UK hemp crop growing well without fertilizer, pesticide

By Janet Patton

[email protected] 30, 2014

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UK agronomist Dave Williams stood next to a plot of 7-foot hemp plants at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington last Thursday. This hemp was planted in late May after the seeds were released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Hemp’s comeback in Kentucky is going strong, tall and green.

A patch of hemp seeded at the University of Kentucky’s Spindletop research farm in Lexington in late May has climbed well over 6 feet in some places and is still going, without neither fertilizer nor pesticides.

"It’s doing just fine so far," said Dave Williams, a UK agronomist who, with Rich Mundell, is in charge of the test plots.

"We’ve had enough rain to keep it growing and enough heat to make it grow."

The first legal hemp planted in Central Kentucky appears to be off to a good start despite being planted later than originally hoped.

The seeds, imported from Italy, were seized by U.S. Customs officials in Louisville because the Kentucky Department of Agriculture did not have an import permit. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer sued the federal government to have them released.

The DEA agreed to expedite permits for the state and agreed that private growers also can be permitted by the department to grow cannabis sativa, which is almost identical to marijuana but with minuscule amounts of high-inducing chemicals.

The federal suit will be officially dismissed soon, said Holly VonLuehrte, Comer’s chief of staff.

Further shipments have come in without difficulty, and now about 15 Kentucky farmers have planted test plots for the department, she said.

Williams said his hemp, which includes a larger plot with 13 strains, all thought to be fiber varieties, will be harvested in late September or early October.

The variety in the test plot that has become the poster child for Kentucky hemp is called red petiole and will be evaluated for how much fiber it yields.

This planting is just a first step for what many farmers across the state hope will become a lucrative crop.

The KDA anticipates having at least 30 farmers growing hemp next year, VonLuehrte said.

Williams plans to plant much more as well.

"We’d like to test more varieties than what were available this year," he said. "There are lots of different fertility regimes we’d like to look at, planting densities we’d like to look at. Lots of research yet to do."

Other Kentucky universities also planted hemp this year — the first time it has been legally planted in the United States in decades. Murray State got seeds in the ground first, in mid-May.

The same varieties at Spindletop also have been planted at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond and at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Data from all the locations will be compared with the Fayette County trials.

Next comes finding a processor and a buyer. Some processors have expressed interest, Williams said.

"We’re very excited about that," he said. "If farmers can’t sell it, can’t pack it up in a truck, drive it somewhere and sell it … And if it’s not worth more than whatever their lowest value crop is …" Williams shrugged.

"Really, establishing that market is key."

Decades ago, when hemp was a major crop in Kentucky, it was grown primarily for fiber, as it is today in Europe. But Canada’s hemp industry is built on seed, mainly processed for oil.

Williams and Mundell hope next year to grow some varieties for seed, rather than fiber.

"This is just a baby step in the research that needs to be conducted before we can make great recommendations to farmers in Kentucky," Williams said. "This is just the first step in the right direction."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/30/3358896/uk-hemp-crop-growing-well-without.html#storylink=cpy

Study: Arrests For Marijuana Offenses Increasing In Many States –

by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 30, 2014

 

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Law enforcement in many states are making a greater number of marijuana arrests than ever before despite polling data showing that the majority of Americans believe that the adult use of the plant ought to be legal.

According to a just published report, “Marijuana in the States 2012: Analysis and Detailed Data on Marijuana Use and Arrests,” which appears on the newly launched RegulatingCannabis.com website, police made an estimated 750,000 arrests for marijuana violations in 2012 – a 110 percent increase in annual arrests since 1991. Yet, despite this doubling in annual marijuana arrests over the past two decades, there has not been any significant reduction in marijuana consumption in the United States the report found.

In 2012, marijuana arrests accounted for almost half (48.3 percent) of all drug arrests nationwide. Marijuana arrests accounted for two-thirds of more of all drug arrests in five states: Nebraska (74.1 percent), New Hampshire (72 percent), Montana (70.3 percent), Wyoming (68.7 percent) and Wisconsin (67.1 percent).

