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In this episode: NORML attorneys file a lawsuit in NJ, DC announces 6 marijuana cultivation centers, a new poll shows growing support for legalization, and more.
Belgian drivers injured in traffic accidents are far more likely to possess drugs and alcohol in their systems than are Dutch drivers, according to data to be published in the journal Forensic Science International.
Investigators from Belgium and the Netherlands compared the prevalence of alcohol, licit and illicit drugs in the blood of seriously injured drivers over 18 years of age. A total of 535 drivers – 348 from Belgium and 187 from the Netherlands – were assessed in the study.
Researchers reported, “In Belgium, more drivers were found positive for alcohol and drugs than in the Netherlands. … Alcohol was the most prevalent substance among the injured drivers in Belgium (42.5 percent) and the Netherlands (29.6 percent). … In Belgium there were … more positives for THC (8 percent). … In the Netherlands, almost no positive findings for cannabis were recorded (0.5 percent).”
Investigators declared the findings “remarkable” because “the sample of drivers in the Netherlands (was) younger and included more men than in Belgium.” They also noted that cannabis use was far more popular among the Dutch general driving population (2.1 percent) compared to that of the Belgian population (0.49 percent).
They concluded: “The lower prevalence of alcohol in the Netherlands is associated with a much lower number of crashes and killed and injured drivers. … Despite the high prevalence of THC found in the general driving population, surprisingly almost no THC was found in the Dutch injured driver population.”
The abstract of the study, “Prevalence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances in injured drivers: Comparison between Belgium and the Netherlands,” appears online here. NORML’s white paper, “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review,” is available online here.
From the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines
IACM-Bulletin of 8 April 2012
World: Increasing numbers of patients use cannabis for medicinal purposes
An increasing number of patients in the world are using cannabis for therapeutic reasons, with available data from countries, which have installed programs for their citizens. Good data are available for Israel, Canada, the Netherlands and many states of the US with medicinal cannabis laws and registries. In several more countries only a few patients are allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, including Germany, Norway, Finland and Italy. In many other countries such as Spain and some states of the US without a registry such as California the number of medicinal users is estimated to be high, but no detailed data are available.
The numbers in California with hundreds of cannabis dispensaries and clinics that issue medical cannabis recommendations are unclear, since the state does not require residents to register as patients (see below**)
Most of the 16 states that allow the medicinal use of cannabis require a registration. Recently the press agency Associated Press published data on registered patients in different states of the USA based on state agencies responsible for maintaining patient registries:
State: Number of registered patients (per 1,000 of the whole population) —
Colorado: 82,089 (16.3)
Oregon: 57,386 (15.0)
Montana: 14,364 (14.5)
Michigan: 131,483 (13.3)
Hawaii: 11,695 (8.6)
Rhode Island: 4,466 (4.2)
Arizona: 22,037 (3.5)
New Mexico: 4,310 (2.1)
Maine: 2,708 (2.0)
Nevada: 3,388 (1.3)
Vermont: 505 (0.8)
Alaska: 538 (0.8)
Patient registration is mandatory in Delaware, New Jersey and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), but their registries are not yet up and running. Washington State has neither voluntary nor mandatory registration.
Data from Israel show that in August 2011 6,000 patients got medicinal cannabis (0.8 patients in 1,000). It is estimated that the number increases to 40,000 in 2016 (5.2 patients in 1,000 citizens).
In Canada 12,116 patients were allowed to use cannabis on 30 September 2011 (0.35 patients in 1,000 citizens).
Numbers of patients using cannabis from the pharmacies in the Netherlands were estimated to be 1,300 in 2010 (0.08 patients in 1,000 citizens). However, many patients in the Netherlands use cannabis from the coffee shops or grow their own.
In Germany about 60 patients are currently allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.
(Sources: Associated Press of 24 March 2012, website of the Israeli Prime Minister of 7 August 2011, UPI of 31 October 2011, Pharmaceutisch Weekblad No. 20, 2011)
**[Editor’s note: CA NORML published a white paper last May estimating that California has 750,000 – 1,125,000 citizens who possess a physician’s recommendation to use cannabis medicinally.]
