Cannabis

California: Study Shows Marijuana Decriminalization Associated With Improved Labor Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Data compiled by economists at the University of California shows that reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with greater overall employment and higher wages.

Researchers at the Economic Self-Sufficiency Research Policy Institute at the University of California at Irvine assessed the relationship between statewide marijuana decriminalization laws and labor outcomes.

The report says that decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. The greatest average wage increase was experienced by African-Americans.

"This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes," the authors concluded. "This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."

Colorado: Retail/Recreational Marijuana Licenses Increase, Medical Licenses Decrease

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The latest Colorado Marijuana Market Report finds that retail/recreational licenses are increasing in number while medical licenses are decreasing. Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is the producer of the quarterly Market Report.

“The total number of active marijuana business licenses issued by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division is at an all-­time record high of 2,971, up from 2,913 in December 2016,” says Seaborn. “52.5 percent of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, down from 54.5 percent in December 2016. 47.5 percent are for recreational/retail businesses, up from 45.5 percent.”

Retail dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all increased in number since December 2016, the report finds, while medical centers, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all decreased.

The Colorado Marijuana Market Report will be a quarterly publication by Seaborn analyzing the data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources.

U.S.: National District Attorneys Association Pens Prohibitionist Paper

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The National District Attorneys Association has released a paper supporting the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

The authors conclude that “federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be applied consistently across the nation to maintain respect for the rule of law.”

The paper goes on to say "As a Schedule I drug, federal authorities have found that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and lacks safety for use under medical supervision."

The NDAA working group called children’s access to cannabis “one of the most significant concerns about legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.”

“Legalization of marijuana for purported medicinal and recreational purposes has increased access by children,” the letter contends. “…It is vitally important to do all we can to prevent access to marijuana by youth in America. Their health, safety and welfare demand no less.”

Montana: Medical Marijuana Sales Tax Bill Heads To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill imposing a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana sales in Montana passed in the House 68-31 and has moved to Governor Steve Bullock's desk. Sen. Mary Caferro, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure, which was amended from 6 percent, will help the state regulate the program.

“The 4 percent tax was an amendment in the Senate and I supported it, and the reason is because the 4 percent tax is enough to set up the system,” she said in the report. “And that’s common practice, industry pays for their regulation.”

The tax will drop to 2 percent in July 2018 and will help cover new regulations including a seed-to-sale tracking system, site and shop inspections, and lab testing.

“The point of the bill, again, is to make sure that Montana has a regulated system so the feds don’t come shut it down,” Caferro said.

Kari Boiter, co-founder of the Patient Rights Network said the sales tax - which was 6 percent at the time - would create undue burdens for those patients on limited incomes.

“We’re already dealing with exorbitant medical costs and debt that we’re trying to pay,” she said in an Associated Press report. “This is just one more thing that adds to the expenses we’re taking on as sick individuals.”

Bullock is expected to sign the measure which his spokesperson called “fair and modest” last month.

Nevada: Senate Passes Four Cannabis-related Bills, One Banning Candy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nevada's Senate passed four marijuana-related bills recently: one that would allow cannabis clubs, one dealing with cannabis product packaging, one that would allow the governor to work with state tribes interested in the cannabis industry, and a measure that would allow medical marijuana to be used to treat opioid addiction, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Provisions in the packaging bill would ban cannabis-infused products containing sugar, except for baked goods. Industry leaders argue that the bill's definition of "candy" is too broad.

“Candy,” according to the bill text, is defined as “a product which contains sugar and is produced in the shape of a cartoon, character, mascot, action figure, human balloon (sic), fruit or toy or any other shape determined by the Division [of Public and Behavioral Health] to be likely to appeal primarily to children.”

The packaging bill also includes a requirement for childproof containers and requirements for THC content labeling.

The bill dealing with state tribes would require that tribal cannabis regulations be as strict as state regulations. The cannabis club legislation would allow businesses and special events to apply for a license to allow marijuana on their premises, subject to some zoning restrictions.

