2016

Massachusetts: Pot To Be Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin had warned last week that a delay in the measure legalizing marijuana may be necessary, but says now that will not be the case.

Galvin's office said Friday that he will submit official results of the voter-passed legalization measure to the Governor’s Council Wednesday for certification. Possessing, growing, and using marijuana at home will be legal Thursday if no unforeseen obstacle comes up.

“This closes the door on an era that was marked by hysteria, by injustices, and by ineffective public policy,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the legalization effort. “This opens up an era that may take a bit of getting used to, but as in many other social transformations, people will look back and say: What were we so worried about?"

Adults 21 and over in Massachusetts will be allowed to use, posses, and purchase up to one ounce of pot beginning Thursday.

Marijuana use will still be prohibited in public places and anywhere tobacco smoking is not allowed.

People will be allowed to have up to 10 ounces of pot in their primary residence, and grow up to 12 plants per household.

Marijuana accessories, such as pipes, bongs, and grow lights, also become legal on Thursday.

But there will be no retail stores until January 2018.

Alaska: First Retail Cannabis Outlet In Anchorage To Open This Month

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaskans voted to legalize marijuana more than two years ago, allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of pot, cultivate up to six plants, and to open retail cannabis stores. This month Anchorage will finally see its first cannabis retail outlet open its doors.

Alaska Fireweed’s General Manager William Ingram has announced that they are the first to pass their final inspection and plan to open the store on December 17 at "high noon"

“I couldn’t be more excited to finally open our doors; it’s been a grueling process”, Ingram said. He said it’s taken over 8 months of inspections to get to this point. “I think people expected things to be further along by now, but we’re glad to be where we are”, he says.

Ingram said the clinic will offer nine strains of marijuana on opening day, each grown by licensed cultivator Greatland Ganja. Dried bud, pre-rolled joints, and some devices such as pipes and bongs will be available for purchase.Ingram said customers should expect "a long line", and should remember to bring cash, as it will be the only form of payment they can accept.

Canada: Restrictions On Hemp Are Eased

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made marijuana legalization a campaign promise, and is slowly working towards fulfilling that promise. Health Canada has announced that it has made the process simpler for people to be permitted to grow hemp, marijuana's non-psychoactive cousin, in the country.

The cultivation of industrial hemp has been exempted from the nation’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The minimum acreage requirement has been removed as part of that change, allowing hemp to be grown in even very small fields.

Health Canada says the move “better aligns regulation of industrial hemp with the demonstrated low public health and safety risk of the crop.”

Changes being made are listed here:

--Planning sites no longer will need to be pre-approved, and applicants will no longer need to submit GPS and map coordinates.

--One hemp license will cover all cultivation sites, removing the requirement of obtaining multiple licenses for multiple crops.

--THC testing is no longer required for those growing hemp for grain and fiber.

--Applications will be accepted via e-mail, rather than exclusively in-person.

U.S.: Trump Homeland Security Pick Is Opponent Of Legal Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday his pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security: retired Marine general John F. Kelly, another opponent of marijuana legalization.

Kelly regularly testified before Congress that U.S. marijuana policy reforms make it harder to seek cooperation from Latin American countries in the international war on drugs.

“Most of the states — countries — I deal with were in utter disbelief that we would, in their opinion, be going in that direction, particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries,” he told the House Armed Services Committee in 2014. “They’re very polite to me, but every now and again when they’re not so polite, the term ‘hypocrite’ gets into the discussion… It is hard for me to look them
in the eye and tell them, ‘You really need to, you know, stay shoulder to shoulder with us,’ because they see us in a sense giving in.”

He argued that marijuana policy reform would lead to increased crime and health care costs. “It’s astounding to me that we are — we’ve just kicked off — the federal government has just kicked off a $100 million program to try to get people to stop smoking tobacco, yet we’re opening up other areas of substance abuse,” Kelly said.

Arizona: Medical Marijuana Patients File Lawsuit Against State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two registered medical marijuana patients have filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona with the goal of reducing the annual registration fee for patients. Yolanda Daniels and Lisa Becker both claim the state is hoarding the funds and failing to reduce fees as the 2010 law that legalized medical marijuana required.

The lawsuit claims that the state's Department of Health's account balance was $11.5 million at the end of 2015. The Department collected $2.6 million more than is necessary to run the program from caregivers, patients, and dispensaries, according to attorney Sean Berberian.

