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EDUCATION

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director September 16, 2014

    Grease Pot ParodyAdding to his ever-growing series of pro-cannabis law reform song parody videos, as well as in support of his home state’s current efforts to pass a medical cannabis initiative, comedian and Miami Beach political gadfly Steve Berke has just released a new pro-pot parody based on the famous movie of the 1970s ‘Grease‘.

    Upping the ante in Berke’s video productions, his talented crew drove from Florida to Texas, in search of the original amusement park backdrop used for the 1978 movie production of ‘Grease’.

    “You’re The Law That I Want!”
    A more heartfelt and satirical political advertisement in support of passing the voter ballot initiative question in Florida this fall, Amendment 2, is hard to envisage.

    For more information about Steve Berke’s 4TT production company and make donations to run 30 second version of the Grease parody on Florida TV stations check out press release below.

     

    PRESS CONTACT: Lee Molloy
    PHONE: 786-499-6134
    EMAIL: LeeGMolloy@gmail.com

    September 15, 2014

    For Immediate Release

    Miami Beach politician drives 1,400 miles to Texas to shoot “Grease” parody video supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida

    Founded by former Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, The After Party PAC is a political organization fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 2, The After Party recently commissioned a shot-for-shot parody video of the song “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease.”

    Called “You’re the Law that I Want (Yes on 2)” the musical parody faithfully recreates the carnival scene made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – with Berke taking on the role of Travolta.

    The original Fun House used as a location in the ’70s movie classic was in service at a county fair in Texas this summer. So, Berke and the production crew traveled the 1,400 miles from Miami Beach to Decatur (in an RV) especially for the two-day shoot.

    “Our crew drove half way across the country because we wanted to make this parody as authentic as possible,” Berke said. “We felt compelled to really go to bat for the 1.1 million Floridians who signed the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot this November.”

    Berke is a former professional tennis player who found marijuana after herniating two discs in his lower back. The injury permanently ended his tennis career and Berke, an athlete and Yale graduate, realized that marijuana wasn’t just for stoners when his doctor in California recommended trying medical marijuana to manage his pain as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.

    “Ultimately, all we are asking for is that people in Florida have the same opportunity that I had to get the medicine they need,” Berke said. “And, our video gets that message across in a way that is fun, informative and memorable.”

     

  • by Sabrina Fendrick September 8, 2014

    Julie's 2-c logoNORML is pleased to announce the newest member of the NORML Business Network; Julie’s Baked Goods.  The Denver-based edibles company produces of some of the highest quality, all-natural cannabis snacks in the state, and is also a prime example of responsible labeling among infused food companies.  Formerly known as Julie & Kate’s Baked Goods, the inspiration behind starting the business came when both women were dealing with a serious illness and agreed that marijuana could be beneficial to managing their symptoms. What started as a friendly trial, with a bag of weed in a domestic kitchen in 2008, has turned into one of the leading marijuana edible companies in Colorado.

    The product line for Julie’s Baked Goods is geared toward “foodies” and health conscious consumers.  Items have turned out to be especially popular in Boulder, and among the senior crowd.  Each creation starts with clarified butter or coconut oil that is infused with specific strain of organically grown marijuana and is slowly heated to carefully extract every last bit of activated cannabinoids. They use only premium, all-natural ingredients for their gluten-free THC infused edibles. The founders built product testing into the budget of their business plan before they even opened – unlike most of the other marijuana companies around at JKBG Aug 14 Ad2that time. The company has nearly a half-dozen products, including a fresh granola snack, a roasted Seed Mix (which took 1 year to develop), the Nutty Bite (37 recipes), the Groovy Granola Bar and clarified cannabutter.

    “Consume ¼ of the package, wait 60 minutes, eat more if necessary. Try eating with yogurt, milk or other healthy food. Fat facilitates THC digestion and intensifies psychoactive effects. If you over ingest: drink water or tea, avoid eating fatty foods. Onset: 45-60 minutes after ingestion. Effect Duration: 4-10 hours. First Euphoric Peak: 2 hours. Second Euphoric Peak: 3-4 hours. Please Plan Accordingly.” - Text from the label of a Julie’s Baked Goods product

    Most notably, Julie’s Baked Goods has been on the forefront of responsible edible education for consumers from the beginning.  Since their first sale in 2010, the company has been a model of proper labeling (prior to the implementation of labeling laws), dedicated to making sure that the consumer is prepared for the experience.  Products include information about the recommended amount, the onset of the high, how long it might last, certain foods that can intensify the feeling and how to mitigate the negative effects of over ingestion.  When Colorado implemented new edible labeling laws a few months ago, they didn’t have to change a thing.

