2016

California: Sacramento City Council Approves Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Sacramento City Council voted late Tuesday night after much debate, approving an ordinance allowing the licensed cultivation of marijuana within the city limits.

The meeting was well attended by local residents, who joined council members in the debate.

The ordinance passed by a 5-3 vote, and will allow growers to apply for conditional use licenses to legally grow cannabis in the city.

The ordinance passage comes less than a month after Proposition 64 was passed by California voters, making recreational marijuana use legal for adults over 21.

Councilman Jay Schenirer created the ordinance and urged other council members to approve the plan, saying it was a necessary step needed to ensure the city regulated the industry and protected local communities.

“What we are doing I think, is choosing to be responsible,” Schenirer said. “Choosing to regulate an industry that currently exists, and as some of the speakers said, is not going away.”

Council members Allen Warren, Angelique Ashby and Jeff Harris made up the three "no" votes, with Harris calling the plan "half-baked". They called for more detailed criteria about where cultivation businesses would be allowed.

“I just don’t see this equation turning out well for the communities across our city,” Ashby said.

England: Madonna's 16-year-old Son Arrested For Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Madonna's son, Rocco Ritchie, was arrested for marijuana possession in London nearly two months ago, ET just confirmed.

The Metropolitan Police in London released a statement saying that Ritchie, 16, was detained by officers from the Camden police department on September 28th.

Ritchie was dealt with by Camden borough's Youth Offending Team at a North London police station before being released on bail.

Rocco has been in the middle of a long-running custody battle between Madonna, 58, and director father Guy Ritchie, 48. A judge allowed Madonna to dismiss her custody case in New York City and settle out of court in September.

Virginia: First Hemp Crop Harvested In Decades

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia is harvesting its first hemp crop grown since the plant was banned 70 years ago.

“People think it was tobacco that started this colony, but it was also hemp,” Jason Amatucci, founder and executive director of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition explained to the Richmond Times.

Virginia farmers were actually required to grow hemp during the Colonial Era, some of which was used to provide fiber for the Royal Navy's rope, according to Republican Delegate Joseph R. Yost, a sponsor of Virginia’s hemp research bill. “It’s funny that we had to pass legalization just to do research,” Yost said.

Virginia, along with 30 other states, began establishing hemp research programs after Congress passed the farm bill in 2014, allowing the Virginia Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

“It seemed far-fetched to me,” Yost admitted, “But the more research and study you do about it, the more you see the possibilities.” Yost is a proponent for the economic-boosting potential of industrial hemp, especially in states hurt by the loss of jobs in the dying tobacco industry.

Arkansas: Lawmakers Consider Launch Delay, Taxes For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a delay in the launch of the state's medical marijuana program as well as a plan to impose additional taxes on the drug. These are some of the ideas being considered as they move to implement the medical marijuana measure approved by voters earlier this month.

The ideas are among several being discussed for next year's session.

Republican Rep. Doug House is working on legislation giving agencies until early May rather than early March to adopt rules for medical marijuana. He said it would also change the deadline for the state to begin accepting dispensary applications from June 1 to July 1.

Republican Sen. Bart Hester says he's looking at legislation to impose an additional tax on medical marijuana, a move he says will help with income taxes.

Tennessee: Attorney General Says Cities Cannot Enact Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Th Tennessee Office of the Attorney General issued an opinion this week that recently approved marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Memphis and Nashville conflict with state drug laws, and therefore may not be enforced.

City council members in both cities voted this fall to impose local ordinances giving municipal police the option of issuing citations for minor marijuana offenses in lieu of making criminal arrests.

The opinion reads, "[T]he ordinance[s] cannot stand because [they] impede the inherent discretion and responsibility of district attorneys general to prosecute violations of the Drug Control Act."

The opinion was requested by state Republican senators Brian Kelsey and Ron Lollar.

Under Tennessee state law, first-offense marijuana possession violations are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

U.S.: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Associated With Improved Cognitive Performance, Reduced Opioid Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana use is associated with improved cognitive performance and lower levels of prescription drug use, according to data published online in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Medical marijuana patients' cognitive performance was observed over a three-month period by investigators from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital.

