Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 16 submissions in the queue.
posted by takyon on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the hempire-strikes-back dept.

Past articles: 20152016

What's up, Soylenteers? I've got to write another one of these? #420TooMainstream.

Legalization Status

Timeline of cannabis laws in the United States
Timeline of cannabis law

Since this time last year, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas legalized medical cannabis, Illinois decriminalized it, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis. An attempt to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona narrowly failed.

29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, although restrictions vary widely from state to state.

Germany's medical cannabis law was approved in January and came into effect in March. Poland has also legalized medical cannabis, and Georgia's Supreme Court has ruled that imprisonment for possession of small amounts of cannabis is unconstitutional.

Recently: West Virginia on Course for Medical Marijuana

🍁 Cannada: Not So Fast 🍁

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled (archive) legislation (archive) that would make Canada the first major Western country to legalize recreational cannabis (the only country to legalize it to date is Uruguay, although implementation has taken years), dealing a serious blow to the crumbling United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. However, the Liberal Party of Canada intends to wait more than a year to act on its campaign promise, during which time Canadians can still face prosecution for possession of the drug:

True to form, this government has written down a series of talking points, in this case, trying to make it sound like it's cracking down on pot rather than legalizing it. And Justin Trudeau's ministers are sticking to the messaging from party central like a child reciting Dr. Seuss.

Not once in that As It Happens interview did [Justice Minister Jody] Wilson-Raybould explain why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly (see the Liberal party's website statement) for another year. Instead, literally every second time she opened her mouth, she re-spouted the line about "strictly regulating and restricting access." Off asked eight questions. Four times, Wilson-Raybould robotically reverted to the same phrase.

Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a parliamentary lifer who mastered the art of repetitive dronetalk sometime back in the last millennium, was out peddling more or less the same line, but with an added warning: Not only will the government continue to criminalize Canadians for what it considers a trifling offence, enforcement will be vigorous. "Existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected," Goodale declared. "This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all." Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a "free for all" also went unexplained.

The Liberal Party of Canada has taken pains to remind everyone that the Conservative Party will "do everything they can to stop real change and protect a failed status quo". Unfortunately, they did not get the memo that "marijuana" is a term with racist origins.

Make like a tree and legalize it, Cannadia... Cannibinoidia.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Backtrack to April 20th, 2016. Bernie Sanders still seemingly had a shot at becoming the President of the United States. Sanders, as well as Hillary Clinton (though begrudgingly), supported decriminalization of cannabis, medical use, and the continuation of states making decisions about recreational use. The #2 Republican candidate Ted Cruz also had a "let the states sort it out" stance.

One contender stood out, and he went on to become the @POTUS to #MAGA. The widely predicted "third term" was prevented, and that outcome may greatly affect a burgeoning semi-legal cannabis industry. One recent casualty are Amsterdam-style "cannabis clubs" (think: brewpubs). Colorado's legislature has backed off on a bill that would have allowed on-site consumption of cannabis at dispensaries due to the uncertain future of federal enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

Trump's position on cannabis has been ill-defined, although he supports medical use and has indicated that states should handle the issue. But the same can't be said of his Attorney General, former Senator Jeff Sessions. Here are some quotes about the drug from Mr. Sessions:

I thought those guys were OK until I learned they smoked pot. [Source. Context: Sessions later testified that the comment was a joke.]

We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it's in fact a very real danger.

I think one of [President Obama's] great failures, it's obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana... It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started 'Just Say No.

You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink... It is different... It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.

Good people don't smoke marijuana.

Cannabis advocates are becoming increasingly paranoid about the federal government's stance towards the states (and a certain District) that have legalized cannabis. And this is following an Obama administration that was criticized for conducting raids in states with legalization. It is too early to tell how the Trump administration will choose to deal with cannabis, but there are signs that harsher policies and greater enforcement could be coming:

On Wednesday, [April 5th,] Jeff Sessions directed Justice Department lawyers to evaluate marijuana enforcement policy and send him recommendations. And some state officials are worried. This week the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington wrote the attorney general. They asked Sessions and the new Treasury secretary to consult with them before making any changes to regulations or enforcement.

