The Marijuana Policy Initiative

Don't Commercialize Marijuana.

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market.

Here’s What’s Coming to Your Back Yard — A tour of a Colorado Commercial Marijuana Operation

Our colleague,  Jo McGuire, in Denver was recently asked to accompany a group of delegates from other states investigating commercial marijuana legalization on a tour of the Colorado marijuana industry. Here’s her account what they observed:

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A delegation from out of state came to Denver in late April to see how the Colorado marijuana industry is working. I was asked to help guide the tour and ask questions of the industry leaders.

This was an all-day experience, so I will give you the highlights that stand out to me.

After the delegation heard a bit about my experience and area of expertise in safe & drug free workplaces, we were given a presentation by two officers of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado.

They started off the presentation by repeating how utterly impossible it is to regulate marijuana and keep all the rules and know all the enforcement measures they are supposed to follow (these are the people overseeing enforcement for the whole state.) They bragged that they now have 98 people in their office overseeing regulation but later in the day admitted that only 25% of those do on-site inspections statewide (3,000 facilities), the rest are trying to keep up with paperwork.

They cannot get to every site in the state for inspections (again – impossible) so they respond to complaints, spot-check and rely on other community entities to report anything they may find or see. The largest amount of complainants come from other MJ facilities trying to get their competition shut-down.

The greatest violations are:
1. Using pesticides banned in the U.S.
2. Not using the proper inventory tracking system
3. Waste disposal violations
4. Circumventing the required video-monitoring system

They were asked how potency of marijuana is determined and they said, “It is impossible to determine potency.” When challenged – they were adamant that it is not possible.

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Marijuana, Addiction, Legalization and the Parable of the Boiled Frog

The slow boil of marijuana legalization is underway. When will we panic? And, will it be too late?

The slow boil of marijuana legalization is underway. When will we panic? And, will it be too late?

Those of us involved in monitoring the rise of corporate marijuana should understand the value of our disquiet. It is an early warning sign.

The Parable of the Boiled Frog

Over twenty years ago M.I.T. systems thinker, Peter Senge, wrote about the “parable of the boiled frog.” In short: if you place a frog in a shallow pan of boiling water it will immediately try and jump out. But if you place the frog in warm water, and don’t startle him, he will remain there, unbothered. If the temperature of the water rises gradually, the frog will stay put in the pan, until it’s too late and he’s unable to climb out. As ghastly as the image of the boiled frog is, the lesson is clear. We are not unlike the frog. Our ability for sensing threats to survival is geared to immediate and sudden changes, not to slow, creeping, gradual changes.
(The Fifth Discipline: the Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, Doubleday. August 1990)

What are the top factors which will awaken the rest of America to the bigger picture? Can we make clear the threats and opportunities we sense around us, or is the lull of the warm water just too tempting for a country brimming with distraction? Can we pay attention? Continue reading

Lessons Learned From Four Years of Marijuana Legalization — The SAM Report

Lessons Learned After Four Years of Marijuana LegalizationThough it is still early, these “experiments” in legalization are not succeeding. Marijuana commercialization is failing as a public health approach to drug use.

In the wake of multimillion-dollar political campaigns funded with out-of-state money, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. Though it would take more than a year to set up retail stores, personal use (CO, WA) and home cultivation (in CO, which includes giving away of up to six plants) were almost immediately legalized after the vote. (Get the full 18-page Slide Deck Here) Continue reading

An Adult in the Room: MA Senator Lewis on Marijuana

Looking closer at marijuana commercialization

Looking closer at marijuana commercialization.

Kudos to Senator Jason Lewis (MA-D) for being the level-headed, unflappable, well informed adult in the room, and for speaking to the facts and with honesty about what he saw and learned on a fact-finding trip to Colorado. While he hasn’t made public his decision on how he will vote on the 2016 ballot question that would commercialize marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts, the Senator, unlike much of the media, is at least digging into the issue to properly understand it.

The show on which Senator Lewis appeared is a very popular, generally liberal, public radio talk show in Boston. Upon returning from a fact finding trip in Colorado, Senator Lewis was very clear on the possible downside consequences of a rising commercial/corporate marijuana industry. Continue reading

The Truth to Marijuana Legalization & Commercialization & Minority Communities. Will Jones.

What does a young, black DC urbanite think of marijuana legalization?

“Let’s not legalize a third drug, isn’t two enough?”
“It’s my people that will pay the cost.”

Will Jones, spoken word. The truth to marijuana legalization and commercialization. In DC, more whites voted for weed for blacks than blacks voted for marijuana in their communities. Here’s what the chattering intellectual class is missing…

Excerpts:
The amount of stores selling liquor to blacks is disproportionately high and it’s the same for cigarettes.
If we want to change statistics of people of color locked away let’s be realistic and act in a more rational way.
Let’s address racial profiling and unjust discrimination and clean up the defiling of our criminal justice system,
Let’s work to create better jobs and school opportunities, instead of changing the rules, lets try and change our communities.
Let’s make our voices heard above the media and all their stuff, let’s not legalize a third drug, isn’t two enough?
They say it’s about civil rights and equal opportunity but we’re in a fight targeting black communities. Not a war with guns and knives but with smooth, strategic words. Still the cost will be our lives if the voice of truth is not heard.
They say it’s about discrimination so their plan is untouchable, but I say it’s an indication that some people are gullible. They’re deceived to believe what the media breathe…

Have they helped to create responsible men or just boys trying to have fun?

