All posts by marijuanainsideradmin

Momentum of opinion to legalize marijuana.

Admin; Let’s pay attention to people that are supporting nationwide legalization.  Researchers, politicians, public figures telling their first hand experiences and reciting what they know to be true.  It’s  all moving in one direction.

Morgan Freeman Destroys The Argument Against Marijuana Legalization



Morgan Freeman Destroys The Argument Against Marijuana Legalization

Morgan Freeman


Since a 2008 car accident that shattered bones in his left arm, shoulder, and elbow, marijuana has served as an effective pain reliever for award-winning actor Morgan Freeman.

Freeman, an unabashed supporter of marijuana legalization, recently told the Daily Beast that there were too many medical benefits for lawmakers to ignore the issue, and public opinion, any longer.

“Marijuana has many useful uses. I have fibromyalgia pain in this arm, and the only thing that offers any relief is marijuana,” Freeman said. “They’re talking about kids who have grand mal seizures, and they’ve discovered that marijuana eases that down to where these children can have a life. That right there, to me, says, ‘Legalize it across the board!’”

Freeman counts among a growing chorus of celebrities who have expressed their support of marijuana legalization. Whoopi Goldberg, former comedian and co-host of daytime talk show The View, defended marijuana legalization before more than 3 million viewers, even inviting her co-hosts on a marijuana farm to learn more about the plant. Veteran actress Susan Sarandon, amember of the Marijuana Policy Project’s advisory board, admitted to sparking up before every award show. Even his holiness the Dalai Lama surprised Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike when he said that marijuana should be used for medical purposes.

These public figures have echoed a growing sentiment and shift in thinking about marijuana in the United States that has been in motion since Californialegalized medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, four states have legalized it and 12 have passed legislation for its medical use and decriminalization. Doctors prescribe marijuana for a host of ailments including muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, seizure disorders, poor appetite and weight loss caused by HIV, and nerve pain. Studies have also shown marijuana to be a less addictive alternative to prescription painkillers.

The debate has even crossed into veteran affairs. If a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have their way, doctors in states that have legalized medical marijuana will be able to prescribe it to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. This week, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill for limited medical use of cannabis oil, a product that some medical professionals say treats seizures.

Even with the headway made in marijuana policy reform, the plant maintains its designation as a Schedule 1 substance, along with other drugs that the federal government says have a high potential for abuse and are without medical benefits. In his comments to the Daily Beast, Freeman also derided what he described as archaic logic.

“They used to say, ‘You smoke that stuff, boy, you get hooked!’” Freeman said. “My first wife got me into it many years ago. How do I take it? However it comes! I’ll eat it, drink it, smoke it, snort it! This movement is really a long time coming, and it’s getting legs – longer legs. Now, the thrust is understanding that alcohol has no real medicinal use. Maybe if you have one drink it’ll quiet you down, but two or three and you’re fucked.”

The government’s rationale for not legalizing marijuana, however, may no longer stand with the release of a study that confirmed the plant’s potential to reduce aggressive types of brain tumors when combined with radiation treatment. In April, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)issued a revised report acknowledging the St. George University of London study and findings summarized in a research report last November. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine,” the statement read. “However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.”

For now, conducting further study will be easier said than done. Federal barriers to research mean that scientists often have to jump through hoops to secure samples legally through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and NIDA, a process that delays research by months, and oftentimes years.

That’s why there’s been some pressure to reclassify marijuana. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged the federal government to downgrade marijuana to a Schedule II drug, which would allow for more research into its potential uses to treat sick children suffering from seizures. “A Schedule I listing means there’s no medical use or helpful indications, but we know that’s not true,” Seth Ammerman, a clinical professor in pediatrics at Stanford University who co-authored the group’s policy statement on the subject, said at the time.

Paris, France effort to legalize cannabis.

Admin; Interesting article about legalization in France.  Epilepsy  and stress relief mentioned per studies and use so perhaps the world will slowly legalize as the truth about Schedule 1 from the 70’s is refuted…And the lies of the alcohol and tobacco lobbyist lose out to the new enlightenment. 


Through the haze, Paris protesters call for fresh cannabis laws


  • MAY 9, 2015, 10:27 PM

People demand the legalisation of marijuana, on May 9, 2015 in Paris, France© AFP Kenzo TribouillardPeople demand the legalisation of marijuana, on May 9, 2015 in Paris, France

Paris (AFP) – Sporting T-shirts and caps printed with marijuana leaves and with joints hanging from their lips, hundreds of people demonstrated in Paris on Saturday as part of a world march calling for the legalisation of cannabis.

Crowds of protesters, many dressed in Jamaican colours, made their way through the streets of the French capital from the Place de la Republique to Bastille calling for the legalisation of recreational marijuana use.

“What do we want? Legalisation,” chanted the crowd, wreathed in clouds of hashish smoke and gathered behind a banner reading “Another drug policy is possible” and placards calling for “Ganga for all”.

Some, like 16-year-old Julien, came because they wanted to “smoke in peace”. 

“Legalisation would mean less trafficking, better products and perhaps less crime,” he explained, between puffs.

But for others, the Global Marijuana March was about calling for a better life for the terminally ill. 