From 2008 to 2012, seventeen state-level jurisdictions experienced an average annual increase in marijuana arrests, the report found. South Carolina (11.6 percent) and the District of Columbia (7.7 percent) experienced the highest overall percentage increase in arrests during this time period. By contrast, annual marijuana arrests fell nationwide by an average of 3.3 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Overall, the study reported that the five state-level jurisdictions possessing the highest arrest rates for marijuana offenses are the District to Columbia (729 arrests per 100,000 citizens), New York (577), Louisiana (451), Illinois (447) and Nebraska (421). District of Columbia lawmakers decriminalized the adult possession of marijuana earlier this month.

The two states possessing the lowest marijuana arrest rates are California and Massachusetts, the report found. Both states decriminalized marijuana possession offenses in recent years.

Stated the report’s author, Shenondoah University professor Jon Gettman, “After a generation of marijuana arrests, nearly 19 million and counting since 1981, the results are that marijuana remains widely used, not perceived as risky by a majority of the population, and widely available. The tremendous variance in use and arrests at the state level demonstrate why marijuana prohibition has failed and is not a viable national policy.”

Full text of the report is available on the NORML website here or from: RegulatingCannabis.com.

– See more at: http://blog.norml.org/2014/07/30/study-arrests-for-marijuana-offenses-increasing-in-many-states/#sthash.l9sfun7e.MOcw3eNJ.dpuf

Study: Arrests For Marijuana Offenses Increasing In Many States –

by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 30, 2014

 

621944_10150949827526231_559718398_o

 

Law enforcement in many states are making a greater number of marijuana arrests than ever before despite polling data showing that the majority of Americans believe that the adult use of the plant ought to be legal.

According to a just published report, “Marijuana in the States 2012: Analysis and Detailed Data on Marijuana Use and Arrests,” which appears on the newly launched RegulatingCannabis.com website, police made an estimated 750,000 arrests for marijuana violations in 2012 – a 110 percent increase in annual arrests since 1991. Yet, despite this doubling in annual marijuana arrests over the past two decades, there has not been any significant reduction in marijuana consumption in the United States the report found.

In 2012, marijuana arrests accounted for almost half (48.3 percent) of all drug arrests nationwide. Marijuana arrests accounted for two-thirds of more of all drug arrests in five states: Nebraska (74.1 percent), New Hampshire (72 percent), Montana (70.3 percent), Wyoming (68.7 percent) and Wisconsin (67.1 percent).

From 2008 to 2012, seventeen state-level jurisdictions experienced an average annual increase in marijuana arrests, the report found. South Carolina (11.6 percent) and the District of Columbia (7.7 percent) experienced the highest overall percentage increase in arrests during this time period. By contrast, annual marijuana arrests fell nationwide by an average of 3.3 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Overall, the study reported that the five state-level jurisdictions possessing the highest arrest rates for marijuana offenses are the District to Columbia (729 arrests per 100,000 citizens), New York (577), Louisiana (451), Illinois (447) and Nebraska (421). District of Columbia lawmakers decriminalized the adult possession of marijuana earlier this month.

The two states possessing the lowest marijuana arrest rates are California and Massachusetts, the report found. Both states decriminalized marijuana possession offenses in recent years.

Stated the report’s author, Shenondoah University professor Jon Gettman, “After a generation of marijuana arrests, nearly 19 million and counting since 1981, the results are that marijuana remains widely used, not perceived as risky by a majority of the population, and widely available. The tremendous variance in use and arrests at the state level demonstrate why marijuana prohibition has failed and is not a viable national policy.”

Full text of the report is available on the NORML website here or from: RegulatingCannabis.com.

