The Beatles call for the legalisation of marijuana

23 07 2012

9.00am, Monday 24 July 1967 (45 years ago)

The Beatles lighting up a smokeA full-page advertisement appeared in The Times newspaper on this day, signed by 64 of the most prominent members of British society, which called for the legalisation of marijuana. Among the signatories were The Beatles and Brian Epstein.

The advertisement was instigated as a response to the nine-month prison sentence for possession received on 1 June 1967 by John Hopkins, founder of International Times, the UFO Club and the 24 Hour Technicolour Dream. The following day an emergency meeting was held at the Indica Bookshop, during which Steve Abrams of drug-research organisation SOMA suggested bringing the issue into public debate by running a full-page advertisement.
Abrams agreed to organise the signatures, but the question of financing the advertisement proved temporarily problematic. None of The Beatles were present at the Indica, but the bookshop’s co-owner Barry Miles telephoned Paul McCartney, who agreed to finance the advertisement.

On 3 June Miles and Abrams visited McCartney’s house in Cavendish Avenue. McCartney listened to the plans, told Abrams that all The Beatles and Epstein would put their names to it, and told them how to contact the rest of the group for their signatures.

On 23 July, the day before publication, the ad was mentioned in The Sunday Times’ Atticus column, written by Philip Oates. Behind the scenes, however, The Times’ advertising manager, R Grant Davidson, nervously insisted on checking that all the people had indeed agreed for their names to be associated with the article.

Davidson also insisted on advance payment. Steve Abrams contacted Peter Brown at Brian Epstein’s office, and shortly afterwards received a personal cheque for £1,800 made out to The Times. At the time the amount was twice the average annual wage.

Although McCartney had wanted to keep the funding a secret, in fear of negative publicity, it soon proved impossible. The day after the advertisement appeared, the information appeared in the Evening Standard’s Londoner’s Diary.

Within a week of its appearance, the advertisement led to questions being asked in the House of Commons, and began a public debate which eventually led to liberalisation in the laws against cannabis use in Britain.

 

Source: The Beatles Bible





Cannabis in California: A local and federal divide

1 12 2011

The recent history of cannabis in California  demonstrates a split between state and federal law that is rapidly widening. The first U.S. state to have, in 1913, prohibited the use of the devil’s herb imported by Mexican immigrants that was “marijuana”, California was also the first to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 1996.

15 years of legal ambiguity on medicinal marijuana

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

2 weeks ago, medicinal marijuana users celebrated 15 years of Proposition 215, the law legalizing therapeutic use of cannabis in California. The law allows patients in possession of a prescription to grow their own medicine or designate a legal grower (also known as a caregiver) to grow it for them, according to California state law.

Federal law, meanwhile, still does not recognize the therapeutic applications of cannabis, and logically the state laws can not override national laws. Since 1996, however, thousands of clinics have opened across the Golden State.  This  was not accomplished without legal difficulties and not all the dispensaries have remained open, but despite the paradox in legislation, the state’s entrepreneurs still managed to establish an industry of cannabis in California that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Local economy at risk

Given the very special status of the plant at federal and international levels, the medical cannabis industry in California is exclusively local, from production to distribution. For years the federal government has been trying to destabilize this market by various means.

On October 7th 2011, four District Attorneys in the Golden State claimed in a press conference that their goal was to address the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis in California. Shortly after, they sent dispensary owners an injunction to close their shops within 45 days.

Since then, the IRS has decided to claim retroactive taxes from the dispensaries in addition to new taxes on the sales of something that is still an illegal substance at a national level. This use of the tax system to put an end to an industry that seems to bother Washington is eerily reminiscent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed cannabis suppliers all over America.

Even the banks are threatened with charges of money laundering if they agree to open accounts for business people  involved in the thriving Californian economy  of producing and distributing medical marijuana!

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries targeted

The legal status of dispensaries is comparable to the Dutch coffeeshop system, with one major difference: dispensaries go against American national policy, whereas coffeeshops have been licensed by the Dutch government. Some Californian cannabis clinics have become essential businesses for their local economy thanks to local taxes, while the federal government prefers not to touch a dime of this revenue.

It is these medicinal cannabis dispensaries which are the target of the Obama administration.  A complaint has been  filed by a group of activists and lawyers to stop this crusade against the clinics, targeting the Attorney General of the United States, the director of the DEA Michelle Leonard and the four District Attorneys who acted without authorization from their supervisors.

