Marijuana Blamed For California Drought; Almonds Get A Pass

Categories: Drugs, Marijuana

This used to be a weed farm
California is the fruit and nut basket of the world, with almonds, wine from grapes, stone fruits and citrus grown here available in China, Maine and many points in between. The state is also the country's marijuana garden, with more cannabis grown here than any other state, according to law enforcement estimates (us and Mexico, here to be blamed for your problems).

That's a lot of crops to grow in an extreme drought, like the one that's dried up most of the state. Yet it's marijuana, not wine grapes or almonds, that's being blamed for exacerbating the dry spell -- and it's marijuana that could drink up every last drop.

Recent stories in Mother Jones and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat claim that the state's outdoor cannabis industry could literally "suck California dry," killing off the state's famous salmon and causing other untold environmental destruction.

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Tourists Flock To Colorado, Where Crime Is Down and Marijuana Is Up

Categories: Marijuana

The scene from hell
Worldwide acclaim and fanfare greeted the unveiling of the world's first marijuana vending machine in Colorado yesterday. It was big news (somehow, putting weed behind glass in a box was so popular and lucrative it took several years to happen) -- but even bigger news should be that the machine hasn't been robbed yet.

In Denver, the biggest city in the country to experiment with marijuana legalization, crime has dropped in the three months since pot stores for adults opened Jan. 1, according to reports in PolicyMic and elsewhere.

That's good news for Denver, as it's due for a tourist influx in the next few days. The city is this weekend hosting the High Times Cannabis Cup -- and it's full-on full-melt madness, with as many as 100,000 people expected for the Sunday smokeout in front of the state Capitol building.

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Overzealous Prosecution, Not Marijuana Could Get NorCal Teen Deported

Out of the country for weed
Wingnuts are frothing at the mouth today over the plight of a Northern California teenager, whose life is seriously fucked up right now, thanks to a marijuana charge.

The possible deportation of Saira Munoz "back home" to Mexico is in headlines across the world, with the New York Daily News and UK Daily Mail picking up her story: short of cash for a prom dress, the 18-year-old Yuba City high school senior tried to make money by selling pot brownies.

The restaurant worker sold some to a friend, who sold some to other people -- one of whom went to the hospital after eating a "small piece" and freaking out. That brought in the cops, who arrested her in March 2013.

She could have done two years in jail... "for marijuana," it was breathlessly reported by local television news (in full-on, melodramatic Anchorman-like style).

Instead -- before she was reported to immigration officials -- the local District Attorney charged her with a felony. There's so much wrong here, but that's where the wrong began.

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Attorney General Eric Holder Defends Stance Classifying Marijuana as More Dangerous Than Meth

Categories: Drugs, Marijuana

Weed, meth, whatever
Yesterday was an uncomfortable day for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Thanks, as usual, to the country's ongoing struggle with cannabis.

Holder appeared in front of the House Judiciary Committee, where members attacked him on marijuana -- and from all sides.

Republicans bashed Holder for last summer's Cole Memo, in which the federal Justice Department said -- for at least the second time -- that they wouldn't enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states that had legalized marijuana as long as they followed a specific set of rules.

Meanwhile, Democrats took Holder to task for keeping marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance. Isn't putting pot in the same class as heroin and LSD -- and ruling marijuana not as dangerous as cocaine or methamphetamine -- just plain silly?, they asked.

No, Holder responded, it's not silly at all.

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Happy Birthday, Dennis Peron, the Man Who Brought Us Legal Marijuana

Categories: Marijuana

Thank the man for your spliff
Almost 50 years ago now, a man returned from war in Vietnam with a duffel bag. Inside the bag was a few pounds of marijuana -- and inside the man, Air Force veteran Dennis Peron, was the force behind marijuana legalization in the United States of America.

A lot's been written and said about Peron, who spent several decades brazenly selling cannabis out of a series of Castro District addresses (when you get a chance, read Fred Gardner's excellent review of Peron's life here). There were other people who gave marijuana to sick people, including wasting-away AIDS victims, during the epidemic's darkest days. And there were other people instrumental in writing -- and passing -- Prop. 215, California's first-in-the-nation medical marijuana law in 1996.

