2016

Massachusetts: New Poll Shows Marijuana Legalization Winning

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new statewide poll of likely voters shows that 50 percent support the marijuana legalization measure this November in Massachusetts.

Question 4 would allow adults over 21 to cultivate, possess, and use marijuana, and sets up a regulatory structure under a Cannabis Control Board.

Forty-five percent in the WBUR/MassINC poll are opposed to legalization and five percent are undecided.

The poll of 506 likely voters took place between September 7 and September 10.

"Younger people are very much in favor of legalization, and it declines steadily as you move up the age brackets to where you get to voters who are 60-plus, and they're opposed to it by a 17-point margin," Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, told WBUR.

Eighty percent of respondents in the poll said they did not believe pot use is morally wrong. Fourteen percent said they did. Six percent are undecided or just don't know.

When asked what they thought was most harmful to a person's health, 42 percent said tobacco, 19 percent said alcohol, 13 percent said sugar ,and 4 percent said marijuana.

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot measure, and made medical marijuana legal the same way in 2012..

Idaho: State Struggles To Stop Pot Smugglers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon and Washington are collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue from recreational pot sales, but neighboring Idaho is struggling to keep up.

Between 2011 and 2015 Idaho State Police saw a huge increase in the amount of marijuana they seized from people passing through their state.

"We've seen almost, approximately a 1000 percent increase in the amount of marijuana that we've seized in Idaho since it's became legal in Washington," said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

ISP seized 131 pounds of marijuana in 2011. But in 2015 after voters in Oregon and Washington voted to legalize pot, the amount of marijuana seized climbed to 1,644 pounds.

Corporal Kevin Kessler and his K9 partner are responsible for many of those seizures. He said the busts begin as traffic stops and from there they find pot. Much of the time the pot is not destined for Idaho but it is being smuggled farther east.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said the pot seized by ISP is not being diverted to the black market. WSLCB Spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter said they track marijuana from seed to sale.

Oregon: Vote NO on Measure 26-180 Tax on Recreational Marijuana Sales - Portland Measure 26-180

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Vote NO on Measure 26-180 Tax Increase on Recreational Marijuana Sales (Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz's Proposed Money-grab on the Nascent Cannabis Industry)

The Cannabis Industry Is Taxed Enough. Keep Recreational Cannabis Affordable.

* More than 70% of Portland residents voted yes on Measure 91, and tax funds have already gone above and beyond toward the programs that Oregonians supported with the measure: 25% for drug treatment, prevention and mental health; 40% for school funding; and 35% for state and local police.

* There are no specifics on where this money is to be used, aside from some broad topics that, some of which, are already supported under the State allocation of tax funds from legalization. What is to prevent another money-grab next year, and then the following? Say no now.

* Raising taxes only continues to support the black market, rather than help to decrease it in Portland. Forcing higher taxes in turn raises prices for the consumer, only re-enforcing the black market. This hurts the growing cannabis industry.

Massachusetts: Legalization Campaign Has Raised $2.4 Million This Year, Seven Times More Than Opposition Campaign

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The campaign in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21 in Massachusetts has raised over $2.4 million so far in 2016, according to data from the state.

The $2.4 million raised by Yes on 4 is almost seven times the amount the initiative's opposition campaign, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, has raised. This group, which is supported by Governor Charlie Baker and others, has only raised $360,000 so far this year.

The New Approach PAC has been the primary contributor to the Yes on 4 campaign, having donated $2.1 million of the $2.4 million raised.

The Yes on 4 campaign has spent nearly all the money donated, with only $22,500 still on-hand. Most of the money was spent on TV commercials, but the New Approach PAC is expected to make another large donation soon.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts has spent very little of their funding, still having $320,000 on-hand.

If Question 4 passes in November, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of pot. It would also allow the personal cultivation of up to six plants, and allow those in a private residence to possess up to ten ounces instead of just one.

November 8 is the day of the vote. Marijuana legalization is up for a vote the same day in Arizona, Maine, Nevada, and California .

U.S.: Celebrities High On Marijuana Businesses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Whoopi Goldberg was a guest on Stephen Colbert's Late Show on CBS last week and was introduced by the host, who said "My first guest is an actor, author, talk show host, and has her own line of premium pot."

She's joined an ever-growing group of celebrities who are pushing their own line of specialty marijuana products that includes Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Tommy Chong.

"It's gotten into the fad scenario at this point," Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch told USA Today, " where celebrities almost feel obligated to attach themselves to the cause."

Goldbergs's company, Whoopi & Maya, focuses on cannabis-infused salves, balms, and edibles designed to relieve menstrual cramps, her company website says.

