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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES, Dec 30 (Reuters) - After a decades-long campaign to legalize marijuana hit a high mark in 2012 with victories in Washington state and Colorado, its energized and deep-pocketed backers are mapping out a strategy for the next round of ballot-box battles.

They have their sights set on possible ballot measures in 2014 or 2016 in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first in the country to allow marijuana for medical use. Although those states more recently rejected broader legalization, drug-law reform groups remain undeterred.

"Legalization is more or less repeating the history of medical marijuana," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If you want to know which states are most likely to legalize marijuana, then look at the states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana."


 
 
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They say the best journalism produces outrage, not awareness. Medical cannabis and marijuana legalization advocates are sometimes easily annoyed, but last week's Bay Citizen report of an uptick in undercover marijuana buy-busts in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood had them apoplectic. 

There's a reason why drug war opponents in San Francisco get angry when SFPD goes about busting low-level marijuana offenders: It's supposed to be against the law. 
In San Francisco, voters and legislators alike have ruled that a $20 nickel sack is supposed to be police officers' "lowest priority," and certainly not enough to warrant an investigation from a veteran cop with nearly 40 years experience (some of it spent busting the same people who made medical marijuana legal) working undercover, that results in felony charges. 


 
 
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The International Medical Veritas Association (IMVA) is putting hemp oil on its cancer protocol. It is a prioritized protocol list whose top five items are magnesium chloride, iodine, selenium, Alpha Lipoic Acid and sodium bicarbonate. It makes perfect sense to drop hemp oil right into the middle of this nutritional crossfire of anti cancer medicines, which are all available without prescription.

Hemp oil has long been recognised as one of the most versatile and beneficial substances known to man. Derived from hemp seeds (a member of the achene family of fruits) it has been regarded as a superfood due to its high essential fatty acid content and the unique ratio of omega3 to omega6 and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – 2:5:1. Hemp oil, is known to contain up to 5% of pure GLA, a much higher concentration than any other plant, even higher than spirulina. For thousands of years, the hemp plant has been used in elixirs and medicinal teas because of its healing properties and now medical science is zeroing in on the properties of its active substances.



 
 
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Posted By: Joseph Stromberg — In the News,Plants,Science,The Human Body 

One of the chief arguments for the legalization of medicinal marijuana is its usefulness as a pain reliever. For many cancer and AIDS patients across the 19 states where medicinal use of the drug has been legalized, it has proven to be a valuable tool in managing chronic pain—in some cases working for patients for which conventional painkillers are ineffective.To determine exactly how cannabis relieves pain, a group of Oxford researchers used healthy volunteers, an MRI machine and doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Their findings, published today in the journal Pain, suggest something counterintuitive: that the drug doesn’t so much reduce pain as make the same level of pain more bearable.“Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine,” Michael Lee, an Oxford neuroscientist and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead, cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.”As part of the study, Lee and colleagues recruited 12 healthy volunteers who said they’d never used marijuana before and gave each one either a THC tablet or a placebo. Then, to trigger a consistent level of pain, they rubbed a cream on the volunteers’ legs that included 1% capsaicin, the compound found that makes chili peppers spicy; in this case, it caused a burning sensation on the skin.When the researchers asked each person to report both the intensity and the unpleasantness of the pain—in other words, how much it physically burned and how much this level of burning bothered them—they came to the surprising finding. “We found that with THC, on average people didn’t report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less,” Lee said.This indicates that marijuana doesn’t function as a pain killer as much as a pain distracter: Objectively, levels of pain remain the same for someone under the influence of THC, but it simply bothers the person less. It’s difficult to draw especially broad conclusions from a study with a sample size of just 12 participants, but the results were still surprising.Each of the participants was also put in an MRI machine—so the researchers could try to pinpoint which areas of the brain seemed to be involved in THC’s pain relieving processes—and the results backed up the theory. Changes in brain activity due to THC involved areas such as the anterior mid-cingulate cortex, believed to be involved in the emotional aspects of pain, rather than other areas implicated in the direct physical perception of it.Additionally, the researchers found that THC’s effectiveness in reducing the unpleasantness of pain varied greatly between individuals—another characteristic that sets it apart from typical painkillers. For some participants, it made the capsaicin cream much less bothersome, while for others, it had little effect.The MRI scans supported this observation, too: Those more affected by the THC demonstrated more brain activity connecting their right amydala and a part of the cortex known as the primary sensorimotor area. The researchers say that this finding could perhaps be used as a diagnostic tool, indicating for which patients THC could be most effective as a pain treatment medicine. 

