Vol. 4, Number 5
May 1, 2012
cheryl riley, editor & writer
Dr. David Bearman, writer
Gradi Jordan, writer
Arthur Livermore, writer
Who's Who
What's New
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Global Commission: The Drug War Is a Failure / Time for Drug Policy Reform - David Bearman, M.D.

It is beyond argument. By any measure the war on people we don’t approve of who use drugs we don’t approve of (AKA The War on Drugs) has been an abysmal failure. Politicians of all political stripe recognize this, as do medical organizations too numerous to mention, plus a long list of world leaders. The list of organizations who oppose the war on drugs includes AMA, ANA, APHA, ACP, LEAP, NORML, SSDP, POT, AAMC, ASA, MPP and the list goes on and on.

World leaders include past president of Mexico Vicente Fox, former Presidents of Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, and Nicaraguan, current President of Guatemala, and former President Carter. Most recently the Global Commission on Drug Policy has weighed in on the need for rethinking and reframing the entire drug policy issue. The primary conclusion of their June 2011 report is that the drug war is a failure.

The Commission was composed of five former heads of state, plus former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Richard Branson of Virgin Records, Airways, etc, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and Paul Volcker, former head of the Federal Reserve, among others. This is an impressive group of world leaders.

According to the Commission the “War on Drugs” has failed in four areas:

  • The billions spent on criminalization hasn’t reduced illicit drug supply.
  • Arresting low level drug sellers has no real impact on consumers’ access to illicit drugs.
  • Drug criminalization harms public health initiatives (e.g., needle exchange, AIDS prevention).
  • Government spending on criminalization and jails uses money that could be spent on successfully-proven public health interventions or for that matter any other under-funded legitimate government activity.
The “War on Drugs” was started by Richard Nixon in 1971. It began as little more than a campaign tactic to pump up Nixon’s base and marginalize two groups who opposed him: young people and African Americans. Since then, the U.S. has spent over one trillion dollars on this folly, without making any lasting progress in this long losing war. That is of course if the goal was to actually impact people’s behavior in regard to inappropriately consuming drugs, rather than demonize, discriminate against and jail the underclass.

When you are in a hole the first rule is to stop digging. Sadly the Obama Administration, like the Bush II, Clinton, Bush I and Reagan Administrations before it, has perpetuated failed criminal justice policy and dug the pit of failure ever deeper. The War on Drugs (seen by some as a racist tool) was started by Nixon in direct contradiction to the recommendation of his own Commission on Marijuana.

It is unfathomable why this fiasco masquerading as a drug policy to serve the American people continues despite a proven track record of failure. It looks like those at the highest levels of government still haven’t learned the lesson provided by the late Gov. Schaefer of Pennsylvania, Commission Chairperson and the rest of Nixon’s Marijuana Commission..

Not only is a medical approach more human and cheaper, but it almost certainly will be an improvement over the current criminal justice mode. People use illicit drugs as much as ever, criminals profit from drugs more than ever, we jail more citizens than any other country in the world, and the drug war has addled our Constitution with holes in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th and 10th Amendments.

It is not only possible but likely that an educational and/or medical approach or one that values our youth would actually be much more effective in addressing issues of substance dependence and more in line with the better virtues of America. The use of that legal drug, tobacco, has decreased over the past 50 years without resorting to draconian laws. Meanwhile under our oppressive criminalization approach, marijuana use over the past twenty years increased in the 1990s and is currently stable or slightly increasing, hardly a resounding success story.

In the process, we have not only shot holes in the Constitution, but corrupted our language as well. We call people with multiple sclerosis who use medicinal cannabis potheads, not patients. We’ve labeled drug users as abusers. These non-drug abusers mostly use marijuana. Medical and/or social cannabis users (as opposed to abusers) use of cannabis never interferes with work or family or civic life.

The World Health Organization found that 42.4% of all Americans used marijuana. Does that mean that the U.S. is stoned all the time? Don’t you think it would be obvious if four in ten of us were stoned every day? Tomorrow at work, look around and count the buzzed co-workers. We have labeled medical marijuana users as liars and criminals.

It is true that cannabis can interfere with reaction time, but rather than lead to accidents cannabis use leads to safer driving. Many studies show that cannabis users drive more safely than non-drug users. Maybe that’s why the most recent vehicular accident statistics show that fatal auto accidents have decreased dramatically in recent years. Some have interpreted these results because cannabis use is replacing alcohol use among young adults and they are driving safer.

