The point man in the federal government's marijuana eradication program in the central Appalachians is claiming victory in a sprawling Kentucky national forest that once led the nation in pot production, but the illegal crop still is thriving on private lands deeper in the mountain range.
A crackdown has pushed growers off the 700,000 acre Daniel Boone National Forest and onto even more rugged terrain where they're just as unwelcome, said Ed Shemelya, head of marijuana eradication in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
In about 2001, Martin Davies—a former Utah radio personality who was once named Best Talk Radio Host by City Weekly readers—found that his pension, unemployment insurance and other safety nets had evaporated in a company bankruptcy, reducing the 61-year-old’s income to just a $432 monthly Social Security check. Unemployed and uncertain of his future, Davies went hiking near Ogden, where he made a surprising discovery that would open an entirely new career path for him. He stumbled into a garden of marijuana.
The English-born Davies then saw an elderly gentleman appear from the woods.
“You’re not going to hurt my plants, are you?” the mysterious man said.
The old man explained he was sick and grew the plants for his own medicinal use. Davies has arthritis in his hip, which he soon learned was greatly alleviated by the use of marijuana.
Shortly thereafter, Davies grew a small amount of marijuana for his personal use, but his small operation didn’t stay that way. “A brother-in-law happened on to [Davies’ marijuana] and indicated that he would like to buy it. [Davies] let him do that, and that began the trip that got us here,” said defense attorney Bernie Allen during a speech in court that was also the source for the old-man-in-the-woods story above.
“Here” was the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City in 2008, where Davies was facing 10 years to life in prison after police discovered three houses and a storage unit stuffed with hydroponic marijuana growing operations. More than 1,000 plants were found in various stages of development at the four locations. According to warrants, “The Martin David Davies Marijuana Trafficking Organization” had been pegged by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a multi-state marijuana source.
There was an old hippy saying in the '60s: "If the government figured out a way to tax it, marijuana would become legal." As of last week, Colorado has apparently crossed that Rubicon—at least for the prescribed version.
John Suthers, the state's Republican attorney general, issued an opinion on Nov. 16 that yes, the state of Colorado does have the authority to tax medical marijuana. The opinion was in response to a request for legal clarification from Colorado's Democratic Governor (and former Denver District Attorney) Bill Ritter. The governor's office hasn't indicated whether they support taxing medical marijuana, they simply wanted an official opinion on the state's authority to do so.
At the newly opened Cannabis Cafe, people sit around taking tokes from a "vaporizer" — a contraption with a big plastic bag that captures the potent vapours of heated marijuana. Glass jars hold donations of dried, milky-green weed, and the cafe serves up meals and snacks for the hungry.
It’s all perfectly legal and, for cancer patient Albert Santistevan, it's about time.
"It’s a very positive atmosphere. We could use more places like that," the 56-year-old former jewelry shop owner said.
A few weeks ago, Santistevan would have had no place to go. But with the Obama administration’s decision last month to soften the federal stance on medical marijuana, the Cannabis Cafe and a lounge across town popped up, bringing a little bit of pot-friendly Amsterdam to this working class corner of Portland.
Before we get to my talk with Mr. Mirken, let’s touch on the history of marijuana criminalization in the United States.
1915-1937: Twenty-seven states pass laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana lead the way.
1937: The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. At Congressional hearings, Harry Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, stated, “Marihuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” Contrasting testimony came from Dr. William C. Woodward. Dr. Woodward was both a doctor and a lawyer, and served as Chief Counsel to the American Medical Association. He said, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug.”
Retail shops are a sort of second wave of medical marijuana.
California first approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the state approved the creation of distribution centers. Now medical marijuana stores are sprouting like weeds in Los Angeles (sorry); the city council could vote today to limit their number, the WSJ reports.
Hundreds of stores have opened in the past year, and the city now has somewhere around 1,000 marijuana dispensaries. By contrast, San Francisco, which has more rules governing the shops, has about 30.
KTLA 5 news Los Angeles has reported on a family in southern California who, after a series of worsening autism symptoms exhibited by their son, resorted to medical marijuana. The results have been wonderful, according to the boy's parents.
Ten-year -old Sam's father told reporter Cher Calvin that his son had been hurting other children at school, pulling the television down, destroying furniture, etc .He would have to put the boy in a hold for an hour, while he had spasms, until he eventually calmed down.
The parents had consulted the conventional 'experts'; doctors who put Sam on prescription drugs, which resulted in the boy gaining twenty pounds. "He was getting more dangerous, bigger, stronger", recalled Sam's mom.
Last week the American Medical Association AMA made the historical recommendation to move medical marijuana off of Schedule 1. Multiple Scleroisis is one of the maladies for which the legalization of medical marijuana is currently advocated. As new data is revealed on the effects of marijuana as a treatment tool for MS the position of the society continues to evolve.
Today, 11/17/2009 the society issued an official statement regarding medical marijuana in light of the revised AMA policy.
The Obama administration announced last month that people who buy or sell medical marijuana in the growing number of states that have decriminalized its therapeutic usage should not be targeted for arrest or prosecution by federal authorities. Now, the American Medical Association (AMA) has called for the federal government to go one step further in easing restrictions, the Los Angeles Times reported last week.
Although the new AMA policy is far from outright support of medically sanctioned pot smoking, delegates of the organization recommended at an interim meeting in Houston last week that marijuana be removed from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Schedule I category of drugs, which includes heroin and LSD. Drugs in this category are deemed unsafe with no currently acceptable medical use. With its recommendation, the AMA hopes to facilitate research on the clinical effects of smoking marijuana, as well as other delivery methods for the drug.
On Tuesday, the movement for Medicinal Marijuana received an unexpected endorsement from the American Medical Association.
This marks a substantial policy shift for the AMA, which contains approximately 250,000 member doctors, making it, by far, the largest and most influential association of doctors in the United States.
Their decision to shift policies is especially significant, since the AMA has maintained since 1997 that marijuana should remain a Schedule I substance, meaning that it should continue to be considered by the Federal Government to have no medicinal value and to be dangerous and addictive.
Substances such as LSD and PCP share this category, but even ampehetamines and cocaine are classified as Schedule II substances, since both have recognized medicinal properties.