Participants in the study either were not cannabis users before or had not used the substance for at least 10 years. The patients' cognitive performances were evaluated before cannabis use, then again after treatment.

Researchers reported "no significant decrements in performance" following medical marijuana treatment. Instead, they determined, "[P]atients experienced some improvement on measures of executive functioning, including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test, mostly reflected as increased speed in completing tasks without a loss of accuracy."

Participants in the study were less likely to experience depression during treatment, and many reduced their use of prescription drugs. "[D]ata revealed a notable decrease in weekly use across all medication classes, including reductions in use of opiates (-42.88 percent), antidepressants (-17.64 percent), mood stabilizers (-33.33 percent), and benzodiazepines (-38.89 percent)," authors reported

Singapore: Two Convicted Drug Traffickers Executed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two convicted drug traffickers were executed at Changi Prison Complex on Friday (Nov 18), said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). They had made eleventh-hour appeals which were thrown out by the apex court.

The two men were 31-year-old Malaysian national Devendran A/L Supramaniam and 38-year-old Nigerian national Chijioke Stephen Obioha.

Devendran was convicted of importing 83.36g of diamorphine into Singapore and sentenced to death on July 29, 2014. The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine, or pure heroin, imported is 15g or more.

His appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal last year on May 5. On Thursday, Devendran’s counsel filed two criminal motions in court for a stay of execution and to re-open his appeal. The criminal motions were heard and dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the same day.

Obioha was convicted of trafficking in 2.6kg of cannabis and sentenced to death on Dec 30, 2008. The MDA provides for the death penalty if the amount of cannabis trafficked is 500g or more.

Obioha’s counsel filed a criminal motion in court on Wednesday for a stay of execution and to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment. The criminal motion was heard and dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

U.S.: Trump's Attorney General Pick Is Bad News For Legal Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President-elect Trump announced his pick for Attorney General this morning and it's bad news for the marijuana law reform movement and its recent victories in legalization.

Trump's choice is Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, known to be a militant prohibitionist. Aaron Herzberg, general counsel at real estate focused marijuana company CalCann Holdings, said Sessions “is the worst pick that Trump could have picked.”

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said during an April Senate hearing. “We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.

“To make it socially acceptable creates increased demand and results in people being addicted and being impacted adversely.”

“It appears that he is intent on rolling back policy to the 1980’s Nancy Regan’s ‘just say no on drugs’ days,” Herzberg said in an email. “With the selection of Sessions as attorney general the legalization or marijuana both for medical in 28 states and recreational marijuana in eight states may be in serious jeopardy.”

Here are some more of Sessions' infamous statements:

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Opponents Request Recount Of Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Maine have filed a formal request for a recount of votes after the recent passage of Question 1 to legalize pot for adults over 21 in the state.

The recount request was filed at Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap's office, according to WCSH6.

Question 1 would legalize marijuana cultivation and possession by adults over the age of 21; the measure passed by 4,400 votes.

Petitions seeking recounts were turned in Wednesday afternoon to the Secretary of State’s Office. State officials must verify that at least 100 signatures on each petition came from registered voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election before a recount is scheduled.

Alysia Melnick of the Yes on 1 campaign said the recount is unlikely to change the outcome, given the margin and the accuracy of the state’s voting machines.

“With thousands of votes in the margin, the recount is not going to be successful,” she said, “and it’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and use taxpayer dollars for a recount that will not change the outcome.”

Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, agreed there is no way a recount will change the outcome. “I am disappointed that the ‘No’ camp would waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars when they have clearly lost,” he said.

Rhode Island: State May Follow Massachusetts And Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimonda said Tuesday that she's planning to take a serious look at moving to legalize marijuana for adults in the state following the passing of Massachusetts' pot legalization measure.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello also expressed interest in moving to legalize the plant, saying he’s ready to take up legislation next year because marijuana will become readily available to Rhode Islanders traveling across the Massachusetts border.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio has also announced plans to pursue pot legalization for adults in Rhode Island.

Although recreational marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts on December 15, retail sales won’t begin until at least 2018.

Japan: Actress Saya Takagi Arrested In Okinawa After Drug Raid

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Former actress Saya Takagi was arrested Tuesday at her home in Okinawa Prefecture for alleged possession of pot, the health ministry said. Takagi ran an unsuccessful campaign in the July Upper House election on a platform to legalize medical marijuana.

Takagi, 53, whose real name is Ikue Masado, claimed the confiscated substance found "was not hers", the Japan Times reported. Marijuana is illegal and banned in Japan.

Narcotics officers from the ministry’s Kanto-Koshinetsu health bureau had searched her home, car and the inn she operates on Ishigaki Island. They allegedly found and seized several grams of dried marijuana as well as rolling papers and pipes. Officers claimed the pipes were used

Takagi debuted as an actress in 1982 and has been active as an environmentalist for several years. Originally from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, she ran for a seat representing Tokyo as a candidate for Shinto Kaikaku (New Renaissance Party), pledging to work on legalizing use of marijuana for medical purposes if elected.

Massachusetts: Towns May Try To Block Local Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for adults, cities and towns across the state are exploring ways to limit or even snuff out marijuana shops in their communities.

“I’m dead set against it,” said Mayor Stephen N. Zanni of Methuen, who wants to ban marijuana retailers from opening in his city, where 52 percent of local voters opposed the ballot question. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate fit here for our community.”

Marijuana advocates worry that municipal officials are acting rashly to restrain sales of the drug, even though voters statewide just approved Question 4 by a decisive 54 percent to 46 percent.

“I would not want to see a handful of town officials controvert the vote of the people of Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the legalization campaign. “What we don’t support is rushing out of the gate out of paranoia and hysteria."

Under the new law, recreational use of the drug will become legal on Dec. 15, and marijuana shops can open in January 2018.

The law also gives cities and towns several options to push back, however.

Texas: Legislators File Bills To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after several other states approved measures to weaken restrictions on marijuana, Texas lawmakers are aiming to do the same.

On Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, Texas legislators submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Bills were submitted that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On Nov. 8, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana initiatives, adding them to a growing list of states — including Alaska,Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — that have already approved the drug for recreational use. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota also approved medicinal marijuana initiatives.

The National Conference of State Legislators reports that 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.

Arizona: Proposition 205 Campaign Concedes Marijuana-legalization Loss

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arizona's Prop 205 campaign finally conceded Tuesday afternoon, ending the high hopes of hundreds of thousands of residents that the state would legalize marijuana.

From the first voting results reported, the initiative's future looked bleak. The Associated Press called it a "no" vote later that night. But marijuana supporters and election watchers remained hopeful, knowing that the final votes could make a difference, like they did in the 2010 election, when legal medical marijuana was approved.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voters legalized recreational marijuana. Voters in North Dakota and Florida said "yes" to medical marijuana. But Arizona's Prop 205 was rejected 52-48.

The initiative would have given adults 21 and older the freedom to possess and use up to an ounce of dried marijuana, up to five grams of concentrated resin like hashish, and up to six live plants with a maximum of 12 per household. It would also have created a system of retail stores, giving preference to existing, nonprofit medical-marijuana dispensary companies. The campaign submitted about 259,000 signatures to the state in July to make the ballot.

Here's the entire statement just released from J.P. Holyoak, chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona and a local dispensary operator:

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bans Popping Up Across State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana last week. Amendment 2 was on the ballot in 2014 but failed to pass, receiving 58% of the vote (Florida requires 60% or more for constitutional amendments). The second time it successfully passed, as the 2016 version of the initiative received 71% of the vote. Medical marijuana was so popular in 2016 that Amendment 2 won in county in Florida.

Some people still oppose medical marijuana in Florida, however. Bans and moratoriums have been popping up across Florida which will prevent medical marijuana businesses from opening where the bans and moratoriums exist. Per the Sun Sentinel:

Places like Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton have temporarily banned marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers until they can assess the effects on the community and establish zoning regulations.

Boca extended its temporary ban on Tuesday, the same day that more than 70 percent of Florida voters agreed to expand the use of medical marijuana. Boca’s freeze is one of at least a half-dozen across South Florida.

“We owe it to our residents and the people of our city to understand the implications of it,” said Christine Thrower, the manager for the village of Golf.

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