Looks Like Weed Legalization Will Be on the November Ballot in DC
Forbes just put out a list of the coolest cities in the US, and against all odds, DC won the top spot. The honor may be more deserved come November, when residents of the District will decide whether to join Colorado and Washington in legalizing marijuana.
The DC Board of Elections certified a ballot initiative Tuesday by the DC Cannabis Campaign to legalize marijuana for personal use. Ballot Initiative 71 would legalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana outside the home, allow DC residents to grow up to three plants in their homes, and restrict use to residents 21 and over.
The campaign submitted roughly 56,000 petition signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, more than twice the threshold number of 22,000. Organizers were expecting a challenge from the board of elections, and there was palpable relief in the room when the board announced about 27,000 of those signatures had been deemed valid.
Now that the initiative is officially on the ballot, the biggest hurdle for the campaign may be over. A Washington Post poll earlier this year found that 63 percent of District residents supported legalization, compared with 34 percent who were opposed.
Why Stoners Should Want to Implement the New Weed Breathalyzer
Yesterday, Kayla Ruble of VICE News reported on the rapid progress of weed breathalyzer technology
. It seems that as enforcement of the prohibition on marijuana slowly grinds to a halt, cops have to turn from hassling people just for having weed, to hassling people because they used it before they got behind the wheel.
The thing is though, this is as it should be. If stoners know what’s good for them, they need to push for an accurate and sane field pot test to be implemented in all jurisdictions.
The test that’s making news this week, the Cannabix Breathalyzer, was invented by retired Canadian Mounty Kal Malhi, who complained to his local paper, The Province, that “Young people have no fear of driving after smoking.”
Noticing the lack of a practical solution to the problem, he developed his device at home in Vancouver. It’s similar in appearance and operation to an alcohol breathalyzer. In fact, it’s too similar. It should be green or something, but cops are notorious for having no design sense.
But ugly or not, it offers a major benefit for stoners: It detects stoned drivers, not just drivers who have smoked weed lately. The Cannabix is only supposed to bust you if you’ve smoked in the past two hours.
How to Avoid Self-Incrimination via Smartphone
Should cops be allowed to search smartphones when arresting people? While the Supreme Court mulls it over, you can take steps to protect yourself.
The Stoners’ Paradise of Humboldt County Is Dreading Weed Legalization
The economy of the rural Northern Californian region is dominated by marijuana, and many growers are worried that when pot becomes legal, prices will plummet and they’ll lose their livelihoods.
We Need to Stop Trusting the Police
Last Monday, a jury found two former Fullerton, California, police officers not guiltyon one charge of excessive force, two of manslaughter, and one of second-degree murder in the beating death of Kelly Thomas. The 2011 altercation, which lead to Thomas’s death five days later, was captured in detail by surveillance cameras and audio from police recorders—on tape, the cops can be seen beating the homeless man mercilessly and Tasing him twice in the face. At one point, Thomas is moaning “Help me dad” as the officers swing their nightsticks at him.
That fairly clear video evidence, along with the activism of Kelly’s father Ron (a former sheriff’s deputy) and the mobilization outraged community, ensured Thomas’s death got a lot more media coverage than the killing of homeless people by police normally do. But the officers are still walking free after beating an unarmed man to death. (In fact, one of them, Jay Cicinelli, already wants his job back.) How does that happen? A great many people in the community are asking that same question—multiple protests against the outcome of the trial this week resulted in 14 arrests
One answer to that question is that the jurors, like most Americans, probably thought that cops are generally almost always right. A Gallup Poll from last month found that 54 percent of respondents had “high” or “very high” amounts of trust in police officers. People think more favorably of cops than they do journalists, politicians, lawyers, or even members of the clergy. The only authority figures more trusted than the police are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and grade school teachers.
The Make-A-Kush Foundation: Kids, Cancer, and Medical Marijuana
The way Frankie Wallace tells it, his calling revealed itself in his sleep.
“I had a dream [that] cannabis would cure cancer and many other diseases,” he recalled as his wife, Erin, stood beside him on the back porch of their house.
A few minutes before, the three of us had ducked into the basement of Frankie and Erin’s suburban split-ranch house near Portland, Oregon. We went down there to sample something called Absolute Amber, a potent concentrate Frankie concocted by soaking a batch of his latest crop of medical marijuana in butane and isopropyl alcohol, boiling those liquids away, after which the oily residue was frozen and double-filtered. The resulting product was as close to a pure distillation of THC as a mortal was likely to get.
