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If anyone missed it, here is a link to our interview on KMIR News with Julie Chan. It was Julie’s first story since joining the news team at KMIR, welcome to the desert Julie! Stay cool and have fun in the sun!


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California initiative draws fire for opening the door to TV ads that promote pot smoking


Nearly a half-century after tobacco ads were kicked off television in the United States, an initiative in California would take a first step toward allowing TV commercials that promote a different kind of smoking — marijuana.

Proposition 64, which is on the November ballot, would allow people age 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana and would allow pot shops to sell cannabis for recreational use.

The initiative also includes a provision that could someday allow cannabis sellers to advertise their products in print ads and on digital sites and radio and television stations, but would “prohibit the marketing and advertising of non-medical marijuana to persons younger than 21 years old or near schools or other places where children are present.”

Television ads are not likely to appear soon, even if voters approve the initiative. There are other impediments to pot ads hitting the airwaves in California, including the fact that cannabis is still seen by the federal government as an illegal drug.

Still, the possibility that television commercials will some day pop up featuring people smoking marijuana has been seized on by opponents of the ballot measure, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

“It rolls back anti-smoking advertising protections we’ve had for decades and allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers,” Feinstein said this month in announcing her opposition to Proposition 64.

Health officials are also concerned. The American Heart Assn. of Greater Los Angeles has not yet taken a position on the initiative, but its board president, Dr. Ravi Dave, said it would be “tragic” if television was opened to ads for smoking marijuana.

We don’t want to see smoking re-normalized, and exposure to marketing and advertising does that.
— Ravi Dave, UCLA Health cardiologist
“We view marijuana advertising in the same light as cigarette and e-cigarette advertising — we don’t want to see smoking re-normalized, and exposure to marketing and advertising does that,” said Dave, a UCLA Health cardiologist.

In 1970, then-President Richard Nixon signed legislation barring cigarette ads on television and radio amid health concerns about tobacco causing cancer and heart disease.

Proponents of Proposition 64 say it includes rules to make sure the ads are not seen by minors, even going so far as to prohibit the use of marketing techniques that are appealing to young people, such as the use of symbols, music or cartoons.

“Concerns that marijuana ads are somehow going to flood the airwaves are the same tired scare tactics from the anti-marijuana opposition that were tried in other states and ultimately proven false,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the “Yes on Proposition 64” campaign.

A key provision of the initiative says: “Any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.” Colorado has a similar standard.

That provision is dismissed as “a joke” by Wayne Johnson, a chief strategist for the opposition campaign, the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, who said a study conducted by his group found that the standard would still allow marijuana ads on shows whose audiences include many minors.

“Proposition 64 would break a 45-year-old ban on smoking ads on television, including on programs with huge audiences of adolescent viewers like the Olympics, and ‘The Voice,’” Johnson said. “The initiative’s 71.6% adult audience threshold means almost every show on television will have ads promoting smoking marijuana.”

Kinney said the initiative does not roll back rules prohibiting tobacco ads. And the approval of the ballot measure alone is not enough to allow cannabis ads.

“The fact is TV and radio broadcasters are governed by federal, not state law, and federal law does not allow TV and radio ads for marijuana because it remains illegal under federal law,” Kinney said.

“In the far-down-the-road circumstance that such ads are one day allowed under federal law, we wanted voters to be assured that they would be governed by the same strict standards that are currently applied to alcohol ads,” he added.

The thorny issue was a hot topic on the agenda of a conference of the California Broadcasters Assn. in Universal City this month, where television station owners met with a representative of the Federal Communications Commission.

David Oxenford, a Washington D.C.-based attorney who represents broadcasters, said the ban on tobacco advertising has no direct impact on marijuana ads.

Recreational marijuana use has been legalized in Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, but Oxenford said the ability of broadcasters to run marijuana ads in those states is hindered by federal law. Marijuana is still classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as an illegal, Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD.

“As broadcast stations are federal licensees, most have been very cautious about running ads for a federally controlled substance even where, as in Colorado and Washington, the state’s declared it legal,” Oxenford said.

