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Gmail and FriendFinder founder Paul Buchheit says that adults should be able to smoke pot for fun if they want to. He's donated some big bucks to California's legalization campaign.  (Source: Google Inside)
Mr. Bucheit's donation of $100,000 USD surpasses Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz’s $70,000 USD donation

There's a serious shakeup going on in the world of pharamaceutical and recreation drug policy.  Across the country several states have legalized medical marijuana.  Despite staunch resistance from various groups -- including prescription painkiller manufacturers who stand to lose millions if private marijuana growing is legalized -- the number of states in which it's legal to grow this pain-relieving plant for medical reasons continues to expand. 

Now some states are preparing to tackle a much tougher question.  Should marijuana also be legalized for recreational purposes? 

For Gmail founder Paul Buchheit, the answer is a resounding "yes".  Mr. Buchheit, apparently apparently a "green" Californian in more ways than one, donated $100,000 USD to the Yes on Prop 19 campaign.  Prop 19 is a California ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Mr. Buchheit, who works at Facebook currently, also founded FriendFinder -- another hot online property.  And he isn't the only top Facebook brass to support the whacky weed.  Dustin Moskovitz who co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg donated $70,000 to the legalization campaign.

Some more of the tech industry's brightest minds have also supported the campaign.  Sean Parker the financial supporter behind Napster and long-time Facebook collaborator, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Innovative Interfaces President Steve Silberstein have all donated money to it.

Despite the fact that many at Facebook seem to support the initiative, the company curiously chose to ban advertising in support of the ballot measure from appearing on its social networking site.

Apparently anticipating the controversy surrounding his donation, Mr. Buccheit posted an explanation of his donation on his blog, writing:
The essential issue is that prohibition not only strips us of our personal liberty, but it also funnels billions of dollars to violent criminal organizations. Prop19 obviously won’t solve all our problems, but I believe that it could be the turning point that leads us towards a more safe and sane drug policy. On this issue, the politicians will follow where the voters lead.

Prop 19 is popular in many areas, but the support in Silicon Valley is more visible because people here tend to have a greater degree of independence, and are therefore more likely to publicly express their support for what has historically been a controversial issue.

In preparation for a potential legalization, the San Francisco Bay Area recently legalized the nation's first "industrial scale" marijuana farms.  While marijuana can impair one's motor skills, offering similar driving dangers to alcohol and offers much of the carcinogenicity of tobacco cigarettes, many argue that its health risks are no worse than these legal recreational drugs.  Advocates argue that legalization would reduce street crime and would cut down on sales to minors.

Many U.S. politicians including the popular U.S. Congressman from Texas Ron Paul support decriminalization of marijuana.

It appears that the last three U.S. Presidents all experimented with marijuana at one point.  Democratic President Bill Clinton (who served from 1992-2000) infamously claimed [video], "When I was in England, I experimented with 
marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it.  I didn't inhale and never tried it again."

Republic President George W. Bush (who served from 2000-2008) stated, "Al Gore, I tried it, it wasn't part of my life."

And current U.S. President Barack Obama stated [video] in 2007, "When I was a kid I inhaled frequently." 

When asked if he inhaled, Obama, at the time serving as an U.S. Senator from Illinois quipped, "That was the point."

Under Obama's administration federal raids on growers in states with legalized marijuana have ceased.  Amid that backdrop and spreading medical use (and potentially recreational use) the debate of recreational use is raging and many of the tech industry's top players appear to be throwing their weight behind legalization.




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War or Peace
By malcolmkyle on 11/2/2010 4:40:06 AM , Rating: 4
While bullets fly into El Paso, bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. --Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.
http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/02/publ...

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.
thttp://www.alternet.org/drugs/90295/

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation
http://tinyurl.com/247a8mp

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy
http://www.mapinc.org/lib/limited.pdf

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lExNjEhdSkY&feature...

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.
http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/free-heroin-brin...

The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There's simply not enough criminals
http://www.nrc.nl/international/article2246821.ece...

For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-n...
or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs




RE: War or Peace
By kattanna on 11/3/2010 11:12:55 AM , Rating: 2
very nice write up!!

but as we can see from prop 19 defeat, fear reigns


RE: War or Peace
By Myg on 11/18/10, Rating: -1
dead horse, beaten
By chromal on 11/15/2010 8:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of those longstanding public policy debates. Do we handle drugs hysterically or rationally? Do we follow facts or various dis-prooven 'common sense facts.' Do we continue to foot the societal (and tax) bill to prohibit a substance less addictive than cigarettes and less damaging to society than alcohol? Etc. Nixon's marijuana ban was always more about his political ideology than protecting the US from a credible danger. It's simply taken decades of modern use, and increasingly open use, to make the scandal of the original ban's dishonesty apparent to a wider segment of folks.




I'm a bit skeptical
By bug77 on 11/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm a bit skeptical
By wolrah on 11/1/2010 11:45:16 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
By turning dealers of cocaine, mets and marijuana into plain dealers of cocaine and mets?


Marijuana's the volume drug that supports a lot of multi-drug dealers, plus there are a LOT that only deal in marijuana.

quote:
Yes, making it more easily accessible definitely deters minors.


Street dealers have no incentive to check ID. Legitimate businesses do. If weed is legalized, street dealers largely won't be selling it anymore since it won't be profitable to compete with a legitimate industry, therefore those who want it will be going to legitimate sellers who for the most part will check IDs.

Obviously that does nothing about the ability of someone to buy a small amount off a friend or pay a random to buy for them, but it still adds a level of work.


RE: I'm a bit skeptical
By MozeeToby on 11/1/2010 11:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
Look at what prohibition of alcohol did to crime rates all over the country. You're giving criminals an easy source of income, you've got average citizens having direct contact with said criminals, and you are criminalizing a near majority of the American population. Not to mention the hundreds of millions in potential tax revenue and potential billions that could be saved by ending or curtailing the war on drugs.

All that in a failed effort to control a drug that does less harm than alcohol, on both a personal and a societal level. Do a little research: On a per user basis, how many people die from cannabis use per year compared to alcohol or nicotine? Where does unbiased research place cannabis in terms of damage compared to other drugs? (http://www.udel.edu/chem/theopold/chem465/copland.... ) What groups lobbied congress to make cannabis illegal in the first place? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marihuana_Tax_Act_of_... )

If nothing else, it's my body and I should be able to choose what goes into it unless it causes undue harm to society to allow it. The fact of the matter is that something like 40% of the population is or were cannabis users and society somehow remains functional, it stands to reason that society can function just fine with cannabis available (since it is anyway) and there is no good reason why the government should be able to so "no, you can't have that".


RE: I'm a bit skeptical
By Myg on 11/18/2010 12:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
If you look at the history of alcohol and its role in Society (especially western) you will see that we have a very very long history with it and our bodies have adapted appropriately (unlike those Indian Americans). Not to mention, alcohol has been adapting itself as well in its quanitity. So it was silly to make something that was not just a mainstay of health, but also something that was soo engrained in our society illigal just like that: Thus, the comparison to what the United states did NOT apply at all and is not valid for this conversation.

These drugs are alien to Western Civilization and its not something our bodies have adapted to deal with. These drugs are destructive to the stability of the mind because it does not have the capacity to properly handle it and causes permanent damage, no matter who you are.


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