Since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis has been classified by the U.S. government as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Which means that it is considered a dangerous and highly addictive substance with no known medical use. In recent years, scientific studies have repeatedly found that cannabis does indeed have powerful medicinal qualities, casting doubt upon that dubious Schedule 1 classification.
But Uncle Sam has always made a point of ignoring that evidence… until now.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently updated their official position on medical marijuana to say:
“The FDA has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as a medicine. However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.”
An article by Mike Adams, which was published on many major cannabis sites, goes so far as to say that the government admits that pot kills cancer. While I can find no evidence of that, it is a promising sign that the NIDA is using such pro-cannabis language on their official website.
The President has also voiced his support for medical marijuana. In an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Obama was quoted as saying, “I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate, and we should follow the science as opposed to the ideology on this issue.” He also expressed his support for decriminalization, saying, “The more we treat drug abuse from a public health model, and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be.”
Well, if we put aside the fanatical War on Drugs ideology and follow the science, I don’t see how we can possibly justify continued prohibition. There are countless research and case studies which demonstrate the healing properties of marijuana. Dr. Gupta, who has become one of the biggest champions of the medical marijuana cause, tracked down many of these cases in his documentary series WEED:
Marijuana is beneficial in treating chronic pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, nausea, appetite disorders, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, addiction, insomnia, and even cancer. This is not speculation—it’s proven by science, and by real people whose lives have actually been saved by cannabis.
A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress called the CARERS Act (which stands for Compassionate Action, Research Expansion, and Respect States) that would re-classify marijuana as a Schedule II substance, and open the doors for more research, medical use, transport across state lines, and hopefully help solve the current banking problem faced the cannabis industry. The bill is currently being considered by a Judiciary Committee, and if passed it would mark a new age in United States drug policy—one determined by reason, not by fear.
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Together, we can change U.S. marijuana policy, and make sure that this natural, herbal medicine is available to all those who need it.
Rumors have been swirling that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is working on a new cannabis-infused product, and they have just announced that they are indeed releasing a new frozen treat… sans cannabis.
The new BRRR-ito is obviously marketed to pot smokers, however. The product is being rolled out on April 20th, sort of the unofficial “National Day of Weed.” The commercial plays upon some (rather degrading) marijuana stereotypes, depicting a crowd of droopy-eyed, brain dead stoners staring at a screen. But I must say that the BRRR-ito itself (which as you might guess is basically ice cream and chocolate wrapped up like a burrito in a waffle cone shell) does look delicious. Check it out here:
In an interview with Huff Post Live, founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield addressed the rumors of a THC-infused treat. They definitely spoke out in favor of legalization, and even seemed keen on the idea of cannabis edibles. But the decision is not up to them. The company has to answer to a board of directors, and prove that the potential profit of a weed-laced ice cream would be greater than the risks – especially when major banks and financial institutions are refusing to do business with cannabis companies.
Still, the new BRRR-ito, and the ad campaign surrounding it, shows that big name companies have their eye on the cannabis market. They can read the writing on the wall: legalization is here to stay, and there is nowhere to go but up.
Who knows what mega brand will jump on the bandwagon next, or what new pot oriented products are yet to be unveiled? But please, no more dumb stoner stereotypes! Cannabis users are more sophisticated than that, and smart companies would do well to recognize that.
Have you ever wondered where on Earth people smoke the most weed? Me too. Unfortunately, that kind of information tends to be vague and somewhat fuzzy. With cannabis illegal practically everywhere around the world, the production, sales and consumption of pot is driven underground to the black market.
However, there are many organizations dedicated to keeping track of drug traffic, the largest and most respected being the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Every year they publish the World Drug Report, which uses surveys and law enforcement data to estimate the percentage of the population in different countries which use drugs. This list draws on data from the UNODC to determine the total number of cannabis users in each country (not the highest use per capita, as you’ll see in other lists). This gives us a better picture of how much weed is actually smoked in any given country.
Without further ado, I give you the 10 countries that smoke the most weed:
Canada is a land of wide open spaces, natural beauty – and liberal marijuana laws. The government issues licenses for medical and industrial use, and often “looks the other way” on recreational use, especially in the province of British Columbia. Of 36 million citizens, the World Drug Report found that 12.6% were marijuana smokers, enough for Canada to squeak in at #10 on our list with 4.5 million cannabis smokers.
Spain is one of the leading examples of drug policy reform, pursuing a model of decriminalization and treatment instead of punishment and imprisonment. It is legal to grow and consume cannabis in your home or in private clubs, and smoking in public only results in a fine and seizure. According to the report, 10.6% of Spaniards use cannabis; but some sources put the figure as high as 25%. With a population of 46 million people, even using the more conservative estimate means that there are 4.8 million smokers in Spain – more than enough to make the list.
