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posted by takyon on Monday April 20 2015, @08:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the too-long-didn't-read-just-blaze-it dept.

April 20th (420) is a celebration of stoner/cannabis culture. In recent years, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana has accelerated as public opinion has shifted, so there are more reasons to celebrate...

In a #rare coincidence, April 19th, 1943 was the day that chemist Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the hallucinogenic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Vice has an article about that day and the subsequent history of LSD. Claims of "DNA damage" and adverse mental health effects have been long since debunked, and research into the safety and potential benefits of psychedelics is gaining acceptance.

Vice also has an article today about the quest to create the most "powerful" strain of weed. The reliability of testing methods is questioned, but it is clear that legalization has allowed growers to share and experiment. New strains can now regularly achieve tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels above 20%, compared to an average of 1.37% in 1978 and 8.5% in 2008. RB-26's Gorilla Glue 4 regularly tests above 25%, and has been measured as much as a staggering 33.5% THC by weight. As fun as it might be to hit these milestones, Kayvan Khalatbari, the co-founder of Denver Relief asks "What really is the difference between 33 percent and 28 percent on the effect that its providing you with? That's like saying there's a big difference between 55 proof alcohol and 60 proof alcohol. With THC, once you get into the upper 20s, it's all the same thing."

Weed may be a fun way to induce euphoria, but it and its components are also used for legitimate medical treatments across the country. Sanjay Gupta's upcoming documentary WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution identifies 10 diseases where marijuana could have an impact, according to early research. HIV/AIDS patients have taken it to improve sleep, mood, and appetite. THC may halt the development of amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer's. It can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation. Some studies have shown a reduction of asthma symptoms (others report a tightening in chests and throats — perhaps vaping should be considered rather than smoking). "Marijuana cures cancer" is a meme with some truth to it: extracts have been shown to kill certain cancer cells and THC can improve the impact of radiation therapy. It can also be used to control nausea following chemotherapy treatment. Cannabis-based medicines have been widely used to treat chronic pain as well as Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. Trials have shown a reduction in epileptic seizure frequency. THC may help to slow the progression of glaucoma. All told, not bad for a drug on the Schedule I list with "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

Several state legislatures and localities have considered marijuana-related legislative measures in recent days. A Wisconsin state representative introduced a bill on the 13th that would legalize marijuana, but it is highly unlikely to pass. In a political move to drum up support for legalization in Vermont, two representatives introduced a bill that would reinstate alcohol prohibition. "The object was to basically embarrass leadership to say that we have [marijuana legalization bills] in front of us, and they're going absolutely nowhere," said Rep. Jean O'Sullivan. "We're certainly not going to ban alcohol, but when you say you'll let a drug like that be legalized and then you have a drug like marijuana that's far safer that's still banned, it's completely ironic." The Cook County State's Attorney in Chicago, Anita Alvarez, is planning to implement an "alternative prosecution program" that would divert repeat low-level drug offenders out of the criminal justice system. Newly-reelected Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the ordinance.

2016 will see a spate of new ballot initiatives that may normalize marijuana in additional states. Massachusetts advocates Bay State Repeal have submitted draft language for a ballot question that would legalize marijuana but not establish a tax. Arizona voters could vote on the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act to permit recreational marijuana and growth in private residences, establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, and enact a 20.6% sales tax on recreational marijuana. In California, dispensary-locating startup has donated $2 million to Californians for Sensible Reform, which supports what the app developer feels is the strongest marijuana legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot. The Ballotpedia encyclopedia has a list of marijuana ballot measures slated for 2016 that you can bookmark.

New legalization efforts will build upon the successes and failures of the "experiments" in Colorado and Washington (as well as Oregon and Alaska). Medical Daily has a glowing evaluation of Colorado legalization. Governor John Hickenlooper, who had opposed legalization, has admitted that a teenage "a-pot-calypse" did not occur and that drugged driving hasn't increased in frequency. Although other states have seen increased traffic fatalities after medical marijuana legalization, Colorado's have dropped and legalization has had no effect between 2013 and 2014. Recreational weed sales have generated $53 million in tax revenue. That's short of the $70 million that was expected, but the state is also saving over $40 million in reduced law enforcement costs due to decriminalization. Crime has also declined. NYT columnist Maureen Dowd's edible "overdose" shocker and a rise in child hospital visits for accidental ingestion of edibles have prompted the industry to label serving sizes more clearly and implement child-resistant packaging. For April 20th, Colorado law enforcement are promoting a "safe pot use" message focused primarily on preventing DUIs.

In Washington state, a bill that will tighten medical marijuana regulations has been approved. The measure will phase out "collective marijuana gardens," create a voluntary database of medical marijuana patients, and set new standards for medical marijuana authorization. A companion bill would "restructure how marijuana is taxed, create a marijuana-research license and give cities financial incentive to not ban pot businesses." Seattle is also planning additional regulations to crack down on lightly regulated medical marijuana businesses. Marijuana businesses already face regulatory uncertainty. For example, the state's Liquor Control Board uses a lottery to approve new dispensaries.

National polling has shown that marijuana supporters are gradually "winning the battle for hearts and minds." A Pew Research Center survey indicates that 53% of Americans support marijuana legalization. More supporters than opponents indicated that they had changed their minds on the issue. Oddly, 16% of legalization opponents said that "marijuana should be illegal because it is illegal." A solid 59% of Democrats and 58% of independents now support legalization, but Republican support has risen from 21% in 2006 to 39% today. Although some 2016 Republican hopefuls say they want the states to make decisions about marijuana, Chris Christie has recently come out against legalization, saying that the federal government should enforce federal marijuana laws in states that allow use. Pew's survey found that just 43% of Republicans support that position. A Bloomberg poll has found that 58% of Americans believe that marijuana will be legal nationwide within 20 years.

