Devon Wallace | Pittsburgh City Paper

Devon Wallace 
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Re: “Despite decriminalization, Pittsburgh’s marijuana-possession arrests are on the rise

Those who believe in limited government, personal responsibility, free markets, and individual liberty should embrace the ending of this irrational, un-American cannabis prohibition. It should be the cornerstone of current GOP policy.

About half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, at least 15% use it regularly, over 80% of high school seniors have reported cannabis "easy to get" for decades. Those who really want to use cannabis heavily already are. Prohibition does little or nothing to prevent problematic use. In many cases prohibition makes cannabis usage problematic where it would not have been otherwise, be it light, moderate, or heavy usage. For the most part, cannabis prohibition only successfully prohibits effective regulation.

A few issues created by prohibition: there are no quality controls to reduce contaminants (harmful pesticides, molds, fungus, other drugs), there is no practical way to prevent regular underage sales, billions in tax revenue are lost which can be used for all substance abuse treatment, underground markets for all drugs are empowered as a far more popular substance is placed within them expanding their reach and increasing their profits, criminal records make pursuing many decent careers difficult, police and court resources are unnecessarily tied up by pursuing and prosecuting victimless 'crimes', public mistrust and disrespect for our legal system, police, and government is increased, which can be devastating to our country.

Prohibition is also very expensive, though, a cash cow for a number of powerful groups such as those related to law enforcement and the prison industry. These organizations have powerful lobbies and influence that perpetuate a failed drug policy through ignorance, fear, disinformation and misinformation. This ensures an endless supply of lucrative contracts and grants from the government and its taxpayers to support their salaries, tools of the trade, and other expenses. Cash, property and other assets from civil forfeiture laws also significantly fatten their coffers while often violating civil rights.

America was built on the principles of freedom and liberty. In some cases there are extreme circumstances that warrant intervention with criminal law. In the case of mind-altering drugs we have already set this precedent with alcohol. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and especially to others. If we are to have justice, then the penalties for using, possessing and selling cannabis should be no worse than those of alcohol.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 05/17/2018 at 2:35 PM

Re: “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto supports legalizing recreational marijuana

Those who believe in limited government, personal responsibility, free markets, and individual liberty should embrace the ending of this irrational, un-American cannabis prohibition. It should be the cornerstone of current GOP policy.


About half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, at least 15% use it regularly, over 80% of high school seniors have reported cannabis "easy to get" for decades. Those who really want to use cannabis heavily already are. Prohibition does little or nothing to prevent problematic use. In many cases prohibition makes cannabis usage problematic where it would not have been otherwise, be it light, moderate, or heavy usage. For the most part, cannabis prohibition only successfully prohibits effective regulation.

A few issues created by prohibition: there are no quality controls to reduce contaminants (harmful pesticides, molds, fungus, other drugs), there is no practical way to prevent regular underage sales, billions in tax revenue are lost which can be used for all substance abuse treatment, underground markets for all drugs are empowered as a far more popular substance is placed within them expanding their reach and increasing their profits, criminal records make pursuing many decent careers difficult, police and court resources are unnecessarily tied up by pursuing and prosecuting victimless 'crimes', public mistrust and disrespect for our legal system, police, and government is increased, which can be devastating to our country.

Prohibition is also very expensive, though, a cash cow for a number of powerful groups such as those related to law enforcement and the prison industry. These organizations have powerful lobbies and influence that perpetuate a failed drug policy through ignorance, fear, disinformation and misinformation. This ensures an endless supply of lucrative contracts and grants from the government and its taxpayers to support their salaries, tools of the trade, and other expenses. Cash, property and other assets from civil forfeiture laws also significantly fatten their coffers while often violating civil rights.

America was built on the principles of freedom and liberty. In some cases there are extreme circumstances that warrant intervention with criminal law. In the case of mind-altering drugs we have already set this precedent with alcohol. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and especially to others. If we are to have justice, then the penalties for using, possessing and selling cannabis should be no worse than those of alcohol.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 05/12/2018 at 4:01 PM

Re: “Can medical marijuana help combat Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis?

