The drug war marches on – Radley Balko

We may have legal pot in two (and counting) states, as well as a majority of Americans in favor of nationwide legalization, but the drug war still marches on, in all of its punitive glory. First, an update to a story posted here last week. Unfortunately, Shona Banda has lost custody of her son, at least for the short term:

A medical marijuana advocate has lost custody of her 11-year-old son at least temporarily and could face possible charges following comments the boy made during a drug education program at school.

The case of Shona Banda, 37, was forwarded Monday to the district attorney’s office for a decision about charges, Police Capt. Randy Ralston said. Possible charges include possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and child endangerment, the department said in a news release.

No arrests have been made.

The divorced mother said she did not get custody of her son back following a hearing Monday, after Kansas authorities had placed the boy into protective custody.

“That’s OK – I am not giving up,” Banda said. “I will, I will get him and I am not going to stop until I do.” . . .

A gag order has since been issued in the custody case, Banda said. Her attorney, Sarah Swain, did not respond to a phone message left at her office.

I guess that’s one way to stop the public backlash over this outrageous case–just use a gag order to forbid Banda from letting the public know what’s going on. (Remember, Kansas has some of the worst laws in the country when it comes to forcing transparency from law enforcement agencies.)

Read the rest via The drug war marches on – The Washington Post.

Illinois OAI at IL NORML Lobby Day This Wednesday in Springfield

As part of an effort to move Illinois law in a libertarian direction, we will sponsor opportunities to join other groups in Springfield for visits with your representative and senator.  This Wednesday, February 25th, at 9am, you are encouraged to join Thomas Hill, OAI Illinois Director, as he joins the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) to advocate bills lessening the prohibition of cannabis and hemp.  Will you commit to participating, and forward this email to a couple of fellow activists to join you?
Upon arrival head straight into the Capitol, go through screening, and meet at the NORML table on the 1st floor for handouts and to ask questions regarding how best to utilize your time, and be partnered with others to help you navigate this experience.  Helping NORML’s Lobby Day will inform politicians of the dissatisfaction with the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program and the slow pace of reform in Illinois.
If cannabis and hemp reform aren’t your priorities for lobbying, don’t worry – Director Hill will have a separate Our America Initiative handout with other bills that promote liberty.  Indeed, in Illinois OAI long has supported the No Cronies project, an effort to abolish taxpayer subsidies and preferences for influential institutions.  Feel free to share handouts from both groups with your politicians and their staffers.  According to IL NORML’s Lobby Day instructions, it’s important to try to schedule a meeting with your reps before your arrival; the link describes other areas of the Capitol to find and speak with your legislator.  The lobbying will continue through 4pm.
Advocating libertarian law changes is the priority of 501(c)4s like Our America Initiative.  To be connected to Director Hill to help the cause, kindly fill out the volunteer link.  With your donation now and input from our Advisory Councils, we could advocate less government and more freedom nationally and through more of our fifty state affiliates.
Yours in Liberty,
Thomas Hill
Illinois Director

Jamaica Looks To Profit From Decriminalizing Marijuana – Leaf Science

Jamaica’s marijuana laws will soon undergo drastic changes that are expected to pave the way for a legal industry surrounding cannabis.

Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding announced last Thursday a proposal to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana, known locally as ‘ganja.’ The proposal would also allow the plant’s use in medical, scientific and religious settings.

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Along with reducing the burden of harsh marijuana penalties, the new laws aim to “secure the economic and medical benefits of ganja.”

According to Golding, a framework is being established that “will allow the emergence of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica.”

“It is becoming widely accepted across the world that ganja has therapeutic use,” he explained.

The changes were approved by the Prime Minister’s cabinet on June 2 and will be formally implemented this summer.

In his announcement, Golding noted that reform was long overdue for both recreational and medical use of marijuana. While widely available in the country, marijuana for any purpose remains banned to this day.

Still, the Justice Minister acknowledged that marijuana has been proven to help with a long list of ailments.

“Medical and scientific research on ganja has shown it to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, promoting weight gain and the treatment of glaucoma. Ganja has been used to treat spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, relief of migraine headaches, depression, seizures, insomnia and chronic pain,” said Golding.

“It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to possess ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes,” he continued.

Although lawmakers have grappled with marijuana reform since the 70s, support for the idea has picked up recently. Indeed, as medical marijuana gains momentum around the world, many in Jamaica are urging the country not to be left behind.

Read more via Jamaica Looks To Profit From Decriminalizing Marijuana – Leaf Science.

Tennessee Tech University To Grow Medical Marijuana – Leaf Science

Tennessee Tech is about to become the second school in the U.S. to grow medical marijuana legally.

The university has been chosen to supply cannabis for a four-year study on the treatment of epilepsy, under a bill that awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.

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The legislation, SB 2531, passed its final hurdle earlier this month and is expected to be signed into law. The bill would make Tennessee Tech the second university to grow medical marijuana.

“It’s very insightful for the legislature to take this stance,” says Philip Oldham, Tennessee Tech University president. “It’s in a very moderated, controlled kind of way.”

The University of Mississippi is the one school in the U.S. that currently grows marijuana. Overseen by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the university has been the only federally sanctioned source of cannabis since 1968.

But unlike the marijuana farm at Ole Miss, Tennessee Tech will only be growing plants with low levels of THC, meaning they won’t be getting anyone high.

Instead, the focus is on plants rich in a non-psychoactive ingredient known as cannabidiol (CBD), which has been widely reported to be effective against seizures.

SB 2531 amends Tennessee law by redefining marijuana to exclude “cannabis oil containing the substance cannibidiol with less than nine-tenths tetrahydrocannibinol” when used as part of a clinical research study.

Similar ‘CBD-only’ marijuana bills have received strong backing from state legislatures in Alabama, Utah, Kentucky, Mississippi and Wisconsin. Marijuana activists, however, have criticized the proposals as “unworkable.”

Read more via Tennessee Tech University To Grow Medical Marijuana – Leaf Science.

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Medical Marijuana Research Is Being Blocked, Scientists Say

Researchers who want to study medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD say the U.S. government is making it very hard to do so.

The non-profit Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is trying to obtain a supply of cannabis for the first FDA-approved clinical trial of medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The current MAPS logo.

Many who suffer from PTSD have reported benefits from cannabis use, and evidence from animal studies provides further support.

Unfortunately, despite the availability of medical marijuana in certain states, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the only legal source of cannabis for researchers. And compared to the FDA, getting NIDA’s approval for a clinical trial has proven a lot harder.

The team at MAPS, led by Dr. Sue Sisley of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, first approached NIDA to purchase cannabis in 2011, after getting the go-ahead from the FDA. NIDA unanimously rejected the proposal, supposedly due to flaws in the study’s design.

Read more via Medical Marijuana Research Is Being Blocked, Scientists Say – Leaf Science.

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