’s Newest Offering: Cannabis Infused Vino; and more!
Unless you are a member of the “choir” (my affectionate name for the hard core cannabis activists who live this movement day in and day out), chances are you’re going to miss a lot of cannabis news. It’s not that there isn’t any, things are happening in the word of marijuana all the time. But the mainstream media never seems to make it a priority to report on it.
So, since I follow these things, and am on every cannabis mailing list imaginable, I thought it might be a good idea to do a weekly round-up of the compelling stories that came across my desk the week before. Sometimes I might discover stories older than a week old but still timely, so I’ll pass them on too. If you have suggestions for stories to be considered for inclusion in next week’s round up, use the Contact Us form here and let me know.
Obama Administration Increases Drug War Spending…Again — The Obama Administration on Tuesday morning released its annual National Drug Control Strategy, detailing the methods and budgets planned to “combat drug use” for fiscal year 2013. The report stresses that more resources need to be spent on addiction treatment and prevention, and that an enforcement-centric “War On Drugs” is unworkable. But in a prime example of political incongruence, the report also shows that budget allocations for law enforcement methods could increase by hundreds of millions of dollars, including military operations on U.S. soil.
Drug Refomers Slam Obama for Prioritizing Low Level Arrests — Responding to the Obama Administration’s latest national drug control strategy, leading drug policy reform advocates assailed the president for “prioritizing low-level drug arrests” over other policies that even the White House has acknowledged to be more effective in boosting public health and safety.
Obama Rejects Fed Up Latin American Leaders Call for Legalization — While the presidents of Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador have voiced support for an end to the drug war, President Obama rejected their calls for drug legalization during high-level talks at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.
Oaksterdam Reopens in Bare Bones State –A California school known as the “Princeton of Pot” has reopened after a federal raid, but with a bare-bones staff of volunteers to teach the art of cannabis cultivation, after the crackdown crimped its funding and forced it to lay off 25 paid employees.
Patients Oppose Privacy Change to MI Medical Marijuana Law — The National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), a Michigan-based alliance of leading medical marijuana advocates working to protect patient rights, on Wednesday announced strong opposition to proposed legislative changes to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act it they said would would directly violate patients’ and caregivers’ civil and constitutional rights, privileges and protections.
Early Parole Recommended for Spottedcrow — Grassroots support may evolve into early parole for a Kingfisher mother who was handed a strict prison sentence for a first-time offense of selling $31 worth of marijuana. Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend parole for Patricia Spottedcrow, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for selling marijuana to a police informant in Kingfisher County in 2009. Spottedcrow, 26, was originally handed a 12-year sentence in a blind plea before a judge.
Dems and GOP Support Colorado’s Legalization Push — During their state convention last weekend, Colorado Democrats adopted a party platform that officially calls for the legalization of marijuana, stopping just short of endorsing the Amendment 64, a statewide ballot initiative which seeks to accomplish exactly that later this year. That argument isn’t just a Democratic one, liberal as it may sound: posing legalization as a states’ rights and budget issue has also been effective in winning over some conservatives.
AZ Starts Taking Marijuana Dispensary Applications May 14 — According to Arizona’s Department of Health Services Director, Will Humble, “The tumblers have clicked, and the race to apply for a dispensary [in Arizona]is on.” Humble has given the go-ahead for accepting medical marijuana dispensary licenses in Arizona between May 14 and May 25.
Marketers Bank on 420 Buzz — April 20 marks a high holiday for marijuana enthusiasts, who have long used “420” as code for cannabis and who celebrate the date’s appearance on the calendar—on April 20, or 4/20—with concerts, stoner-film marathons and controlled substances. This year, with the date falling on a Friday, marketers are trying to get in on the buzz. Marijuana advocates say the commercialization just proves that pot is gaining mainstream acceptance; there were some 17.4 million users in 2010, up from 14.4 million in 2007, according to government data.
Wine Country’s Newest Offering: Cannabis Infused Vino — California has long been known for its robust wines. And now the state’s winemakers are surpassing themselves by lacing their cuvées with marijuana and offering it to their friends. “It had a pungent herbal aroma that called to mind a college dormitory on a Saturday night,” writes Michael Steinberger in the The Daily Beast.
Marijuana Documentary Looks Inside Oaksterdam— Each year, marijuana enthusiasts and activists around the country gather to celebrate 4/20 as a holiday. This year, a new documentary entitled California 90420 will be released on 4/20 in more than 50 theaters nationwide, making it one the widest theatrical releases ever for a marijuana-related documentary. 90420 focuses on the rapidly open and growing marijuana trade in California, which is setting precedent for the rest of the nation. The film explores the burgeoning ‘above ground’ industry through the eyes of four, 20-something characters whose real lives are caught up in the changing green landscape.
TAKE ACTION OPPORTUNITY
Stop Incarceration for Profit — Governors in 48 U.S. states are considering selling their state’s prisons to a for-profit corporation, with the stipulation that states must keep the prisons at a minimum occupancy rate of 90% for the next 20 years. Sign this petition from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and let your governor know you think this is wrong!