In regard to opioids, the use of cannabis in managing pain is one of its most important.

4 out of 5 heroin users begin with prescription opioids [Lankenau et al. 2012]. The reason is simple, heroin and opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), are very similar drugs. When prescriptions run out, people turn to far less expensive, more available, more potent heroin from the street to support their habit.

Removing cannabis from our pharmacopeia 7 decades ago may have resulted in thousands of opioid deaths:

"From a pharmacological perspective, cannabinoids are considerably safer than opioids and have broad applicability in palliative care. Had cannabis not been removed from our pharmacopeia 7 decades ago and remained available to treat chronic pain, potentially thousands of lives that have been lost to opioid toxicity could have been prevented."
"The medicinal cannabis user should not be considered a criminal in any state and the DEA and our legal system should be using science and logic as the basis of policy making rather than political or societal bias." [Carter et al. 2011]

Legal medical cannabis has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from prescription opioid painkillers by reducing opioid use:

"States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws." [Bachhuber et al. 2014]

Two of the main reasons people switch to cannabis: less side-effects and less withdrawal:

"Over 41% state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol, 36.1% use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances, and 67.8% use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are 'less withdrawal' (67.7%), 'fewer side-effects' (60.4%), and 'better symptom management' suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen." [Lucas et al. 2013]


Denying people medicine like this should be a criminal act, instead using it is. What a bizarre situation politicians have created.


SOURCES:
-Bachhuber et al. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014
-Carter et al. Cannabis in palliative medicine: improving care and reducing opioid-related morbidity. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2011
-Lankenau et al. Initiation into prescription opioid misuse amongst young injection drug users. Int J Drug Policy. 2012
-Lucas et al. Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients. Addiction Research & Theory. 2013
-Gruber SA et al. The Grass Might Be Greener: Medical Marijuana Patients Exhibit Altered Brain Activity and Improved Executive Function after 3 Months of Treatment. Front Pharmacol. 2018

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 04/12/2018 at 1:54 PM

Re: “How much tax revenue would recreational marijuana bring to Pennsylvania?

Money will also be saved from far fewer arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations for sales/possession. While difficult or impossible to convert into monetary terms, our core beliefs in liberty and freedom are also too often left out of the discussion.


Those who believe in limited government, personal responsibility, free markets, and individual liberty should embrace the ending of this irrational, un-American cannabis prohibition. It should be the cornerstone of current GOP policy.



About half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, at least 15% use it regularly, over 80% of high school seniors have reported cannabis "easy to get" for decades. Those who really want to use cannabis heavily already are. Prohibition does little or nothing to prevent problematic use. In many cases prohibition makes cannabis usage problematic where it would not have been otherwise, be it light, moderate, or heavy usage. For the most part, cannabis prohibition only successfully prohibits effective regulation.

A few issues created by prohibition: there are no quality controls to reduce contaminants (harmful pesticides, molds, fungus, other drugs), there is no practical way to prevent regular underage sales, billions in tax revenue are lost which can be used for all substance abuse treatment, underground markets for all drugs are empowered as a far more popular substance is placed within them expanding their reach and increasing their profits, criminal records make pursuing many decent careers difficult, police and court resources are unnecessarily tied up by pursuing and prosecuting victimless 'crimes', public mistrust and disrespect for our legal system, police, and government is increased, which can be devastating to our country.

Prohibition is also very expensive, though, a cash cow for a number of powerful groups such as those related to law enforcement and the prison industry. These organizations have powerful lobbies and influence that perpetuate a failed drug policy through ignorance, fear, disinformation and misinformation. This ensures an endless supply of lucrative contracts and grants from the government and its taxpayers to support their salaries, tools of the trade, and other expenses. Cash, property and other assets from civil forfeiture laws also significantly fatten their coffers while often violating civil rights.

