Amidst the annual glut of award ceremonies for film and television, Colorado cannabis fans had the privilege of hearing this week that they’ll be able to enjoy an award ceremony all their own. Coming this April, Aspen will host the first-ever Western Slope Cannabis Crown, where growers from across the country will compete for the hearts and votes of event-goers. According to Cannabis Crown organizer, 1,500 tickets have already been sold.

In other cannabis-themed event news, artist Cliff Maynard announced this week that he’ll be auctioning off a very special work for Cannapoolza, a trade show for the marijuana industry held this year in Las Vegas. Maynard will be completing a portrait of a Vegas showgirl composed entirely of rolling papers.

In a nation where this kind flagrant ganja glorification is legal and profitable, it’s easy to forget that in many parts of the country the drug war still affects the lives of Americans daily. As the New York Times reported this Sunday, for the Tohono O’odham Nation of Sells, Arizona the ongoing struggle between drug enforcement officers and cartels is a daily reality. The Indian reservation sits on 75 miles of the US-Mexico border. Since the tightening of border security following September 11, 2001, the Tohono O’odham have seen a spike in the amount of drug traffic as well as a rise in the population of federal agents. The once tranquil landscape is quickly transforming into the drug war’s newest battleground.

In the battleground of California’s constantly evolving drug policy, the California Supreme Court ruled this week in favor of striking down existing limits on marijuana possession for those with a doctor’s recommendation. In 2003, the Legislature passed a law that stated a patient or caregiver could possess and cultivate up to 8 ounces of dried herb or 12 immature plants. Now, a patient can have an amount that is “reasonably related to the patient's current medical needs.” 

While California courts may be easing restrictions on possession of marijuana, city governments are clamping down on businesses selling the product. After a long process of deliberation, the Los Angeles City Council passed a measure requiring dispensaries located within 1000 feet of “sensitive areas,” such as schools, churches and parks, to close and relocate. The measure is aimed to curb the rampant growth of cannabis clinics and clubs--over 800 new establishments have opened up shop in LA all in the last two years despite a city-wide ban. The ordinance will force around 80 percent of the city's existing dispensaries to shut their doors.

While Washington state has failed to become the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana--the state’s legislature voted down two laws changing the status of the drug-- residents of our nation’s capital might soon be able to toke up at the foot Lincoln Monument. Last week, the D.C. Council tentatively approved a bill to designate five businesses within the District to legally sell marijuana to patients proven to need the drug for medical condition.  However, as the local blog the DCist reported, this potential ruling falls way short of the hopes and dreams of drug policy activists.

In other news, New Yorkers have a new reason to complain about people from New Jersey. Well, at least the drug dealers do. The New York Daily press reported that with the passage of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Act, New York drug dealers fear falling pot prices across the Hudson River. With prices for a legal ounce New Jersey product at around a quarter of what you’d spend in New York, the business people of the underground drug economy have reason to worry. So do elementary school teachers. According to a story in Christian Science Monitor this week, the number of children and teens prescribed marijuana for ADHD is on the rise. Apparently, kids do say the darndest things, but not for the reason Bill Cosby thinks.

Finally, but perhaps most important of all the events of this dopey week, the US Senate Committee on Judiciary unanimously passed The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. The bill will establish a national commission to hold public hearings as part of a comprehensive review of the entire criminal justice system, covering such issues a the over-crowding of the country’s prison system and drug policy. In an op-ed in Parade magazine, the bill’s chief sponsor, Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia, listed some harrowing statistics about the criminal justice system. For starters, we house nearly 25% of the world’s reported prisoners, spending around $68 billion a year. 

We’ll have more on the fate of this bill, Senate Bill 714, plus updates on reefer madness from across the country next time on... The Week in Dope!