Hawaii Senate Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Marijuana

Hawaii's State Capitol.
Hawaii’s State Capitol.

In an applaud-worthy and eye-opening showing of unity, Hawaii’s Senate voted today, unanimously, to approve Senate Bill 472 to decriminalize cannabis possession. The measure would make possession of up to an ounce no longer an arrestable misdemeanor offense, but instead a civil infraction of no more than $1,000.

Last week the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure, also unanimously. The bill is sponsored by 13 of the state’s 25 senators.

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Former DEA Chiefs: It’s “Outrageous” Federal Lawsuits Haven’t Been Filed Against Colorado and Washington

Former DEA heads are getting worried.

In a joint statement being released today, 8 former DEA chiefs are urging President Obama to sue Colorado and Washington to overturn their recent initiatives to legalize the retail sale of cannabis to adults.

In the statement, which was received early by the Associated Press, the group says that the longer they wait, the harder it’ll be for the government to stop these measures. They say that not acting swiftly could create “a domino effect” in which other states will follow.

Read moreFormer DEA Chiefs: It’s “Outrageous” Federal Lawsuits Haven’t Been Filed Against Colorado and Washington

Educating MADD

In 2010, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was one of the most vocal and powerful voices opposed to Proposition 19, the failed ballot effort in California which would have legalized cannabis.DUI-Colorado-MADD

In 2011, MADD furthered this misplaced opposition by partnering with the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy, headed by our nation’s Drug Czar) in a nationally coordinated effort to combat “drugged driving.” In other words; joining forces to oppose common sense cannabis policies, and continuing to spread the same misinformation the ONDCP has become famous for.

In taking this approach, MADD is counteracting their own agenda. By working to defeat the legalization of cannabis, they’re directly responsible for fatalities that could have otherwise been avoided.

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Reminder: States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana Have Seen Fewer Traffic Fatalities

Legalizing medical marijuana decreases the consumption rates of alcohol, which reduces traffic fatalities. This is according to a study released at the end of 2011. Although the study didn’t spread near as much as it deserves, it was picked up by multiple national outlets such as Time Magazine and The Huffington Post.joint

The study was conducted by Montana State University economics professor Mark Anderson, and Daniel Rees, a professor at the University of Colorado, and was published by IZA, the Institute for the Study of Labor. Their research method included the pair using an analysis of data from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Using the data, the study compared traffic fatalities over time in states with and without medical marijuana laws, accounting for changes in each state’s law. The researchers found that fatal car crashes dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical marijuana. A pretty drastic drop.

Read moreReminder: States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana Have Seen Fewer Traffic Fatalities

Reminder: Legalized Medical Marijuana Reduces Suicides, Says Study

Research released last year revealed what might be one of the biggest benefits of a state legalizing medical cannabis; their residents commit suicide at a lower rate.jilly-bean-medical-marijuana-weed-strain-thcf-jillybeanweed

The research, which used comprehensive statistical analysis to come to its conclusion, found that states in the U.S. which have legalized medical cannabis saw a drastically significant reduction in suicides. Unsurprisingly, this was under-publicized in the media.

Overall, medical cannabis states saw a suicide reduction of roughly 5%. Those aged 20-29 saw a reduction of 11%, while those aged 30-39, saw a 9% decrease.

Read moreReminder: Legalized Medical Marijuana Reduces Suicides, Says Study

Reminder: There’s No Such Thing as a Marijuana Overdose

You can’t die from marijuana consumption alone. It’s worth being repeated; no matter how much you consume, regardless of how fast and through what method of inhalation or ingestion, you can’t die from marijuana consumption. It’s non-lethal. 333

This is an anomaly among substances that we as humans can consume. Everything else has a fatal dose, even water. Water, for example, has an easily detectable LD-50; the amount at which consumption will kill half of those who consume that particular amount.

Scientists have yet to discover – and in all reality never will – the LD-50 for marijuana. This infuriates prohibitionists.

Read moreReminder: There’s No Such Thing as a Marijuana Overdose

Arkansas Medical Cannabis Initiative Filed, Aiming for 2014 Ballot

Last year Arkansas came impressively close to being the first state in the south to legalize medical cannabis; Issue 5 garnered 49% of the vote. The measure would have legalized the possession of cannabis for qualified patients, established cannabis dispearkansas-medical-marijuana-thcfindernsaries, and allowed for home-growing for those more than 5 miles from a dispensary.

Now, proponents of Issue 5 are coming back full force, and have filed a similar initiative, attempting to get it on the 2014 general election ballot. Once the Arkansas Attorney General’s office certifies it, proponents will be able to collect signatures to get it on next year;s ballot.

This time, things are different, as Arkansas residents and potential donors know that its passage is undoubtedly a reality. The shift from 49% to 51% is likely to happen simply based on the time lapse between the 2012 election and the 2014 election, as support for medical cannabis is rising, and the reform movement isn’t slowing.

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France Considers Legalizing Marijuana Medicine

The Minister of Health of France, Marisol Touraine, has requested the study and consideration of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine, by the agency that regulates pharmaceutical drugs in the country.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

This is a promising chance for the country to alter their current law, which doesn’t allow for the medical use of cannabis, with the exception of a few dozen people a year given temporary authorizations to use Marinol (a drug containing synthetic THC).

The Ministry of Health’s consideration of legalizing the use of Sativex is causing quite a stir across the country, as many feel this would be the first step towards the full legalization of cannabis.

Read moreFrance Considers Legalizing Marijuana Medicine

Hawaii House Unanimously Passes Hemp Bill

In an applaud-worthy bipartisan showing of support for considering hemp as the commodity it is, Hawaii’s House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 154, to establish a state-funded starter program examining the benefits of hemp.

Sprouting hemp plants.
Sprouting hemp plants.

More specifically, the primary focus of the research will be phytoremediation, the process by which a plant draws toxins out the soil (such as in Chernobyl); hemp is said to be one of the best plants for this process

In addition, lawmakers expanded the research to include examining hemp as a biofuel feedstock.

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DEA Set to Lose Over $150 Million in Funding

Thanks to the incoming government sequester, automatic budget cuts are put in place today, March 1st. As part of these budget cuts, the Drug Enforcement Administration is set to lose $166 million in funding.budget-cut-photo

This cut will drop the overall funding of the DEA to a level it hasn’t been at since the 2002-2003 budgetary calendar.

In addition, numerous other government agencies that perpetuate the drug war will be getting a cut. Here’s a breakdown of where the funding will be trimmed.

Read moreDEA Set to Lose Over $150 Million in Funding