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Democratic National Convention

The Spot newsletter: The final sprint to next week’s primary election, Denver Post governor’s race debates, an immigration uproar and much more

Welcome back to The Spot, where The Denver Post’s politics team captures what’s happening this week — from the Colorado legislature to Denver city hall, with a stop through the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. Sign up for The Spot newsletter for a weekly rundown of Colorado politics. We are just days away from […]

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Gary Johnson in Charlotte During DNC

gary johnson

As the Democratic National Convention occupied most of the headlines this week, another candidate for President was also in Charlotte.   Gary Johnson attended several events in the Charlotte area which included a NORML demonstration and a Tea Party event about a half hour away from the DNC.  The marijuana reform advocate seemed to enjoy his status as a third party candidate and possible spoiler for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.  Johnson said “I really do wish I was known as a spoiler on both sides, that the notion that people really do care about the fact that we are in endless wars, the fact that we do care about civil liberties, that we have a growing police state.” While third party candidates have little chance of winning the presidency they can bring attention to their cause.  Many feel that Ralph Nader and Pat Buccanan had a significant impact on the 2000 election.  Both candidates should probably be fearful but Mitt Romney his campaign in particular seem worried about Johnson upsetting their chances for the White House.  Attorneys for the Romney campaign have been filing legal challenges in many states including important swing states such as Virginia, which could be the key to the election.  Mr. Johnson is a former Republican and may still have support from voters in the party who are not energized by Mitt Romney.

For more on Gary Johnson and his upcoming appearances click here

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Medical Marijuana Industry News September 7, 2012

cannabis research

More and More Evidence Supporting Marijuana’s Ability to Fight Cancer… has extensively covered the constant updates on the ability of cannabis to provide medical relief.  One of the most promising areas of marijuana medicine is in its potential to reduce and fight cancer.   Many simply cannot believe this as the propaganda machine has told a very different  story.  However, research and even a government study has indicated that marijuana and hemp oils may be the future of cancer medication.  A new article on Daily Beast, highlights many of the marijuana medical breakthroughs over the course of the last 15 years, especially in cancer research.  The article avoids political talking points and tired discussion, rather, opting to describe studies and research conducted at prestigious educational institutions including Harvard and Lancaster University and research printed in medical journals such as British Journal of Pharmacology and Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry.


For the entire article click here


Jimmy Carter’s Drug Czar Criticizes President’s Handling of Marijuana…

Every four years both major political parties in the United States hold conventions.  Jimmy Carter continuously serves as a punching bag for Republicans and a stepping stone to gush over former  Ronald Reagan.  Decades later, while still perhaps not viewed as a successful president, some forward thinking ideas from President Carter are gaining traction.  In 1977, President Carter wrote a letter to Congress urging re-prioritized efforts to focus on heroin and barbiturates as they were accounting for 90% of narcotic related deaths.  Redirecting the drug war still has not been properly done but the momentum for this 35 years later is at an all time high.  Echoing this are recent statements by Peter Bourne who served as the director of the National Drug Control Policy.  Mr. Bourne characterized President Obama’s approach to drug enforcement as “totally insane” and urged the president to enact executive orders if Congress was unwilling to amend laws.  The president is familiar with utilizing executive orders as the partisan gridlock of Capitol Hill has prevented many new laws from being passed.  The president most recently used an executive order with his new immigration directive, which will allow those who came to this country as children illegally to stay here without fear of deportation.  Bourne went on to say that federal raids of marijuana dispensaries and keeping marijuana as a schedule I drug (the same classification as heroin meth and other destructive narcotics) “doesn’t make any sense at all”.  Peter Bourne also praised legalization efforts such as Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Initiative 502.


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More Marijuana Doctors than Patients In New Jersey…

The soap opera that is New Jersey’s medical marijuana program continues.  It has been well documented and publicized that New Jersey lawmakers have dragged their feet on the issue.  Medical marijuana was passed several years ago under exiting Governor Jim Corzine.  Still, there has not been one single patient served.  The current Governor, Chris Christie who delivered the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, has tried to delay the program as much as he could.  Getting approved as a medical marijuana patient is extremely difficult and seems to require more vetting than becoming an approved doctor to prescribe marijuana.  Currently there are 130 approved patients who will eligible to receive marijuana prescriptions when the program finally gets underway.  However, there are over 160 doctors who have been approved to issue these prescriptions.  Conversely in Arizona, regarded as a tough state to receive a marijuana prescription, issued 700 prescriptions in its first year and has a significantly smaller population than New Jersey.  Another issue perplexing patients is even getting an appointment.  Of the 160 doctors, many are not even accepting patients.


For more on this click here

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Kal Penn and Activists Respond to Obama Ad

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Yesterday we reported on a new advertisement being used by Obama campaign that highlights the popular “Harold and Kumar” characters.  The ad depicts the characters in their typically lazy and “stoned” mindset (though marijuana was conspicuously absent from the ad).

A day later we now are seeing a lot of buzz from the ad. Many cannabis advocates were not pleased and are accusing the president of trying to capitalize off of a group that he has turned his back on.  Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project said “The fact Obama uses these characters to joke about this issue while on the other hand continuing to arrest people he’s appealing to is really disingenuous.”  He also went on to say President Obama “conducts more raids on medical marijuana facilities than Bush.”

Kal Penn tried to defend President Obama’s approach toward marijuana by saying “I think that the president’s been pretty consistent with that. He’s not in favor of legalization, we should be open about something like that. But what the president has done is take a really smart look at the Department of Justice and said, given the fact that the federal government has limited resources, we should be allocating them toward violent criminals and not towards non-violent criminals. We can see that not just in things like marijuana but in things like immigration reform where he’s going after and deporting violent criminals and making sure that if you’re a Dream Act eligible student that you know that you can apply for your deferred status. Wherever the federal government has an appropriate role, I think the president’s been very consistent in that. That’s something that I think folks should know.”

Many activists will not be pacified with the remark, especially as the president has used federal resources to go after non violent marijuana dispensaries.  Including the Dream Act language in the statement is odd.  While the president should be applauded for his decision to help out immigrants who had no say in entering the country illegally, the two issues have little to do with each other.  Kal Penn may as well include the auto bailout in his statements or any other unrelated accomplishment by the president.

Marijuana reform supporters may be upset at the feeling that they are only used for political expedience.  This election certainly will not focus on the needs of marijuana patients or those impacted by the failed war on drugs.  Either candidate could benefit greatly from addressing the issue as they both are eager to outline their plan to fix our economy and reduce the looming national deficit.  While the Obama “Harold and Kumar” ad may upset the community, at least the tone toward marijuana still seems friendlier than Mitt Romney’s promise to fight medical marijuana “tooth and nail”.

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Mitt Romney: I Will Fight Medical Marijuana Tooth and Nail


Last week the Republicans held their convention and officially nominated Mitt Romney for president.  Tonight the Democratic National Convention will get underway.  Similar to the RNC, the Democrats will have many high profile speakers, including former President Bill Clinton who will speak later in the week.  We hope the bizarre Clint Eastwood chair incident will teach the Democrats an important lesson and stay on message, engaging the public on the issues that are important.  As many issues including the economy, abortion, and foreign policy will be discussed, marijuana reform and the war on drugs are not likely to be mentioned.

On the 2008 campaign trail President Obama took a friendlier tone to medical marijuana than the recent federal raids suggests.  In all fairness, we at have called him out on what appears to be a policy shift, or at the very least misleading.  However, he does still respect patients and has vowed not to arrest any patients.  He has kept that promise.  While politics as usual will not be enough for patients and activists, that may be what we have here.  Many analysts believe a second Obama term would see a friendlier atmosphere toward medical marijuana.  Some even believe he could finally reschedule.  Of course no one knows for sure what the president may or may not do.

