Bill Weinberg's blog

Cannabis linked to depression? Don't let it get you down...

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

THCThe media (Time, Daily Mail) are touting a new study published July 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that is said to link cannabis use to anxiety and depression. The researchers studied the brains of 24 marijuana "abusers"—defined as those who smoke multiple times a day—and how they reacted to methylphenidate (more commonly known as Ritalin), a stimulant used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Using personality tests and brain imaging, the researchers found the cannabis users had "blunted" (no pun intended, we hope) behavioral, cardiovascular and brain responses to methylphenidate compared with control participants. The "abusers" also scored higher on negative emotional reactions. The researchers conclude that cannabis interferes with the brain's reaction to dopamine, the chemical responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure.

New York City: dissent grows on cannabis enforcement —but Bratton intransigent

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

New York CityIn another sign of the new progressive tilt in New York City politics, the New York Post reports July 8 that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has announced that he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases. Thompson's press release said his new policy is to "prevent offenders—who are disproportionately young men of color—from being saddled with a criminal record for a minor, non-violent offense." But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said his cops will keep arresting Brooklyn's cannabis tokers anyway. "In order to be effective, our police officers must enforce the laws of the State of New York uniformly throughout all five boroughs of the City," Bratton said in his own statement. "Accordingly, the Kings County policy change will not result in any changes in the policies and procedures of the NYPD."

China's cannabis contradiction

Posted on June 29th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ChinaOn June 26, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, China's Supreme People's Court announced with pride that a whopping 39,762 have been sentenced for drug-related offenses in the People's Republic the first five months of 2014, up more than 27% for the same period last year. The official state news agency Xinhua reported that a total of 9,168, or about 23%, were sentenced to more than five years, life imprisonment, or death. A quoted SPC official made much of a supposedly growing drug meance. "Drug-related crimes have been spreading from bordering and coastal areas to the country's inland," said deputy jurist Ma Yan. South China's Guangdong province, with its booming export zones and free-wheeling capitalism, has topped the list since 2007. Yunnan and Guangxi, bordering Southeast Asia's opium-producing Golden Triangle, also continued to report high rates of drug-related crimes. But such cases are also mushrooming in inland Chongqing and northern Liaoning, Ma said. No breakdown was provided of the substances in question, but a proporiton of the cases certainly included cannabis.

Cannabis front in Western water wars?

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

Cannabis cultivation is emerging as an issue in the American West's interminable conflicts over control of water. On May 20, the US Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec), which supplies irrigation districts across the western states, issued a policy memo saying its water may not be used for marijuana. BuRec staff would document "all activities and communications" regarding "known or potential uses" of its waters for cannabis cultivation—and "will report such use to the Department of Justice." Washington state's Roza Irrigation District, which supplies BuRec water to some 72,000 acres in Yakima and Benton counties, in early April issued a "precautionary message" warning cannabis growers that they could get cut off. But the practical effects of the policy are unclear. If the Justice Department were to target irrigation districts for supplying water when it's not targeting the folks actually growing the cannabis, it would have a lot of angry corn and apple farmers on its hands.

Peru: cannabis activists stage sit-in against yellow press

Posted on May 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

PeruMembers of the group Legaliza Perú held a sit-in at the doors of Lima's conservative daily newspaper El Comercio on May 16 to protest an opinion piece by columnist Martha Meier that ran a week earlier, with the sneering title of "Y ahora... el lobby de los pastrulos," or "And now... the pastrulo lobby." Pastrulo is Peruvian slang for someone who smokes cocaine paste—yet Meier was reacting to the successful cannabis legalization march that was held in Peru's capital on May 3! So this is sort of like calling cannabis smokers "crack-heads." The article was full of the usual distortions about how cannabis is "very addictive" and "affects mental health" (recycled from the world media's scare machine, and duly accepted unquestioningly). Legaliza Perú's press release charged that the article was "inexact and prejudicial," which is being very polite.

Hash oil explosions in the news...

dab rigOK, here comes the latest media blitz in the backlash against the recent gains for cannabis legalization... The Associated Press on May 6 runs a lurid story (one of several suddenly in the news), topped by a photo of a forelorn burn victim petting his dog for comfort, entitled "Hash Oil Explosions Rise With Legalized Marijuana." The lead: "The opening months of Colorado's first-in-the-nation recreational marijuana industry have seen a rise in fiery explosions and injuries as pot users try to make the drug's intoxicating oil in crude home-based laboratories. Since Jan. 1, when sales began, the state's only certified adult burn center has treated 10 people with serious injuries they suffered while making hash oil, compared with 11 in 2013 and one in 2012." Firefighters in Colorado have responded to at least 31 hash-oil explosions so far this year, compared with 11 all of last year, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area—a slightly questionable claim, given that the number of explosions and number of casualties for last year are identical. A police sargeant in the Denver suburb of Thornton, which saw its first such explosion in January, is quoted: "These today are the meth labs of the '90s."

Legalize Peru!

Posted on May 4th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

After last year's victories for cannabis legalization measures in Colorado and Washington state, the US prohibition regime is under unprecedented pressure. But there is little awareness in Gringolandia of the strides in breaking with the US-led "war on drugs" in South America. Over the past decade, Argentina and Colombia have removed penalties for personal quantities of drugs, and Uruguay just passed a measure that essentially legalizes cannabis, with even cultivation permitted under state regulation. Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have all barred the DEA from their territory.

That leaves Peru—now overtaking Colombia as the Andes' top coca producer, and also a burgeoning cannabis producer. Like Colombia, Peru remains a stronghold of the DEA in South America—even as it has moved towards decrim of personal quantities. Both countries have experienced long and bloody counterinsurgency wars related to the struggle for control over coca production. Much to Washington's displeasure, Peru even suspended eradication two years ago—before the empire struck back. But now activists are mounting pressure to break with the prohibition model—both in the remote campesino communities of the mountains and jungles, and in the streets of Lima.

Reefer madness hits Venezuela

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

VenezuelaVenezuela’s interior minister Miguel Rodríguez announced April 22 the arrest of nine people on charges of leading, financing and organizing violent anti-government protests in the Caracas municipality of Chacao. On the basis of "previous intelligence operations," Rodríguez said 10 homes were raided before dawn, netting the nine suspects who, "according to people detained several days before, were handing out money" to demonstrators. He said police have warrants for 15 more who are supposedly directing "these violent groups engaged in terrorist activities." He added that those previously detained confessed that in addition to cash payments, they agreed to take to the streets in exchange for "genetically modified marijuana." Said Rodríguez: "They give them that drug to get them high and keep them in permanent activity against security forces." (LAHT, April 21)

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