– See more at: http://blog.norml.org/2014/07/30/study-arrests-for-marijuana-offenses-increasing-in-many-states/#sthash.l9sfun7e.MOcw3eNJ.dpuf

The Required White House Response on Marijuana

 

 

 

By David Firestone, New York Times – Tuesday, July 29 2014

When the White House issued a statement last night saying that marijuana should remain illegal — responding to our pro-legalization editorial series — officials there weren’t just expressing an opinion. They were following the law. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is required by statute to oppose all efforts to legalize any banned drug.

It’s one of the most anti-scientific, know-nothing provisions in any federal law, but it remains an active imposition on every White House. The “drug czar,” as the director of the drug control policy office is informally known, must “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” that’s listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and has no “approved” medical use.

Marijuana fits that description, as do heroin and LSD. But unlike those far more dangerous drugs, marijuana has medical benefits that are widely known and are now officially recognized in 35 states. The drug czar, though, isn’t allowed to recognize them, and whenever any member of Congress tries to change that, the White House office is required to stand up and block the effort. It cannot allow any federal study that might demonstrate the rapidly changing medical consensus on marijuana’s benefits and its relative lack of harm compared to alcohol and tobacco.

“It’s a complete Catch-22,” said Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, who has introduced legislation to change the requirement. “They should be giving Congress and the American people the benefit of the latest research, and yet by statute, they’re prohibited from doing so. They have no choice but to say they’re against it. Joseph Heller should be working there.”

– Read the entire article at New York Times.

SOURCE: Cannabis Culture

 

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Response to The New York Times Editorial Board’s Call for Federal Marijuana Legalization

 

 

Posted by ONDCP Staff on July 28, 2014 at 06:40 PM EDT

The New York Times editorial board opined in its Sunday July 27, 2014 edition that the Federal government should legalize marijuana for adults aged 21 years and older. The New York Times editorial board compares Federal marijuana policy to the failure of alcohol prohibition and advocates for legalization based on the harm inflicted on young African American men who become involved in the criminal justice system as a result of marijuana possession charges. We agree that the criminal justice system is in need of reform and that disproportionality exists throughout the system.  However, marijuana legalization is not the silver bullet solution to the issue.

In its argument, The New York Times editorial team failed to mention a cascade of public health problems associated with the increased availability of marijuana. While law enforcement will always play an important role in combating violent crime associated with the drug trade, the Obama Administration approaches substance use as a public health issue, not merely a criminal justice problem.

The editorial ignores the science and fails to address public health problems associated with increased marijuana use. Here are the facts:

  • Marijuana use affects the developing brain. A recent study in Brain reveals impairment of the development of structures in some regions of the brain following prolonged marijuana use that began in adolescence or young adulthood.[1] Marijuana use is associated with cognitive impairment, including lower IQ among adult chronic users who began using marijuana at an early age.[2]
  • Substance use in school age children has a detrimental effect on their academic achievement. Students who received earned D’s or F’s were more likely to be current users of marijuana than those who earned A’s (45% vs. 10%).[3]
  • Marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana. This number increases to about 17 percent among those who start young and to 25-50 percent among people who use marijuana daily.[4]
  • Drugged driving is a threat to our roadways. Marijuana significantly impairs coordination and reaction time and is the illicit drug most frequently found to be involved in automobile accidents, including fatal ones.[5]

The editors of The New York Times may have valid concerns about disproportionality throughout our criminal justice system.  But we as policy makers cannot ignore the basic scientific fact that marijuana is addictive and marijuana use has harmful consequences.  Increased consumption leads to higher public health and financial costs for society. Addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco, which are legal and taxed, already result in much higher social costs than the revenue they generate. The cost to society of alcohol alone is estimated to be more than 15 times the revenue gained by its taxation.[6] For this reason, the Obama Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy remain committed to drug use prevention, treatment, support for recovery, and innovative criminal justice strategies to break the cycle of drug use and associated crime. This approach is helping improve public health and safety in communities across the United States.