At the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer said recently that the president is sympathetic to people who use marijuana for medical reasons. He pointed out that Congress has acted to bar the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere in state medical cannabis programs. But Spicer took a harsh view of recreational marijuana. "When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we need to be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law we need to abide by," Spicer said.

Really, Spicer? Recreational cannabis use shouldn't be encouraged during an opioid addiction crisis? Read on.

Politics nexus unavailable for comment.

The Opioid Crisis Drags On (it's relevant)

Heroin use has become more dangerous as dealers have increasingly added other substances that massively increase potency without affecting the size of a dose significantly. Carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, has led to hundreds of deaths over very short timespans. It is impossible for the average user to predict the potency and potential danger of street heroin. While there have been international responses to these compounds, new chemical analogues are being created all the time:

Chinese labs producing the synthetic opiates play hide-and-seek with authorities. On their websites, they list fake addresses in derelict shopping centers or shuttered factories, and use third-party sales agents to conduct transactions that are hard to trace. The drugs themselves are easy to find with a Google search and to buy with a few mouse clicks. A recent check found more than a dozen Chinese sites advertising fentanyl, carfentanil, and other derivatives, often labeled as "research chemicals," for sale through direct mail shipments to the United States. On one website, carfentanil goes for $361 for 50 grams: tens of thousands of lethal doses.

The cat-and-mouse game extends to chemistry, as the makers tinker with fentanyl itself. Minor modifications like adding an oxygen atom or shifting a methyl group can be enough to create whole new entities that are no longer on the list of sanctioned compounds. Carfentanil itself was, until recently, unregulated in China.

2016 saw the addition of kratom to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. Advocates for the tree leaf drug, which was formerly classified as a supplement, believe that its painkiller effects and low risk factors make it a useful replacement for the oft-deadly opioids that millions of Americans are addicted to. Kratom users have treated their pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms using the formerly "legal high". The DEA has refused to acknowledge this application and points out the "skyrocketing" number of calls to the Poison Control Center regarding kratom in recent years. One skeptic of kratom, Dr. Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health, has looked at the same evidence and concluded that the trail of bodies left by substances like fentanyl and the scarce number of deaths (perhaps wrongly) attributed to kratom make it clear that the substance is the better "poison". He also notes that:

The number of calls to poison control centers is not reliable for determining how many poisonings actually occurred. It is a crude approximation at best.

Much like kratom, medical cannabis has been touted as a solution to the opioid crisis. States with legalized medical cannabis have seen a reduction in reported instances of opioid dependence [DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.01.006] [DX] So it is puzzling that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would use opioids as a bludgeon against cannabis legalization while AG Sessions expresses astonishment over the suggestion of using cannabis as a "cure" for the opioid crisis.

Bonus: Here's a video (2m14s) of a woman getting administered Narcan/naloxone. Here's an alternate video (2m39s) in which a man who overdosed on heroin is able to sit up in about a minute after being administered naloxone.

⚚ The Slow March for Science ⚕

While the Drug Enforcement Agency has refused to reclassify cannabis from its current Schedule I status, citing the supposedly rigorous conclusions reached by the Food and Drug Administration, it will allow more than one institution to grow cannabis for research purposes, ending the monopoly held by the University of Mississippi. However, the Schedule I status of cannabis remains an impediment to further research:

[...] DEA's decision not to reschedule marijuana presents a Catch-22. By ruling that there is not enough evidence of "currently accepted medical use"—a key distinction between the highly restrictive Schedule I classification and the less restrictive Schedule II—the administration essentially makes it harder to gather such evidence.

"They're setting a standard that can't be met," says David Bradford, a health economist at the University of Georgia, Athens. "That level of proof is never going to be forthcoming in the current environment because it requires doing a really extensive clinical trial series, and given that a pharmaceutical company can't patent whole plant marijuana, it's in no company's interest to do that."

Schedule I status presents obstacles for clinical researchers because of restrictions on how the drugs must be stored and handled, Bradford says. Perhaps more significant, that listing may evoke skittishness at funding agencies and on the institutional review boards that must sign off on research involving human subjects.

Researchers have disparaged the quality and potency as well as the appearance and odor of the University of Mississippi's cannabis products:

"It doesn't resemble cannabis. It doesn't smell like cannabis," Sisley told PBS NewsHour last week.

Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post's Cannabist marijuana news site, agrees. "That is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis," he said. Browne should know: He's reviewed dozens of strains professionally and is running a sophisticated marijuana growing competition called the Grow-Off.

"In two decades of smoking weed, I've never seen anything that looks like that," Browne said. "People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on."

Research on cannabinoids and psychedelics is proceeding, slowly. One study published yesterday (74 years after the first LSD trip) came to an astounding conclusion: Psychedelics can induce a "heightened state of consciousness":

Healthy volunteers who received LSD, ketamine or psilocybin, a compound found in magic mushrooms, were found to have more random brain activity than normal while under the influence, according to a study into the effects of the drugs. The shift in brain activity accompanied a host of peculiar sensations that the participants said ranged from floating and finding inner peace, to distortions in time and a conviction that the self was disintegrating.

[...] What we find is that under each of these psychedelic compounds, this specific measure of global conscious level goes up, so it moves in the other direction. The neural activity becomes more unpredictable," said Anil Seth, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex. "Until now, we've only ever seen decreases compared to the baseline of the normal waking state."

Inconceivable!

Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep46421) (DX)

♯ Ending on High Notes ♯

Vape Naysh, y'all!

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:27PM (21 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:27PM (#496918)

    You are free to do as Uncle Sam tells you.

    There is no place in a civilized society for dictates.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +1  
       Flamebait=1, Insightful=2, Total=3
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   1  
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:35PM (20 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:35PM (#496924)

    Actually dictates are what make a civilized society...

    1. No murder
    2. No theft

    Those are the two big ones that every society has endorsed. We can argue over which dictates are good and which are bad, but to pretend that human beings are naturally well behaved civilized creates is naive. As our collective knowledge and experience grows we can only hope that we make better choices about which dictates are good and reasonable.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:40PM (#496926)

      * creates = creatures

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:44PM (18 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:44PM (#496929)

      Besides (see subject title), murder and theft are still rampant in society, despite such dictates—clearly, then, such dictates have nothing to do with civilized society.

      Indeed, murder and theft are the primary actions of a government like Uncle Sam, amirite?

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by butthurt on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:06PM (12 children)

        by butthurt (6141) on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:06PM (#496937) Journal

        The murder rates in the U.S. and in Honduras are more than a hundred times greater than in Japan and Singapore. I wonder why.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by tynin on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:11PM (2 children)

          by tynin (2013) on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:11PM (#496940) Journal

          Because in Japan you are either putting in overtime at work, or you are a shut in at your parents house. Who as time to kill anyone when they are busy living up to their stereotypes?

          • (Score: 1) by butthurt on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:43PM (1 child)

            by butthurt (6141) on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:43PM (#496958) Journal

            Americans work a lot, too:

            With the steep rise in annual work hours for individuals and families, more than half of American workers report feeling overworked, overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do, and/or lacking in time to reflect upon the work they are doing.

            -- https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/ilr/pdf/vol39p51.pdf [iu.edu]

            • (Score: 2) by tynin on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:01PM

              by tynin (2013) on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:01PM (#496969) Journal

              I've been enjoying 4/20 perhaps too much... my comment was meant in jest. :)

        • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:39PM

          by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:39PM (#496953)

          Local social culture.

          --
          "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
        • (Score: 2) by julian on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:44PM (1 child)

          by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 20 2017, @05:44PM (#496960)

          One factor is less access to the most lethal of weapons. Hard to rack up a high kill streak with just a knife (though not impossible). But there are a lot of reasons, this is just one and probably not even the single most important one.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:41PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:41PM (#496994)

            Japanese have more of an affection for BDSM, horror, and drawn out activities (from dating to murder, torture and rape.)

            Point being, while there are exceptions to the rule, most japanese are about the journey, not the ending, whereas most Americans are all about the ending and not the journey.