At the federal level, progress on marijuana continues to be glacial. Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the United States District Court in Sacramento declined to remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration's Schedule I list. The conflict between state laws, federal laws, and treaty obligations remains unresolved. President Obama has come out in support of medical marijuana and scaling back the drug war. However, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has sent mixed signals on decriminalization. The DoJ has previously deferred its right to challenge legalization laws, but has recently flaunted a bipartisan amendment that prohibited the Dept. from spending money to undermine medical marijuana laws.

The marijuana issue remains divisive. The Washington Post reports that a cannabis oil activist was arrested after her 11-year-old son defended medical marijuana during a drug "education" presentation. Shona Banda faces a custody battle for her son today. In another article, former anti-marijuana campaigners reflect on the 70s and 80s movement against decriminalization. "Back in the 1980s, there were just as many African American parents involved in the movement as there were whites," said Joyce Nalepka. "Everyone thought we could turn things around if we had the time to organize and save these kids. Back then, we were able to educate parents and adults in the District and across the country. We had support from families and from leaders." She does not see that support in the statements by President Obama and Congress members who have spoken openly about their own marijuana use. Although some members of Congress have threatened city officials over Washington D.C.'s Initiative 71, the "incomplete reform" remains intact.

Employers are another major obstacle to full implementation of marijuana reform. Companies are choosing whether or not to drive away employees that test positive for marijuana, and some employees are suing (often unsuccessfully), saying that state laws allow them to use marijuana away from work. One-in-five Denver employers reported that they would "make their drug-testing policies more stringent" after Colorado's legalization.

You made it to the end.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @12:42AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @12:42AM (#173341)

    That's as bad os 04-20-2015.

    "Bad" is a factor of what you're doing with that date. If you're storing it in a computer, it's "bad". If you're showing it to humans to read, it's "good". Why? Because it's intuitive to english speakers, it matches the way we usually say the date out-loud.

    You'll notice I'm putting good and bad in quotes. The reason for that is that, despite what a lot of programmers think, there is no good or bad until context is established. When you are inflexible about what good or bad is you risk writing terrible software.

  • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Tuesday April 21 2015, @01:19AM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Tuesday April 21 2015, @01:19AM (#173350) Journal

    Except some English speakers, e.g., in canada, put days before the month, making 3-8-2015 pretty hard to figure right (it being 2015-08-03).

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @01:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @01:28AM (#173354)
      And that perfectly illustrates why context is the deciding factor of "good" or "bad".
    • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Tuesday April 21 2015, @07:14AM

      by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Tuesday April 21 2015, @07:14AM (#173426)

      It so sad, it means Europeans and Canadians all miss out on the wonderful 4-20 sales at the local pot store......I feel for you all, so I will now smoke a big ol' bowl of Girl Scout Cookies (22% THC) topped with some marvelous Nitro Honey Oil (51% THC) in the hopes you all get to join us at some point in the future!

      My Strawberry Sour Diesel and my White Widow are only a few weeks from harvest.....oh how I love living in Washington State, lakes, forests, mountains, legal weed....just doesn't get much better!

      Alex Jones lawyer inspires new TV series: CSI Moron Division.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ox0000 on Tuesday April 21 2015, @08:34AM

    by Ox0000 (5111) on Tuesday April 21 2015, @08:34AM (#173449)

    Because it's intuitive to english speakers, it matches the way we usually say the date out-loud.

    Do your maps say "there be dragons" in areas that are non-English speaking? You are aware that there is a large amount of world outside of the English speaking one, right?

    Also, regarding how we say the date out loud: "4th of July"

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @06:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @06:58PM (#173629)

      You are aware that there is a large amount of world outside of the English speaking one, right?

      Yes. That's why the people that speak other languages get to read stuff in their own languages instead of being forced to translate english.

      Also, regarding how we say the date out loud: "4th of July"

      For those of you just tuning in this date is a holiday in the United States and has about as strong as a rebuttal as arguing that the acting in the Phantom Menace was actually really good because Ewan McGregor cried when Quai Gon was stabbed.

      And if you're going to argue with that then: "The September 11th Attacks." Ah, there we go, stalemate. That's even what they call it over-seas. (Fortunately for you I intend to take the high road and NOT use this example to claim that's how the date is used outside of the U.S. because it is a special case... just like our Independence Day.)

      Anyway, the way we say the date 363 times a year (cinco de mayo is the other example) is "April 21st, 2015". And if you don't believe me, watch TV. Here's an example: [] That's the Daily Show, that's how it's announced every time. That's also how it's announced on the news, movie trailers, you name it. In fact, when you take a foreign langauge in high school, Spanish for example, they make a special point of telling you that they reverse the order of the month and the day when spoken out loud. "21 de Abril de 2015".

      This is how the language is used, here. Is it right? Is it wrong? Doesn't matter. That's the way it is and if you're a programmer you ain't changin it. If you're a programmer the context of how these dates work matters because if you start confusing the people using your software, that's your problem, not that of the 350 million people who are who they are. Does it suck? Yep. It turns out work is not a synonym for "happy-fun-time". Productivity matters. Sorry.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @09:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @09:12AM (#173454)

    Nonsense, you've just made a habit out of it, but that doesn't make it anything else than bad.
    It would be like saying "using metric instead of inches, feet, yards, etc." is bad because a few (relatively speaking) people have made a habit out of it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @07:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21 2015, @07:14PM (#173635)
      And this is exactly why you would be a lousy programmer.