The Netherlands - The Dutch government has announced it would move to classify high-potency marijuana alongside hard drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the latest step in the country's ongoing reversal of its famed tolerance policies. The decision means most of the cannabis now sold in the Netherlands' weed cafes would have to be replaced by milder variants. But skeptics said the move would be difficult to enforce, and that it could simply lead many users to smoke more of the less potent weed.
October 11th 2011
Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said weed containing more than 15 percent of its main active chemical, THC, is so much stronger than what was common a generation ago that it should be considered a different drug entirely. The high potency weed has "played a role in increasing public health damage," he said at a press conference in The Hague. The Cabinet has not said when it will begin enforcing the rule. Jeffrey Parsons, a psychologist at Hunter College in New York who studies addiction, said the policy may not have the benefits the government is hoping for.
"If it encourages smoking an increased amount of low-concentration THC weed, it is likely to actually cause more harm than good," he said, citing the potential lung damage and cancer-causing effects of extra inhalation. The Dutch Justice Ministry said Friday it was up to cafes to regulate their own products and police will seize random samples for testing. But Gerrit-Jan ten Bloomendal, spokesman for the Platform of Cannabis Businesses in the Netherlands, said implementing the plan would be difficult "if not impossible." "How are we going to know whether a given batch exceeds 15 percent THC? For that matter, how would health inspectors know?" he said. He predicted that Nederhash will likely disappear from their shops, along with two kinds of imported hash and two kinds of Nederwiet, and that a black market will develop for highly potent weed and hash.
USA: Obama Administration Escalates War on Medical Marijuana Patients
US Attorneys in California Say They Will Shut Down Dispensaries, Prosecute Landlords and Seize Properties Notwithstanding State Law. Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state law and leave medical marijuana patients alone, its attack on patients and providers operating legally under state law is rapidly escalating.
At least 16 landlords in California this week received letters stating that they are violating federal drugs laws and that state law will not protect them. The four US Attorneys in California are holding a press conference in Sacramento today in which they are expected to announce a broad crackdown on medical marijuana. A series of administration actions in the past month makes it clear that they are engaged in a full scale assault on medical marijuana patients' rights and their ability to access medicine and that they have reconsidered their willingness to allow states with medical marijuana laws to implement those policies without federal interference.
The Treasury Dept. is forcing banks in Colorado to close accounts of medical marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The IRS now says it will not recognize legitimate business expenses of dispensaries and is requiring owners to pay taxes required of no other businesses; the result will be closure of the most well regulated dispensaries and loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue for local governments. And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last week ruled that state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients cannot legally possess firearms.
USA: IRS Rules Against Oakland Marijuana Dispensary, Demands Millions
In a decision that advocates warn could cripple the industry, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that Oakland's Harborside Health Center cannot deduct standard business expenses on its taxes and sent the dispensary a whopping $2.5 million tax bill.
Most businesses are able to deduct standard business expenses, such as rent and payroll, from their federal tax bill, but Harborside chief financial officer Luigi Zamarra told the Bay Citizen the IRS had determined the dispensary cannot deduct standard business expenses because it is involved in "the trafficking of controlled substances."
Harborside is the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, with more than 83,000 members, and pulled in $22 million in sales last year. It has already paid the IRS $500,000 in taxes for 2007 and 2008, the years for which the agency now claims it owes the additional $2.5 million.
Science: Cannabis and accident risk
According to a meta-analysis of 9 epidemiological studies published in English in the past 20 years on cannabis use and crash risk, the relative risk reported in the studies ranged from 0.85 to 7.16, resulting in a summary odds ratio of 2.66, by far less than with alcohol.
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