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U.S.: DHS Chief Kelly Reverses Marijuana Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly reversed comments he recently made on marijuana Tuesday in his first major speech since being sworn in.

Just two days before, in an interview on "Meet the Press", Kelly said that marijuana is not “a factor in the drug war.”

“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s Sunday show, saying that meth, heroin and cocaine are the three main drugs that have played a role in the U.S. drug crisis that killed more than 52,000 people in 2015.

But during his speech Tuesday, Kelly vowed that Department of Homeland Security staff would continue to investigate and arrest those involved in illegal trade of the drug and called marijuana “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.”

"... Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books," he added.

"DHS personnel will continue to investigate marijuana’s illegal pathways along the network into the U.S., its distribution within the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade according to federal law. [Customs and Border Protection] will continue to search for marijuana at sea, air and land ports of entry and when found take similar appropriate action.

Missouri: Kansas City's New Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved reducing penalties for marijuana possession on 4/4/17, and the new city law has already taken effect. Voters approved an initiative that reduces the maximum fine in city court from $500 to $25 and eliminates possible jail time as a penalty for possessing 35 grams or less of pot, about 1 1/4 ounce.

However, marijuana possession is still illegal, and a guilty plea would involve a drug conviction.

The law took effect the day after the election, on 4/5/17. It affects any Municipal Court case that was open or active at that time. It limits the maximum fine to $25 for a single count of simple pot possession, but court costs of $48.50 per count still apply.

Julita Lattimer is a board member of the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KC NORML), the organization that advocated and petitioned for this law. Latimer explained, “Our whole point was to keep people out of jail for a non-violent infraction. One of the best things that has come out of this , is its getting people to talk about cannabis. More people are wanting to hear about the benefits of cannabis. It will help as we work to bring medical cannabis to Missouri. ”

U.S.: New Poll Shows More Than Half Of American Adults Have Tried Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new Marist poll that was conducted in partnership with Yahoo shows that more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives.

The poll found that 52 percent of U.S. adults have tried marijuana at least once and 56 percent of Americans find the drug "socially acceptable."

While eight out of 10 Americans strongly support legalizing medical marijuana, the poll shows that forty-nine percent of American adults support legalization for recreational adult use while forty-seven percent oppose it.

"As marijuana has been accepted medically, it's less about the marijuana high," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance. He pointed out that people may now increasingly see elderly family members use the drug to help cope with a variety of ailments.

The poll shows that fifty-one percent of Americans think consumption of marijuana is a health risk. However, far more Americans say drinking alcohol regularly (72 percent) is a threat to health over regular marijuana use (20 percent.)

More Americans also think that regular tobacco use (76 percent) is far more risky than regular marijuana use (18 percent.)

The poll was done by surveying 1,122 adults between March 1 through March 7 of this year. The Marist Poll was sponsored and funded in partnership with Yahoo.

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh To Host Big Medical Marijuana Conference

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sponsors who are preparing for next weekend's World Medical Marijuana Conference and Expo are expecting about 1,500 attendees from across the U.S. for the Friday-Saturday event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, in downtown Pittsburgh.

The conference will feature former NFL players Ricky Williams and Marvin Washington, plus talks by medical, business and legal experts. Workshops on the lengthy schedule range from classes on cooking with cannabis to a look at how technology will shape medical marijuana’s future.

“This conference is for anybody interested in medical cannabis. They could be an investor, someone interested in a new career, a provider or a patient,” said Melonie Kotchey, chief operating officer and co-founder of Compassionate Certification Centers along with Armstrong County physician Bryan Doner.

Compassionate Certification Centers is a medical marijuana marketing and consulting company based in Delaware but whose principals are in southwest Pennsylvania. It currently works with one medical practice in Miami with plans to add three more outside Pennsylvania in coming months.

Admission prices for the World Medical Marijuana Conference range from $50 for an adult exhibit hall only ticket each day up to $698 for Saturday's exhibit hall, workshops and CME credits. Children’s tickets are $10.

Colorado: Lawmakers Back Off Plan To Legalize Social Cannabis Clubs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Colorado have backed down from a plan that would have legalized social cannabis clubs after Governor John Hickenlooper expressed disapproval, saying that the move could attract a crackdown from the Trump Administration, according to an Associated Press report.

The proposal was approved last month, after it originated in the Colorado Senate with bipartisan support. House lawmakers ultimately turned down the measure, however.

Gov. Hickenlooper said last month that he would veto any cannabis club measure allowing indoor smoking that came across his desk, saying that “given the uncertainty in Washington … this is not the year to be out there carving off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana.”