Yes, any policy has a down side. With our current policy often the policy itself generates negative consequences. Some illicit drug users steal to support addictions; that’s a real problem. But they are a small slice of all drug users. Further, chances are this problem would be much smaller if we had more better-funded drug treatment facilities. The question is “What sort of drug policy is best to address these problems. If we followed the lead of Portugal and Spain, which have essentially accepted normal use, we would have less of a problem around substance abuse. That is what has been seen in Spain and Portugal.

We have placed this hugely profitable sector of our economy of social drug use and even the non-drug, hemp, is off limits to legitimate entrepreneurs and government regulation and taxation. That’s had a great un-civilizing effect in our society, led to gutting part of the Constitution, underfunding and ignoring proper parenting, and treating people with PTSD as criminals. If the Bush and Forbes families could legally transport opiates in the mid-nineteenth century and get rich in the process, why won’t the powers that be at least look at the option of tax and regulate.

As an article in the D.C. Water Cooler pointed out, while we, the public and substance users, are the losers in this sad game, there are some winners. Drug gangs are one of the big winners in our drug war. The illicit drug market generates not only huge profits but also competition for these profits. This “drug violence” is related to the illicit business, not the product. Think American Prohibition, it was hugely violent until it ended. Then the crooks soon became reputable citizens. Why, bootlegger Joe Kennedy even fathered a future president of the United States.

The other big winners are those who work in law enforcement, the judiciary, our (increasingly privatized) prison system, or in the parole and probation system. Today, half of Americans in jail are there for drug crimes. We jail more citizens than any other country in the world, including Iran, Syria, North Korea and China. So, the one trillion has been spent on a full employment program for judges and jail guards.

There is a strong and growing backlash against the current U.S. drug laws. These critiques are both international and national. The organizations working for drug policy reform are many – SSDP, NORML, DPA, MPP, DPA, LEAP to name a few. We have seen 16 states and the District of Columbia legalize medicinal cannabis. The Global Commission has a humane, economical way to approach the issue of how to treat and prevent substance abuse.


Among other Global Commission recommendations are:
  • Stop criminalizing drug users if they harm no one else.
  • Test legalization models as a barrier to organized crime.
  • Decriminalize marijuana because there is no reason not to.
  • Respect the human rights and dignity of people who use drugs.
Most importantly, the Global Commission suggested that we “BREAK THE TABOO ON DEBATE AND REFORM.” It’s OK to admit we lost the war – a good thing even. And it’s way past time to talk about other approaches, even if they don’t feed a punishment instinct.

Who's Who in Medical Cannabis - Dr. Lester Grinspoon

“I believe it would be good for the country if more people in business, academic and professional worlds were known to be marijuana users,” Dr. Lester Grinspoon writes in his essay To Smoke or Not to Smoke: A Cannabis Odyssey.

Dr. Grinspoon then goes on to say, “The government has been able to pursue its policies of persecution and prosecution largely because of the widespread false belief that cannabis smokers are either irresponsible and socially marginal people or adolescents who ‘experiment,’ learn their lesson, and abandon all use of the drug. That lie is unfortunately perpetuated when those who know better remain silent.”

Back in 1967 Dr. Grinspoon had become alarmed that so many young people were using the “terribly dangerous drug” marijuana so he set out to review existing medical and scientific literature on cannabis and write an objective, scientific paper on the dangers of the substance in order to expose its mental and physical toxicity and save these youngsters from inflicting irreparable harm upon themselves.

As Dr. Grinspoon delved into his research it wasn’t long before he began to question his “knowledge” about cannabis. He began to realize that what he believed was based largely on myths, both old and new, and misinformation perpetuated by the federal government. As his research progressed, Dr. Grinspoon began to recognize the vast potential of this complex plant and became an advocate for its legalization. His compassion and commitment to the truth remain unparalleled to this day.

Lester Grinspoon was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1928. He is married and the father of three. The first American physician to prescribe lithium carbonate for bipolar disorder, Dr. Grinspoon is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has authored or co-authored more than 160 journal articles or chapters and twelve books on marijuana and psychedelics, beginning in 1971 with Marihuana Reconsidered (recently republished as a classic) and continuing through his latest book, Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, co-authored with James B. Bakalar.