America was built on the principles of freedom and liberty. In some cases there are extreme circumstances that warrant intervention with criminal law. In the case of mind-altering drugs we have already set this precedent with alcohol. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and especially to others. If we are to have justice, then the penalties for using, possessing and selling cannabis should be no worse than those of alcohol.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 04/12/2018 at 1:50 PM

Re: “How to get a Pennsylvania medical-marijuana card

The prohibition of cannabis has more to do with what's bad about politics rather than what's bad about cannabis.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Devon Wallace on 02/14/2018 at 8:26 PM

Re: “Poll shows support for legal recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania Auditor General says time to legalize is now

About half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, at least 15% use it regularly, over 80% of high school seniors have reported cannabis "easy to get" for decades. Those who really want to use cannabis heavily already are. Prohibition does little or nothing to prevent problematic use. In many cases prohibition makes cannabis usage problematic where it would not have been otherwise, be it light, moderate, or heavy usage. The main thing that cannabis prohibition successfully prohibits is effective regulation.

A few issues created by prohibition: there are no quality controls to reduce contaminants (harmful pesticides, molds, fungus, other drugs), there is no practical way to prevent underage sales, billions in tax revenue are lost which can be used for all substance abuse treatment, underground markets for all drugs are empowered as a far more popular substance is placed within them expanding their reach and increasing their profits, criminal records make pursuing many decent careers difficult, public mistrust and disrespect for our legal system, police, and government is increased, which can be devastating.

Prohibition is also very expensive, though, a cash cow for a number of powerful groups such as those related to law enforcement and the prison industry. These organizations have powerful lobbies and influence that perpetuate a failed drug policy through ignorance, fear, disinformation and misinformation. This ensures an endless supply of lucrative contracts and grants from the government and its taxpayers to support their salaries, tools of the trade, and other expenses. Cash, property and other assets from civil forfeiture laws also significantly fatten their coffers while often violating civil rights.

Those who wish to live in a free society must accept that this means freedom for all people of that society, not only for certain groups and the activities they happen to enjoy. Obviously in some cases there are extreme circumstances that warrant intervention with criminal law. In the case of mind-altering drugs we have already set this precedent with alcohol. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and especially to others. If we are to have justice, then the penalties for using, possessing and selling cannabis should be no worse than those of alcohol.

Considering the many issues created by cannabis prohibition, coupled with little, if any, reduction in problematic use, its continued support is irrational and harmful. Please help bring end to this irrational, costly and unjust prohibition. The organizations listed below fight every day to bring us sensible cannabis policies. Help them fight by joining their mailing lists, signing their petitions and writing your legislators when they call for it:

NORML - National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws - http://norml.org/
DPA - Drug Policy Alliance - http://www.drugpolicy.org/
MPP - The Marijuana Policy Project - http://www.mpp.org/
LEAP - Law Enforcement Action Partnership - http://www.leap.cc/

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 12/12/2017 at 10:37 AM

Re: “Medical-marijuana bill passes Pennsylvania state house

I am glad that PA is finally moving forward with this. I thank the people who have worked hard on this. Some issues with the bill remain:

-It will take 18-24 months to implement after it is signed into law.

-Only allows treatment for 17 serious conditions. The board can approve more conditions "Three years after the MM program commences".

-Doctors are required to register with the state and complete a 4 hour course. Their information will likely be made public (possibly under the Right-To-Know Act). None of this is required for seriously harmful pharmeceticals. This move will discourage most doctors from participating. New Jersey did the same thing which resulted in a low-turnout of physicians, and thereby a low turnout of patients.

-Growers/processors are required to have $2,000,000 in capital with $500,000 in the bank. There is a $200,000 initial fee and $10,000 application fee. This eliminates small businesses.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Devon Wallace on 03/17/2016 at 11:17 AM

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