Category Archives: Cannabis

Supreme Court Agrees to Reconsider Life Sentence for Pot Grower

Last Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider the lifetime sentence that was handed out to Lee Carroll Brooker, a 75-year-old disabled veteran suffering from chronic pain.

A 2011 drug bust brought Booker and his son down on cultivation charges for growing a few dozen cannabis plants on his sons property.  The weight of the plants was approximately two kilograms, triggering an Alabama law that requires a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who has prior felony convictions and is in possession of greater than . . .  you guessed it . . . two kilograms of marijuana.

In total, the weight of all plant matter collected was just 2.8 pounds. Which is actually less than a full two kilograms.  Brooker’s son was sentenced to five years of probation and five years of prison, the prison sentence has the possibility of being suspended if he does well on probation.  During his sentencing hearing the trial judge told Brooker that if he could render a lesser sentence he would. Last year Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court wrote a six page opinion in which he stated that the sentence was “excessive and unjustified,” and said it revealed “grave flaws” in the state’s sentencing laws.

The foundation for Brooker’s argument is that the punishment violates his 8th amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. Life without parole is the 2nd harshest punishment that a criminal offender can receive. The harshest is the death penalty and one could argue that it is more compassionate to die in your sleep than to have to live the rest of your days in a cage. Regardless, neither should be mandatory sentences for any crime.

A life sentence for growing some plants in your backyard does more than show the “grave flaws” in sentencing laws but it also proves that the most dangerous threat to our freedom is people who, regardless of their own conscience are, in their own words are, “just doing their job”.  The sentencing judge publicly displayed his disagreement for the punishment and still chose to enact it because it was his job to ruin this man’s life. While the judge himself would never drag Mr. Brooker or his son to a cage himself, he has no problem ordering their caging against his own moral constitution.

The police officer whose job it is to capture Mr. Brooker and take him to the cage will do so because it’s his job. The jailer will proceed caged and guard him because that is his job and none of this is about what is right but is only what is legal.  Lee Carroll Brooker is one of at least 14 people serving life in prison for pot and is one of eight who are over the age of 62.

Toronto Maples Leafs Feel Snoop Dogg’s Logo is Bad for Business

The Toronto Maples Leaves, a Canadian team in the National Hockey League, has filed an opposition to Snoop Dogg’s application to trademark the logo for his company ‘Leafs by Snoop’.

Continue reading Toronto Maples Leafs Feel Snoop Dogg’s Logo is Bad for Business

Conservationists Sue Mendocino County Over Cannabis Farming Laws

The Mendocino city council recently voted to quadruple the amount of cannabis plants allowed to be cultivated, so long as an interim permit is first obtained. The vote was passed to accommodate cooperatives that need to cultivate a larger amount in order to meed the needs of patients unable to grow their own medicine. Overall an individual is allowed to grow up to 99 plants with a permit from the sheriff. Without a permit a patient can only grow 25 plants per parcel.

Continue reading Conservationists Sue Mendocino County Over Cannabis Farming Laws

Combat Veterans Turned Cannabis Security Guards Are Defending Grow Ops and Dispensaries in Colorado

A symbiotic relationship has formed between cannabis growers and combat veterans in Colorado, where cannabis is legal for recreational consumption under state law.

Chris Bowyer is one of over 200 combat vets working as armed security for cannabis growers and extract artists in Colorado. His employer, Iron Protection Group, was founded by three marines disenfranchised with civilian life and looking to employ vets who also were struggling in the civilian world.

Chris works at one of many marijuana shops in Colorado but veterans perform security duties everywhere from rural grow sites to warehouses. With cannabis prices reaching almost $400 an ounce – You can buy 2 pounds of silver bullion for the same price- these veterans may as well be guarding Ft. Knox.

However due to limited recourse within the legal and financial systems and having mountains of cannabis and cash, entrepreneurs are extra susceptible to becoming the targets for criminal activity and as such have learned to leave on a different group of people with the skill set necessary to thwart any would be perpetrators.