            For the Japanese the means justify the ends. For Americans the ends justify the means.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by NotSanguine on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:55PM (3 children)

          The murder rates in the U.S. and in Honduras are more than a hundred times greater than in Japan and Singapore. I wonder why.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate [wikipedia.org]

          I'm currently reading Stephen Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature [wikipedia.org]. From the linked Wikipedia article:

          Pinker presents a large amount of data (and statistical analysis thereof) that, he argues, demonstrate that violence has been in decline over millennia and that the present is probably the most peaceful time in the history of the human species. The decline in violence, he argues, is enormous in magnitude, visible on both long and short time scales, and found in many domains, including military conflict, homicide, genocide, torture, criminal justice, and treatment of children, homosexuals, animals and racial and ethnic minorities. He stresses that "The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue."[4]

          In comparison to historical homicide rates, even in the United States, homicide is at incredibly low levels. That levels in the US are significantly higher than Western Europe or Japan is certainly of concern. All the same, we currently live in the most peaceful and prosperous times *ever*.

          I'm a bit more than halfway through Pinker's book, and I highly recommend it, both for the data presented and for the cogent analysis of societal and cultural trends which have reduced violence by several orders of magnitude.

          As for marijuana legalization, I suspect that would further decrease violence (unless you're a bag of Doritos or a pint of ice cream) even more.

          --
          No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @10:54PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @10:54PM (#497101)

            Sorry to break some of this view. What you say is generally true but any country that lets in people with more tribalism inclinations and violent culture will push their crime statistics into the violent direction.

            To make full use of this historically unique situation, it's important that cultures have their feedback intact such that groups of people with violent inclinations learn by experience. Otherwise they try to externalize their learning curve onto other people.

            Another significant decline in violence can be seen in the circa 1750s.

            • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Thursday April 20 2017, @11:33PM (1 child)

              What you say is generally true but any country that lets in people with more tribalism inclinations and violent culture will push their crime statistics into the violent direction.

              Please provide some specific examples. Actual data would be especially helpful.

              --
              No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
              • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Monday April 24 2017, @04:38PM

                by Wootery (2341) on Monday April 24 2017, @04:38PM (#498932)

                AC is talking garbage, as they generally are. You're right that Pinker's book is a great read on this topic.

        • (Score: 2) by jdavidb on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:00PM

          by jdavidb (5690) on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:00PM (#497007) Homepage Journal
          If we counted all the killing the US government engages in, it would definitely be one of the largest murderers in the world.
          --
          ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @10:04PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @10:04PM (#497086)

          Why are we still questioning this? Hispanics and blacks. Sorry not sorry. The jails are full of them and their graduation rate and IQ are the lowest of any racial group. They were never part of modern society until the Europeans forced it on them. They cant cope living in a modern, civilized, high tech society. They are feral people who belong in tribes fighting among themselves like they have for thousands of years. They cant cope with living in a civilized society so they revert back to their tribal warfare instincts and form gangs. It's what they have done their entire existence. Hispanic and black gangs are the largest of all gangs including MS13, M18, latin kings, mexican mafia, bloods and crips. So you might mention the aryan brotherhood but you don't hear about them butchering 4 kids alive in a park like MS13 or posting videos of brutal killings on social media like the mexican cartels. They should have been left alone to their own shitty societies.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:12PM (1 child)

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:12PM (#496976) Journal

        Besides (see subject title), murder and theft are still rampant in society,

        That doesn't look very rampant to me. [statista.com]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @11:30PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @11:30PM (#497116)

          Murder and theft are couchant in society?

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:25PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:25PM (#496981)

        So you're saying the dictates you like are agreements; everything else is violently imposed.

        Oh good, and here I thought we might be arguing something objectively.

        • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Monday April 24 2017, @04:41PM

          by Wootery (2341) on Monday April 24 2017, @04:41PM (#498934)

          The difference is whether government is being used to resolve a tragedy of the commons.

          It benefits each of us to agree not to murder. The benefit of the reduced odds of being murdered easily outweigh the downside of no longer getting to murder others, but it takes a government to enforce the prohibition.

          This isn't true of, say, a dictator spending tax money on palaces and cocaine.

      • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Monday April 24 2017, @04:36PM

        by Wootery (2341) on Monday April 24 2017, @04:36PM (#498931)

        Besides (see subject title), murder and theft are still rampant in society, despite such dictates

        You have no idea what you're talking about. Do some reading and get a sense of perspective.

        Back when man lived in a state of nature, the most common cause of death for men was other men. Living in the first-world today, your odds of dying at the hands of another human might not even be 1 in 100.

        If you're serious about this, you'll read The Better Angels of Our Nature [wikipedia.org], a book on precisely this topic: the long-term decline of violence in human society.