A confrontation between Washington and L.A?

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California

The current situation creates a schism between local power and federal power. California’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and cannabis in California allows the Golden State to prosper at the expense of the federal government and its repressive policies.

Californians have recently re-elected their former Governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has always supported medical marijuana, and has even introduced legislation to improve the legal status of patients with prescriptions for cannabis. He also proposed that the distribution should be taken care of by non-profit organizations.

The support from Governor Brown, the complaint filed against representatives of the federal government and the choice of the people at the polls are all clear indicators of opposition to the policies of the federal government.

All that remains to be seen is how much wider the divide between state and federal law will be allowed to grow before one of the two sides makes a decisive move on the future of cannabis in California.





“Senora Cannabis” Alicia Castilla Released After 94 Days

25 05 2011

The 5th of May saw the release of 66 year old Alicia Castilla, who was held in prison for  94 days after police discovered marijuana plants at her home in Atlántida, Uruguay.

In a similar way to the Netherlands, laws in Uruguay allow possession of cannabis for personal use (although in Uruguay the amount considered reasonable for personal consumption is decided by a judge). Cultivation however is completely forbidden, a paradox that forces users to either (illegally) buy from criminal dealers or break the law by cultivating cannabis for their own use. Alicia Castilla, author of two books on cannabis, chose the latter option.

Alicia Castilla, cannabis activist and author, aka Senora Cannabis

Alicia Castilla, cannabis activist and author, aka Senora Cannabis

In January 2011 police raided the house she had bought with the intention of having ‘a peaceful place to spend my old age’, and discovered 29 unsexed cannabis seedlings.

“I think it’s an injustice that a person is in prison for planting what they consume,” Castilla told Spanish  newspaper El Pais. The grandmother affectionately nicknamed “Senora Cannabis” by her many supporters expressed emotional relief at this turn in a case that attracted attention from all over the world, especially in her native Argentina.

Following her arrest, Alicia Castilla was imprisoned in Canelones, a squalid and violent prison where inmates include murderers and crack addicts. After 45 days and repeated requests, she was transferred to CNR, a rehabilitation centre. Here she had access to a laptop and began drafting a third book, inspired by her experiences.

Until very recently the Supreme Court in Uruguay was refusing to grant provisional release to Alicia Castilla but an appeal for probation was finally granted by prosecutor Fernando Valerio. Alicia must now await the final ruling, which has already been delayed. She intends to continue campaigning for the legal right to cultivate cannabis even more passionately than before.

Sources: El Pais, Plantatuplanta





Medicinal cannabis patients classed as ‘drug addicts’ by Oregon sheriffs

13 04 2011

Despite the amount of illegal firearms and genuinely harmful drugs that America seems to be knee-deep in, police in Oregon are concerned that card-holding medicinal marijuana users might be legally carrying guns.

Under the U. S. Gun Control Act of 1968, guns may not be sold to drug addicts. Most people would agree that this is a good idea, as the mental image of a ‘drug addict’ is almost always negative: shaking, dirty, paranoid, and incapable of rational thought. Nobody wants to arm that person.

An elderly medicinal marijuana user

An elderly medicinal marijuana user in Oregon (image courtesy of NORML)

Concealed Handgun Permits are refused

The sheriffs of Oregon, however, are classing medicinal cannabis users as drug addicts and refusing to issue concealed handgun permits to them. The sheriff’s office, by state law, should not refuse to grant such a license provided a list of conditions is met. These conditions usually  include U.S. citizenship, completing  a gun safety course, no criminal record, no mental illness or substance abuse problems. Again, these are all reasonable requirements, but the medicinal cannabis patients who fulfill them are still being refused the permit.

Use of prescribed marijuana should not limit a person’s rights

Retired school bus driver Cynthia Willis is one such patient, and along with three co-plaintiffs she is part of a potentially landmark case currently under consideration by the Oregon Supreme Court. Cynthia likes to carry a Walther P-22 automatic pistol, which she says she’s never had to draw, for self-defense. She also uses cannabis to control muscle spasms and pain from her arthritis, but says she never uses it when she plans to carry her gun (or drive). So far she’s won two court cases on the argument that prescribed drug use does not disqualify a person from holding a concealed gun permit, and medicinal cannabis is a prescribed drug like any other.