 http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/12/marijuana-isnt-a-pain-killer-its-a-pain-distracter/#ixzz2GSkHUMO6 Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on TwitterMarijuana Isn’t a Pain Killer—It’s a Pain Distracter

 
 
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By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles TimesDecember 23, 2012

EUREKA, Calif. — State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.

In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants — mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it.

"That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game. "You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water.… This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover."

The marijuana boom that came with the sudden rise of medical cannabis in California has wreaked havoc on the fragile habitats of the North Coast and other parts of California. With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.

Because marijuana is unregulated in California and illegal under federal law, most growers still operate in the shadows, and scientists have little hard data on their collective effect. But they are getting ever more ugly snapshots.

A study led by researchers at UC Davis found that a rare forest carnivore called a fisher was being poisoned in Humboldt County and near Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada.

The team concluded in its July report that the weasel-like animals were probably eating rodenticides that marijuana growers employ to keep animals from gnawing on their plants, or they were preying on smaller rodents that had consumed the deadly bait. Forty-six of 58 fisher carcasses the team analyzed had rat poison in their systems.

Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt who worked on the study, is incredulous over the poisons that growers are bringing in.

"Carbofuran," he said. "It seems like they're using that to kill bears and things like that that raid their camps. So they mix it up with tuna or sardine, and the bears eat that and die."

The insecticide is lethal to humans in small doses, requires a special permit from the EPA and is banned in other countries. Authorities are now regularly finding it at large-scale operations in some of California's most sensitive ecosystems.

It is just one in a litany of pollutants seeping into the watershed from pot farms: fertilizers, soil amendments, miticides, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel, human waste.

Scientists suspect that nutrient runoff from excess potting soil and fertilizers, combined with lower-than-normal river flow due to diversions, has caused a rash of toxic blue-green algae blooms in the North Coast rivers over the last decade.

The cyanobacteria outbreaks threaten public health for swimmers and kill aquatic invertebrates that salmon and steelhead trout eat. Now, officials warn residents in late summer and fall to stay out of certain stretches of water and keep their dogs out. Eleven dogs have died from ingesting the floating algae since 2001.

The effects are disheartening to many locals because healthier salmon runs were signaling that the rivers were gradually improving from the damage caused by more than a century of logging.

"Now with these water diversions, we're potentially slamming the door on salmon recovery," said Scott Greacen, director of Friends of the Eel River.

In June, Bauer and other agency scientists accompanied game wardens as they executed six search warrants on growers illegally sucking water from tributaries of the Trinity River. At one, he came upon a group of 20-somethings with Michigan license plates on their vehicles, camping next to 400 plants. He followed an irrigation line up to a creek, where the growers had dug a pond and lined it with plastic.

"I started talking to this guy, and he says he used to be an Earth First! tree-sitter, saving the trees," Bauer said. "I told him everything he was doing here negates everything he did as an environmentalist."

The man was a small-timer in this new gold rush. As marijuana floods the market and prices drop, many farmers are cultivating ever bigger crops to make a profit. They now cut huge clearings for industrial-scale greenhouses. With no permits or provisions for runoff, the operations dump tons of silt into the streams during the rainy season.

Scanning Google Earth in his office recently, Bauer came upon a "mega grow" that did not exist the year before — a 4-acre bald spot in the forest with 42 greenhouses, each 100 feet long.

Figuring a single greenhouse that size would hold 80 plants, and each plant uses about 5 gallons of water a day, he estimated the operation would consume 2 million gallons of water in the dry season and unleash a torrent of sediment in the wet season.

"There has been an explosion of this in the last two years," he said. "We can't keep up with it."