Beatrice, 52, has AIDS and a disorder of the nervous system that confined her to a wheelchair 20 years. “But since I started smoking marijuana, I have felt better,” she said. “I am walking again, it helps my therapy and it helps me to eat.”

For 15 years she has consumed between 0.8 and one gram of cannabis per day and, encouraged by her doctor, she now grows it in her garden. “I try to be discreet,” she said.

“It’s proven that consumption tumbles, violence tumbles, if it is legalised,” she said, adding that thousands of jobs would be created if the “oppressive” laws prohibiting cannabis were scrapped.

– ‘Demonisation’ of cannabis –

Cannabis use has been illegal in France since 1970, punishable by one year in prison and a 3,750-euro ($4,200) fine. In practice, imprisonment is rare, although fines continue to be meted out.

For Alain, a supporter of recreational marijuana user in his 50s, the “demonisation” of cannabis has been supported by the pharmaceutical industry as “cannabis could be an affordable antidepressant”.

According to Senator Esther Benbassa, who was behind a bill proposing the state-controlled sale and use of cannabis that was shot down in April, most objections boil down to morality. 

“There is still the idea that the cannabis smoker is on the wrong track. He smokes every day, it’s an addiction,” she said, calling for fresh legislation on what she sees as a “public health problem”.

A young transvestite member of militant LGBT group the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who was wearing a coloured religious outfit said smoking marijuana can give severely ill people better lives.

“The use of cannabis by people who are suffering very complicated, tough treatments is beyond necessary, it is vital,” he said.

Rejecting the cliche that only “old hippies” smoke weed, he said cannabis “is the only thing that allows some epileptic children to live”. 

“You don’t make them smoke joints, but give it to them in milk, biscuits or in capsules. That way they can go to school, they don’t become vegetables like with other medications.”

Read more:

Puerto Rico surprise order to legalize medical marijuana signed by Governor Padilla.

Admin; So now we just need all other Governors to take initiative and do the same thing! Is this an idea to be applied to states that know the voters/citizens are profoundly in agreement with legalizing medical marijuana?  Yet their state’s politicians are dragging their feet due to contributions from Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco?

Puerto Rico governor signs order to legalize medical marijuana

  • Article by: DANICA COTO , Associated Press
  • Updated: May 3, 2015 – 8:01 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor on Sunday signed an executive order to authorize the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory in an unexpected move following a lengthy public debate.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island’s health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect.

“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”

The order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use.

Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes. He noted that medical marijuana is used in the U.S. mainland and elsewhere to treat pain associated with migraines and illnesses including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and AIDS.

Medical marijuana is already legal in 23 U.S. states, and a group of U.S. legislators is seeking to remove federal prohibitions on it. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica recently passed a law that partially decriminalized small amounts of pot and paved the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector.

Jaime Perello, president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said he supported Garcia’s order.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief.”

Opposition legislator Jenniffer Gonzalez said Garcia’s actions leave the law of controlled substances in what she called a “judicial limbo.”

Back in 2013, Puerto Rico legislators debated a bill that would allow people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but a final vote was never taken.

Amado Martinez, an activist who supports legalizing marijuana for all uses, said in a phone interview that he was very surprised by the governor’s actions.

He wondered what type of illnesses would receive authorization for medical marijuana, and whether the medical marijuana will be imported or if people can obtain licenses to grow it on the island.

“There are so many questions. We have to look at all those details,” he said

Louisiana medical marijuana additional legislative validation.

Admin; Good to see supportive legislation developing to validate and facilitate the medical marijuana patients needs in Louisiana.

Medical marijuana legalization passes first test in Louisiana Legislature

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Marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif. Louisiana state Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, has pushing legislation again to legalize a medical marijuana dispensary in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal said this week he would be open to signing such legislation, as long as it’s tightly constrained. The bill must first past the test of the Senate Health and Welfare committee.

Tim Morris,|The Times-Picayune

Emily Lane, | The Times-PicayuneBy Emily Lane, | The Times-Picayune
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on April 29, 2015 at 1:09 PM, updated April 29, 2015 at 10:28 PM

A legislative panel gave its full backing to legislation Wednesday (April 29) that proposes authorizing legal dispensaries for medical marijuana in Louisiana. 

By advancing the bill to the full Senate without objection from any members of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, the possibility widened that Louisiana patients suffering from a few, certain diseases could soon obtain a prescription for marijuana in few, certain forms. If the bill becomes law, medical marijuana would not be available in a smokable form, for example. It would also be restricted for use by patients suffering from glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. 

The Louisiana Legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1991, but there’s no mechanism in current law that allows for the legal dispensing of the drug. Doctors can legally prescribe it, patients can legally use it, but they don’t have a middleman. Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, gives legal authority to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to set rules regulating a tightly constrained dispensary system.

Mills attributed his first legislative victory regarding the medical marijuana bill to collaboration with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. By negotiating with the lobby group, Mills was able to get his bill in a posture that allowed the group to take a neutral stance on it. The organization carries lots of weight with legislators because their constituents — especially those in more rural areas — view their sheriffs as the leading pubic safety advocate in their communities. The bill died in the same committee last year by a vote of 6-2, after the sheriff’s group testified against it. 

