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.

Texas: Drug Smuggler Drives Van Into Rio Grande With 1,000 Pounds Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A drug smuggler drove a minivan filled with weed into the Rio Grande river Wednesday in an attempt to avoid Border Patrol agents.

After crossing onto the American side of the border the van suddenly made a U-turn and sped back towards the river, plunging into the water as authorities watched.

Agents placed the driver under arrest after helping him out of the water. The San Benito fire Department pulled the van from the river, and found eight bundles of marijuana with a total weight of about 1,000 pounds.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection estimated the value of the marijuana to be $800,000.

Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Maine: Travel Guru Rick Steves Donates $50,000 To Marijuana Legalization Campaign

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rick Steves, popular travel writer and television host, has donated $50,000 to Maine's political action committee devoted to seeing recreational marijuana legalized in the state.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says in its latest campaign finance report that it has raised just over $191,000 for the reporting period that ended on July 19.

Steves promised to match “dollar-for-dollar” donations up to a total of $50,000 in a letter to legalization supporters in May. Campaign finance records show that his donation was made on July 18.

“Through my travels in Europe, I’ve learned that pragmatic harm reduction makes much more sense than legislating morality,” Steves wrote in the letter. “And I believe in civil liberties. Responsible adults should be able to use marijuana, just as they can use alcohol. Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have demonstrated that it is possible to build a system of marijuana control and regulation that works. This isn’t about being ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ on drugs. This is about being smart – and controlling and regulating marijuana the right way.”

Steves has worked for legalization in both Washington and Oregon, and resides in Washington.

The campaign in Maine has so far raised a total of $436,000, and had about $93,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Florida: Second Marijuana Dispensary To Open In Pensacola

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida saw its first medical marijuana dispensary open its doors on Tuesday in Tallahassee, and a Pensacola location is scheduled to open very soon, according to the CEO of the dispensing company.

Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said Wednesday that the company has found a location in Pensacola, received zoning verification,and is awaiting a permit from the Department of Health. The company plans to work with architects to plan the necessary security renovations to convert the location into a dispensary.

"We think it's very important that we're serving patients here in Northwest Florida, so Pensacola is definitely an important market for us," Rivers said.

Trulieve currently only offers low-THC marijuana treatments, but has plans to provide full-strength strains to eligible patients by August.

Florida has six licensed medical marijuana growers, and Trulieve dispenses medical marijuana for Hackney Nursery Company, one of those six.

The new location shares the block with a probation and parole office, the Independence for the Blind headquarters, and Eden Garden Supply. Eden Garden Supply owner Greg Armour said he welcomes the new business.

Pennsylvania: Dems Become First Major Party To Back A Path To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Democratic Party made history in Philadelphia Monday by voting to approve a national platform endorsing a "pathway" for marijuana legalization.

The platform calls for removing marijuana from the federal government's list of Schedule 1 drugs. That list includes LSD and heroin; Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous with a high potential for abuse and no medical purpose.

“The fact that one of the country’s two major parties has officially endorsed a pathway to legalization is the clearest sign we’ve seen yet that marijuana reform is a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group.

“A clear and growing majority of voters want to end prohibition.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton does not back full legalization at the federal level. She has often said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states, allowing them to be “laboratories of democracy.”

Legal marijuana could see a huge expansion this year.

Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on marijuana legalization in November, and voters in Florida and Arkansas will have the opportunity to vote for medical marijuana.

Oregon: State Fair To Feature Marijuana Plants For First Time

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It's not unusual for state fairs to display award-winning vegetables and animals along with different-colored ribbons decorating the winners. But it is unusual for a fair to display award-winning marijuana, and this will be the first year the Oregon State Fair does just that.

The event runs August 26 through September 5 at the fairgrounds in Salem. There will only be nine plants on display, according to Don Morse, chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, the sponsor of the marijuana exhibit.

The plants will be in a greenhouse watched by a security guard. Only people 21 and older will be allowed in to view the plants.

The plants will be awarded ribbons like any other prize-winning crop.

"We are doing it 4H style," Morse said. "You get a blue, purple or yellow ribbon. We are celebrating the plant as a farm crop from Oregon."

The plants will have been judged by a panel of marijuana growers before being displayed at the fair.