NORML hails the passage of another milestone for the Global Marijuana March with Georgetown, Guyana and Ryebrook, NY, as the 299th and 300th cities convening a march, rally, forum or benefit for the reform of cannabis laws on the weekends of Saturday May 1st and May 8th. NORML and numerous other reform groups called for more cities this year to participate so that organizers could meet and surpass their stated goal of more than 200 cities.
Worldwide action is necessary for any outright legalization, since cannabis is largely prohibited globally by a United Nations treaty known as the Single Convention, enacted in 1962 through the efforts of top anti-cannabis zealot Harry Anslinger, the original instigator of U.S. cannabis prohibition in 1937. The U.S. Justice Dept. has cited the UN treaty as one of its principle arguments against medical cannabis rhetorically and Supreme Court cases.
Local NORML chapters are responsible for almost 40 of the protests in the U.S., New Zealand NORML is doing several cities; Norway “NORMAL” is not only marching in Oslo– they’re doing an international website at www.globalmarijuanamarch.com.
NORML welcomes the participation of pro-reform advocates of all stripes. Of course, we’d like you to join NORML, but this is an ecumenical effort to legalize cannabis once and for all. The important thing is to get more cities to participate before next weekend.
The Global Marijuana March has events planned in almost every time zone on six continents, including most of the capitols of Europe and South America. Many cities are already signing up for May 7, 2011.
NORML congratulates Cures-not-Wars and worldwide participants for organizing no less than a global march in favor of ending the expensive and failed prohibition of cannabis for responsible adult use. Contact your local and regional media outlets to make sure they cover this global day of protest as a major media event because this many citizens, in over 300 cities worldwide protesting their own governments is by definition a major media event.
Is your city on this huge list?
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Mar del Plata
Port of Spain
Salt Lake City
Say what you will about prohibitionists — and I say plenty — but, if nothing else, they are consistent. Regardless of the circumstances, they stick to their talking points — no matter how instantly refutable their claims may be.
Case in point. CBS News online today ran part one of an ongoing debate between recently retired Orange County, California Judge Jim Gray (who many of you recently watched testify before the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety here) and prohibitionist profiteer David Evans (who was last heard lying about medical marijuana law reform in New Jersey in a debate with NORML’s Chris Goldstein, which may be heard here).
Predictably, early in the CBS News debate Evans cites the Netherlands’ pot policies — which allow for the regulated sale of small amounts of cannabis to citizens age 18 an older — as an argument in favor of maintaining U.S.-style marijuana prohibition. According to Evans, Dutch marijuana use “more than doubled” after liberalization, leading the government to “formally announce its mistake” in 2004.
Hmmm, I guess Mr. Evans must have purposely avoided reading the newspaper last week or else he would have seen this widely disseminated report from Reuters Wire Service, published on Friday.
The Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands’ well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study published on Thursday. Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures.
… The policy on soft drugs in the Netherlands, one of the most liberal in Europe, allows for the sale of marijuana at “coffee shops”, which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz).
Not surprisingly, Evans also failed to cite a World Health Organization report, published last year, which reported:
US leads the world in illegal drug use
via CBS News
Despite tough anti-drug laws, a new survey shows the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world.
The World Health Organization’s survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.
For example, Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%). Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the U.S. also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders.
In contrast, in the Netherlands, which has more liberal drug policies than the U.S., only 1.9% of people reported cocaine use and 19.8% reported marijuana use.
The WHO report went on to conclude: “The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use.”
But Mr. Evans isn’t content to just simply lie about the Dutch. Elsewhere in the debate he falsely implies that the U.K. also experienced a spike in marijuana use after the British government temporarily downgraded its cannabis classification in 2004. (Parliament ended its experiment with decriminalization in 2008, a move that Evans argues was because of “the more lethal quality of the cannabis now available.”) The truth, however, was just the opposite.
Fewer young people using cannabis after reclassification
via The Guardian
Cannabis use among young people has fallen significantly since its controversial reclassification in 2004, according to the latest British Crime Survey figures published today.
The Home Office figures showed the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who had used cannabis in the past year fell from 25% when the change in the law was introduced to 21% in 2006/07.
As for anyone who thinks they can stomach reading Mr. Evans lies in part two of the debate, be sure to log on here tomorrow.