However, we are pretty certain a Mitt Romney presidency could be disastrous for medical marijuana patients and legalization advocates.  Mitt Romney infamously walked away from a wheelchair bound patient who was asking if Romney would arrest him for using medical marijuana.  Romney sidestepped the question and never fully answered it.  However, in an uncharacteristic move Romney stated his views on marijuana reform very directly in a video we recently uncovered.  Addressing a crowd Romney utilized the typical and outdated talking points that marijuana is a gateway drug and that leads to an entrance into “the drug culture”.  He went on to say that medical marijuana was an excuse to legalize totally.  While many activists believe in legalization, there are many patients out there who rely on medical cannabis.  Their quality of life would be severely damaged without it.

The issue may not creep up too much as the candidates will surround themselves in very scripted atmospheres.  Unless one of the debate moderators decides raise the issue it is unlikely we will get to hear an exchange between Romney and Obama on the issue.  While many have not been thrilled with the president’s approach, patients should be terrified of what Mitt Romney has said.  Also in the video we mentioned above, is Romney swearing to fight medical marijuana “tooth and nail”.  We have not heard him take a passionate stance on much or even address issues directly so it is surprising that this is the issue Romney would take his stance on.

However, can we even be sure he believes in this anti-marijuana stance, as the elastic politician has successfully secured the GOP nomination while simultaneously flipping his position on almost every relevant social issue.  Perhaps marijuana will join abortion, TARP, the auto bailout, government healthcare, the stimulus, Ronald Reagan, global warming, and the many other issues Mitt Romney has altered his view on.  The Mitt Romney we watched on television Thursday addressing the attendees of the Republican National Convention looks nothing like (except  in hair style and choice of suit) the candidate who ran against Ted Kennedy for the US Senate in 1994, won the Massachusetts governorship in 2002, or even ran against John McCain in the 2008 primaries.  The silver lining for patients is that Mitt Romney is never married to his words and clearly reads polls.  With 75% of the country supporting medical marijuana, there is a good chance he will abandon an anti-marijuana policy.


You can check out the video for yourselves


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As Convention Politics Dominate It is Important not to Lose Sight of Hemp Developments

rand paul

Rand Paul, the son of the popular marijuana legalization advocate Ron Paul, has secured a passionate following in his own right.  Rand Paul is a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, a state with an extremely rich hemp history.  This week he spoke at the Republican National Convention, of course to no one’s surprise he did not bring up hemp and marijuana reform.  We will not hold Rand Paul accountable for that as the RNC heavily vetted his speech, perhaps worried he would channel some of the ideas the Paul’s that are not in step with the GOP.  However, while August has been a highly national political month as the presidential election kicks into full gear, another issue has gained momentum.  Joining Rand Paul is Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer who is also seeking to reform outdated an ill advised laws restricting hemp farming.  The two would like to alter Kentucky law before it becomes fashionable for other states to do so.  Kentucky has traditionally been the center of hemp production in the U.S. and the feeling is that economic prosperity could return to Kentucky if they act now.

For more on this story click here

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Medical Marijuana Industry News August 31, 2012

marijuana patients

Los Angeles Ban On Dispensaries Appears to be Put on Hold…

The controversial decision to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles was met with resistance from activists.  Many patients have been anxious about how exactly they were going to safely access medication and if they would have to turn to traditional illegal methods of obtaining it.  The Los Angeles City Council, especially Councilman Huizar have seemed especially determined to end dispensaries even as the legalities mount against their actions.  It appears that court decisions have invalidated the right for municipalities to ban dispensaries.  While that did little to stop the city from threatening a closure which was set to take effect in days, apparently the ballot initiative from Americans for Safe Access did succeed.  Organizers submitted slightly over 49,000 votes with only 27,425 needed.  The signatures will be examined and validated which typically takes at least a few days.  If the signatures are approved then the Los Angeles City Council will have 30 days to either overturn the ban or put it a vote by residents.  Councilman Huizar still seemed determined to wipe any perceived egg off his face.  He said the city could still close shops that were in violation of state law and operating at a profit.  Of course searched extensively and could not find where ASA, or other organizers said any different.   However, eliminating all 700+ dispensaries, many of which are not making a profit is an altogether different story and may have been an overreach on the part of the City Council.

