Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pot-flavored pops upset lawmakers

Published on: 06/19/05

Raspberry, butterscotch, sour apple . . . and pot?

Marijuana-flavored lollipops may seem an unlikely product, but sugary treats with weed-inspired flavors such as Purple Haze, Acapulco Gold and Rasta are appearing on the shelves of convenience stores and smoke shops nationwide.

Marketers call them a harmless novelty. Anti-drug advocates say the candies encourage people, particularly teens and young children, to smoke pot.

"This kind of thing is reprehensible," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta lawmaker who has organized demonstrations against the candy. "It's nothing but dope candy, and that's nothing we need to be training our children to do."

Several companies offer an array of lollipops, gumdrops and other candies flavored with hemp oil, which gives the sweets an oily, grassy taste marketers say is similar to the flavor of smoking marijuana — but with none of the narcotic effects.

While the candies have caught the attention of government and law enforcement officials across the country, there's nothing even questionable about their legality. Hemp oil is used in products ranging from health food to beauty supplies.

And all the companies contend their candies are geared toward adults and that they advise retailers to sell the candy only to people 18 and older.

"There are more than 70 million people in the United States who smoke marijuana. We're catering to the audience of people who are in that smoking culture," said Rick Watkins, marketing director for Corona, Calif.-based Chronic Candy, which uses the slogan: "Every lick is like taking a hit."

The company's Web site features an endorsement from rapper and producer Warren G. The site also includes photos of rapper Snoop Dogg wearing a Chronic Candy cap and actor Vern Troyer — "Mini Me" from the "Austin Powers" movies — eating one of the lollipops.

Hydro Blunts, which was founded in Corona, Calif., and now has its main distribution center in Atlanta, markets marijuana-flavored Kronic Kandy, which is advertised as "a favorite among people who enjoy smoking blunts/cigars."

"Basically, our Kronic Kandy is part of a lifestyle, like hip-hop and rap music," said Tony Sosa, head of Hydro Blunts.

But Sosa claims another market as well.

"In our research we have found our Kronic Kandy is mostly used by customers trying to kick the habit of using the illegal drug marijuana," said Sosa, whose company also sells flavored rolling papers. "It has the flavor and essence, without any of the pharmacological ingredients."

Critics don't buy that argument, citing the kind of marketing on Chronic Candy's Web site, which shows video of people apparently smoking marijuana and a warehouse with hundreds of marijuana plants.

"It's pretty clear to see what they're trying to appeal to," said Pat Shea, of Cary, N.C., Southeast program director for the anti-drug DARE program. "They want to appeal to the wannabes. We always say that the wannabes are going-to-bes."

In New York City, councilwoman Margarita Lopez said she saw the candy popping up at convenience stores near schools in her district, which includes the city's Lower East Side and East Village.

"It was something that exploded in front of my eyes," said Lopez, a Democrat who is chairwoman of the council's committee on mental health and substance abuse.

She has introduced a resolution condemning the candies and plans to hold hearings on the subject this summer.

"The whole logic they use to talk about the candy not being marketed to young people is just baloney," Lopez said. "We know what they are doing, and what they are doing is glorifying substance abuse."

In Georgia, Fort — a Democrat — says his community demonstrations have persuaded several convenience store companies to remove the product from their shelves. He's working on legislation addressing the candies, but says he's not sure whether government officials can ban the sale of a product that doesn't actually contain a controlled substance.

The City Council in Douglasville recently passed a resolution voicing its opposition to the candies.

"This is nowhere near something we want for our kids," said Mayor pro-tem Henry Mitchell III, who sponsored the resolution after hearing complaints from constituents.

At Junkman's Daughter, an eclectic novelty shop in Atlanta's Little Five Points shopping district, the suckers are sold from a plastic bucket with a marijuana leaf on its label. The bucket is separate from other candies and sits near a cash register on an elevated counter that would be too high for children to reach.

Owner Pam Majors said she considers the item a novelty like many of the other gifts the store sells — from Elvis Presley Pez dispensers and hula lamps to action figures of the rock band KISS.

"We've got probably every weird kind of candy there is in here," said Majors, who says she hasn't heard customer complaints about the hemp candy. "If it was anything you could get high off of, we wouldn't carry it, obviously."

Sosa said Kronic Kandy, which is made in the Netherlands, is available in stores all over the country. He said he's open to working with government and community leaders to make sure it's sold only to adults, but feels unfairly attacked.

"Our candy is 100 percent legal," Sosa said. "It's FDA-approved and kosher."

Drug News + Marijuana + Candy + drugs

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Pot Smokers Blamed for Taking '420' Signs

Yahoo! News

Hanging on someone's bedroom wall — maybe on a lot of bedroom walls — is a sign from southern Minnesota that says "420th Avenue" or "420th Street." That might not mean anything to mom or dad, but to a stoner, it's far out.

Officials in three counties noticed a problem a few years ago. The signs marking rural roads as "420th Avenue," "420th Street" and even "420th Lane" were disappearing.

It turns out that the number 420 carries a special significance in the marijuana subculture. The reasons are foggy, as one might expect, and urban legends abound.

