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Feds Call Out Religious Discrimination Against Marijuana Consumers

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The U.S. government is again highlighting religious discrimination against people who consume marijuana, but is only shining a spotlight on such anti-cannabis bias that occurs in other countries.

In Guyana, for example, “representatives of the Rastafarian community said that a law criminalizing the possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana infringed on their religious practices,” a new U.S. State Department report says. “A representative of the Rastafari Council said some members of his community faced extra scrutiny from law enforcement officials who believed Rastafaris carried marijuana on their person.”

“The council petitioned the government to legalize the use of small amounts of marijuana for religious purposes, but authorities reportedly did not consider the proposal, saying that reviewing drug legislation was not a state priority at that time.”

In Sierra Leone, “Rastafarians reported this [cannabis] prohibition restricted their ability to use cannabis as a core component of their religious practices.” A community elder told the State Department that “there were 15 incidents of police harassment during the year, often tied to…use of cannabis.”

“The alleged harassment included beatings and confiscation of property found on their persons.”

Also in Sierra Leone, government officials still have not held nine police officers accountable for a 2016 incident in which they damaged a temple as part of a marijuana enforcement operation.

The findings are among several included State Department’s 2017 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released on Tuesday.

In Barbados, “Rastafarians continued to state their objection to the government’s enforcement of the prohibition on marijuana for any use, which they said made it impossible to fully perform their religious rituals,” the U.S. report says. “Rastafarian activists continued to say that police and immigration officials required Rastafarians to remove head coverings and gave extra scrutiny to Rastafarian women at checkpoints, which they said was a pretext for searching for marijuana.”

In Saint Kitts and Nevis, “Rastafarians continued to face police harassment, particularly for the use of marijuana for religious purposes. Rastafarian representatives continued to state that marijuana, banned by law, was integral to their religious rituals.”

In the Czech Republic, the government suspended a registration application for the Cannabis Church.

“Members of the Rastafarian community said police and immigration officials continued to subject them to scrutiny because of the use of marijuana in the Rastafarian community,” in Dominica. “According to reports by both the police and members of the Rastafarian community, persons of other religious groups were not subject to such scrutiny.”

Anti-cannabis religious discrimination was also reported in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Lucia.

Despite the ongoing hardships across the world for people who use marijuana for spiritual reasons, Rastafarians in several countries noted that discrimination seems to be ebbing, at least somewhat.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, despite continued “societal discrimination” against cannabis consumption, some Rastafarians said they “were increasingly accepted in society, and society was becoming more tolerant of their way of life,” citing a “perceived reduction in police harassment as proof of increased societal acceptance.”

In Jamaica, advocates said a 2015 law legalizing spiritual cannabis use “allowed them to practice their religion according to their beliefs.”

“Rastafarians said law enforcement officials on rare occasions still profiled, stopped, and searched Rastafarians for possession of marijuana over the decriminalized limit, but they were no longer concerned about being detained for carrying marijuana to religious ceremonies for use as a sacrament,” the report says.

Another hopeful sign came from South Africa, where Rastafarians cheered a High Court ruling that declared a ban on marijuana use by adults in private homes to be unconstitutional.

Although U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the new report “is a testament to the United States’s historic role in preserving and advocating for religious freedom around the world,” legal arguments for the use of marijuana in accordance with various religions have repeatedly been rejected by U.S. courts.

The 2016 and 2015 and 2014 versions of the State Department’s religious freedom report also spotlighted anti-marijuana bias in other nations, but not at home.

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.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Dave Chappelle Ate Magic Mushrooms Gifted By A Stranger, Joe Rogan Says

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Comedian Dave Chappelle recently rented out a movie theater at 1:00 AM and took psilocybin mushrooms that a stranger handed him.

That’s according to Joe Rogan, who also attended the private screening of Quentin Tarantino’s new film with Chappelle after the pair performed a stand-up show in Tacoma, Washington.

“I’m pretty sure he ate mushrooms from a fan the other day,” Rogan said on his podcast last week.