Research also indicates that policies making drugs more available would likely not eliminate the black market or improve public health and safety, as promoted by marijuana advocates. Reports from the nonpartisan RAND Institute found that the potential economic benefits from legalization had been overstated, citing that:

  • Marijuana legalization would not eliminate the black market for marijuana.[7]
  • Dramatically lowered prices could mean substantially lower potential tax revenue for states.[8]

We are also keeping a close eye on the states of Washington and Colorado in conformance with the directive provided by the Attorney General in August 2013.

Any discussion on the issue should be guided by science and evidence, not ideology and wishful thinking. The Obama Administration continues to oppose legalization of marijuana and other illegal drugs because it flies in the face of a public health approach to reducing drug use and its consequences. Our approach is founded on the understanding of addiction as a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated, and from which people can recover. We will continue to focus on genuine drug policy reform – a strategy that rejects extremes, and promotes expanded access to treatment, evidence-based prevention efforts, and alternatives to incarceration.


[1] Zalesky A, et al. 2012. Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fibre connectivity. Brain: A Journal of Neurology. 135 (7): 2245-2255. Available at http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/135/7/2245.full.pdf+html

[2] Meier et al., “Adolescent-onset cannabis and neuropsychological health.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

[August 27, 2012]. Available: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/08/22/1206820109

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services. Alcohol and Other Drug Use and Academic Achievement. 2010. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/alcohol_other_d…

[4] Anthony, JC; Warner, LA, Kessler, RC.  1994.  Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey.  Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2:244-268.

[5] Brady JE, Li G (2014) Trends in Alcohol and Other Drugs Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States, 199-2010,” American Journal of Epidemiology [Epub ahead of print].

[6] Ellen E. Bouchery, Henrick J. Harwood, Jeffrey J. Sacks, Carol J. Simon, Robert D. Brewer. Economic Costs of

Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006. American Journal of Preventive Medicine – November 2011

(Vol. 41, Issue 5, Pages 516-524, DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.06.045). Available:

http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(11)00538-1/fulltext xiii Kilmer, Beau, et al., Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Viol

[7] Kilmer, Beau, et al., Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana

in California Help? RAND Corporation. [2010]. Available:

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2010/RAND_OP…

[8] Kilmer, Beau, et al., Altered States? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence

Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets. RAND Corporation. [2010]. Available:

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2010/RAND_OP…

CONTINUE READING…

Federal marijuana bill would legalize some cannabis strains

By Caleb Hellerman, CNN

updated 1:26 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014

(CNN) — Doctors in Macon, Georgia, told Janea Cox that her daughter, Haleigh, might not live another three months.

That was the middle of March, when Haleigh’s brain was being short-circuited by hundreds of seizures a day, overrunning the array of five potent drugs meant to control them. Worse, the drugs were damaging Haleigh’s organs.

"She was maxed out," Cox said. "She’d quit breathing several times a day, and the doctors blamed it on the seizure medications."

Cox had heard that a form of medical marijuana might help, but it wasn’t available in central Georgia. So a week after hearing the ominous diagnosis, she and Haleigh packed up and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, Haleigh began a regimen of cannabis oil: four times a day and once at night.

By summer, she was down to just a handful of seizures a day. In less than three months, doctors were able to wean her off Depakote, a powerful medication that had been damaging her liver.

Haleigh had never been able to walk or talk. But freed from seizures in Colorado, "She said ‘Mama’ for the first time," Cox said. "She’s playing with puzzles; she’s walking. She’s almost being a normal child."

Despite all the good news, Cox is living in limbo. Her husband, a paramedic, couldn’t afford to leave his job and pension; he still lives and works in Forsyth, Georgia. The family is relying on charity to keep their Colorado apartment for the next few months; beyond that, the future is uncertain.

A bill being introduced Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives could be Cox’s ticket home. The three-page bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act — the federal law that criminalizes marijuana — to exempt plants with an extremely low percentage of THC, the chemical that makes users high.

Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed

If passed, it would be the first time that federal law allows any medical marijuana use.

"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up their family," said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, the bill’s sponsor. "We live in America, and if there’s something that would make my child better, and they can’t get it because of the government, that’s not right."

