black market

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/hemporg/public_html/news/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 34.

Canada: Justin Trudeau Makes A Case For Legalizing Marijuana

JustinTrudeauWeed[Diply].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday made a remarkable argument for the legalization of marijuana, basing his points not on economic benefits, but on the same factors many legalization opponents start from -- concern for the safety of children.

"Look, our approach on legalizing marijuana is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenue, it's based on two very simple principles," Trudeau said at an economic conference, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

"The first one is, young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other countries in the world," Trudeau pointed out. "[Of] 29 different countries studied by the U.N., Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana.

"And whatever you might think or studies seen about cannabis being less harmful than alcohol or even cigarettes, the fact is it is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana," Trudeau said. "And that will happen under a controlled and regulated regime.

Louisiana: Fishermen Find Brick of Marijuana On Beach

LouisianaSquareGrouper2016[CaptainTheophileBourgeois].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Capt. Theophile Bourgeois and his clients on Friday discovered a brick of cannabis while walking along an island beach in the Chandeleur chain off the Louisiana coast.

"It was half in the sand, right up on then beach," Bourgeois said, reports Todd Masson at The Times-Picayune. "My clients were like, 'What do you think it is?' I said, 'I'd bet my left nut what that is.' It was dark; I knew it wasn't cocaine. I said, 'That's weed.'"

They used to be called "square groupers" -- the stray bales of marijuana that occasionally washed up on the Gulf Coast, by-products of a thriving black market that brought weed into the U.S. via the Caribbean.

The anglers cut open the brick to check, and Capt. Bourgeois' suspicions were confirmed. "It was solid seeds and stems," he said. "It stunk. It was skunk weed."

The cannabis was very compressed, according to Bourgeois, and he estimated the weight of the brick as between 15 and 20 pounds. It appeared to have been lost at sea for awhile. "It was old and waterlogged," Bourgeois said.

"It was on the bay side, which meant it made its way through current and came around," he said. "It looked pretty damned old."

Colorado: Crackdown Coming For Illegal Marijuana Grows In Colorado Springs

JohnSuthersMayorColoradoSprings[AP].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A crackdown is coming in Colorado Springs, according to Mayor John Suthers, who said he expects hundreds of busts of illegal marijuana growers in the coming months.

Those busts are targeting unregistered, commercial-sized operations run by out-of-state residents, mainly from Florida and with ties to cartels, according to law enforcement officials, reports Kaitlin Durbin at The Gazette.

What that hopefully means is that the focus won't be on small-time home grows, where average stoners cultivate a few more plants than 12 legally permitted under Amendment 64, the legalization initiative approved by Colorado voters back in 2012.

"If you look at who is being busted in Pueblo and who will be busted in Colorado Springs over the summer, you can tell: These are organized crime," Suthers claimed. "A lot of them Cubans coming up from Central America, and they're buying or leasing homes, making huge amounts of money (and) trashing the homes."

"There's no question, in Colorado Springs we have large illegal grow operations in several hundred homes," Suthers said.

U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

MarijuanaTraffickingDeclines[WashingtonPost].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

U.S.: Federal Data Shows Marijuana Trafficking Falls Following State Legalization

MarijuanaTraffickingOffenders[USSC].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped significantly after the passage of statewide laws legalizing and regulating the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

According to the new report, the number of cannabis trafficking offenders prosecuted federally fell dramatically after 2012, declining from more than 6,000 a year to fewer than 4,000 in 2015, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report.

The period of decline matches the passage and enactment of marijuana legalization measures in states including Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Those convicted of marijuana trafficking serve an average of 29 months in prison, according to federal data.

A copy of the USSC report is available here for downloading:
https://lists.norml.org/list/mail.cgi/r/chapters/697347662961/dale/canor...