When asked by Colbert how she got into the business, she said "A friend of mine said to me 'Hey, Snoop Dogg is doing this and Willie is doing this.' "

Here are some of the well-known names of celebrities and the pot products they represent:

Snoop Dogg: Snoop's branded line of marijuana, Leafs By Snoop, includes flavors such as Lemon Pie, Purple Bush, and Northern Nights. He says on his website, "Let's medicate, elevate, and put it in the air. Snoop Dogg doesn't actually own the business; a company in Colorado does. He can't own it because he's not a resident in Colorado.

U.S.: College Students Are Using More Marijuana, Fewer Opioids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to new data released Thursday, high school students and young adults today are much less likely to use illicit drugs than their parents, except for marijuana.

The report comes after a four-decade long study of drug, tobacco, and alcohol use from the University of Michigan. The report shows that people in their 40s and 50s used far more drugs in their youth than people in their teens and 20s today.

"The proportion of Americans in their 40s and 50s who have experience with illicit drugs is quite shocking," says Lloyd Johnston, a research scientist at the University of Michigan and the lead investigator on the study. "It's a great majority."

Over 70 percent of people in their fifties have used illegal drugs, not counting marijuana. If marijuana is included that figure rises to about 85 percent.

Cigarette use is at an all-time low as well, with 20.5 percent of college students saying they smoked in 2015 compared to 44.5 percent in 1999.

"Maybe the most important of all is the decline in narcotic drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin and so forth," Johnston says. Use of prescription opioids by college students has dropped from 8.7 percent in 2003 to 3.3 percent in 2015. "That's despite the fact that we know from the news that the use and misuse of narcotic drugs is a growing problem in the country," Johnston says.

U.S.: Canada To Press U.S. On 'Ludicrous' Marijuana Border Policy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canada plans to push the United States to change a border policy that bans Canadians from traveling to the States that admit to having used marijuana, given that Canada plans to legalize pot, a government spokesperson said Friday.

"We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp late on Thursday.

"This does seem to be a ludicrous situation," he said, pointing out that marijuana is legal in Washington state as well as "three or four other jurisdictions in the United States."

A spokesman said on Friday that the Canadian government has been in contact with the U.S. government to make sure officials are aware of Canada's plan to legalize marijuana. The controversy of Canadians being banned from entering the U.S or from future travel to the States has not been addressed yet.

"In terms of the practices of border guards in question, those only came to attention recently and will be discussed in future bilateral discussions," Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Goodale, said in an e-mail.

Officials at the U.S. State Department, the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, and at U.S. Customs and Border Protection have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Arizona: Maker Of Deadly Fentanyl Donates Half A Million To Defeat Pot Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Advocates of marijuana legalization have been saying for a while that pharmaceutical companies are one of the major supporters of pot prohibition. States that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in opioid abuse.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that fentanyl manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has donated $500,000 to foes of the Prop 205 marijuana legalization initiative.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid several dozen times more potent than heroin. It has been linked to many opioid overdose deaths across the country, especially when mixed with heroin. Marijuana has no reported overdose deaths, ever.

The only product Insys makes is Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray. In just the past month, two former company employees pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to an alleged kickback scheme to get doctors to prescribe Subsys. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the company charging that Insys hawked the drug to doctors for off-label prescribing.

Insys' "desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients' health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes," Madigan wrote.

Insys says on its website that it is working "to develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids."

U.S.: Why Medical Marijuana Patients Can't Buy Guns

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week, an appeals court ruled that a federal law prohibiting medical marijuana cardholders from purchasing guns does not violate the Second Amendment, because marijuana has been linked to "irrational or unpredictable behavior."

The case of a Nevada woman who attempted to purchase a handgun in 2011, but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder, is what led to the ruling, according to court documents. S. Rowan Wilson insisted that she didn't actually use marijuana, but obtained a card to make a political statement in support of liberalizing marijuana law.

Federal law prohibits gun purchases by an "unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance." In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a letter that the law applies to marijuana users "regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes."

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal law agrees with the Constitution, as "it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior."

California: Stanford Engineers Develop Potalyzer, A Roadside Saliva Test For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Stanford engineers have developed a new "potalyzer" to determine when drivers are too high to be operating a vehicle.

The device uses the same magnetic nanotechnology used in cancer screenings to detect THC molecules in saliva after someone uses marijuana, and measures the concentration of the drug in someone's spit.

The standard practice of screening for THC through urine samples is very impractical in the field, and with over 20 states now allowing some form of medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, a more practical method for determining how high a driver might be is needed.

