Emery’s reefer revenge just might work

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By Kevin Brooker, Calgary Herald August 5, 2014

“Revenge!” Now there’s an anguished utterance you normally expect only to hear in bad Shakespeare parodies. Not last week, however, when Marc Emery, Canada’s so-called Prince of Pot, dropped the R-bomb on no less than the government itself.

 

Speaking to CBC Radio from a private deportation facility (whatever the heck that is) in anticipation of finally being released from the U.S. prison system, Emery said, “My own government betrayed me and I’m going to wreak an appropriate amount of political revenge when I get home and campaign against the Conservative government.”

Emery served nearly five years for the crime of selling seeds, “chained and shackled every inch of the way,” and obviously he isn’t about to forgive and forget. But this is no routine – and therefore hollow – act of fist shaking by a jailbird.

His threat is anything but empty. Emery is now poised to re-enter his chosen life’s work of cannabis activism in the most significant way possible, by threatening to turn the next federal election into a single-issue referendum on legalizing cannabis. He and his many supporters are planning to campaign for the Liberals, and will thus hold Justin Trudeau’s feet to the fire regarding his pledge to end the legal morass that is cannabis prohibition. Emery’s team already has 30 rallies planned across the country, with surely many more to come. His plan is to energize young voters on what will be

framed as a civil rights cause, irrespective of their personal relationship to cannabis.

The hand-wringers in Ottawa don’t know what to make of it. Many Liberals suggest Emery might be a liability to the party by alienating centrists with his brash rhetoric. The Tories, of course, will take every opportunity to disparage him, as they already have, as “a drug dealer who just got out of jail.”

But as the next few months unfurl, I suspect we will see Emery quietly absorbed into the Liberal fold. After all, he’s got buckets of money, commitment and organization. The prospect of him stumping for their brand could do the Liberals a huge favour, whether they admit it or not.

If nothing else, Emery will come home with a kind of street gravitas, having openly flouted laws on principle, knowing that he would some day do jail time, and doing a hard nickel to boot.

One strategist noted that, “Political parties don’t as a rule like to be associated with controversial figures, especially those who have served jail time,” though the annals of politics are filled with ex-cons. Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel come to mind.

Sure, Emery is no Mandela, but it is not difficult to argue that he was in some sense a political prisoner. The Conservative government acted vindictively, and politically, by bringing in U.S. drug warriors and seeing to it that Emery was renditioned to a place where he would serve a far harsher sentence than any Canadian court would deliver for such an offence.

Now he has a story to tell, plus an aura of martyrdom vis-a-vis the growing number of people who see cannabis prohibition as a colossal failure whose social harms far outweigh those of personal abuse. It is a tale with which many Canadians will empathize.

Much has changed since Emery’s been away. I write today from Washington state where, ironically, not far from the court that convicted him, any adult can walk into a store and purchase cannabis itself, and not merely seeds. Last week, Emery evinced pride that his long career of activism helped influence such developments here and in Colorado. Likewise, it has changed Canada. In his home province of B.C., for example, medical cannabis dispensaries have made the substance de facto legal.

The current patchwork of legality with respect to this ancient plant is just one more reason why Canadian voters are likely to respond positively to some form of blanket decriminalization. And if they do, Emery will have his revenge.

Kevin Brooker is a Calgary writer.

His column runs every second week.

CONTINUE READING…

“Revenge!” Now there’s an anguished utterance you normally expect only to hear in bad Shakespeare parodies. Not last week, however, when Marc Emery, Canada’s so-called Prince of Pot, dropped the R-bomb on no less than the government itself.

Speaking to CBC Radio from a private deportation facility (whatever the heck that is) in anticipation of finally being released from the U.S. prison system, Emery said, “My own government betrayed me and I’m going to wreak an appropriate amount of political revenge when I get home and campaign against the Conservative government.”

Emery served nearly five years for the crime of selling seeds, “chained and shackled every inch of the way,” and obviously he isn’t about to forgive and forget. But this is no routine – and therefore hollow – act of fist shaking by a jailbird.

