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May 31, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column: Response to pot issue isn't what you think

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, May 31, 2008

From the May 28, 2008 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel comes this response from columnist Jim Stingl to the response to his recent column on cannabis click here.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 28, 2008 click here.

Response to pot issue isn't what you think

Jim Stingl

You might think I'd get hammered for writing a column calling for legalization of marijuana. The opposite is true.

"Amen, brotha," wrote Joe, one of nearly 100 readers who responded to Friday's article. Four out of five agreed with me, and I'm sure they're not all raving potheads.

"I am not a user of marijuana. I am, however, tired of seeing huge amounts of funds used for chasing the demons dreamed up by our leaders, both local and nationally," said Bill.

Wrote another: "I am a white suburban 44-year-old wife, mother and professional woman. I completely agree with everything you said regarding the legalization, decriminalization and taxation of marijuana . . . I also do not think it is a 'gateway' drug for adults who use it responsibly for pain relief, chronic anxiety conditions, or just to relax after a stressful day."

The column followed police raids last week that netted 2,000 pot plants and five arrests. Oak Creek Police Chief Tom Bauer said it was an "interesting read," but he didn't like my assertion that his department and others turned the bust into a media show.

(snip)

Continues: click here.


Posted by Gary at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2008

Hemp farming in Wisconsin explored in Wausau Farm Bill Column

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jim Maas of Rothschild, a member of the executive committee of the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin, had a column about the federal farm bill that included support for hemp farming in Wisconsin published in the Wausau Daily Herald.

COLUMN: Farm bill hurts farmers, us
Source: Wausau Daily Herald
Read Original article: click here

(snip)

We need to get the feds out of the pork business and let American farmers farm — no promises, no interference. One crop might be industrial hemp. Wisconsin was the leading industrial hemp producer in the country during the first half of the 20th century — and then the government decided hemp looks too much like marijuana.

The first American flags were made of hemp; both Washington and Jefferson raised hemp; Ben Franklin printed publications on hemp paper; American ships were caulked and rigged with hemp; and hemp played an important role in both world wars.

Hemp has thousands of uses. Besides fibers for paper and textiles, it can be used for biodegradable plastics, health food and fuel. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, replenishes soil with nutrients and nitrogen, controls erosion of the topsoil and produces a lot of oxygen. The downside? Our government prohibits its use.

(snip)


Posted by Gary at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2008

Wisconsin roots in Bob Barr’s conversion to Libertarian party presidential nominee

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, May 26, 2008

On Sunday, former congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) received the Libertarian Party presidential nomination at their convention in Denver. But how did a right-wing ideologue like Barr, who championed the USA PATRIOT Act, authored and sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, and blocked the counting of votes in a Washington DC medical marijuana initiative end up being the nominee of a party that embraces freedom and is named after liberty?

Well, I’d say it all began back on Thursday, October 21, 1999, when I joined my friends Jim and Cheryl Miller and fellow Wisconsin medical cannabis activist Jacki Rickert (The Medical Marijuana Commando Squad) for a protest at Barr’s Capitol Hill office. Cheryl Miller was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1971 and by 1999 had become completely paralyzed from the neck down.

commsquadbarr.jpg
The “Commando Squad” at Barr’s Capitol Hill office on Thursday, October 21, 1999.

It began when Jim placed Cheryl on a mattress in Barr’s office doorway, with Jacki on the right in her wheelchair and me on the left, and explained our mission while performing a “spasticity demonstration” on Cheryl’s afflicted limbs. Later, after supporters inside Barr’s office began chanting, “Bob Barr has gone too far,” Capitol Police broke up the demonstration, arresting Jim and placing Cheryl back in her wheelchair, sans padding.


Here's the video of the action at Barr's: .


return2_Barr_Office_4.24.01.jpg
Group shot outside Barr's office in 2001 that led to 30 minute detainment by Capitol Police at Barr's orders.

Returning to Barr’s office in April 2001 to pose for a group shot outside, our little commando squad was then detained and questioned for a half hour by Capitol Police as we were exiting the building, on Barr’s orders.

In July 2002, I was back in Washington for a Capitol Hill press conference for NORML click here with Jim and Cheryl Miller and Reps. Barney Frank, Ron Paul and others announcing the introduction of Frank’s States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act. Later, the late Libertarian filmmaker and activist Ron Crickenberger shot footage of Cheryl and me for use in LP tv commercials highlighting medical marijuana patients, including one used in Ed Thompson’s 2002 Wisconsin gubernatorial campaign.

