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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Marijuana Tipping Point Is Already Here

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Graphic: NewsReview.com
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent

The writer and social critic, Malcolm Gladwell, defines the 'Tipping Point' as the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point; the point at which the buildup of minor changes or incidents reaches a level that triggers a more significant change or makes someone do something they had formerly resisted.

Another way of saying it would be that point in time and space when everything changes and there's no turning back.

Every day there are more encouraging headlines appearing in newspapers and on the Web from California to Maine supporting medical marijuana legislation suggesting the tide is turning.

Even when the cynics call medical marijuana a joke and claim the real goal of this smokescreen movement is legalization of pot, there are medi-jane supporters with valid and logical arguments to counter-balance any archaic rhetoric with which the anti-pot forces continue to misinform.
New Jersey passed one of the most restrictive medical marijuana rights and benefits program on the books so far. The state with a very conservative governor will soon have medical marijuana. Why? Because the people wanted it.

It does seem like Time is marching on, but when is it gonna get there?

We're zeroing in on something but when is the Tipping Point going to kick in fully regarding medical marijuana?
What possible signs do we need to see before we believe that it works?!

Here are some small recent events that may prove someday to have influenced the way we think, tipping the scales our way towards a bigger picture...


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Photo: KSL.com
Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff opposed medical marijuana -- then he got cancer.
1) Okay, this guy never ever got high and he's for Medical Marijuana!

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff approves of medical marijuana after battling cancer.

Shurtleff said he would support the legalization of medical marijuana after experiencing months of intensive cancer treatment.

Shurtleff said never used marijuana himself, but had talked to other patients who had traveled out-of-state to receive marijuana treatment.

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Photo: 99Post
Miss USA Alyssa Campanella: "Medical marijuana is very important to help those who need it medically"
2) Not innocent enough. Okay, as they say, from the mouth of babes...

During the question-and-answer part of the competition, Miss California Alyssa Campanella was asked about her perspective on the medicinal cannabis.

"Well, I understand why that question would be asked, especially with today's economy, but I also understand that medical marijuana is very important to help those who need it medically," Alyssa said.

"I'm not sure if it should be legalized, if it would really affect, with the drug war," she said. "I mean, it's abused today, unfortunately, so that's the only reason why I would kind of be a little bit against it, but medically it's OK."

She got Miss USA.

When's the last time you had the crown on the line and you spoke the truth?

I actually can understand why someone could dismiss a beauty queen and a cancer patient as being not scientific enough. They're just regular people.


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3) What about Big Business. They have scientists? They have economists? They understand the world...? Don't they?

Scott's Miracle-Gro Company has long sold weed killer. Now, it's hoping to help people grow killer weed.

In an unlikely move for the head of a major company, Scott's Chief Executive Jim Hagedorn said he is exploring targeting medical marijuana as well as other niches to help boost sales at his lawn and garden company.

"I want to target the pot market," Mr. Hagedorn said in an interview.

"There's no good reason we haven't."


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4) We've heard from the People, Big Business, and now from across the aisle comes...

Congressmen Ron Paul, Barney Frank and others will introduce legislature Thursday that aims to end a major part of the war on drugs -- namely the battle against marijuana.

Reps. Paul (R-Texas) and Frank (D-Mass.), though technically on opposite sides of the aisle, have often spoken out against the war on drugs and will propose a bill "tomorrow ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference," according to a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project via Reason.

The bill would allow the individual states to decide how they want to deal with pot.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), is the first of its kind to be proposed in Congress that would end the 73-year-old federal marijuana prohibition that began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

.......

These four events that just transpired in the last month couldn't be more current, more 'now.' What is it going to take in order for that cosmic plate to tilt to our side? And stay that way!

Entrepreneurs and forward thinkers are testing the waters of the medical marijuana Industry with venture capitalists abroad throwing dollars into edible research think-tanks and other esoteric ganja-related enterprises.

Politicians and law enforcement from all walks and talks of life are coming forward, decrying that the time is now to lose the campaigns that have never worked and to embrace a new way of thinking. To challenge the uncommon wisdom and to end the wars on law abiding citizens who because they ingest a specific weed, they could have their lives ruin because we, as a nation and a society refuse to change.