“In a time when medication is more expensive than ever, the state should be helping to make it cheaper for Arizonans,” says Berberian. “The state is deliberately squatting on the excess fund instead of refunding it to patients or using it in furtherance of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, such as to help patients.”

Berbarian says that former-Governor Jan Brewer “influenced the setting of the initial patient and caregiver card prices to keep many qualifying patients from accessing legal medication.” He notes that current Governor Doug Ducey remains opposed to medical cannabis.

Texas: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Texas state Senator Jose Menendez filed a bill today that would allow people with chronic and debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana to treat those conditions through a prescription from a doctor.

Senator Menendez says if traditionally conservative states like Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas can pass such a measure, Texas should follow suit.

Illnesses like cancer, PTSD, nausea, Parkinson’s, autism, HIV and severe pain are a few of the ailments that would qualify.

Political science professor Doctor Paul Fabrizio told KIDY the road to approval for this bill is a difficult one. If passed in both the House and the Senate, there’s still one huge obstacle.

“If they were to get it passed, they’re gonna have to convince the governor. The governor has been very outspoken in saying he does not support legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. Therefore, he’s not going to sign a bill,” Fabrizio said.

Missouri: Kansas City Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Draws Enough Signatures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Kansas City Star reports that enough signatures were gathered in a petition initiative to allow voters to decide on decriminalizing marijuana possession during the city’s next election cycle in April.

The proposal intends to change current the law to treat 35 grams or less of marijuana as a city ordinance violation with a fine of $25. NORML KC spokeswoman Jamie Kacz said that this would be similar to decriminalization laws passed in St. Louis and Columbia.

The initiative, which was supported by the Kansas City chapter of NORML, gathered over 2,000 signatures of registered voters. The City Council must review and approve the measure before it goes up for a vote. All reviews must be made before January 19, leaving the City Council with less than their allowed 60 days for approval. This means it’s possible they won’t get through their review before the deadline.

Kacz said last week her group wants to work together with the Kansas City Law Department to craft a measure that can pass legal muster and be placed on a city ballot.

Washington: Pot Harder For Kids To Buy Than Booze, Cigarettes Despite Falling Prices

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington state agents recently learned that minors may have a slightly easier time buying booze or cigarettes than pot at state-licensed stores.

State agents doing checks for all three restricted products say that licensed marijuana stores passed tests for selling to underage buyers 90 percent of the time. The compliance rate was slightly less in stores that sell liquor, at 86 percent. The compliance rate for tobacco sales was slightly lower than that, according to Justin Nordhorn, enforcement chief for the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which oversees all three products.

The state currently has more than 1,200 licensed growers and processors and 462 licensed marijuana stores, according to Board Director Rick Garza. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, it recorded almost $1 billion in sales. For the current fiscal year, that’s expected to hit $1.3 billion, even though the price of marijuana is falling.

When state-licensed marijuana stores first opened in 2014, pot was selling for about $30 a gram, he said. The current price averages $8.61 a gram.

The board's staff continues to develop regulations as the industry grows. In January the state Agriculture Department will begin spot testing marijuana for pesticides. In February, marijuana edibles will be required to carry a red sticker with a hand that says: "Not For Kids."

Canada: Pot Smokers Feel 'Cheated' By Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana users who helped Justin Trudeau get elected as Canada's Prime Minister now feel "cheated" by his support of a police crackdown on storefront dispensaries, according to a cannabis industry spokesperson.

Abi Roach, a director with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, said that marijuana advocates and users helped the federal Liberals to gain a majority government because of the expectation that Trudeau would allow small businesses to legally sell cannabis to recreational users.

Trudeau has promised to legalize recreational marijuana this spring.

The crackdown under Trudeau has been stricter than under any previous government, Roach said.

“All we’ve seen is raids and arrests and more criminal records and more issues and more problems,” Roach said. “When Trudeau was elected, I cried ... We campaigned our butts off for Trudeau because we wanted him to win so bad because we believed what he was saying ... Wow, was I cheated or what. I think that’s the way most cannabis consumers feel.”

Trudeau supported the legal crackdown in a recent editorial board meeting with the Toronto Star.

Uruguay: Marijuana Museum To Open Soon

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis three years ago, and will soon be host to a new, unique museum totally dedicated to marijuana.

This Friday, the Cannabis Museum will open its doors in the capitol city of Montevideo for the first time. Organizers say the project is part of “continuing the rich history of freedoms that Uruguay has always adopted in an avant-garde way.”