Every grow has its own unique footprint. Some farmers on private land avoid pesticides and poisons, get their water legally, keep their crops small and try to minimize their runoff. Urban indoor growers might not pollute a river, but they guzzle energy. A study in the journal Energy Policy calculated that indoor marijuana cultivation could be responsible for 9% of California's household electricity use. Other producers, like the Mexican drug trafficking groups who set up giant grows on public lands right next to mountain streams, spread toxins far and wide and steal enough water to run oscillating sprinkler systems.

But it's not just the big criminal groups skirting the rules. Tony LaBanca, senior environmental scientist at Fish and Game in Eureka, said less than 1% of marijuana growers get the permits required to take water from a creek, and those who do usually do it after an enforcement action.

Responsible growers could easily get permits, with no questions asked about what type of plant they're watering, LaBanca said. They just need to be set up to take their water in the wet season and store it in tanks and bladders.

Fish and Game wants to step up enforcement, but the staff is overwhelmed, he said. The agency has 12 scientists and 15 game wardens in the entire four counties on the North Coast, covering thousands of mountainous square miles.

Until the last few years, dealing with marijuana cultivation was usually a minor issue. Now, LaBanca said, it is "triage."

On a recent day, Higley, the Hoopa wildlife biologist, took a reporter and photographer to some of the damage he finds in the most remote mountains, where bears, fishers, martens, rare salamanders and spotted owls live in cloud-mist forests. With his colleague Aaron Pole at the wheel, Higley headed north up the Bigfoot Highway and then up a dirt logging road 13 miles into the snow-peaked Trinities.

They were going to a grow that the sheriff had raided by helicopter in August. Deputies cut down 26,600 plants in eight interconnected clearings along Mill Creek, which flows into the Trinity River.

They parked the truck and started threading down precipitous slopes, through thick wet brush and forest. They stepped over bear scat, slippery roots and coastal giant salamanders.

Crossing a 2-foot-wide creek, they came across a black irrigation line. Vague footpaths emerged, empty Coors cans began glinting in the mud, more water pipes spidered out.

After another 40 minutes, they reached a clearing in the bottom of the canyon — a field of stumps, holes of dark potting soil and hacked-down stalks of marijuana. Dead gray brush and logs ringed the site. A few heavily pruned trees were left standing, to help mask the marijuana grove from the air.

Deputies had severed the irrigation lines during the August raid, but when Higley returned in September to study the environmental impact, some of the line had been reconnected to sprinklers and plants had re-sprouted. He saw a wet bar of soap on an upturned bucket and realized workers were hiding nearby.

On this return visit, the site was empty, and he started picking through the rubbish. "That's d-CON rat poison right there, 16 trays."

At a dump pile next to the creek, he found propane tanks, more rat poison, cans of El Pato tomato sauce, and empty bags of Grow More fertilizer, instant noodles and tortillas.

A lot of the trash had been removed during the sheriff's eradication — dozens of empty bags accounting for 2,700 pounds of fertilizer and boxes for 10 pounds of d-CON (enough to kill 21 spotted owls and up to 28 fishers), as well as two poached deer carcasses and the remains of a state-protected ringtailed cat.

"It wouldn't matter if they were growing tomatoes, corn and squash," he said. "It's trespassing, it's illegal and it borders on terrorism to the environment."

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

 
 
The BOE is seeking feedback on their proposal to regulate and tax marijuana in California. 

At the request of the Honorable Jerome Horton, Chairman of the State Board of Equalization,we are seeking input from stakeholders on a proposal that could be included as a Board of Equalization sponsored measure for the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session.   

The proposal, a copy of which is attached, would enact the Sales Tax Enforcement Act of 2014 to require, beginning July 1, 2014, the State Board of Equalization to administer a statewide licensing program to regulate the sale of medical marijuana and marijuana products in the state in much the same way cigarettes and tobacco product distribution is licensed.  Growers, wholesalers, and retailers engaged in the sale of marijuana and marijuana products, and persons transporting marijuana and marijuana products for delivery or use, would be required to be licensed.  The proposal would also require each wholesaler, as defined, to prepay the sales tax on its gross receipts derived from the sale of marijuana or marijuana products.  The rate of prepayment would be at an amount (yet to be determined) per ounce or ounce equivalent on all sales of marijuana or marijuana products sold by wholesalers in this state.