Egypt is famous for being home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, and the site of such ancient wonders as the Sphinx and the pyramids at Giza. Ancient Egyptians used cannabis medicinally, religiously and recreationally, but it was outlawed in 1925 under the Geneva Convention on Narcotic Control. However, marijuana use is still widespread, and very much a part of the culture. The report found that only 6.2% of Egyptians are cannabis users, but with a total population of 88 million, that is more than 5.4 million smokers; #8 in the world.
France is not known for being lenient with drug offenders. Getting caught smoking on the streets of Paris could get you up to a year in jail. Despite facing these harsh penalties, however, 8.6% percent of French people admit to using cannabis. With a population of 66 million, that calculates to 5.6 million pot smokers in France, making it one of the top consuming countries in Europe, and #7 in the world.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tiny African nation of Ghana is one of the world’s top consumers of cannabis. Despite marijuana technically being illegal there, it seems that smoking pot has become increasingly commonplace, especially among young people. With a population of only 27 million, Ghana is the smallest nation on our list. But with an incredible 21.5% of the population, or 5.8 million people, admitting to cannabis use, Ghana is the sixth biggest consumer of marijuana in the world.
Pakistan has a long history of cannabis and hashish use. It is used openly by Hindus and Sufis for religious purposes, and is sometimes smoked during communal gatherings. Although technically illegal, marijuana is somewhat tolerated, and the laws are seldom enforced. According to the report, only 3.9% of Pakistanis consume cannabis. But, as the fifth most populous nation on Earth, home to 196 million people, that still translates to 7.6 million pot smokers, making Pakistan #5 on our list.
Italy is the birthplace of linguine, Lamborghini and Leonardo da Vinci. This lovely Mediterranean nation is also Europe’s largest consumer of cannabis. Marijuana is illegal there, although possession of small amounts of pot has been somewhat decriminalized – you can be fined, and have your license suspended, but you can’t be sent to jail. Regardless of the legal status, 14.6% of Italians smoke weed, out of a population of 61 million. That’s 8.9 million admitted cannabis users, #4 in the world.
Nigeria is the largest nation in Africa, in terms of both population and economy – so, no surprise that it is the largest consumer of cannabis on the the continent. Marijuana is illegal, but it’s use is still very widespread. Of 174 million people, 14.3% of them are cannabis users. Which means that there are 24.8 million pot smokers in this West African nation, making Nigeria the third largest consumer of weed in the world.
Cannabis has been a part of Indian life and culture for thousands of years, a fixture in certain religious rituals and festivals. The British government began to impose restrictions and regulations on hemp and marijuana in the late 19th century, which only intensified with the rise of international drug treaties. Today pot is technically illegal, but is actually sold and consumed openly in some states, especially in the form of bhang. Though a mere 3.2% of the population uses marijuana, India is home to 1.2 billion people. That equates to 38.4 million cannabis users, meaning the second most populous nation on Earth is also the second biggest consumer of ganja.
The U.S. is currently undergoing a sea change in marijuana policy. The latest scientific research shows the tremendous medicinal potential of cannabis, and the latest polls indicate that a majority of Americans are in favor of legalization. Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, and recreational use is legal in four states, the District of Columbia, and the cities of Portland and South Portland in Maine. 13.7% of Americans admit to using cannabis, and out of a population of 320 million, that’s 43.8 million smokers. Which means that when it comes to smoking weed, nobody does it more than the U.S. of A.
On March 11th, the House Corrections Committee voted 11-1 to forward Missouri HB 978, a bill that would grant parole to inmates serving life sentences for non-violent marijuana offences. The bill was introduced in response to extensive campaigning on behalf of Jeff Mizanskey, a 61 year old grandfather who has spent more than 20 years behind bars for possession of marijuana.
Mizanskey was arrested in Sedalia MO in 1993, for being present during a drug deal gone wrong. Atilano Quintana, a known drug dealer being investigated by U.S. Customs, was picking up a hundred pounds of pot from New Mexico, and he brought Jeff along as his driver. His sources – Jose Reyes and Jorge Ibaudo – were to meet him at a local motel with the goods, but they were pulled over by highway patrol on the way into town. Cops found the drugs, and they arranged a set up to catch the buyer, Quintana, in the act. Mizanskey was just a “bonus,” in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The delivery guys were rewarded for their cooperation: Reyes served a year in county jail, Ibaudo was released without charges. Quintana, the intended buyer, and known drug dealer, served ten years.
Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
Jeff is a victim of the “prior and persistent offenders” statute, which set a three-strikes-you’re-out policy for Missouri drug offenders. Only that statute was found to be cruel and ineffective, and has since been repealed (effective 1/1/2017). But the revision isn’t retroactive, and Mizanskey is still behind bars, and out of appeals. His only chance at going home to his family is for the governor to grant him clemency, or for Missouri lawmakers to pass HB 978.
If you’d like to support the #freejeffmizanksey movement, add your signature to the petition here.