Canada: Unlicensed Marijuana Dispensaries Thriving In Toronto

KindSupplyDispensaryToronto[KindSupplyFacebook].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 100 unlicensed marijuana dispensaries have sprung up in Toronto, most in the past six months, since the election of Justin Trudeau, who won on a legalization platform, among other progressive issues

Only a few dozen medicinal cannabis producers have a license from the Canadian federal government to sell marijuana; all other outlets are considered illegal, reports Jacob Templin at Quartz.

A few medical marijuana dispensaries have existed for years in Toronto, catering to a smallish clientele, requiring doctor's prescriptions, and operating out of undisclosed locations. The new breed of dispensaries, however, tend to have storefronts and are open to the public, according to Adam Verk, a project manager at The Big Toke, which consults with and collects data on cannabis-related businesses in Toronto.

"In the past six months it's gotten crazy, and a lot of them aren't following protocols," said Amy Brown, who has operated CannDo, a Toronto-based medical marijuana dispensary, since 2014.

It's unclear whether new federal laws will legalize the dispensaries. The Liberal government isn't unveiling its proposed legislation until Spring 2017.

Colorado: Feds, Local Cops Raid Suspected Illegal Marijuana Grows

ColoradoDEARaid[CannabisNow].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This isn't quite how we pictured legalization. Denver police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Tuesday morning raided multiple unlicensed marijuana grows as part of a two-year investigation.

There have been no arrests, and police faced no resistance at any of the locations where officers executed search warrants, said Denver Police Commander Marcus Fountain, reports Noelle Phillips at The Denver Post.

Police wouldn't say how many sites were raided, and wouldn't quantify the amount of cannabis seized (I don't know, maybe they haven't figured out how much they're stealing yet).

The grow sites were across the Denver area, including residential areas, according to Fountain, who said the investigation continues.

Law enforcement has identified no connections to any gangs or cartels, according to Fountain. Police have more interviews to perform, and more locations to investigate, he said.

"It's likely to go on for several more months," Fountain said. "It's that complicated."

Police claim "it's possible" that "some of the operators" may be shipping weed out of state, reports the Associated Press. Well, lots of things are possible, but that doesn't mean we need to base police raids of them.

Global: UN-Led Drug War Threatens Peace And Security In 1 In 3 Member States

WarOnDrugsUnderminingPeaceAndSecurity[CountTheCosts].jpg

A new report from the Count the Costs initiative, ‘The War on Drugs - Undermining Peace and Security,’ finds that in 60 countries around the world national security is fundamentally compromised or threatened by the UN-led global Drug War.

Despite claiming to protect society from the potential harms of drugs, the approach pursued through the United Nations – which involves prohibiting drugs, and punishing users and dealers – has created a criminal market so vast that drug gangs now pose a significant threat to international security.

“This is a classic case of security blowback," said Danny Kushlick, the report’s co-author and head of External Affairs at Transform Drug Policy Foundation. "The UN’s own analysis shows that it is the drug control system that fuels organised crime, and that this in turn threatens the security of as many as one in three UN member states.

"Indeed, a report published tomorrow [Wednesday 2nd March 2016] by the UN International Narcotics Control Board concludes that drug trafficking is creating failed states,” Kushlick said.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime – the body in charge of the global drug control system – has described how the War On Drugs undermines international security: “Global drug control efforts have had a dramatic unintended consequence: a criminal black market of staggering proportions. Organized crime is a threat to security. Criminal organizations have the power to destabilize society and Governments.”

Washington: Lawmaker Says Black Market Weed Still Cheaper Than The Legal Stuff

MarijuanaTaxes[MedicalDaily-Shutterstock].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Rep. Christopher Hurst, who just last week wouldn't allow a committee vote on a marijuana home grow bill, said on Thursday that it's still cheaper to buy black market cannabis in his state than it is to go in a store and buy the legal stuff.

House Bill 2347, which Hurst (D-Enumclaw) is sponsoring, would reduce the tax on legal recreational marijuana from 37 to 25 percent, reports LaVendrick Smith at the WNPA Olympia News Bureau. The idea is to make legal marijuana prices more competitive with those on the black market, according to Hurst.