Amsterdam, which also has a museum dedicated to marijuana, is contributing items for display, according to museum Director Eduardo Blasina.

The museum will be the first one dedicated to marijuana in Latin America and the southern hemisphere. Its mission, in part, is to promote “biological and cultural diversity,” according to the museum’s Facebook page, while also serving as a “cultural club.”

“It’s a way to connect people who love nature, art and science,” Blasina said.

Uruguay fully legalized production, use and sale of recreational marijuana in 2013, including allowing users to grow up to six pot plants for personal use.

The region is seeing a movement toward legalizing marijuana. Just last year, Columbia legalized medical marijuana, and Chile harvested its first medical marijuana crop.

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

New York: Chronic Pain Added To List Of Approved Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New York just added chronic pain to the list of conditions that can qualify a patient for medical marijuana in the state.

The New York Department of Health issued a statement saying a regulatory amendment outlining the addition of chronic pain and its conditions has been drafted and will be published for public comment soon.

“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker in the statement. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”

The state’s laws already allow medical marijuana for those suffering from cancer, HIV/AID, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to spinal cord nervous tissues, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntington’s disease.

Massachusetts: Senate President Says Parts Of Marijuana Law May Be Delayed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A top Massachusetts lawmaker said on Monday that legislators are talking about delaying some aspects of the recently-passed marijuana legalization measure.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said, “We’ve had discussions about delaying some of the dates to give us more time to fine-tune the bill and, in the next few weeks, we have to make final decisions on that.”

Rosenberg, A Democrat who supported legalization, said that if lawmakers implement a delay of the ballot measure, “it’s going to be a very time-limited delay.”

The initiative legalizes possession, use, and homegrowing of marijuana on December 15, a week from Thursday. It requires the state treasurer to appoint a three-person Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the industry by March 2017. Retail stores would be authorized to sell pot starting in January 2018.

“It’s encouraging that these leaders seem to be indicating that there will be no attempt to delay the December 15 possession and homegrow provisions,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the effort to pass Question 4.

Delaware: Rally For Marijuana Legalization Held In Newark

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens attended a rally Sunday in Newark, Delaware, calling for the legalization of marijuana on the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition.

The rally was hosted by the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, and was aimed to inform the public how marijuana legalization can come to be in Delaware.

Zoe Patchell, co-chairman of Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, said it begins with contacting state representatives and legislators in support of legalization.

"Cannabis prohibition is just as ineffective and problematic as alcohol prohibition and it's causing negative consequences to our communities here in Delaware and wasting millions in resources and police manpower," she added.

"Right now we have 61 percent of Delawareans that support taxing regulated cannabis like alcohol," Patchell said.

The group has bipartisan support in the General Assembly to pass a taxation and regulation bill in 2017, Patchell said. Delaware is not a voter-initiative state, so supporters are trying to make Delaware the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation.

The legalization of marijuana use in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, and Maine was voted upon. Marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco in all those states.

U.S.: Serving Life Without Parole For Pot, Man Denied Clemency

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ferrell Scott was sentenced to life in prison for possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, a drug that's now legal in many states. Scott, a black man with no hope for parole despite an exemplary behavior record, appealed to President Obama for clemency. He learned his appeal was denied when he received an e-mail about "bad news" from a friend. He called home, worried that something had happened to his 93-year-old mother.

His daughter answered the phone, crying, and told him the news. “She cried like a baby and she was telling me that she didn’t know what she was supposed to do now. Couldn’t understand it,” Scott told The Watch in a phone interview.

“Why haven’t I been contacted? I hope this is a mistake. My God I’m f—–!” he wrote to Amy Povah, who runs CAN-DO, an advocacy group for prisoners incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

His name was on the list of clemency denials published on the Justice Department’s website on Tuesday.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do, what’s gonna happen,” Scott says. “Well, I kind of know what’s going to happen. I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. I don’t know, man, I’m so depressed and shaken. I honestly thought I would get it.” Scott then brings up a good point: Obama has admitted to using the drug that landed Scott in prison for life.

Ireland: Legal Medical Marijuana Possible In The Near Future

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ireland's minority government said on Thursday that it would not block a first reading of a bill backed by all other parties to legalize medical marijuana.

Health Minister Simon Harris, whose government is not large enough to block legislation, said he would seek amendments in the near future after completion of a review of scientific and clinical advice that was commissioned earlier this month.