Greece: Health Officials Set To Introduce Medical Marijuana Proposal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Health officials in Greece are set to propose legislation that would allow the cultivation and use of medical marijuana, according to a report from Ekathimerini.com. The Health Ministry came to this decision following a scientific study on the effectiveness of medical marijuana for treating chronic illnesses.

Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, said that the agency is close to proposing the measure that would allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for a limited number of conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma.

The use of medical cannabis is legal in several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland, Italy, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.

A letter was sent to Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis last June from 36 members of Greek’s Parliament that outlined the benefits of medical cannabis legalization.

“The financial benefits of cultivation of our own cannabis in Greece for medicinal/pharmaceutical purposes and for use in research would be multi-faceted (rejuvenating our agricultural economy and processing, resumption of export of hemp products after many years of stagnation, strengthening insurance funds to escape the burden of expensive prescription pharmaceutical products.),” the letter states.

Iowa: Legislature Passes Expanded Medical Marijuana Bill, Moves To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Iowa passed legislation Saturday that would improve the state’s limited medical marijuana program, allowing in-state cultivation of plants with less than 3 percent THC and expanding the qualifying condition list.

The current law only allows CBD oil possession for epilepsy treatments, but it is set to expire in July.

If signed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, the low-THC cannabis oils produced in Iowa would be available to patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, AIDS and HIV, seizures, Chron’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and most terminal conditions with untreatable pain that have a life expectancy of less than one year.

The measure would also create a Medical Cannabidiol Advisory board that could issue recommendations to expand the qualifying conditions approved for medical cannabis use and has the authority to issue a recommendation to the legislature to raise the 3 percent THC limits.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom said that the plan approved early Saturday morning does little to help treat ailments covered by the measure.

Washington, DC: Activists Arrested Again At Pro-cannabis Rally

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

At least four activists were arrested yesterday at a "smoke-in" at the Capitol held by members of D.C. Marijuana Justice, a pro-cannabis activist group. DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger was among those arrested, the Associated Press reports. He also was one of eight arrested during last week’s Apr. 20 joint giveaway at the Capitol, in which only two were charged.

Ricardo Harven had a message during the smoke-in for the more than 20 Capitol Police who came to crackdown on the event.

“Congress approved our federal law, it is federally legal [to possess] marijuana in the District of Columbia,” Harvin said, “So remember that as you come in to arrest us.”

Capitol Police Spokesperson Eva Malecki said that the four people charged with possession, two women and two men, were violating federal law.

Eidinger said the activists are urging lawmakers to reject an amendment introduced by Republican Rep. Andy Harris that would prevent the city from passing local laws to legalize marijuana regulation and sales.

“One of the reasons we are fighting so hard to overturn this Andy Harris rider is because there’s unfinished business here in the nation’s capital,” Eidinger said in a Washington Post report. “Basically, we have legalization without commercialization.”

Maine: Bills Would Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries To Begin Recreational Sales Early

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine are pushing state lawmakers to allow them to open up recreational sales before those sales are set to begin next year, as it was done in both Oregon and Colorado.

Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, wants to ensure that both dispensaries and caregivers would be able to sell products to anyone over the age of 21 while the state develops the rules and regulations for its program making adult recreational use legal.

Two bills have been introduced in the state's legislature that would allow dispensaries to begin recreational sales early. The “Act to Clarify Certain Provisions of the Marijuana Legalization Act and To Deter the Use of Marijuana by Minors” (LD.1448) was introduced by Republican Matthew Harrington as emergency legislation, while LD.1491, “An Act to Provide for Safety, Quality and Transparency in the Retail Marijuana Industry” was introduced by Republican Sen. Roger Katz. The bills have been sent to the Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee, which Katz chairs.

A third bill (LD.1499) was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson. It would allow “provisional” licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries to sell marijuana to adults while the state develops regulations.

Switzerland: Advocates Renew Push For Legal Adult-use Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Swiss advocates are renewing their push to legalize marijuana consumption and cultivation for adults. Possession of marijuana was decriminalized in Switzerland in 2013, when laws were relaxed and criminal penalties for possessing 10 grams of cannabis or less were reduced to a fine of 100 francs (about USD$100).