While the sheriffs’ group’s official stance on the bill was neutral, the organization’s executive director Mike Ranatza sat next to Mills and spoke of the good he thought it could do, if tightly constrained and properly regulated. 

“The move our sheriffs made was to be compassionate, to provide relief and hopefully not harm anyone,” Ranatza said, of the organization’s decision not to oppose the bill.

After impassioned testimony from several residents afflicted with symptoms the drug could remedy, the Senate Health and Welfare committee advanced the legislation. Cheers sounded in the committee room at the Louisiana State Capitol, and Mills shook hands with committee chairman state Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans.

It now goes the the full Senate for consideration before moving over to the House. 

. . . . . .

Emily Lane is a news reporter based in Baton Rouge. Reach her or 504-717-7699. Follow her on Twitter (@emilymlane) orFacebook.

Georgia medical marijuana signed into law.

Admin; Georgia becomes the 26th state to pass some form of medical marijuana.  About time…Please watch Dr. Gupta’s video explaining how CBD can help children’s seizures.

Girl’s seizures spur medical marijuana legislation in Georgia

By Lauren Sennet, CNN

Updated 12:14 PM ET, Thu April 16, 2015

(CNN)The Coxes can rest more comfortably living in Georgia now that their 5-year-old daughter can get the marijuana extract she needs.

“This means the world to us,” said Haleigh Cox’s mother, Janea Cox.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Thursday that will legalize low-THC cannabis oil for certain “medication-resistant epilepsies,” while creating an infrastructure, registration process and research program for the drug. (THC is the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana.)

The bill is dubbed Haleigh’s Hope Act.

Haleigh, who has been the face of the bill, was having hundreds of seizures a day and the five potent drugs meant to control them weren’t making life better for the little girl.

Janea Cox and her daughter Haleigh fly to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Janea Cox and her daughter Haleigh fly to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Janea Cox said in a March 2014 interview that she made the difficult decision to move her daughter to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal, in hopes of saving her life.

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

    10 diseases marijuana could affect

    Cox had heard that a form of medical marijuana might help, but it wasn’t available in Georgia. So a week after hearing a doctor’s diagnosis that Haleigh might not live another three months, 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.

    “Every time she smiled I knew we did the right thing, because we hadn’t seen her smile in three years,” Cox said. “Now she’s thriving, she’s healthy, she’s happy, and they’re absolutely shocked at the difference. So I think we’ve turned some nonbelievers into believers of cannabis oil.”

    Senators Booker and Gillibrand on medical marijuana

    Senators Booker and Gillibrand on medical marijuana

    Deal is apparently one of those believers, signing HB1 on Thursday and opening the door for the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions.

    The bill will benefit not only people who suffer from chronic seizure disorders, but it also will allow patients to receive in-state treatment. To obtain a license in Georgia, you will need to have a specific covered condition, such as acute seizures.

    “For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over,” Deal said Thursday. “… Now, Georgia children and their families may return home while continuing to receive much-needed care.”

    For Cox, it’s a blessing “to be able to come back home, and with Haleigh’s medicine, it’s done wonders for her — going from 200-plus seizures a day and on her deathbed to a smiling, happy girl who says words now and looks us in the eye and lets us know she’s in there.”

    She added, “Colorado has been good to us, but Georgia’s home. Georgia’s definitely home.”

    With medical marijuana legal in nearly half the states, doctors are increasingly studying what effect the drug has on various ailments. While Georgia’s law is specific to a handful of conditions, medical marijuana laws in states such as California permit marijuana use for an array of ailments.

    But as states rewrite their regulations, federal law remains the same: Marijuana is illegal to grow, sell or use for any purpose. Under the 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, it presents a Catch-22: Marijuana is restricted, in large part, because there is scant research to support medical uses, yet research is difficult to conduct because of tight restrictions.

    Marijuana Legalization now decidedly favored by U.S. Citizens.


    An array of polling company’s are coming up with the same results when voter age citizens are quizzed about their opinion on legalization of marijuana.

    This makes Chris Christie out of touch with his public relations team; apparently they are “yes” people wanting to save their jobs instead of having the fortitude to point out to the Govenor that he’s about 30 years behind public opinion.

    What we have in America is Baby Boomers that were “there” at Woodstock and share a common belief with their children and grandchildren in marijuana needing to be legalized. 

    So you now have 3 generations in America that are aligned in their opinion to legalize.

    When you drill down into the details this poll shows that even if the people asked do not consume marijuana they still think it should be recreationally available.



    There is a term “the quickening” and it means that the time has come, the turning point has come. 

    Guess what; the proof of the quickening was Colorado and Washington.

    No turning back.

    The hypocrisy of Schedule one designation is trending to end.

    Medical and recreational marijuana is legalizing right before our very eyes.

    Thanks to common sense by the citizens.

    Minnesota hemp and marijuana legislation.

    Admin; Sigh…This lawmaker should be more concerned about tobacco and alcohol; oh-wait, maybe those are his biggest political donations.

