A Gallup poll released on Tuesday reveals that for the first time in history, Americans are more in favor of legalizing marijuana than criminalizing it. 2013 has markedly been a successful year http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp for marijuana legalization, with Colorado and Washington both passing laws to decriminalize the drug. Now, 58 percent of Americans are in favor allowing the plant to be legal.
With the majority of Americans agreeing that marijuana should be legalized, we've gathered up eight reasons why those who are still on the fence about the natural plant should possibly reconsider their feelings.
PHOENIX Arizona's attorney general on Monday asked a judge to shut down four so-called cannabis clubs that he said have been illegally providing medical marijuana to patients with cancer and other diseases.
Attorney General Tom Horne's civil action asks a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to issue an opinion on the legality of the clubs' operations and to stop them from giving marijuana to patients for a "membership fee."
Horne says More Info it's illegal under Arizona's medical marijuana law to exchange pot for money, even if it is between approved patients.
The law, narrowly passed by state voters in November, is in disarray after Horne sued the federal government in May to find out whether state employees regulating the program would face prosecution.
That action essentially put the law on hold, although the state still is handing out medical marijuana cards to patients with qualifying diseases for fees of $150 each.
The Arizona Department of Health Services was set to accept the applications of would-be pot shops starting June 1, but Horne's suit stopped that. No marijuana dispensaries have been approved to operate in the state and won't be until the federal court action is decided, which could take months.
Horne told The Associated Press that he could order the cannabis club operators arrested, but he decided to give them the benefit of the doubt because it's a new law that's difficult to understand.
The clubs will be allowed to continue to operate until the Phoenix judge issues an opinion, possibly within the next few weeks.
"Once we get a civil judgment and it becomes clear to everyone, then they would be subject to arrest," Horne said.
A spokesman for one of the clubs said they are excited to finally have a judge to weigh in on the issue.
"We are adamant in our position that this is absolutely legal," said Allan Sobol, a spokesman for The 2811 club in Phoenix. "And we'll prove that in court."
The club's roughly 500 members, who all have medical marijuana cards, exchange pot among themselves without paying each other, he said
Club members pay $75 to use the facilities for the day and have access to various classes, such as those that teach patients how to make marijuana food products, he said.
"They have to pay a club fee to get in the door, but they're not paying for the marijuana," Sobol said. "If that judge tells us we're wrong, we'll close up that day, but I don't believe that's going to happen."
Sobol said Horne and other state officials are http://medicalmarijuana.ca/ effectively stopping Arizona's medical marijuana law from being carried out, while Horne said the clubs simply found a way to skirt the law.
The department so far has approved more than 8,600 patients to have and use medical marijuana. Of those, more than 6,900 have been approved to grow up to 12 plants each.
Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/AmandaLeeAP
Arizona's Medical Marijuana Program: http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalmarijuana/
Arizona Attorney General's Office: http://www.azag.gov/
The 2811 (medical marijuana) Club: http://the2811club.com/
Researchers said alcohol "significantly increased lane departures/minimum and maximum lateral acceleration; these measures were not sensitive to cannabis." Researchers also concluded Cannabis-influenced drivers "may attempt to drive more cautiously to compensate for impairing effects, whereas alcohol-influenced drivers often underestimate their impairment and take more risk."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office on National Drug Control Policy, and federal safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funded the study.
The National Institute on Drug Abus says it used the "most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind to mirror real-life situations."
The participants drank alcohol to reach approximately 0.065% peak breath alcohol concentration, inhaled vaporized marijuana or had a placebo.
The test group consisted of 19 adults. Thirteen of them were men. Most of the participants consumed cannabis more than two times a month but less than 3 times a week. During the 45 minute driving session, inside the driving simulator in Iowa city, researchers zeroed in on how many times the car left the lane, weaving in the lane and the speed of the car. A 1996 Malibu sedan is mounted in a dome with a motion system. "Drivers experience acceleration, braking, steering cues, road conditions like gravel and realistic sounds."
Researchers said "alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of the weaving."
Although marijuana had a less dramatic effect than alcohol on drivers the study found it still impairs " one measure of driving performance." The drug reduced the drivers' peripheral vision giving them tunnel vision. People driving with blood concentrations of 13.1 g/L THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving within the lane, similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol, the threshold for impaired driving in many states.
Drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana enhanced the effect, so that drivers using both substances weaved within lanes even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the impairment thresholds for each substance alone. Alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of weaving.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia approved medical marijuana; four states and Washington, D.C., legalized recreational cannabis for adults.
As states continue to loosen restrictions on marijuana safety regulators and law enforcement are struggling to figure out how to establish a legal limit for drivers, just as there is a .08 limit for alcohol.
This new study also presented the challenges in accurately testing drivers and developing a threshold of what's considered too high to drive.
"THC concentrations drop rapidly during the time required to collect a blood specimen in the U.S., generally within two to four hours." Oral tests using the drivers' saliva can be done roadside without a long wait but researchers found oral tests may not "be a precise measure of the level of impairment." The concern is that implementing concentration-based cannabis-driving legislation "will unfairly target individuals not acutely intoxicated, because residual THC can be detected in blood for up to a month of sustained abstinence in chronic frequent smokers."
The study concedes testing marijuana levels that reflect "driving impairment remain elusive."