With sign replacement costs averaging $80 to $100, officials decided it was high time to take action — by changing the street names.

Waseca County recently decided to change the names along the 11 miles of 420th Avenue to 42Xth Avenue. Le Sueur County officials renumbered their 420th Street and 420th Lane to 421 about a year ago.

"I drove most of the road yesterday," said Brad Milbrath, chief deputy for the Waseca County sheriff's office, "and all the signs were up."

Steven Hager, editor of the marijuana magazine High Times, contends the use of "420" as a code of marijuana apparently originated in San Rafael, Calif., in the 1970s.

In an interview posted on the High Times Web site, he debunked a popular theory that 420 was the San Rafael police department's radio code for marijuana. He gave greater credence to a claim by a group of people from San Rafael High School who met every day after school at 4:20 p.m. and used the number as a secret code so they could talk about marijuana in front of their parents and teachers.

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Targeting marijuana saps anti-drug effort, critics say

Chicago Tribune

NEW YORK - A new government anti-marijuana campaign has reignited a long-smoldering debate over how dangerous the most widely used illegal drug in America really is and whether it should be the central focus of the nation's war on drugs.

Headlined "Marijuana and your teen's mental health," an advertisement appearing in newspapers and magazines nationwide cites scientific studies in the last seven years that have found that regular use of marijuana in the teenage years can put users at risk of depression, suicidal impulses and schizophrenia later in life.

"Still think marijuana's no big deal?" the ad asks parents.

Yes, responds one leading advocate of decriminalizing marijuana.

"If you want to focus on problem drugs in the U.S., marijuana is the last drug you would focus on," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors treating marijuana like alcohol: a legal product that is regulated, taxed and illegal for minors to use.

"We have methamphetamine out there, we have heroin, we have OxyContin, we have booze, we have cigarettes. To make statements that marijuana in the hands of teenagers is this dangerous threat, it's ludicrous."

And last week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and more than 500 other economists endorsed a report that said state and federal coffers could reap a net gain of $13.9 billion if marijuana were legalized.

The study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron estimated that law enforcement would save $7.7 billion, while taxes on the drug could amount to $6.2 billion. Miron's study was largely funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C., lobbying group that supports liberalizing marijuana laws.

The renewed war of words regarding a drug that has been prevalent in American society for some 40 years erupted in early May when John Walters, the Bush administration's drug czar, launched the government's latest print and broadcast ad campaign.

"A growing body of evidence now demonstrates that smoking marijuana can increase the risk of serious mental health problems," said Walters, whose official title is director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

One recent report, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that adults who had used marijuana before age 12 were twice as likely to have experienced a serious mental illness in the past year as those who began smoking it after 18.

Among early users, 21 percent reported suffering a serious mental health problem, compared with 10.5 percent among those who started smoking marijuana later. The study was based on interviews with almost 90,000 adults.

Other studies cited by the drug control office, which will spend $120 million on public-education advertising this year, have found that teenagers who smoke marijuana weekly are three times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts and that some teenage users have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia as adults.

"We are very concerned about marijuana for a very good reason," said David Murray, a policy analyst for the drug control office. "It's so prevalent, so widespread in the population. There's a public-health responsibility here. This is not an innocuous drug."

A University of Michigan study found last year that 34.3 percent of high school seniors and 11.8 percent of 8th graders had smoked marijuana in the previous 12 months. Drug use among teenagers has been falling since 1996, the study noted.

Teenagers are the targets of the government anti-marijuana campaign because officials believe that use of marijuana early in life can lead to harder drugs such as cocaine or heroin later. And adolescents may feel they are fully grown, but they aren't.

"The evidence is now pretty significant that central nervous system development is not complete in adolescents, and the use of this drug may have effects on the maturation of their central nervous systems," said Dr. Richard Suchinsky, a psychiatrist who oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs' addiction programs.

"It inhibits certain functions, such as cognition, judgment and the ability to postpone gratification," Suchinsky said.

But critics of the government's war on drugs say the latest studies do little to advance what is already known about marijuana and do not prove that the drug is responsible for mental illness. Children and teenagers who are predisposed to have mental health problems may be more likely to try marijuana, they say.

"There's a question about whether there's a causality," said the Drug Policy Alliance's Nadelmann. "What's interesting about marijuana, you can't even find a presidential candidate now who will say he has never used it. We all know people who have smoked marijuana for periods of time, and they're all doing fine."

Ten states have approved marijuana for medical use by cancer patients and others who appear to benefit from its relief of severe nausea.

That has set up a classic states' rights confrontation between the federal government and one such state, California. In a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal authorities argue that they can override state medical marijuana laws.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case that federal officials had overstepped their constitutional boundaries when they raided the homes of patients who were growing marijuana for their own use. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion before the current session ends later this month.


The war on drugs, whose law enforcement, public education and other components cost an estimated $35 billion a year, has come under fire lately not only from groups such as the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors a heavier emphasis on treatment and prevention, but also from some conservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.

In a March assessment of the war on drugs, the institute reported that the number of drug offenders in jail has ballooned tenfold since 1980 with little evidence that the tactic has led to markedly less drug use in the general population.