Frankie lit a blowtorch and held it to a small piece of metal attached to a glass water pipe until it was red-hot. He touched the matchstick-size shard of burnt-sienna-colored hash oil to the metal, and it released dense white smoke that the pipe caught, filtered, and delivered into my body. On exhaling, I felt an astringent tingle pass through my lungs. I sat down and quietly counted to 30. The urge to speak would be great, Frankie had warned, but to do so might send my body into a fit of convulsive coughing. As I looked at Frankie and Erin, their soft smiles appeared to curl up like arabesques in an illuminated manuscript.
Frankie is more than a weed aficionado—he’s a marijuana evangelist, a THC high priest. After his fateful dream, he sold all of the couple’s belongings and moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to Erin’s cousin’s garage in Portland, where medical marijuana is legal. They partnered up with another grower and found a house in a nearby suburb, where they now live alongside the two dozen marijuana plants in their garage. They have 12 patients and keep their modest grow operation afloat through donations.
This kind of small business isn’t uncommon in the statured legal-marijuana market of the Pacific Northwest, especially now that “dabbing” is becoming a luxurious but increasingly popular form of ingesting THC and its cohorts. What sets Frankie and Erin apart is that they believe pot can literally cure cancer. And ever since the dream they have been testing their theory on an eight-year-old named Mykayla Comstock.
This week on the VICE podcast, Reihan Salam sits down with Rebecca Richman Cohen, lecturer at Harvard Law School and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Cohen's latest film,Code of the West, follows the political process of marijuana-policy reform in Montana, as well as the federal crackdown on medical-marijuana growers across the country.
The Feds Will Let States Legalize Pot… Maybe
Ever since Colorado and Washington state voted last November to legalize marijuana and treat it like alcohol or coffee or anything else that comes from nature, maaaaaaaan, the question has been how the federal government would respond. Would the people in charge of conducting the war on drugs really be OK with letting state law trump federal law? Well, the Department of Justice released a memo today and it turns out that yes, they’ll let everyone from Seattle to Denver light up legally—but there are some caveats, as always.
The memo (which can be read in full here) says that the DOJ has already been prioritizing stopping the really bad crimes that are connected to marijuana, like the sale of pot to kids, revenue going to cartels and other criminals, and violence that’s connected with the weed trade. It goes on to advise prosecutors that focusing on those activities is still a good idea before tackling the meat of the matter at hand: though some states have legalized weed, it shouldn’t change the Feds’ policy of going after drug growers and dealers who are killing people, growing pot on federally-owned land, or breaking the law in other ways.
One Senator Kept Child Marriage Alive in Nigeria Last Month
Thanks to a legal loophole, the average age of marriage for girls in Kebbi State, northern Nigeria, is 11 years old. The law is often manipulated and exploited for perverse ends, but it’s rare that one forgotten detail in legislation can affect an entire mass of people quite so profoundly.
Section 29 of the Nigerian constitution allows any Nigerian of full age (18 or above) to renounce his or her citizenship. However, a subsection of that law adds that women can only be deemed of full age when they get married—a convenient loophole that’s become easy to exploit by any adult man in the mood to snatch himself up a child bride.
The problem is widespread and unfortunately—after a brief glimmer of hope—isn’t showing much sign of going away. On the 16th of July, Nigeria’s Senate committee voted to remove the archaic subsection, thereby supporting the fight against forced marriage and pedophilia. However, after a heavy lobbying campaign, Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima—Senator for Zamfara West in northern Nigeria—persuaded the Senate to reverse its decision, reenacting the subsection and making it totally OK (by law) for men well over the age of 18 to marry girls well under the age of 18.
But being the good samaritan that he is, Yerima, who, at the age of 49, married a 13-year-old Egyptian girl, has defended his actions. He says he’s merely showing concern for the girls of his and other Islamic-governed northern Nigerian states, arguing that the deletion of the subsection would be blasphemous. In his definition of the Islamic faith, when a woman is married she instantaneously reaches her full mental capacity, no matter what her age is. Presumably this means he endorses the idea that any nine-year-old girl married under Sharia law is responsible and intelligent enough to drive a car or possess a firearm.