Outdoor medicinal marijuana

An outdoor medicinal marijuana crop in America

More at stake than the right to carry a concealed firearm

What is at stake here is not just the right of medicinal cannabis users to carry (concealed) firearms: by Oregon law, if someone doesn’t have a concealed gun permit but does have a gun license, they can simply carry the gun openly, as Cynthia plans to do if she loses her case. Given the tragic events in Alphen aan den Rijn on Saturday as the latest in a long line of horrific shootings by licensed gun owners throughout the world,  it can be argued that gun licenses should be revoked altogether.

How do you abuse your own medicinal cannabis crop?

The underlying issue of concern in Oregon is the classification of medical marijuana patients as ‘drug addicts’, with all the negative connotations of this epithet. Although cannabis seeds have never been illegal in Oregon, and it was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of bud back in 1973, courts recently decided that employers had the right to fire medicinal cannabis users. The sheriffs of this county openly argue that the majority of medicinal card holders are abusing the right to use ganja as a medicine, despite the fact that buying, selling, and dispensaries are still prohibited so patients must grow their own (or have someone grow it for them without profit) in order to do so.

Flyer for the Oregon NORML Cannabis Cafe, with buds

NORML is active in Oregon, which was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Defending the rights of medical marijuana users

Executive Director of NORML Allen St. Pierre is focused on defending the right of every medicinal marijuana card holder to be treated like any other citizen: “A person who uses medical cannabis should not have to give up their fundamental rights as enumerated by the Constitution,”‘ St. Pierre said.

Source material for this article here .





Cannabis Debates Begin Tomorrow

4 02 2011

In response to the current plans for limiting the right to buy cannabis to Dutch residents, and other related restrictions, a series of debates are taking place throughout the Netherlands during February and March. Beginning tomorrow (05/02) at the Cannabis College in Amsterdam, the Cannabis Debates are open to everyone over the age of 18 and attendance (14:00 to 17:00) is free.

Workable Cannabis Policy
The Cannabis Debates are organized by the VOC (lit. Society for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition) and THC (Taskforce for Cannabis Management), an independent work-group including members of the National Platform of Coffeeshop Unions (LOC) and the VOC. Their aim is to present a workable and well supported alternative to the potentially disastrous schemes favoured by the Cabinet.

This alternative is a clear and regulated management of cannabis, including growing, for personal use and would effectively remove the ‘back-door’ criminality from the ‘front-door’ legal sales. The contradiction between illegal wholesale supply and decriminalized personal supply is the root of the problems with the tolerance policy, caused not by going ‘too far’ as many politicians seem to think, but by not going far enough.
Concept model 'Van Gedogen Tot Handhaven'

Be part of the Cannabis Debates
The management concept presented by THC sets out a practical and safe system for regulating the cannabis trade and is entitled ‘Van Gedogen Naar Handhaven’ (‘From Tolerance To Management’). Contributions and suggestions are welcome from everyone who attends the debates (please bear in mind that the main language will be Dutch). Considering that the Tweede Kamer began their own debate on moving from cannabis tolerance to zero tolerance exactly a year ago today, the Cannabis Debates offer an essential opportunity to find a saner solution that must not be missed.

Other debate dates:

Zaterdag 26 februari:
Coffeeshop The Pink, Willemstraat 35, Eindhoven

Zaterdag 5 maart:
Koffieshop De Os, Korfmakersstraat 2, Leeuwarden

Maandag 21 maart:
Live 330 / Cremers, Korte Molenstraat 2, Den Haag

Source: VOC Nederland, Zaterdag 5 februari eerste cannabis debat in amsterdam





Germany: Lawmakers ready to approve use of medical marijuana

18 08 2010

Medical cannabis will be available in Germany soon, with the center-right coalition preparing to make groundbreaking changes to drug laws, a government health spokeswoman said this week.

A gem of German technology

Cannabis was illegal throughout Germany until the federal constitutional court decided on 28 April 1994 that people need no longer be prosecuted for possession of soft drugs for personal use. Since then, most German regional governments have tolerated the sale and use of soft drugs.

In some cities, cannabis supply is now tolerated in a similar way to the Netherlands. In other places the courts still treat possession as an offense. For example, in one state, Schleswig-Holstein, no charges are usually brought for possession of less than 30 g, but in Thuringia people are prosecuted for possessing even tiny amounts.

