Tag Archives: Marijuana

Marijuana Shows Potential in Treating Painkiller Addiction

Could marijuana be just what the doctor ordered to kick an addiction to opioid painkillers, the most widely prescribed class of drugs in America today?

Two reputable studies published in the last year point to this conclusion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving painkillers in 2014. That’s roughly 40 individuals per day.

When heroin is thrown into the mix, the death toll from opiates surpassed 28,000 people in 2014, a 14 percent increase year over year.

The rise in heroin use corresponds with an increase in prescription drug abuse over the last decade.

Prescription painkillers, for example, are involved in 68 percent of opioid overdoses treated in emergency rooms, according to the CDC and Federal Drug Administration.

The toll does not discriminate, impacting all major demographics, including women, inner-city racial minorities and suburban white youth. Sales of opioids reached nearly $2 billion in 2014.

Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the rate of death related to painkillers is 25 percent lower on average in states where medical marijuana use is legal compared with states where it remains prohibited.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow the marijuana plant to be used for medicinal purposes. And 16 states allow the use of cannabis oil without psychoactive effects to be used for certain medical conditions like epilepsy and Crohn’s disease.

And last summer, a Columbia University study found that among 60 patients, smoking marijuana was associated with successful completion an opioid detoxification program.

“Post-hoc analysis showed that the 32 percent of participants who smoked marijuana regularly during the outpatient phase had significantly lower ratings of insomnia and anxiety and were more likely to complete the 8-week trial,” the study extract reports.

Meanwhile, several states are moving to limit the prescribing of opioid painkillers like Hydrocodone and Oxycontin in an effort to limit abuse and dependence.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts, for example, passed a bill this month to restrict painkiller prescriptions to a 7-day supply. Vermont and Maine are exploring similar proposals.

And in Kentucky, opioid prescriptions dropped 8.6 percent in 2012 after doctors were required to check databases designed to weed out pill mills and doctor shopping.

Most states now have similar monitoring programs in place.

Stoned Vs Drunk Driving: New Study Reveals Which Is More Dangerous

Getting behind the wheel while stoned is indeed dangerous but not nearly as much as previously thought, according to a study by two Norwegian researchers.

Published in the journal Addiction, the study investigated how likely drivers who had been using cannabis were to get into a car accident. The researchers looked at 20 studies and two meta-analyses published between 1982 and 2015.

The study reportedly has a more unusual conclusion than previous research because it corrected for perceived methodological flaws of past studies. These methodological inaccuracies mean previous studies overestimated the risk of marijuana use while driving, according to the paper.

“Higher estimates from earlier meta-reviews were found to be largely driven by methodological issue,” said the authors. “In particular the use of data without adjustment for known confounders,” which include gender and age.

Correcting for these factors altered the results, giving a lower-risk profile. “Acute cannabis intoxication is related to a statistically significant risk increase of low to moderate magnitude [odds ratio between 1.2 and 1.4],” the study said.

These figures compare very favorably to alcohol, according a 2015 study by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (pdf). The study found that those driving with the legal amount of booze in their systems have an almost four-fold increased risk of crashing.

59 percent of Americans support decriminalizing marijuana and 52 percent say they are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a Morning Consult poll conducted for Vox and published last Tuesday. The poll defined decriminalization as “no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of that drug for personal use.” Morning Consult polled 1,994 registered voters between March 10 and March 13, 2016.

The data reflects similar findings from pollsters YouGov, Gallup and the Pew Research Center. (RELATED Poll: Majority Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization)

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Ex-AG Eric Holder: Pot ‘Ought to Be Rescheduled’

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said that he believes that the federal government should end marijuana’s classification alongside heroin as a hardcore Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use.

When asked during a comprehensive Tuesday PBS interview on criminal justice reform if marijuana should be decriminalized, Holder replied, “I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled. You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate. So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.

He also said of decriminalization, “That conversation I think ought to be had with regard to marijuana.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Holder credited Tea Party Republicans with helping to create the right timing for his push for criminal justice reforms while in office and said, “That was a surprising thing. As much as the country was, or at least the federal government were drifting to the right, you were hearing things from people on the right that was supportive of this notion of the need for criminal justice reform. Now, coming at it from perhaps from a different angle, in some ways, people on the right were talking about bankrupting the government, making sure that we didn’t spend as much money as we were on prisons — you know, $80 billion a year or so. … So although on the federal side, there was a drift to the right, a rise of the Tea Party caucus, even among them there was this notion that yeah, we need to do something about our criminal justice system. So the timing was right.

The drug war I think is over. Certainly calling it the drug war should be over. But the battle against the narcotics problem in this country has to go on. But we need to take some different approaches, and it should not all be seen as just a criminal justice problem. It ought to be seen as a public health issue,” Holder said.

[RELATED: Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic]

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director and retired Baltimore Police Department and Maryland State Police Maj. Neill Franklin said in a press release on Holder’s comments, “I believe Holder’s statements will inspire more high-ranking officials to speak publicly about the injustices they see in our failed marijuana policies. Ultimately, his support will move us closer to ending marijuana prohibition for good.

Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell raised questions about Holder’s sincerity in comments with The Chicago Sun-Times and said, “It would have been a lot better if he’d exercised the power to get marijuana rescheduling done while he was still in office. … There’s absolutely no reason marijuana should be in Schedule I, and it would be absurd to keep passing the buck to Congress when federal law clearly gives the administration the power to act.

In September of 2014, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


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Poll: Majority Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

By Guy Bentley – The majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a poll published Sunday.

The percentage of Americans who support marijuana legalization rose four points to 52 percent from when YouGov last asked the same question back in March 2015.

More than half of adults under the age of 65 support legalization but there is still strong opposition from those aged 65 and over. Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor of a more relaxed position on cannabis, with 66 percent supporting an end to prohibition.

This contrasted starkly with Republicans, with just over a third of GOP supporters supporting legalization. Around half of independent voters sided with legalization.

 Marijuana Poll

While support for full legalization commanded the backing of a little over half the country, a massive majority agreed that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws were costing more than they’re worth.

66 percent of those polled said the attempt to enforce the country’s marijuana laws cost more than it’s worth, with just 14 percent disagreeing.

The US records much support for marijuana legalization than comparable countries in western Europe such as Germany or the United Kingdom. Brits oppose loosening marijuana laws by 49 percent to 32 percent and Germany opposes legalization by 45 to 39 percent.

Brits oppose loosening marijuana laws by 49 percent to 32 percent and Germany opposes legalization by 45 to 39 percent. (RELATED: Did Marijuana Just Get Its Presidential Candidate?)

Cost of Enforcement of  Cannabis Laws
Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use including Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon and the District of Columbia.
On Jan. 7, New York became the latest state to open medical marijuana dispensaries, 18 months after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the substance for medical use.

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VIDEO: Charles Koch Rips Hypocrisy of Pot Criminalization

Billionaire philanthropist and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch blasted the hypocrisy of pot criminalization’s disproportionate enforcement in an October interview on CBS This Morning.

In the interview, which can be seen in the above-embedded video, Koch said, “Some poor kid in the inner city smokes a joint, goes to prison, ruins his life, where we have a president who is more privileged, who smoked a joint, becomes president. We have a candidate who admits smoking a joint — he’s running for president. Now, where is the justice in that?

The controversial Koch brothers have long pushed for criminal justice reforms that would reduce or eliminate harsh criminal penalties for non-violent offenders.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Speaking in terms of principles, Koch said, “I think government is a social agency of coercion. Now that sounds horrible and bad, but we need coercion. Beyond that, government should only be doing those things where coercion works better than voluntary cooperation and competition… But the burden of proof needs to be on the government.

Koch told CBS correspondent Anthony Mason that he dislikes the tone that many Republican candidates have struck on immigration in 2016 presidential primary debates. “We need to reform our immigration policy, letting everyone in this country who’s going to make the country better and let in no one who is going to make it worse,” he said.

Describing his business philosophy, Koch explained, “The way to succeed long term is not to think how do I maximize profits, but how do… we maximize the value we create for others.

[RELATED: Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’]

The Koch brothers are oft-vilified by political progressives who characterize their high levels of spending to promote political causes and candidates as efforts to buy elections.

I get a lot of death threats. I’m now on al-Qaeda’s hit list too. It gets pretty scary… I decided long ago I’d rather die for something than live for nothing,” said the billionaire.

He added, laughing off the challenges of pushing for his political views in the face of so much opposition, “My goal was to get more and more people to understand what makes their lives better, what’s fair, what’s a just society… You know, it’s hard to save the world when the world doesn’t want to be saved.

Roger Stone Claims He Fired John Kasich from ’76 Reagan Campaign for Selling Pot

At Wednesday night’s CNBC Republican presidential debate, Ohio Governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate John Kasich answered a question on marijuana legalization by saying, “Sending kids mixed signals about drugs is a disaster.” Following Kasich’s comment, former Donald Trump campaign adviser and Republican strategist Roger Stone issued a tweet calling the answer hypocritical and claiming that he once fired Kasich from Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign for selling marijuana to field reps.


Kasich’s campaign denied Stone’s claim and told reporters to check with political consultant Charlie Black, who also reportedly worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1976 campaign. Charlie Black told Cleveland.com that he had been Kasich’s supervisor in ’76, rather than Stone, and said Kasich “was very diligent” while campaigning for Reagan.

This is the first time I ever heard anyone mention drugs in connection with John Kasich. He was not fired. He certainly was not fired for drugs,” said Black.

[RELATED: Ohio Recreational Pot Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Nov. 2015 Ballot]

Kasich reportedly responded to the claim himself in comments to BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray and said, “Look, it’s Roger Stone. He’s nuts.

Roger Stone issued another tweet on Thursday morning, seen below, responding to Black’s denial of his claim.


