COMMERCIAL POT FAILS TO PASS IN NEW YORK
Killer driver is FINALLY unmasked: Police officers’ son, 18, who was spared jail despite ploughing into and killing two pedestrians in his parents’ Audi while high on cannabis is pictured for first time
Over the weekend, The Hill published an article highlighting SAM’s astounding winning record in state legislatures this year.
“(The) win in Springfield comes at the end of a string of defeats in what was supposed to be a banner year of legalization. Even supporters of recreational use acknowledged their legislative agenda has run into more roadblocks than they expected.”
Friend, many have told us we need to roll over and give up. Many have told us that marijuana legalization is inevitable. But we have proved them wrong time and time again this year.
Across the country, lawmakers considering legalization have met with SAM staff, felt pushback from our broad coalitions, and have decided to put public health, safety, and common sense above the demands of the marijuana industry and its lobbyists.
None of this would have been possible without your support and I hope you will continue to help us put people before profits. Click here to chip in and help keep us going.
All the best, Kevin Sabet, PhD – Founder and President
SAM and SAM Action
Advocates of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes scored their most significant legislative victory of the year Friday when the Illinois state House gave final approval to a measure allowing residents over the age of 21 to purchase and use cannabis products.
But their win in Springfield comes at the end of a string of defeats in what was supposed to be a banner year for legalization. Even supporters of recreational use acknowledge their legislative agenda has run into more roadblocks than they expected.
Legislators in New Jersey, Connecticut and New Mexico hit the brakes on legalization bills this year, even though Democratic governors in all three states made clear their support. A New Hampshire bill stalled in the state Senate when it became apparent the legislature did not have the votes to override a likely veto from Gov. Chris Sununu (R).
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) effort to legalize recreational use through his state budget stalled, though the legislature is considering a separate bill.
“Some progress has happened slower than we would have liked, of course,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group.
Opposition groups have mounted surprisingly strong campaigns against legalization bills, in many states led by minority legislators who worry that increased access to marijuana will disproportionately impact their communities. Black caucuses in New Jersey and Connecticut have emerged as fulcrums in the debate over legalization.
“These communities in many ways across the country are marginalized, but when it comes to this specific policy issue they have a major say,” said Luke Niforatos, a senior policy advisor at Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group.
At the same time, those minority groups say their communities are not profiting from the booming marijuana industry, which remains overwhelmingly white.
“For Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana, black addiction is a big-money hustle,” said Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, a civil rights advocate who opposed the Illinois legislation. “It is not a business opportunity for blacks and other minorities because blacks and other minorities are the target.”
Proponents have said that legalization would help mitigate the disparities of the war on drugs, which fell hardest on communities of color. A black man is almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as a white man, according to an American Civil Liberties Union study, though usage rates are virtually the same across racial groups.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) “has repeatedly said that he believes legalization of adult-use marijuana is critical to eliminating disparities in the criminal justice system. Each week that marijuana remains illegal, approximately 600 people in New Jersey will be arrested for low-level drug crimes, with the majority of those being people of color,” Alyana Alfaro, a Murphy spokeswoman, said in an email.
States that have already legalized marijuana have made efforts to increase the number of minority-owned businesses in the nascent industry, to mixed results. California’s legislature approved $10 million to help low-income and minority-owned businesses open pot shops. Massachusetts prioritized minority-owned businesses as it began distributing licenses after voters there approved a legalization ballot measure.
Maryland is working on plans to award new marijuana cultivation licenses to minority-owned businesses, though some of the firms that own the 15 existing licenses have sued to stop the expansion plans.
“There was hope that passing legalization would help with all the inequalities that have plagued the drug war,” O’Keefe said. “A lot of people, including us, have been disappointed that there hasn’t been as much diversity in the industry as there could be.”
Legalization opponents publicly support some efforts to end elements of the war on drugs, even if they don’t support recreational use. North Dakota and New Mexico this year became the latest states to decriminalize marijuana possession, an approach those legalization opponents say more adequately addresses the root problem.
“If we’re having concerns about incarceration, let’s look directly at incarceration and decriminalization and expungement,” Niforatos said. “It is a way to precisely address the concerns of these communities that are disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.”
Marijuana backers have had some success around the margins this year. Iowa’s Republican-led legislature approved an expansion of low-grade medical cannabis, though Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vetoed the bill. Georgia legislators approved a measure to allow in-state cultivation of medical marijuana. Legislators in Guam this year legalized marijuana for recreational use, the second U.S. territory to do so after the Northern Mariana Islands.
And the Illinois bill is significant: If Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signs it as expected, Illinois would become the first state to legalize recreational sales of marijuana through its state legislature, rather than through a ballot measure approved by citizens.
Vermont’s legislature approved the use, though not the sale, of recreational marijuana in 2018, a compromise between the Democratic legislature and Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican.
The disappointing year for marijuana backers is only a prelude to what is expected to be a series of difficult fights in 2020. Legalization proponents will try again in states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and ballot measures are likely in states such as Florida, Arizona and Ohio, three states where earlier efforts fell short.
“There could be serious, viable efforts to legalize marijuana in as many as a dozen states next year,” O’Keefe said. “While it’s hard to predict how many will pass, it’s all but certain that the number of legalization states will continue to grow with each passing year.”
About SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states.
Scotland’s drug problem is getting worse despite the Scottish Government spending more than £740 million on trying to tackle drug and alcohol abuse over the last ten years.
A report by Audit Scotland reviewed the effects of the Government’s strategies for addicts, concluding that Scotland’s drug problem has not improved in a decade.
According to official statistics, the number of drug-related deaths is expected to reach 1,000 this year.
Scotland has an estimated 56,000 problem drug users.
Statistics last year revealed that drug-related deaths in Scotland rose from 545 in 2009 to 934 in 2017 – eight times higher than the average for EU nations.
Graham Sharp, Chairman of the Accounts Commission for Scotland, said: “Problem drug and alcohol use and their impacts continue to be significant issues for Scotland.”
‘Out of control’
Earlier this year Professor Neil McKeganey, a leading academic in the field, said the Scottish Government’s emphasis on so-called harm reduction policies is to blame for growing drug problems.
Between 2013 and 2017 heroin-related deaths more than doubled in Scotland, while deaths from anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam rose from 195 to 552.
For complete article go to Harm Reduction ONLY – a Failure?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 14th, 2019
CONTACT: Colton Grace Colton@learnaboutsam.org (864) 492-6719
COLORADO PRAISES BILLION DOLLAR POT REVENUE WHILE EDUCATION FUNDING SUFFERS
(Denver, CO) – This week, it was reported that the state of Colorado has surpassed $1 billion in taxes and fees since the legalization of marijuana in 2014. Luke Niforatos, spokesman for the Marijuana Accountability Coalition, a Colorado-based watchdog group dedicated to exposing the harms of the marijuana industry, release the following statement in response:
“Before we are too quick to pat ourselves on the back for taking in $1 billion in tax revenue of the back of an addictive substance, let’s do some math. It took six years to reach a billion dollars of revenue, that is averaging under $200 million per year. An absolute drop in the bucket of our state’s budget.
“Lost in the discussion of how much marijuana taxes have brought in is how much those tax dollars have cost Colorado. One recent study found that for every dollar marijuana taxes generate, $4.50 must be spent to mitigate the societal harms. Marijuana taxes were purported to be a boon for our education, how is that working out? As it stands, we are 42nd in the country for school funding and 50th for teacher wage competitiveness.
“Let’s not be so quick to praise the marijuana industry while our teachers are walking out of the classroom to protest their stagnating wages, while our state is playing host to multiple foreign cartels growing illicit pot, while mental health issues abound, our homeless rate skyrockets, and our roads grow more and more unsafe by the day due to impaired driving.”
About MAC: The Marijuana Accountability Coalition (MAC) is a coalition made up of individuals and organizations united for one common purpose: to fearlessly investigate, expose, challenge, and hold the marijuana industry accountable. If you care about the future of Colorado and holding Big Tobacco 2.0 (The Marijuana Industry) accountable, please join us.