"Despite this massive investment of tax dollars and government authority, the United States still has the worst drug problem among Western nations," the study concludes.

The study also questioned the efficacy of pursuing marijuana users, a pursuit that has grown dramatically as a proportion of the war on drugs in the last decade.

Between 1990 and 2002, the number of drug arrests rose from about 1.1 million to more than 1.5 million, with 80 percent of that increase coming from marijuana arrests, according to a recent report by The Sentencing Project, which examined FBI data to draw its conclusion that the war on drugs has increasingly turned into a campaign against just one drug - marijuana.

Murray, of the anti-drug office, criticized the report for "data-slicing" by choosing as its starting point a period when the nation was battling an epidemic of crack cocaine and when cocaine arrests were abnormally high.

"What appears to be a policy choice is in fact a natural response by law enforcement to a change in use patterns," he said.

Despite longstanding concerns about the addictive power of heroin and cocaine and growing worries about methamphetamine, which is often manufactured in household labs, a spokesman for the drug policy office said the government's emphasis on marijuana is justified by its status as the most widely used drug among minors.

"If you are trying to get useful information into parents' hands, this is the more educative way to go," said spokesman Tom Riley.

But Mitch Earleywine, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, believes that the campaign overstates the dangers of marijuana and runs the risk of backfiring among teenagers, who are already skeptical of adults.

"My big worry is that if you tell a 14-year-old that if you smoke pot, you're going to become psychotic, and then he tries it and nothing happens, you lose credibility," said Earleywine, author of "Understanding Marijuana." "So when you tell him that using meth will make your brain smaller, which it absolutely will, he'll think, 'You lied to me about the marijuana, so I think I'm going to smoke this meth.' "

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Officer's Hamburger Laced With Methamphetamine

DESLOGE, Mo. -- The police officer's Quarter Pounder with Cheese tasted a little funny, and for good reason: It was laced with methamphetamine.

The incident happened in December in Desloge, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, but was not made public until Friday.

Police Chief James Bullock told KMOV-TV in St. Louis that the officer went to McDonald's the day after Christmas and bought the sandwich, then took it back to the police station.

"He thought it tasted kind of funny so he looked at the burger," Bullock said. "It looked like it had a foreign substance on it."

The burger was sent to the Missouri Highway Patrol crime lab for testing and tested positive for meth.

In a statement from McDonald's, John McCook, who owns and operates the Desloge restaurant, said safety and well-being of customers and employees "is always is our top priority." He said the chain is fully cooperating with the investigation.

No charges have been filed, though Bullock said a young man who used to work at the restaurant is being scrutinized. That man's friends had trouble with the same officer years ago.

Missouri is among the nation's hardest-hit states in terms of meth production and arrests. Police in Desloge and the surrounding counties make hundreds of meth arrests every year.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

LSD and the CIA : Sydney Star Observer

It’s always fascinating to look back in history and see where drugs have come from and how they have been used.

One of the most interesting stories as far as drug history is concerned relates to LSD and the CIA. LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a powerful hallucinogen which can produce significant changes in perception, mood and thought.

Only a very small amount is needed to cause visual hallucinations and distortions. These experiences are known as trips.

In the late 1940s the CIA began a program which examined the possibility of the use of interrogation drugs and truth serums by the US military.

They experimented with a wide range of substances including caffeine, barbiturates, peyote and cannabis. Part of this program actually involved trying to get subjects to kill while under hypnosis, much like what was depicted in the 1960s movie The Manchurian Candidate.

By 1953 a project named MK-ULTRA was authorised by the CIA to perfect mind-control drugs.

One of the most controversial components of the program was Operation Midnight Climax. This involved using LSD surreptitiously on the street to gauge its effects.

The CIA employed drug-dependent prostitutes to pick up men from bars and then take them back to a CIA-financed brothel. Unknowing customers were given drinks laced with LSD while officers watched and documented every moment behind two-way mirrors.

At the time, LSD was seen as one of the best possible weapons for the future with the Army Chemicals Corps believing that spiking a city’s water supply with acid and taking over would be far more humane that dropping an atom bomb on it.

Following on from LSD, the American army developed a new drug, quinuclidinyl benzilate, or BZ, which was named a “super hallucinogen”.

This drug sounds really out there as it affected those who used it for three days, with some symptoms such as headaches, giddiness, auditory and visual hallucinations, and maniacal behaviour reported to have lasted for as long as six weeks.

It is believed that 2,800 soldiers were exposed to BZ through the duration of the program, most of them knowingly.

We appear to be seeing a resurgence of interest in LSD, with people using tabs, sugar cubes and even liquid LSD. In the 1960s the potency of the drug was extremely high, each trip containing approximately 250 micrograms of LSD.

Nowadays the acid experience is far more manageable, with the average potency of a tab being roughly 50 micrograms, although we are now hearing of far higher doses being available.

Hallucinogenic drugs are not for everyone – many fear the loss of control and the length of intoxication that are part of this often extreme experience. Once you go tripping, you’re really in for the long haul – if you have a bad trip you will just have to ride it out.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blasé.

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