ben jerrys releases new snack

Ben & Jerry's Releases New Snack for Stoners

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.
 
 

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10 Countries That Smoke the Most Weed

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:
 
10. Canada

photo by Gorgo, via wikipedia
photo by Gorgo, via wikipedia

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.
 
9. Spain
toledo
photo of Toledo skyline by David Iliff, from wikipedia

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.
 
8. Egypt
photo from wikipedia
photo from wikipedia

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.
 
7. France
photo by Nicolas Holftermeyer, from wikipedia
photo by Nicolas Holftermeyer, from wikipedia

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.
 
6. Ghana
photo from wikipedia
photo from wikipedia

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.
 
5. Pakistan
photo of the Wazir Khan Mosque by Shaguftakarim, via wikipedia
photo of the Wazir Khan Mosque by Shaguftakarim, via wikipedia

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.
 
4. Italy
photo by David Iliff, via wikipedia
photo by David Iliff, via wikipedia

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.
 
3. Nigeria
photo by Riki, via wikipedia
photo by Riki, via wikipedia

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.
 
2. India
photo by Muhammed Mahdi Karim, via wikipedia
photo by Muhammed Mahdi Karim, via wikipedia

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.
 
1. U.S.A.
photo by Matt Wade, via wikipedia
photo by Matt Wade, via wikipedia

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.
 

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Missouri Man Serving Life Sentence For Pot Might Be Paroled

 
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.
 

FCOC

Indiana's Religious Freedom Act Results in First Church of Cannabis

Indiana signed a new bill into law last week, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This controversial law was intended to protect business owners who object to serving the LGBT community on religious grounds. But it has already begun to have some unforeseen consequences…
The same day the bill was signed into law, Indianapolis businessman Bill Levin filed paperwork to start a new church called The First Church of Cannabis, Inc. The application was approved the next day.
In just six days, The First Church of Cannabis has already reached 11,000 likes on Facebook, where Bill greets his flock every morning with a message of love and encouragement, and announces the times of the communal “prayer puffs.” They have also raised more than $3,000 toward construction of their first temple – which they plan to build out of hempcrete. Members of the church are known as “cannataerians,” and will be asked for a monthly donation of $4.20.
The church doctrine lists marijuana as it’s official sacrament, and Levin (who humorously refers to himself as the “Grand Poohba and Minister of Love”) told the Washington Post that the church plans to grow hemp, although it will not be buying or selling marijuana. He also said that his new religion does not have any traditional notions of sin or guilt, and will not use any conventional holy books, but instead will teach the contents of Jack Herer’s cannabis classic, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”
Besides advocating for cannabis, the church also plans to offer addiction counseling, and to teach and demonstrate a proper way of life, showing love and compassion to all. Toward that end the church has established the “Deity Dozen,” a modern 12 commandments for living a good life. Number one on the list is (and I quote) “Don’t be an asshole.” The Deity Dozen also encourages members to laugh often and be positive, to grow their own food, “Don’t be a troll on the internet,” and of course, smoke cannabis.
Both medical and recreational cannabis are currently illegal under Indiana state law, but the RFRA defends a person’s right to practice their religion without being prohibited by law. Bill Levin and his cannataerians are putting Indiana’s new law to the test by claiming the right to get high as a religious freedom, a religious right.
According to RFRA, the state cannot impinge upon a citizens religious rights unless it can demonstrate a “compelling interest” in doing so. Furthermore, they must prove that it is the “least burdensome” way of achieving said interest. The pressure is now put upon the state of Indiana to prove a compelling interest in keeping people from smoking pot as a religious practice and aid to worship.
Can they prove that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive gateway drug that corrupts our youth and undermines the social order? Or did they just inadvertently give Indiana pot smokers a religious “Get Out of Jail Free” card?
Stay tuned to find out.
image via: cannaterian.org

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Why Does Weed Make Music Sound Better?