    Lawmaker worries that hemp would lead to legal marijuana in Minnesota

    By Don Davis
    Forum News Service

    POSTED:   04/08/2015 12:01:00 AM CDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 6 HOURS AGO

    If Minnesota approves limited industrial hemp growth, a state senator with a long-time law enforcement background fears recreational marijuana use will be close behind.

    “To me, it is baby steps toward recreational marijuana and I think we will find that out by the end of the session,” Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said Wednesday after a committee approved a bill to allow hemp to be grown by researchers.

    Ingebrigtsen predicted attempts will be made to amend the hemp bill to include recreational marijuana use. Minnesota law allows a limited use of medical marijuana, but recreational use remains illegal.

    Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, brought the hemp bill to the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Division.

    Minnesota state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. (Minnesota Senate photo)

    Minnesota state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. (Minnesota Senate photo)

    It would allow limited growth of hemp as part of a study, with the intention of eventually launching an industry with widespread hemp production.

    Eken said farmers in his area of northwestern Minnesota would especially benefit from growing hemp, which can be made into products as varied as clothing and cooking oil. Hemp already is grown just north of Minnesota in Canada, Eken said, and $625 million worth of products made there are sold in the United States.

    The senator said that manufacturing plants would sprout in Minnesota if hemp were allowed.

    “Honestly, I have not had a bunch of farmers come through my door … and say we need this commodity in Minnesota,” said Ingebrigtsen, a former Douglas County sheriff who has opposed hemp growth whenever it has been debated in the Legislature.


    Committee Chairman David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said that he has not heard there will be an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana through Eken’s bill. However, he said, an attempt could be made in a committee to change the hemp measure.

    Tomassoni said that testimony in his committee showed that hemp and marijuana, while related and look similar, are not compatible growing near each other, so he does not see the connection that Ingebrigtsen sees.

    Many law enforcement officials oppose legalizing hemp because it looks so much like marijuana that they say the illegal plant could be hidden within a hemp field.

    Thom Petersen of Minnesota Farmers Union said the only legal problem Canada had when it legalized hemp years ago was that people would steal it out of fields. They were disappointed when they tried to smoke it and it did not give them a high, Petersen said, adding that the thefts only lasted a year or two.

    Tomassoni’s committee will continue to consider another bill debated Wednesday: to fund a study of Minnesota and nearby states’ livestock and poultry industry for the past 10 years. The bill requires the state agriculture commissioner to use the study to tell lawmakers how they can best help strengthen and expand the Minnesota animal agriculture industry.

    No one objected to the study, but Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, raised concerns when Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, successfully added an amendment to study how lawsuits affect farmers.

    Dibble said he could not support the overall bill if the Weber provision is included. It would require a state-conducted study of impacts from lawsuits about items such as farm dust and manure odor. He said the bill incorporating the study carries with it “a forgone conclusion that these lawsuits are not warranted.”

    Tomassoni, however, said he does not think the Weber provision will kill the bill.

    “It will be worked out,” Tomassoni said of the dispute.

    Tomassoni’s committee also considered a measure that could be folded into a larger bill to spend $100,000 over the next two years to help farmers and agribusinesses export products to Cuba.


    Marijuana legalization in Texas.

    Admin; Amazing read about the shift to logic, reason paved by successful legalization in California and Colorado. The last two paragraphs are an excellent critique of the future of marijuana legalization in America.

    Medical marijuana in Texas: ‘The wind is shifting’

    A Q&A with drug-reform advocate William Martin

    By Claudia Kolker, for the Houston Chronicle

    April 7, 2015 Updated: April 7, 2015 5:41pm

    What makes people change their minds about drugs? Specifically, what has prompted political leaders, voters, law enforcement officials, and even the medical establishment to so alter their views that marijuana is now decriminalized in more than 20 states and has been made legal for recreational use in Colorado?

    For sociologist William Martin, one of Texas’ strongest advocates of drug-law reform, the answer lies in a compelling new mix of research, the experience of people who have used marijuana for medical purposes, and steady work by scholars and activists that has revealed the failures of drug prohibition.

    Faith in the cause might also help. Martin, an emeritus professor at Rice and a senior fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, is currently best known for preaching drug policy reform. But he first appeared in the public eye as a different type of preacher: At 14 he was a child evangelist in the fundamentalist Church of Christ. Two years later, at Abilene Christian University, Martin was still preaching on weekends. But he was also beginning a career as a scholar. His studies led him to question the fundamentalist world-view and to focus more on Biblical principles of justice and compassion.

    Martin went on to earn a seminary degree at Harvard Divinity School as well as a doctorate in sociology and ethics. Returning to Texas, he became one of Rice University’s most popular professors. During those years, he also maintained an unusual connection with mainstream readers, authoring seven books and writing regularly for publications ranging from The Atlantic to Texas Monthly.

    Martin says that his own experience with illegal drugs was limited to a few timid tokes of marijuana in the early 1970s; his advocacy is based on the public health and economic fallout of decades of failed drug policy. As director of the Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program, he has written, testified, and worked in favor of projects such as the needle exchange program proposed by Legacy Community Health Services in Montrose.

    “This is not something I expected to be doing in my old age,” he says. “But it’s pretty interesting.”

    Q: What drug-policy reforms do you advocate?