    Julie’s Baked Goods is a wonderful example of how the industry can be proactive about incorporating responsible business practices and self-regulation into such their burgeoning market.  The products are sold in over 125 different cannabis stores around the state, including locations such as Preferred Organic Therapy in Denver, and The Farm in Boulder.

    Throughout every facet of their business, Julie’s Baked Goods has gone above and beyond the letter of the law, setting a standard that embodies the ideals of corporate social responsibility, and the principles of the NORML Business Network. This is how an edibles company does it right.

    **Julie’s Baked Goods is a licensed and regulated marijuana business whose products can only be purchased in the state of Colorado, either by medical marijuana patients or retail customers who are 21 and older.**

    ——

    For more information about joining the NORML Business Network go to www.norml.org/businessNORML Business Network

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 30, 2014

    Study: Arrests For Marijuana Offenses Increasing In Many StatesLaw enforcement in many states are making a greater number of marijuana arrests than ever before despite polling data showing that the majority of Americans believe that the adult use of the plant ought to be legal.

    According to a just published report, “Marijuana in the States 2012: Analysis and Detailed Data on Marijuana Use and Arrests,” which appears on the newly launched RegulatingCannabis.com website, police made an estimated 750,000 arrests for marijuana violations in 2012 – a 110 percent increase in annual arrests since 1991. Yet, despite this doubling in annual marijuana arrests over the past two decades, there has not been any significant reduction in marijuana consumption in the United States the report found.

    In 2012, marijuana arrests accounted for almost half (48.3 percent) of all drug arrests nationwide. Marijuana arrests accounted for two-thirds of more of all drug arrests in five states: Nebraska (74.1 percent), New Hampshire (72 percent), Montana (70.3 percent), Wyoming (68.7 percent) and Wisconsin (67.1 percent).

    From 2008 to 2012, seventeen state-level jurisdictions experienced an average annual increase in marijuana arrests, the report found. South Carolina (11.6 percent) and the District of Columbia (7.7 percent) experienced the highest overall percentage increase in arrests during this time period. By contrast, annual marijuana arrests fell nationwide by an average of 3.3 percent from 2008 to 2012.

    Overall, the study reported that the five state-level jurisdictions possessing the highest arrest rates for marijuana offenses are the District to Columbia (729 arrests per 100,000 citizens), New York (577), Louisiana (451), Illinois (447) and Nebraska (421). District of Columbia lawmakers decriminalized the adult possession of marijuana earlier this month.

    The two states possessing the lowest marijuana arrest rates are California and Massachusetts, the report found. Both states decriminalized marijuana possession offenses in recent years.

    Stated the report’s author, Shenondoah University professor Jon Gettman, “After a generation of marijuana arrests, nearly 19 million and counting since 1981, the results are that marijuana remains widely used, not perceived as risky by a majority of the population, and widely available. The tremendous variance in use and arrests at the state level demonstrate why marijuana prohibition has failed and is not a viable national policy.”

    Full text of the report is available on the NORML website here or from: RegulatingCannabis.com.

  • by Sabrina Fendrick April 16, 2014

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATampa, FL – On Sunday April 13th, people came from all parts of the sunshine state to the to attend the first statewide Florida NORML conference at the University of South Florida.   While the most  critical topic of the day was Question 2 (Florida’s medical marijuana ballot initiative) to be voted on in the November election, there was also a diverse range of information presented by conference speakers such as student rights on campus, organizing and social media outreach.

    Irv Rosenfeld

    Panelists consisted of a group of nationally recognized advocates and some of the state’s most high profile reformers.  They included federal medical marijuana patient Irv Rosenfeld, Kathy Jordan of the Kathy Jordan Medical Marijuana Act, the Silver Tour’s Robert Platshorn and Florida NORML Chapter Director Karen Goldstein.   Other speakers included Catherine Sevcenko, litigation coordinator for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Eli Zucker, Founding Director of USF NORML and Sabrina Fendrick of National NORML.

    The event was organized and hosted by the USF NORML chapter, with support from Students for Liberty and United for Care – the campaign behind Question 2.  For more information in how to get involved with marijuana law reform in the sunshine state, please contact Karen Goldstein at normlsfla@gmail.com.