A reduced tax would be one of the most important ways of eliminating black market sales of marijuana, according to Hurst, who said the black market still makes up 65 to 75 percent of cannabis sales in Washington state.

"We can't get there if we price ourselves so much higher than the illicit market," Hurst said. "The criminals love the tax rate being high, because they don't pay it, and it makes it so the legal people can't compete with them."

Then again, nobody knows for sure what Rep. Hurst even means when he says "black market," since last year he said he viewed all medical marijuana dispensaries as black market dealers -- and they have openly operated in the state for more than a decade, with many paying taxes. With the shutdown of medical dispensaries looming, medicinal cannabis patients will be forced to go through the recreational system to buy marijuana beginning July 1.

Oregon: Police Sergeant Accused of Selling Marijuana While On Duty

WarmSpringsPoliceCar[KTVZ].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Oregon police sergeant has been fired after being accused of setting up a marijuana sale through text messages on his cellphone while in uniform and on duty in the department's squad room, according to federal court records.

Lonny McEwen, 44, a 20-year employee of the Warm Springs Police Department who was promoted to sergeant in 2010, made his first appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, reports Maxine Bernstein at The Oregonian. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and distribution of a controlled substance.

McEwen on January 20 arranged a marijuana sale by text messages, seemingly unaware the prospective buyer was a police informant, according to a federal affidavit supporting a criminal complaint. McEwen told the informant he had four ounces of weed for sale, and asked if the informant was interested, the affidavit alleges.

In a series of text messages, McEwen told the informant he was selling marijuana to "help out a friend" and that it was "31 percent THC" and $200 an ounce," FBI Agent Daniel Baringer wrote in the affidavit.

While in the presence of Warm Springs police detectives in the squad room, McEwen agreed to sell the cannabis for $100 an ounce in texts sent just before the start of his shift, according to the affidavit.

The sale happened last Thursday after the buyer agreed to meet McEwen at his Warm Springs home, according to court records.

Washington: Seattle City Attorney Promises Crackdown On Black Market Marijuana

PeteHolmesSeattleCityAttorney[ElaineThompson-MyNorthwest.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization gets rid of the black market, and makes it obsolete, right? Wrong, if your legalization law is written as badly as Washington state's.

I-502, the clunky cannabis legalization measure, was made even worse by SB 5052; last year, that execrable piece of legislation assisted the original measure in completing a coup de grace on medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets in the state.

The onerous taxation scheme and miles of red tape forced upon marijuana retailers by state rules -- along with a healthy dose of old fashioned greed -- mean that, ironically enough, cannabis costs more in legal marijuana stores than on the black market, thus ensuring that the illegal market continues to flourish, even as the state desperately tries to prop up its anointed retailers by arresting their competition.

That's right: in the eyes of recreational marijuana retailers, not just black market dealers, but medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets represent unwelcome competition. You can really see their point when you realize that I-502 store prices average roughly twice the going rate in dispensaries and three times that in farmers markets.

Most patients are on limited incomes as they struggle with chronic illness, and the I-502 store prices, along with the 37 percent tax, makes medicine just about unaffordable.

Mexico: Marijuana Farmers See Profits Tumble As U.S. Legalizes

MexicoMarijuanaFlag[MJHeadlineNews]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The loosening of marijuana laws in the United States has increased competition from American growers, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican black-market cannabis farmers.

Small-scale growers in the state of Sinaloa, one of Mexico's biggest marijuana production areas, said that over the past four years the per-kilogram price has fallen from $100 to $30, reports Deborah Bonello at the Los Angeles Times.

The price drops appear to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border.

"People don't want to abandon their illicit crops, but more and more they are realizing that it is no longer good business," said Juan Gerra, Sinaloa's secretary of agriculture.

For decades, in an impotent and ill-fated attempt to stop marijuana cultivation in Mexico, both the American and Mexican governments have paid farmers to grow legal crops, and have periodically sent in Mexican soldiers to supposedly "seek out and eradicate" cannabis fields. Just as often, the troops merely demanded a piece of the action.