Shan Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering, led the Stanford team in creating the mobile device. Law enforcement officers would swab spit from the driver and run the sample through the potalyzer’s magnetic biosensors, and be able to read the results on a smartphone or laptop in about three minutes.

There's still no official consensus on how much THC is too much to drive safely, although some studies have suggested cutting off between two and 25 nanograms (or billionths of a gram) per milliliter of blood. The potalyzer is able to detect concentrations of THC in the range of 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Becomes Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It was 90 days ago Thursday that Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that legalizes medical marijuana. Medical marijuana finally becomes legal in the state tomorrow, making it the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in some form.

The law allows patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, but bars them from smoking it or growing it at home.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will supervise the use of medical marijuana in the state.

ResponsibleOhio put a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot last year that would have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use and granted exclusive growing rights to 10 investor groups bankrolling the campaign. Voters rejected the proposal. But polls showed that 80 to 90 percent of Ohioans favor legalizing medical marijuana.

The list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Ohio includes AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, chronic pain, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, spinal cord conditions, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and sickle cell anemia.

Tennessee: Nashville Marijuana Decriminalization Effort Advances In Metro Council

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A proposal to reduce the charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana took a big step forward Tuesday.

The Metro Council advanced legislation on a second of three readings that would add Nashville to the ever-growing list of cities and states that have passed measures aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.

The ordinance would give police the option of reducing the penalty for people who knowingly possess a half-ounce of marijuana or less in Nashville to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service.

Currently, people caught with a half ounce of pot or less in Tennessee face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“There’s a large criminal justice reform conversation going on now and there’s a large national conversation that is changing around this particular issue,” said Green Hills-area Councilman Russ Pulley, a co-sponsor of the legislation, noting that multiple states have already legalized marijuana and several more will have referendum votes on the matter in November.

“This gets us involved in that conversation,” he said.

The bill will now be considered for final approval on Sept. 20.

Colorado: Pueblo County Wants To Say No To Legal Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado for four years, but anti-marijuana activists in Pueblo County have gathered enough signatures to force an unprecedented question on the November ballot: whether to terminate recreational marijuana sales and operations.

Backers of the Pueblo effort to repeal marijuana legalization say retail pot shops and farms have brought increased vagrancy, crime, and an undesirable reputation as the pot capital of southern Colorado. Supporters of legalization say the new industry has helped revitalize an area that has long struggled economically. Repealing it would cost more than a thousand jobs, they say. It would be giving in to the retrograde impulses of “prohibitionists.”

Possession and use of marijuana would remain legal in the county, as would medical marijuana. But more than 100 dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and infused product manufacturers would have to shut down within a year.

County Commissioner Sal Pace, the chief opponent of the ballot effort, is pleased that his community is seen as a center for marijuana innovation. He said that almost $4 million in annual tax revenue has gone to college scholarships, 4H and Future Farmers of America efforts, and medical marijuana research at Colorado State University Pueblo.

Alaska: Officials To Issue Cannabis Licenses This Week, Retail Outlets To Open By End Of Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost two years after Alaskan voters approved legalizing marijuana's recreational use for adults, the state's Marijuana Control Board has announced it will begin issuing cannabis business licenses this week allowing cannabis retail stores to open.

The Board expects most of the retail outlets to be open by the end of the year. Since licenses for cultivation facilities and testing sites were issued in June, seeing the stores open by year-end should be easy.

The stores will be able to legally sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years of age. The Board also plans to discuss this week whether it will allow on-site consumption at these stores, something that's currently not allowed.

Question 2, which was approved by voters in 2014 with 53% of the vote, is what made all these changes possible. Because of Question 2, anyone over 21 in Alaska can legally possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana, and can cultivate up to six plants.

Arizona: New Poll Shows Half Of Voters Favor Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new poll shows that half of Arizona voters support legalizing recreational marijuana use.

The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll found 50 percent of registered voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure and 10 percent are undecided.

Proposition 205 would legalize marijuana for recreational use, and set up a retail outlet system similar to the one in Colorado.

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow people 21 and older in Arizona to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

In 2010 Arizona voters made medical marijuana legal, but the vote passed with a small margin.

"The proposal starts out ahead ... but that doesn't mean it ends up that way after a campaign," said public-opinion pollster Mike O'Neil, who was not involved in the survey. "It reflects an evolving attitude on marijuana throughout the entire country, and we're part of that. People are no longer buying that this is just a horrible thing."

California: LA Pastor Says Recreational Pot Could Be Good For People Of Color

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California's measure to legalize recreational marijuana this November has support from some big names, such as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Napster founder, Sean Parker. Now a Los Angeles pastor has joined the list of people who say they are voting yes on Proposition 64.