For more on this click here


Marijuana Decriminalization May Come to Springfield Missouri…

Many activists in Springfield Missouri have been seeking a new approach toward marijuana laws.  The goup Show Me Cannabis Regulation was successful in collecting enough signatures to get a ballot initiative to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana to the ballots.  The group was successful in collecting the required signatures.  As the case is in most areas, lawmakers can approve a ballot initiative or reject the issue and send it for residents to vote on.  While the City Council of Springfield voted 6-3 to approve the decriminalization effort, lawmakers now have 30 days to amend the bill.  The move appears to be a shrewd move aimed at keeping the issue away from a public vote.  As stated already, if the vote failed then voters would get a chance to approve the measure.  Now it seems several of the “yes” votes by the city council were simply to keep the issue in house.  Now they have 30 days to change and basically strip away the decriminalization law.  Councilman Jeff Seifried said of that he supported passing the legislation “then gutting, the entire ordinance.”  Unless our interpretation of this comment is incorrect, it sounds as if Councilman Tommy Bieker has similar plans.  He said “I will be voting in support with the intent of turning around and working out the amendment.”  Many residents may grow resentful that the City Council would take drastic measures to avoid having the people of Springfield ultimately decide the fate of the law.


For more on this story click here


President Obama Participates in Reddit AMA Though Some were not Pleased…

As we close in on the 2012 presidential election, the candidates will try to utilize every way to connect with the people.  We are in the middle of the convention season as Mitt Romney concluded the Republican National Convention by making his speech and officially accepting the nomination.  On Tuesday the Democratic National Convention will get under way.  In the midst of high profile coverage it may be a surprise that the President decided to pursue a very new way of connecting with voters.  On Wednesday President Obama participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where he encouraged voters to submit questions.  The president has also taken part in other online forums aimed at connecting with voters.  While we cannot say they have not been effective, he has dodged the issue of marijuana reform and the war on drugs now several times.  Yesterday many were upset that the president seemingly ignored the growing calls for marijuana reform.  However, we at would like to applaud him for taking part, even if his answers were not ideal.  The president seems to be more in tune with the growing online culture than other current and previous candidates.  While he may be avoiding the conversation to some extent, it is a unique situation that a president would directly converse with voters.  However, in the future a free pass may not be granted if he partakes in another online forum encouraging  questions on everything but simply handpicking his answers.


For more on this story click here

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New Teen Marijuana Study Shows Need for Regulation


As the Republican National Convention concludes tonight with a speech from Mitt Romney and the Democratic Convention kicks off next week, the election season is officially shifting into high gear. Polling and coverage of the upcoming 2012 presidential election, and the three previous held in 2008, 2004, and 2000 show an extremely divided country.  On most issues one side of the other is quick to jump on any information that can make their stance seem like the singularly correct position.  However, often this can be much more of a matter of inflating one’s ego then laying out helpful advice for the future of our nation.

Medical marijuana has been a topic with strong support, and of course strong opposition.  However, polls show Americans have quickly shifted their attitude toward medical marijuana (approximately 75% of Americans support a physician’s right to prescribe marijuana to patients), the failed war on drugs, and useless incarcerations of non violent offenders.  Research and patient testimony is starting to build a rather concrete case that marijuana does in fact offer substantial medical usefulness.

However, opponents of any cause ignore overwhelming evidence on one side only to embrace any fact that strengthens their own argument, usually through exaggeration or distortion.  This week, a study conducted at Duke University was released that indicated that frequent use of marijuana (4x per week) in teens could possibly lead to lower IQs later in life.  Study researcher Madeline Meier said “The findings are consistent with speculation that cannabis use in adolescence, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects.”  The study also concluded that IQ reduction seemed limited to teens.  Those who started smoking marijuana as adults showed no change in IQ levels.

