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Dale Gieringer

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 9, 2013

    At a meeting with drug reform advocates in San Francisco, former Mexican President Fox expressed support for California’s efforts to legally regulate cannabis, medical and otherwise. He said that California has a strong cultural influence on Mexico, and that progress here would help efforts there.NWA Canada Prohibition Car

    Speakers included Dale Sky Jones for CCPR, Nate Bradley for LEAP and myself for California NORML, who noted that marijuana prohibition is an international problem founded on international treaties, which need to be fixed through international cooperation by the U.S., Mexico, and other countries. Many thanks to President Fox, Jamen Shively, and Steve DeAngelo for arranging this meeting.  – Dale Gieringer, CA NORML

     

    Former Mexican president Fox urges marijuana legalization

    Source: Reuters – Tue, 9 Jul 2013 12:40 AM

    By Ronnie Cohen

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 (Reuters) – Former Mexican President Vicente Fox took his crusade to legalize marijuana to San Francisco on Monday, joining pot advocates to urge the United States and his own country to decriminalize the sale and recreational use of cannabis.

    Fox met for three hours with the advocates, including Steve DeAngelo, the Oakland-based executive director of California’s largest marijuana dispensary, and former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively, who hopes to create a Seattle-based pot brand now that Washington state has legalized recreational use.

    Legalization, Fox told reporters after the meeting, is the only way to end the violence of Mexican drug cartels, which he blamed on America’s war on drugs.

    “The cost of the war is becoming unbearable – too high for Mexico, for Latin America and for the rest of the world,” Fox said in English.

    Every day, he said, 40 young people are killed in drug-related violence.

    Fox’s position on legalizing drugs has evolved over time since the days when he cooperated with U.S. efforts to tamp down production in Mexico during his 2000-2006 presidential term. He has been increasingly vocal in his opposition to current policies, backing two prior efforts to legalize marijuana in Mexico.

    Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, has opposed legalization. But he recently said that he would consider world opinion on the matter, particularly in light of recent voter-approved initiatives to legalize marijuana in Washington state and Colorado for recreational use.

    In San Francisco on Monday, Fox said he had signed on to attend and help develop an international summit later this month in Mexico to strategize a path to end marijuana prohibition.

    Participants scheduled to attend the three-day meeting starting July 18 in San Cristobal include an American surgeon, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health and a Mexican congressman who plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in Mexico this summer, Fox said.

    The bill, which he expects to be introduced by Mexican lawmaker Fernando Belaunzaran, would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana, Fox said.

    Support for legalizing marijuana in the United States has been growing. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, according to the pro-legalization National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But the drug remains illegal under federal law.

    Lifting the prohibition on cannabis in Mexico, however, appears to face more of an uphill battle. Mexican lawmakers have rejected previous legalization efforts and polls have shown little popular support for the idea.

    But Fox promised to wage what he said was a necessary battle.

    “We cannot afford more blood and the loss of more young people,” Fox said. “We must get out of the trap we are in.” (Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 21, 2011

    Analysis by California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer, Ph.D

    An interesting new study of the California medical cannabis user population by Prof. Craig Reinarman et al. appears in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 43(2) Apr-Jun, 2011: “Who Are Medical Marijuana Patients? Population Characteristics from Nine California Assessment Clinics”.

    Noteworthy findings:

    *Medical cannabis use is higher than average among Blacks and Native Americans, lower among Latinos and Asians.

    *73% of patients are male.

    *Use is heaviest in the 25-44 year age group.

    *Leading indications:

    82.6% for pain

    70.7% to improve sleep

    55% for “relaxation”

    41% for muscle spasms

    41% for headaches

    38% for anxiety

    28% for nausea

    26% for depression

    51% use as a substitute for prescription medication (showing that medical cannabis may offer significant health cost savings)

    Medical cannabis users report significantly lower alcohol & cocaine use than the average population,  supporting the substitution theory that more cannabis use may lead to less abuse of other drugs.