We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this proposal by checking the applicable box below, and, if so desired, adding any comments or information that you wish to convey.  A reply by e-mail to legdiv@boe.ca.gov  no later than January 9, 2013 would be greatlyappreciated.  We may be scheduling an interested parties meeting to further discuss this proposal and would welcome your participation.

Also, please feel free to forward this email to any others in your organization who may wish to respond and provide input.

                          ___We support this proposal.

___We do not support this proposal.

___ We welcome an opportunity to participate in an interested parties process

___The proposal has merit, but changes are needed.  See comments.

 Here is the 30 page proposal

boe_medical_marijuana_licensing1220.pdf
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Ruling regarding state law may affect other pending prosecutions

By Tony Burchyns/Times-Herald staff writer
Published By Times Herald

Posted:   12/20/2012 02:38:42 PM PST



Two Vallejo dispensary operators charged with illegally selling marijuana had their cases thrown out by a judge Thursday.The cases involved the embattled Better Health Group collective, which was raided by Vallejo police in February, March and June. The dispensary at 3611 Sonoma Blvd. was shut down after a third raid on June 22.

Defendants Jorge Espinoza, 25, and Jonathan Linares, 22, both of Vallejo, had been charged with marijuana possession and sale, and operating an illegal dispensary.

But visiting Solano County Superior Court Judge William Harrison dismissed all charges following a preliminary hearing held Wednesday at the Vallejo courthouse.

After the ruling, Harrison said that while not everyone sees eye to eye on the law, dispensaries that comply with the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act are allowed to operate.

"Our Legislature has said you can have this kind of business if you do it right," Harrison said. "I don't think there is sufficient evidence that Jorge Espinoza has committed a crime."

Afterward, Solano County Deputy Public Defender Cheryl McLandrich, who represented Linares, said the court "did the right thing."

"We are pleased with the court's ruling," McLandrich said. "These gentlemen were paying taxes and attempting to comply with state law in running their cooperative. It would have been a waste of taxpayer time and resources for the court to have bound them over for trial."

It was unclear Thursday whether the collective plans to reopen in Vallejo.The case was the first in a series of Vallejo dispensary cases to reach a preliminary hearing following a police crackdown earlier this year.

The raids followed a ballot initiative by Vallejo voters in November 2011 to tax medical marijuana businesses.

At the center of the case were legal and philosophical questions about what constitutes a legitimate medical marijuana cooperative under California law. A pile of conflicting court rulings has added to the confusion, but recent appellate decisions favor a broader view of the law.

During the preliminary hearing, Solano County Deputy District Attorney Jack Harris argued the dispensary did not meet the definition of a cooperative. Harris said the enterprise was not accountable to its membership, and that only a small number of patients grew the marijuana that was sold.

However, defense attorney Scot Candell of San Rafael, who represented Espinoza, argued the group had followed all applicable state and local laws. Candell said the dispensary required members to fill out membership forms and tracked members' prescriptions to make sure they were up to date.

Candell also said the dispensary paid state and local taxes.

"This was a (registered) nonprofit organization with a board of directors," Candell said. "There is no evidence that anyone was doing anything wrong."

Candell also referenced two Fourth Appellate District of California rulings from earlier this year. The rulings, concerning dispensaries in San Diego and Los Angeles, said state law does not limit the number of members a dispensary can have, or require them be growers.

The rulings in the two cases, People v. Colvin and People v. Jackson, also found that storefront collectives can sell marijuana to members as long as the money is used for overhead costs and operating expenses.

Harris, however, argued the club was not a truly a "cooperative" because its roughly 15,000 members were not given a say in how it operated. State laws, however, are vague of what exactly a medical marijuana collective should look like.

"I do not agree that signing a piece of paper makes you a member of a collective," Harris said.

Vallejo police Detective Jared Jaksch testified that three undercover officers posing as patients - including a district attorney's investigator - had purchased marijuana at the business since April 2010.