His threat is anything but empty. Emery is now poised to re-enter his chosen life’s work of cannabis activism in the most significant way possible, by threatening to turn the next federal election into a single-issue referendum on legalizing cannabis. He and his many supporters are planning to campaign for the Liberals, and will thus hold Justin Trudeau’s feet to the fire regarding his pledge to end the legal morass that is cannabis prohibition. Emery’s team already has 30 rallies planned across the country, with surely many more to come. His plan is to energize young voters on what will be

framed as a civil rights cause, irrespective of their personal relationship to cannabis.

The hand-wringers in Ottawa don’t know what to make of it. Many Liberals suggest Emery might be a liability to the party by alienating centrists with his brash rhetoric. The Tories, of course, will take every opportunity to disparage him, as they already have, as “a drug dealer who just got out of jail.”

But as the next few months unfurl, I suspect we will see Emery quietly absorbed into the Liberal fold. After all, he’s got buckets of money, commitment and organization. The prospect of him stumping for their brand could do the Liberals a huge favour, whether they admit it or not.

If nothing else, Emery will come home with a kind of street gravitas, having openly flouted laws on principle, knowing that he would some day do jail time, and doing a hard nickel to boot.

One strategist noted that, “Political parties don’t as a rule like to be associated with controversial figures, especially those who have served jail time,” though the annals of politics are filled with ex-cons. Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel come to mind.

Sure, Emery is no Mandela, but it is not difficult to argue that he was in some sense a political prisoner. The Conservative government acted vindictively, and politically, by bringing in U.S. drug warriors and seeing to it that Emery was renditioned to a place where he would serve a far harsher sentence than any Canadian court would deliver for such an offence.

Now he has a story to tell, plus an aura of martyrdom vis-a-vis the growing number of people who see cannabis prohibition as a colossal failure whose social harms far outweigh those of personal abuse. It is a tale with which many Canadians will empathize.

Much has changed since Emery’s been away. I write today from Washington state where, ironically, not far from the court that convicted him, any adult can walk into a store and purchase cannabis itself, and not merely seeds. Last week, Emery evinced pride that his long career of activism helped influence such developments here and in Colorado. Likewise, it has changed Canada. In his home province of B.C., for example, medical cannabis dispensaries have made the substance de facto legal.

The current patchwork of legality with respect to this ancient plant is just one more reason why Canadian voters are likely to respond positively to some form of blanket decriminalization. And if they do, Emery will have his revenge.

Kevin Brooker is a Calgary writer.

His column runs every second week.

CONTINUE READING…

NYT: Repeal Prohibition, Again

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It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.

In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.

We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

CONTINUE READING...

Biohackers Are Engineering Yeast to Make THC

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How do you get weed without the weed? By genetically engineering yeast to produce THC, of course.

Once theorized in a stoner magazine column more than a decade ago, a biotech startup working in Ireland is actively trying to transplant the genetic information that codes for both THC and another cannabinoid called CBD into yeast so that new medicinal (and, perhaps recreational) "marijuana" can be grown in a lab—no plants necessary.

"Right now, growing medical marijuana is expensive and it's heavily regulated as well. It's slow to grow, you've got to go through several different strains before you get a stable blend," Sarah Choukah, CEO of Hyasynth Bio, told me. "We're thinking to bypass all this, to make it quick to grow, we can develop pot from technology that could give us customizable blends of yeast."

That's right—you can have different strains of THC-producing yeast, just like you do with marijuana. On its website, the team says that "rather than relying on plant strains generated from selective breeding, specifically crafted microbes can be designed within a matter of days."

Choukah and her cofounder, Kevin Chen, say they aren't exactly sure what the final form of their product will be, but you won't smoke it. Most likely, the THC will be delivered via a patch, a topical cream, or in vaporizer or e-cigarette form. 

The goal here, at first, isn't to create another way for people to get high. Instead, it'll be using the ability to quickly and precisely modify THC content to create more specialized treatments for specific diseases, such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. It'll also be creating reliable THC for researchers to work on. But the recreational market is certainly on the team's radar. 

