Hemp News, a compilation of international news stories about hemp and cannabis, is a public service of Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). All material included herein is provided free of charge for political and educational purposes under the US federal "Fair Use Doctrine". This material may only be used for political and educational purposes without express written consent.

Caribbean and South America: Antigua And Guyana Both Looking To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

This week the island of Antigua in the Caribbean and Guyana in South America became the latest countries to consider decriminalizing marijuana for personal use.

The Antigua Observer reported this week that the country's Cabinet is recommending that island residents be allowed to possess up to five grams of pot without a penalty.

According to notes from a Cabinet meeting on August 24, Antigua’s Ministry of Legal Affairs has been directed to draft a law that would eliminate fines for 5 grams or less.

The government's reasoning behind the change is the wasted expense in arresting and prosecuting people for such a minimal crime. The change is also meant to stop people from getting criminal records for simple possession, making their whole life more difficult in getting employment, traveling, and many other areas.

A prominent leader from the Church in Antigua recently spoke out, saying he is open to relaxing marijuana laws. Religious institutions carry a lot of weight in the Caribbean, so an endorsement from a church leader is meaningful.

Meanwhile, President David Granger of Guyana in South America said in a TV address Thursday that he is open to easing laws on marijuana for personal use. He said that his Cabinet would soon be reviewing marijuana laws with the goal of reducing prison overcrowding in Guyana.

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Still 'Open' To Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that she would be "open" to the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, but would not give an endorsement of the state ballot question seeking to legalize. She had made comments last year expressing her openness to the idea of legalization.

“Massachusetts is in a very difficult position, because we have decriminalized marijuana, but that means it’s fairly widely available,” Warren said Thursday. “But there’s no real regulation of it…and I think what we really need is to have some regulation of it, and that means I would be open to the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot initiative, and approved medical marijuana the same way in 2012. When asked if she supports Question 4 she reiterated her call for greater regulation.

“What I just said is that I would be open to it because I think that the problem we’ve got right now in Massachusetts is that we’ve decriminalized it which makes marijuana available but there’s no regulation over it for safety,” she said.

U.S.: Study Finds Alcohol Is Much Bigger Gateway Drug Than Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana has been labeled the biggest gateway drug in America for years, a notion that was promoted by the "Just Say No" program. A 40-year long study, however, has found that alcohol is much more likely to lead to harder drugs than marijuana.

Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and Brian C. Bennett, the creator of “Truth: the anti-drug war,” collaborated to find that alcohol caused “far more personal and social damage than any other drug. Illegal drugs comprise less than 20 percent of substance-use disorders in the U.S.”

Abuse of alcohol and prescription opioids make up the huge majority of drug problems, not illegal drugs.

The Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program's website quotes its director, William Martin: “marijuana’s reputation as a ‘gateway’ drug is not supported, even for more marijuana use. More than half of respondents under 60 have used it during their lifetime, but fewer than 10 percent use it regularly.”

Many more Americans use alcohol regularly or have at least tried it.

“In 2014, 87.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, 71.0 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.9 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”

Tennessee: Marijuana Decriminalization In Nashville Faces Important Council Meeting

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill that would reduce the penalty in Nashville for possessing or exchanging small amounts of marijuana faces a crucial vote next week at the Metro Council.

The bill was advanced earlier this month with a 32-4 vote, but it may not see the same support within the 40-member body.

The bill will probably have the support of Mayor Megan Barry, who expressed support for decriminalization during last year's mayoral campaign and has expressed continued support for the idea.

Nashville Police Department records indicate an arrest rate for marijuana misdemeanors at about 20 per day without a felony charge.

The police department is opposed to the bill as proposed, and says that it is due to the wording of the proposed ordinance — it says an offender “shall be issued a citation” as opposed to “may be issued,” which would appear to take discretion away from the officer.

“This is something that targets minorities a lot, small amounts of drugs, and it really hurts their ability to break away from a cycle of poverty,” Councilman Fabian Bedne said.

Nashville's simple possession laws would still differ from those of the state of Tennessee, but the state has shown some support for treating minor marijuana offenses less harshly.

California: Court Rules Feds Can't Prosecute Medical Marijuana Users Who Follow State Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana is still strictly banned under federal law, despite medical marijuana being legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia. But a federal court in San Francisco ruled this week that the Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute people who use medical marijuana and obey their state's laws.

The decision was handed down on Tuesday by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals. Federal authorities are now expressly forbidden to spend taxpayer money on prosecuting medical marijuana cases against individuals who have complied with state laws.