Marijuana played a big role in my coming of age, and coming into my own in terms of my beliefs, my identity, my taste in art and music. In my early youth I was happy to listen to whatever my friends were listening to (which in America, in the 90’s, was mostly punk rock, grunge, alternative, etc), to talk like them and dress like them. I just wanted to fit in, to belong, to be a part of the crowd.
But when I was around 16, something shifted. I was no longer content to buy the same clothes and CDs as other kids. My music was no longer a social statement about which clique I was in. I was listening for the pure pleasure of it. I no longer cared what others thought or what they liked. I had started to form my own idea about what was cool.
It’s no coincidence that this was around the same time I discovered pot. Suddenly I had this pharmacological portal to another dimension where I was free to think outside the box; a way to relax and let go of my crippling teen angst, and appreciate the depth and beauty of the world; an altered state of mind where food tasted better, novels and poems came to life, movies and plays became profoundly moving, and music could carry me away to a state of timeless rapture and bliss.
I spent countless hours stoned, alone in the dark within headphones on, listening to entire albums on repeat, seeking out artists and genres I’d never heard before, exploring new worlds of sound and emotion. I’m sure that most of you can relate.
Cannabis does, undoubtedly, make music sound better, as anyone who’s tried it, ever, will attest. But we know very little about how or why marijuana effects the way we hear music. Because of the lingering federal ban on cannabis, research studies have thus far been limited to mice and other animals, or surveys and interviews of volunteers, with little or no control over dosage, set and setting.
What we can glean, from the scientific evidence thus far accumulated, is that THC and other molecules in the plant are similar to naturally occurring chemicals in our brains. They interact with our endocannabinoid system, lighting up certain regions which are associated with mood, memory, appetite and metabolism, and our responses to pain and stress.
The effects of cannabis can vary wildly based on the particular strain consumed, the manner of consumption, the set and setting in which it is used, and the expectations, mood, mindset and biochemistry of the individual user. But generally speaking, marijuana is a pain reliever, stress reducer, and mood enhancer, which makes us feel relaxed, happy, dreamy, thoughtful, etc. This is, of course, the ideal state of mind in which to appreciate music or any kind of art.
Cannabis changes the way the brain distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant stimuli, and screens or filters sense data accordingly. Marijuana suppresses that filtering process, so that when high we are subjected to a fuller range of sensory input, instead of the narrow spectrum deemed important by our subconscious mind.
Cannabis also suppresses the short term memory, altering the way we experience time. We stop analyzing the moments that have just passed by, and anticipating what is yet to be. We find ourselves more fully immersed in the present moment, savoring and appreciating each sensual detail as it unfolds, feeling like time has slowed down or even stopped.
Normally, in our sober, everyday waking state of consciousness, besides all our constant internal chatter (worrying, planning, going over and over things, random thoughts), there is also a lot of unconscious screening and processing going on, all of which affects what we hear, notice and remember. It affects how we hear music, and how we experience the world around us.
When we’re stoned, we aren’t caught up in cognitive analysis. We aren’t filtering out “irrelevant” sounds. We aren’t obsessing over the stressors of daily life. Rather, we’re fully in the moment, in a state of rapt attention; surrendered to the music, hanging on each and every note, and the spaces between them, moved by subtle variations of tone and tempo, and the emotions that they convey.
The truth is that we don’t completely understand why cannabis makes us feel the way we do, or why it makes music sound so damn good. With the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana, we are bound to see some fascinating studies being done in the near future, that will reveal a great deal. But we will probably never understand it completely, anymore than we fully understand the brain, or human consciousness. The bottom line is that it works. So why ask why?
Just sit back and relax, put on some good tunes, light up… and enjoy.