    A: First, regulation is better than prohibition. Drug prohibition causes more problems than it solves. That’s not to say that drugs don’t cause problems. I’m not saying we should put rocks of crack in gumball machines at McDonald’s. But we have regulation already for much stronger substances than marijuana. We’ve already regulated drugs like amphetamines — there are many problems with their use, but at least they’re not contaminated with lye and people don’t blow themselves up making them.

    Perhaps most important, we need to reform our approach to alcohol, which is the number one drug of abuse in the country. Absent criminal behavior, we ought to treat all drug use as we treat alcohol: as a medical and public health problem, rather than a crime. I think most scientists and medical people who work in the field of addiction agree on that. At one point, the National Institute for Drug Abuse and the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse seriously considered merging. They decided not to because people do not like to give up their fiefdoms.

    We also should study the examples of other governments to see what works. Switzerland and the Netherlands provide addicts with pharmaceutical-grade heroin in a sterile environment with a nurse present in case of overdose. Participants in those programs can live a reasonably normal life and their participation in crime has dropped by more than 70 percent. Portugal has decriminalized all drugs. If someone gets in trouble, they deal with it as a social problem, with a three-person panel to decide on proper measures. I was in Portugal recently, and visited with the police there. It hasn’t been the chaos that people predicted, and no one has gone to jail for simple possession or use in fifteen years. Other European countries are looking at as a possible model.

    The best thing we can do is to focus on adolescents and drug abuse. This is difficult. Part of the problem is genetic. Part is family and environment. But we have spent a trillion dollars on what doesn’t work. We’ve now got four decades of mapping illicit drug use. We know that about 7 percent of adolescents under 18 have a substance abuse problem.

    Between 18 and 25 years old, 20 percent have a problem. Then, after age 26, it’s about 7 percent. As many as 90 percent of substance abusers in that older group developed the problem in adolescence before age 18. This is where we need to focus.

    Finally, we need to reform the criminal justice system and the penalties for drug possession. One of the worst things that can happen to a young person is getting a criminal record. You lose a scholarship, your family can lose access to public housing, it’s difficult to find employment. In fiscal year 2011, nonviolent drug offenders who were incarcerated in Texas state jail or prisons cost us $725,000 a day — that’s $264 million a year. I think pretty much everyone agrees that drug policy reform is going to save or make money.

    Bill Martin in his office. Photo: ©

    Photo: ©

    Bill Martin in his office.

    Q: What drew you to studying drug policy?

    A: When I came to Rice in 1968, I was assigned to teach a course in American social problems. I had never taken a course on American social problems! But I had seen the issue through reading and in projects such as starting a settlement house in Boston in the mid-1960s. Early on, I started bringing in people like gay and prison activist Ray Hill, prostitutes, police officers to speak to the class.

    Also in 1972, a book came out, Licit and Illicit Drugs, published by Consumer Reports. It was a wonderful book: It talked about how heroin could be dealt with by providing addicts with pharmaceutical-grade heroin in a clean, medical environment, thus taking the criminal aspect out of it. It talked about how marijuana was not as harmful as it was portrayed to be. It was the early ’70s, a lot of my students were using marijuana, and I started paying attention to it.

    I also taught criminology for 35 years. I thought that instead of saying drugs cause crimes, it is more accurate to say people who commit crimes also use drugs. Personal and social factors are more important than the drugs themselves. That’s not to say that drugs cannot cause serious problems.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been involved in the Baker Institute since it began. In 2000, I was asked by Jerry Epstein and Dr. Al Robison of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas if the Baker Institute would be interested in drug policy. I knew we were needlessly packing our prisons for drug offenses. Fortunately, others agree.

    Q: You recently wrote an article for Texas Monthly about veterans’ efforts to obtain medical marijuana.

    A: Many veterans find medical marijuana more effective than conventional medications for PTSD and chronic pain. When a guy has done four tours in Iraq and been shot in the chest, it’s hard to look him in the eye and say, “You just want to smoke pot because you’re a slacker.”

    Different strains of marijuana are more likely to create anxiety or paranoia than others. Dr. Raphael Machoulam, the Israeli professor of medicinal chemistry who identified THC, the component in marijuana that creates a high, discovered that we have an “endocannabinoid system.” We manufacture cannabis and we have receptors for it. For people who don’t have enough or who get overwhelmed by trauma such as war, an outside source can bring them back into balance.

    Q: Have you always specialized in marijuana policy?

    A: No. One of the first things I took on was not marijuana, but a needle-exchange program for injecting-drugs users favored by the Legacy Clinic in Montrose. This is essentially a freebie. The science is clear: It prevents blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C without increasing drug use. We weren’t asking for any tax money: Charities would cover the exchange. We came quite close a couple of times, but never got it through.

    In March, I testified in favor of a bill co-sponsored by San Antonio Representative Ruth McClendon Jones and Houston Representative Garnett Coleman that would allow pilot programs in at least seven of the state’s largest cities. Taxpayer funding would be allowed, but not required.

    "Iran has needle exchange programs!" says Martin. But in Texas, "fundamentalist Christianity is preoccupied with 'bodily sins.'" Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff / © 2012 Houston Chronicle

    Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff

    “Iran has needle exchange programs!” says Martin. But in Texas, “fundamentalist Christianity is preoccupied with ‘bodily sins.'”