But today is his day. He's 68, and, with legal weed a reality in two American states, his "life's work almost done."

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Are Teens Really Smoking Coffee? Experts Say No.

Not a thing
One of the finest ever Internet-bred hoaxes is the jenkem epidemic.

Late in the last decade, rumors circulated of teens huffing containers of fermented raw sewage in order to get high. Jenkem, or butt-hash, was considered such a real threat to kids' safety and sanity that police in Florida circulated a jenkem alert to parents, warning them that their kids may be sniffing shit. It was, of course, a complete fabrication.

This week, the new "viral" drug is coffee. Not drinking espresso by the gallon, but smoking coffee. All the cool kids are doing it, television stations in Las Vegas and Charlotte reported.

Except there's a problem. Smoking coffee doesn't actually get you high -- and it doesn't even help you poop, as an intrepid reporter for VICE discovered this week.

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Actually, Medical Marijuana Legalization Could Reduce Crime

Categories: Crime, Marijuana

City of Weed Police Department
Safe for a reason
After confining legal weed to the more run-down parts of town for almost a decade, San Francisco can finally relax a bit and let medical cannabis dispensaries expand into other neighborhoods.

It would be a good thing, because it could reduce crime, a study published last week suggests.

Spurred on by police, the anti-pot crowd has for years voiced fears of a crime wave following the opening of a marijuana store in their neighborhoods. The marijuana-equals-crime formula is trotted out almost every time the issue is discussed. (Just last week, an Outer Mission neighborhood activist told us that Leland Avenue in Vis Valley is a bad place for a cannabis club because the "Sunnydale [housing projects] are nearby.")

San Francisco has had legal weed for almost 20 years, and we're still waiting for the crime wave. We may be waiting forever: states that legalized medical marijuana saw a reduction in crime, according to a study published last week in the journal PLSONE.

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Big Marijuana? Not Yet. Feds Still Block Corporate Pot.

Not anytime soon
Big business has been dancing around marijuana for years.

Several would-be entrepreneurs have publicly voiced desires to be the "Starbucks of Marijuana," or the "Anheuser-Busch of marijuana," (with the undercover FBI agent who snared State Sen. Leland Yee using that same line, while posing as a pot businessman from Arizona).

Fears of a tobacco-industry-run legal marijuana market were also used -- by marijuana supporters, no less -- to defeat Prop. 19, California's most-recent legalization initiative, in 2010.

Yet capital and cannabis haven't quite sealed the deal. And they won't, not for some time, as Motley Fool points out.

Thank Uncle Sam for that.

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Sen. Leland Yee's Alleged Medical Marijuana Bribe Didn't Pay Off

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A friend in weed, allegedly

Taking cash from a mob-connected pot dealer in exchange for favors is crooked. Taking cash from an undercover FBI agent posing as the mob in exchange for favors -- and then not following through with those favors -- is something else entirely.

Something only Sen. Leland Yee would do.

That appears to be what the disgraced lawmaker and allegedly corrupt official did on medical marijuana, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court this week.

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Sir Richard Branson Asked To Bankroll Marijuana Legalization in California

Categories: Drugs, Marijuana

Wouldn't be the hardest thing he's done
It's not private prisons or Big Pharma that's keeping marijuana illegal in California (though no doubt both benefit big-time from drug prohibition).

It's money, as in a lack of about $3 million to put a voter initiative like the ones that legalized small amounts of cannabis in Colorado or Washington (and failed here in 2010) before voters in the country's richest and most populous state.

Luckily, there are some exceedingly rich people who say they like the idea of legalization. And one of them -- the magnetic Virgin Group magnate Sir Richard Branson, all $5 billion of him -- was asked in San Francisco last night, point-blank if he'd consider writing the check.

He didn't say yes. But, at the same time, the bold and outspoken billionaire didn't say no.

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