Marley-branded Marijuana: Ironies and the Ultimate Sell-Out

In the ultimate sellout, Marely's is soul to be exploited for profit by pot profiteers driving the next addiction-based mega industry.

In the ultimate sellout, Marley’s soul to be exploited for profit by pot moguls pushing for the next commercialized, addiction-based mega industry.

With all due respect to his family, Bob Marley did not appear to die a particularly unworried or happy death when he passed at age 36 from cancer back in 1981. And, in the perhaps the ultimate of ironies, the next great addiction-driven industry will exploit his soul for silver and gold.

Given what we now know know about ever more potent forms of 21st Century marijuana and the harms associated with it, capitalizing on Marley’s drug of choice seems worlds away from any sense of public good for the People.

When drugs are the only comfort a people have to turn to, they simply have too few options for a better life. The ironies are endless here.

The People deserve so much better than open drug markets. The marijuana moguls are the height of predatory market practices — exploiting anyone in order to release their drug on the masses.

This is most certainly not power to the people. It’s power to the Pied Pipers of Pot. And the marijuana moguls hope to be laughing all the way to the bank.

The wolves are indeed at the door. Are we going to let them in? Continue reading

Marijuana Legalization: Not Looking So Good In Reality

Support for Marijuana Legalizaitn Drops. Good news for Teen Health, Public Health

Support for Marijuana Legalization Drops. Good news for Teen Health, Public Health.

With support for legalization slipping (down to just 44% from 51% a year ago) there is finally some encouraging news.

Legalization of another drug for recreational purposes might have looked like to good idea on paper to some drug policy and criminology intellectuals. But its not looking so great in reality.

Fortunately, there are now new resources to help Americans better understand the most misunderstood illicit drug in the country.

We don’t determine medicine by public opinion in this country.

And we should not have addiction for profit lobbying groups and wall street speculators pressuring America to legalize a third major addictive drug for “recreational” purposes.

The target market is always the most vulnerable. Predatory advertising targets the suffering and young people to create lifetime customers. Private profits soar, along with over-consumption and public health and safety fallout. Its time to get smart about the about the facts of this drug. Its not your Grandma’s Woodstock Weed anymore. Marijuana harms. Component medicines may heal — but that hasn’t been proven. Continue reading

Our Country Will Never Prosper by Disguising Marijuana Proceeds as Taxes and Fees

Protect youth from marijuana legalizationThe Honorable Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, expressed his concerns about the impact that drug legalization will have on public health and safety. He concluded with the following words:

“As a parent, I worry about how the increased presence of marijuana in our city will affect our children and our grandchildren. Despite a few lessons learned from medical marijuana, the long-term implications of that industry and the potential for an expanded industry will not be known to us for perhaps a generation or more. There is no denying, however, the potential for a negative impact on our kids — on their home lives, their health, their education and their future. We already know the toll substance abuse takes on so many of our residents. Sadly, many of them are parents. The cost of substance abuse on our healthcare system, our jails and in our courts is substantial. I want more for all of our kids and for all Denverites.”

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City Defends Marijuana Dispensary Ban

City defends right to ban marijuana

The city of Fife, Washington is defending its ban on pot dispensaries. The stakes are very high.

28 cities and two counties in Washington have banned the sale of retail pot, and many others have enacted moratoriums.

The litigating dispensary owner is suing to overturn the ban. Let’s hope that the judge makes the right decision by upholding Fife’s right to keep the dispensary from opening.

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Video: Tony Dokoupil on The Coming Marijuana Backlash

In addition to his legitimate and well-earned bone fides as a senior writer for NBC News and Newsweek and The Daily  Beast before that, Tony Dokoupil comes at the marijuana legalization issue from an interesting perspective.  As the son of a notorious marijuana dealer and folk hero, Dokoupil is quoted from his memoir The Last Pirate–A Father, His Son and the Golden Age of Marijuana as saying, “My father went to jail for dealing weed and, to my surprise, I would keep him there.”

“If we really mean to sell marijuana like alcohol, then we mean to create a market where most of the revenue comes from people who have a problem.

That is the business model of alcohol. Eighty percent of the revenues comes from a tiny sliver of the users. It’s not the guy who has a drink after work. It’s the guy who has six and misses his kid’s bedtime, his marriage is in shambles. That’s the kind of guy who supports the industry.”

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Outright Lies from “Big Marijuana”

Ed Wood is among many who are waking up to the manipulations and outright lies of Big Marijuana.  In his letter to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Wood writes:

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Pot Taxes May Help State Income, but Problems Remain
Regulation does not keep pot out of the hands (and bodies) of youth whose brains, still being in the formative stages, are most susceptible to permanent harm. Continue reading

Junk Science, Real Harm: the Marijuana Reality

Marijuana's junk science

Like Big Tobacco, the Marijuana Industry is using questionable “science” to justify benefits of its products.

We can already see the damage done by rising levels of increasingly potent marijuana use.

But quality science is catching up and is now methodically providing a body of evidence detailing the damage done by the drug.

From a policy perspective, pot legalization has produced the following results in CO:

What’s up?

  • black market sales and illegal drug diversion are up.
  • child drug exposures/poisonings are up
  • pot-related problems in schools are up
  • ER visits for adverse reactions to pot are up
  • marijuana-positive traffic deaths are up
  • workplace positives on drug tests are up
  • mj addiction treatment is up
  • butane hash oil explosions and fires are up
  • marijuana-related deaths are up
  • potency and concentration of THC are way up, hence new levels of damage being done by the drug
  • exposures during pregnancy, and hence infancy, are up

This list could be a lot longer, but that’s what we know so far. Continue reading