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For the first time in U.S. history, marijuana breathalyzers were in use on public roads, and it’s happening right here in California. drive7

The devices, the brainchild of an Oakland emergency room doctor and reserve police officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, are expected to be distributed nationally sometime next year.

During initial field tests, drivers who were spotted driving in an erratic fashion were pulled over by Alameda sheriff’s deputies – including the creator of the device – who then and those drivers voluntarily agreed to breathe into the contraption. Two individuals admitted to smoking the drug within a half hour before the traffic stop, and their breathalyzer readouts were reportedly much higher than for the other drivers. In other drivers who admitted to using in the last three hours, the device also tested positive for the presence of THC.  Continue reading

It’s been six years since a law that would have legalized recreational marijuana was shot down. It’s also almost a month until California voters consider it once again. There is strong evidence to suggest this time, the outcome will be different. That’s because if polls are to be believed, voter attitudes are significantly different. votehere

A new USC Dornsife/ Los Angeles Times poll reveals that California voter support for Proposition 64, the measure that would legalize recreational marijuana for personal use in this state, is at nearly 60 percent. What’s especially interesting is that support stretches across lines of race, gender, ethnicity and income. Even those from the two warring political parties generally agree on this issue.

The law would grant over-21 Californians the right to buy, keep and use a maximum of 1 ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes. It would also allow a person to grow up to six cannabis plants. The law would also require a 15 percent retail tax on the substance. Of the nearly 1,900 respondents, only a third said they outright would refuse to support the ballot measure if the election were today. Another 8 percent said they had no opinion one way or the other.  Continue reading

New research from the University of Michigan reveals that high school and college students are far less likely to consume illegal drugs than their parents. In fact, students’ use of prescription opioids (obtained both legally and illegally) is far less than their parents’ generation. However, there is one area where youth drug use surpasses that of the baby boom generation: Marijuana. collegestudent

The Michigan study is an ongoing, four-decades-long research on the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. In this most recent analysis of the data, we find that those who are in the 40s and 50s used drugs in their youth far more frequently than the teens and 20-somethings of today. Excluding marijuana, more than 7 in 10 individuals who are in their 50s used illicit drugs at some point in their lives. When you include marijuana, that figure spikes to 85 percent – the vast majority.

When this cohort was in college, approximately half were actively using illegal drugs. Today, about 40 percent of adults who are of college age are using illegal drugs. Continue reading

All Matthew Harvey wanted to do was take his 3-year-old daughter on a special trip to Disneyland in California. However, the Canadian man’s hopes have been dashed after he was reportedly banned from the U.S. for life. According to Canadian media outlet CBC, the ban had nothing to do with a prior criminal record. He hadn’t been trying to smuggle drugs – or anything else – into the country. Instead, he honestly answered a question posed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service: Have you ever used marijuana? canada

He’s a legal medical marijuana patient in Canada. In 2014, he was driving from Vancouver to Seattle, WA, where marijuana is legal both for recreational and medicinal purposes. He had been stopped and questioned by federal border patrol agents for six hours after they spotted a marijuana magazine in his car. During his detention, he was repeatedly questioned about his marijuana use. He did not think to lie, considering Washington state’s policy on the drug and the fact that he legally uses the drug in his home country. He conceded that for a time before he became a legal medical marijuana patient, he’d smoked the drug on occasion recreationally – before Canada had a legal marijuana program. This apparently was enough to trigger the ban.

And of course, while Washington state allows visitors and residents alike to purchase, possess and privately use the drug (with some restrictions), marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And federal law is what governs the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Although he wasn’t carrying any marijuana with him when he tried to cross the border, he can still be denied access because, U.S. law states that any foreign national who admits to violating his or her country’s own controlled substance laws at some point previously can be deemed ineligible for admission into the U.S.  Continue reading

Treyous Jarrells played football from the time he was just a child. He endured hit after hit. There were concussions. There were torn ligaments and stretched muscles. The pain became chronic. football3

But he was chasing a dream. He landed a scholarship to Colorado State University, where he excelled. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry during his 2014 sophomore year. But what school officials didn’t know was that Jarrells was always under the influence of marijuana. He practiced high. He played almost every game high. He worked out high. None of his teammates or coaches or fans ever knew it, he says.

It wasn’t for the fun of it. It was to relieve the chronic pain without the risk of long-term damage. Specifically, he notes how common it was to see other players down five to 10 ibuprofens prior to practice every single day. Over the course of a few years, he says, that could do severe damage to one’s liver. For him, marijuana was his medicine. In fact, he was one of the 103,000 people in Colorado with a medical marijuana license who was legally allowed to grow the plant. The only risk, he says, was that he might get caught by his coaches, be sanctioned by the NCAA and lose his scholarship. Continue reading

The Second Amendment, which guarantees citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, is one of the more controversial in our U.S. Constitution. It’s been the source of much contention in our nation in recent years, but the fact remains: It is still considered a fundamental right. gavel211

Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued a ruling saying it is a right that should be denied to users of medical marijuana. In Wilson v. Lynch et al., the court ruled that a federal law that prohibits medical marijuana cardholders from buying firearms does not actually violate those patients’ Second Amendment rights because users of marijuana are prone to behavior that is “irrational” and “unpredictable.”