The bill will land in a Congress that may be open to change. Across the country, highly sympathetic patients and a nonintoxicating product have proved a popular mix. This year alone, 11 states have passed legislation loosening regulation of cannabis strains with high cannabidiol and/or minimal THC content.

In this atmosphere, Perry says that once members and their staffs are brought up to speed, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of intractability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress."

Dubbed the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014, the bill is named after Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose parents have campaigned nationwide for easier access to medical marijuana after successfully controlling their daughter’s seizures with cannabis oil. Since her story became known, a growing number of parents have flocked to Colorado, hoping for similar success.

The Charlotte’s Web cannabis strain, developed by the Realm of Caring nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs, is in high demand, in part because of the attention it’s received in the media. Many families wait months for a batch to be grown and processed into cannabis oil. Perry’s bill, however, would apply to any cannabis strain with a THC content of less than 0.3%.

Charlotte’s Web and similar strains not only have minimal THC, they have high levels of cannabidiol, another chemical. A growing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabidiol can effectively control seizures, though there are no published studies to support its use.

It’s easy to find critics who say parents should follow a more traditional route.

"There is no evidence for marijuana as a treatment for seizures," Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, a physician, claimed during a congressional hearing last month. "We hear anecdotal stories, and that’s how myths come about."

Fleming and others point out that a pharmaceutical version of cannabidiol oil, called Epidiolex, is being tested in clinical trials. But many children aren’t able to get into the trials. Haleigh Cox is disqualified because she has type-1 diabetes. Others aren’t willing to wait several months to be enrolled.

"With Epidiolex, there just aren’t enough seats at the table," said Mark Knecht, a father from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, whose story helped inspire Perry’s bill.

His daughter Anna, 11, has epilepsy and suffers anywhere from a handful of seizures a day to more than 100, despite her four anti-convulsant medications. Knecht, the chief financial officer of a large Christian medical nonprofit, says Anna has been evaluated at several top hospitals but couldn’t land a spot in the Epidiolex trial.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing medical marijuana for a variety of conditions. But even as states rewrite their regulations, federal law remains the same: Marijuana is illegal to grow, sell or use for any purpose. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed on Schedule 1, meaning it has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." To backers of reform, the Catch-22 is familiar: Marijuana is restricted in large part because there is little research to support medical uses; research is difficult to conduct because of tight restrictions.

A series of memos from the Justice Department has said that arresting individual medical marijuana users is not a priority, and a 2013 memo added that federal prosecutors should not target large commercial operations except on a case-by-case basis. But most observers say that shipping or transporting the drug across state lines ups the ante.

"For families like us, the biggest issue is the federal issue. You can’t take it across state lines," Knecht explained.

His family still lives in Mechanicsburg. But after seeing CNN’s medical marijuana documentary last year, Anna and her mother, Deb, established residency in Colorado, where they obtained a medical marijuana card that let them place an order for a batch cannabis oil, in hopes it will control Anna’s seizures. If Perry’s bill becomes law, Knecht says, "Realm of Caring could just put it in a FedEx package."

The Food and Drug Administration is conducting a review of scientific evidence to determine whether marijuana warrants looser treatment, but a spokeswoman says there’s no set date to complete the analysis. A review in 2011 ended with the Drug Enforcement Administration leaving marijuana’s status unaltered.

But certain actions in Congress give Perry and his supporters hope.

This month, the House passed a bill allowing banks to handle cash proceeds from dispensaries and other legal marijuana businesses.

The most recent Farm Bill allows industrial hemp — a strain of cannabis without THC — to be grown for academic or research purposes. That didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from seizing a shipment of hemp seeds bound for the University of Kentucky this spring. In response, the Senate Appropriations Committee, with support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, passed an amendment blocking DEA funds for anti-hemp enforcement.

In May, the House passed a measure blocking money for DEA raids on marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law.