While the first undercover officer used a "forged" prescription, Jaksch said the other two showed valid physicians' recommendations and filled out membership forms.

Jaksch said a Vallejo detective last bought marijuana at the dispensary on Feb. 16, and the undercover DA inspector made a May 15 purchase. Other than filling out membership forms, he said the investigators were not informed of their rights or responsibilities as members.

Jaksch also said police spoke to more than a dozen individuals seen leaving the dispensary. He said one customer told police she did not possess a doctor's recommendation at the time. Another, Jaksch said, said she had purchased marijuana at the dispensary without being a member.

However, Morgan Hannigan, a dispensary volunteer, testified that many patients carried identification cards with medical information rather than paper copies of doctors' recommendations. Hannigan, who volunteered at the dispensary from April until June, also said the collective kept records of members' prescriptions on its computers.

"New patients were required to show a recommendation and a California ID," Hannigan said. Returning patients, he added, could swipe their driver license through an electronic identification system that would verify if they had a current prescription.

Asked by Harris how the collective set the prices of its marijuana, Hannigan said the amounts charged were determined by factors such as growers' costs, payroll and other overhead expenses.

"What's left gets reimbursed into the business," Hannigan said.

Prosecutors tried to paint a picture of the dispensary as a massive for-profit business, which Espinoza as the CEO and Linares as the manager. Along with pounds of marijuana, hash and edible products, police seized more than $20,000 cash from the dispensary during the raids.

"I think (Espinoza) is the owner of a business that he's attempted to disguise as a nonprofit organization," Jaksch said during testimony.

In his ruling, Harrison said he didn't agree with the prosecution argument that the business was making money.

"The argument from the people's standpoint ... was because of the amount of money found (during the police raids) it was for-profit," Harrison said. "But the evidence I have seen shows there wasn't a profit ... and I don't think forcing them to go through a trial is the right thing to do."

Afterward, Harris said the ruling could affect pending dispensary cases in Solano County.

"We'll have to re-weigh everything," Harris said. "These (appellate) cases have taken a much looser interpretation of what I think a collective ought to be."



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The "Django Unchained" director told a talk show that as he researched slavery, he saw the same sort of injustices happening in America today.Although race always has been an element in his work, Django Unchained has become the flash point for public examination of Quentin Tarantino's thoughts about African-Americans.

Tarantino's new film is set just before the Civil War and features Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who seeks to save his wife by taking down the brutal plantation owner who owns her. The revenge in the film is a symbol for greater black liberation, but as he said during a recent appearance on a talk show in Canada, Tarantino does not believe conditions have wholly improved. Instead, he asserted, the dominion has simply shifted.

"This whole thing of this 'war on drugs' and the mass incarcerations that have happened pretty much for the last 40 years has just decimated the black male population," the filmmaker said on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. "It’s slavery, it is just, it’s just slavery through and through, and it’s just the same fear of the black male that existed back in the 1800s."

In addition, he says that the flesh-for-cash business of slavery mirrors that of the prison industrial complex.

"Especially having even directed a movie about slavery," he said, "and you know the scenes that we have in the slave town, the slave auction town, where they’re moving back and forth -- well, that looks like standing in the top tier of a prison system and watching the things go down. And between the private prisons and the public prisons, the way prisoners are traded back and forth."

PHOTOS: THR's Rule Breakers 2012

Tarantino's words might spark some debate, not only from those politically on opposite sides of the great drug war debate but also from the film community. Graphic abuses of the slaves are depicted throughout Django Unchained, leading to a split between those who think his work is a painfully real look at the horrors of the time and others who believe the violence -- along with the near-constant use of the N-word -- in the movie is exploitative and not handled with respect.

As Tarantino told The Hollywood Reporterthough, no criticism he gets will impact his work.

"Not one word of social criticism that's been leveled my way has ever changed one word of any script or any story I tell," he says in THR's new "Rule Breaker" issue. "I believe in what I'm doing wholeheartedly and passionately. It's my job to ignore that."