    Q: Texas is the only state that makes needle exchanges impossible, by banning purchasing syringes for illegal drug use. Is there something in Texas culture that reinforces this position?

    A: Even the conservative mullahs in Iran has permit needle exchange programs, to combat an AIDS epidemic spread by heroin users!

    There’s an ascetic quality that one often finds among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, who have considerable influence in Texas politics. They are often preoccupied with “bodily sins.” Personal morality figures very highly. Sex. Dancing. Drinking. That is often accompanied by a punitive streak: ”We’re denying ourselves. You’re not denying yourself, so you should be punished.”

    When I was at Abilene Christian in the 1950s, I never felt personally repressed. But a girl I knew got expelled for going to a dance during Christmas vacation. A guy was suspended for a year for drinking wine while he was in Europe in the summer. There is a belief in “mortification of the flesh.” That has eased up considerably in many quarters, including Abilene Christian, and the popular “prosperity gospel” does not emphasize self-denial. But that ascetic quality still plays a role in resisting changes to our drug laws.

    Q: Does the Baker Institute support your advocacy for drug-policy reform?

    A: I’ve never had anything but encouragement. I have lobbied and testified before the Texas House and Senate. I have written in the mainstream press about reform. I’ve organized conferences and worked in coalitions with a wide range of people. I know it does help that this initiative for reform is coming from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

    Q: How have the supporters of reform changed in recent years?

    A: They’ve really diversified. Some think of drug policy reform as a liberal cause, but this movement is supported by the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Ron and Rand Paul, and many others. I’m in touch with two women, conservative Tea Party members and members of a Bible church in Austin, who are fierce advocates for medical marijuana for autism and epilepsy.

    The Texas Association of Business and Legislative Budget Board has called for lowering the penalties on things like cocaine possession. [Former District Attorney] Pat Lykos didn’t want to prosecute cases involving minute traces of drugs, and was supported by the command structure of the police department, but not the union. HPD Chief Charles McClelland made headlines last December by calling the War on Drugs a failure and calling enforcement of laws against casual marijuana use a waste of time and other valuable resources.

    The organizations range from the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, the ACLU, and NORML to Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, Mothers Against Teen Violence, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

    Q: What are the chances for legislative reform in Texas?

    A: For the first time, the a major reform coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, has come together in an impressive way, including hiring a lobbyist and having professional organizers working in Austin for much of the last year. More than 300 people gathered at the Capitol on February 18 to visit every legislative office and distribute materials supportive of reform — including a document, Marijuana Reform: Fears and Facts, that our program’s Alfred C. Glassell, III, Postdoctoral Fellow Katharine Neill and I prepared. Other smaller groups have followed up since.

    Bills currently before the 2015 session of the Legislature include the needle-exchange bill I’ve already mentioned, several bills that would lower or remove criminal penalties for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, and a comprehensive medical marijuana bill. On April 8, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hear testimony on four such bills in a single session.

    Reform has a better chance in initiative states such as Colorado and California, where voters can gather enough signatures to put issues the ballot. In Texas you have to convince legislators to draw up a bill and then move it through a complicated process, with possible roadblocks at every turn. But if other states relax their laws without falling into ruin, and people see pressure builds, and more people recognize multiple medical uses of cannabis and the financial benefits of lowered law enforcement costs and a legal marijuana industry, Texas will eventually come on board.

    For this session, I think some form of decriminalization has the best chance, and perhaps a modest medical bill. Whatever happens, the wind is clearly shifting, and is finally at our backs.

    Medical marijuana CBD quality control; yes.

    Admin; Vs too much vindictive federal oversight by old school biased officials; NO.  Perhaps retirement by retirement my concerns about closed minded federal employees is overly stated…Steven Nelson at US News has a worth reading article. Balanced and informative.

    FDA Brings Down Hammer on CBD Companies

    Medical pot advocates say it may be a good thing.

    Matt Figi hugs his once-severely ill daughter Charlotte inside a greenhouse growing a special strain of marijuana known as Charlotte's Web near Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Feb. 7, 2014. Charlotte's mother says it's a good thing the FDA went after some CBD producers.

    Matt Figi hugs his once severely ill daughter Charlotte inside a greenhouse growing a special strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web near Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Feb. 7, 2014. Charlotte’s mother says it’s a good thing the FDA went after some CBD producers.

    By Steven NelsonMarch 11, 2015 | 4:39 p.m. EDT+ More

    The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on several companies selling products advertised as containing cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in marijuana widely used without FDA approval to treat epilepsy and other conditions – and some medical pot activists are pleased to hear it.

    In late February, the federal agency sent letters to seven companies that market CBD products to treat health conditions, five of them for humans and two for pets, warning their products are not “generally recognized as safe and effective“ and that the companies are engaging in illegal interstate commerce.

    Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means under federal law it has no accepted medical value. CBD, however, does not produce a high and research into the compound is on the upswing as parents of epileptic children and others flee to states that allow its use.