cannabis 400832 1280

Cannabis: Medicine for the Mind, Body and Soul

Cannabis has been cultivated and consumed by humans for thousands of years. It is one of the most powerful and versatile medicines in history, and has been used to treat everything from depression and anxiety, to cancer and malaria. And yet, at the time of this writing, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic by the U.S. government, and prohibited and demonized by most nations on earth.
In this article, I’d like to explore the many uses of cannabis as a medicine, not just for physical ailments, but a holistic medicine for the mind, body and soul. I’d like to help dispel the fear and the lies that have surrounded marijuana for more than a hundred years, and to help spread knowledge, understanding and acceptance of this miraculous plant, and the ways that it can contribute to our health and well-being, as individuals and as a society.
Good For the Body
According to legend, the Chinese emperor Shen-Nung penned what might have been the first encyclopedia of medicine around 2700 B.C. It listed hundreds of plants and minerals, along with their known medicinal uses. Among them was cannabis sativa, which was known as “Ma” in ancient China, and used to treat rheumatism, gout, malaria, constipation, stomach and intestinal problems, nutrient deficiencies, and cold symptoms. It was applied to ulcers and sores.
More than four thousand years later, we area still using marijuana to treat bodily illness, and we continue to discover new medicinal uses. Today, marijuana is prescribed as a treatment for glaucoma, epilepsy, inflammation, insomnia and tremors. It is used to relieve chronic pain and stress. It is the most effective way to suppress nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite, and it has saved the lives of patients with anorexia, or unable to eat due to cancer treatments and auto-immune disorders.
There is also a growing body of evidence that cannabis has powerful cancer fighting properties. At least twenty studies have been done which concluded that THC and cannabidiol can slow the growth of tumors, encourage apoptosis, and effectively treat many kinds of cancer, including brain, breast and lung cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. These claims have yet to be acknowledged by the medical mainstream, which is funded and largely controlled by profit-driven corporate interests.
A Joint A Day Keeps the Psychiatrist Away
Marijuana has long been associated with schizophrenia and mental illness, not because of scientific evidence, but mainly due to a propaganda campaign that dates back to “public service announcements” circulated by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930s, and the hilariously awful film Reefer Madness.
The reality is that no causal link has ever been established between pot and mental illness. Surveys show that mentally ill people tend to use cannabis (and other drugs) more than the general population, but this can largely be explained as an attempt to self-medicate.
What the latest research actually suggests is that marijuana may in fact help treat depression, anxiety, bi-polar, PTSD, OCD, ADD, even addiction to opiates and other drugs, and all that with far less harmful side effects than the commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs. These studies are being proven in practice by people like Dr. Frank Lucido and Dr. Jeremy Spiegel, who are bravely blazing the trail by prescribing cannabis to their own patients.
And then of course you have millions of people around the world, myself included, who have found through our own informal experiments that smoking cannabis relieves boredom, depression and stress, and induces tranquility and happiness. I think I speak for all of us, when I say that we need no research studies, no doctors or scientists, to tell us what we already know firsthand.
Balm For The Soul
As long ago as 2000 B.C., the people of India had discovered the intoxicating properties of cannabis, and were using it as part of their religious worship, to induce visionary states. They would smoke buds or hashish (known as charas) in clay pipes (called chillums) or use it to prepare a bhang, a drink made with milk and spices.
Cannabis was also used as a sacrament by ancient Persians and Egyptians, by the nomadic Scythians and the old Germanic tribes of Europe. The methods and practices differ from culture to culture, but the common theme is this: the marijuana high induces a state of mind in which we are more sensitive to unseen, spiritual forces. It enables the mystic to shift from the ordinary, ego-centric state of consciousness, to a state more in tune with the infinite, and more receptive to inspiration, be it artistic or Divine.
Pot is still used that way today, despite local and international prohibition, most famously by the Rastafari movement in Jamaica, but also by modern fringe churches like the Santo Daime, the Church of the Universe, and the Way of Infinite Harmony. Not to mention millions around the world, myself included, who don’t belong to any of these churches, but who in the privacy of our own homes, or in the timeless temple of the great outdoors, continue to use marijuana as an aid to meditation and finding peace of mind.
Cannabis has played a key role in human culture, religion, medicine and industry from the very beginning. For thousands of years, it was used peacefully to make rope, paper and cloth, to heal the sick, to relax the mind and nourish the soul. Marijuana prohibition is a recent phenomenon, driven by fear and funded by corporate interests, in an effort to enforce the current social and economic order. But not for much longer!
Legalization is at hand. Cannabis is being rediscovered as a cure for many ills, both mental and physical, and being restored to it’s rightful place as a revered sacrament and doorway to the Divine, helping individuals to find and feel a sense of meaning and connection that is so needed in this day and age.
It’s about time.