Stone, who has worked in high-level positions on several Republican presidential campaigns and who has been referred to as a “legendary political hitman” according to his own website, has a history of making statements that spark controversy.

[RELATED: Geraldo Threatens to Fight Trump Adviser Over Racial Tweets]

Governor Kasich, whose state of Ohio is currently considering a referendum that would legalize marijuana for recreational use, is a vocal opponent of pot legalization. MLive.com notes that he called legalization a “terrible idea” and said of the ballot initiative, “So some drugs are okay but others aren’t? We’ve got kids. Why don’t we just say don’t do drugs, period.

For more election coverage, click here.

Menominee Indian Tribe Says DEA Destroyed Hemp Crop

The Menominee Indian Tribe says that the Drug Enforcement Administration raided what it characterized as a legal hemp crop last Friday. DEA officials acknowledged the raid over the weekend, but claimed that it was 30,000 marijuana plants, not hemp plants, that were seized during the raid on 20 acres of tribal property.

Menominee Indian Tribe Chairman Gary Besaw said in a statement:

[pull_quote_center]I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has made the decision to utilize the full force of the DEA to raid our Tribe. We were attempting to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the Farm Bill. We offered to take any differences in the interpretation of the Farm Bill to federal court. Instead, the Obama administration sent agents to destroy our crop while allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado. I just wish the President would explain to tribes why we can’t grow industrial hemp like the states, and even more importantly, why we don’t deserve an opportunity to make our argument to a federal judge rather than having our community raided by the DEA?[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Santee Sioux Tribe to Launch First-in-the-Nation Pot Resort in South Dakota]

DEA officials asserted that marijuana was being grown on the premises by non-tribe members from Colorado. CBS 58 Milwaukee pointed out the fact that no arrests were made during the raid and “the investigation is ongoing.”

The Menominee Tribe had reportedly been involved in face-to-face negotiations with the DEA prior to the raid and had offered to destroy some hemp strands from the crop which had been identified as problematic under the Farm Bill’s regulations.

[RELATED: DEA Records Show Punishment is Rare Among Rampant Misconduct]

North American Industrial Hemp Council founder Erwin Sholts told Fox 11 News, “There is always a little bit of THC [in hemp] because the one flower may in the harvesting process spill some THC onto the stalk and so on, but 3/10 of 1 percent is a general level of THC in industrial hemp and you can’t make a drug out of it.

The Menominee Indian Tribe’s statement on the raid said:

[pull_quote_center]In May 2015, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin legalized the growing of low THC non-psychotropic industrial hemp by Tribal licensees on its lands. Notice of this change in Tribal law was provided to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. This action was intended to comply with Congress’ actions in 2014 Farm Bill which recognizing [sic] a distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp that created an exception to the Controlled Substance Act to allow for growth, cultivation and the study of industrial hemp in certain circumstances. The Tribe’s industrial hemp crop was always intended to be a legal crop as allowed by the 2014 Farm Bill.[/pull_quote_center]

Ben Carson Says He Opposes Legal Pot, Would ‘Intensify’ Drug War

2016 GOP presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson told Glenn Beck on Wednesday that he opposes the legalization of marijuana and that he would “intensify” the federal government’s War on Drugs.

During a rapid-fire question-and-answer session on Glenn Beck’s radio program, seen in the above-embedded video at around the 1:30 mark, Beck asked Carson, “Do you continue the War on Drugs?

Absolutely,” replied Carson. “I intensify it.”

Glenn Beck followed up, “Let me ask you a question. How? I mean, it doesn’t seem to be working now.

Carson responded, “Well, go down to the border in Arizona like I was a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s an open highway, and the federal government isn’t doing anything to stop it.

Continuing his rapid-fire questioning, Beck asked, “Legalize marijuana?

I disagree with it,” responded Carson.

[RELATED: Christie Tells Colo. Pot Smokers to “Enjoy It” Now As He Will Bust Them As President]

During the round of questions, Carson also called warrantless NSA spying “terrible,” said that he supports building “the right kind” of border fence, and called for the development of a “double fence” with increased border patrols. He said that he would deport undocumented immigrants “if they qualify as illegals,” but that he would “give people the ability to register in a certain period of time and if they have pristine records and they are willing to work as guest workers under the circumstances that we survive, they could stay.

But they don’t become citizens and they don’t vote,” he added. He also said that he supports fining businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Carson said that he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003 based on what is known now, but he feels that U.S. ground troops are needed there now as a “stabilizing force” against ISIS.

[RELATED: Ben Carson: U.S. Dollar ‘Not Based on Anything. Why Would We Be Continuing to Do That?’]

Carson offered his support for domestic oil drilling and the development of the Keystone Pipeline. He also stated his opposition to national educational standards and expressed that, unless the organization changes, he supports de-funding and withdrawing U.S. participation from the United Nations.

For more election coverage, click here.