“We have a private screening of Once Upon a Time In Hollywood at one o’clock in morning. Dave is eating mushrooms that some fucking guy gave him in the crowd,” he said.

Rogan, no stranger to tripping, said he did not partake in the psychedelic festivities this time.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” he joked.

That said, Chappelle did gift a bag of unlabeled cannabis edibles to Rogan, he said.

“I don’t know where the fuck they came from,” Rogan said. “They were in a bag.”

While Chappelle has incorporated marijuana and magic mushrooms in his comedy routines (like this 1998 bit where he also talked about taking shrooms he got from a stranger and then hallucinating during a haircut), he’s also seriously advocated for reforming cannabis policy.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who ran for governor of Maryland in 2018 on a pro-legalization platform, credited Chappelle for first putting the idea or marijuana reform in his head.

The two had an “ongoing conversation about the history of marijuana enforcement—the way it was targeted at our community and Latino communities—and that just sort of opened my eyes,” Jealous told Marijuana Moment last year.

Whether Chappelle will go on to become a vocal advocate for psychedelics reform is yet to be seen.

South Park Seems To Take A Jab At Marijuana Company MedMen In Satirical Ad

Photo courtesy of YouTube/Joe Rogan Experience.

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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Here Are The Top 20 Most And Least Marijuana-Friendly U.S. Colleges

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It’s back-to-school season, and as college students get ready to move into their dorms, some might be wondering about campus culture—including whether their school is marijuana friendly.

The Princeton Review is here to help. Besides ranking colleges overall each year, it also includes breakout sections offering ratings on a wide range of college features. For this year’s issue, the review guide looked at the top 20 universities where students use cannabis the most and least.

To compile the list, released earlier this week, Princeton Review asked 140,000 students at 385 schools a simple question: “How widely is marijuana used at your school?”

The results, for the most part, aren’t especially shocking. In general, marijuana is consumed most frequently at colleges located in states with looser cannabis laws, or more libertarian climates. Students are least likely to consume cannabis, according to the rankings, if they attend religious or military schools, or if the campuses are located in states with more restrictive cannabis policies.

Here are the most marijuana-friendly colleges: 

1. University of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont)

2. Pitzer College (Claremont, California)

3. University of Rhode Island (Kingston, Rhode Island)

4. Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut)

5. Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, New York)

6. Reed College (Portland, Oregon)

7. University of Maine (Orono, Maine)

8. Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

9. Marlboro College (Marlboro, Vermont)

10. University of California at Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, California)

11. Warren Wilson College (Asheville, North Carolina)

12. Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York)

13. State University of New York, Purchase College (Purchase, New York)

14. Champlain College (Burlington, Vermont)

15. Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

16. University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)

17. Ithaca College (Ithaca, New York)

18. University of Wisconsin at Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)

19. Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)

20. Hamilton College (Clinton, New York)

Here are the least cannabis-friendly colleges:

1. United States Air Force Academy (USAF Academy, Colorado)

2. United States Military Academy (West Point, New York)

3. United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland)

4. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, Missouri)

5. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, California)

6. Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah)

7. Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois)

8. City University of New York, Baruch College (New York, New York)

9. Calvin University (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

10. Grove City College (Grove City, Pennsylvania)

11. City University of New York, Hunter College (New York, New York)

12. Baylor University (Waco, Texas)

13. Gordon College (Wenham, Massachusetts)

14. Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, Michigan)

15. Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois)

16. Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri)

17. University of Dallas (Irving, Texas)

18. Pepperdine University (Malibu, California)

19. Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Georgia)

20. Simmons University (Boston, Massachusetts)

Regardless of how much or little students at a given college consume marijuana, those who choose to partake could be at risk of losing the means by which they pay for their tuition. Drug convictions can lead to the loss of federal financial aid, which is why some lawmakers are pushing for legislation to protect such students from being denied access to education over a substance that is becoming legal in more and more places.

Young Americans Are More Likely To Smoke Marijuana Than Cigarettes, Poll Finds

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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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More Than 150 Proposed SXSW Marijuana Panels Are Being Voted On For Next Year’s Festival

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More than 150 different marijuana-focused panels are up for consideration to be featured at next year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and its related SWSW EDU event.

SXSW solicited the submissions last month, urging individuals to help them fill out the lineup for its “Cannabusiness Track.” The collection of panels are meant to explore the “technological, cultural, financial, legal and political ecosystems that are defining the cannabis-focused enterprises of both today and tomorrow.”

But not all of the suggested panels are going to make the cut. An online vote opened on Monday for people to support the proposals they want to see, and that voting period closes on August 23. Proposed discussions touch on everything from social equity in the industry to protecting intellectual property to setting CBD product safety standards.

Here are some examples of what could appear at SXSW next March:

—Frenemies: Cannabis Activists & Cannabis Industry. Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures and former executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, explores the growing tension between the marijuana industry and activists, as debate intensifies over how to create a legal cannabis market that’s socially equitable.

—Cannabis Restorative Justice. Members of the Last Prisoner Project, including Harborside co-founder Steve DeAngelo, discuss the long-term impacts of marijuana criminalization and their experience being incarcerated over cannabis. The panel will also touch on ways “the cannabis industry can work together to repair these past and continuing injustices.”

—Is Cannabis Media Coverage Fair Or Biased? Journalists on the marijuana beat talk about the evolution in cannabis coverage and biases in how mainstream media outlets report on marijuana.

—Cannabis As A Catalyst For Change. A panel of experts, including representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance, will seek to inform the audience about “policy positions they can support to ensure the cannabis industry is operating in a socially responsible manner,” ensuring diversity in marijuana businesses and how to invest in communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

—IP Rights And Threats In The Cannabis Industry. Intellectual property attorney Larry Sandell will share his expertise on making sure that cannabis companies protect their innovations and branding. He will offer a “primer on utility patents, design patents, plant patents, trademarks, trade secrets, plant variety protection certificates, and copyrights—all from the cannabis perspective.”

—Full Recovery: Mixing Cannabis With Sobriety. Medicine Box CEO Brian Chaplin will answer questions about incorporating marijuana into a “sober, mindful lifestyle,” drawing from his own experience using cannabis to wean off an anti-depressant.

—The United States Of Cannabis. Experts at the Marijuana Policy Project will give the audience a status update on cannabis reform efforts throughout the country and offer perspective on how reform advances through ballot initiative and state legislatures. The panel will also provide a preview of how MPP plans to allocate resources to continue changing cannabis laws in the coming years.

—Descheduling Cannabis: Be Careful What You Wish. Market analysts will dive into the debate over potential industry changes that could occur if marijuana is federally descheduled. Panelists will raise questions about how descheduling could lend to a market model that favors established corporations like Walmart over marijuana businesses.

—Can The South Rise To End Pot Prohibition? This panel will take a look at obstacles that southern states have faced in legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. Entrepreneurs from the region discuss what it will take for “the South to ultimately rise above prohibition” and answer questions about how to ensure that the industry that emerges will be inclusive.

—Reporting On The Corporatization Of Psychedelics. Staff at the psychedelics publication DoubleBlind will explore the rapidly changing politics of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. Conversations will concern the potential corporatization of psychedelics and “accessibility of psychedelic medicine” today.

—Cannabusiness In Africa: Is There A Future? As several African countries weigh getting into the cannabis export business, panelists will go over how the industry can be “developed responsibly and help support broad based economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

—The Corporatization Of Marijuana. Panelists including former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) will talk about just how much the government—at the state and local level—should be regulating cannabis as well as concerns about underage consumption and impaired driving.

This isn’t the first time that SXSW has featured marijuana panels. This year’s SXSW festival involved more than 20 cannabis events, including discussions that covered female entrepreneurship in the cannabis market and the prospect of marijuana reform in Texas.

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who joined the board of a major cannabis firm after leaving office, delivered a keynote address at one panel, which drew protests from social justice advocates who argued that restorative justice needs to be a critical component of legal cannabis systems that profit-minded “Big Marijuana” companies are currently benefiting from.

Young Americans Are More Likely To Smoke Marijuana Than Cigarettes, Poll Finds

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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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