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I Believe In Cannabis

I believe in cannabis.
I believe that it’s medicinal properties far outweigh those scant few risks that haven’t yet been debunked by scientific research. I believe that, whatever negative side effects there may be from smoking weed, they are far less harmful than those of the pills you see advertised on television every 15 minutes. And I believe that more and more medical applications will be discovered with time.
I believe that cannabis prohibition has done more harm than cannabis itself. Making marijuana illegal creates a black market for a plant which could be grown in anyone’s garden, making it possible for hustlers and gangs to profit from what should be freely available for all. It turns peaceful, law abiding people into “criminals,” who are then harassed and persecuted, handcuffed and thrown in jail. Every day, innocent people have their careers and their finances destroyed, their families torn apart, and their lives turned upside down, just for kicking back and smoking a little grass.
I believe that the urge to get high is normal and natural, felt by all people, and indulged in a variety of different ways. Some people drink beer to feel good, others prefer wine or coffee. Some people go jogging or rock climbing; others go out dancing, or eat a pint of ice cream. Everyone has something that they do to relax and make themselves feel better, whether it’s yoga or television, prayer or rock music, sex or shopping.
I believe that most people who condemn marijuana haven’t even tried it, and are merely afraid of what they don’t understand. Those same folks all probably have their own way of “taking the edge off,” which is likely more harmful and addictive than cannabis, just not against the law.
But I am not afraid to try anything: cigarettes and booze, drugs and pills, yoga and chanting, prayer and meditation, music and dancing, fasting and feasting… I’ve done it all. I have found that compared to many of the “approved” substances – like alcohol, tobacco and anti-depressants – cannabis is a relatively harmless way to catch a buzz. It may not be as healthy as a good work out, or a good fuck, for that matter, but it makes them both more fun. And it’s certainly a lot better for you than compulsive eating or shopping, or zoning out in front of the TV.
Getting high helps me to be a healthy, sane and active member of society. Smoking this herb makes me feel more alive. It makes music sound better, and food taste better, and the tedious routines of everyday life just a little bit more exciting. It helps me to appreciate art and poetry, and the beauty of nature. It energizes my mind and body, and inspires me to think for myself, to ask deep questions, and ponder the wonder and mystery of existence. It stimulates my creativity, and makes my writing more lively and interesting.
I believe that smoking a joint while taking a walk outside is absolutely one of the best and most pleasant things a person can do, anytime, night or day, rain or shine. Your worries and stress just melt away, replaced by a joyous, innocent curiosity about all the little things we tend to overlook. It awakens a sense of awe and gratitude, a sense of connection to and harmony with the natural world.
I believe that the “cannabis state of mind” can contribute to our happiness and well-being, as individuals and as a society. I believe it can inspire great works of art, therapeutic personal insights, and brilliant technical innovations in all fields of human endeavor (both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were pot smokers). I believe that being high shows us the benefits of slowing down and “taking it easy,” and that it can help us find contentment and meaning in a world out of balance.
I believe in cannabis.
I believe that the philosophical ramblings of stoners everywhere (myself included) are worth reading and contemplating. There really might be whole universes within the atoms of our fingernails. The world is much more strange and intricate, more amazing and beautiful than we realize – and I believe that cannabis can help us to see and appreciate it more fully.

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Cannabis Industry The Next Big Thing?

