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





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





Dutch Coffeeshop Pass System Approved By European Court

16 12 2010

Coffeeshops will be effectively restricted from selling cannabis to non-residents, and Amsterdam is no exception. The controversial ‘weed pass’ system planned by the new Dutch government is not in conflict with the European treaty on free movement of goods, nor the current anti-discriminatory legislation, it was announced yesterday.

Man smoking a joint in an Amsterdam coffeeshop

Will tourists still be allowed to share cannabis bought by a resident?

The coalition government, already troubled by internal conflict and scandal in their first few months, asked that the European Court examine the new measure for possible conflict with existing legislation. The European Court has allowed the plans in order to combat the ‘drug tourism’ problems that residents have been experiencing in border towns.

Amsterdam relies on tourists, many of whom openly state that they would not visit the city if they were banned from coffeeshops, for a great deal of revenue. The Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan doubts that the pass system will improve anything, stating that street dealing and the problems associated with it will only increase. Despite this the government will not make an exception for the city that has been a Mecca for marijuana lovers for over three decades and a symbol of free thought and acceptance for hundreds of years.

The pass system will be implemented as soon as possible in the province of Brabant (in the south of the Netherlands, bordering Belgium) although details have not yet been released on who will approve, issue and control the passes, nor how they should be applied for. Other issues, such as whether tourists will be allowed into coffeeshops simply to drink coffee and if there will be restrictions on residents sharing legally purchased cannabis with non-residents, have yet to be explored.





Marc Emery – Prince of Pot

19 10 2009

Here’s a piece I found on Marc Emery on U.S TV – it includes an interview with his wife Jodie Emery and is well worth a watch!

Marc is one of the figureheads of the cannabis legalization movement and his treatment by U.S and Canandian prosecutors who circumvented normal procedure to extradite him from Canada is both contradictory and illegal in our eyes.  Further information can be found at drugwarrant.com

FREE MARC!





U.K Politicians who’ve admitted to smoking cannabis

29 09 2009

Here’s a little video I found which lists some of the U.K Politicians who’ve admitted to trying cannabis at one point in their life:

Why are they still in office?!  If they had been caught and criminalised they could never have entered politics in the first place with a drug related criminal record. Why are they so keen to impose the new classification when they obviously had no respect for the law themselves.








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