Also among Dr. Grinspoon’s accomplishments:

  • 40 years as Senior Psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston
  • Founded Harvard Mental Health Letter; editor for fifteen years.
  • Has testified before Congress, and as expert witness in legal proceedings.
  • Worked with AG Ramsey Clark on a number of international marijuana-related incidents.
  • Alfred R. Lindesmith Award of the Drug Policy Foundation for "achievement in the field of drug scholarship."
  • Operates two websites:
    1. Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine (thousands of individual anecdotes)
    2. Uses of Marijuana (user essays on 'enhancing' effects of marijuana)
  • Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychiatric Association
This is only a partial listing of Dr. Grinspoon’s myriad achievements. He is currently writing a book on the many uses of marijuana and is still active in the quest for reform. Every one of us who enjoys or employs marijuana in any way owes Dr. Lester Grinspoon an undying debt of gratitude.

Learn more about Dr.Lester Grinspoon and his outstanding accomplishments for medical cannabis patients. See http://www.marijuana-uses.com

What's New

Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama

Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Connecticut: Passed a medical marijuana law.

Florida: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Illinois: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   Bill Status of SB1381

Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
   Marijuana Bill Reaches House
   Cannabis Compassion and Care Act

Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   Bill Status of SB 627

Massachusetts: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
   Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law

New Hampshire: Considering a medical marijuana law.

New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.

North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act

Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 214

Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 1393

South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.

South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Featured Recipe - Black Out Bud Butter by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD

An even better bud butter for the Canny Bus

Better Bud Butter has been a terrific hit with website readers and those fortunate enough to have a copy of “The Canny Bus Trip Kit” (soon to be released). It’s hard to improve on Better Bud Butter but we’ve done it.

Improvement number one comes from using European sweet butter. Regular butter is about 80% butterfat while European butters range from 84-86%. This may seem trivial but remember it is the butterfat that exacts the cannabinoids so a 7-8 % increase in butterfat will result in a more efficient extraction and stronger butter. European style butter comes from a number of manufacturers including Plugra from upstate New York, Strauss Organic, and recently Challenge European Style. Yes, the best still comes from France but it is exorbitantly priced.

Improvement number two comes from using a Braun high speed coffee grinder to convert all cannabis plant material from whatever source to a fine powder. The use of powder means the butter will taste more like cannabis as some of the chlorophyll and a few terpenes get into the butter. It also means a vastly increased surface area where the butterfat meets the cannabinoids. Using powder or “flour” significantly increases the potency of the final butter.

Improvement number three comes from using the best starting materials available. In this case Train Wreck, California Orange, and Pooh Bear trim were ground up and supplemented by powdered California Orange flowers. Using bud as opposed to trim will increase the potency of the butter.

The three improvements noted above resulted in cannabutter that is markedly different from the normal (and quite wonderful) Better Bud Butter. Black Out Bud Butter (BOBB) is approximately 2oo-300% stronger. The name BOBB comes from the fact that this butter is midnight green and will cause blackouts if too much is consumed.


2½ pounds (six cups) of European Style high butterfat unsalted butter. I combined 8 oz of Plugra with 1 pound of Strauss Organic and 1 pound of Challenge European Style. Everyone has there own favorites but mine is Strauss. Strauss is smoother and less greasy than the others.

4 oz powdered Train Wreck Trim

2 oz powdered Pooh Bear Trim (a cross of Train Wreck and Salmon Creek Big Bud)

2 oz powdered California Orange trim

1/3 oz powdered California Orange flowers


The butters were melted in a covered crock pot set on high. The powdered cannabis was gradually stirred in with a wood spoon. The mixture was frequently stirred and cooked covered on high for one hour followed by three hours set on low. Stirring was accomplished every 15 minutes.

After four hours the hot mixture was squeezed through cheese cloth into a bowl then the product was filtered once more through cheese cloth. All available butter was squeezed out producing approximately 3 ½ cups. Theoretically, the cloth balls remaining could be re-extracted with more butter but the product would not be nearly as strong. Approximately 75-85% of the available cannabinoids are extracted on the first pass.

Here is one cup of BOBB in his new refrigerator home:

Note on Preparation:

No gloves were used in squeezing the rather hot cloth balls into the collection vessel. If you go barehanded beware of burns. Usually the ball can be twisted and held at the top then you can press the ball with the wood spoon against the side of the collection vessel. Once the ball has cooled sufficiently you can “wring” out the last of the cannabutter. Yes, this is messy but will leave your hands oh so soft.

Note on Amount of powdered cannabis to use: I use as much as will go into solution with the butter. This varies depending upon the cannabis and source.

Note on Potency:

I know this cannabutter is potent simply from the extreme effects produced from handling it. I look forward to using this super potent butter for the next batch of Pecan Sandies.

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Follow AAMC on:
7th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics
April 26-28, 2012
Tucson, AZ USA

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