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a Nevada woman who sought to buy a handgun five years ago. However, she was refused the sale after the owner of the store recognized her as being a medical marijuana patient. Plaintiff asserted that in fact, she didn’t really use marijuana, but obtained a medical marijuana card in order to make a political statement, saying she supports the liberalization of marijuana laws nationally.  Continue reading

If you suffer from any kind of chronic pain or perhaps have endured a major surgery in recent years, you’re probably familiar with Fentanyl. It’s a powerful, fast-acting narcotic painkiller that is typically appropriate for severe, acute pain. It’s highly addictive, possessing many heroin-like qualities. It’s also extremely deadly when taken in high doses or in combination with other substances, which can cause respiratory distress.

Prescription bottles used to store medicine

Yet the makers of this drug have continued to advertise it as a common pain relief drug. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, in light of a growing body of research to suggest marijuana could be a safer, more effective alternative to the scourge of painkiller addiction and overdoses in the U.S., that its manufacturer is pushing to quash the potential competition. It makes even more sense when you learn the company, Insys Therapeutics, recently came out with a synthetic cannabis product.

A recent investigation by The Washington Post reveals the Arizona-based company dropped a $500,000 donation to the group, “Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy,” a group that staunchly opposes legalizing marijuana. This amounts to more than one-third of the money raised by the group.  Continue reading

A resident physician at Stanford Hospital, Dr. Nathaniel Morris specializes in mental health. In a recent editorial in Scientific American about the difference between the way health care providers view marijuana and the way the federal government regulates it, Morris expresses disbelief at the decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I narcotic. doctor7

A Schedule I drug is one that is considered so dangerous, it has no medically-accepted purpose. It’s in the same category as bath salts and heroin. Says Morris, “I can’t make much sense of this.”

Daily, he speaks with his mental health patients about substance abuse. In his training and experience, he has learned there are some abuses that are extremely concerning, and others much less so. The very first substance he inquires about in evaluations? Alcohol. It’s effects are seen daily by emergency room doctors after drinkers crash their cars, fall into an alcohol-induced coma or inhale their own vomit. Alcohol leads to some 1.2 million emergency room visits annually, and excess alcohol consumption accounts for nearly 90,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It causes significant problems for fetuses when their mothers drink. Then there is cocaine, also a concern for pregnant women, and also the source of heart attacks and kidney failure. Methamphetamine causes rapid heart palpitations, violent agitation and hyperthermia. Opioids – including heroin and morphine – often kill patients with sudden respiratory failure. The effects are worse when the drug is used intravenously.

But marijuana? Morris says it’s an “afterthought.”  Continue reading

California voters are going to be asked in November to decide whether they support the legalization of marijuana for recreational – not just medicinal – purposes. Polls indicate public support for this is at an all-time high of 60 percent, so the measure has a good shot of winning. But opponents haven’t given up just yet, and they’ve seized on something they hope will sway voters who might otherwise be on-the-fence. Problem is, it’s not actually true. television

The argument: That if you vote for legalization of recreational marijuana, the television and radio airwaves are going to be flooded with marijuana advertising.

For 45 years, there has been a ban on the advertisement of tobacco and smoke-related products. Now, some lawmakers are arguing that Prop. 64, the marijuana legislation, is going to undo all that. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) argued that if California voters approve Prop. 64, they’ll be opening the door to marijuana smoking advertisements during prime time, when millions of teens and children will be tuning in.  Continue reading

Nuisance abatement laws, codified at the state or local level, allow municipalities to fine landlords who allow “nuisances” on their properties. It was intended to curb violence and repeat police responses to the same location. However, it’s reportedly having a negative effect on those who use marijuana. rent

The Washington Post recently reported on the issue, beginning with the case of a D.C. law firm employee who, after eight years renting a residence on a quiet street in the Northeast section of the city, was evicted over the discovery of a marijuana joint. The report indicates the woman’s adult son – who had not lived with her for years – was arrested for possession of a firearm outside of a popular nightclub. Two weeks later, D.C. police officers raided her home, looking for more drugs. They didn’t find any when they stormed the home as she and her husband were helping her 8-year-old with his homework. However, they did find three cigarettes – one of them reportedly containing marijuana. No one was arrested or charged.

However, it was just a week later that the attorney general’s office in D.C. labeled the home a drug-related nuisance in a letter fired off to her landlord. That letter cited a nuisance abatement law passed in 1999 that grants the city broad power to prevail in civil lawsuits against landlords that don’t halt illegal actions on their properties. In response, the landlord evicted his tenant. Continue reading