Category Archives: Drugs

Mendocino County Marijuana Regulation v. Federal Prohibition


A recent episode of This American Life discussed the interaction between federal law, which prohibits marijuana growing; California law, which permits it in limited circumstances; and a Mendocino County regulation that attempted to reconcile the two. 


Here is a description of the story: 


Under California law, it’s legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes if you have a doctor’s recommendation. A few years ago, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman was trying to find a way to deal with the proliferation of marijuana in his county. Allman wanted to spend less time dealing with growers who were growing small, legal amounts, so he could focus on other problems — including criminals who run massive marijuana farms in the Mendocino National Forest. So he came up with a plan to allow the small farmers to grow, if they registered with his office. Growers would pay for little zip-ties they could put around the base of their marijuana plants, and the cops would know to leave them alone. It saved time and generated revenue. Reporter Mary Cuddehe tells the story of how the county and the nation responded to the sheriff’s plan. (18 minutes)


Leave a comment

August 26, 2013 · 10:04 pm

The House I Live In

I recently watched “The House I Live In” a documentary about the cost of the War on Drugs. “The House I Live In” won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary is available from multiple outlets, including Netflix.

Here is a description of the documentary:

Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki shifts his focus from the military industrial complex to the War on Drugs in this documentary exploring the risks that prohibition poses to freedom, and the tragedy of addicts being treated as criminals. In the four decades since the War on Drugs commenced, more than 45 millions of addicts have been arrested — and for each one jailed, another family is destroyed. Meanwhile, the prisons in America are growing overcrowded with non-violent criminals, and illegal drugs are still being sold in schoolyards. By examining just where it all went wrong, Jarecki reveals that a solution is possible if we can just find it in ourselves to be compassionate, and see past the decades of paranoia and propaganda.

Leave a comment

August 10, 2013 · 11:17 am

So Weed It Is: Why Dr. Sanjay Gupta Changed His Mind on Marijuana

This Sunday, August 11 at 8PM, CNN will feature a documentary by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, titled, “WEED”. In promoting the documentary, Dr. Gupta wrote a commentary explaining why he changed his mind on weed. 

Here is how it begins: 

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not. I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize. I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

Special thanks to Professor Douglas A. Berman’s insightful blog, Sentencing Law and Policy,” for bringing this story and documentary to my attention. 


Leave a comment

August 8, 2013 · 4:17 pm

Private Equity and Marijuana Inc.

NPR’s All Things Consider ran a story about how investment bankers are beginning to look at the marijuana industry as a potential investment opportunity.

Here is an introduction to the story:  

A couple of guys with serious investment banking experience are moving into the marijuana business. They’ve launched the first multimillion-dollar private equity fund devoted entirely to what they like to call the “cannabis space.”

It started when Brendan Kennedy was working at the Silicon Valley Bank and learned of an entrepreneur who wanted to sell software for marijuana dispensaries. The idea piqued Kennedy’s interest. A few days later, a radio show about legalizing pot piqued it even more.

There’s an opportunity here, he thought, and picked up the phone and called his Yale business school buddy, Michael Blue. He told Blue he thought his friend needed to quit his job and come start a company in the cannabis industry.

Leave a comment

August 5, 2013 · 8:48 pm

The Best and Worst of Drug Court

This week, I was able to attend the nationally recognized treatment court in Scranton, PA.  The program was very impressive, a stark contrast from a 2011 episode of This American Life about drug court judge in Georgia.  

Here is a description of the episode:

This week: A drug court program that we believe is run differently from every other drug court in the country, doing some things that are contrary to the very philosophy of drug court. The result? People with offenses that would get minimal or no sentences elsewhere sometimes end up in the system five to ten years 

Leave a comment

August 3, 2013 · 2:31 pm

Colbert on the Popularity of Pot

Cobert discusses a recent Pew Research poll which found, for the first time in more than forty years of polling, that a majority (52%) of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana.

I first saw this story on sentencing guru Doug Berman’s blog, Sentencing Law and Policy. If you are interested in sentencing law, it is a must read.,,

1 Comment

April 12, 2013 · 12:46 pm