There currently are about 30 cannabis clubs operating in Colorado, all private clubs operating under local laws.

The social use measure would have been the first statewide acceptance of social cannabis clubs.

The legislature's retreat demonstrates the uncertainty felt by lawmakers in legalized states about the Trump Administration, who has so far refrained from making a firm statement one way or another about its stance on the marijuana legalization laws that have been passed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington D.C.

U.S.: John Kelly Says Marijuana 'Not A Factor' In Drug War

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is "not a factor" in the war on drugs. He added that solving the nation's drug problem does not involve "arresting a lot of users."

Kelly appeared on NBC's "Meet The Press" and discussed his work to stop the flow of drugs into the United States from Central America and Mexico. Host Chuck Todd asked whether legalizing marijuana would help or hurt his work.

"Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war," Kelly responded, adding later: "It's three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south." He said that in 2015 those three drugs, plus opiates, were responsible for the deaths of 52,000 people in the United States and cost the country $250 billion.

Kelly said the solution is to lower demand in the United States.

"The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation. And then law enforcement. And then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the south."

Kentucky: Officials Burn Commercial Hemp With Too Much THC

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kentucky agriculture officials say the hemp destroyed Thursday for containing too much of the psychoactive compound THC was a fraction of the hemp crop being grown in the state.

The state agriculture department says the THC level exceeded 0.3 percent, which is more than the legal limit set by Congress.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp usually has a very small amount of THC.

Lyndsey Todd grew the hemp in greenhouses in Pulaski County. Todd cultivated most of the hemp so it could be turned into medicine. Todd says her product is not psychoactive and that the 0.3 percent THC limit is an "unrealistic number."

Brent Burchett, director of plant marketing for the state agriculture department, says the state was bound by law to destroy the 100 pounds (45 kilograms) in question because four separate tests concluded its THC level exceeded 0.3 percent, the limit set by Congress and followed by the state.

Arizona: Appelate Court Strikes Medical Marijuana Campus Ban

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Arizona appellate court has ruled that a 2012 law amending the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) to prohibit the use of medical marijuana on college campuses is unconstitutional. NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono.

"By enacting A.R.S. § 15-108(A), the Legislature modified the AMMA to re-criminalize cardholders' marijuana possession on college and university campuses," the Court opined. "The statute does not further the purposes of the AMMA; to the contrary, it eliminates some of its protections."

The Court argued that campuses and universities possess the authority to enact their own individual policies restricting medical marijuana use, but that lawmakers cannot do so.

The decision overturned a medical-marijuana cardholder's 2015 felony conviction for the possession of a small quantity of marijuana while attending Arizona State University.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office has not yet publicly stated whether they intend to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Voter-backed Decriminalization For Marijuana Possession In Memphis And Nashville

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has signed into law a bill that undoes recent marijuana decriminalization measures in the state’s two largest cities, the Tennessean reports.

Voters in Memphis and Nashville last year approved the decriminalization of marijuana, both of which gave police officers the option of issuing tickets for small-time marijuana possession in place of making arrests. However, Republican state lawmakers pushed a bill to the governor’s desk that says state law overrides local law in regards to Class B misdemeanors and above, under which marijuana possession falls.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors was Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown. He said of the decriminalization measures, “You can’t allow an officer at their whim to treat two different individuals who have potentially committed the same crime in drastically different ways depending on what that officer feels like at a given time.”

“You just can’t have cities creating their own criminal code, willy-nilly,” Lamberth said.

Despite their popularity among the cities’ voters, reports have indicated that police in Nashville and Memphis did not take much advantage of the change in local laws, which are now no longer valid.

Guam: Measure To Legalize Adult-use Marijuana Pulled Due To Trump Administration Fears

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Guam’s gubernatorial administration has pulled a bill that would have legalized marijuana possession and use by adults in the U.S. territory due to federal uncertainty. Eric Palacios, special assistant to Gov. Eddie Clavo, says the move doesn’t necessarily mean the plan is dead but just temporarily on hold.

“We are suspending our efforts, and we are not terminating what we originally intended to do via the introduction of the bill,” Palacios said in the report. “And so, until we get a clearer picture of where things stand on the federal side, especially in light of the Attorney General’s pronouncement, we don’t feel it would be prudent moving forward.”

According to the governor’s Communications Director Oyal Ngirairkl, the suspension “is meant to give lawmakers time to better understand the Trump administration’s still evolving stance on this and the result of actions other U.S. jurisdictions are taking.”