Robbery is the primary crime perpetuated against members of the cannabis industry but many have been thwarted by armed security that honed their ability in their chosen branch of the military. While criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, so are the owners and investors in Colorado’s legal cannabis industry, employing snipers trained in the Marines and outfitted with night vision goggles to watch over their property over night and armed security on site during the day.

However guarding millions of dollars worth of product isn’t always the safest employment opportunity available. Travis Mason a father of three and a former Marine was killed when two armed gunmen entered the Green Heart dispensary with the objective of robbing it. Mason was shot three times and died from a gunshot wound to the head. He was scheduled to test for the police academy in Denver and is believed to be the first dispensary security guard killed on the job. He is survived by his wife and three children.

The individuals who staff Iron Protection Group, each have their own reason for being their but they are all driven by the same innate instincts to protect their fellow man.

Albanian Police Have Destroyed Close to Two Million Cannabis Plants in 2016

In a climate of prohibition the Albanian police claim to have destroyed next to 2 million individual cannabis plants, three times as much as last year, and arrested close to 150 people.

Alton Quato, a Senior Police Director with the Albanian police, bragged Monday to the local press about the increase in number of cannabis grows demolished, as well as the amount of plants destroyed.

Quato said this was no easy task, as growers are prone to exploit the mountain terrain often inaccessible to police vehicles “which has made police work very difficult.”

Albania was a major European cannabis producer before the government set about its own war on weed three years ago, producing 4.5 billions euros roughly half of the small countries GDP. Since becoming more aggressive with cultivators they have been claiming their efforts have been victorious by costing them billions in illicit profits.

But is prohibition really worth it?

During a cannabis raid into the village of Lazarat it was reported that roughly 30 people involved with a grow operation producing 900 metric tonnes of cannabis were defending their plants with rocket propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns. Pressing the question – at what point does stopping someone from growing, selling or smoking a plant become worth your life?

Albania might think it has a problem with cannabis growers, but the U.S. drug war should be example enough that state violence is not the answer to what they are just recently considering deviant behavior. By turning innocent people into criminals and prohibiting people from participating in the market, the state effectively forces everyone who disagrees with their prohibition to operate in unregulated black markets.

These markets, while inevitable and often necessary, can sometimes lead to more crimes being committed and people being victimized. After all, when there is no legal recourse for those forced to operate in these black markets, producers and consumers become targets and street justice becomes the option.

Smell of Cannabis Forces Airline to Make an Emergency Landing

The 8:15 AM British Airways flight to Heraklion was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing in Crete due to an overpowering smell, similar to cannabis. The flight was delayed over six hours and multiple passengers demanded compensation for their purchase.

 

“You could tell straight away what it was. Everyone at the back of the plane was saying it smelled of cannabis. We’ve been to Amsterdam, and we know what it smells like.” – Stuart, Airline passenger

The smell was first noticed when passengers were boarding but the crew hoped it would dissipate after they started the air conditioner. To their horror the smell only grew stronger. After the passengers realized the crew was also confused about the smell chaos ensued.

The passengers were also unsatisfied with the airline stewards ability to communicate what was going on and some complained that the experience scared their children, who were already apprehensive about being thousands of feet in the air inside of a giant metal cylinder.

Everyone at the rear of the plane was forced to sit in the skunky atmosphere for 90 minutes before the plane was turned around. After that decision was made the only notice given to the passengers was that a member of the crew had fallen ill from a pungent smell, prompting the turn around. No comment on the smell itself or its source.

However shortly after they recanted, and said no one was sick. A spokesman for British Airways said: “Our pilot returned the aircraft to Gatwick as a precaution following reports of an unidentified strong smell in the cabin.”

Upon landing fire crews rushed into the cabin in order to investigate the smell. Another plane and crew were assembled to continue the flight around noon, but many passengers trying to get back to the UK were stuck in Crete for up to six hours.

