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The Year In Pot: Top 10 Events That Will Change the Way We Think About Marijuana

By Paul Armentano, NORML. January 1, 2010 alternet.org

#1 Obama Administration: Don’t Focus On Medical Marijuana Prosecutions

United States Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors in October directing them to not “focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The directive upheld a campaign promise by President Barack Obama, who had previously pledged that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Read the full story here.

#2 Public Support For Legalizing Pot Hits All-Time High

A majority of U.S. voters now support legalizing marijuana, according to a national poll of 1,004 likely voters published in December by Angus Reid. The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll results echo those of separate national polls conducted this year by Gallup, Zogby, ABC News, CBS News, Rasmussen Reports, and the California Field Poll, each of which reported greater public support for marijuana legalization than ever before. Read the full story here.

#3 Lifetime Marijuana Use Associated With Reduced Cancer Risk

The moderate long-term use of cannabis is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer, according to the results of a population-based control study published in August by the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Authors reported, “After adjusting for potential confounders (including smoking and alcohol drinking), 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.” Read the full story here.

#4 AMA Calls For Review Of Marijuana’s Prohibitive Status

In November, the American Medical Association resolved that marijuana should longer be classified as a Schedule I prohibited substance. Drugs classified in Schedule I are defined as possessing “no currently accepted use in treatment in the United States.” In a separate action, the AMA also determined, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” Read the full story here.

#5 California: Lawmakers Hold Historic Hearing On Marijuana Legalization

State lawmakers heard testimony in October in support of taxing and regulating the commercial production and distribution of cannabis for adults age 21 and older. Additional hearings, as well as a vote on Assembly Bill 390: the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, are scheduled for January 12, 2010. Read the full story here.

#6 Maine Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Measure; Dispensaries Coming To Rhode Island, Washington, DC In 2010

Voters in November decided in favor of a statewide measure that allows for the state to license non-profit facilities to distribute medical cannabis to qualified patients. The vote marked the first time that citizens ever approved a statewide ballot proposal authorizing the creation of dispensaries. In June, Rhode Island lawmakers enacted a similar measure. In December, Congress lifted federal restrictions to allow for the DC City Council to implement provisions of a ten-year-old medical marijuana law that would allow for the use and distribution of medicinal cannabis in the District of Columbia. Read the full story here.

#7 Oakland: Voters Approve First-In-The-Nation Medical Marijuana Business Tax

In July 80 percent of municipal voters approved Ballot Measure F, the nation’s first ever business tax on the retail sales of cannabis. The tax, which takes effect on January 1, imposes an exclusive tax for “cannabis businesses” of $18 for every $1,000 of gross receipts. Read the full story here.

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