But there won't be any sampling. "We are not promoting the use of cannabis," Morse said. "We are there to show plants to people over 21 what award-winning cannabis plants look like."

Pennsylvania: Jason La Canfora Says NFL Needs To Stop Testing For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sports writer Jason La Confera is pleading that the NFL stop its drug testing and marijuana ban in the wake of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell getting a four-game suspension for failing and/ or missing multiple drug tests due to marijuana usage.

“I’ve dropped my specimen cup and I’m waving the white flag,” La Canfora wrote in a column. “Spare us all…get the heck out of these guys’ living rooms, or dens, or hermitically-sealed smoke rooms.”

La Confora says that no-one benefits from it.

“Is there anyone who thinks this is good for football?” La Canfora said. “I mean, aside from a short-sighted fan, whose team plays the Steelers, say, in Week 3, and who is hoping that week Bell is still suspended. What are we really accomplishing?”

“I understand the need for players to follow the rules, but shouldn’t the punishments fit the crimes,” he added. “What if we just admit this is a personal choice a good many of these athletes are going to make as a counter-punch to all of the blows to the head they are contractually obligated to take?”

He spoke more on his views during an interview with “The Fan Morning Show” on Tuesday.

Florida: Opening Day For The State's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida's first medical marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday in a storefront in Tallahassee, a week after receiving approval from thew state to sell a low-THC cannabis oil.

Patients who suffer from chronic muscle spasms, seizures, and cancer can qualify to use the oil, thanks to a law passed in 2014.

Another law passed in the last legislative session allows terminally ill patients to use full-strength cannabis.

“When I say it is an historic and momentous day, it really is," Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said at a packed news conference at the store Tuesday. "We are really overwhelmed and so proud to be this pioneer."

Some patients wanting to get medical cannabis are having trouble finding a physician to agree to the treatment.

Only 15 doctors in the state had signed up to order the low-THC products as of last week.

Florida: Opening Day For The State's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Florida medical marijuana.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida's first medical marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday in a storefront in Tallahassee, a week after receiving approval from thew state to sell a low-THC cannabis oil.

Patients who suffer from chronic muscle spasms, seizures, and cancer can qualify to use the oil, thanks to a law passed in 2014.

Another law passed in the last legislative session allows terminally ill patients to use full-strength cannabis.

“When I say it is an historic and momentous day, it really is," Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said at a packed news conference at the store Tuesday. "We are really overwhelmed and so proud to be this pioneer."

Some patients wanting to get medical cannabis are having trouble finding a physician to agree to the treatment.

Only 15 doctors in the state had signed up to order the low-THC products as of last week.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Activists March To Democratic Convention With 51-Foot Joints

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two 51-foot inflatable joints were marched up Broad Street in Philadelphia yesterday to celebrate the Democratic National Committee's progressive platform on marijuana.

About two dozen members of the Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) carried the blow-up joints about 3.5 miles from Philadelphia City Hall to the Wells Fargo enter, where the convention is taking place.

Marijuana is a central issue at the convention this year, and pro-legalization groups are pleased with the progress being made. Activists have been joined by some members of Congress, fighting for marijuana reform, hoping that federal laws will soon mirror those of states that have legalized marijuana.

One joint read "Legalize" and "Hillary, Deschedule Cannabis Now".

The other read "End the Racist Drug War" and Berned by the DNC", referring to the leaked e-mails that showed high-ranking party members had favored Hillary Clinton. Sanders became an advocate for marijuana reform during his campaign, and had a lot to do with why the issue made it part of the DNC platform at all. He refrained from endorsing Clinton until certain issues from his campaign, including marijuana reform and free college tuition, were added to the party's platform draft.

Florida: Publix Heiress Donates $800,000 To Fight Medical Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Publix is probably the most popular supermarket chain in Florida, but some of its patrons may be surprised to learn that the family that founded the chain just donated $800,000 to a campaign fighting medical marijuana in the state.

The Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust donated $800,000 to Drug Free Florida on July 14. The same group helped kill Florida's 2014 medical marijuana amendment, which was only two percent short of the 60 percent vote it needed to pass.

Drug Free Florida is spreading misinformation and lies about Amendment 2, the medical marijuana measure on the ballot this November. They've been responsible for releasing several ridiculous Reefer Madness-style videos this year.