It’s been less than a year since the first legal recreational cannabis sales in the United States, and the market is steadily growing.
Colorado reported $30 million in recreational sales for the month of July, officially overtaking medical marijuana sales for the first time ever. Washington is off to comparatively slow start; recreational sales there only began on July 7th, and amount to just over $10 million. And with millions of dollars in sales, both states are also collecting millions in tax revenue.
Experts attribute a majority of these sales to “marijuana tourism,” saying that many residents have easy access to black market sources or medical marijuana, both of which are less expensive. Although as new retailers open up and competition ramps up, prices should come down. Over time, legal sales are expected to edge out the black market for a variety of reasons – such as less risk, higher quality, and more options (edibles, oils, etc).
With people rushing in from out of state to get a taste of legal bud, both start ups and more established business owners are finding new ways to capitalize on the trend – from caterers and food trucks specializing in pot-laced food, to massage parlors and motels that are “420 friendly.” And there are growing numbers of lawyers, real estate agents, insurance reps and business consultants who specialize in serving the cannabis industry.
All these and more are flocking to conventions such as the upcoming International Cannabis Association Expo, to be held in NYC; or the Cannabis Business Summit, recently held in Denver. The Summit, put on by the National Cannabis Business Association (NCIA), drew more than 1,200 attendees this year – and not the kind you might imagine. It wasn’t a bunch of twenty-somethings sporting dreadlocks and tie-dyes, it was middle-aged professionals in suits and ties. What began as a counter-culture social justice movement is morphing into a commercial and entrepreneurial one.
Even Wall Street is taking notice. More and more cannabis-related stocks are trading on the public market. Many of these are high-risk companies hoping to hype up their value and sell their stakes for tremendous profits – leaving their shareholders to pay the price. But there are legitimate companies growing at a phenomenal rate, like Cannabis Sativa, Inc., which is headed up by former presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Trading as CBDS, Cannabis Sativa Inc. has seen more than 900 percent growth so far this year. They focus primarily on lotions, creams and health products, most of which are sold under the name Wild Earth Naturals, a brand they acquired last year. But they are beginning to step into the recreational market with their recent acquisition of Kush, Inc., which has a patent pending on an extremely potent strain of marijuana known as “CTA.”
The cannabis industry is still in it’s infancy, and it’s bound to undergo considerable changes and challenges as it continues to evolve. It’s difficult to make accurate projections. But the market, currently valued at $1.43 billion dollars per year, is expected to grow to more than $10 billion in the next five years.
As cannabis prohibition crumbles, a whole new industry is blossoming. And investors are lining up to get a piece of the pie.

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Why is Weed Illegal?