"Further down the line, depending on how the regulatory environment is, we might get into recreational," Choukah said. 

The plan here is much like other schemes to make bacteria, or algae, or yeast create something that it doesn't do in nature, like we see with lab-grown meat and certain types of biofuels. The team hopes to insert cannabis DNA into yeast and then use the fungus' natural biological properties to turn it into a THC factory. Besides THC and CBD, the team hopes to eventually synthesize other cannabinoids. 

Scientists originally discovered the gene that codes for THC back in 2009, and early reports suggested that the find would lead to researchers who tried to take THC out of cannabis to create new strains of hemp. Turns out, they're doing the opposite.

"People have thought about doing this before, but never really went after it," Chen said. "People don't like to work on cannabis research because there are regulatory hurdles to get into it. And then, I guess, there are some people who think there's an ethical issue with working on an illegal drug."

The team says it's completely legal to modify yeast to create CBD, while THC is a little trickier. That's one of the reasons why the company is going to initially focus on the medicinal side of things, but Choukah admitted the company has been keeping a close eye on legalization efforts in Washington, Colorado, and other states.

Choukah and Chen already have some seed funding (get it?) and say they're going to work in the lab within the next week or so, and will be working on an accelerated timeline—they hope to know whether this will work or not by next month. If yeast proves tough to work with, the team will try to reengineer E. Coli or algae, instead. The company is set to present its work at a synthetic biology demonstration day in Ireland on August 19

"If we hit the jackpot," Chen said. "We'll have it by then."

CONTINUE READING...

FDA rejects medical uses of marijuana

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it does not support the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The FDA said in a statement that it and other agencies with the Health and Human Services Department had "concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use."

A number of states have passed legislation allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, but the FDA said, "These measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective."

The statement contradicts a 1999 finding from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which reported that "marijuana's active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously in clinical trials."

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Thursday: "If anybody needed proof that the FDA has become totally politicized, this is it. This isn't a scientific statement; it's a political statement."

Mirken said "a rabid congressional opponent of medical marijuana," Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked the FDA to make the statement.

Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on drug policy, has said the promotion of medical marijuana "is simply a red herring for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Studies have continually rejected the notion that marijuana is suitable for medical use because it adversely impacts concentration and memory, the lungs, motor coordination and the immune system."

The FDA statement noted "there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful." It also said, "There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana."

Mirken responded, "There is abundant evidence that marijuana can help cancer patients, multiple sclerosis patients and AIDS patients. There is no scientific doubt that marijuana relieves nausea, vomiting, certain kinds of pain and other symptoms that don't respond well to conventional drugs, and does it more safely than other drugs.

"For the FDA to ignore all that evidence is embarrassing," Mirken said. "They should be red-faced."

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ANNUAL SMOKE IN AT THE WHITE HOUSE 2014!

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About

Friday July 4th 2014 , will be a landmark day in our long standing struggle to achieve an end to the Federal Government’s opposition to reschedule T.H.C.
 

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

High Noon-3:00pm White House/Lafayette Park
3:00pm- 3:15pm Front of White House Photo opportunity
3:15pm- March steps off to Lincoln Memorial
3:00pm- 9pm Lincoln Memorial

(THIS IS A NATIONAL PARKS PERMITTED EVENT)
This has been coordinated with US Secret Service, National Parks, National Parks Police and D.C. Police

Website http://www.smoke-in.us

 

45th Annual Smoke-In Rally | Washington Peace Center
 
 
Street Address: Lafayette Park (north side of the White House)
City: WashingtonState/Region: DC
Date: Friday, July 4, 2014 - 12:00pm to 3:00pm
 
Event Description: The 45th Annual Smoke-In Rally...
 
 
FROM "WAYWARD BILL" THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY HEAD CHAIRMAN:
 
 
Getting prepared for the 45th Annual Smoke in at the White House Rally, Cannabis March, and a rock em sock em good time at Music Stage followed by the most awesome fireworks on the Fourth of July!
 

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