The news did not take long to excite those who have been salivating for their chance to condescend toward cannabis.  OC Weekly quickly published an article titled “Smoking Pot Makes Teens Stupid, Study Says”.  Of course the study actually said it lowers IQ by up to 8 points.  Absent from many of the knee jerk responses is the fact that most drugs that are illegal for teens to use can have a negative impact on their still developing brains.  According to many authorities, including the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors teenage alcohol use can lead to litany of developmental disorders including the damaging of brain tissue and memory loss.  Many other studies on teen alcohol use have been conducted that also do not offer an optimistic picture those who start drinking earlier in life.  With prescription pill abuse skyrocketing and far more accessible for teens, do we really think it has no impact on the developing adolescent mind?

While marijuana will receive the venom by virtue of the fact that it is illegal we have to stop and think how this continues to make opponents call for no regulation.  Alcohol is legal but requires proper identification to purchase it.  We know that alcohol can harm our teens, so in turn we do not ignore the issue and hope beyond hope that it simply disappears.  In fact, Colorado’s Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol often features concerned parents in their ads.  These parents are not pushing for regulation because they want their children to smoke marijuana.  To the contrary they are seeking legalization and regulation to keep it out of teens hands.  While opponents may be pleased to read about bullet points that satisfy their intellect, would they not be more satisfied to provide answers?  The bottom line is that we have to pay attention to what is going on and as the conventions unfold and the election season progresses, will we hear anything about how to deal with the issue of teenage drug abuse?  Not likely, but concerned citizens already have concluded that the situation falls into the hands of the people.

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Marijuana Gets Political As GOP Convention Gets Underway

Republican National Convention

This week the Republican National Convention has commenced.  The goal of the convention will be to officially nominate former Governor Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president of the United States.  The convention has been forced to do a balancing act because Hurricane Isaac has been looming.  The guest speakers, which included Ann Romney, Rick Santorum and Chris Christie, were tasked with the goal of painting Mitt Romney as the man who can turn our country around.  Absent from any of the speeches was marijuana reform, even as it is becoming a large concern for many Americans.  The convention will continue throughout the week, however, since mainstream coverage will ignore the issue, would like to take this time to discuss some political updates that will not make it to the airwaves this week.

The two party system in the United States has disenfranchised many and created a sentiment that we have very limited choices.  This could explain why the United States Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce has now officially endorsed a president that has overseen the largest attack on medical marijuana patients in 16 years.  Fear of Mitt Romney seems to have prompted the endorsement.  Thomas L. Leto III, President and Founder of the group said in a statement this week “The Economic Potential of the Cannabis Business in the U.S. is Limitless and President Obama understands this, It is our impression that Mr. Romney just doesn’t get it.  Mitt Romney is known for his business success and would probably be able to forecast how large the legalized marijuana is set to grow in the coming years.  However, his campaign has been forced to embrace far right wing ideals which would likely prevent him from enacting reform measures.  Many are confident that an Obama second term would see a less toxic atmosphere for marijuana, while many fear the unknown with a Romney presidency.

We would also like to touch on another political issue that will likely fly under the radar this week.  The NAACP has announced their endorsement of Washington States Initiative 502.  New Approach Washington has been instrumental in collecting enough signatures from residents in order to get the issue of marijuana legalization and regulation in front of voters this November.  As reported by last week, the group also backed Colorado’s Ammendment 64, a ballot initiative that will also face a vote by residents and is similar to Washington’s Initiative 502.  NAACP President of the Alaska, Washington State, and Oregon chapter, Oscar Eason, Jr. said “Treating marijuana use as a crime has not only failed, it has perpetuated racial inequities through unequal enforcement.”  He also went on to say “African Americans are no more likely than whites to use marijuana, but we are much more likely to be arrested for it.”  This sentiment also matches the rationale for the NAACP backing of the Colorado legalization efforts.

As the road to the White House unfolds we will continue to provide updates.  Next week is the Democratic National Convention to be held in North Carolina.  While we expect a dodging of the marijuana issue there, we would like to remind the president that he could truly galvanize a large voting base by demonstrating some concern for reform and medical patients.  We would also hope that Hurricane Isaac passes through with minimal damage.  Our hearts, once again, are with the Gulf region.

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