Ohio Marijuana Convicts Could Have Their Records Purged

By Guy Bentley – Ohioans with marijuana convictions could have their records purged if the campaign group pushing for marijuana legalization gets its way.

ResponsibleOhio is pushing the move and is also the main campaign group backing a proposed constitutional amendment — Issue 3 — that would legalize both recreational and medical marijuana in the state, reported the Dayton Daily News.

The ballot initiative would permit Ohioans to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes, while commercial growing would be limited to 10 sites. The vote will be held Nov. 3rd.

ResponsibleOhio claims to have collected 236,759 signatures in support of the Fresh Start Act, which would allow people with convictions made legal by Issue 3 to file a petition to the courts to expunge their criminal records.

The act would give some people “a second chance,” ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, Ian James, told the Dayton Daily News. “This allows people that have been convicted of offenses that are no longer illegal an ability to move forward, an ability to get expungement and sentencing review,” he said.

The Fresh Start Act would go before the Ohio Assembly in January 2016, and lawmakers would have four months to pass the bill. If the proposal is thrown out, however, or the wording is changed, another 92,000 signatures would need to be collected before the reform could be put to the voters.

The Fresh Start Act would not apply to federal marijuana offenses or offenses that would remain illegal under Issue 3. It has received strong support from pastors and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

“We fully support this, and we fully support giving people further opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and get out from underneath the thumb of oppressive laws and policies that … affect their employment, affect their housing, affect their education,” Gary Daniels, attorney and chief lobbyist for the Ohio ACLU, said in a press conference reported by The Alliance Review.

The United Food and Commercial Workers have also been active in organizing industry workers to support Issue 3. (RELATED: Union Sets Its Sights On Ohio Marijuana Growers)

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Exclusive Post-GOP Debate Interview With Gary Johnson

“After last night I believe now that the Republican nominee is going to be Carly Fiorina,” says Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former two-term Republican governor from New Mexico. “I think Carly Fiorina won the debate hands down. I thought she was clearly impressive, that she was dynamic,” said Johnson, but “I disagree with her on a lot of things she had to say.”

Johnson told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook in an exclusive interview that he disagreed with Fiorina on her marijuana policy. Johnson, who is fiscally responsible and socially liberal, noted that when U.S. Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.), NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J) and Carly Fiorina were discussing drug laws, there was talk of utilizing treatment options rather than incarceration. “That’s a really old model, the notion to pledge support for treatment over incarceration,” said Johnson, particularly for marijuana.

“The Republican Party is behind the eight-ball on a lot of issues that are directly impacting the country and the world and it’s just too bad.”

“With the exception of Huckabee who supports the Fair Tax, nobody is really talking about how to grow to the economy and how to bring about economic growth,” said Johnson.

Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook asked Johnson, “If you were President, what would you do regarding foreign policy in the Middle East right now?”

“We need to recognize our enemy and our enemy is radical Islam,” Johnson responded.

“We can do a better job of drying up the funding of these terrorist organizations. And that  would include money coming into the United States. And it doesn’t involve boots on the ground and it doesn’t involve dropping bombs. But there is a real threat. Of late, I am not Islamicphobic, I’m Shariaphobic,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he wasn’t going to run as a Libertarian as this moment. “There’s no real advantage to getting out there at this point. You’ve got the Republicans that are sucking all the air out of the room, and for that matter, same with the Democrats,” said Johnson.

“I hope to be the Libertarian nominee and I hope to be able to be the voice of what I think is the philosophy of most Americans, which speaking with a broad brush stroke, is being fiscally responsible and socially liberal- the definition of a classic liberal which I think most of us in this country falls in that category,” said Johnson.

Watch the video above, and download our podcasts: PodBean | Itunes

Colorado Becomes First State To Generate More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than From Alcohol Sales

Colorado became the first state in the nation’s history to make more annual revenue off of taxes imposed on marijuana sales than taxes on alcohol, according to numbers released by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

A report from the department, which looked at the taxes collected from  July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, found that the state collected about $70 million in taxes from marijuana sales, and only about $42 million in taxes from alcohol sales.

The Marijuana Policy Project noted that out of the $69,898,059 raised on taxes on marijuana-related sales, $43,938,721 came from a “10% special sales tax on retail marijuana sales to adults” and $25,959,338 came from a “15% excise tax on wholesale transfers of marijuana intended for adult use.”

KDRV reported that Colorado is having a “marijuana tax holiday” on Wednesday, which will suspend all taxes on marijuana-related sales.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project and a co-director of the 2012 initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Colorado, released a statement saying that marijuana taxes have been “incredibly productive over the past year,” and Wednesday’s holiday will be a “much-deserved day off.”

“It’s crazy how much revenue our state used to flush down the drain by forcing marijuana sales into the underground market,” Tvert said. “It’s even crazier that so many states are still doing it. Tax revenue is just one of many good reasons to replace marijuana prohibition with a system of regulation.”