He said the “ambiguous state of affairs” and questions about who will head federal enforcement agencies after the November presidential election have so far meant that “most broadcasters have been very cautious about accepting the ads, even if legal under state law.”

Keith Shipman, vice chairman of the Oregon Assn. of Broadcasters, said about 10 radio stations in Medford, Bend and Eugene have run marijuana ads, but he knows of no television stations that have done so.

One television station, ABC affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver, indicated last year that it planned to run marijuana business ads, but the decision was rescinded after managers at the station and its parent company, E.W. Scripps, said it appeared such ads would run afoul of federal law.

Sacramento FOX affiliate KTXL-TV ran ads for a medical marijuana dispensary some years ago, but has since adopted a policy of not accepting such advertising. An Arizona TV station has aired ads for a physician who refers patients to marijuana dispensaries.

Representatives of the Alaska and Colorado broadcasters associations said they are not aware of any television stations in their states that have run marijuana ads, and they have recommended that members not accept such ads.

“We discourage them from doing so because they are a federally licensed entity, and the federal government deems the sale and possession illegal,” said Cathy Hiebert, executive director of the Alaska Broadcasters Assn.

All that could change if federal officials follow the lead of states to shift the law. There is an active campaign to reclassify marijuana as a lesser drug, officials said.

If federal officials allow such ads, “At that point, it would not be different than alcohol ads,” said Joe Berry, head of the California Broadcasters Assn. “You could not target children or promote over-consumption.”

That scenario will be fully plumbed by the campaign against Proposition 64.

“A ban on tobacco ads has been a huge part of reducing smoking among minors,” Johnson said. “Why would we adopt exactly the opposite policy when it comes to smoking marijuana?”

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G-Pharma Labs Comes To Desert Pot Springs…

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At Best Friends Farm all of our cannabis is California grown by responsible family farmers who care about the environment. Most importantly, we care about you, our Patients and offering you simply the Best Products. REFER A FRIEND GET A FREE GRAM!

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Super Bowl Attracts a Marijuana Message

BfGFYR9CAAEp-wBAbout 50 yards away, past the empty Gatorade bottles that lined the curb, past the old paint can and the rusted barbecue grill, and beyond the home’s tattered wooden walls, about 80,000 bees crawled over their hive.

The bees attacked and killed the pit bull, Boss, and sent his best friend, Mama, to an emergency veterinary hospital late Thursday morning, authorities said. The pair had apparently gotten loose and wandered the St. Petersburg neighborhood before making their way into the back yard of a junk-littered home at 675 23rd Ave. S. The bustling beehive, full of Africanized killer bees, was in the attic.

The dogs’ barking attracted the bees, which swarmed and attacked, stinging the dogs each more than 100 times. Boss was dead when police arrived. Mama was struggling to breathe. A neighbor took her to VCA Noah’s Place Animal Medical Center. It was unclear whether she would survive.

“Boss was in love with Mama,” said Fabian Guzman. “She has over 100 stings. They’re not sure if she’s going to make it.”

Guzman, 28, who owns two other pit bulls, had been caring for the dogs since he found them running loose two weeks ago, he said. He was walking out his front door about 11:30 a.m. Thursday carrying a bowl of food for the animals when he saw that they had broken out of his screened-in porch. Down the street, he saw the thrashing Boss, engulfed in a cloud of bees. He rushed over to try to help and got stung near his eye, he said.

Someone called police. They found the hive, nestled inside the attic on the east side of the home.

Thomas Davis, of Treeman Tree Services, was called to remove the hive, but advised that it would be unwise to do so during the day, when the bees are most aggressive, police said.

“It’s a very large hive,” said St. Petersburg police Lt. Dennis Bolender. “At this point, we’re not able to address the hive until after dark.”

Until then, officers waited in front of the home, warning people to avoid the area.

Neighbors complained that the home was unsafe, pointing to the piles of old discarded items in the front yard. “I’ve been here 18 years, and it has been that way for 18 years,” said Tukevia Smith. “I have small kids, and I have complained numerous times about the bees there.”