CDC: Middle-aged women are fastest growing segment of addicts: Addiction centers report spike
America’s drug crisis is taking a deadly toll on a group you might not expect. A recent report from the Center for Disease and Control shows the number of “middle-aged” women who died of overdose has quadrupled since 1999.
Many of these women are getting hooked not just to pain pills and heroin, but also to alcohol. Christine Wolfe was one of them.
“I never dreamt in a million years that I would become an alcoholic. I could not stop; my children begged me to,” said Wolfe.
During her darkest times, Wolfe said she would hide alcohol in water bottles and try to hide her addiction from her family, but they were on to her.
For Pamela Aguilu, the drug of choice was prescription pain pills. She got access through them legally, through her doctors after spinal surgeries. She said initially it had helped with her pain. “I would say I got addicted right away. I was taking massive amounts of oxycodone,” said Aguilu.
Both women say their addictions destroyed relationships and their own families. It destroyed trust between them and their children and took over their lives. For both Wolfe and Aguilu, the out of control addiction started later in life.
“I did not start drinking until I was 47,” said Wolfe.
Both women are also part of a dangerous trend being tracked by the CDC right now. Studies show the fastest growing segment of addicts in the country is middle-aged women, most of whom are mothers.
“Soccer moms become addicts. Soccer moms, moms that are engaged with their children — we are just as liable to become an addict as anybody else,” said Aguilu.
Researchers call it an “evolving epidemic.” The number of overdose deaths in this population has increased by 260 percent since 1999.
Wolfe said she was surprised she is alive today.
“Very surprised. There are times I should’ve been dead. My blood alcohol was so high– like 0.56. That can cause strokes, that causes your heart to stop,” said Wolfe.
Aguilu was also grateful not to become a statistic. She said her rock bottom hit when her landlord called the cops on her for making too much noise. She found herself facing a female police officer who had broken into her home and was asking her if she was okay.
“The last thing I remember is the ER physician saying we need the Narcan now and then I was out. I was out for two days,” said Aguilu.
The big question researchers are still trying to answer: why middle-aged women?
Government just made a massive change to South Africa’s cannabis laws
27 May 2019
On Thursday (23 May), the Department of Health published an update on regulations surrounding cannabis in South Africa, effectively deregulating certain components of the plant.
The cannabis plant comprises two main compounds – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is considered to be the psychoactive component of cannabis, whereas CBD is not associated with psychoactive outcomes.
According to Helen Michael – a director in the Healthcare & Life Sciences practice at Werksmans – before the publication of the gazette THC and CBD (which are not intended for therapeutic purposes) were all listed as Schedule 7substances in term of the Medicines Act.
Schedule 7 substances – which also include substances such as heroin – are considered highly regulated drugs, which may only be supplied or used pursuant to a permit issued by the director-general of Health and under specific circumscribed circumstances.
“The effect of the government notice is to remove CBD (that is not intended for therapeutic purposes) from Schedule 7 and to include it under Schedule 4 of the Medicines Act,” said Michael.
“Schedule 4 substances are, in turn, those substances that may be sold by pharmacists when presented with a written prescription.”
Michael said that the government notice goes further in that entirely excludes certain preparations containing CBD from the schedules to the Medicines Act.
“Notably, the exception contained in the exclusion notice is only valid for a period of 12 months from the date of signature of the notice (15 May 2019),” said Michael.
“The exception will, therefore, expire on 15 May 2020 unless the notice is renewed by the Minister of Health.”
As our Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor, Luke Niforatos, said this weekend on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal: “Science must prevail. We must listen to our public health professionals and our scientists. The thing is with any public health issue, we have got to let science rule the day.”
Lawmakers recently announced that marijuana legalization bills in New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire are all effectively dead for the 2019 session. This litany of victories comes on the heels of a slew of other wins this year in states like Minnesota and New Mexico.
“Consecutive years of victories for public health and safety in these states is revealing that the movement for legalization is losing steam,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and a former senior drug policy advisor to President Obama. “This was a resounding, nationwide victory for the minority communities who are relentlessly targeted by Big Marijuana and its Big Tobacco funders, as well as families, schools, and those using roads or public transportation.”
