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Israeli/Canadian Oil & Gas Corp Steals Medical Marijuana Clinics & 250,000 Patients Records

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by Angela Bacca for Huffington Post

After a lifetime of cannabis activism, since he was 18 in 1978, Paul Stanford has been working to legalize marijuana in his home state of Oregon and take his cannabis business public. For over 20 years, he has hosted Cannabis Common Sense, a well-known cable access TV program that served as a launching pad to his multi-million dollar multi-state business, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) Clinics. The clinics were the first to open in most states with legalized medical cannabis and connected doctors with patients in need of state-legal recommendations. Since 2001, the clinics amassed around 250,000 personal patient files and medical records. The private patient files are now at the center of an international business controversy that may leave Stanford penniless.

In 2012, Stanford succeeded at placing The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA, aka Measure 80) on the ballot, but it failed with 46.6 percent of the vote. OCTA was considered more liberal than the legalization laws approved in the same November 2012 vote in Colorado and Washington, and would have allocated two percent of net tax revenues to promote industrial hemp farming. Stanford is recognized internationally as a pioneer working for legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp. In 2014, he again sought to put a slightly revised version of OCTA on Oregon's ballot.

Georgia: Atlanta Considers Eliminating Jail Time For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If the Atlanta City Council passes a bill under consideration, people caught with marijuana in Atlanta may not have to do jail time and pay a $1,000 fine.

The Atlanta City Council will consider legislation at April's meeting to lower fines for marijuana possession to $75 and eliminate any jail time. Under current law, people caught possessing marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and can receive up to six months in jail.

Advocates are pushing for the change, saying the move is necessary to address racial disparities in arrests for marijuana use.

92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he was conflicted because he doesn’t want to encourage drug use, but agreed that the penalties outweighed the violation. But he suggested that $75 may be too low a fine and that jail time could be warranted in some circumstances.

“For me this is an extremely complicated subject,” said Bond, who said he has lost friends to drugs. “I believe as a policy body, we ought not to rush this.

Oregon: Hemp Bills Would Move Crop Into Mainstream

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two bills would bring hemp more into the mainstream of Oregon's agriculture by creating a commodity commission and seed certification process for the crop.

“Industrial hemp has a huge potential in Oregon, we just need a few tweaks to help move it forward,” said Matt Cyrus, a hemp grower in Deschutes County, during a March 28 legislative hearing.

House Bill 2372 would allow Oregon's hemp industry to join 23 other crop, seafood, and livestock sectors with a state commission meant to promote and research a commodity through fees raised from producers.

House Bill 2371 would establish a system to get the purity of hemp seeds certified through a system overseen by Oregon State University.

“It’s truly about a certified seed, one we know Oregon can count on,” said Jerry Norton, a hemp grower.

HB 2371 would also establish a hemp pilot program at OSU to comply with federal provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill that allow hemp research.

Commercial hemp production is still illegal under federal drug laws which place hemp in the same category as marijuana, its psychoactive cousin.

Tennessee: Legislature Blocking Cities' Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As several states and cities seek to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee's Republican legislature is blocking such efforts in Memphis and Nashville.

Police in those cities could soon be losing their option of issuing a minor citation to individuals found to possess small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee legislators have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession.

The ban would conform to proposals by the Trump administration to step up federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

"I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. "But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Memphis and Nashville recently authorized their police officers to issue a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service to someone caught with a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Tennessee law currently imposes a misdemeanor charge for possession punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for people caught with a half ounce or less.

Oklahoma: Supreme Court Restores Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Title

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has thrown out a rewrite of the title of its ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, clearing the way for a vote on State Question 788. The title of the initiative was re-written by then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt last September, and the measure has been on hold since then. The rewrite led to a lawsuit between Pruitt, Oklahomans for Health, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the rewrite was intended to mislead voters into thinking they were voting for legalizing marijuana for adults.

“Whether it’s the folks that signed this initiative petition or all of the voters who will ultimately have the chance to weigh in on whether or not Oklahoma will have medical marijuana, they should be able to do that without the attorney general injecting his personal political position into the ballot campaign by misrepresenting what the petitioners seek to accomplish,” Kiesel said in a report.

The state Supreme Court ruled that Pruitt’s title changes be stricken and the original title language restored.

Oklahoma voters should get the chance to vote on the measure during the gubernatorial election in November 2018, but Governor Mary Fallin could schedule for a special election before then.

Utah: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Research Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, has signed a bill to allow research into the benefits and risks of medical marijuana. The proposal is supported by the Utah Medical Association, which has been pushing for more research in the hope of expanding the state's limited medical marijuana program, which currently only allows the use of CBD.

The Utah legislature has failed to pass medical marijuana reforms for three consecutive years now. Advocates for reform have already begun to work on getting a question on the ballot for 2018.

The bill signed by the Governor (HB130) will allow researchers to study the benefits, risks, and effects of medical marijuana without federal approval. It will also create a Cannabinoid Product Board to consider future recommendations for medical marijuana policy. The board will consist of four physicians, three medical research professionals, and three members of the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee.

Illinois: Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new poll shows that a majority of Illinois voters support legalizing marijuana, following the introduction of two bills into the General Assembly proposing legalization.

The poll from the Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed that 74.4 percent of Illinois citizens are in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Only 21 percent are opposed, and 4.6 percent either don't know or refused to answer the poll.