Oregon: Warm Springs Tribes Hope To Enter The Cannabis Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Like the states, native American tribes in the US received a memo in 2014 (the "Wilkinson memo") which gives them the authority to experiment with marijuana if they follow federal priorities: keeping weed from kids, cartels, inter-state commerce, etc.

Several tribes have explored the option to experiment with cannabis under the watch of federal attorneys. State-level officials have been observing as well, but their ability to interfere is different. Public Law 280 is a federal statute which allows certain states to “assume jurisdiction over reservation Indians.” The statute transferred federal law enforcement authority within tribal nations to six state governments, including Oregon, but somehow the Warm Springs reservation was exempted.

Therefore, Warm Springs doesn’t have to worry about the state attempting to stop its cannabis program. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs want to sell marijuana off the reservation, and has received the needed permission from the state to do so.

Warm Springs also approached the feds, responded that what they were doing is illegal and illegitimate, unlike the state of Oregon, which at least has Measure 91. According to Pi-Ta Pitt from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the tribe subsequently held a referendum on growing cannabis, which passed with 86 percent approval.

Texas: Dallas Approves Cite And Release Program For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Possession of marijuana in Dallas, Texas might not automatically land someone in jail anymore.

Dallas city council members voted 10-to-5 to approve a “cite and release” program for simple marijuana possession.

Although strongly supported, some people, like former officer Pete Schulte, think the program does not go far enough.

“In a perfect world, if people were cited, they were released and they showed up to court and took care of their case, perfect,” said Schulte, who’s now a defense lawyer. “Chances of that happening maybe 10 percent of the time are slim to none.”

Schulte thinks it would put more stress on the criminal justice system. He said if someone does not show up for their date in court, a warrant will be issued and served for their arrest, which he said would just tax law enforcement weeks or months later.

“I think it’s just pushing the ball down the court,” said Schulte. “It’s not going to help anything.”

Council member Philip Kingston, the man behind the initiative, strongly disagrees.

“That’s boneheaded,” said Kingston. “Our cops are smart.”

Kingston believes cite and release will help free up officers to focus on more serious crimes.

“I think what we’ve done at this point is made this crime such a hassle for police to mess with, that they’ll simply quit,” said Kingston.

Ohio: Madeira Says 'No' To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The city of Madeira, Ohio - a suburb of Cincinnati - has decided to allow no medical marijuana dispensaries within its limits.

Madeira City Council passed an ordinance by emergency to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana within the city at its April 10 meeting.

“Medical marijuana may or may not have its merits but I don’t think Madeira would be ... appropriate for a dispensary to be located,” said Councilman Scott Gehring.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately since Council passed it by emergency. State laws regulating medical marijuana in Ohio go into effect on September 8.

A moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was approved within the city in August. Law Director Brian Fox advised against continuing the moratorium and drafted the legislation for the prohibition. He also drafted legislation to limit dispensaries to certain areas.

“I am not outright opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the possibility that we might have residents that would very much appreciate and value having close access to that. But it seems that there are still a lot of unknowns in how this will be enforced and what that would mean,” Councilwoman Nancy Spencer said.

Mayor Melisa Adrien said she would like to see how dispensaries operate in other communities before allowing them in Madeira.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Rules For Doctors Released

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pennsylvania has issued proposed rules for doctors practicing under the state's medical marijuana program, which is expected to start up in 2018. The program will cover 17 chronic conditions, allowing cannabis to be dispensed as pills, oils, a liquid that can be vaporized, and topicals.

The rules require physicians to complete a four-hour training program on medical marijuana but they cannot advertise their ability to make recommendations. The rules are designed to dissuade doctors from becoming “stereotypical pot docs” that will issue recommendations to almost anyone for a set price, according to Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Participating doctors must also sign up to the state registry, which could limit participation.

“Asking them to put their name on a list increases the odds of those doctors not participating,” she said in the report. “And when doctors don’t participate, patient access is hindered. A better option would have been to require registration of doctors who are submitting a significant number of recommendations per month.”

The Department of Health is seeking comments on the proposals.

Vermont: Marijuana Reforms Unlikely To Pass This Session

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Vermont's senate have announced that they will not support a marijuana legalization plan being circulated in the House because it “reinforces a black market approach rather than… [a] more streamlined, regulated system,” Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said in a report on Vermont Public Radio.

The House plan was initially approved by the chamber’s Judiciary Committee but was pulled by House leadership after it became clear it would not pass. The plan would have legalized possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, and allowed them to grow up to two mature and seven immature plants.