[RELATED: ‘Gas and Grass’ Cannabis Dispensary Gas Stations Coming Soon To Colorado]

The Associated Press reported that the holiday is due to Colorado’s “unusual tax law,” and is a rare move in a state that “has many times rejected sales-tax holidays on things like school supplies, clothing or energy-efficient appliances.”

The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “requires voters to approve new taxes based on estimates of collections and state spending.”

The Denver Post noted that although the tax revenues from marijuana sales have not exceeded projected figures, “total state spending exceeded initial estimates because of the improving economy,” and as a result, lawmakers settled on a one-day tax waiver.

[RELATED: Truth In Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent To Cannabis As Medicine]

In Sept. 2014, investigative journalist Ben Swann looked into the federal government’s involvement with marijuana used for medicinal purposes, and he found that although the government acts as if cannabis is not medicine, they actually own the patent to cannabis as medicine.


‘Gas and Grass’ Cannabis Dispensary Gas Stations Coming Soon to Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colo. medical cannabis dispensary company Native Roots is launching a new type of marijuana business called “Gas & Grass.

According to 7NEWS Denver, the gas stations, which Native Roots hopes will open for business by mid-October, will feature a medical marijuana dispensary in addition to the usual provisions typically found in convenience stores.

Native Roots plans to start by opening two locations and has purchased two Conoco stations in Colorado Springs with the intention of converting them into Gas & Grass businesses. The convenience store and medical marijuana dispensary portions of the business will reportedly have separate entrances.

Company spokesperson Tia Mattson said in comments to KOAA-TV, “We definitely are leaders and we’re visionaries. It’s just one more thing for us to pair up the shopping and convenience of gas with a stop for somebody who is a patient, to knock off both errands at one time.

She added, “I believe we’ll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes and similar things that you would pick up in a convenience store.

[RELATED: Truth In Media Accelerates National Cannabis Discussion]

A manager for Native Roots said that medical marijuana patients who shop at Gas & Grass will receive discounts on fuel under a rewards program modeled after those offered by grocery stores that feature gas pumps.

Local business owner Trevor Field criticized the business model and told KRDO-TV, “It’s a gateway to smoking and driving. People are getting way too laid back with marijuana. Oh let’s go to the gas station and buy our pot, roll it up while we’re fueling up and out the parking lot we go.

I lived up in the mountains and we had a gas station, a convenience store and a liquor store right next to each other. What’s the difference?” said local resident Beth Van Eaton who lives near one of the planned Gas & Grass locations.

Representatives from the Colorado Springs City Clerk’s Office said that Native Roots, a licensed medical cannabis provider, has obtained approval from the city and state.

The announcement of the new Gas & Grass business idea has raised questions as to whether the model will become a trend inspiring recreational marijuana providers to follow suit.

Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Nevada State Athletic Commission Bans UFC’s Nick Diaz for Five Years Over Alleged Pot Use

The Nevada State Athletic Commission, a government-run state-level sports regulatory agency, has suspended Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighter Nick Diaz for five years and fined him $165,000 for allegedly testing positive for marijuana in a post-fight drug test after his loss to Anderson Silva in January’s UFC 183 event.

However, the NSAC only suspended his opponent Anderson Silva, who allegedly tested positive for steroids during a drug test following the same fight, for one year, drawing fire from critics who say that Diaz’s punishment is unusually harsh.

The NSAC claims that it issued the stiff punishment because Diaz had been suspended twice before, but as MMA Mania notes, the NSAC’s own policies state that a third positive marijuana test calls for a three year suspension.

In the below video, Diaz can be seen claiming that his suspension is “ridiculous” considering what he called widespread use of steroids among UFC fighters and in the context that Silva was suspended for a shorter period of time than him despite allegedly using performance enhancers against him in the same fight.

MMA Junkie’s Ben Fowlkes wrote, “It’s ridiculous, when you think about it. After all the absurd excuses and explanations we’ve heard in NSAC hearings over the years, all the laughable defenses in the face of serious charges, and the one that would provoke the ire of the commissioners would be Diaz’s shockingly competent defense against accusations that he used a substance he is very well known for using.

Fowlkes said that NSAC’s harsh punishment was motivated primarily by the fact that Diaz attempted to defend himself against the charges rather than apologizing and begging for leniency, “Had he shown up and gone through the motions of an apology, he might have gotten off much easier. This commission knows how to reward the good dogs who roll over and beg. When confronted with a meticulous, aggressive defense, such as the one Diaz’s legal team put forth, the NSAC commissioners can only respond with indignant annoyance.

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto wrote, “There is little doubt the NSAC’s decision on Monday to suspend Nick Diaz for five years was a personal one. The ruling did not align with actions taken previously by the NSAC and it actually went against a proposed set of suspension lengths the commission itself introduced this year.

Okamoto added, “If there is one thing the NSAC dislikes more than a guilty athlete, it’s a guilty athlete who shows no remorse. And in three separate NSAC disciplinary hearings for marijuana-related offenses, Diaz has shown no remorse.

For 32-year-old Diaz to be banned from UFC events for five years constitutes a de-facto lifetime ban.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Diaz maintains that he did not violate the NSAC’s policy on marijuana. According to Fox Sports, Diaz’s attorney is expected to appeal the decision.

NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said, defending the commission’s rationale behind its harsh punishment, “This not just a case of marijuana. I think this is a case of complete lack of disregard for the sport.

ESPN staff writer Brett Okamoto criticized the NSAC’s rationale and said, “Near the end of deliberations, NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar made it a point to say Diaz’s case was about ‘more than marijuana,’ but that’s where he was wrong. This case shouldn’t be about more than marijuana. It shouldn’t be about making a statement to future athletes or finally putting a rebellious Diaz in his place… Disciplinary hearings are about administering justice — with due process.” He concluded, “Monday’s disciplinary hearing — and the message it sent — was the wrong one.

Mo. Grandfather, Once Condemned to Life in Prison Without Parole for Pot, Walks Free

62-year-old Missouri grandfather Jeff Mizanskey walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Tuesday, where he was met by a cheering crowd of friends and family members.

21 years earlier, Mizanskey had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for three non-violent marijuana convictions under Missouri’s since-repealed, three-strikes style Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. However, passionate and relentless protests by supporters led elected officials in Missouri to intervene, climaxing in Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s May commutation of Mizanskey’s sentence, which granted him the opportunity for parole. In August, Missouri’s Board of Probation and Parole reviewed his case and approved his parole request.

According to KRCG-TV, Mizanskey said that he plans to continue his advocacy of cannabis legalization and prison reform and wants to get back to work remodeling homes. He recommended that prisons provide inmates with training in information technology careers to help their chances of reintegrating into society after their release.

The newly-freed Mizanskey reportedly dined on steak and eggs with friends and family at a local restaurant after leaving the maximum security prison in which he had been imprisoned for over two decades.

The Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page celebrated his freedom by posting several pictures of him following his release, including a picture, seen below, captioned, “Getting some food and meeting his great granddaughter.


In the original Change.org petition that supporters used to drum up support for his release, Mizanskey’s son Chris wrote, “While my dad has been trapped behind bars, generations of kids and grandkids have been born into our family who have never even met the man.

Mizanskey’s family has created a crowdfunding page on the website GoFundMe which seeks help with his transition back into society after being incarcerated for decades.

Watch the Truth in Media Project’s Consider This video, embedded below, which exposes some important and lesser-known facts about non-violent inmates serving hard time under the War on Drugs.


ResponsibleOhio to File Suit over “Biased” Wording of Pot Legalization Ballot Measure

ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Ohio’s recently-qualified ballot measure aimed at letting the state’s voters decide whether to legalize marijuana for personal use, has announced that it will challenge the Ohio Ballot Board’s chosen legal wording of the group’s proposed constitutional amendment. The group plans to take the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The above-embedded video, published by OhioCapitalBlog, contains comments by ResponsibleOhio spokesperson Jennifer Redman and attorney Don McTigue on the group’s planned legal challenge against what it called “biased” wording meant to discourage voters from supporting the amendment.

The Ohio Ballot Board, which is chaired by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, features 5 members including 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. According to The Plain Dealer, the wording of ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment passed the board by a party-line vote of 3-2.

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), a board member who voted against the wording, told WLWT-TV that the board’s choice to characterize the type of marijuana use that would be legalized by the ballot measure as “recreational” rather than “personal” “crosses into editorializing about the amendment.

The board’s wording has also been criticized as giving the impression that it would allow Ohioans to possess and transfer over a half-pound of marijuana, despite the fact that the proposed amendment would only allow possession of up to 1 ounce. However, licensed home growers would be allowed to cultivate up to 8 ounces for personal use.

The Ohio Ballot Board also chose the order of the ballot measures on the upcoming November 3, 2015 general election ballot and opted to place the pro-pot issue question in the third position out of three, following an anti-monopoly-and-oligopoly amendment meant to counter and draw attention to a controversial aspect of the Ohio pro-pot ballot measure — that it only allows marijuana to be cultivated on 10 farms owned by ResponsibleOhio investors, potentially creating a marijuana production oligopoly.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice and ResponsibleOhio attorney Andy Douglas said in a statement, “When the Ballot Board prescribes language to ballot initiatives, it is meant to be a neutral, fair representation of the proposal at hand. The ballot language assigned to the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, Issue 3, is clearly biased and gives preference to the arguments of marijuana reform opponents. The language is inaccurate and strategically worded as to misguide voters.

ResponsibleOhio claims that opponents of the measure on the board chose the word “recreational,” which tests poorly in opinion polls, rather than the phrase “personal use” in the amendment in an effort to discourage voters from supporting it.

You buy alcohol you’re going to personally consume it, it’s not recreational, you buy toothpaste, you’re going to personally use it, you’re not using it for recreation, the same applies to marijuana,” said ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James.