 
 
By TIM DICKINSON
December 18, 2012 9:00 AM ET
The Berlin Wall of pot prohibition seems to be crumbling before our eyes.

By fully legalizing marijuana through direct democracy, Colorado and Washington have fundamentally changed the national conversation about cannabis. As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. And our political establishment is catching on. Former president Jimmy Carter came out this month and endorsed taxed-and-regulated weed. "I'm in favor of it," Carter said. "I think it's OK." In a December 5th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) suggested it might be possible "to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law." Even President Obama hinted at a more flexible approach to prohibition, telling 20/20's Barbara Walters that the federal government was unlikely to crack down on recreational users in states where pot is legal, adding, "We've got bigger fish to fry."

Encouraged by the example of Colorado and Oregon, states across the country are debating the merits of treating marijuana less like crystal meth and more like Jim Beam. Here are the next seven states most likely to legalize it:

1) Oregon
Oregon could have produced a trifecta for pot legalization on election day. Like Washington and Colorado, the state had a marijuana legalization bid on the ballot in 2012, but it failed 54-46. The pro-cannabis cause was dogged by poor organization: Advocates barely qualified the initiative for the ballot, and could not attract billionaire backers like George Soros and Peter Lewis, who helped bankroll the legalization bit in Washington.

But given that Oregon's biggest city, Portland, will be just across the Columbia River from prevalent, legal marijuana, the state legislature will be under pressure to create a framework for the drug's legal use in Oregon – in particular if the revenue provisions of Washington's law are permitted to kick in and lawmakers begin to watch Washington profit from the "sin taxes" on Oregon potheads. If lawmakers stall, state voters will likely have the last word soon enough. Consider that even cannabis-crazy Colorado failed in its first legalization bid back in 2006.

"We have decades of evidence that says prohibition does not work and it's counterproductive," said Peter Buckley, co-chair of the Oregon state legislature's budget committee. For Buckley, it's a matter of dollars and common sense: "There's a source of revenue that's reasonable that is rational that is the right policy choice for our state," he said. "We are going to get there on legalization."

2) California
California is unaccustomed to being a follower on marijuana liberalization. Its landmark medical marijuana initiative in 1996 sparked a revolution that has reached 18 states and the District of Columbia. And the artful ambiguity of that statute has guaranteed easy access to the drug — even among Californians with minor aches and pains.

In 2010, the state appeared to be on track to fully legalize and tax pot with Proposition 19. The Obama administration warned of a crackdown, and the state legislature beat voters to the punch with a sweeping decriminalization of pot that treats possession not as a misdemeanor but an infraction, like a parking ticket, with just a $100 fine. In a stunningly progressive move, that law also applies to underage smokers. And removing normal teenage behavior from the criminal justice system has contributed to a staggering decline in youth "crime" in California of nearly 20 percent in 2011.

The grandaddy of less-prohibited pot is again a top candidate to fully legalize cannabis. Prop 19 failed 53-47, and pot advocates are determined not to run another initiative in an "off-year" election, likely putting ballot-box legalization off for four years. "2016 is a presidential election year, which brings out more of the youth vote we need," said Amanda Reiman, who heads up the Drug Policy Alliance's marijuana reform in California.

Economics could also force the issue sooner. Eager for new tax revenue, the state legislature could seek to normalize the marijuana trade. There's no Republican impediment: Democrats now have a supermajority in Sacramento, and Governor Brown has forcefully defended the right of states to legalize without the interference of federal "gendarmes."

3) Nevada

Whether it's gambling or prostitution, Nevada is famous for regulating that which other states prohibit. When it comes to pot, the state has already taken one swing at legalization in 2006, with an initiative that failed 56-44. "They got closer than we did in Colorado that year," says Mason Tvert, who co-chaired Colorado's initiative this year and whose first statewide effort garnered just 41 percent of the vote.

For prominent state politicians, the full legalization, taxation and regulation of weed feels all but inevitable. "Thinking we're not going to have it is unrealistic," assemblyman Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas said in November. "It's just a question of how and when."