In March 1999, Germany’s drug tsar, Christa Nickels, said she considered it sensible to use cannabis products such as marijuana and hashish for therapeutic purposes in medicine.

With the new law coming, doctors could write prescriptions for cannabis, and pharmacies would be authorised to sell the plant once the law had been adjusted, a member of the junior coalition party, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), said Monday.

Marijuana would also be permitted for use as a pain reliever for the terminally ill in hospices and other care facilities, making it a legal part of their emergency pain-relief stocks.

The new law will end a long-running struggle between German officials, doctors and health insurers over use of the proven herbal therapy for treating the pain stemming from diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

According to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (ACM), only 40 patients in the country are currently allowed a medical marijuana prescription – even though law enforcement generally tolerates small amounts for personal use.

Almost two years ago, the conservative Christian Democrats, the FDP and the center-left Social Democrats all voted against loosening medical cannabis laws. Opponents had warned of the drug’s alleged potential for addiction and doubted its medical benefits.

Sources: Student BMJ

The Local





Cannabis Growing in Australia

18 02 2010

Richard Friar growing hemp cannabis australiaRichard Friar, a 66-year-old farmer from Australia, and his wife Wendy are the proud owners of Australia´s first licensed industrial hemp crop to be grown in an urban area.

With permission from the Department of Primary Industries, they are in the first stages of a pilot project aimed at teaching farmers how to grow hemp and commercialise its countless byproducts.

The Friars are hemp evangelists, firm believers in the world-changing potential of this most versatile of plants, which can be used in everything from food to fabrics and building materials.

With permission from the Department of Primary Industries, they are in the first stages of a pilot project aimed at teaching farmers how to grow hemp and commercialise its myriad byproducts.

The Friars’ crop, a mix of Chinese cultivars known as Yellow River and Lulu, is a fine example: the stalks can be used in the textile and construction industries – “they even use it, instead of steel, to reinforce concrete” – while the seeds can be eaten.

In December the couple applied to Food Standards for permission to sell the seed for human consumption, with approval expected early next year.

“They are a real superfood,” Wendy says. “It’s 23 per cent protein, and has more Omega 3 and Omega 6 than virtually any other source, including fish.

”In the early 1800s, Australia was twice saved from famine by eating virtually nothing but hemp seed for protein and hemp leaves for roughage.”

But the couple also plan to become brokers for hemp products, importing seeds and matching overseas and local producers with those undertaking retail or construction projects.

“We want to kickstart consumer demand,” Wendy explains. “It’s hard, though, because hemp has for so long been vilified as a dangerous drug.”

A film-maker, farmer, former horse trainer and grade rugby union player, Mr Friar has long been interested in permaculture and recycling; his company King Poo was one of the first to sell worm farms in the early 1990s. But it is hemp that has him raving.

“As a grandfather several times over, I am championing this now as the answer to a lot of our sustainability problems. We just have to lose the baggage we have about hemp, and approach it in a more mature way.”

Source: farmonline.com.au





Cannabis legal in the Czech Republic?!

28 12 2009

Legalize-cannabisThe Czech Republic is bringing in some very interesting legislation in 2010.

From January 1st, individuals in possession of 15 grams of cannabis or less will not be charged with a crime in the Czech Republic. The new laws, which decriminalize the possession of ‘small amounts’ of most currently illegal drugs, are based on a  Justice Ministry proposal which was approved by the Czech government earlier this month.

Previously, there were few clear definitions of what level of drug possession was treated as ‘small’, since standards were based on internal police directives and could change from region to region. The new legislation clearly defines how much of each substance is considered a ‘small amount’ under the law. Individuals in possession of this amount or less will not be charged with a crime.

Additionally, the new laws seem to make it possible for individuals to grow up to five cannabis plants. However, if current Dutch legislation is anything to go by, this may not necessarily include indoor growing with lamps, nor allow households with several adults to grow five plants each.
In any case, this new legislation is a big step in the right direction and we hope that other European countries will be inspired by the Czech move towards a sane drug policy.

Source:  ceskenoviny.cz





Cannabis Cultuurprijs (cannabis culture award)

13 11 2009

Cannabis Cultuurprijs 2009

The Cannabis Cultuurprijs 2009, now in its sixth year, is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions towards the acceptance of cannabis in all its forms and to the reintegration of marihuana and hemp culture into modern society.