Democratic state Sen. Jeannette White said she “can’t imagine” a scenario in which the Senate would pass the House proposal, adding that the measure “does nothing to decrease the black market.”

“It in fact encourages it, because now you’re going to be able to have a certain amount, or an increased amount, and it will be completely legal,” White said in the report. “There’s no place for you to get it, so it’s going to increase the underground market.”

The report disclosed that last year the Senate passed a measure that would have legalized a taxed and regulated recreational marijuana system in the state. That bill failed in the House, however.

Canada: Legislation To Legalize Marijuana Announced

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Canadian government announced new legislation on Thursday legalizing marijuana, fulfilling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promise.

Canada anticipates that legalization will take effect in the summer of 2018.

The new law will make it legal for adults to possess small amounts of cannabis throughout the country and will establish guidelines for who can buy, sell and grow the drug.

The individual provinces will be left to determine specifics of who can possess or sell marijuana.

Marijuana has been legal for some medicinal purposes in Canada since 2001.

Maryland: House Fails To Pass Amended Bill Adding Five Medical Marijuana Cultivation Licenses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A plan to add five medical marijuana cultivation licenses in Maryland was defeated in the House of Delegates after Republican lawmakers delayed the vote right up until midnight, which marked the official end of the legislative session. The measure was pushed by Legislative Black Caucus chairwoman Del. Cheryl Glenn as part of her efforts to create equity in the state’s medical marijuana licensing program.

The bill was passed last week, but was returned to lawmakers for amendments. The revised bill did not receive another vote by the full House, which was required for its survival.

Glenn has called on legislative leaders to hold a special one-day session specifically to consider the measure. “It’s not important to me what the speaker’s reasons or justifications were,” Glenn said in the report. “What is important is to understand where this leaves the black community: It leaves us outside of the medical cannabis industry, and that is absolutely unacceptable.”

The legislation would have put an end to lawsuits against the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission by minority-owned medical cannabis companies who say the commission did not follow the law which requires regulators to “actively seek and achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the industry.

Alaska: Marijuana Control Board Delays Decision On Onsite Marijuana Consumption

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board was expected to consider recently whether to move forward with proposed rules allowing marijuana customers to consume their purchases on site, something no other state with legalized recreational has yet allowed. However, discussions about onsite marijuana consumption have been delayed until next month by Alaska marijuana regulators.

Kim Kole, Owner/Founder of Raspberry Roots, has been very active in following the roll out of this policy, and explained that the Board had to delay the discussion and creation of onsite consumption regulations because there were so many potential licenses to be approved on the 2 day agenda.

“Unlike Colorado and Oregon, Alaska is starting this industry from scratch, so we didn’t have any cultivations, manufacturers, or retails established. This, coupled with onerous regulations in the municipality of Anchorage (by far the largest city) is why our roll out has been particularly slow. Demand far exceeds supply, so it’s imperative for the viability of the industry to get as many cultivators up and running before our tourist season starts in a couple of months. The Board did approve an additional meeting in May to address more cultivations and onsite regulations in time for the influx of people this summer.”

U.S.: New White House Drug Czar Has Quite An Idea Where To Put Nonviolent Drug Users

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) will be President Trump's drug czar, CBS News reports. Marino's congressional voting record shows he is a hard-liner on marijuana issues and he recently said that he'd like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of “hospital-slash-prison.”

Marino will oversee the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a branch of the White House that advises the president on drug policy issues. Whereas the office under President Obama quite publicly retired the phrase “war on drugs,” Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is moving to put criminal justice back at the forefront of drug policy.

Although Marino seems to share that view, his views are unlikely to influence the administration's policy in the same ways Sessions's views do. The drug czar's office has traditionally played a limited role in setting policy. It coordinates drug control strategy and funding across the federal government instead.

In Congress, Marino voted several times against a bipartisan measure to prevent the Justice Department from going after state-legal medical marijuana businesses, a measure which eventually passed.

He voted against a measure to allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, as well as against a separate measure to loosen federal restrictions on industrial hemp.

Iowa: Medical Marijuana Bill On Fast Track In Senate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legislation is moving quickly through the Iowa Senate that would authorize the use of medical marijuana to provide help for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other ailments.

Senate Study Bill 1190, The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday. The measure would then be sent to the House for consideration.

“This is not just a statement bill. We would like to get this through the House and down to the governor’s desk," said Schneider, a supporter of medical cannabis. Lawmakers would need to act soon, however, because the 2017 session could end next week.

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