Sec. of State Husted, who claims that “recreational” was the correct word choice because it clarifies that the measure goes beyond just legalizing medical marijuana, said, “In the end, I think the voters in Ohio are going to clearly know what they’re voting for. They are either going to vote to legalize a marijuana monopoly in this state or they’re going to vote to reject it.

In the below-embedded video by OhioCapitalBlog, Husted reacts to ResponsibleOhio’s complaints about the issue question’s wording.

If both the anti-monopoly ballot measure and ResponsibleOhio’s ballot measure were to pass by a majority vote, thus contradicting each other, the amendment that obtains the highest total of votes would take priority over the other. However, the anti-monopoly measure is set to kick in 30 days prior to the pro-pot measure, which Sec. of State Husted said could prove to be a legal roadblock to the marijuana legalization amendment’s enactment.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages about medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Study: Teen Marijuana Use Has No Link To Mental Health Problems

By Guy Bentley 

Chronic marijuana use as an adolescent has no link to mental or physical health problems later in life, according to a new study conducted over the past 20 years.

Published by the American Physiological Association, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Rutgers University divided participants into four groups from their teenage years onward.

One group almost never smoked marijuana, one used it mostly in their teenage years, another started using in adulthood and the final group of subjects started using marijuana early and continued into their adult years.

There had been some evidence to suggest that regular marijuana use among teenagers was linked to mental problems such as depression and schizophrenia. Indeed, lead researcher Jordan Bechtold was expecting to find similar results and said what they discovered was “a little surprising.”

The study found that “chronic marijuana users were not more likely than late increasing users, adolescence-limited users, or low/nonusers to experience several physical or mental health problems in their mid-30s.”

In fact, there were no significant differences between marijuana trajectory groups in terms of adult health outcomes, even when models were run without controlling for potential confounds. The researchers found no link between teen marijuana use and lifetime depression, anxiety, allergies, headaches or high blood pressure.

The study also breaks new ground in that it was able to track 408 subjects as they grew up, rather than looking back on marijuana use retrospectively to find a link with current health problems. All the subjects were male and the study controlled for factors such as cigarette smoking and socioeconomic background.

Although the researchers caution that a single study shouldn’t be looked at in isolation, they argue it should contribute to debate surrounding marijuana legalization. Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon have already legalized recreational marijuana use and campaigners are hoping to push the reforms nationwide.

“Everyone wants to prevent teen marijuana use, but we don’t need to exaggerate its harms and arrest responsible adults in order to do it,” Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Hopefully, this study will lead to a reevaluation of the tactics that are being used to discourage teens from trying marijuana,” he added.

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Rand Paul Co-Sponsors Bill to Allow Legal Pot Businesses to Access Banking Services

Last Thursday, US Senator and Republican presidential contender Rand Paul joined senators from Oregon, Washington, and Colorado in introducing the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, a bill that would “create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses.” A house version of the bill was also introduced in April of this year.

Under current anti money laundering laws, many banks fear that attempts to extend banking services to marijuana dispensaries in pot-legal states will be met with retribution by regulators. Yahoo Finance’s Meena Thiruvengadam wrote that the bill would “prohibit banking regulators from penalizing or discouraging banks from providing financial services to marijuana businesses operating in areas of the US where marijuana has been legalized.” She noted that it would also “ban regulators from terminating federal deposit insurance at banks providing services to state-sanctioned marijuana businesses” and “create a safe harbor from criminal prosecution, liability and asset forfeiture for financial institutions who provide services to marijuana businesses operating legally.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement on the bill, “By compelling Oregon business owners to operate on a cash-only basis, current federal laws are making marijuana businesses sitting ducks for violent crimes and perpetuating negative stereotypes. It is ridiculous to make any business owner carry duffle bags of cash just to pay their taxes.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said, “Ever since Colorado voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, conflicting federal and state marijuana laws have required banks to refuse basic financial services to marijuana-related businesses in Colorado. In turn, this has forced the industry to adopt an all-cash business model that fosters violent crime and puts all Coloradans at risk. This commonsense legislation solves a major public safety problem in my state by giving legitimate businesses acting in compliance with state laws access to the banking system.”

US Senator Rand Paul recently topped Marijuana Policy Project’s ranking of current 2016 presidential candidates in terms of their friendliness to pro-marijuana legislation and made history last month when he became the first presidential candidate to openly court donations from America’s emerging legal marijuana industry. Earlier this year, Paul reached across the aisle in co-sponsoring the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, which would end the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and scientific cannabis research.

Last September, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.



Rand Paul Makes History As First Major-Party POTUS Candidate to Seek Pot Industry Donors

On June 30, US Senator and Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul attended the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO and held his own private, $2,700-per-ticket fundraiser. An invitation to the fundraiser, which was originally obtained by Yahoo News, can be seen below.


As The Associated Press points out, Rand Paul’s pot industry fundraiser marks the first time in US history that a major-party presidential candidate has attempted to openly seek campaign cash from America’s new legal marijuana industry. Around 40 marijuana business leaders met with Paul at the event.

