Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jun 2016
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2016 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Personal pot possession in California was reduced from an arrest to 
an infraction in 2010, but systemic racism around pot enforcement 
continues, a new study finds.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California, in conjunction with 
the Drug Policy Alliance, published a groundbreaking, heavily 
reported piece of research Monday that concludes that the Black 
community in California faces ticketing for pot at a rate four times 
as high as whites. Latinos have about double the rate of pot tickets as whites.

Titled "Marijuana Enforcement Disparities in California: A Racial 
Injustice", the ACLU-DPA report is the culmination of more than a 
year's work by a group of four Stanford law school students.

California arrests for pot have dropped 86 percent from highs of 
nearly 100,000 to about 20,000 in 2014. What remains unknown is how 
many pot tickets are being written and to whom.

The research group had to threaten to sue cities and counties to 
divulge pot infraction statistics - which are poorly tracked, and 
often hand-written, with no electronic records in existence.

An analysis of infraction data from Los Angeles and Fresno found 
disparities in Black and Latino citations compared to whites. 
Researchers also found a form of predatory policing where police 
placed the highest burden of tickets on the backs of young men and 
boys, particularly ones of color.

"Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement are widespread and 
longstanding. Los Angeles and Fresno are very different places; yet 
they reveal similar disparities. It's likely that young black and 
Latino Californians experience these disparities statewide," stated 
Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy director 
for the ACLU of California. "A $100 citation can easily become 
several times that, after all the fees are added. This presents a 
significant burden for young people and low-income families."

"It is disappointing to see that even at the level of infractions, 
California law enforcement are incapable of applying the law equally 
across racial lines," stated Alice Huffman, president of the 
CA-Hawaii NAACP. "I am hopeful that full legalization as proposed in 
the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will drastically reduce the numbers of 
young people of color being funneled into the criminal justice system 
for minor drug offenses."

With infraction data hidden from officials themselves, police cannot 
speak accurately on levels of pot enforcement or allegations of 
racial bias, said Amanda Reiman, Marijuana Policy Manager for the 
Drug Policy Alliance.

Law enforcement assumptions based on personal experience don't often 
match the statistics.

For example, Oakland's pot crime is concentrated in just two police 
beats, she said. "If you're a cop covering Montclair in Oakland, 
yeah, there are no marijuana arrests.'"

She said weed crime statistics are caught in a "weird area" where 
they are underreported compared to the scale of pot activity. Pot 
crime is measured more like crack cocaine crime, which is rare, 
instead of alcohol-related crime, which is very common.

"We have this weird situation with cannabis where we have a great 
deal of use but we have no one with reporting systems, measuring outcomes."

Now, millions of dollars in legal pot taxes have begun paying for 
some of the first statistical reporting on cannabis crime - as in 
Colorado and Washington.

California's continued targeting of blacks even as pot laws changed 
mirrors new findings from Colorado, where pot cases dropped 86 
percent, yet black teens actually got arrested more.

The ACLU's groundbreaking study will add to calls for more racial 
equity in legalized cannabis markets. Recently, Oakland earmarked 
priority pot permits for cannabis offenders and residents of certain 
police beats.

Bogus Pot Research Redux

Critics are calling "reefer madness" on a new study from Australia 
claiming smoking pot will give your kids cancer.

Cannabis has been shown in cell, animal and limited human trials to 
prevent, halt or kill cancer, researchers note. Australia is getting 
world-famous for their reefer-madness research, this time for 
equating pot to the notorious birth defect-causing chemical 
thalidomide. click to enlarge

Mutation Research On Tuesday, Associate Professor Stuart Reece and 
Professor Gary Hulse at The University of Western Australia released 
a paper called "Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality 
criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, 
congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity", published July 2016 
in the journal "Mutation Research".

A press release from the university paper ran the chilling conclusion 
that pot smokers were damaging their DNA, and effectively giving 
their kids cancer. "The worst cancers are reported in the first few 
years of life in children exposed in utero to cannabis effects," one 
researcher said.

But the paper's authors did no actual tests. Rather, they reviewed 
studies to "close the logical loop" that pot causes gene replication 
damage that is passed on to kids.

So the Express contacted Ethan Russo, founding editor of Journal of 
Cannabis Therapeutics, widely considered to be one of the leading 
cannabinoid researchers on the planet who actually studies 
cannabinoids and he sent us this reply. He stated: "This report is 
based on a foundation of falsehoods. Cannabis is not mutagenic 
(productive of mutations in DNA), nor is it teratogenic (productive 
of birth defects) or carcinogenic (causative of cancer). Countless 
animal studies and human epidemiological studies support its relative 
safety in this regard."

The paper's abstract makes no mention of how the research reviewed 
was controlled for byproducts of smoking or other drugs, which are 

Russo states: "Additionally, there is a world of difference between 
drug abuse, and the judicious use of low doses of cannabinoids for 
therapeutic application in serious diseases."

The paper's abstract lacks basic information as to how much cannabis' 
relative carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable 
genotoxicity could be a problem. It's unclear if we should be 
singling out cannabis relative to other vectors. Even the research 
authors note other drugs damage DNA and cause the "acceleration of 
the aging process ... including alcohol, tobacco, ... stimulants and opioids."

Other sources of epigenetic damage include life stressors like 
prohibition-related violence and incarceration. Sunburns and oxygen 
also damage DNA.

"Exposure to pharmaceutical and toxic chemicals, diet, stress, 
exercise, and other environmental factors are capable of eliciting 
positive or negative epigenetic modifications with lasting effects on 
development, metabolism and health. These can impact the body so 
profoundly as to permanently alter the epigenetic profile of an 
individual," other reviews have noted.

Russo concludes: "It is high time to move beyond reefer madness and 
acknowledge the utility and safety of cannabis-based for the 
advancement of the public health."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom