The New York Times’ Groundbreaking Series of Editorials about Marijuana

nyt_logo2If you have not yet heard about or seen the New York Times series of editorials about marijuana, it is time to do so.

The first of the series of these editorials by the New York Times editorial board is entitled: States’ Rights, and focuses on how the federal head-in-the-sand mentality toward marijuana is serving only to make the national law seem outdated and misguided, while states pursue liberalization of marijuana laws in the shadow of a potential federal crackdown.

The New York Times is the paper of record, and so even if they are saying the same things that we have been yelling for decades, it shows that we aren’t the lunatic fringe anymore. Instead, the prohibitionists are now the ones out of step with America.

HI Candidates on Legalization and Decriminalization

The Progressive PAC sent a questionnaire to the candidates running for office in 2014. While many candidates, including many strong supporters of our issues did not fill out the questionnaire, the following candidates did. I will post all of their answers here for educational purposes. Predictably, the candidates that answered the survey were generally supportive of legalization and decriminalization. This of course does not mean that we endorse these specific candidates.

The question was posed as: Do you support the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. Here are the answers:

Candidates for Lieutenant Governor:

HEE: Yes.  As Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor I have passed proposals forward out of my committee regarding this issue numerous times.


Candidates for State House of Representatives:
HD 4 — JORDAN:  Pot is harmful to the brain if chronically used from the teens through age 26.  The brain is fully wired at age 27 . I’d say  say sell it tax it.  One problem how do we ensure kids under stand [sic] moderation?  We can’t.  47% of my students didn’t have a father.   I also feel DUI’s should pay 1K as a starting fine..  If there are injuries jailtime.

HD 4 — SANBUENAVENTURA: Generally yes – first we must utilize the current system to allow dispensaries for those who need medical marijuana.  The medical marijuana law needs to be fully implemented so that those who need it can get it without having a green thumb.
Second:  possession of small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized so that jails need not be filled with these type of criminals.  Further a revisiting of the penalties for marijuana and sale needs to occur.

Before 1989 there was no Class A felony (same as murder) for marijuana sale.  Now cultivation on the land of another for 25 or more plants is a Class A felony.  If 4 or more people who do not own land of their own agree to grow the allowed medical marijuana plants on another’s land that would be a Conspiracy to commit a class A felony, which itself is a Class A felony.  This is ridiculous.  The big island is shifting their attitude regarding marijuana by passing the resolution that marijuana crimes be enforced as the lowest priority.  This resolution has been ruled as unenforceable but a change in sentencing laws is enforceable.

HD 6 — LOWEN:  yes, with regulation.

HD 17 — STUMP: Yes

HD 40 — CHONG:   For a while I did not support legalization or decriminalization, but I do now support it; I’d prefer to see legalization over decriminalization. With decriminalization we’d still treat the consumers of Cannabis products as a criminal by giving them citations, I simply cannot accept the “not illegal, but not legal either” logic of decriminalization.

HD 42 — FERGUSON:  I support the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.


HD 44 — GATES: Yes

HD 47 — FONOIMOANA: Yes on decriminalization and undecided on legalization.

HD 48 — HARRIS:  Yes.

Why Some of Kevin Sabet’s Numbers are Lies

Read the Full Op-Ed at the Huffington Post.

Russ Belville has written a truly excellent refutation of Kevin Sabet’s arguments at the “debate” yesterday with LEAP member and former Judge Jim Gray. It begins: Space constraints dictate that I cannot possibly address all of Sabet’s mischaracterizations, straw men, lies by omission, and incomparable analogies here.

Please, read it, share it, and understand why it is not helpful to engage Project SAM in debate. It’s silly to debate the truth with people that are trying to deceive rather than communicate.


Legalization Debate Event Jul, 16 at 6:45 AM HST

Follow the debate here.

I am not generally in favor of Pro vs. Con style debates about marijuana. I think that the issue is much more complicated than either a simple yes or no, and we need to approach this issue, like all issues, with a robust compassionate policy approach, rather than with the rhetoric and ideology that this kind of debate brings to the fore.

Also, I like to avoid drawing any attention to the organization, Project SAM, that Kevin Sabet runs along with Patrick Kennedy. While I feel that many groups that are opposed to progressive marijuana reform can and should be partners in designing a balanced policy, Sabet’s organization’s disingenuous use of misleading and fabricated data mean that they are not participants in a real debate about these important issues.

timthumb.phpThat being said, I strongly support Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, one of the strongest and most reasonable voices for marijuana reform, and would like to call any and all attention that I can to their side of the story. I will be watching, and no matter who wins this debate, it will be excellent to see.