An initiative to legalize marijuana failed in Switzerland in 2008. That initiative would have legalized marijuana cultivation and use for everyone, including minors, and didn’t provide for any government tax.

Nine Forrer of Legalize It, the group behind the campaign, argued that legalizing cannabis would help curtail the informal market.

“The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, wrong from a legal point of view and simply stupid from an economic point of view.” Forrer said in a report by Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss German-language newspaper published in Zurich.

The Swiss government is presently considering a trial program that would allow state-controlled marijuana sales in cannabis clubs in four cities and another trial that would allow cannabis sales in selected pharmacies.

Oregon: Legislature Forcing OMMP Into OLCC And Will Make Patients Pay For It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

SB 1057's latest amendments are on the schedule for another Public Hearing and Possible Work Session for the Tuesday, April 25th meeting of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization.

The Oregon Cannabis Connection reports that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission shall use the system developed and maintained for OLCC licensees:

1. To track the production, processing and transfer of cannabis by Oregon Medical Marijuana Program growers.

2. OLCC may conduct inspections and investigations, including inspections and investigations of OMMP grow sites.

This means that the OLCC will be in the backyard of every OMMP grower that is growing for more than two patients.

Patient-growers will be required to pay $2,000 annually to grow their own medicine at addresses where more than 12 plants are grown.

To protest these changes, contact the Joint Committee members. Their information can be found at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/JMR/Overview

Vermont: Senate Votes To Legalize Adult-use Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont State Senators have voted in favor of a bill that would legalize the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana for adults 21 and over for the second year in a row.

The bill, which passed with a 21-9 vote, is an amended version of the legalization measure that Vermont Senators approved last year, which failed to pass in the House.

“We know that prohibition has not worked,” said Sen. Jeanette White, a Democrat from Windham. “Let’s make it safer, less accessible to kids.”

The proposal would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, legalize the home cultivation of the plant, and would establish a regulatory licensing system similar to that found in states that have already legalized it.

Senators who oppose the bill have argued that adult-use legalization would be a bad idea because there is no reliable method of checking drivers for cannabis intoxication. Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, has also expressed concern about intoxicated drivers, but it is unknown if he would veto a legalization bill if it came across his desk.

The bill moves next to the Vermont House, who turned down a similar proposal last year.

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Sends Out 4/20 E-mail

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer sent an e-mail out to many citizens on 4/20 to acknowledge the unofficial marijuana holiday and to encourage them to join the fight to stop federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana.

In the e-mail, Blumenauer says that he has been fighting the battle for marijuana reform for over 40 years. While not such an outspoken advocate until recent years, he did first vote in the Oregon legislature to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana in 1973.

The subject of the e-mail was "Happy 4-20: Take this Joint Action!" and it reads:

Dear Friends,

One in five Americans live in a state where the voters have chosen to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. These regulations are keeping our communities safe from crime, and new jobs and industries are being created.

Unfortunately, a White House spokesperson recently announced a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana. If this happens states will lose billions in tax revenue.

As many of you know I've been fighting this battle for over 40 years. And recently, we have seen a lot of forward movement. Earlier this year, I cofounded the first congressional cannabis caucus to continue the momentum were we are seeing at the state level for cannabis reform. I'm glad to see other leaders stepping up on this issue.

Washington, DC: Seven Marijuana Activists Face Federal Charges For Offering 4/20 Joints To Congressional Staff

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Capitol Police officers arrested seven marijuana activists on federal charges Thursday as they gave away free joints to Capitol Hill staffers.

Activists from the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, or DCMJ, stood on a sidewalk near Senate offices -- non-federal land -- to avoid arrest and intervention by the Capitol Police.

A ballot initiative approved by District of Columbia voters in 2014 made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess 2 ounces of cannabis and to give it away. But marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

The few dozen activists booed the officers loudly as they walked those arrested across Constitution Avenue to police vans.

Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and the public face of legalization in the nation’s capital, was among those arrested.

