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Washington: Adult Cannabis Cultivation Bill, HB 2559, Seeking Public Comment

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HB 2559 would allow non-medical home cultivation of marijuana in Washington state

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, January 15, the Washington state legislature will discuss the adult home grow bill, HB 2559, in the Commerce and Gaming Committee. The hearing, which is scheduled to be in House Hearing Rm C at 1:30pm in the John L. O'Brien Building in Olympia, WA, is sure to bring cannabis advocates from across the state to the Capitol.

U.S.: Former US Deputy Attorney General Cole’s reaction to Sessions’ Rescission

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Former US Deputy Attorney General and author of the Cole Memos, James Cole was recently a guest on Cannabis Economy Podcast with Seth Adler. In the conversation, Cole shared what the rescission of the Cole Memos and the Ogden Memo means for legal cannabis and the questions that the action raises.

“The FinCen memo may kind of die of its own weight because it is based on compliance with the Cole Memo. So there's a question about whether the FinCen memo, which has not been withdrawn still exists,” said Cole. The third Cole Memo was released in concert with the FinCen memo, which outlines guidance on banking expectations for state legal cannabis.

Vermont: Senate Passes Recreational Cannabis Bill, Governor Expected to Sign

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

MONTPELIER — Today, Vermont's state Senate passed a bill which would legalize social cannabis use for adults over the age of 21.

Under the Vermont legislation, an earlier version of which passed the Senate last summer, commercial sales of cannabis would not be allowed. But if the proposal is enacted, as is expected, the state would become the first to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers.

Gov. Phil Scott (R), who is expected to sign the bill, vetoed a social cannabis bill last May, stating he wasn't opposed to social cannabis but wanted to form a committee to study the issue's implementation in Vermont.

Global: Oregonian Being Held In El Salvador for 36 Grams of Cannabis

Free Clay Pierce

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Clay Pierce, an Oregon medical marijuana cardholder, is imprisoned in the notorious Mariona prison in El Salvador for 36 grams of cannabis. This story is an important notice to all Oregonians: just because you are traveling from one legal cannabis location to another, we must be aware of the laws in our connecting flight locations.

In October, Mr. Pierce sold everything he had in Oregon and was moving to Colombia when his flight to Colombia had a brief scheduled stop in San Salvador, the capitol of El Salvador.

U.S.: Attorney General Sessions to Rescind Memo on State Cannabis Laws

Jeff Sessions

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Earlier this morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to rescind Obama-era guidance, aka the Cole Memo, which has generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference.

The Obama Justice Department deputy attorney general, who authored it in 2013, set out certain criteria that would allow states to implement their own laws mostly without intervention, if followed. The focus of the memo was interstate trafficking and abuse.

Wisconsin: Medical Cannabis Advocate, Jacki Rickert, Passes Away

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Wisconsin medical marijuana patient and activist, Jacki Rickert, passed away on December 26 at the age of 66. Rickert, who suffered from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder in which her joints become dislocated easily, was a determined Midwest activist who fought for her right to treat her condition with cannabis.

Rickert was an active swimmer, gymnast and horseback rider before being diagnosed with the syndrome at the age of 21, and discovered that cannabis could help her control the dislocations and keep her other medications down.

South Carolina: Twenty Farmers Selected for Industrial Hemp Pilot Program

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In South Carolina, twenty farmers from fifteen counties will participate in South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s (SCDA) 2018 Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. Throughout the state, 131 applications were submitted for the pilot program. Participants were selected based on agriculture experience, geographic balance across South Carolina, accredited college/university partner, purpose of the crop, processor experience and the ability to secure needed equipment and financing.

Farmers in the pilot program will be working with the University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Clemson University and USC Beaufort.

Michigan: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Submits 360,000 Signatures to Place Issue on 2018 Ballot

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

LANSING, MI — The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures earlier this month calling for its marijuana legalization initiative to be placed on Michigan’s November 2018 ballot. The state Board of Canvassers approved ballot language on May 18 of this year. Shortly afterward, the campaign began its 180-day statewide signature collection effort using both volunteer and paid signature collectors.

Connecticut: Hartford City Council Unanimously Endorses Marijuana Legalization

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Resolution urges support for legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana for adults in Connecticut

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

HARTFORD, Conn. — At a meeting Monday evening, the Hartford Court of Common Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution in support of making cannabis legal and regulated for adults in Connecticut.