4) Rhode Island
Pot watchers believe little Rhode Island may be the first state to legalize through the state legislature instead of a popular referendum. ''I'm hoping this goes nowhere,'' one prominent opponent in the state House told the Boston Globe. ''But I think we're getting closer and closer to doing this.''

Back in June 2012, lawmakers in Providence jumped on the decriminalization bandwagon, replacing misdemeanor charges for adult recreational use with a civil fine of $150. (Youth pay the same fine but also have to attend a drug education class and perform community service.)

In the wake of Colorado and Washington's new state laws, Rhode Island has joined a slate of New England states that are vowing to vote on tax-and-regulate bills. A regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island could reap the state nearly $30 million in new tax revenue and reduced law enforcement costs. ''Our prohibition has failed,'' said Rep. Edith Ajello of Providence, who is sponsoring the bill. ''Legalizing and taxing it, just as we did to alcohol, is the way to do it.''

5) Maine
Maine's legislature has recently expanded decriminalization and is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue. ''The people are far ahead of the politicians on this,'' said Rep. Diane Russell of Portland. ''Just in the past few weeks we've seen the culture shift dramatically.''

State legislators in Maine, as in other direct-democracy states, are actually wary of the ballot initiative process and may work to preempt the voters. A legalization scheme devised by lawmakers, after all, is likely to produce tighter regulation and more revenue than a bill dreamed up by pot consumers themselves.

6) Alaska
Alaska is already a pothead's paradise, and the state could move quickly to bring order to its ambiguous marijuana law. Cannabis has been effectively legal in Alaska since 1975, when the state supreme court, drawing on the unique privacy protections of the Alaska constitution, declared that authorities can't prohibit modest amounts of marijuana in the home of state residents.

That gave Alaskans the right to have up to four ounces – and 24 plants – in their homes. Following a failed bid to fully legalize pot at the ballot box in 2004 (the measure fell 56-44), the state legislature attempted to enforce prohibition, outlawing all weed in 2006. But citing the 1975 precedent, a judge later ruled the home exemption must be respected, though she sought to limit legal possession to a single ounce.

If taxation and regulation take root in nearby Washington, and perhaps more important in neighboring British Columbia (where legalization is also being considered), a ballot initiative in Alaska could win in an avalanche.

7) Vermont
Last year, Vermont finally normalized its medical marijuana law, establishing a system of government-sanctioned dispensaries. In November, the state's Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, just cruised to re-election while strongly backing marijuana decriminalization. The city of Burlington, meanwhile, passed a nonbinding resolution in November calling for an end to prohibition – with 70 percent support. The Green Mountain State has already embraced single-payer universal health care. Legal pot cannot be far behind.





Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-next-seven-states-to-legalize-pot-20121218#ixzz2FRNK73fJ 
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I've never been to the Emerald Triangle and was very excited to be invited to attend the Emerald Cup this year. I flew into Oakland and was lucky enough to be able to hang out with Richard Lee at the student union for a few games of pool and shuffle board. I hitched a ride with Dan Rush of UFCW. 

The ride was amazing! I had a huge smile on my face from about Ukiah on up. Not only is the landscape spectacular, but the kinds of businesses, billboards, fences & gates, architecture  and the like were truly a reflection of the cannabis community. Look closely at the photo below. One of the store's name is Mendo Trim Tools :)

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Checking into the hotel was interesting to say the least. I felt like I was on a movie set. This city is no melting pot. I'm not saying there was no ethnic diversity. I'm saying the culture was POT!!! Check out this sign at the front desk. Come on you guys. You know you have to have at least one credit card in 2012!!! As much as you want it to be so, we are not an all cash society.

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One of my heros, SubCool hooking me up with some yummy kief. He's got a rule that if you want to discuss serious business with him, you must share a bowl with him first. I LOVE talking about the science of growing with our communities best and brightest. There were so many people there sharing knowledge. I've never felt so much energy, light and love in one place. SubCool mentioned that Los Angeles is such a different place and I agree. I LOVE LA. Don't get me wrong, but we need to raise the bar in the Southern California cannabis community. 

Here's SubCool's recommendation for a dispensary in Southern CA that is doing it right. 

There's so much more to say 
but I'll have to save it for another day!!!!