    Abstract – Marijuana is a currently illegal psychoactive drug that many physicians believe has substantial therapeutic uses. The medical literature contains a growing number of studies on cannabinoids as well as case studies and anecdotal reports suggesting therapeutic potential. Fifteen states have passed medical marijuana laws, but little is known about the growing population of patients who use marijuana medicinally. This article reports on a sample of 1,746 patients from a network of nine medical marijuana evaluation clinics in California. Patients completed a standardized medical history form; evaluating physicians completed standardized evaluation forms. From this data we describe patient characteristics, self-reported presenting symptoms, physician evaluations, other treatments tried, other drug use, and medical marijuana use practices. Pain, insomnia, and anxiety were the most common conditions for which evaluating physicians recommended medical marijuana. Shifts in the medical marijuana patient population over time, the need for further research, and the issue of diversion are discussed.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator May 31, 2011

    At Least 1 – 1.5 Million Americans are Legal Medical Marijuana Patients

    Market for these patients in sixteen states and D.C. estimated at between $2 – $6 billion annually

    MAY 31, 2011 – We don’t know his or her name, but somewhere in one of sixteen states and the District of Columbia is America’s 1,000,000th legal medical marijuana patient. We estimate the United States reached the million-patients mark sometime between the beginning of the year to when Arizona began issuing patient registry identification cards online in April 2011.

    16 states, the Capitol, and ONE MILLION legal marijuana users.

    Between one to one-and-a-half million people are legally authorized by their state to use marijuana in the United States, according to data compiled by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates.  Assuming usage of one-half to one gram of cannabis medicine per day per patient and an average retail price of $320 per ouncethese legal consumers represent a $2.3 to $6.2 billion dollar market annually.

    Based on state medical marijuana laws, the amounts of cannabis these legal marijuana users are entitled to possess means there is between 566 – 803 thousand pounds of legal usable cannabis allowed under state law in America.  These patients are allowed to cultivate between 17 – 24 million legal cannabis plants.  There may possibly be more, as California and New Mexico “limits” may be exceeded with doctor’s permission and some California counties explicitly allow greater amounts, so there may be as much as 1 million pounds of state-legal cannabis allowed under state law in America.

    Active Medical Marijuana State (Total population of sixteen medical marijuana states + D.C. = over 90 million.  D.C., Delaware, and New Jersey programs are not yet active.) # Legal Medical Marijuana Patients (% of state population)
    California (1996) – No central state registry, 2% – 3% of overall population estimate by Dale Gieringer at California NORML by comparing rates in Colorado & Montana. ~750,000 (2.00%)

    ~1,125,000 (3.00%)

    Washington (1998) – No registry, 1% – 1.5% of overall population estimate by Russ Belville at NORML by comparing rates in Oregon & Colorado. ~67,000 (1.00%)

    ~100,000 (1.50%)

    Oregon (1998) – Centralized state registry data published online. 39,774 (1.04%)
    Alaska (1998) – No data online, verified by author’s call to Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. 380 (0.05%)
    Maine (1999) – Centralized state registry data published online. 796 (0.06%)
    Nevada (2000) – 2008 figures from ProCon.org, awaiting return call from state for official number. 860 (0.03%)
    Hawaii (2000) – Estimate from Pam Lichty of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii; program is run by law enforcement who are reluctant to release data. ~8,000 (0.59%)
    Colorado (2000) – Centralized state registry data published online. 123,890 (2.46%)
    Vermont (2004) – No data online, verified by author’s call to Vermont Criminal Information Center. 349 (0.06%)
    Montana (2004) – Centralized state registry data published online. 30,609 (3.09%)
    Rhode Island (2006) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,069 (0.29%)
    New Mexico (2007) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,615 (0.18%)
    Michigan (2008) – Centralized state registry data published online. 75,521 (0.76%)
    Arizona (2010) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,696 (0.06%)
    TOTAL US LEGAL MARIJUANA USERS ~1,100,000 (1.22%)

    ~1,500,000 (1.67%)

    Yet after fifteen years, one million patients, and a million pounds of legal marijuana, few if any of the dire predictions by opponents of medical marijuana have come to fruition.  Medical marijuana states like Oregon are experiencing their lowest-ever rates of workplace fatalities, injuries, and accidents.  States like Colorado are experiencing their lowest rates in three decades of fatal crashes per million miles driven.  In medical marijuana states for which we have data (through Michigan in 2008), use by minor teenagers is down in all but Maine and down by at least 10% in states with the greatest proportion of their population using medical cannabis. (more…)

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director September 12, 2010

    Redding Record Searchlight

    September 12, 2010

    by Dale Gieringer (Dale Gieringer is director of California NORML)

    Opponents of marijuana legalization complain that Proposition 19 could endanger workplace safety. Employers, such as Ed Rullman of the Best Western Hilltop Inn in his Aug. 15 Op-Ed, object that Proposition 19 has a clause protecting employees against discrimination for private, adult use of marijuana. However, this is qualified by an important provision protecting employers’ right “to address consumption that actually impairs job performance.”

    Why then should Proposition 19 be a problem for employers? Because they want to test employees for behavior that doesn’t affect job performance by using the inherently flawed and inaccurate technology of urine testing.