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 15, 2014

    By Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D
    State University of New York at Albany
    Chair, NORML board of directors

    A new study claims to show small deficits on neuropsychological tests in college students who started smoking marijuana early in life. It might get a lot of press. Prohibitionists love to bang the drum of marijuana-related cognitive deficits, so I’d like NORMLites to know how to make sense of this sort of research. The recurring themes in this literature involve several alternative explanations that never seem to dawn on journalists. These results often arise from artifacts of the study rather than physiological effects of the plant. I’d like to focus on a few: other drug use, dozens of statistical tests, the incentives for performance, and the demands communicated by the experimenters.NWA Canada Prohibition Car

    The latest paper of this type is actually pretty good. Researchers studied over 30 people aged 18-20 who started using before age 17 (their average starting age was around 15) and who smoked at least 5 days per week for at least a year. They compared them to a comparable bunch of non-users. I hate to see 15-year-olds using anything psychoactive, even caffeine. Spending full days in high school with less than optimal memory functioning is no way to lay the groundwork for a superb life. I admit that I want these same people to grow up and be the next generation of activists, so feel free to call me selfish when I emphasize NORML’s consistent message: THE PLANT IS NOT FOR KIDS WHO LACK MEDICAL NECESSITY.

    OTHER DRUG USE?
    First, we have to keep other drug use in mind. Unfortunately, the marijuana group in this study got drunk more than 4 times as much in the last six months as the controls. Given what we know about binge drinking and neuropsychological functioning, it’s going to be hard to attribute any differences between these groups to the plant. It’s just as likely that any deficits stem from pounding beers. Studying cannabis users who aren’t so involved with alcohol would help address neuropsychological functioning much better.

    HOW MANY TESTS?
    In addition, we should always consider the number of measures in any study. Many of these neuropsychological tasks have multiple trials that can be scored multiple ways. The more statistical tests you run, the more likely it is that you’ll find a statistically significant difference by chance. It’s kind of like flipping coins. It’s rare to flip four heads in a row. But if you flip a coin a thousand times, odds are high that somewhere in the list of a thousand results will be four heads in a row. These investigators got 48 different test scores out of the participants. You’d expect at least 2 of them to be significant just by chance. They found differences on 14 different scores, suggesting that something’s going on, but we’re not sure which results are the “real” differences and which ones arose by accident. (That’s why we replicate studies like this.) And, as I mentioned, it might all be because of the booze.

    WHY WOULD ANYONE DO ALL THESE TESTS?
    We also have to consider incentives for performance. Most researchers bring participants to the lab for a fixed fee and ask them to crank out a bunch of crazy puzzles and memory assessments. It’s unclear why people would feel compelled to strain their brains. The authors of this study were kind enough to mention some relevant work by my friend (and former student) Dr. Rayna Macher. Dr. Macher showed that cannabis users respond best when you make the effort worth their while. She focused on people who used the plant at least four times per week for a year or more. She read one group some standard instructions for a memory test. The other group got the regular instructions plus an additional sentence: “It is important that you try your very best on these tasks, because this research will be used to support legislation on marijuana policy.”

    As you’d guess, this simple sentence fired them up. Compared to cannabis users who didn’t hear that sentence, they performed better on 3 out of 10 measures. (You’d expect less than one difference by chance.) And compared to the non-users, the folks who got the incentive sentence did just as well on all the tests. For those who didn’t hear the incentive sentence, users did less well than non-users on 1 of the 10.

    I know that prohibitionists are going to try to call this amotivation. (See my rant on that when you get a chance) I call it putting effort where it pays. But given what we know about how these studies can hamper the reform of marijuana laws, users everywhere should do their best on all tests whenever they get the chance.

    WE OFTEN DO WHAT EXPERIMENTERS EXPECT OF US
    Last but not least, we have to consider the demands communicated by the experimenter. Decades of data now support the idea that people often do what others expect them to do, especially if they believe the expectation, too. Another friend and former student, Dr. Alison Looby De Young, showed that these expectations are critical in studies of neuropsychological performance and cannabis. She gave a neuropsychological battery to men who had used cannabis at least three times per week for the last two years. One group of men read instructions that said that cannabis had no impact on their performance on these tests. Another group read instructions that said that cannabis was going to make them perform poorly. You guessed it, those men who heard they were going to flub the tests performed worse on 2 of the 4 tests. (You’d expect less than one difference by chance). As you might imagine, some laboratories communicate their expectations about cannabis and cognitive function subtly or not so subtly. Some participants are bound to behave accordingly. So what looks like a cognitive deficit is just an artifact of the laboratory environment where experimenters stare daggers at cannabis users.

    In the end, I’m glad that researchers do this work, but these effects are too small and fleeting to justify prohibition. We already know that cannabis isn’t for healthy kids. People who get heavily involved with the plant early in life might not perform as well as those who never touch cannabis even if investigators control for other drug use, AND use a sensible number of tests, AND provide appropriate incentives, AND communicate a reasonable expectation.

    But how many people should go to jail for that?

    If you said, “None,” you’ve done an excellent job on an important cognitive test.

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