The couple who own the home, Don and Shirley Burns, said they were unaware of the beehive and would have removed it if they had known about it.

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Jeff Sessions: Marijuana Can’t Be Safer Than Alcohol Because ‘Lady Gaga Says She’s Addicted To It’

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) looks back proudly at his efforts, alongside Nancy Reagan, to “create a hostility to drug use” in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, Sessions was not pleased by President Obama’s recent comments about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol, as he explained to Attorney General Eric Holder during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today:

I have to tell you, I’m heartbroken to see what the president said just a few days ago. It’s stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension….This is just difficult for me to conceive how the president of the United States could make such a statement as that….Did the president conduct any medical or scientific survey before he waltzed into The New Yorker and opined contrary to the positions of attorneys general and presidents universally prior to that?

Sessions, by contrast, clearly did his homework. He rebutted Obama’s observation that marijuana is safer than alcohol by citing a renowned expert on substance abuse:

Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it and it is not harmless.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Image: Senate Judiciary Committee)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Image: Senate Judiciary Committee)

I have been covering drug policy for about 25 years, and I am still sometimes startled by what passes for an argument among prohibitionists. What should we conclude from this sample of one about the hazards posed by marijuana? That it can be taken to excess, like every other fun thing on the face of the planet? That some people say they have trouble consuming it in moderation? Didn’t we know both of those things before Dr. Gaga’s earthshaking discovery?

More to the point, what does the possibility of addiction tell us about the truth of the statement Obama made—i.e., that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol? After all, “less dangerous” does not mean “harmless.” As Holder observed, “any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful,” and “alcohol is among those drugs.” To evaluate relative hazards, we have to dig a little deeper.

According to one widely cited study, based on data from the National Comorbidity Survey, “dependence” is nearly 70 percent more common among drinkers than it is among pot smokers. So even by this measure, marijuana looks less dangerous. That’s without considering differences in acute toxicity, driving impairment, and the long-term effects of heavy consumption, all of which weigh strongly in marijuana’s favor.

Gaga was not the only authority cited by Sessions. He also mentioned former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, chairman of the anti-pot group Project SAM, who according to the senator “says the president is wrong on this subject.” Yet here is what Kennedy said during a recent debate on CNN with my Reason colleague Nick Gillespie:

I agree with the president. Alcohol is more dangerous.

Sessions was on firmer ground when he pressed Holder to admit that “if marijuana is legalized for adults, it makes it more available for young people.” As I’ve said before, it is likely that legalization in Colorado and Washington will be accompanied by an increase in underage consumption. While the newly legal marijuana stores are not allowed to serve anyone younger than 21, there will be a certain amount of leakage from adults to “minors” (who in this case include a bunch of people who in most other respects are considered adults), as there is with alcohol. Buying marijuana may become more difficult for people younger than 21 (assuming the black market eventually withers away), but that does not mean obtaining marijuana will be more difficult. Some teenagers and young adults will get pot by swiping it from parents or older siblings, and some legal buyers will have no qualms about sharing with older teenagers or 20-year-olds (although that will remain illegal). Given this reality, Holder’s response to Sessions’ concern about underage access is a bit troubling:

One of our eight priorities is the prevention of distribution of marijuana to minors. If there’s an indication that marijuana is being distributed to minors, that would require federal involvement….

Young people find ways to get alcohol because adults can have access to it. I’m not sure that we’ll see the same thing here given what we have said with regard to our enforcement priorities.

Holder is referring to the eight issues the Justice Department expects Colorado and Washington to address as the price of federal forbearance, one of which is “preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors.” If that means stopping state-licensed stores from selling marijuana to people younger than 21, it can be accomplished through strict enforcement of the states’ age limits. But if it means preventing 21-year-olds from sharing marijuana with their 19-year-old friends or brothers, it is not a realistic expectation. It is more like an excuse to crack down whenever the president gets tired of sniping by diehard drug warriors like Sessions.

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