The great airline cannabis smell incident of 2016 cost British Airways 50,000 euros or 55,000 US dollars. Just think all of this could have been avoided if the high flyer who decided to hotbox the plane before take off had only heard of a vaporizer.

Cannabis Social Media Website for Senior Citizens?

The cannabis community is rapidly expanding but I don’t think anyone could predict this latest addition; a social media website geared around cannabis smoking senior citizens.

A group of senior citizens have organized their own social network to discuss cannabis. The goals of the Seniors 420 Network include finding friends, identifying business opportunities and organizing to challenge laws against cannabis. The group is founded by entrepreneur and Detroit native Catherine Masters.

“We’re a very vibrant group of people who truly understand the value marijuana gives us. Most seniors are on way too many meds and marijuana gives us an alternative to them.”

Currently the group communicates through a newsletter, but a fully functioning website is the end of the year goal for 2016.

Senior citizens are often on multiple medications due to health issues that accompany old age, but often times the side affects are worse than what they treat. A social network might be just the tool to help seniors transition from their pharmaceutical drugs to all natural cannabis alternatives.

After all, there are new strains, edibles and extracts that treat a myriad of ailments and it can become quite overwhelming for any new patient to navigate the brand new world of medical cannabis.

If you consider it an effective alternative than you should treat your ailment with cannabis. This goes for everyone. The side affects of cannabis are nearly insignificant when compared to most prescriptions. Even if you are unable to mitigate all of your symptoms, reducing your intake of prescription pills will reduce strain on organs such as the stomach and liver.

Only losers look at medical cannabis patients like they are just taking advantage of some form of legal drug use. But isn’t that what alcohol is? Anyone who has taken the time to educate themselves, even to a small extent, will realize that the stigma surrounding cannabis is nothing more than a fog of misinformation and fear propaganda.

Check out these three grannies who tried weed for the first time.

Top Army Doctor Skeptical of Cannabis Treatment for PTSD

Lieutenant General Nadya West is the US Army’s top doctor. She is also skeptical of the medical benefits of smoking cannabis for PTSD saying, “It’s been found that using marijuana has a lot of adverse health effects.” – adding that it’s carcinogens make it worse than tobacco. Ironically the number of people who die as a result of their tobacco habits is exponentially greater than of those who smoke cannabis.

The Department of Veterans Affairs agrees with her and continues to propagate the idea that Cannabis can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.

From VA.gov.

Controlled studies have not been conducted to evaluate the safety or effectiveness of medical marijuana for PTSD. Thus, there is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD. In fact, research suggests that marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.

The real problem with this logic is that everything can have adverse health effects. If you decide that fast food is the best diet to follow, the adverse side effects of that lifestyle choice is going to be obesity and the health problems that come with being overweight. In fact more people are dying from the drugs that military physicians are handing out like candy than they are from using cannabis to treat their mental health issues. So it would seem that an adverse health risk of taking the medicine that General West recommends is death.

It’s a sad day when the Army’s top physician is coming out against a plant that is naturally helping to reduce the effects of un-treatable PTSD and easing the transition from military to civilian life. In an environment where it’s all about the person on your right and on your left, Senior Brass downplaying the effectiveness of alternative medications is sure to leave the troops in their care feeling like the upper echelon cares less about their well being and more about being politically correct.

Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance Gives Free Cannabis to Veterans

In the back parking lot of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7263, over 100 veterans had lined up to get a brown paper bag filled with cannabis. While waiting they chatted among themselves and lounged in camping chairs.

At the front of the line, greeting veterans as they passed through, was Aaron Newsom. Newsom, a six year marine vet and co-founder and vice president of SCVA, says their motto is “Plants not pills.” And with 68,000 veterans suffering from opioid addiction – roughly 13% – alternatives to the dangerous and addictive medications are being received with open arms.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription pill overdose deaths have surpassed cocaine and heroin combined.

“What veterans need, what everyone needs, is alternatives to prescription medications. Not just narcotics, but also the wide range of antidepressants and their negative side effects,” Newsom said.