Those efforts, of course, failed miserably to stop production, because marijuana was still more profitable than the alternatives. It took legalization in several states in the U.S. to actually make a negative impact on Mexican cannabis production; it's not rocket science and doesn't require a genius level IQ to comprehend.

Oregon: Lawmakers 'Move To Curb Black Market,' Blame Medical Marijuana

OMMPOregonMedicalMarijuanaProgram(round)[MedicalMarijuanaBlog]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what's starting to look uncomfortably like a replay of how legalization played out in next door neighbor Washington state, Oregon lawmakers are moving to put new strict limits on medical marijuana growers after voters approved recreational legalization last November.

Legislators want to shift large medical growers to the strictly regulated recreational cannabis market Oregon plans to develop, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

"We have to show we're doing everything we can to close off the black market," claimed Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland). "It's no secret that medical marijuana [from Oregon] is appearing all over the U.S. in the illegal market."

It's amazing how quickly both the Washington and Oregon medical marijuana communities -- both of which have existed with no major problems for almost 17 years now, since voters in both states approved medical marijuana in 1998 -- became a "problem" due to their "unregulated" nature after recreational legalization was approved.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, actually claimed that as much as 75 percent of the medical marijuana in the state winds up going to the black market. Patridge offered no evidence for his wild claims.

He said he hoped the "growing legislative consensus" on how to regulate medical growers will produce "a model system for the U.S." showing how to curtail illegal sales.

Massachusetts: Legislature Considers Repealing Cannabis Prohibition

MassachusettsMarijuana

Last week the Associated Press reported on the introduction of H. 1561 in the Massachusetts Legislature; the bill would legalize recreational cannabis consumption and sales.

"Bay State Repeal, the ballot-initiative committee aiming to draft the least restrictive citizen initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in 2016, is pleased 15 legislators are seriously considering marijuana law reform," the organization announced in a Wednesday press release.

"We are also pleased the bill permits home cultivation in any amount as long as minors have no access to the cultivation site and there is no intent to sell," the statement reads. "For Bay State Repeal, the right to grow cannabis at home is a key provision of any meaningful reform, both as a matter of civil rights and protection from overzealous law enforcement and as a check on excessive prices.

"We are less pleased to see that the proposed law creates a 'Cannabis Commission' to regulate cultivation and commerce in marijuana for profit," the release reads. "A new bureaucracy is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a mandate for overregulation. A better solution is to assign any needed licensing authority to the Department of Revenue. In addition, the proposed tax on recreational cannabis is excessive and becomes more so over the first four years.

U.S.: Cannabis-Centered 'High Maintenance' Web Series To Debut New Episodes In February

HighMaintenance(poster)

Vimeo on Monday announced that a new cycle of three episodes of the heralded web series "High Maintenance" will premiere exclusively on Vimeo on Demand February 5, 2015 – the second half of the series’ second season.

Created by married couple Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, the series successfully launched Vimeo On Demand’s first foray into original programming.

"High Maintenance" has received a bevy of acclaim from prestigious outlets like The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Observer, Entertainment Weekly, and Slate, among others.

The new episodes are available globally and have subtitles translated to German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, and Japanese, enabling "High Maintenance"’s audience to have an incredibly wide breadth.

"High Maintenance" centers around a cannabis dealer known simply as "The Guy" (Sinclair) who slips in and out of the lives of his clients – an eclectic array of Brooklynites, from the likes of a harried personal assistant buying weed for her boss to a misunderstood asexual magician.

In this new batch of episodes, "The Guy" is poised to deliver to a new set of clients, all who have vastly different motivations – or lack there of – for smoking weed.

Pricing for the series on Vimeo on Demand remains the same as the previous cycle of three episodes: to rent episodes individually, the cost is $1.99 or EUR 2.49. To buy all episodes the cost is $7.99 or EUR 6.49.