Crickenberger also filmed Cheryl for a commercial targeting Bob Barr, who had been redistricted into a primary against another Republican incumbent. Run on behalf of the Libertarian candidate, the devastating commercial, voice over stating Bob Barr wants to jail patients like Cheryl with her asking, “Why would you do that me, Bob?,” aired thousands of times. Although polling gave him an 18-point lead going into the election, when the dust cleared, Barr was defeated. The powerful words of the seriously ill Cheryl had clearly struck a nerve with voters, and Barr’s congressional career had come to a sudden end.

Watch Cheryl's commercial here: .

It seems Barr’s awakening and transition from tyrant to civil libertarian had a lot to do with this extraordinary woman who, despite near total immobilization from multiple sclerosis, had the courage to go to Capitol Hill and stick up for medical cannabis patients like herself. Cheryl died on June 7, 2003 from complications of MS. A memorial, including a candlelight vigil at the US Supreme Court, was held for her in September 2003. Cheryl would have been 62 on May 21, 2008.

Barr himself acknowledged the power of Cheryl when he met Jim Miller at a talk in New York last year. His conversion shows that even the most hardened opponent of medical cannabis is capable of seeing the light. May that light shine into the cold hearts of the many elected officials still working against we the people to keep this medicine from patients who need it today.

Posted by Gary at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2008

Letter in Capital Times: Good time to end reefer madness

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Madison's Capital Times published my letter about cannabis decriminalization today!

Source: Capital Times click here
Pubdate: May 24, 2008
Author: Gary Storck

GOOD TIME TO END REEFER MADNESS

Dear Editor: Several weeks ago the Cap Times editorialized in support of cannabis (marijuana) decriminalization and cited federal legislation, HR 5843, that was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. You also noted you hoped that Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, would become a co-sponsor.

On May 20, Rep. Baldwin was officially listed as the bill's third co-sponsor. Let's hope Tammy's courage to lead on this issue inspires her colleagues to join her in signing on. Baldwin also co-sponsored HR 5842, which would protect medical cannabis patients acting legally under state laws. Tammy has been a reliable supporter throughout her career of medical cannabis patients and families.

While protecting patients has a fair amount of support, there is a growing consensus in Congress that removing criminal penalties for responsible personal cannabis use also makes sense. In addition to the Frank bill in the House, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., expressed support for cannabis decriminalization while running for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has written in his new book, "A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America," that "the time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana."

Today, more than ever, cannabis decriminalization makes perfect sense. It's time to put reefer madness behind us and reap the myriad benefits the cannabis plant offers society.

Gary Storck

Madison


Posted by Gary at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2008

Journal-Sentinel columnist urges cannabis legalization

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, May 23, 2008

What a nice surprise to find a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, Jim Stingl, acknowledging the drug war has failed and urging the legalization of cannabis! Read on!

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here
Pubdate: May 23, 2008
Author: Jim Stingl

DRUG POLICY CHASES WEEDS, MISSES NEEDS

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the space shuttle Challenger had exploded.

Notebook in hand, I was watching the police toss bales of seized marijuana into a power plant furnace in Green Bay where I was a reporter at the time. It was quite the media event.

The aroma was pungent and the message was clear: Watch out druggies. This is war.

That was 22 years ago, and I have little doubt that dope smoking in Titletown and everywhere else goes along as usual. It was all for show.

Same with the big pot bust this week in Oak Creek, Franklin and Sturtevant. Five people were arrested, and more than 2,000 plants were discovered in four homes that had been turned into the horticultural equivalent of the Mitchell Park Domes.

Someday the police will seize marijuana plants without feeling the need to stage a show-and-tell where TV cameras can linger over the lush greenery. I understand why they always call in the media. It was, in the words of one police official, a once-in-a-career bust.

But do you feel safer now? Is the problem of drug abuse in America any closer to being solved? Is this sweep anything but the tiniest dent in the availability of marijuana for people who want it?

I'm not blaming police. They're on the front lines of an endless and expensive drug war, carrying out what they think America wants.

But do we? I'd like to see prison space used instead for the repeat drunken drivers whom we're reluctant to charge as felons because there's no room to lock them up. They're a real menace.

Show me some news video of a roomful of drunk drivers connected together in leg irons. That's a lot scarier than these weeds that make people giggle and crave junk food.

Come to think of it, we should just legalize marijuana for adults and stop wasting so much time, energy and billions of dollars protecting people from themselves while locking up otherwise law-abiding citizens. Keep the harder stuff illegal, but regulate and tax legal weed. Pretty radical suggestion, I know, especially when you see how difficult it is to get even medical marijuana approved.