Sixteen states support medical marijuana. Every poll taken shows public support for medical marijuana. GW Pharma (Weed) and Novartis (Ritalin, Excedrin) have become partners in Sativex (medical marijuana spray) licensing pact overseas and now, in America.

"My professional view of cannabis as a substance is that it appears to be a remarkably safe substance in comparison to most medicines prescribed today," said Dr. Geoffrey Guy, chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals. "The more I learn about this plant the more fascinated I become. It has through its various constituents multiple effects of therapeutic interest, many of which are now being validated by the enormous growth in basic cannabinoid research."

What is it about marijuana that makes us afraid to go forward and embrace a new safer tomorrow? Pharmaceutical giants are moving forward with patents and marketing. You would think that the data from research geeks would be refutable, they're the same people who give us our aspirin, for gosh sakes.

The data's coming in like a Haboob through Phoenix. Unstoppable. Marijuana has applications that can help certain people. That's it. It can't be changed.

Marijuana does some good. It's proven.

You can't go backwards with that. Only thing you can do is not open your eyes to what's in front of them.

Why aren't we coming together as a nation over this issue when people with perspectives as different as those of Miss USA to the Mormon Attorney General of Utah support medical marijuana?

When law enforcement officials and Ex-President Jimmy Carter come forward to say the War on Drugs not only doesn't work, it's unwinnable. A waste of money.

Speaking of money, when Wall Street, Main Street and Home Depot all say the time is right to build the future fields of dreams of medical marijuana that only Weed-Gro can protect. What more do we need to hear?

Do we need Nancy Reagan in her Chanel housecoat to come forward to say she was wrong? Would that be the final straw? Would that be our national Tipping Point? To have someone other than ourselves say it is okay for us to have this weed? Mommy, please say its okay because in 1937, someone said it was bad.

Right now President Obama has alienated the Ganja Nation with his reversal on leaving the medical marijuana community alone. More and more his obtrusive agenda is forcing the hand of medical marijuana to take a stand, one way or another in various localities. Howard Zinn said you can't be neutral on a moving train.

Opinion is sliding to the side where the weed grows green and high. Mendocino County is aggressively constructing a platform that is workable for growers and law enforcement alike. Not perfect, but a start.

Growers are paying taxes in exchange for their right to grow medical marijuana. They pay just like anyone else.

The Tipping Point is already here. Embrace it.

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Photo: Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.

Jack delivers real-time coverage folloLinkwing the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.

Original here

Attorneys For Schaeffer Cox Want Murder Conspiracy Charges Thrown Out


Schaeffer Cox

Attorneys for Schaeffer Cox have asked a court to throw out murder conspiracy charges against their client, who is accused of plotting to kill a federal judge, because of the way the grand jury was conducted.

Cox, a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen and leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, was arrested in March, along with Coleman Barney, Lonnie and Karen Vernon, and Michael O. Anderson, for allegedly stockpiling weapons as part of a plot to kill two Alaska State Troopers, an IRS employee, and the federal judge.

In two motions filed last week, Cox's attorneys argued that the grand jury process was mishandled and treated like "high school," and therefore the murder conspiracy charges should be thrown out.

In one motion, Cox's attorney Robert John argued that the grand jury was not properly instructed on the burden of proof necessary for indictments. In the other motion, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports:

In one of the filings in the Cox case, attorney Robert John quotes a prosecutor in the grand jury transcript who appears to pick a foreperson out of the grand jury for arriving late, saying "that's what you get for showing up late. It's just like high school."

The procedure violates the criminal rule that a grand jury itself or a judge should pick the foreperson, John says in the filing.

"Schaeffer Cox has the constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury, not by a high-school teacher and the class he teaches," the motion says.

Prosecutors on Wednesday also filed a motion to block the release of Coleman Barney. Barney's attorneys have been pushing for his release on bail because, as they argue, he "has a history of contributing to the community, not destroying it." Superior Court Judge David C. Stewart reduced Barney's bail from $2 million to $100,000 in June, though Barney's attorneys must still convince a federal judge of the same.

But in the motion filed this week, prosecutors provided additional evidence against Barney in protest of his release. They also detailed the weapons allegedly found in his trailer -- including body armor, hand cuffs, a gas mask, a number of grenades, and "assorted" guns and ammunition.