"If DOJ [the Department of Justice] wishes to continue these prosecutions, the appellants are entitled to evidentiary hearings to determine whether their conduct was completely authorized by state law," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote, sending the cases back to lower federal courts for further review.

Charles Sanford Smith, a New York attorney who specializes in medical marijuana cases, said the ruling could bring federal prosecutions to a halt while the DOJ figures out whether it's even allowed to spend money trying to prove that pot defendants have run afoul of state laws.

Michigan: Court Says No To Marijuana Ballot Question: Advocates Plan Appeal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Yesterday the marijuana-legalization question on Michigan ballots suffered a setback that may keep the measure off ballots this November.

MI Legalize, the campaign to legalize cannabis in Michigan, failed to submit enough valid petition signatures, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled.

Although 354,000 signatures were submitted -- well over the required 252,000 signatures -- the court agreed with a State Board of Canvassers decision in June that “more than 200,000 were collected more than 180 days before the petition was submitted” to the Secretary of State — a violation of state law.

“We’re disappointed but we always figured this would go to the state Supreme Court — and that’s where we’re headed” with an emergency appeal, said Jeff Hank, a Lansing lawyer and chairman of MI Legalize. Hank and other pro-marijuana advocates are hopeful that they will prevail and see the question on this year's ballot.

However, state election law experts have said for months that MI Legalize is unlikely to succeed this year. Others said the MI Legalize relied on volunteers for too long, not hiring professional petitioners until it was too late to gather the signatures in 180 days.

California: Police Say Ex-NFL Player Arrested Naked With Marijuana In Backyard

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Todd Marinovich, a former USC football star and NFL player for the Los Angeles Raiders, was arrested in Irvine, CA last week after being found in a backyard naked and in possession of marijuana.

Authorities said the incident occurred Friday evening. It is the latest of several drug-related arrests for Marinovich, dating back to his days as a quarterback in college.

Officers received a report around 9:20 of a "naked person" crouching in a group of bushes near Venta Spur Trail, according to a statement issued Monday by the Irvine Police Department.

Authorities searched the area and found Marinovich hiding, in the nude, in a backyard of a home on a nearby residential street, a news release said.

Police Commander Mike Hallihan said that a brown bag belonging to Marinovich was found containing marijuana.

Marinovich was cited and booked for alleged trespassing, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. He was then released from custody.

Marinovich was arrested in 1991 while a student athlete at USC on a drug-related charge. Charges were dropped in exchange for counseling.

California: Synthetic Marijuana Suspected In Mass LA Overdose

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In the Skid Row area of Los Angeles 14 people were transported to hospitals Monday after a suspected mass overdose. Health officials said they believe the synthetic marijuana drug known as spice caused the overdoses.

The overdose symptoms include seizures, violent behavior, and altered levels of consciousness.

"We don't have toxicological confirmation, but it's presumably spice, which is a synthetic type of cannabis, or marijuana," Dr. Marc Eckstein, the LAFD medical director and EMS bureau commander, told reporters on the scene. "Because it's synthetic, nobody for sure knows what active ingredients are in there. The strength is variable."

The LAFD on Friday responded to another incident, in which 50 people were evaluated for overdose symptoms and 38 people were transported to a local hospital for suspected overdoses related to spice, according to an LAFD spokesman. He confirmed to ABC News that the drug has become a growing problem for officials.

"The drug use here is very widespread amongst the homeless population here in the Skid Row area," Eckstein told ABC News station KABC-TV. "People would use or smoke spice at their own peril. They're taking their lives into their own hands."

Oregon: State Collects $25.5 Million In Marijuana Taxes So Far This Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon have sold roughly $102 million in recreational cannabis since January of this year, when the state began collecting a 25 percent sales tax on pot products.

$22.5 million in marijuana taxes has been collected in the first half of the year in Oregon.

According to figures released Monday by the Oregon Department of Revenue, the tax figures include the sales of marijuana-infused edibles. Edible products like candies and drinks became available to anyone 21 and older starting in June.

State economists predict the state will collect about $44.4 million in taxes on marijuana in 2016, the first year of the tax.

The state expects it will cost $28.7 million to regulate marijuana. Taxes will cover $12 million with the rest covered by fees and licensing of marijuana businesses.

