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The University of Colorado chapter of NORML National Organization for Marijuana Reform is hosting a day long forum on marijuana issues in Colorado.

Schedule of events

I will attempt to Live blog the event.

crossposted at SquareState

If you have questions email me at randy80302 at gmail and I will attempt to get them answered.

11:30 AM

The Welcome Panel included Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, NORML and NORML CU Board Members Alex Douglas, Carter Cased, Michael West.

Allen St. Pierre welcomed the attendees and told a little of the history of NORML and marijuana reform in the country and Colorado.

NORML started in 1970 and now has 140 chapters in the country, including 3 in Colorado.

It was pointed out that Colorado was one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana in the 1970's.

12:00 PM

Health and Marijuana-An overview of marijuana and its effects on the human body.

Dr. Robert Melamede - Endocannabinoid Specialist, UCCS Professor

Dr. Melamede discussed the effects of cannabis and endocannabinoids in the human body. He began with background information about how the evolution of the human body developed the ability to process nutrition and how humans evolved to digest receive nutrition.  

Is the friction of life.  Some people have better ability to process end and that results in the better learning ability.

Marijuana causes healing of the brain and not damage. Using marijuana contributes to open mindedness and ability to learn. Forward looking people have the ability to adapt and change. Backward looking people can memorize things, but have difficulty learning.

12:30 Hemp: A stepping-stone on a path to a sustainable future

   * Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, NORML
   * Michael West - Education Director, CU Biodiesel
   * Laura Kriho - Colorado Hemp Initiative Project
   * Summer Star Haeske - EnviroTextiles

Summer Star Haeske discussed the benefits of using hemp as a fabric raw material, benefits include less damage to the environment than cotton, stronger longer lasting material. Hemp growing has been legalized in 8 states, but wait on federal policy changes to make legal.

Allen St. Pierre talked about the history of hemp clothing, including a story about before working for NORML he was exposed to a person wearing a pair of hemp shorts at a Grateful Dead show that had printed on them, "do not smoke these shorts." That was his first exposure to hemp clothing.

He talked about the conflicts between Hemp activists and other marijuana reform advocates because of the conflicting goals the so-called "Dope vs. Rope" debates.  Anti-drug organizations group hemp and other marijuana advocates together and fight them with equal vigor. There are 20 groups working within 2 miles of each other in Washington DC.

Laura Kriho discussed the history of Hemp legislation in Colorado. In the '90's CO-HIP tried several times to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot unsuccessfully. Hemp legislation was introduced several times, but did not pass bills.


Until the end of World War II, hemp was a vital resource in the American industrial textile industry. Hemp refers to the non-psychotropic cannabis strains that can produce various products including oil, fabric, and food. This panel will present the history of the American hemp industry, its current legal status, and possible solutions to climate disruption and economic recession.

1:00 History of Marijuana Prohibition

   * Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, NORML
   * Kevin Booth- Award Winning Filmmaker/Activist
   * Mason Tvert - Executive Director, SAFER

Allen St. Pierre began the discussion with a history of prohibition of marijuana. Alcohol prohibition and how to prohibit alcohol required a constitutional amendment. Marijuana prohibition began with the marijuana tax act of 1937 the government did not issue the tax stamps. During WW II the US government subsidized the production of industrial hemp to provide rope and cannabis for the war effort. After the war the prohibition resumed, as a blow back to the policy thousands of wild hemp plants are destroyed in marijuana eradication efforts.

Cannabis potency has increased in his lifetime, and he says that it could be controlled by legislation and regulation. Congress debate one minute and six seconds marijuana prohibition. A congressman misrepresented the position of the American Medical Association by saying that they did not support the use of marijuana, the AMA had testified that the organization did not support making marijuana illegal.

Mason Tvert began by talking about Marijuana use being safer that alcohol use. The perception of the harms from marijuana use is used to argue against the legalization of marijuana. Recreational use of marijuana causes less harm than the use of alcohol. Both marijuana and alcohol and marijuana can be used as a social lubricant, but the damage to society caused by alcohol use is much greater. But society treats marijuana more harshly. Marijuana is less likely to cause you to become violent and damage property and hurt their spouses. Mr. Tvert debunked the gateway theory by saying that prohibition of marijuana causes users to get marijuana from black market dealers that have a vested interest in selling additional drugs, whereas if they got marijuana from a store there would be no one pushing hard drugs on them.

Kevin Booth talked about his film American Drug War includes stories about how the corruption that marijuana prohibition inflicts on society. Many of his friends and associates in California that smoke high quality medical grade marijuana lead productive lives as business people, writers, actors and game show hosts. The Gateway theory was debunked by saying that most studies would also suggest that the most user started using alcohol and so it is more of a gateway drug than marijuana. Marijuana can be a gateway to getting off hard drugs (cocaine and heroin) Mr. Booth said he knew people  

Marijuana's vibrant history spans multi-millennia, yet only recently has it been prohibited. This lecture will present the history of the marijuana drug prohibition in the United States. Leaders in drug reform will provide valuable insight into all aspects of marijuana laws and illicit status.

2:00 The State of Medical Marijuana

   * Tom Sloan - Commander, Boulder County Drug Task Force
   * Jason Lauve - Medical marijuana patient being prosecuted by Boulder County
   * Rob Corry - Attorney for medical marijauna patient Jason Lauve
   * Devin Koontz, Food and Drug Administration
   * Scott Karr Esq. - Attorney for THC Foundation
   * Brian Vicente Esq. - Executive Director, Sensible Colorado
   * Michael Lee - Founder of Cannabis Therapeutics

Rob Corry, Esq told the story of his client Jason Lauve, a licensed medical marijuana patient who is currently being prosecuted in Boulder County for growing. He asked participants to contact the Boulder County DA to encourage that the charges be dropped.