North America: Shoe's On The Other Foot - US Weed Now Being Smuggled Into Mexico

USFlagWithMarijuanaLeafStars

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An an interesting case of role reversal, marijuana grown in the United States is increasingly being smuggled into Mexico, according to the DEA.

At one time, Mexico supplied the vast majority of cannabis found in the U.S., but that has changed due to more weed being cultivated north of the border. The high quality of American weed is catching the attention of Mexico drug cartels, reports RT.com.

American marijuana, typically with potency between 10 and 25 percent THC, is, on the average, noticeably stronger than Mexican weed, which averages 3 to 8 percent. American weed, meanwhile, typically sells for three to four times as much as Mexican product.

"I believe that now, because of the changes they're having to make because of marijuana legalization in the U.S., the cartel is pushing more cocaine, meth and heroin. They're diversifying," journalist Javier Valdez told NPR.

"It makes sense," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne, reports National Public Radio. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"

Washington: Marijuana Retailers Hope Harvest Will Lower Prices, Combat Black Market

WashingtonStateMapI-502MarijuanaLeaf

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With licensed producers of marijuana bringing in autumn's outdoor harvest, retailers who own the recreational cannabis stores created by limited legalization measure I-502 are hoping to lower prices enough to diminish the black market -- which was one of the main justifications for the law passed by state voters two years ago.

But the most that store owners like Mary Van de Graaf, owner of Mill Creek A, one of two licensed marijuana shops in Union Gap, can hope for is making a bit of a dent. "We'll slow it down, yeah,"
Van de Graaf said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

So far, even I-502 store owners like Van de Graaf have to admit that legalizing recreational marijuana has done almost nothing to combat black market street sales, where dealers don't pay taxes or check the ages of their customers.

Washington's brand of limited "legalization" apparently hasn't yet made any dent at all in illegal grows. In fact, there's an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in back yards, according to Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's regional office in Seattle.

On Monday, law enforcement confiscated 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah, Washington; police arrested two men the same day for stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.

Oregon: 'Yes On 91' Video Illustrates Marijuana Regulation In 45 Seconds

YesOn91-DoYouThinkItsTimeForABetterApproach?

A newly released 45-second motion graphic shows why it's time to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana in Oregon. You might recognize the narrator's voice from radio and telelvision.

Rick Steves, travel guru, narrates this animated video that explains how our current marijuana policies are failing us. Steves is launching a six-day, 11-city tour around Oregon in support of Measure 91.

Oregon's Measure 91 would create a regulated system that would refocus police time on serious crimes, hobble the black market cartels, and direct millions of dollars to education, drug treatment and prevention, and law enforcement.

Learn more at www.VoteYESon91.com .

Uruguay: Marijuana Will Be Sold Tax-Free To Undercut Drug Smugglers

UruguayCannabis(TheGuardian)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana production and sales will be exempt from taxes in Uruguay, according to government consultants who said the move is to ensure prices remain low enough to undercut competition from the black market.

Uruguay's Congress in December approved a law allowing the legal cultivation and sale of marijuana, making it the first nation on Earth to do so in modern times, with the aim of wresting the business from smugglers, reports Malena Castaldi at Reuters.

"The principal objective is not tax collection," said Felix Abadi, a contractor in charge of developing Uruguay's cannabis tax structure. "Everything has to be geared toward undercutting the black market. So we have to make sure the price is low."

Up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally will be auctioned in in the coming weeks. The government is also considering cultivating cannabis on a plot of land controlled by the army to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.

Tobacco and alcohol are heavily taxed in Uruguay, but the official cannabis trade will be almost entirely tax-free, according to Abadi. Uruguay doesn't require a decree or law to exempt a product from taxes.

According to the policy signed this month by President Jose Mujica, Uruguayans will be able to buy up to 10 grams of cannabis a week in pharmacies, for between 85 cents and US $1 a gram, a price comparable to black-market marijuana.

Syndicate content