"While there are elements I do not and will not support, I don't wish to divide the Dail (parliament)," Harris said in a statement, adding he had made clear he wanted to see policy in this area reviewed.

"I share the concerns of patients who believe that cannabis should be a treatment option for certain medical conditions and I recognize the urgency and worry they feel."

Harris said he wanted any references in the bill that could lead to legalization for recreational use to be removed, changes that left-wing opposition lawmaker Gino Kenny said would be acceptable.

"It's been overwhelming, not only in the Dail, but to see the people who have contacted us and who are trying to access medical cannabis for themselves or their children," Kenny, a People Before Profit Alliance party lawmaker, told national broadcaster RTE.

Arizona: Phoenix Suns Coach Earl Watson Challenges Steve Kerr's Views On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson disagrees with Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr on his views that marijuana should be recognized as a pain reliever.

In an interview Saturday, Watson told ESPN that Kerr's remarks about pot being a valid alternative to prescription drugs could be a "slippery slope" for young fans of the league.

“I think our rhetoric on it has to be very careful because you have a lot of kids where I’m from that’s reading this, and they think (marijuana use is) cool,” Watson said following his team’s 138-109 loss to the Warriors. “It’s not cool. ... So when we really talk about it and we open up that, I call it that slippery slope.”

He said that Kerr should leave the treatment of a players pain to a doctor.

“I think it would have to come from a physician — not a coach,” Watson said, according to ESPN. “And for me, I’ve lived in that other life (of crime and drugs). I’m from that area, so I’ve seen a lot of guys go through that experience of using it and doing other things with that were both illegal. And a lot of those times, those guys never make it to the NBA, they never make it to college, and somehow it leads to something else, and they never make it past 18.”

U.S.: NBA Issues Statement Regarding Steve Kerr's Marijuana Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The NBA has already made a statement regarding Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitting he had tried medical marijuana for chronic back pain, which led to several of his players coming out in support of him and the acceptance of medical marijuana by the league.

Kerr acknowledged he had tried marijuana two times in the last year on Monte Poole’s CSN Bay Area podcast on Friday. He also mentioned that he wasn’t sure or not if he’d be in trouble for doing so, or if he was subject to being drug tested.

The NBA issued the following statement on Saturday:
“All of our coaches are drug tested each season. Marijuana is included on our banned substances list. There are medical exceptions to our policy but, in this case, it’s not relevant because Steve said he did not find marijuana to be helpful in relieving his back pain.”

So much for his admission bringing up a dialogue about medical marijuana's acceptance by the NBA.

California: NBA Coach Of The Year Kerr's Marijuana Admission Could Be A Start

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Steve Kerr, head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors and reigning NBA Coach of the Year, has admitted to trying marijuana for medical reasons, and now some of his players believe that his words can help start a serious dialogue in professional sports about using pot for pain relief.

''You look at something that comes from the Earth. Any vegetable that comes from the Earth, they encourage you to eat it,'' Draymond Green, power forward for the Warriors, said at shootaround Saturday. ''It does make a little sense as opposed to giving someone a manufactured pill. If something takes your pain away like some of these pills do, it can't be all good for you. ... He talked about Vicodin. Toradal, you can be completely hurting and then take a Toradal shot and go through a game and feel nothing. Is that really good for you over the course of time? I doubt it.''

Green thinks the option of using medical marijuana "makes a lot of sense."

Kerr told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Warriors Insider Podcast with Monte Poole on Friday that he used medicinal marijuana. He admitted he tried marijuana twice in the past 18 months while dealing with debilitating back pain that still affects him this season. He said it really didn't help, but painkillers have been much worse.

Ontario: Study Shows Vaping Prevalent Among Medical Marijuana Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vaporization is increasingly becoming the preferred means of patients using medical marijuana, according to a survey with results published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence and in the Harm Reduction Journal.

Investigators from the University of Waterloo, School of Public Health surveyed the consumption habits of 364 patients registered in Canada's medical marijuana program. Authors reported that "the most popular mode of delivery for medical cannabis" among patients was vaporization. Those surveyed in the study said they preferred vaping because it "reduce[d] the negative health consequences associated with smoking."

Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 1,485 state-registered medical cannabis patients. Of those surveyed, 39 percent said they have vaporized cannabis during the past month. Most patients acknowledged smoking as the means of drug delivery.

Vaporizer technology heats marijuana to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion. Clinical trials evaluating the technology conclude that vaporization is a "safe and effective" cannabinoid delivery mode that "does not result in exposure to combustion gases."

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