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Anti-Marijuana Funder Says Jailing Of Grandmother For Medical Cannabis No ‘Big Deal’

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A retired art professor who donated more than $1.4 million in a failed effort to defeat marijuana legalization has come to the defense of Michigan police who arrested and jailed an 80-year-old grandmother for marijuana possession.

Julie Schauer’s political contributions to anti-legalization group SAM Action in 2016 were that organization’s main source of funding (and also led to fines from the California Fair Political Practices Commission, after the prohibitionist campaign committee failed to properly report her involvement). Schauer donated to the anti-legalization efforts in California, Massachusetts and Nevada that year, all of which ended up legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over.

This week, Schauer argued that it was “not such a big deal” for 80-year-old Delores Saltzman—an arthritis sufferer who was arrested and jailed for possessing less than an eighth of an ounce of marijuana in June, after she let her medical cannabis card expire—to be incarcerated overnight.

Saltzman said the night behind bars aggravated her arthritis. Charges against the octogenarian great-grandmother were dropped earlier this month, and Saltzman is now a vocal supporter for a campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan.

Michigan Cops Lock Up 80-Year Old Grandmother For Expired Medical Marijuana Card

The comment is consistent with Schauer’s regular output of anti-marijuana hysteria—she recently suggested that cannabis played a role in the February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead—but it also marks a significant flip-flop.

Last year, when Schauer attempted to unsuccessfully challenge California’s campaign finance reporting fine against SAM Action, she claimed—inaccurately—that “no one ever goes to jail only for possessing small amounts of pot.”

This is messaging routinely used to downplay the importance of marijuana legalization—but, as Saltzman’s arrest demonstrated, it is not accurate.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, of the 8.2 million people arrested on marijuana charges between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent were for possession. And in 2016, police arrested more people for marijuana possession than they arrested for all violent crimes, including murder, rape, assault and arson, according to FBI statistics.

In her letter to California officials—dated April 20, 2017—Schauer also claimed to have a friend in the state “whose son… was killed by marijuana.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “no death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.”

Schauer also blamed California for leading “the long-term disabling of so many youths through medical pot” and blamed the state’s election laws, which allow for transparency by publishing the names of donors, for “ruining my career.”

“My reputation as a teacher of 30 years is now tarnished and damaged so that I can never go back to teaching again,” she wrote. “Thank you, California, and thank you, marijuana activists and marijuana groups, for ruining my career and harming my reputation.”

Though some news organizations have investigated the source of Schauer’s money—a significant sum for anyone to contribute to a political cause, particularly for a self-described teacher—the source of her anti-cannabis fortune is not known.

Another anti-legalization nonprofit to which Schauer donated $200,000, called Strong Economy For Growth, paid Massachusetts $31,000 in fines for also failing to properly disclose its donors.

Schauer is one of handful of large donors to anti-legalization efforts. In nearly every ballot-initiative campaign where legalization was in play, fundraising in support of legalization has dwarfed spending in opposition.

That was not the case this year in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis ballot fight, however, but supporters prevailed nonetheless.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Campaign Reports Show Grassroots Can Trump Big Money

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Chris Roberts is a reporter and writer based in San Francisco. He has covered the cannabis industry since 2009, with bylines in the Guardian, Deadspin, Leafly News, The Observer, The Verge, Curbed, Cannabis Now, SF Weekly and others.

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Twitter Partners With Feds On Campaign Flagging ‘Marijuana’ Searches While Giving ‘Alcohol’ A Pass

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Twitter is partnering with a federal drug agency to promote substance misuse treatment resources when users of the social media platform search for “marijuana” or certain other substance-related keywords—but no such health warning appears with results for alcohol-connected terms.

In collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Twitter this week began adding a notification above relevant tweets on select drug terms that says, “If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, you are not alone.” It directs users to SAMHSA’s help line and website.

Via Twitter.

Drug policy reform advocates have pointed out that this messaging perpetuates stereotypes about drug use, indicating that any interest in these substances signals that users may have a problem warranting treatment. But it’s also the case that there’s an abundance of reasons that people might enter “marijuana” into a search beyond looking for ways to score some of the product for use, including wanting to follow relevant news on public policy debates about its legalization. And besides, the vast majority of people who consume cannabis are not addicted to or dependent on it and aren’t likely to appreciate the suggestion that they may need professional help.

While promoting substance misuse treatment isn’t necessarily problematic in and of itself, advocates are pushing back about the fact that Twitter chose to peg these notices to cannabis and other currently illegal drugs in particular while it allows alcohol brands to be promoted on its platform. Here’s what happens when you search for “vodka,” for example:

Via Twitter.

Similarly, no warning is displayed alongside searches for “alcohol,” “beer” or “wine.”

For context, according to the World Health Organization, more than three million people die from harmful use of alcohol each year. Meanwhile, even the Drug Enforcement Administration has acknowledged that “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.”

“It is not surprising that SAMHSA would be behind stigmatizing content like this, but it is surprising that a platform like Twitter would allow them to co-opt entire search terms, regardless of a person’s reason for searching for them,” Matt Sutton, director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “It goes back to the same false dichotomy that people who use drugs are struggling and need help verses the reality that most people can use drugs non-problematically, while a small portion of the population tends to struggle with substance use disorder.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Twitter about the discrepancy when it comes to alcohol-related searches, but a representative declined the opportunity to comment for this story.

“If Twitter is going to add this feature for marijuana then they should absolutely do the same for alcohol, which is a more dangerous substance,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment.

Interestingly, while the SAMHSA treatment resources are flagged for Twitter users who search for “marijuana,” “cocaine” and “heroin,” searches for “cannabis,” “LSD,” “MDMA,” “psilocybin,” “pills,” “adderrall” and other drug-related terms come with no such invitation to consider getting help—further highlighting the arbitrary nature of the new feature on the social media platform.

This social media policy change comes as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is promoting mandatory drug rehabilitation treatment for people charged with possession crimes.

While the former vice president seems to view the policy as a progressive alternative to incarceration, many drug reform advocates feel mandatory treatment reinforces misconceptions about substance misuse, and they point out that the efficacy of forced rehabilitation programs are scientifically questionable.

“Anybody who gets convicted of a drug crime—not one that is in terms of massive selling, but consumption—they shouldn’t go to prison. They should go to mandatory rehabilitation,” he said last week. “Instead of building more prisons, as I’ve been proposing for some time, we build rehabilitation centers.”

Congressional Committee Approves Marijuana Bill That Will Allow Research On Dispensary Cannabis

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Drone Drops Hundreds Of Free Bags Of Marijuana In Israel

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Marijuana fell from the sky in Israel on Thursday, with a drone dropping hundreds of small bags of cannabis in the streets of Tel Aviv.

The stunt attracted dozens of people, including some brazen enough to collect the free products from the middle of a busy road as drivers honked at them. A group that goes by the name “Green Drone” apparently made the aerial delivery.

Prior to the drop off, the group posted on the encrypted app Telegram: “It’s time my dear brothers. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the green drone, handing out free cannabis from the sky. Enjoy my beloved brothers, this is your pilot brother, making sure we all get some free love.”

This isn’t a one-off instance of marijuana philanthropy, either. Green Drone plans to continue the “rain of cannabis” project, delivering one kilogram of marijuana broken out into two-gram baggies every week.

But the first drop-off didn’t go without a snag. According to The Jerusalem Post, two people suspected of operating the drone were arrested.

While Israel is an active player in the marijuana research scene, the plant remains illegal, except for under limited medical circumstances. A bill to decriminalize cannabis and another to legalize it for adult use were introduced this year, and the legislature voted in favor of advancing both for a preliminary reading.

Marijuana certainly isn’t new to the region. An ancient biblical tribe in Israel likely used marijuana to produce hallucinogenic effects as part of cultic rituals, according to a recent study that identified cannabis resin on an alter in a shrine built around 750 BCE.

Elephant Will Be Given CBD To Treat Stress After Death Of Companion, Zoo Says

Photo courtesy of Jean P Mouffe.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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President Carter Talks About His Son Smoking Marijuana At The White House With Willie Nelson

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In a new documentary being released this month, Former President Jimmy Carter (D) discusses the time his son smoked marijuana at the White House with musician Willie Nelson during his administration.

In a trailer released last week, Carter is shown talking about his relationship with the music industry—including his friendship with artists like Nelson and Bob Dylan. At one point, he mentions how Nelson, a cannabis culture icon, disclosed in a biography that he smoked marijuana during a trip to the White House.

“When Willie Nelson wrote his autobiography, he confessed that he smoked pot in the White House and he says that his companion was one of the servants of the White House,” Carter said, as CelebStoner first reported. “It actually was one of my sons.”

Watch the trailer for “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” below:

In his 1988 book, Nelson described “sitting on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC, late at night with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other. ”

“My companion on the roof was pointing out to me the sights and layout of how the streets run in Washington,” he wrote, being coy about who he was with. “I let the weed cover me with a pleasing cloud… I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.”

It was later revealed that the 1978 cannabis session on top of the executive mansion involved first son Chip Carter.

“Getting stoned on the roof of the White House, you can’t help but turn inward,” Nelson wrote in a subsequent 2015 book. “Certain philosophical questions come to mind, like… How the fuck did I get here?”

During his time in office, Carter spoke in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession and replacing criminal penalties with civil fines. But he was not able to get that policy change enacted.

“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself,” he said in 1977, adding that marijuana sales should still be strictly criminalized.

Under his administration, the Compassionate Investigational New Drug was established, providing select patients suffering from certain conditions with access to marijuana joints produced with federal authorization.

In 2011, Carter wrote an op-ed for The New York Times that criticized the drug war and stated that U.S. drug policies “are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations.”

He also said the following year that he was “in favor” of state efforts to legalize and regulate cannabis. He told a CNN interviewer at the time that “we can watch and see what happens in the state of Washington for instance, around Seattle, and let the American government and let the American people see does it cause a serious problem or not.”

But in 2013, he reversed that position, saying he opposed legalization.

“I do not favor legalization. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking,” Carter said, according to the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana. “We have to prevent making marijuana smoking from becoming attractive to young people, which is, I’m sure, what the producers of marijuana…are going to try and do.”

“I hope that Colorado and Washington, as you authorize the use of marijuana, will set up very strict experiments to ascertain how we can avoid the use of marijuana,” he added. “There should be no advertising for marijuana in any circumstances and no driving under the influence. We need to avoid the use of marijuana, particularly among young people.”

The new documentary, “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President,” will roll out with limited theatrical showing beginning on September 9, followed by a physical release a month later. It will then air on CNN on January 3, 2021.

California Must Turn Over Marijuana Documents To DEA, Federal Court Rules

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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