The Simon Institute said it collected data from live telephone interviews collected between March 4 and March 11.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and State Senator Heather Steans introduced identical pieces of legislation into both chambers of the General Assembly on March 22. Both lawmakers said the tax revenue from legal recreational marijuana could help with the state's budget deficit.

The bills are SB316 and HB2353.

Canada: Marijuana Stocks Soar After Reports That Trudeau Plans To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canadian marijuana stocks were on a high Monday following reports that the government plans to legalize the substance for recreational use for adults by July 2018.

According to the CBC, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is expected to announce the planned legislation the week of April 10.

Shares of Aurora Cannabis and Organigrams holdings were up 10 percent, Aphria rose 7.9 percent, Canopy Growth Corp. jumped 11 percent, SupremePharma and EmblemCorp rose 6 percent.

The minimum age limit for purchasing marijuana will be 18, according to the CBC, although individual provinces can set the minimum age higher if they wish.

Georgia: House Approves Compromise To Expand Medical Marijuana Program

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A compromise that would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment with medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia House lawmakers Tuesday.

The chamber voted 167-4 to adopt senate Bill 16 after Senate lawmakers backed off a proposal to lower the THC level of the cannabis oil Georgia patients can legally use.

“This bill doesn’t go as far as many of us like, it does add six more conditions,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, (R-Macon) godfather of the state’s medical marijuana program. “And it does allow many more Georgians to benefit from this law.”

"I’m grateful we’ve moved the ball," Peake said. "We’re not there yet. We still have a huge issue of, where do we access the product. And until we deal with that we’re still going to be shortchanging our citizens in some respects."

Peake received a standing ovation from members of the House for his work on the measure after being introduced by Speaker Davis Ralston. Peake is a possible upcoming candidate for higher office.

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill into law.

U.S.: Study Finds Marijuana Could Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new study shows that U.S. hospitals have not seen an influx of cannabis consumers in states that have legalized medical marijuana as was predicted, but instead have treated far fewer opioid users.

The number of patients admitted for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse decreased on average by 23 percent after states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The study also showed that hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

The report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that fears that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in marijuana-related turned out to be unfounded.

"Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego. "This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary."

An estimated 60 percent of Americans now live in the 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is now legal under state law.

The opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans per day; sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled since 1999.

South Dakota: Two Marijuana Measures Proposed For 2018 Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley recently announced that two marijuana measures have been proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

The sponsor of the measures will circulate petitions with these statements. If the sponsor obtains the required number of signatures (13,871) on each petition by November 2017, as certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot for the November 2018 election.

The measures are titled:

1. “An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use.”
2. “An initiated measure to legalize certain amounts of marijuana, drugs made from marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments.”

Medical marijuana measures appeared on the South Dakota ballot in 2006 and 2010 but failed to pass both years.

Oregon: Study Shows Regular Marijuana Use Associated With Lower BMI

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

People who consume cannabis more than five times per month possess lower body mass index (BMI), on average, than those who do not use the substance, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Archives of Osteoporosis.

Researchers from Oregon's Health and Science University studied the relationship between marijuana use and various health issues in a sample of 4,743 participants nationally between the ages of 20 and 59.

Authors reported, "Heavy users of cannabis had a lower mean BMI compared to that of never users, with a mean BMI being 26.7 kg/m in heavy users and 28.4 kg/m in never users."

Cannabis consumers spent more time per day engaged in physical activity compared to those who occasionally or never use the substance.

60 percent of subjects in the study reported having used marijuana at some point in their lives. 47 percent described themselves as former users. Seven percent said they used cannabis regularly and seven percent said they were occasional users.

Oregon: State May Declare Emergency Over Sessions Cannabis Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon is considering declaring an emergency due to the threat of federal law enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have made the substance legal.

Senate Bill 863 passed last week; it would prohibit marijuana retailers from recording, retaining and transferring types of information that are contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears a picture of a person.

Dispensaries typically collect this type of information across the nation, but SB 863 requires marijuana retailers to destroy the type of information covered within 30 days of Governor Kate Brown signing off on the bill.

Section 4 of the bill states that on passage of the bill Oregon would declare an emergency in the face of threats of federal enforcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the intentions of the current administration are unclear, bit it's good to be prepared.

Vermont: Bill Would Legalize Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in the Vermont House are expected to vote soon on a measure that would legalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, passing the unscheduled vote 8-3.

The full House will vote on the measure in the upcoming days.

The bill would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of pot and two plants under the measure. However, it does not create a regulatory system for selling and taxing pot.

Canada: Marijuana To Be Legalized By 2018

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to reports from Bloomberg and CBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will introduce legislation to make recreational marijuana legal for adults by July 2018.

CBC expressed certainty that the government will make an official statement confirming the plan by April 10.

According to Bloomberg:

The federal government, which is following the recommendations of a government-appointed task force, will ensure the marijuana supply is "safe and secure," while Canada’s provinces will be allowed to determine how it is distributed and sold, according to CBC News. Ottawa will set a minimum purchasing age of 18 — in line with Trudeau’s comments that the legal age to purchase marijuana should be the same as alcohol — while the provinces could set a higher age, the report said.

Trudeau has made it clear, however, that current laws still apply, and that people found growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana before legalization occurs will be processed according to those laws.

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