Jenkins Barnett, daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins, gave more than $500,000 to Drug Free Florida in 2014, and so has surpassed that amount for this year.

Illinois: Judge Orders Officials To Reconsider Medical Marijuana For Migraines

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A judge has ordered health officials in Illinois to rethink their decision to leave migraine headaches off the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use in the state.

A Cook County judge ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah to reconsider evidence presented to members of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board before they voted to recommend approving marijuana to treat migraines.

Shah had previously denied a petition to add migraines to the list.

A suit filed by an unidentified man currently using marijuana to treat migraines prompted the court response. Attorney Robert Bauerschmidt said the middle-aged man has suffered from migraine headaches since adolescence , and has found narcotic painkillers and triptans, the most common treatment for migraines, to be ineffective.

"He's been through everything," Bauerschmidt said. "Marijuana doesn't cure it, but he finds the pain less severe and believes the headaches are less frequent when he's using it."

Illinois law allows medical marijuana for patients who have any of about 40 specific medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.

A different judge just last month ordered Illinois to add PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to the list of qualifying conditions.

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

Florida: State's First Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Tallahassee

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida's first medical marijuana clinic, Trulieve, will open its doors in Tallahassee next week.

It has taken two and a half years for the company to get to this point, and they are now ready to provide medical marijuana to patients that need it.

"We're on the cusp of a new era in the state of Florida and for the cannabis industry nationwide," said CEO Kim Rivers. "Florida is one of the largest states in the country, so I think that this really is a game-changer and a tilting point for the national conversation."

Trulieve will offer a low-THC version of marijuana to its customers, who must be listed in an official state registry to receive the drug.

Customers must consult with a qualified physician like Dr. Joseph Dorn, who's taken a comprehensive state exam to be approved to prescribe medical marijuana.

"They're not going to be for everyone, but I do feel like, in order to adequately treat some patients, that we need to kind of think outside the box," Dorn said.

President George Hackney says the drug will help many, including kids with epilepsy.

"These children have seizures - some of them as many as 100 a day, and just to talk to their parents, their life is miserable," Hackney said, "and this helps reduce the number of seizures they have."

Illinois: Judge Rules Search Illegal In St. Charles Brothers Marijuana Case

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Members of an Illinois State Police special unit found marijuana and an indoor grow operation in a St. Charles home in December 2015 after responding to an anonymous tip.

A judge has ruled, however, that the seized contraband cannot be used in the case against Derek Sutcliffe, 31, and his brother Joseph W. Sutcliffe, 27. Kane County judge Linda Abrahamson ruled Wednesday to suppress evidence in the case, because the search violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, she said.

"It was a very thorough ruling, well thought out and she followed the law," defense attorney Kathleen Colton said of the ruling by Abrahamson.

Abrahamson ruled members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, a unit of the state police, did not have permission from a woman who answered the door to go beyond the foyer at the home on of Denker Road in St. Charles.

She also ruled officers did not have cause to perform a protective sweep of the home in which they saw a backpack of marijuana in a closet and later used that information to get the warrant.

Maryland: Marijuana Advocate Eugene Monroe to Retire From NFL

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Eugene Monroe, veteran offensive tackle who became the first active NFL player to openly ask the league to allow players to use medical marijuana, has announced he will retire after seven seasons.

Having first played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, he most recently played for the Baltimore Ravens until his release in June. Monroe said that he felt his release had something to do with his stance on medical marijuana.

Retired players have often asked the league to discontinue its ban on medical marijuana use. In March, Monroe backed up those requests, saying medical marijuana is safer than the opioids and prescription painkillers that are regularly given to players.

Although Ravens Coach John Harbaugh disagreed with Monroe's views, a team spokesman declined to say if his advocacy for marijuana contributed to the decision to let him go.

Monroe has been contacted since then by several teams, but has refused all offers. He said his decision to retire is based on his numerous injuries and the fear that he would become incapacitated if he continued to play.

“It is a very demanding sport on your body, and it’s taken a toll on me time and time again,” Monroe said. He said that he had damaged both his knees, had surgery on one of his shoulders and had an array of chronic ailments and injuries that did not need surgery.

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