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Marijuana News Roundup: The End of the War on Weed

Paul Ausick

Recent legalization of cannabis in more than half of U.S. states, Canada, Uruguay(!), and soon other nations marks "the beginning of the end of the futile war on weed," according to The Economist. When even a relatively conservative publication that has been continuously in print since 1843 declares that the war on pot has been lost, well, maybe the war is over.

Or maybe not. The big cannabis-related news last week came at a White House press conference where press secretary Sean Spicer said that under the Trump administration Americans should expect "greater enforcement" of federal marijuana laws.

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Or maybe not. A report from the Tax Foundation published last May reckoned that if marijuana were legal for all uses in all 50 U.S. states, tax collections could rise by as much as $28 billion a year. That's about as much as President Trump said it would cost to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In its inimitable style, The Economist offers these words of advice for proponents and opponents alike:

Those who would rather ban the drug should stop flogging the dead horse of prohibition and start campaigning for versions of legalisation that do the least harm (just as the temperance movement these days lobbies for higher taxes on booze, rather than a ban). Legalisers, meanwhile, should open their eyes to the fact that the legal marijuana industry, which until now has only had to prove itself more worthy than organised criminals, now needs as much scrutiny as the other “sin” industries that defend their turf jealously.

Here's an interesting exchange from the Verde Valley (Arizona) Independent on the vocabulary of pot.

Letter [to the Editor]: 'Weed vs. Guns' Reveals Absurdity of Marijuana Prohibition
Your article on weed vs. guns reveals the absurdity of marijuana prohibition. Not only is the government’s understanding of marijuana and its users based on flawed premises, out-dated notions, and a lack of experience or understanding, but focusing on enforcing marijuana prohibition is a waste of money, manpower, and time. Marijuana users are probably among the least violent people out there, and there are many vets among them. Good luck trying to get their guns from them.

This illustrates well that those making and enforcing the laws are from a particular socio-economic background and have little to no experience with marijuana or other drugs; similar biases exist in other government institutions. I find it ironic that we often demand our reps have experience to work in government, except when it comes to drugs. It would seem prudent to hire people who have past drug experiences to inform drug policy, since they are the only ones who actually know something about drugs. But no, it seems that the feds would rather cling to an out-dated reefer madness mentality that serves no one well because it is propaganda not reality. And furthermore, at least when it comes to marijuana use, the feds are doing us all a grave disservice by excluding from employment many bright and talented individuals who just happen to smoke weed instead of drinking alcohol.

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Read more at the Verde Valley Independent.

Here's the editor's response.

Commentary: Movement Toward Legal Marijuana Creates New PC Affinity; Dope Smokers are 'Cannabis Curious Consumers'
The ongoing effort toward full legalization of marijuana has created a new hybrid of political correctness when it comes to the descriptors of pot.

Those who ascribe to such PC affinity will say I already crossed that line.

Ditto for the messages that came my way concerning our Friday story about the applicability of federal gun laws to those who hold medical marijuana cards. The story included a graphic with the title: "Weed or Guns."

Some took offense. "You’re giving marijuana a bad name," they claimed.

I beg to differ. In the 100 or more years that marijuana has been the recreational drug of choice for so many, it's largely been dope smokers who have coined the many names by which marijuana is called: pot, dope, weed, schwag, grass, bud, ganja, reefer, bomb, etc, etc, etc. In the drug culture, those names were not considered derogatory, and in many cases were affectionately referred. Why else would they ask, “Do you know where I can get some good weed?”

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Read more at the Verde Valley Independent.

Legal Marijuana: Will Alabama Be Last?
As legalized marijuana spreads across the United States, most observers remain skeptical that recreational marijuana will be legal anytime soon in Alabama.

"We're the Bible Belt," said Gary Hetzel, a retired warden at Donaldson and Holman prisons and now executive director of the Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility. "We're too conservative."

Marijuana activists are hopeful, but realistic.

"It will be legal here when the people force their elected officials to stop enforcing an obviously failed and disastrous policy," said Loretta Nall, executive director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care and founder of the U.S. Marijuana Party, which began as the Alabama Marijuana Party. "Having been an activist here and knowing how difficult it is to motivate enough people to make a difference, I'll say that I don't see that happening any time soon."

Read more at AL.com.

Huge Cannabis Farm 'was staffed by trafficked Vietnamese teenagers'
A vast marijuana farm discovered in a former nuclear bunker in Wiltshire [United Kingdom] was staffed by trafficked Vietnamese teenagers working in slave-like conditions, police say.

The three teenagers, the youngest of whom was initially thought to be 15, and one adult in his 30s, were found working as gardeners inside the 1980s bunker after a midnight raid on Wednesday.

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DI Paul Franklin from Wiltshire police said officers recognised that the four gardeners were victims, adding: "No one would do this by choice." He described the living and working conditions in the 20-room bunker, hidden in the countryside, as "grim for anyone, let alone a 15-year-old".

"This was slave labour. There is no natural light, no running water supplies, water had to be brought in. This is hard, manual labour – it's not just a walk around with a watering can. I was shocked by the scale of it," Franklin said. "There is no fresh air, just the cloying, sweet humid smell of the plants that permeates everything."

Detectives were trying to establish whether the four men were able to come and go freely or were locked inside RGHQ Chilmark, built in 1985 to serve as the regional government headquarters in the event of a nuclear attack. The two-storey underground site is no longer owned by the Ministry of Defence, but remains intact, with protective nuclear blast doors still in place.

Read more at The Guardian.

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