Given the laundry list of state victories for pro-public health forces this year, it is clear that the American public are becoming much more skeptical about the results of marijuana legalization in the few ‘legal’ states.
SAM Releases Comprehensive Lessons Learned From Legalization Report
SAM released its third annual Lessons Learned Report , a comprehensive study of the data outcomes in ‘legalized’ marijuana states. This study, validated by researchers from institutions such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins University and used as primary source material by international, federal, state, and local officials, as well as countless community organizations, finds that states that have legalized marijuana are witnessing rising use rates, thriving black markets, and harms among disadvantaged communities.
“As a handful of states are considering relaxing their marijuana laws, this report will continue to serve as an eye-opener for lawmakers and slow the rush to legalize,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM. “The commercialization of marijuana has been profitable for the industries such as Big Tobacco, yet tax revenues are falling short and serious, costly consequences abound. It is time to admit that marijuana legalization is a failed policy.”
Newsweek Oped: Big Marijuana Copies Big Tobacco’s Playbook. Let’s Not Make the Same Mistake Again
In an opinion piece published in Newsweek, SAM founder Dr. Kevin Sabet argues that marijuana legalization is being supported by the titans of addiction: Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol, and Big Pharma, and is an affront to real social justice efforts.
“Big Marijuana isn’t just like Big Tobacco – there are now actual major tobacco conglomerates involved in cashing in on pot. Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, recently invested billions of dollars into a Canadian marijuana grower and has purchased a large stake in Juul (which itself is an offshoot of a marijuana vaping company at the root of today’s youth vaping epidemic). And you just can’t make this up: the former head of Purdue Pharma, who oversaw the deceptive marketing of OxyContin, became the head of a Canadian marijuana company.”
First Release of Data from Canadian Legalization Shows Significant Increase in Youth and Overall Use
A new Canadian federal study found a 27% increase in marijuana use among people aged 15 to 24 over the last year. Additionally, approximately 646,000 Canadians have reported trying marijuana for the first time in the last three months, an amount almost double the 327,000 that admitted to trying the drug for the same time period last year.
“Last year, Canada flouted international treaties and allowed a predatory, addiction-for-profit industry to entrench itself nationwide – and now we are beginning to see the results,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “It is stunning what has happened in such a short period of time: A doubling of first-time use of today’s highly potent and addictive marijuana and a rise in use among young people. This is incredibly concerning for the implications it has on mental health.”
Illinois Legislature Puts Wall Street and Big Marijuana Ahead of Public Health, Safety, and Minority Communities
After a year of debate and against the warnings of a vast, diverse coalition of parents, educators, doctors and medical associations, the NAACP, substance abuse professionals, and law enforcement groups, the Illinois General Assembly voted to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana in a narrow vote.
“This outcome is disappointing, as it is a win for wealthy marijuana investors and a loss for Illinois citizens and communities,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “But we’re not done fighting. We will take this effort to local communities who do not want pot shops in their neighborhoods, and we will explore legal and other avenues to mitigate the harm.”
Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana: New Book Co-Edited by Dr. Kevin Sabet Available Now
Hot off the presses of Oxford University, Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana
is now available for purchase.
This new book, co-edited by Drs. Kevin A. Sabet and Ken C. Winters, comprises chapters by other experts hailing from a wide range of fields including psychology, epidemiology, medicine, and criminal justice. It is a balanced, data-driven volume highlighting new theory and clinical evidence pertaining to marijuana.
The volume features a comprehensive review of research into marijuana’s impact on public health, including how it affects cognitive and neurological functioning, its medical effects, suggested treatment approaches for marijuana use disorders, marijuana smoking and lung function, and marijuana-impaired driving.
Supplies are limited, so place your order today!
MARIJUANA: PREVENTING ANOTHER BIG TOBACCO MEDIA CAMPAIGN TOOLKIT NOW AVAILABLE
Big Marijuana is borrowing the playbook of Big Tobacco in search of the same deep profits at the expense of addicted users. It is time to combat their game with the facts! To help you do so, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) has partnered with Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth (CADY) to offer a comprehensive media campaign prevention toolkit.