Tom Sloan began by saying that he was here to talk because he felt that a civil discourse on the issue was necessary, but he joked that if someone was not civil he was "packing" which prompted a joke asking if he was packing bowls.  He said he looked forward to the State clarifying regulations on medical marijuana providers. He said that he had met some upstanding growers, but had met some providers that that were profiteers and did not think that that was appropriate.

2:30 Federal and State Laws

   * Tom Sloan - Commander, Boulder County Drug Task Force
   * Devin Chintz, Food and Drug Administration
   * Lenny Frizzling Esq.- Criminal Defense Attorney & Retired Lafayette Judge
   * Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, NORML

Allen St. Pierre began the panel with a talk about the laws from a national perspective. 13 states have medical marijuana laws prior to 2000 the Federal government generally did not get involved in marijuana cases unless 1,000 pounds or 1,000 plants were involved. The Bush administration began prosecuting cases with much smaller amounts.

Timothy Leary fought a case in the late 60's that went to the Supreme Court with the argument that that he was not allowed to purchase a Tax Stamp. The Government dismissed the case rather than risk losing in court. The prohibition movement then passed the Controlled Substance Act that instituted more defined illegality of marijuana.  Marijuana is now available in vending machines at California medical dispensaries. He said that in a conversation with SCOTUS Justice Stephen Bryer where he asked the Justice why he had ruled against medical marijuana and how that related to the medical marijuana being available in more states. Justice Bryer said sometimes like with racism the people were ahead of the courts.

Lenny Frizzling, Esq. was a Judge in Lafayette when the city tried to increase the penalties on marijuana and he resigned rather than work in a system that was more harsh on marijuana users. He asked another Judge that supported the law why he wanted more harsh penalties and was told that with a fine of only $100 he could not force the marijuana users into treatment. Mr. Frizzling then talked about the how state laws were enforces, he currently works as a Defense Attorney.

Tom Sloan talked about how his task force was involved in prosecuting hard drugs, heroin, ecstasy, meth, as well as marijuana. He then talked again about marijuana profiteers vs. good medical marijuana providers.

State vs. Federal Laws: Federally, marijuana is still seen as prohibited. However, medical marijuana is legal at a state level in 13 states. In addition, if over the age of 21, marijuana possession is legal to a certain extent in many cities nationwide, including Denver, Colorado. This panel will discuss the differences in laws at each level and explain the stratification in the legal process.

3:00 Marijuana Law Reform: Past, Present, and Future

   * Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, NORML
   * Mason Tvert- Executive Director, SAFER
   * Jonathon Perri - Students for Sensible Drug Policy, San Francisco
   * Brian Vicente Esq. - Executive Director, Sensible Colorado

Allen St. Pierre began the discussion by talking about George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Spurling being billionaires that adopted drug policy reform as projects that they fund. NORML has over 600,000 online supporters, but only 11,000 are dues paying members of NORML. MA and CA have bills to legalize marijuana this year, a legislator from Texas approached Allen to write a bill to legalize marijuana, the bill did not get introduced, but the fact that it is being considered in Texas is significant. He then encouraged activists to come out of the closet and openly support reform.

Jonathon Perri talked about the harms caused by prohibition including having student loans denied for a marijuana conviction.  Students for Sensible Drug Policy has over 150 chapters across the country and is trying to organize a chapter at CU. SSDP was started at Rochester University in New York by students upset that financial aid could be denied because of a drug conviction.  SSDP works with MPP, LEAP and SAFER to support policy changes and reform laws.

Brian Vicente Esq. talked about the perpetual war on drugs that has no defined end comparing it to the war on terror. Colorado has 12,000 marijuana arrests per year, most for possession rather than sales.  Harvard Economist estimates Colorado spends $35 million dollars on marijuana enforcement and could raise $50 million in revenue if it were to be legalized.

Mason Tvert talked about how he is not against Alcohol use, per se, but believes that marijuana use is less harmful.  Denver had a 21% decrease in marijuana arrests last year, the first decrease in marijuana arrests since Denver passed an initiative removing penalties for marijuana possession and another initiative ordering police to put marijuana at the lowest level of priority. 41% of Colorado voters voted to remove penalties for marijuana possession, Mason then talked about using the SAFER message to convince people that marijuana use is less harmful than alcohol use. He focuses his work on educating people about the safer than alcohol argument separate from the legalization argument.

Mason chided President Obama for laughing at marijuana legalization advocates and contrasted that to his using alcohol fueled fundraisers to fund his campaign. He then talked about SAFER's campaign to allow marijuana use at airports as a contrast to the alcohol that is served as a funding tool on the planes and in the airport.

4:30 Cannabis Cultural Icons

   * Steve Bloom - Former Editor of High Times
   * Kevin Booth - Award Winning Filmmaker/Activist

Steve Bloom told his story about starting to work for High Times as news editor. He wrote for magazines before being hired to work at High Times, he was a social smoker until he became a professional marijuana journalist and smoker. He produced two albums as benefits for NORML. He began to work on producing a survey of the top stoner movies after surveying movie professionals as to the top movies, he awarded Stoney movie awards to the winners. He left High Times in 2007 to focus on new media projects. He recently published "Pot Culture" as a way to document the effect marijuana on popular culture. He is now blogging at Celeb Stoner full-time. He said that we should not be dejected because President Obama laughed about the marijuana questions, at least he mentioned our issue.

Kevin Booth was interviewed by Bloom. Bloom said he started working on the movie after losing several friends to alcohol and prescription drugs. He became involved in making movies after a career as a professional musician and he made a movie with Bill Hicks, who died several years ago from cancer.  

Originally posted to randy80302 on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 11:31 AM PDT.

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