This is a historical moment, that our industry is now working together with a presidential candidate,” said attendee Tripp Keber, owner of Dixie Elixirs.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert told The Associated Press, “It really speaks to how important this issue is and how far it’s come… We’re seeing officials at the local, state and now federal level recognize this is now a legitimate industry, just like any other legal industry in many facets.

The Denver Post notes that the National Cannabis Industry Association donated $5,000 to Paul, marking the organization’s first-ever donation to a presidential campaign. “We are simply showing support for Senator Paul because he has shown support for us,” said NCIA deputy director Taylor West.

In March, Senator Paul teamed up with Democratic Senators Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing a bipartisan bill, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, to end the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and scientific cannabis research. Senators Booker and Paul have also recently joined forces in a push to reform the federal criminal justice system’s treatment of non-violent drug offenders. Paul has also indicated that he supports changing federal laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to use banking services.

According to The Associated Press, former New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson held a fundraiser for the Drug Policy Alliance while he was still vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. However, marijuana legalization was still in its infancy at that time, meaning there was no significant marijuana industry from which to seek donations.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


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Delaware Governor Jack Markell Signs Bill Decriminalizing Simple Pot Possession

On Thursday, immediately after the Delaware Senate finalized the Delaware General Assembly’s approval of House Bill 39, which decriminalizes marijuana, Democratic Governor Jack Markell signed it into law. According to The News Journal, the new law allows people in the state to privately possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis without facing jail time or marring their criminal records.

However, those caught with small amounts of pot will be punished with a $100 civil fine and forced to surrender their marijuana to police. According to the above-embedded video coverage by CBS Philly, the law takes effect in six months.

Additionally, the bill’s legislative text notes, “The public use or consumption of an ounce or less of marijuana will be an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $200 or imprisonment for not more than 5 days. This penalty is in line with the penalty for possession or consumption of an open container of alcohol in most municipalities in the state… This bill does not repeal or modify existing laws relating to medical marijuana or penalties for the operation of motor vehicles under the influence.

A statement about the law by Kelly Bachman, a spokesperson for Governor Markell, read, “The governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most and House Bill 39 supports these efforts.

Reuters points out the fact that Delaware law previously penalized simple marijuana possession with up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150.

The bill was introduced by Representative Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington). Republican lawmakers in the state stood unanimous in their opposition to the bill, citing their view that decriminalization sends the wrong message to children.

This is a vote we’re going to really, really regret. Would you want your kid smoking weed? I think the answer is overwhelmingly no,” said State Senator Colin Bonini (R-Dover) in comments cited by The News Journal.

Despite this change to Delaware law, federal law still criminalizes the possession of marijuana, which it classifies, similarly to hardcore drugs like heroin and methamphetamine, as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use.

[RELATED: Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic]

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Colorado Supreme Court Employers Can Fire Workers For Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use

In the case of a quadriplegic who was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after he failed a company drug test because he was using marijuana for medicinal purposes, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled, 6-0, on Monday that employers can fire workers for off-duty marijuana use, even though the substance is legal in the state.

Brandon Coats, the plaintiff in the case, became quadriplegic in a car accident and used marijuana to control leg spasms. He told the Denver Post that he was hired as a customer service representative for Dish Network in 2007, but was fired in 2010 after a random drug test, even though he had a medical marijuana card.

Coats said he was called in for a random drug test in 2010, and that he warned Human Resources that he would not pass the test. When the results came back negative, Coats said that he told his manager he had a medical marijuana card, and his manager said this was a circumstance the company had never seen.

Coats said that he continued to work with Dish Network for two more weeks, before the company notified him that he was being terminated for using marijuana, even though he was in possession of a license.

While Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use following the passage of Amendment 64 in Nov. 2012, medical marijuana use was passed in Nov. 2000, and required that users obtain a Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card.

In the ruling from Colorado’s Supreme Court, Justice Allison H. Eid wrote that businesses can terminate employees for using marijuana, because even though it is legal under state law, it is still illegal under federal law:

[quote_center]Therefore, employees who engage in an activity, such as medical marijuana use, that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute[/quote_center].

The ruling also stated that the Court was declining Coats’ invitation to “engraft a state law limitation onto the statutory language.”

“Nothing in the language of the statute limits the term ‘lawful’ to state law,” wrote Eid. “Instead, the term is used in its general, unrestricted sense, indicating that a ‘lawful’ activity is that which complies with applicable ‘law,’ including state and federal law.”

Michael Evans, Coats’ attorney, told the Denver Post that he thought the decision was “devastating.”

[quote_center]“You need the Colorado Supreme Court to stand up for its own laws,” Evans said. “The U.S. Supreme Court is not going to do that.”[/quote_center]

In Sept. 2014, investigative journalist Ben Swann released an episode of the Truth in Media Project that documented the federal government’s involvement with marijuana. He revealed that although the government claimed cannabis cannot be used as medicine, it holds the patent on cannabis as medicine.

Watch the full video: