Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Free Pot, Free Pot Research!



In a move sure to surprise no Rush listeners, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously earlier this month to give city residents free pot.

The granola-friendly East Bay burb, which has been a den of radical political leanings since the 1960s, couldn't wait to make it even easier for its bobble-headed population of hippies, freegans and hammock-revolutionaries to get blazed; and in deciding to approve yet another dispensary permit (the fourth in city limits) also wrote into law that low-income folks must be given free dope.

Abandoning all camouflage of its wholehearted embrace of Marxism, leaders of the elite liberal gulag will require that dispensaries (private sector businesses!) must give away no less than 2 percent of the gross weight sold, according to the East Bay Express. In the article, David Downs writes that freedom fighter (and United States attorney) Melinda Haag continues to battle with a prominent Berkeley dispensary and others around the Bay Area, having successfully closed 11 in San Francisco. A gleaming beacon of reason and free market capitalism, San Jose, is home to more than 80 pot shops, according to the Express.

— Speaking of Marks-ism: Remember that Pot PAC we wrote about a few weeks ago? The group gained a shrewd ally in its quest to mold meaningful medical marijuana regulations out of the amorphous slop that's been in place since Proposition 215 passed. Richard Marks — local political whiz (he most recently worked on 4th District Supe Virginia Bass' successful re-election bid), Harbor District commissioner, North Coast Rail Authority director, Humboldt Domestic Violence Services treasurer, Mad River Softball Association president, blogger and former union organizer — has been hired as Humboldt County's community organizer and political consultant for California Cannabis Voice.

The organization, which said in a press release that a Senate bill proposing regulations of the medical marijuana industry "will not protect the rural cannabis community," has gained a flurry of support in the northern half of the state. At a June meeting in Mendocino County, the PAC's website proclaims, a supporter called upon the audience to donate to the committee. "Will you give a pound to the cause?" he reportedly asked the crowd. "We'll either take your money or we'll take a pound. Because if we can't sell that pound, we don't belong here."

— By the time you're reading this, Washington state's smoky exhalations will be perfectly legit, if hard to come by. The state began issuing pot-selling permits Monday, with a 24-hour waiting period following approval, but some folks are worried that the stash won't meet the demand. Reuters reported widespread concerns that the state's retail markets would run out within hours of opening for sale, "largely because of limited harvests by licensed growers and processors, or because they failed to clear regulatory hurdles to get their product to market."

Meanwhile, reports the San Jose Mercury News, all is groovy in Colorado, which beat Washington to the retail pot game by six months. Polls in the state have shown increasing support for cannabis legalization, with one in April that finds 61 percent of residents believe legalization has been good for the state or not changed it.

— A researcher who spent years securing federal approval to test the effects of marijuana on veterans suffering PTSD lost her job with the University of Arizona in a move that she says was "political retaliation" for her interest in pot. If true, it's a boneheaded blow both to the scientific process that academic institutions must promote and to some of the nation's most vulnerable people who could benefit from the research.

Suzanne Sisley's study was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year, according to USA Today, and would have received Drug Enforcement Agency approval as long as her research was going to be conducted through a university. Her termination, effective in September, jeopardizes that approval, and potentially the entire study. Maybe UC Berkeley will take her?

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