Stephen Skrocki wrote in the motion:

The Coleman Barney, father of five, business owner and member of the community referenced in the defense pleadings and in letters of support is not the same Coleman Barney who elected to arrive to an illegal arms sale wearing body armor and carrying two loaded pistols. It is not the Coleman Barney who, during this arms sale held and examined with his own hands what he thought were live hand grenades, and a pistol silencer combination. It was not the same Coleman Barney who sought to purchase tactical weapons which only exist to kill either violently, secretly, or furtively.

"Despite the order of the state court," Skrocki wrote, "which may have not been in command of these facts due to the volume of discovery, Coleman Barney's motion for bail
must be denied. The risk to the community, the danger to the community and the risk of flight or absconding are simply too great."

Full coverage of Cox et al here.

Original here


Wisconsin Flyer Calls For Conservatives To Vote For Fake Candidate In Dem Primary



Wisconsin Democrats face the next hurdle in the state Senate recalls on Wednesday, with primaries being held in the races to go up against six Republican incumbents -- and they'll have to beat the fake Democrats before they can take on the real Republicans.

Soon after the recall elections were triggered, Republicans declared a strategy to plant fake candidates in the Democratic primaries -- which they have called "protest candidates" -- in order to delay the general elections from July to August, while the GOP incumbents run unopposed. Also, it turns out the whole scheme will cost local governments throughout the state over $400,000.

Now, Greg Sargent has obtained a flyer being distributed by a group called "Patriot Advisers," 18th District race against GOP incumbent Randy Hopper -- encouraging conservatives to go vote in the open Democratic primary, for Republican plant John Buckstaff against real Dem Jessica King.

On the one hand, it's possible to look at this as a dirty trick. On the other hand, how could the Dems ever hope to take on the real Republicans if they can't drub the fake Dems first?

The flyer refers to the fake Dem candidate John Buckstaff as "Pro-Wisconsin," and declared: "He'll roll up his sleeves and work with Governor Walker to eliminate special privileges for government unions."

As for the official Dem candidate Jessica King, she is called "Pro-Union Extremist," with the added description: "King is taking tens of thousands of dollars from pro-union groups. She will put their agenda first -- even if it bankrupts Wisconsin."

To be clear, the Dems specifically rejected entreaties by labor to respond in kind and run fake Republicans, in order to prevent this kind of shenanigans.

Original here

U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid

Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times

Pakistani soldiers trained last year at Pubbi Hills, 75 miles southeast of the capital, Islamabad.


Coupled with a statement from the top American military officer last week linking Pakistan’s military spy agency to the recent murder of a Pakistani journalist, the halting or withdrawal of military equipment and other aid to Pakistan illustrates the depth of the debate inside the Obama administration over how to change the behavior of one of its key counterterrorism partners.

Altogether, about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, could be affected, three senior United States officials said.

This aid includes about $300 million to reimburse Pakistan for some of the costs of deploying more than 100,000 soldiers along the Afghan border to combat terrorism, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in training assistance and military hardware, according to half a dozen Congressional, Pentagon and other administration officials who were granted anonymity to discuss the politically delicate matter.

Some of the curtailed aid is equipment that the United States wants to send but Pakistan now refuses to accept, like rifles, ammunition, body armor and bomb-disposal gear that were withdrawn or held up after Pakistan ordered more than 100 Army Special Forces trainers to leave the country in recent weeks.

Some is equipment, such as radios, night-vision goggles and helicopter spare parts, which cannot be set up, certified or used for training because Pakistan has denied visas to the American personnel needed to operate the equipment, two senior Pentagon officials said.

And some is assistance like the reimbursements for troop costs, which is being reviewed in light of questions about Pakistan’s commitment to carry out counterterrorism operations. For example, the United States recently provided Pakistan with information about suspected bomb-making factories, only to have the insurgents vanish before Pakistani security forces arrived a few days later.

“When it comes to our military aid,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee last month “we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.”

American officials say they would probably resume equipment deliveries and aid if relations improve and Pakistan pursues terrorists more aggressively. The cutoffs do not affect any immediate deliveries of military sales to Pakistan, like F-16 fighter jets, or nonmilitary aid, the officials said.