 
For purposes of clarity the term ‘cannabis’ will be used in this post to mean marijuana, pot, hemp, weed or whatever you happen to call it.
Cannabis has not always been illegal in the US. The history of the plant and its uses can help us to understand why things are now the way they are.
Back in 1619, when the only English colony in the Americas was Virginia, the then King of England decreed that every colonist grow 100 cannabis plants. The harvested plants were to be exported to England and used primarily for the manufacturing of cloth and rope. For use on sailing vessels.
England has a long history of sending its representatives to distant parts of the globe for the purpose of conquering them. And one the earliest means of transportation was by sailboat.
Canvas, which is a sturdy fabric originally made from hemp, has qualities that make it excellent for sail making. The word canvas is derived from the 13th century Anglo-French canevaz and the Old French canevas. Both may be derivatives of the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus for “made of hemp,” originating from the Greek κάνναβις (cannabis). (From Wikipedia)
The American colony of Virginia, and later the rest of the English Colonies, produced cannabis to meet the demands of the Crown and for their own use. Rope and sturdy fabric being essential to early colonial life.
It was not until the mid 1800’s that cannabis began to play a role in pharmaceuticals. Although cannabis has been used ‘recreationally’ since around 3000 BC.
At about the same time the US government began to play an increased role in the lives of its citizens as the enforcement arm of Big Business.
Without human intervention, cannabis is a weed. Ideal conditions for maximum crop yields are narrow, however the plant will grow and thrive to the extent necessary to produce seed and ensure the survival of the species in a wide range of climates and soil conditions.
Even if you don’t take human intervention into consideration, cannabis has been through a lot and yet has managed to migrate and thrive far from its origins in Asia.
Which posed a problem for the early pharmaceutical industry. If people could grow, trade and consume a weed with medicinal benefits as well as being fun to use then why would they bother to purchase some concoction from a store?
Enter legislation restricting and eventually prohibiting the possession, trade and use of cannabis.
And to make their reasoning as convincing as possible rumors began to spread that cannabis was poison. Which resulted in it being classified as a Schedule One Substance. Along with peyote, psilocybin and mescaline.
War has a long history of fueling economic growth. In 1971 then US President Richard Nixon declared War on Drugs leading to a law enforcement frenzy and the arrest and imprisonment of millions of US citizens. As well as creating a shot in the arm for the US economy.
It is interesting to note that the use of natural substances has historically been associated with minority groups. Of interest is Latin America and cannabis. Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Americas lies an area well suited for the clandestin cultivation of illegal plants.
Rugged, mountainous terrain and a poorly developed infrastructure both lend themselves to hectares being dedicated to growing cannabis and coca. Coupled with a culture that keeps the vast majority of people in poverty, the cultivation of these plants has become a staple for many poor and rural people.
The criminalization of these plants has created an extensive black market. With exorbitant prices and a cash business policy, drug lords have and continue to fight to protect their investments and earnings. An estimated $320 billion USD in profits are realised by the illegal drug trade every year. Which is funneled into the mainstream economy.
And the pharmaceutical industry is left to its own devices to create and market concoctions that develop clients rather than cures. Worth another $300 billion USD a year. And you and I left to bear the resulting death, destruction and reduced health and wellness.
History has shown that government and big business can go against public opinion for only so long. While the naysayers continue to push their pot is poison rhetoric, John and Jane Q. Public have begun to voice their discontent.
As this is written the US states of Colorado and Washington have legalized cannabis for recreational use. And it is projected that other states will soon follow.
But there is the opinion of the US Federal Government. Cannabis is still considered to be a Schedule One substance and as such is illegal in all 50 US states.
‘They’ are now admitting that the sheer number of violators makes the enforcement of some laws unadvisable. Such would bog down the already slow wheels of justice.
So progress is being made – but there is a price.
Big Business has begun to study the plant and its effects in an effort to isolate and market some of the chemicals found in cannabis. And the government is inventing new ways of harassing users – other than outright prohibition.
Weed will eventually be legal. However we’re not there yet and many challenges have yet to be overcome.
It would be nice to sit back, fire up the bong and enjoy a smoke. And we can every once in a while. But complacency will bear disastrous fruit. There are petitions to sign, rallies to attend and emails to send. The work of pro weed organizations needs our support and donations. And our collective voice must be heard at the ballot box.
The powers that we have allowed to be can ignore us for only so long. Society will change. But remember, your effort is required. Your voice must be heard. The old adage ‘together we stand, divided we fall’ has never been truer.
I challenge you to take the money you would spend on weed for a day once a week and donate it to pro weed advocacy. I challenge you to donate a day a month to circulate a petition or in some other way further our cause.
Join an online forum or community and let your voice be heard. And above all let the politicians know that it is pointless to run for office IF they do not support the decriminalization of weed.
Remember….
“United We Stand”

Life in Prison… For Weed?!

