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U.S.: DOJ Task Force Recommends Against Sessions Targeting Legal Marijuana Providers

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Recommendations would preserve current policy of not interfering with medical and adult-use businesses that comply with state law and federal guidelines

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A Dept. of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy is not recommending any policy changes that would target state-legal marijuana programs or businesses operating in compliance with state laws, according to a report by the Associated Press. The task force asked for continued study and dialogue on the issue.

U.S.: Marijuana's Biggest Adversary On Capitol Hill Sponsoring Bill To Research Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two of Congress's lawmakers with opposing views on marijuana are teaming up with others to introduce an overhaul of federal marijuana policy that would make it much easier for scientists to conduct research into medical marijuana.

One of them, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), is Congress's most vocal opponent of marijuana. He's remembered for single-handedly leading a provision that blocked marijuana shops in the District of Columbia in 2014.

Harris is working with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or.), who Rolling Stone recently called Congress's "top legal pot advocate", to introduce the overhaul this week.

Harris said in an interview that the bipartisan Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016 would "cut through the red tape" that presently makes it extremely difficult for researchers to obtain and use marijuana in clinical trials.

Currently, federal law only allows one facility in Mississippi to produce marijuana used for research. "Because of this monopoly, research-grade drugs that meet researchers’ specifications often take years to acquire, if they are produced at all," Brookings Institution researchers wrote last year.

Nevada: Experts, Leaders To Discuss Breaking Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

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As the new medical marijuana industry takes shape in Nevada, the most often asked questions of patients are “Will cannabis help me?” and “Which strain works best for my illness?” Many regulatory barriers exist for the medical community to conduct the research needed to answer these questions.

Nationally recognized experts and state leaders will discuss the regulatory challenges, necessary reforms and the possibilities these changes will create for patients on Wednesday, May 25 in Las Vegas.

Panelists include John Hudak of The Brookings Institution, Sue Sisley, MD, The Grove Medical Director, Nevada State Senator Patricia Farley, and Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle and Gridiron Cannabis Coalition. This event will be moderated by Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom.

“More than 160 million Americans live in states with approved medical marijuana systems," said Hudak. "Each year, millions use marijuana with the hope of therapeutic and medicinal benefit. Yet, the federal government has constructed and continues to reinforce a series of barriers that prevent the scientific and medical community from studying the medical efficacy of marijuana.

"This event will explore those regulatory roadblocks and discuss solutions that reclaim the integrity of science and give sound answers to patients and doctors,” Hudak said.

U.S.: Some Members Of Congress Ready To Call It Quits On Marijuana Eradication

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Drug Enforcement Administration is continuing its losing streak. Last week, 12 House members led by Democrat Ted Lieu of California wrote to House leadership asking for a provision in an upcoming spending bill that would strip half the funds from the DEA's Cannabis Eradication Program and instead spend that money on programs that "play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people": domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction.

The DEA pisses away about $18 million a year in coordination with state and local authorities to pull up marijuana plants being grown both indoors and outdoors. The ineffectual program has been plagued with scandal, controversy, and ridicule. In the mid-2000s, it was revealed that most of the "marijuana" plants pulled up in the program were actually ditchweed, feral hemp plants that contain almost no THC, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

U.S.: Brookings Institution Lists 8 Things To Watch About Marijuana Legalization In 2015

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The Brookings Institution has released a list of eight critical marijuana legalization items to monitor during 2015.

The list, from Brookings Fellow John Hudak, follows:

1) Oregon, Alaska Plan & Prepare for Legal Marijuana: How well each of these state legislatures and alcohol regulatory bodies work together will determine the success or failure of marijuana policy in these states. As it borders Washington, Oregon’s commercial and regulatory choices will be particularly crucial in understanding to what extent states may strive for market advantages vis-à-vis bordering states.

2) Identifying the Next States to Legalize: 2015 will show which states are serious about ballot initiatives in 2016. It’s widely expected that California will advance an initiative and Florida might take another swing at approving medical marijuana, after falling just short of approval in 2014.

3) Cannabis Policy & State Legislative Action: In some states, the battleground for enacting items like the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana is not the ballot box, but the state legislature.

4) Cannabis & the Courts: Multiple high-profile lawsuits surrounding marijuana policy may play out in 2015. For instance, Coats v. Dish Network may settle the issue of employer-sponsored marijuana testing and a Supreme Court case involving Nebraska and Oklahoma’s suing of Colorado over legalizing marijuana will indicate the willingness of federal courts to engage in this policy area.

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Down Since Legalization

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Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado high school students has dropped since the state's voters made marijuana legal in 2012, according to a Thursday press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Thirty-day marijuana use fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013, and lifetime use declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years,” according to the release. It has dropped nearly five points since 2009 (24.8 percent), when hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout Colorado.

The state began regulating medical marijuana in 2010. The CDPHE release says the drop from 2011 to 2013 is not statistically significant, but it appears the drop from 2009 to 2013 could be. In either case, it is clear that use among high school students has not increased.

Nationwide, the rate of current teen marijuana use increased from 20.8 percent in 2009 to 23.1 percent in 2011 and 23.4 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The national rate of lifetime use increased from 36.8 percent in 2009 to 39.9 percent in 2011 and 40.7 percent in 2013.

Colorado: Brookings Institution Says State Is Successfully Regulating Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.

“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

“This report reflects what is actually happening on the ground here in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado initiative campaign. "The state is proving that regulating marijuana works. It explains why the new law is experiencing just as much public support now as it did when voters approved it in 2012.

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