And just last week, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took it a step further, introducing an amendment to the Jobs Bill that would forbid federal prosecution of doctors and patients whose actions are legal under state medical marijuana laws.

"If states allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, and people are in good faith prescribing medical marijuana, we want to make sure it’s OK and that the federal government doesn’t come in and prosecute somebody," said Brian Darling, Paul’s communications director.

The amendment seems likely to die amidst wrangling over the Jobs Bill, but Darling says his boss plans to move forward on a standalone measure.

"There are a lot of people who have been locked up on marijuana laws for a long time," Darling said. "The War on Drugs has gone overboard."

Knecht doesn’t want to uproot his family to move to Colorado. But he says his hand may be forced. "We’re taking this situation one day at a time."

That’s where Janea Cox was a few months ago. She hadn’t heard about Perry’s bill until she got a call from a reporter but says she understands where the Pennsylvania families are coming from. She’s angry at home-state lawmakers who failed to push through Georgia’s cannabidiol oil bill this spring.

"I lived in Georgia for 17 years," she said, "but here in Colorado, I met my child for the first time, at the age of 5."

Medical marijuana research stalls after Arizona professor is let go

CONTINUE READING…

NYT: REPEAL PROHIBITION, AGAIN…

 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.

In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.

We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

CONTINUE READING…

Brave New World: Even the UN is open to drug decriminalisation

By Ian Dunt Friday, 25 July 2014 11:17 AM

 

 

15890419-cannabis-leaf-isolated-on-white-background

 

The body set up to enforce the world’s drugs laws has admitted decriminalisation is an "alternative" to prohibition.

The story is unlikely to garner many headlines but this is brave new world territory. It’s the global equivalent of a town sheriff telling his officers not to put people in jail for taking drugs anymore.

The funny thing is, it happened ages ago and we didn’t even notice.

It’s in the 2007 report of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a deeply reactionary and aggressive body which polices nation states’ obedience to the 1961 Single Convention banning recreational drugs. Transform’s Danny Kushlick was going through it the other day when he noticed something remarkable. It says there is no need to send anyone to jail for the "possession, purchase or cultivation" of recreational drugs.

Here’s the quote in full, from section B18:

"The conventions differentiate sharply between offences related to drug trafficking and offences related to personal use of illicit drugs and between offences committed by drug abusers and those committed by others.

"Under the 1988 Convention, drug abusers who commit offences may be required to undergo treatment, education, aftercare, rehabilitation or social reintegration, in addition to being convicted or punished, providing that the facts and circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence indicate it to be an offence of a minor nature.

"However, with offences involving the possession, purchase or cultivation of illicit drugs for the offender’s personal use, the measures can be applied as complete alternatives to conviction and punishment, and none of the convention obligations referred to in paragraphs 15-17 above apply to such offences.

"As such, the conventions recognize that, to be truly effective, a State’s response to offences by drug abusers must address both the offences and the abuse of drugs (the underlying cause)."

As Kushlick wrote to me:

"It’s weird on two fronts:

"1) That they said it and

"2) That no one had noticed it before

"I feel a bit like I walked through the looking glass…"

It’s important to note where the board stops. It is not supportive of legalisation. In fact when Uruguay legalised cannabis, it bullied it with a statement warning about the impact on the country’s "public health and well being".

It added, with a trace of malevolence:

"INCB looks forward to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with all countries, including those where such misguided initiatives are being pursued, with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the convention and protecting public health."

Bu the fact that this organisation is open to decriminalisation is an astonishing benchmark for the drug reform movement. Apparently, even the most die-hard prohibitionists are starting to recognise the evidence of decades of failure. As Kushlick said: "UK politicians must follow the numerous countries that have decriminalised, to vastly greater success, rather than those that continue to criminalise users and small-scale growers."

Fittingly, the comment has been discovered just after the UN’s leading health agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), effectively called on countries to end the criminalisation of narcotics. The WHO has worked hand-in hand-with the INCB to aggressively push for the blanket ban on recreational drugs on the world stage.