When you hear of someone serving life in prison, you probably wouldn’t picture Michael Pelletier.
Michael has been in a wheelchair since the age of 11, when he was run over by a tractor on his father’s farm. In 2008 he was convicted of smuggling pot across the Canadian border into Maine. He was sentenced to life without parole.
It sounds incredible, that someone could receive a life sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense. But Michael is not alone.
Randy Lanier is a champion race car driver who is serving a life sentence in Florida. Randy was arrested for selling marijuana, his first offense. There were no weapons or violence involved. He was convicted of administrating a “continuing criminal enterprise.” He has been incarcerated since 1987.
That’s more than 20 years in prison for selling weed!
Now Randy practices yoga and meditation. He teaches classes and counsels other inmates. He writes a blog about walking the spiritual path behind bars.
George Martorano has been in jail for half of his life. He plead guilty to marijuana trafficking on the advice of his attorney, and was sentenced to life without parole. That was in 1982. George is possibly the longest incarcerated non-violent offender in the United States.
He is also an award-winning poet and a published author. He teaches Ashtanga yoga, creative writing, suicide prevention and release preparation to fellow inmates in Coleman Correctional Facility.
Kenny Kubinski is a Vietnam War veteran with three purple hearts and a bronze star. He was an active member of his small farming community; he ran a construction company and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.
That is until 1993, when a drug task force raided his home, seized his property, and charged him with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and hashish. He was convicted on the basis of some (highly suspect) testimony from witnesses, who in turn had their sentences dropped or reduced. He is now serving a life sentence in South Carolina.
His wife Jackie was sentenced to seven years. Their three children were put into an orphanage, until friends from their church took them in.
Then there’s Larry Duke, another Vietnam veteran now serving two consecutive life sentences in a Georgia prison after being busted in a government set-up in 1989. John Knock and Claude du Boc are each serving life sentences following a 1994 case that was riddled with fraud and malpractice. Billy Dekle is serving two life sentences for smuggling marijuana into the United States in his plane – in the late 1970s.
The list goes on: Craig Cesal in Illinois, Leopoldo Hernandez in North Carolina, Andrew Cox in Virginia, Paul Free, Craig Frazier and Maurice Foley in California. Cornell Hood was sentenced to life in Lousiana – but two charges have since been dropped, and his sentence reduced to 25 years. Eugene Fischer also served 25 years of a life sentence before his sentence was reduced to time served. He was freed on July 16, 2012.
In every case, the charge is possession and distribution of pot. No guns. No violence. Just “intent” and “conspiracy.” These are people who have lost their freedom, lost their property, who lost everything, because of growing, selling, and consuming a plant.
In many cases their sentences were lengthened because they insisted on exercising their right to trial. Others are repeat offenders subject to mandatory minimum sentencing. Some were convicted based on flimsy evidence, by over-zealous prosecutors intent on seizing their sizable assets.
All are victims of the so called “War on Drugs.”
The draconian policies and harsh penalties of the late 1980s have left us quite a legacy: more than 3,200 prisoners in the United States are currently serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, most of them drug related. And while states are slowly repealing these unforgiving laws, it is too late for the men and women already behind bars for victimless crimes.
We are undergoing a sea change in the way the public thinks about drugs, and marijuana in particular. Recent polls show that more than half of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized, while an overwhelming 86 percent support its medicinal use. 76 percent of people polled said they did not think small amounts of marijuana should result in any jail time, and 67 percent of people support treatment and rehabilitation as the primary means of dealing with even hard drug use.
Meanwhile Colorado and Washington are leading the way in recreational legalization, and similar legislation is being considered in more than a dozen other states. All of which leaves me wondering…
Why on earth are people serving life sentences for pot?
free jeff mizanskey
People like Jeff Mizanskey, who was arrested in 1993 for being present during a drug deal gone wrong. He accompanied Atilano Quintana to pick up a big delivery at a Super 8 motel in Sedalia, MO – unfortunately for them, the delivery guys had been busted on their way into town. The police were waiting to catch Quintana red-handed, and Mizanskey was just a bonus.
Quintana, the buyer, served ten years. Mizanskey, a repeat offender who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, got life.
Without the possibility of parole.
“Since I’ve been here in prison,” Mizanskey told an interviewer, “I’ve met lots of people in for murder, rape, robberies, all sorts of violent crimes. I’ve seen a lot of them go home on parole. Don’t I ever get a chance?”
There are at least a dozen people sentenced to die behind bars because they were caught with weed. How is this okay?
Many of these men have been exemplary prisoners, and have made the most of the rehabilitation programs available to them. And in cases like Lanier and Martorano, they have indeed gone above and beyond: becoming leaders and role-models in the prison community, pioneering new ways of teaching and rehabilitating inmates, and preparing them for their release.
Haven’t these men paid their “debt to society?” In some cases, many times over?
Visit lifeforpot.com to find out more about these men and their stories. Sign a petition, contact your congressman, join the movement calling for clemency.
Because no one should be in jail because of a plant.

UPDATE: Since this article was written Jeff Mizanskey had his sentence commuted by Missouri governor Jay Nixon. He went before a parole board on August 7th, and his parole was granted. He’s expected to be sent home to his family any day now.