The resolution specifically recommends that the Hartford Delegation of elected representatives support the passage of state legislation to legalize and tax cannabis in 2018 and insist on measures to ensure racial equity in ownership and employment in the resulting cannabis industry. It also directs the city to conduct an economic impact study for a potential cannabis industry in Hartford and hold public forums to hear from residents.

Illinois: Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (Economic Development)

Illinois Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Chicago, IL - State lawmakers continued their in-depth look at cannabis policy reform earlier this week as they heard testimony on the economic boost Illinois could expect following the end of cannabis prohibition. Travel icon Rick Steves, Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon, economist Adam Orens, and several Illinois business owners discussed the benefits and challenges Illinois could expect upon adopting a better law.

Maine: Prohibitionist Governor Vetoes Cannabis Regulation and Implementation Bill

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Friday, Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated cannabis market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016.

The progressive bill, LD 1650, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use and delay cannabis social consumption lounges until summer 2019.

U.S.: Record-High Support for Legalizing Cannabis Use, Gallup Poll Finds

2017 Gallup Poll

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Americans are warming up to legalizing cannabis, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support a Gallup poll has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.

The latest figure, based on an Oct. 5-11 Gallup poll, follows shifts in the U.S. legal landscape regarding marijuana since Gallup's 2016 measure. While still illegal at the federal level, the issue was featured on a number of state ballot initiatives in 2016, and with eight states and the District of Columbia having fully legalized marijuana, more than one in five Americans live in a state where they can legally enjoy use of the drug.

Illinois: High School Newspaper Confiscated For Cannabis Content

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, prohibitionist administrators at Evanston Township High School confiscated an issue of the student newspaper, declaring it glorified drug use, drug dealing and promoted illegal conduct. Last week, at the meeting of the District 202 school board, the student journalists and first amendment legal advocates argued that the school may have violated state law by failing to show justification before confiscating the paper, which included coverage on cannabis use and policy.

U.S.: Northern Michigan University Offering Cannabis Degree

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Northern Michigan University in Marquette is offering a cannabis degree. The four-year medicinal plant chemistry degree geared toward the emerging cannabis industry includes classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, bio-statistics, genetics, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, accounting, financial management and perspectives on society.

Other colleges and universities in the U.S., namely Harvard, Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University and University of Denver, offer a variety of classes on cannabis policy and law.

Georgia: Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that he signed the historic city council ordinance decriminalizing marijuana.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” Reed said. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

U.S.: Support The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

This legislative session, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced comprehensive cannabis reform legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017. If passed, the bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Canada: Quebec Sets Minimum Age for Cannabis Consumption at 18

Quebec Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Thursday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the call that the minimum age for the consumption of legal cannabis in Quebec will be 18.

After several caucus meetings, where everyone was allowed to express their views on the hot issue, Couillard made a ultimate decision, opting for 18 instead of 21 as some requested, government sources confirmed on Friday.

The opposition Coalition, led by Avenir Québec, had also been calling for age 21 because they believed smoking cannabis at such a young age can have negative effects on the brain. Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette was pushing for age 21, but voted for 18, after reconsidering.

Georgia: Atlanta City Council Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis

Atlanta Cannabis Decriminalization

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis in an unanimous decision. After the historic 15-0 vote from the City Council, the proposed ordinance was sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to either sign or veto the legislation. If the mayor signs it, which he said he intends to, the ordinance will become city law.

After the vote, Mayor Reed indicated that he was interested in signing the legislation. In a tweet, the mayor thanked council members for their "leadership on marijuana reform."

Lesotho: Kingdom Becomes First African Country to Legalize Cannabis

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Lesotho, a country of two-million people surrounded by South Africa, is perfectly situated to produce large volumes of high quality, low cost cannabis due to its expertise in high altitude cultivation.

For many years, Lesotho’s farmers have been growing cannabis for consumption at home and exporting their harvest across the border in South Africa. Similarly, in Swaziland, growing cannabis and exporting the herb to South Africa has provided for many families, despite the plant being outlawed.

Cannabis is not yet fully legal in South Africa, so citizens cannot legally cultivate, sell or smoke, and how the court ruling applies is still somewhat obscure, but it seems, globally, cannabis culture is becoming more tolerated.

U.S.: FBI Reports 653,249 Arrests for Cannabis in 2016

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. The staggering data equates to one person being arrested for cannabis approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

In the U.S. today, arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty that needs to end.

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