Now, after countless deaths and ruined lives, it has changed its tune.

A report earlier this month on HIV among vulnerable people – like gay men, drug injectors, prisoners and sex workers – suggested countries end the criminalisation of injection and certainly stop sending people to jail for it.

"Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalise injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration," it said.

It also called for countries to decriminalise programmes which provide clean needles and syringes and encouraged opiate substitution treatment for people who are dependant. Finally, it said countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

The recommendations were in relation to HIV and drug injection, but you can see how the priority is being placed on public health rather than criminal justice. This is the balance of priorities which drug reform advocates have been demanding for decades: a focus on saving life rather than punishing it.

The ramifications of that advice go well beyond injection. It’s unthinkable that someone offering that advice would suggest sending a cannabis smoker to jail, for instance.

With intellectual changes of this magnitude taking place at a global level, there’s a growing sense that we’re approaching critical mass. Soon even the most studiously ignorant national government – like ours, for instance – will need to take note.

It’s a brave new world. And we’ve been in it since 2007, apparently.

CONTINUE READING THRU SOURCE:

Kentucky has 237 of the children crossing into US

By Associated Press Friday, July 25, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky has received less than 1 percent of the unaccompanied children crossing into the United States.

New federal data published Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families showed Kentucky received 237 of the more than 30,000 children who have been released to sponsors this year through July 7.

Texas, New York, Florida and California received the most, accounting for 46 percent of the children received during that time.

Unaccompanied children have been fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the U.S. because they believe they will be allowed to stay.

Children are placed in government shelters and then released to sponsors while they go through deportation proceedings. In many cases, the sponsors are the children’s parents, other relatives or a family friend.

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Online:

Administration for Children and Families report: http://1.usa.gov/1nYpbLB

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/25/kentucky-has-237-of-the-children-crossing-into-us/#ixzz38TV2vSvz
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Kentucky pushing court records online to boost access

COVINGTON, Ky – . Kentucky is pushing to digitize court records and eventually make them more accessible to the public.

State Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller said the goal is to get all 120 Kentucky counties and all types of cases operating on a single system by the end of 2015. Keller, chair of the courts’ Technology Governance Committee and leader of this effort, said e-filing simplifies work for court clerks, judges and attorneys.

“Many people have worked very hard to take this first step in making our system more efficient, cost-effective and better able to meet the needs of our citizens,” she said.

Keller told The Kentucky Enquirer all of these efficiencies will reduce the cost of doing business in the courts.

She does not believe it will cost court employees their jobs because most offices are already understaffed.

“Retirements and natural attrition should take care of it,” said Keller.

Kenton County went online Wednesday, joining Boone, Campbell, Gallatin and Franklin counties providing the service for civil cases.

Funding had been the system’s biggest hurdle, Keller said, until the Kentucky legislature gave the state’s courts permission in 2013 to borrow $28.1 million — enough to get everyone up and running.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Boone Circuit Clerk Dianne Murray, whose court has had a couple hundred cases filed electronically since May.

Keller is eager for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to be included in the effort, too, so she can carry around a DVD or thumb drive of the cases she reviews, instead of lugging around boxes and boxes of records.

Keller sees this as just another efficiency in the Kentucky court system, which has already done away with bail bondsmen, records court proceedings with audio and video (instead of relying on court reporters) and has implemented video arraignments.

“By studying other states’ (computerized) systems, we’ve learned from their mistakes and successes,” Keller said, “and think we’ll have one of the best systems in the country.”

Deputy clerk Sherry Goodridge handled Kenton County’s first e-filing, a foreclosure, Wednesday.

“It was very easy to do,” said Goodridge, estimating it saved her 30 minutes compared to the in-person system – the only way complaints were filed before.

Instead of writing everything out by hand and then entering it into the state’s computer database, she was able to print the file and it was automatically entered into the state system.

In Kenton County the system also allows clerks to send court summons directly to the sheriff’s office, instead of awaiting a deputy to pick them up.

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