Not only is Aaron a Marine veteran, he also treats his combat related PTSD with cannabis. Jason Sweatt, the SCVA co-founder, is also a patient – and together they are on the front lines trying to save lives and educate people. In order to accomplish their mission, every third Monday the SCVA meets behind the Live Oak VFW building to freely distribute natural alternatives to prescription opioid medications.

In order to provide veterans with their medication for free the SCVA cultivates their own cannabis and donates a portion of it to card carrying patients with PTSD and then sells the remainder to established dispensaries in the surrounding areas.

Timote Peterson is one of many success stories that can be directly attributed to Newsom, Sweatt and the SCVA. Addicted to pain pills for nine years Peterson described his detoxification off Oxycontin as worse than kicking heroin.

“Medical marijuana is not perfect. It isn’t that effective for really acute pain, but it is a damn sight better than most the other stuff they prescribe to you,” Peterson said.

As of now there are no smoking gun scientific studies that evaluate the safety or effectiveness of cannabis as a PTSD medication, but that isn’t stopping a principal investigator at the Department of Veterans Affair’s Substance and Anxiety Intervention Laboratory in Menlo Park from donating time to conduct a 6 month study of the SCVA. 

“We’re using written questionnaires to assess their PTSD and sleep over time. We’re also having the marijuana that the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance distributes tested by SC Labs,” Bonn-Miller said

While MMJ is an important factor in the SCVA, it’s not their only focus. They are also a support group for the veteran community, whether you are a patient or not.

We want to create a place for veterans to speak about their combat experiences and the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, specifically as it relates to the traumas of war,” said Newsom. “Veterans commit suicide, often due to chronic pain, at the rate of nearly two dozen a day. That’s unacceptable.”

To join the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance you must be a military veteran, California resident and have a valid state medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor. For more information, visit scveteransalliance.com.

Arizona Cannabis PTSD Study Seeking Veterans

Arizona researchers are currently seeking 38 veterans to undergo clinical trials to determine the medical benefits of cannabis and its effects when used to treat PTSD. Another 38 veterans will be studied at John Hopkins in Baltimore.

The study has been federally approved by both the FDA and the DEA and marks the first time that a randomized controlled research project, intended to develop the actual cannabis plant, has been approved simultaneously by both.

If the research proves that cannabis is successful in the treatment of PTSD the goal would then be to seek FDA approval to prescribe cannabis plants to anyone with PTSD.

In order to be considered for the study one must suffer from chronic, treatment resistant PTSD; as well as be in generally good health with no disabling medical problems and have transportation to the Deer Valley area of Phoenix at least once a week for the 12 week duration.

Not everyone will be studied at once. The plan is for staggered groups to be studied over a two year period. Participants will be compensated but the particulars of that information is still confidential.

Participants will have to smoke twice under supervision to assure the research team they are not going to have an adverse reaction to the plant. Then they are sent home with roughly a half ounce to smoke whenever they want. Participants will have to journal their experiences, wear a special watch to determine quality of sleep and return to the clinic once a week for follow ups.

After smoking one strain of cannabis for three weeks they will take a two week break to determine symptoms of withdrawal, then switched to another strain. The process lasts 12 weeks with a six month follow up process which consists of meetings and phone calls.

The cannabis being used is less about strain and more about content. Participants will smoke a strain high in THC, another high in CBD and a third with moderate levels of both – as well as a placebo

However some of those involved are skeptical about the quality of the cannabis provided, but Dr. Sue Sisely says its the only legal way.

“A lot of veterans are arguing this study is sabotaged from the beginning because we’re not letting them access cannabis they normally would,” she said. It is the only legal option available for now.

Sisley says she knows firefighters, police officers and veterans who successfully use cannabis for pain management and psychological relief, but until there is a randomized study, the insurmountable anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to make a judgement from.

Anyone wishing to participate in the study should send an email to arizona@marijuanasites.org.

Within a month or two, Arizona researchers will accept applications for 38 veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder to participate in a study in north Phoenix on medical marijuana’s effects on the disorder