What's left will be distributed according to a formula spelled out by law: 40 percent to the state's Common School Fund, 20 percent to mental health, alcoholism and drug services, 15 percent to Oregon State Police, 10 percent for city law enforcement, 10 percent for county law enforcement and 5 percent to the Oregon Health Authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention, early intervention and treatment services.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Calls The DEA Decision On Marijuana 'Absurd'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have been unhappy with the DEA's recent decision to refuse to reschedule marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration had said earlier this year that they would make a decision on whether or not to reschedule marijuana. The decision was made to change nothing, and so marijuana remains grouped with the most harmful substances in America.

The DEA claims that there is “no currently accepted medical use in the United States” for marijuana and so it will remain on the list of Schedule I drugs. Bernie Sanders and many other Americans believe this is a big fat lie. A majority of Americans now believe the substance should be made legal, and the DEA is clearly ignoring the wants and needs of the American public.

Sanders tweeted after the DEA's announcement that “keeping marijuana in the same category as heroin is absurd. The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.”

He followed up with another tweet, saying “if we are serious about criminal justice reform, we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substance Act.”

Alaska: Credit Union Closes Accounts Connected To Marijuana Businesses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has restricted 10 accounts of people applying for state licenses for marijuana businesses, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Recreational marijuana was made legal in 2014 in Alaska, winning a ballot initiative to legalize.

The state is currently creating regulations for those who want to legally grow, sell, and test marijuana.

In July, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union told marijuana license applicants to close their accounts by August 19.

A letter sent to customers said that the credit union, being federally chartered, does not offer accounts to anyone in a marijuana-related business or any other business that violates federal law.

In 2014 the US Department of Justice said financial institutions are subject to prosecution for conducting financial relations with marijuana-related conduct.

US: Five States Officially Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan certified a marijuana legalization initiative for November's ballot, meaning this year's election will see five states voting on the issue.

Four states have already legalized marijuana through voter's ballots, Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana in 2014, but not commercial sales.

Those states have a combined population of about 17 million people. Legalization in the most populous state, California, alone would more than double that figure, and winning in all five states would triple it.

On November 9 we could see almost a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization if all five states were to pass it. The five states are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. California seems most likely to win, based on current information. The possibility of legalization in Maine and Nevada is looking good as well. It will be a tougher sell in Massachusetts, with Arizona looking like the state with the biggest hurdle to jump for pot legalization.

Colorado: Gunmen Rob Arapahoe County Marijuana Dispensary

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp news

A marijuana dispensary in Cure, Colorado was robbed Sunday afternoon by a woman and three men with their faces covered, at least one of them wielding a gun. They then escaped in a white sedan.

No shots were fired in the robbery, which occurred around 2 pm. Arapahoe County sheriff's spokeswoman Julie Brooks said "We will not disclose what was taken."

Authorities also declined to discuss the type of gun and other details learned from witnesses at the dispensary, located at 6200 E. Yale Ave.

"It was an armed robbery. Nobody was hurt," Brooks said.

Sheriff's deputies said the robbers were last seen leaving the area in a four-door white sedan.

Canada: Growing Medical Marijuana At Home Now Legal

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Effective on August 24, Canadians will be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana at home with a prescription from a doctor.

Canada's CTV reported "The federal government has announced new rules that will allow medical marijuana users to grow their own at home. The new regulations, which will replace the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, also include other changes, such as labelling requirements for dried pot and cannabis oils."

Meanwhile southward in the States, marijuana consumption or possession remains federally illegal, with an American being arrested for marijuana possession every 42 seconds to one minute. In states where marijuana has not been legalized, an arrest for possession can lead to job loss, thousands of dollars in court costs, and five years or more in a private prison.

President Obama is supposedly working on a plan to help marijuana users that have been busted. Just last week his daughter was seen smoking pot on a widely circulated Web video.

Mississippi: Former Blazers Forward Travis Outlaw Arrested For Felony Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Travis Outlaw, formerly a player for the Portland Trailblazers, has been arrested in Starkville, Mississippi for a felony marijuana charge.

Local newspaper The Dispatch reports that Outlaw's indictment states that on July 15, he "did unlawfully, willfully, feloniously, knowingly and intentionally possess a controlled substance, marijuana, in an amount greater than 250 grams but less than 1 kilogram." the amount stated is the equivalent of less than two pounds.

He turned himself in to authorities, and was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Outlaw played as small forward for the Portland Trailblazers from 2003 to 2010, when he was traded to the Clippers. Outlaw has been playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, but was released after posting his bond.

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