Talking About Legalization in HI with Hawaii Business Magazine

On the left: Pamela Lichty, President of the board of directors of the Drug Policy Action Group. On the right: Michael Attocknie, Executive Director. Photo: Odeelo Dayondon

Check out this excellent piece in Hawaii Business Magazine quoted the Director, President, and Organizer for the Drug Policy Action Group about what the hopes are for legalization in Hawaii and what that might look like.

The story is by Tiffany Hill, and is well worth a read.


Recreational Sales Begin in Washington

This photo of recreational consumers of marijuana is courtesy of

Washington state has had a harder time setting the table for recreational marijuana use than Colorado, but today, the very first recreational sales are starting. Seattle only has one recreational marijuana store, called Cannabis City, that expected up to 10,000 people to line up for its grand opening at high noon.

As was the case in Colorado, the beginning of recreational sales is greeted with a mixture of exaltation and worry. Those who have designed the legalization in Washington worry that legal marijuana sales will outstrip the supply of legal marijuana, causing either shortages, or a huge price spike that will drive customers back to the black market.

One of the problems seeming to compound the worries in Washington is the fact that only one legal marijuana license has been released in Seattle, so the success or failure of opening day depends solely on the ability of one relatively modest shop in an industrial neighborhood to handle the pressure of the state’s demand and the global media’s interest.

As was the case in Colorado, the news media have been paying attention. For instance, check out this clip from ABC news. Their coverage was much better than some of their coverage of colorado, but they still couldn’t restrain themselves from using the word “pot” twice on their text, and making about 7 puns on the word “high.”

Still, perhaps the most uplifting news from Washington is that while the first state to legalize marijuana was visited with recriminations and aggression, the second seems to be viewed mostly as a harmless anecdote. The link above is from a segment on Good Morning America. For comparison, another story covered by Good Morning America today was: a physicist has

I'm not even kidding.
I’m not even kidding.

determined the best way to prevent earbuds from getting tangled. The interviewees in the segment were a dispensary operator who came across as reasonable and cautious, a grower who was enthusiastic, and a grandmother and long distance runner, so while the media may still be wedded to the word “pot” and to making lots of silly puns, it seems to have accepted that legalization is not scary or threatening. The truth is that legalization is fairly banal. If there is one thing we could have hoped for from legalization in Washington, this is it. In Hawaii, nothing can make legalization more feasible than making it seem like what it is: uncontroversial.



Why It’s a Shame the FBI Isn’t Overturning its Ban on Hiring Marijuana Users

I encourage you to read this excellent op-ed from the Huffington Post.


You may recall a bit of a media frenzy from a couple of weeks ago when the FBI was reportedly struggling to find qualified hackers that did not smoke marijuana.

The FBI received congressional authorization to hire up to 2,000 new computer crimes experts to counter some of the Chinese national electronic espionage efforts that you may remember from last week’s news. The problem? The FBI cannot hire anyone who has consumed marijuana in the last 3 years. All of the best, most successful hackers, according to the FBI are marijuana users, and the FBI briefly considered bringing its hiring policy into the 21st century.

Tragically, though, this story became a victim of the politicized nature of marijuana, and the plan to remove this ban was scrapped. I suppose that means, at least for now, that not admitting that marijuana doesn’t make you a shiftless layabout is more important than keeping America safe from cyber-terrorism.


DEA Accused of Blackmailing Doctors in Massachusetts


Read the full story at the Huffington post.
Pressure on the DEA to finally accept medical marijuana has been intensifying in recent years. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment seems increasingly likely to pass, abs high level personnel in the DEA and the ONDCP have been repeatedly grilled by Congress on the rationale behind its focus on marijuana.
Perhaps this pressure is why the DEA was allegedly visiting doctors who sat on the boards of medical marijuana dispensaries at their homes and forcing them to resign. Hopefully, this abuse of the doctors who should be in control of the system is just one more nail in the coffin of the law enforcement approach to marijuana.


Anti-Cannabis Candidate Loses in Uruguayan Primary


Read the full story here.
The single biggest threat to the promising Uruguayan experiment with legalization has been defeated in the presidential primary.

Jorge Larranaga ran on a platform of reactionary opposition to the country’s legalization.  Some commentators worried that the extremely progressive nationwide legalization would engender just this kind of backlash. It seems though, that at least for now the nation’s population doesn’t agree with Larranaga.