Alcohol is much more dangerous and deadly and ruinous to families, and it flows legally just about everywhere you go. Marijuana rarely kills anyone, except when users unwisely and illegally drive high, but its evil is assumed to be self-evident. Maybe it's that exotic j in the middle of the word.

Think of the money we'd save by not conducting three-month multi-jurisdictional investigations like this one that result in a few arrests and a bonfire. Then we could afford to offer more treatment to people who abuse drugs and need help more than punishment.

We've taken small steps in this direction. First-time possession of marijuana is treated as an ordinance violation rather than a crime in Milwaukee and other places. But then it's hammer time. Subsequent arrests, even for possession, can turn into a felony and incarceration.

The drug war is especially brutal, a recent study of Wisconsin found, if your skin happens to be anything but white. The criminal justice system winds up having a more detrimental effect on a person than the drug ever would.

(snip)

Continues: click here.

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at jstingl@journalsentinel.com

Posted by Gary at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2008

Marijuana decriminalized in City of Milwaukee 11 years ago today

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, May 22, 2008

DRCNET’s Drug War Chronicle: This Week in History reminds us that it has been 11 years since the City of Milwaukee very belatedly decriminalized minor cannabis possession cases. For years, the surrounding suburbs had mostly started citing people for minor possession while Milwaukee continued to arrest and jail people for a few grams or less. Finally, in 1997, Milwaukee began decriminalization.

May 22, 1997: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mayor John Norquist signs a measure into law decriminalizing first time possession of small amounts of marijuana after the proposal squeaks by the city council. -- Drug War Chronicle click here


NORML: Milwaukee Moves To Decriminalize Marijuana click here

May 22, 1997 - Milwaukee, WI, USA

Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist signed a measure into law decriminalizing the first time possession of small amounts of marijuana after the proposal squeaked by the city council.

The legislation, which passed on May 13, allows prosecutors to charge 25 grams or less of marijuana as a municipal ordinance violation rather than a crime. Fines will range from $250 to $500 or imprisonment of up to 20 days. Offenders would also have the option of performing community service or receiving substance abuse education.

Under state law, any first offense possession is a criminal charge punishable by a $1,000 minimum fine and up to six months in jail. Prosecutors in Milwaukee still have the option to bring more serious charges under state law.

Alderman Michael Murphy, who sponsored the measure, said that this bill may not be "politically popular," but was about "fundamental fairness." Murphy noted that most suburban towns surrounding Milwaukee punish first time marijuana offenders with municipal tickets, not criminal sanctions. "Nobody wants to be soft on crime, but we want uniformity in prosecution of these cases."

An aide to the mayor called the ordinance "fair to the citizens of Milwaukee."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.


The following is taken from the May 14, 1997 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Milwaukee aldermen cite fairness in easing marijuana punishment

Norquist OKs making pot possession a municipal matter, as it is in suburbs

By Mike Nichols of the Journal Sentinel staff

May 14, 1997

At a time when politicians of all stripes preach punishment and take a hard line against drug offenders, the Common Council voted 9-8 Tuesday essentially to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Mayor John Norquist immediately signed the legislation into law, and a spokesman for him called it "reasonable."

"It is fair to the citizens of Milwaukee," said Norquist aide Jeff Fleming, "and with the penalty provisions in the ordinance, this new law maintains firm consequences for anyone convicted of marijuana possession."

Council members were split as to whether the move was a foolish retreat from the war on drugs or a gutsy stand against excessive penalties.

Proponents of decriminalization argue that, like it or not, many people in society have used marijuana and gone on to successful and productive lives.

Until now, that's been easier in the suburbs, where first-time offenders -- often wealthier, white youths -- are usually given municipal tickets and a second chance. In Milwaukee, offenders who often are African-American have been subject to criminal penalties and records that can bear a lifelong stain.

Ald. Michael Murphy, sponsor of the decriminalization, said his position "is not politically popular, but quite honestly it is an issue of fundamental fairness."

Opponents countered that decriminalization is not an issue of color, but of right and wrong. They worry about the message being sent to children, but also cite more tangible concerns such as the use of marijuana as a gateway drug and the effects on healthy bodies of what some argue is increasingly potent pot.

Ald. James Witkowiak said he is not opposed to giving someone a break for a first offense, but he questioned whether those who are labeled first-time offenders are really novices. Most start using marijuana, he suggested, long before they are caught by police.

"If anything," he said, "we should lobby the suburbs to change their laws to match ours."

The ordinance passed Tuesday allows prosecutors to charge 25 grams or less of marijuana as a municipal ordinance violation rather than a crime. Fines will range from $250 to $500 or imprisonment of up to 20 days. Offenders would also have the option of performing community service or getting substance abuse education.

Prosecutors still could bring more serious charges under state law, so technically Murphy's proposal is not outright decriminalization. District Attorney E. Michael McCann supports the ordinance, however, and has indicated he would prefer that charges be brought in municipal court. McCann was a key topic of discussion Tuesday.

Aldermen said they were unable to get clear statistics regarding prosecutions, but Ald. Thomas Nardelli suggested McCann might be "dumping" some of his workload on the municipal courts. Ald. Daniel Schramm said he thought aldermen were being "snookered" by the district attorney's office.

Ald. Fred Gordon took exception to the remarks, defended McCann and said the issue is one of fairness and equality. McCann could not be reached Tuesday evening, but he has said he supports the ordinance because of inequities between how similar cases are handled in the suburbs and the city. His office also has denied that the issue has anything to do with workload.

Tuesday was not the first time the Common Council has voted in favor of decriminalization. In 1985, aldermen did the same thing, but Mayor Henry Maier vetoed it.


Posted by Gary at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2008

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to cosponsor federal medical cannabis and cannabis decriminalization bills HR 5842 & HR 5843

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good news today from Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s office! Tammy will be cosponsoring both federal cannabis bills introduced in the House this session: HR 5842, A BILL To provide for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States click here, and HR 5843, A Bill To eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use, and for other purposes click here.

Big thanks to Rep. Baldwin for continuing to support medical cannabis patients as well as ending the criminalization of responsible adult cannabis consumers. Once again she has shown the courage to lead on these issues.

The question remains whether other members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation will join with Rep. Baldwin. While Democratic colleagues David Obey, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore voted for the Hinchey Amendment, which would have prohibited the use of federal funds to target medical marijuana in states where it is legal, none has yet cosponsored medical cannabis legislation. Certainly no one expects any of the three Republicans; Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri, to join with fellow Republicans like Ron Paul or Dana Rohrabacher in cosponsoring these bills.

The remaining WI Democrat, Rep. Steve Kagen, as readers may remember, insulted his constituents last summer by joining with most congressional Republicans in voting against the Hinchey Amendment, “Steve Kagen votes to arrest medical marijuana patients: John Gard would approveclick here. Now, with John Gard again his opponent this fall in a tight race he barely won last time, Kagen needs to find a way to lure back voters he alienated by voting against medical marijuana patients. Cosponsoring these two bills might help Kagen regain the trust and support of voters he lost with his Hinchey betrayal, in a race where he will need every vote.

Our thoughts also go out to Sen. Ted Kennedy today click here. Kennedy sponsored federal marijuana decriminalization 30 years ago in the US Senate, only to see it turned back by Sen. Orrin Hatch and others click here. There is some hope today. Beside the Frank bill in the House, Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) expressed support for cannabis decriminalization while running for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has written in his new book, A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America, that, "The time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana." click here.

So, if you are a constituent of Tammy Baldwin, please thank her for cosponsoring HR 5842 and HR 5843. For extra credit, call Senators Feingold and Kohl and request that they consider sponsoring Senate versions of these bills. And for you outside Tammy’s district, please call and write your reps and ask them to join Tammy Baldwin in cosponsoring this legislation.

Posted by Gary at 08:33 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2008

Industrial hemp resolution derided at WI state GOP convention in Stevens Point

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, May 19, 2008

In the Wisconsin Legislature's 2007-2008 session, Rep. Gene Hahn (R-Cambria) introduced AB 146, which would have created a state commission to look into hemp farming in WI, hemp farming being already legal under state law. I attended the hearing on April 18, 2007, where the bill was lauded by GOP committee members who ultimately joined the GOP committee chair and Democratic members in unanimously passing the bill out of committee. Still, GOP Speaker Mike Huebsch did not allow a floor vote for AB 146, despite wide support from his caucus and the public, particulary the agricultural community.

According to a post on a website called Nolan Chart, The Insurgent columnist: Hoopydoo, click here, at last weekend's GOP state convention in Stevens Point, a resolution supporting industrial hemp was not only voted down but derided by the state chair and others with the usual jokes about smoking pot. Add this to the Republican National Committee's outburst against Barack Obama's positive statements on medical cannabis click here, and you can see why the GOP is not winning over many new members these days. It is only the Ron Pauls and sometimes the Gene Hahns of the party that are showing any common sense.

Source: Nolan Chartclick here

(snip)

When Vernon Delegate Adam Bachman offered an industrial hemp amendment to the "Climate Change and Environment" resolution, the callow Priebus mocked, "I'm sorry, I thought you said industrial hemp?" prompting the typical childish snickering that was the standard reaction to radical' ideas that aren't Party Approved'.

Nonetheless, Bachman courageously went on to make a powerfully coherent and reasoned case for it's exploration as alternative fuel and clothing source, citing it's durability as a fabric, and noting Wisconsin's role as a key producer of hemp during World War II.

But ignorance won the day, as whisperings of "marijuana" and "smoking dope" suffused the majority. In the minds of the party hacks, Bachman was proposing the legalization of pot.

(snip)

Posted by Gary at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2008

Bill Clinton claims not to remember 1992 campaign encounter with Jacki Rickert

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Last February Ben Masel and I picketed an appearance by former president Bill Clinton at the University of Wisconsin Stock Pavilion click here. We were there to remind Mr. Clinton, who was there to campaign for his wife Hillary, of a 15 and half year old promise he made to our friend Jacki Rickert during a campaign appearance in Osseo WI in 1992, shortly before the election. Today is Jacki’s birthday, so I thought it would be a good day to share this update.

16 years later, Bill Clinton finally gets asked, “Where’s Jacki’s Medicine?”

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, February 14, 2008

I was on the phone with Jacki right after it happened. Ben Masel and I had been standing across the street from the Stock Pavilion on the University of Wisconsin campus, waiting in the cold for the arrival of former president Bill Clinton. We were there today, holding signs that read, “Where’s Jacki’s Medicine?,” attempting to remind Mr. Clinton that as a candidate for president in 1992, he had met with Jacki Rickert at a campaign stop in Osseo, WI, and promised her he would make right the bureaucratic nightmare that had been holding up the delivery of the federal medical marijuana supplies that her doctor had gained approval for her to use.

Finally, there was a burst of activity as numerous cars pulled up. Ben noticed Bill Clinton exiting from a vehicle just inside a garage door across the street from our position. We waved our signs and shouted, “Where’s Jacki’s Medicine?” He was across the street maybe 40 yards tops and as Ben noted, “made eye contact.” He could then be seen talking to state Democratic Party chair Joe Wineke, who Ben had explained the Jacki Rickert story to when we came across him on Sept. 18, 2007, as the “Quest for Justice” last mile wheelchair march up State St. reached the Capitol for a press conference announcing the introduction of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (AB 550). Click here to read entire post.

Ben ran into Joe Wineke not too long ago and posted this report on Daily Kos: Click here.

WI Dem Chair Joe Wineke, who was escorting Bill, recently told me Bill had asked the meaning of the sign. Joe, who'd met Jacki at the ceremony marking the introduction of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act in the State Legislature click here, recounted the 1992 encounter for him. Bill denied remembering his 1992 meeting.

Ben's post was followed by this post:

Interesting considering that Clinton is said to remember every meeting with everybody. When I met him the second time, well into his first term, he certainly remembered the first time he and I met, in 1986, at the home of Stanley Sheinbaum, where Robert Scheer spoke about the end of the Cold War and Bill followed a young woman around like a bloodhound for half an hour. by Meteor Blades on Wed May 07, 2008 at 11:03:09 PM PDT

I guess if I promised a very sick woman I'd see to it that she got her medicine if I were elected president and then failed to do so in my eight years in office, I'd be so ashamed and embarassed that I'd claim not to remember too.

Posted by Gary at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2008

Friday morning cannabis breakfast news!

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, May 09, 2008

Three items of interest this morning from around the state:

1) Good news for a California truck driver who was acquitted by a La Crosse County jury on charges of transporting a half-ton of cannabis among his tomatoes. Here’s details from WKBT television in La Crosse: “California Man Not Guilty in Pot Trial” click here

2) Bad news for the Ex-Brown Co. WI GOP leader who is facing trial for charges including having sex with an underage boy he gave beer and pot to. Sad tale of the fall of a Republican leader who once worked closely with Mark Green, John Gard and other NE WI GOP notables. PostCrescent.Com: “Ex-Brown Co. GOP leader faces trial on sex charges” click here.

3) Meanwhile, the Capital Times is reporting yet another Wisconsin State Assembly representative will not be seeking reelection this fall, bringing the number to 7 so far. Of that number, 3 are Democrats who have been consistent and reliable sponsors or cosponsors of medical cannabis legislation, (Frank Boyle, Barb Gronemus and Dave Travis). The 4 Republicans are all regarded as moderates, and several have sponsored, cosponsored or supported medical cannabis, hemp or cannabis decriminalization bills. Capital Times: “Rep. Jeskewitz won't run; Assembly retirements now up to 7” click here.

LATE BULLETIN 9:49 am May 9:

Make that 8!

Rep. Sheryl Albers Will Not Run for Re-Election
Veteran Reedsburg Republican Cites Inability to Physically Run
Campaign That She Believes Needs to Be Run click here.


Posted by Gary at 04:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2008

Wisconsin native's "Try legal Weed" City of Weed CA-produced microbrew slogan draws feds ire

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl relates a true tale that illustrates that Marijuana prohibition cuts so deep in our society that federal bureaucrats won't even allow a former Wisconsinite now living in Weed, California to use the humorous slogan, "Try legal Weed" to promote his Weed CA-brewed beer. Read on...

Careful, that bottle cap could confuse you
Original article: click here
By JIM STINGL
Posted: May 6, 2008

Vaune Dillmann grew up in South Milwaukee but long ago went off in search of weed. Make that Weed, as in the city in northern California.

In 2004, Dillmann opened the Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. and started producing Weed ales and lagers from mountain spring water. He topped each beer bottle with a cap that reads: "Try legal Weed."

"It's a play on words," he said, and a bit of innocent fun. Same with the brewery T-shirt that says: "100% pure Weed."

The feds, not known for liking fun, recently ordered him to stop using the caps.

"We interpret it as a drug reference," Art Resnick told me. He's the spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in Washington. "It's misleading as to the possibility of what's in the beverage and possible effects of the beverage."

In that case, there would be a lot of confused people walking around Dillmann's town, which has a population of 3,000 and a fitting altitude of 3,440 feet.

"We have a Weed college here. We have a Weed high. We have a Weed elementary. We have a Weed police. We have a Weed city council, a Weed cemetery. Everything is Weed here," Dillmann said.

He recalls the time he and his wife, Barbara, went along on a school field trip to San Francisco by bus. "On the side it said Weed High. There were so many tourists wanting to take their pictures next to that name on the side of the bus, they wouldn't let us out. What a trip, huh?"

Weed city administrator Earl Wilson has heard all the jokes. For a while there was an exit sign along Interstate 5 that gave travelers a choice that seemed profound: Weed to the right, college to the left. Photo seekers became a traffic hazard, and folks tried to steal the sign.

"People gotta have fun in life," Wilson said.

Now 61, Dillmann moved out to California when he was 20. His family ran a beer and liquor warehouse in Milwaukee. His great-great-grandfather, Peter Victor Deuster, started the newspaper in 1882 that became The Milwaukee Journal, which Dillmann delivered as a kid.

It's ironic that he's in trouble over drugs when he has never tried marijuana or any other illegal substance, he swears. And he's not encouraging anyone else to inhale.

He's a law-abiding civic booster who helped write his city's mission statement to make sure people are high on Weed. But you never know what kind of tourists you're going to get when the freeway signs say, "Weed, next three exits."

The story of Dillmann's fight with the bottle cap narcs has spread worldwide. He said he's received a thousand e-mails, all supporting him. He's been using the "Try legal Weed" caps for four years now on his various brews, and no one is confused that this would have them literally living the high life.

"It says try legal Weed, not illegal weed," Dillmann said. "It's with a capital W. It's the man's surname."

He means Abner Weed, namesake of this city in Mount Shasta's shadow, founder of the first lumber mill and later a senator of the state that would give us the Doobie Brothers.

Dillmann has appealed the alcohol bureau's order, arguing among other things that maybe Budweiser had drugs on its mind, too, when it told us, "This Bud's for you."

Until this all gets hashed out, Weed beer will come with plain bottle caps. When and if Dillmann gets the all-clear signal, 400,000 "Try legal Weed" caps sit waiting in an Oakland warehouse.

"One guy said I'll buy 3,000. Box them up and send them," he said. In terms of free advertising, this government crackdown has been the best thing ever to happen to Dillmann and his beer.

Unfortunately, you can't buy Weed beer in Wisconsin, not even this playfully named brew that could stir up even more refrigerator madness: Shastafarian Porter.

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at jstingl@journalsentinel.com

Posted by Gary at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2008

Capital Times: Decriminalize marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Despite their liberal reputation, the Capital Times, like most papers, has never published enough editorials supporting drug policy reform.

Today comes this welcome editorial urging support for Barney Frank's new federal cannabis decriminalization bill. Unfortunately there is no mention of Frank's companion bill, sponsored along with Ron Paul, to legalize medical use. Thanks, Cap Times. Please keep following up on this issue. Let us know if Rep. Tammy Baldwin decides to cosponsor, and if any other state congress critters support this. Make drug pollicy reform an issue!

Decriminalize marijuana
Source: The Capital Times click here
An editorial
May 6, 2008

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin has long been a leader in the fight for sane drug policies. So we hope that she will sign on to legislation proposed by Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who has emerged as a key member of the House Democratic leadership team, that would decriminalize marijuana.

With backing from Texas Republican Ron Paul, a 2008 presidential candidate, Frank's HR 5843 seeks to eliminate all federal penalties, including arrest, jail time and civil fines, prohibiting the personal use and possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana.

This initiative should not be confused with efforts to remove restrictions on the medicinal use of marijuana, which have met with even more success at the state level.

Decriminalization of marijuana accepts that millions of Americans are going to grow or purchase small amounts of the substance for personal use and makes the determination that this ought not be a concern of the criminal justice system.

"It is poor law enforcement to keep on the books legislation that establishes as a crime something which in fact society does not seriously wish to prosecute," says Frank, who has long been one of the leading civil libertarians in Congress. "Having federal law enforcement agents engaged in the prosecution of people who are personally using marijuana is a waste of scarce resources better used for serious crimes."

The American people are way ahead of their government when it comes to recognizing that the government should not be arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession.

Seventy-two percent of Americans surveyed for a Time/CNN poll several years ago said that adults who use marijuana for recreational purposes should be fined but not jailed, while 40 percent favored the legalization of a small amount of pot.

Twelve states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon -- have passed laws decriminalizing marijuana for personal consumption.

Legislators in New Hampshire and Vermont are considering doing so, while voters in Massachusetts will this fall decide by referendum whether they want their state to decriminalization marijuana possession.

Wisconsin should do the same.

And Wisconsin's representatives in Washington should back Barney Frank's bill.

(Learn more about Frank's proposal by visiting the congressman's Web site at www.house.gov/frank/marijuana040208.html.)

Here is how you can support the federal bills:

House of Representatives to Consider Medical Cannabis Legislation! Urge Your Representative to Support H.R. 5842 NOW!
http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=11280351

House of Representatives to Consider Cannabis Decriminalization! Tell Your Representative to Support H.R. 5843!
http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=11280301

Posted by Gary at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2008

Fred Gardner: Study: Smoking Pot Doesn't Cause Cancer--It May Prevent It!

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, May 03, 2008

Our good friend, the editor of O'Shaughnessy's, the Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group, Fred Gardner, files this report on Dr. Donald Tashkin's amazing presentation at the April 2008 Fifth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Pacific Grove CA, on Dr. Tashkin's findings that there is not only no link to lung and upper airway cancers from smoking cannabis, but also that cannabis also appears to offer protection from those cancers for those also smoking tobacco! The conference, presented by Patients Out of Time click here, received absolutely no mainstream press coverage. Fred Gardner was on a panel at the conference that also featured NORML's Paul Armentano discussing how the media ignores or twists study results and generally fails to cover the cannabis issue in a meaningful way.

Pubdate: Sat, 3 May 2008
Source: CounterPunch (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 CounterPunchclick here
Author: Fred Gardner

STUDY: SMOKING POT DOESN'T CAUSE CANCER--IT MAY PREVENT IT!

The Greatest Story Never Told

Smoking Cannabis Does Not Cause Cancer Of Lung or Upper Airways, Tashkin Finds; Data Suggest Possible Protective Effect

The story summarized by that headline ran in O'Shaughnessy's (Autumn 2005), CounterPunch, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Did we win Pulitzers, dude? No, the story was ignored or buried by the corporate media. It didn't even make the "Project Censored" list of under-reported stories for 2005. "We were even censored by Project Censored," said Tod Mikuriya, who liked his shot of wry.

It's not that the subject is trivial. One in three Americans will be afflicted with cancer, we are told by the government (as if it's our immutable fate and somehow acceptable). Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and lung cancer the leading killer among cancers. You'd think it would have been very big news when UCLA medical school professor Donald Tashkin revealed that components of marijuana smoke -although they damage cells in respiratory tissue- somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. In other words, something in marijuana exerts an anti-cancer effect.

Tashkin has special credibility. He was the lead investigator on studies dating back to the 1970s that identified the components in marijuana smoke that are toxic. It was Tashkin et al who published photomicrographs showing that marijuana smoke damages cells lining the upper airways. It was the Tashkin lab reporting that benzpyrene -a component of tobacco smoke that plays a role in most lung cancers-is especially prevalent in marijuana smoke. It was Tashkin's data documenting that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to cough, wheeze, and produce sputum.

Tashkin reviewed his findings April 4 at a conference organized by "Patients Out of Time," a reform group devoted to educating doctors and the public (as opposed to lobbying politicians). Some 30 MDs and nurses got continuing medical education credits for attending.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported Tashkin's marijuana-related research over the decades and readily gave him a grant to conduct a large, population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers. What Tashkin and his colleagues found, however, disproved their hypothesis. (Tashkin is to marijuana as a cause of lung cancer what Hans Blick is to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -an honest investigator who set out to find something, concluded that it wasn't there, and reported his results.)

Tashkin's team interviewed 1,212 cancer patients from the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program, matched for age, gender, and neighborhood with 1,040 cancer-free controls. Marijuana use was measured in "joint years" (number of years smoked times number of joints per day). It turned out that increased marijuana use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer (whereas tobacco smokers were at greater risk the more they smoked). Tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana were at slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than tobacco-only smokers.

These findings were not deemed worthy of publication in "NIDA Notes." Tashkin reported them at the 2005 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and they were published in the October 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Without a press release from NIDA calling attention to its significance, the assignment editors of America had no idea that "Marijuana Use and the Risk of Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancers: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control Study" by Mia Hashibe1, Hal Morgenstern, Yan Cui, Donald P. Tashkin, Zuo-Feng Zhang, Wendy Cozen, Thomas M. Mack and Sander Greenland was a blockbuster story.

I suggested to Eric Bailey of the L.A. Times that he write up Tashkin's findings -UCLA provided the local angle if the anti-cancer effect wasn't enough. Bailey said his editors wouldn't be interested for some time because he had just filed a marijuana-related piece (about the special rapport Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access enjoyed with some old corporado back in Washington, D.C.) The Tashkin scoop is still there for the taking!

Investigators from New Zealand recently got widespread media attention for a study contradicting Tashkin's results. "Heavy cannabis users may be at greater risk of chronic lung disease -including cancer-compared to tobacco smokers," is how BBC News summed up the New Zealanders' findings. The very small size of the study -79 smokers took part, 21 of whom smoked cannabis only-was not held against the authors. As conveyed in the corporate media, the New Zealand study represented the latest word on this important subject (as if science were some kind of tennis match and the truth just gets truthier with every volley).

Tashkin criticized the New Zealanders' methodology in his talk at Asilomar: "There's some cognitive dissonance associated with the interpretation of their findings. I think this has to do with the belief model among the investigators and -I wish they were here to defend themselves-the integrity of the investigators... They actually published another paper in which they mimicked the design that we used for looking at lung function."

Tashkin spoke from the stage of an airy redwood chapel designed by Julia Morgan. He is pink-cheeked, 70ish, wears wire-rimmed spectacles. "For tobacco they found what you'd expect: a higher risk for lung cancer and a clear dose-response relationship. A 24-fold increase in the people who smoked the most... What about marijuana? If they smoked a small or moderate amount there was no increased risk, in fact slightly less than one. But if they were in the upper third of the group, then their risk was six-fold... A rather surprising finding, and one has to be cautious about interpreting the results because of the very small number of cases (14) and controls (4)."

Tashkin said the New Zealanders employed "statistical sleight of hand." He deemed it "completely implausible that smokers of only 365 joints of marijuana have a risk for developing lung cancer similar to that of smokers of 7,000 tobacco cigarettes... Their small sample size led to vastly inflated estimates... They had said 'it's ideal to do the study in New Zealand because we have a much higher prevalence of marijuana smoking.' But 88 percent of their controls had never smoked marijuana, whereas 36% of our controls (in Los Angeles) had never smoked marijuana. Why did so few of the controls smoke marijuana? Something fishy about that!"

Strong words for a UCLA School of Medicine professor!

As to the highly promising implication of his own study -that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant- Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, said Tashkin.

Much of Tashkin's talk was devoted to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, another condition prevalent among tobacco smokers. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function. COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.

Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA conducted a major study in which they measured lung function of various cohorts over eight years and found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers -even if they smoked tobacco as well-experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers. "The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline," said Tashkin. "In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal." Tashkin concluded that his and other studies "do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD."

Hope that makes you breathe easier.

Posted by Gary at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)