    Although now accessible in most states – as 23 allow medical marijuana and a dozen others, many in the Deep South, allow just CBD oil – the FDA has not approved any CBD medicines and the products cannot be marketed for treatment of health conditions.

    “To date, the FDA has not approved any drug product containing cannabidiol, for any indication, meaning none of these products have been determined by FDA to be safe or effective for their intended indications,” agency spokesman Jeff Ventura tells U.S. News.

    “FDA has grown concerned at the proliferation of therapeutic claims being made about an increasing number of products, for sale in all 50 states, purporting to contain cannabidiol,” he says. “The marketing and promotional materials for many of these products indicate they are intended for the use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases, including, for example: cancer, various infections, psychiatric disorders, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and diabetes.”

    Ventura says the FDA “has not issued guidance or an opinion on these kinds of products, [but] the agency reserves the right to take action when appropriate to preserve and protect the public health.”

    Kevin Sabet, a former presidential drug policy adviser who now leads the anti-marijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, celebrated the FDA crackdown in a Wednesday email to supporters. “Let’s hope this is a sign of more intervention to come,” he wrote.

    Perhaps surprisingly, some pro-CBD activists hold the same view, seeing the crackdown as a good thing for patients and a way to weed out bad actors.

    The FDA supplemented its letters with publicly released lab results showing levels of CBD in contested products. Some items, the results showed, had CBD concentrations lower than advertised. 

    [READ: Former GOP Governor Looks to Build the ‘Microsoft of Marijuana’]

    “I’m extremely encouraged that they’re taking a look at this from the consumer point of view of safety,” says Paige Figi, founder of the Coalition for Access Now. “That’s exactly what I stand for and what I want.”

    Figi’s daughter Charlotte suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy that CBD appears to treat effectively. A high-CBD strain of cannabis called Charlotte’s Web is named for her.

    The company that produces Charlotte’s Web-branded items in Colorado and California uses third-party lab testing to ensure quality, Figi says.

    “They’re cracking down on quality, which is extremely important, and I’m very happy – I couldn’t be more pleased,” Figi says. She says she’s glad the FDA outed companies misrepresenting their products and agrees with the FDA that health claims should currently be avoided by companies.

    “It’s nerve-racking and frustrating to watch companies act this way,” she says. “I don’t think people should be making claims until we have proven data.”

    Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access, says CBD-producing companies likely can avoid FDA warning letters quite easily.

    “Threatening letters from the FDA are not as likely to target medical marijuana companies that: a) do not engage in interstate commerce and only sell their products within the states that have legalized medical marijuana, and b) do not make claims as to proven efficacy without FDA approval,” Hermes says in an email.

    Hermes says his advocacy group would be concerned if the FDA crackdown prevents CBD from reaching patients, but notes his group has not tested the contested products. Product reliability is increasingly important, he says, and Americans for Safe Access has set up a third-party certification program to help customers buy products with confidence.

    150225_thumb (4)

    The FDA currently allows some research into CBD, giving fast-track status last year to a CBD medicine that may one day treat Dravet syndrome and fast-track approval for clinical trials of a drug using both CBD and THC – the marijuana compound that produces a high – for pain treatment for cancer patients.

    On Tuesday, three senators introduced legislation that would explicitly legalize state-level medical marijuana programs and lower marijuana’s federal classification to Schedule II, which would open the doors to more research and possible distribution of marijuana and marijuana-derived medicines at conventional pharmacies.


    Tennessee medical marijuana bill.

    Admin; this bill from Tennessee was quietly developed and will be up for consideration to move forward in the next few days…

    Bill aims to legalize use of cannabis oil by suffering Tennesseans

    April 5th, 2015by Kate Belzin Local Regional NewsRead Time: 5 mins.

    Kimberly Brown, right, with Brown’s German Shepherds, speaks as five-year-old Cora Vowell watches during a meeting to discuss the legalization of medical cannabis with Times Free Press editors and writers on April 1, 2015. Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/Times Free Press.

    Conditions that could warrant cannabis use

    Proposed legislation aims to give patients the ability to use cannabis oil if they have one of the six following “debilitating” conditions:
    * Stage II-IV terminal cancer
    * Parkinson’s disease
    * Multiple sclerosis
    * Intractable seizures diagnosed from epilepsy
    * Huntington’s disease
    * Crohn’s disease
    * Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
    * Any terminal health condition in which palliative use is recommended for end-of-life care
    Source: House Bill 1284/Senate Bill 1248
    * Vaporization or atomization
    * Oils
    * Ingestible gel caps
    * Transdermal patches
    Source: Source: House Bill 1284/Senate Bill 1248

    Sporting a pale pink helmet and flanked by her faithful German shepherd, 5-year-old Cora Vowell looks ready to hop on a tricycle, or maybe go barreling headfirst into a backyard football game.

    But Cora cannot ride her bike or play sports.The helmet is part of her everyday outfit, protecting her head against the nine to 12 seizures that batter her body each day. Her German shepherd, Hulk, is a therapy dog, trained to alert Cora’s parents when the seizures start.

    Brought on by an accident more than a year ago, those seizures are a constant in the family’s life — so frequent that her mother, Melissa Vowell, doesn’t even break conversation as she swiftly reacts to one of her daughter’s brief episodes, holding her close until it passes.