    Contrary to popular misconception, urine tests don’t measure the active presence of marijuana in the system, but rather non-active chemical by-products that linger for days or weeks after any impairing effects have faded. Urine testing routinely flags the most harmless, weekend use of marijuana, while completely ignoring the No. 1 cause of drug abuse, alcohol.

    Urine testing is therefore a highly unreliable indicator of impairment or job fitness. In fact, it is perfectly possible to be high as a kite and still pass a urine test with flying colors because marijuana doesn’t show up in the urine until hours after smoking. Such problems can be avoided by other, more accurate screening methods, such as blood tests, which detect the active presence of drugs in the system, or the field sobriety checks used by law enforcement in DUI stops.

    But aren’t urine tests still helpful in protecting workplace safety? Scientific evidence for this is conspicuously lacking. Urine testing has never undergone the kind of rigorous FDA “safety and efficacy” studies that are required for other medical devices and drugs.

    Numerous studies have found that subjects who test positive for marijuana are no more accident-prone, and in some instances even safer, than those who don’t.

    A recent expert review by the Canadian Center for Addictions Research recommended against use of drug urinalysis, concluding that “urinalysis has not been shown to have a meaningful impact on job injury/accident rates.”

    A study of high-tech companies found that drug testing was associated with reduced productivity, apparently because it undermines worker morale and trust. Drug urinalysis may thus be an indicator of sloppy management by large corporations who exercise poor oversight over workers.

    Until recent years, it would have been laughable to suppose that American workers should be forced to submit urine samples to prove their job worthiness. The U.S. is alone among developed countries in regarding urine testing as a routine practice. In the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to all adults, drug testing is hardly used, yet workplace safety is substantially better than in the U.S.

    The bottom line is that marijuana residues in urine pose no risk to workplace safety. In many cases, it is even preferable to let employees use marijuana for medical purposes at home so as to help avoid pain and other problems that can impair their performance.

    Of course, there may exist situations where some kind of drug testing is useful in protecting workplace safety. If so, Proposition 19 specifically permits it. In no case would Proposition 19 override existing federal drug testing rules, anymore than did Proposition 215.

    In general, however, Proposition 19 would benefit countless workers — pot users and non-users alike — by sparing them the degrading indignity of submitting to intrusive, misleading urine tests that have no bearing on job fitness.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator August 9, 2010

    Our California NORML Coordinator, Dale Gieringer, has penned an informative viewpoint for the Sacramento Bee, addressing the one of the only two arguments against legalization of marijuana that still have any traction with the people: “Marijuana Mayhem on the Freeways!” (the other being: “My God! What About the Children!?!”)

    As usual, the prohibitionists’ stark warnings about the peril of stoned drivers after legalization only makes sense if you believe nobody is smoking pot now.

    Studies on marijuana and driving safety are remarkably consistent, though greatly under-publicized because they fail to support the government’s anti-pot line. Eleven different studies of more than 50,000 fatal accidents have found that drivers with marijuana-only in their system are on average no more likely to cause accidents than those with low, legal levels of alcohol below the threshold for DUI.

    The major exception is when marijuana is combined with alcohol, which tends to be highly dangerous.

    Several studies have failed to detect any increased accident risk from marijuana at all. The reason for pot’s relative safety appears to be that it tends to make users drive more slowly, while alcohol makes them speed up.

    Thus legalization could actually reduce accidents if more drivers used marijuana instead of alcohol, but it could also increase them if there were more combined use of the two.

    Nobody is saying “toke up and get behind the wheel”; our Principles of Responsible Use firmly states “The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis”. However, it would be naive to think every cannabis consumer uses responsibly.

    Geiringer addresses this by pointing out that California, the state with the easiest access to medical marijuana, has only the 14th-highest rating of states with marijuana-related accidents, while states like Indiana and South Carolina, some of the most hostile states with respect to marijuana, have far more marijuana-related accidents.  Within California, two of the most liberal cities for pot access, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, had zero marijuana-related accidents in the past year of record.

    US accident rates in general have been declining steadily since the 1960s, even as marijuana use reached its greatest rates in the late 1970s.  Even in the 1980s when marijuana legalization was at its lowest levels of support and throughout the 1990s and 2000s as medical marijuana spread from state to state, the highway accident rates have continued their steady decline.  It seems that whether marijuana is popular and legal or not, it makes no difference in roadway safety.

    Besides, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in California now and Prop 19 does nothing to undo that.  Californians can and have been arrested for drugged driving over the past fourteen years, even with legal medical marijuana.  Whatever cops are doing now to arrest pot-smoking drivers for DUID will still be done after Prop 19 passes.

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