At a time when ‘zero tolerance’ is replacing the ‘tolerance policy’ it is more important than ever to acknowledge those who have made a genuine difference to the perception and use of this unfairly maligned plant.

Though other prizes exist in the sphere of cannabis and hemp, only the Cannabis Cultuurprijs celebrates improvements to quality of life and knowledge in quite this way.

The prize itself promotes the achievements of the winner: a unique exhibit dedicated to each one is created for public viewing. Displays honoring previous winners Jack Herer and Ed Rosenthal are on show in the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. Last year’s winner, the late Simon Vinkenoog, is represented in the Hemp Gallery.

A monetary award of €3000 is also presented. It is independently funded and therefore free from political influence.

Update:

The Cannabis Culture Award was previously known as the Cannabis Cultuur Prijs and was initiated in 2004 by philanthropist Ben Dronkers in order to honor and reward people who have made outstanding contributions to the world of hemp and cannabis.

For more information about this year’s ceremony, please visit http://hashmuseum.com/cannabis-culture-awards .





18 negative effects of the ban on cannabis

12 11 2009

Negative effects Cannabis prohabition

Here is a list of some of the negative effects of the ban on cannabis:

  1. The ban on cannabis means that in addition to the coffeeshops and people who grow for their own use, an illegal market in cannabis also exists. There is no possibility of control over this illegal market which leads to criminality, unsafe situations, and events that disturb the peace; and to which underage people have easy access.
  2. The ban on cannabis makes large scale crops and export of the product into a lucrative source of income for criminal organizations which can then use this income for other criminal activities, or ‘wash’ it via money laundering operations that can disturb the legal economy.
  3. The ban on cannabis encourages criminal and antisocial behavior: rules concerning safety and security (for growing and in the marketplace) are easily broken and this goes unpunished. Conflicts are resolved using violence.
  4. The ban on cannabis leads to an increase in prices, as the producer in an illegal market calculates their risk into the price.
  5. The ban leads to a migration of tourists to coffeeshops near the borders of the country, and the operation of ‘drug runners’ to transport the product. Simple solutions for this problem such as the proposal for a so-called ‘Weed Boulevard’ with legal supply logistics are held back by the ban on cannabis.
  6. The ban on cannabis puts enormous pressure on the resources of the police and the justice system, which cannot then devote them to other, more important goals. Some of the methods used to enforce the ban limit the personal freedom of civilians and are a matter of contention in court.
  7. The costs of enforcing the ban on cannabis are not justified by the results. Although the goal of the ban (an essential reduction in supply and demand) fails to come a single step closer, the ban itself is never brought forward for discussion.
  8. The ban on cannabis damages the credibility of the government, given that the use of cannabis continues to be firmly naturalized in society.
  9. The (world-wide) ban on cannabis is one of the pillars of the U.S. dominated War On Drugs, which has led to sizeable global violations of human rights; and severely damages both the environment, and the security of the populations of cannabis-producing lands.
  10. The ban on cannabis impedes the development of the industrial applications of the plant, which is capable of making a very valuable contribution to a sustainable future.
  11. The ban on cannabis makes it impossible to carry out standardized controls on the product. Therefore demands can hardly be placed on the product in terms of consistent quality, health, or accompanying information on the contents and effects of the product.
  12. The ban on cannabis leads to unwelcome and unhealthy practices in production which negatively affect the quality and effects of the product, and thereby damage the health of the consumer.
  13. The ban on cannabis criminalizes the cannabis consumer (over one million Dutch people), with negative social consequences for the people in question, their relationships, their family, and their home and work environment.
  14. The ban on cannabis is a restriction of the right to freedom of expression. It legitimizes information about the supposed evils of cannabis, information that cannot be seriously tested for durability, credibility or truthfulness and yet is used as justification for the active enforcement of the ban.
  15. The ban on cannabis damages the right of the individual to make decisions about his / her own body.
  16. The ban on cannabis damages the right of the individual to possess a medicine that is necessary to maintain or support his or her health and wellbeing.
  17. The ban on cannabis dissuades doctors from prescribing it to patients who could benefit from the effects; and delays the process of recognition of its medicinal applications in the treatment of multiple afflictions such as HIV and AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, and chronic pain.
  18. The ban on cannabis denies the government the possibility of levying taxes on the product.

Source: hashmuseum.com/cannabis-cultuurprijs/








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