Troy Vaughn is the spiritual leader at Inglewood Community Church, a predominantly black worship center on La Brea Ave. Pastor Vaughn has seen the negative impact that drugs have had on communities of color.

"It all stems back historically to the war on drugs" he told Take Two's A Martinez. "So when you take away rights, but you control consumption ... it creates an imbalance."

The American Civil Liberties Union says that although blacks and whites use pot at about the same rate, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for possession.

"When we start looking at mass incarceration, and the engine of mass incarceration and the disparities, particularly for people of color, then we have to begin to erase some of those things in order to really correct some of the ills that society has perpetrated on people of color and communities of color," he said.

He leads a congregation of about 100 members, and realizes that not everyone is going to agree with him.

"My wife doesn't necessarily agree with me," he said.

U.S.: The American Legion Wants Marijuana Reclassified To Help Treat PTSD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The American Legion is asking the federal government to reclassify marijuana to acknowledge its potential benefits as a medical treatment.

Recently, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) again refused to reclassify marijuana, continuing to insist the plant has no medicinal value.

Many physicians and scientists believe that one of the potential medical values of medical marijuana is as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The American Legion just voted at its national convention to support a resolution calling on Congress to legislatively reclassify cannabis and place it in a category that recognizes its potential value.

The resolution highlights a number of important statistics that have helped push the Legion to support it. Across two years, the Department of Veterans Affairs have diagnosed thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans as having PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). More than 1,300 veterans in fiscal year 2009 were hospitalized for brain injuries. And the resolution notes that systems in the brain can respond to 60 different chemicals found in cannabis.

The American Legion wants the DEA to license privately-funded medical marijuana and research facilities and to reclassify marijuana away from being lumped in with drugs like heroin and LSD..

New Jersey: Over 17,000 Signatures On Petition Asking Governor To Allow Cannabis For PTSD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A petition calling on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to sign a bill adding post traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying medical cannabis condition has over 17,000 signatures, collected in only three weeks.

“On August 1st New Jersey’s full legislature gave approval to Assembly Bill 457 which would add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical cannabis condition. The vote in the Senate was 29 to 9; the vote in the Assembly was 56 to 13?, states the petition. “Now, the measure sits on the desk of Governor Chris Christie, who has the option of signing it into law, allowing it to become law without his signature, or vetoing it.”

It continues; “We are calling Governor Christie to quickly sign it into law, allowing those suffering from the ailment to use a medicine that research has continually shown is beneficial.”

New York: Eaton Farm First To Plant Hemp Seeds

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dan Dolgin and Mark Justh planted 30 acres of hemp near Eaton, New York in July under a research license from Morrisville State College. They are expecting their first harvest next month.

"It's not only the first legal hemp grown in New York State, but the first legal hemp to be grown here in 80 years," Dolgin said.

They say their biggest hurdle is proving to people that hemp is not marijuana and won't "get you high".

"Looking at this you might not be able to tell the difference between the two, but they have very different end uses and are grown very differently," said Dolgin.

"This is an agricultural crop. It has nothing to do with marijuana and I think it's important for people to understand that," Mark Justh said.

Hemp is used in textiles, building materials, and food.

"It's got all the omega 3's and 6's. It's probably the best vegan alternative to fish oil so we're excited about the nutritional components as much as we are the industrial components," said Dolgin.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the annual hemp sales to be almost $600 million, but all of that money is being spent outside the U.S. presently.

Dan and Mark expect a high yield at harvest next month. "We expect to get 800 pounds per acre off of this," Justh said.

They hope that hemp will soon benefit farmers all over the state.

Caribbean: Jamaica Hopes To Cash In On Pot Tourism

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several Caribbean countries are benefitting from the multi-billion dollar health and wellness tourism industry. Jamaica hopes to become one of them, but is planning an alternative to traditional medicine.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that Jamaica's lush southwestern coast is perfect for "cannabis-infused tourism" where products made from the plant would play a major part in the tourism sector.

Minister Bartlett spoke recently at Canex Jamaica, the first cannabis-centered conference on the business potential of the marijuana trade, where he said he recognized “how the cannabis product and its application could fit neatly in a network of health and wellness that could drive a new demographic into Jamaica with a higher spend and which will be able to establish us as a destination with a difference.”

Bartlett said Jamaica should not be a destination with only all-inclusive properties and mass tourism: “We believe that we can do product differentiation and we can do a level of product diversification which enables us to be attractive to all demographics.”

He said that Jamaica wants a piece of the US$494 billion global market for that kind of tourism.

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