    But just because the Vowells have grown familiar with Cora’s epilepsy doesn’t mean they feel OK with it. They aren’t OK with her not knowing her ABCs. Or her steady intake of psychoactive drugs, which make her sleep through most of the school day but don’t do much to relieve her seizures. They want more options.

    That’s why they are trying to bring momentum to one Tennessee group’s 11th-hour efforts this legislative session to make cannabis oil legal for treating conditions like epilepsy. Physicians have told the Vowells that the oil could minimize Cora’s seizures.

    “It’s heartbreaking to have to tell your child that she can’t go play on the jungle gym or do karate like the other kids do,” Melissa Vowell said. “It’s just hard to explain to her, when she asks you to take the pain away every day.”

    The bill, introduced and sponsored by Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, and Sen. Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville, would allow marijuana to be grown, manufactured into medical products and sold to Tennesseans of all ages who suffer from a handful of debilitating medical conditions including epilepsy, terminal cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

    The most recent draft of HB1284, which seeks to legalize medical cannabis.

    The investment group pushing the legislation, called TennCanGrow LLC, was started late last year by Murfreesboro health care attorney Ted LaRoche.

    “We see this could be life-changing for many people,” said LaRoche, who hopes to form a cannabis production company if the bill is passed. “It’s a business opportunity for us, which allows us to focus on what is reasonable and doable when it comes to getting legislation passed. But it’s a business that could help people.”

    Dickerson, an anesthesiologist, said he felt comfortable carrying the legislation after seeing how the “science has accumulated” on the therapeutic properties of cannabis oil.

    “The national dialogue has changed dramatically on this issue over the last several years,” Dickerson said.


    Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, sponsored a bill that passed last year permitting a pilot program that uses low-THC marijuana cultivated by Tennessee Technological University as a therapy for epileptic children.

    That program has stalled so far. But for advocates, it signaled an openness to rethinking marijuana legislation.

    Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/Times Free Press.

    A Vanderbilt University poll in 2014 showed that 76 percent of Tennesseans are in favor of legalizing marijuana in some form, with 32 percent in favor of general legalization and 44 percent supporting only medicinal use.

    Twenty-three states permit some kind of marijuana usage. Georgia passed a bill last week legalizing cannabis oil in medical treatment.

    The wide spectrum of state legislation gives lawmakers a range of test cases to study, explained Erik Williams, a Colorado-based political consultant and medical marijuana activist brought in by TennCanGrow to direct the organization’s government affairs. He is unrelated to Rep. Ryan Williams.

    “We see how things have been done well, and how things have been done poorly,” Erik Williams said. California, with its loose laws on dispensaries, is the prime example of what not to do, he said.

    Dickerson and Ryan Williams say their bill lies on the strictest end of the spectrum, excluding recreational use and allowing only minimal levels of THC, the psychoactive agent that causes users to get high.

    Tennessee companies that wish to sell cannabis would have to take on the entire operation — farming, production and distribution — to be licensed, and would have to install plant-to-sale tracking systems. Doctors would have to recommend patients to the Tennessee Department of Health, which would issue ID cards required at dispensaries. The cannabis would come in the form of gel tabs, a patch or oils.

    Even without all the regulations, the advocates say that in comparison with prescription painkillers — heavily abused in Tennessee — marijuana is a far safer drug. And it could have far fewer side effects than medications epileptic patients now rely on, said Rita Moore, education services director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee.

    “Those medicines can completely incapacitate them,” she said. Conversely, “the side effects of [medical marijuana] are very, very minimal.”

    Ryan Williams says the strict language of the bill “eliminates one of biggest concerns, which is that medical cannabis is going to lead to a ‘pot culture.’

    “Tennessee was never meant to be a Colorado, and I don’t want it to be,” he said.

    Still, he and Dickerson say some critics believe such legislation would pave the way for outright decriminalization.

    On the other side, advocates for legal marijuana have mixed responses. Some have celebrated the bill, while others say it is too narrow and benefits only special interest groups. Production companies would have to pay $50,000 with their license application, and the fact that licensees must oversee the entire seed-to-sale operation effectively excludes small, independent farmers, critics say.

    “This bill has nothing to do with ending suffering,” said Steve Cooper, a Nashville-based medical marijuana advocate who runs a website called Tennessee Medical Marijuana Voter Initiatives. “It is all about some wealthy guys getting together, seeing the writing on the wall when it comes to what directions this country is moving in with decriminalizing marijuana, and trying to get in there on the ground floor to monopolize production.”

    Cooper favors medical marijuana legislation repeatedly introduced by Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones, which has not made it out of committee this session. That bill, he said, is less stringent on which medical conditions warrant cannabis, and does not limit production to all-in-one operations.

    Dickerson said getting criticism from both sides makes him think he has “landed in the sweet spot” for workable legislation.

    But the bill’s outlook remains unclear. On Thursday, House Speaker Beth Harwell said she believed the bill needs more study and vetting, with input from the commissioner of public health.

    The bill is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday in the House Health Committee and be presented in the Senate House and Welfare Committee.

    Contact staff writer Kate Belz at or 423-757-6673.