Pakistan’s precise military budget is not known, and while the American aid cutoff would probably have a small impact on the overall military budget, it would most directly affect the counterinsurgency campaign. The Pakistani Army spends nearly one-quarter of the nation’s annual expenditures, according to K. Alan Kronstadt of the Congressional Research Service.

While some senior administration officials have concluded that Pakistan will never be the kind of partner the administration hoped for when President Obama entered office, others emphasize that the United States cannot risk a full break in relations or a complete cutoff of aid akin to what happened in the 1990s, when Pakistan was caught developing nuclear weapons.

But many of the recent aid curtailments are clearly intended to force the Pakistani military to make a difficult choice between backing the country that finances much of its operations and equipment, or continuing to provide secret support for the Taliban and other militants fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We have to continue to emphasize with the Pakistanis that in the end it’s in their interest to be able to go after these targets as well,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told reporters on Friday en route to Afghanistan.

Some American officials say Pakistan has only itself to blame, citing the Pakistani military’s decision to distance itself from American assistance in response to the humiliation suffered from the American commando raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as rising anger from midlevel Pakistani officers and the Pakistani public that senior military leaders, including Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the powerful army chief of staff, are too accommodating to the Americans.

Pakistan shut down the American program to help train Pakistani paramilitary troops fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the lawless border regions near Afghanistan, prompting the Americans to take with them equipment Pakistani troops used. The Central Intelligence Agency has been relying more heavily on flying armed drones from Afghanistan since Pakistan threatened to close down a base the C.I.A. was using inside the country.

But in private briefings to senior Congressional staff members last month, Pentagon officials made clear that they were taking a tougher line toward Pakistan and reassessing whether it could still be an effective partner in fighting terrorists.

“They wanted to tell us, ‘Guys, we’re delivering the message that this is not business as usual and we’ve got this under control,’ ” one senior Senate aide said.

Comments last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reflected a potentially more confrontational approach to Pakistan. Admiral Mullen, who is retiring in two months, became the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan of ordering the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, whose mutilated body was found in early June.

Besides the growing tensions, the slowdown in aid can also be attributed to tightening military budgets as lawmakers seek deeper cuts in Pentagon spending to help address the mounting government debt.

There is growing opposition on Capitol Hill to sending security assistance to Pakistan. Last week, the Republican-controlled House approved a Pentagon budget bill that limits the Defense Department from spending more than 25 percent of its projected $1.1 billion budget for training and equipping Pakistani troops next year, unless the secretaries of defense and state submit a report to Congress showing how the money will be spent to combat insurgencies.

The Pakistani military is the most important institution in the country. But it has been under intense domestic and international pressure because of the humiliation of the Bin Laden raid, an attack on Pakistan’s main navy base in Karachi weeks later, and continuing fallout from the arrest and subsequent release of a C.I.A. security contractor, Raymond A. Davis, who shot and killed two Pakistanis in January in what he said was a robbery.

The United States has long debated how hard it can push Pakistan to attack militant strongholds in the tribal area. Washington, however, depends on Pakistan as a major supply route into Afghanistan. American officials also want to monitor as closely as they can Pakistan’s burgeoning nuclear weapons arsenal.

The decision to hold back much of the American military aid has not been made public by the Pakistani military or the civilian government. But it is well known at the top levels of the military, and a senior Pakistani official described it as an effort by the Americans to gain “leverage.”

A former Pakistani diplomat, Maleeha Lodhi, who served twice as ambassador to the United States, said the Pentagon action was short-sighted, and was likely to produce greater distance between the two countries.

“It will be repeating a historic blunder and hurting itself in the bargain by using a blunt instrument of policy at a time when it needs Pakistan’s help to defeat Al Qaeda and make an honorable retreat from Afghanistan,” Ms. Lodhi said of the United States.

Washington imposed sanctions on Pakistan in the 1990s, and in the process lost influence with the Pakistani military, Ms. Lodhi said. Similarly, the Obama administration would find itself out in the cold with the Pakistani Army if it held up funds, she said.

Within the Pakistani Army, the hold on American assistance would be viewed as “an unfriendly act and total disregard of the sacrifices made by the army,” said Brig. Javed Hussain, a retired special forces officer.

Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Jane Perlez from Islamabad, Pakistan. David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan.

Original here