It was planned for the joint giveaway to last from "high noon" until 6:20 p.m., but it ended at 2:15 p.m, with many of the activists saying that the police had "stolen" many of the 1,227 joints rolled to express support for H.R. 1227, which would put an end to federal marijuana prohibitions.

Eva Malecki, communications director for U.S. Capitol Police, issued the following statement:

West Virginia: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the state's medical marijuana program into law yesterday, after giving a speech in which he said that "it took real bravery” on behalf of Del. Michael Folk “to stand up and to say, ‘No, the people – the people – need to be heard.’”

Folk, a Republican, pushed the West Virginia Cannabis Act to a full House floor vote when it appeared lawmakers were going to kick the bill to two committees. Supporters said the double committee hearing would have been a certain “death sentence” for the measure.

“Lo and behold the people did get heard,” Justice, a Democrat, said during the signing ceremony. “You see, I’m a real believer that if you’re going to be a legislator you can’t let your religious, or your racial, or whatever beliefs that you have transcend beyond you. You have to first and foremost rise above that and you’ve got to be a legislator first and foremost.”

“How can you turn your back on a loved one that was really suffering – and we had a vehicle to be able to help – and we just turned our back and said ‘nope, we’re not gonna do that’,” he said. “Well, to me, that’s not listening to the wise and it’s not being charitable and caring like we ought to be.”

Patient cards are expected to begin being issued on July 1, 2019. West Virginia is the 29th state to legalize medical cannabis.

Delaware: Advocates Push For Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several speakers urged Delaware Gov. John Carney to change his mind and support the legalization of marijuana Wednesday at a roundtable discussion at Delaware Technical Community College's Wilmington campus.

“It’s time for this natural, organic, pure plant to be set free,” said Hector Ortez, a cancer survivor from Camden. “Everyone should have the human right to use cannabis legally. We are not criminals unless the law makes us criminals.”

Carney stayed mostly quiet as legislators, advocates and residents lauded the proposed Delaware Marijuana Control Act.

The governor has voiced his opposition to the bill but says he is willing to hear from all sides. "I'm here to listen," Carney said at the outset of the discussion.

"Times are changing," said state Rep. Helene Keeley, D-South Wilmington, sponsor of the bill that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. "As people become more educated and get past misconceptions, there has been growing support."

tate Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East and the bill's Senate sponsor, said it was an issue of "criminal and social justice."

"If you look at our prison system, there are a lot of people in jail for low-level drug crimes that don't belong there," Henry said. "If this legislation passes, we won't be arresting people unnecessarily."

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Vow To Smoke And Get Arrested On Steps Of U.S. Capitol

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens of marijuana advocates plan to light joints on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday as part of an effort to urge Congress to support marijuana legalization. Committing the offense on federal land could draw a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The April 24 event will mark the first time activists plan to light up on federal land.

It also would be the first significant protest to take place under the Trump administration, which has suggested it may crack down on violations of federal drug laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana.

"You can only ask nicely for so long before you have to change your tactic," said Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the advocacy group DCMJ. He said he's made sure his 13-year-old daughter will be taken care of and that his rent is paid in case he must spend an extended period of time in jail.

"It's come to this," he said.

Eidinger's group plans to distribute free marijuana joints to anyone with a congressional ID badge on a city street outside the Capitol. Under current law, possessing the joints on city streets is not a crime, but smoking it is.

The group has already rolled more than 1,000 joints and has dozens of volunteers ready to distribute them.

Any mass arrests from Monday's planned protest would be left to federal prosecutors in the District to handle.

Oklahoma: Governor Signs Bill Changing 'Marijuana' Definition To Exclude Fed-approved CBD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill removing any federally approved CBD product or drug from the state’s definition of “marijuana.” The move does little in helping to provide access to CBD therapies since no CBD-based drug or product has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

State Rep. Jon Echols said the measure “is the next logical step to expanding the state’s highly successful CBD program” and has helped “hundreds if not thousands” of Oklahoma citizens.

“In the history of the program there have been no reported incidents of abuse,” the Republican said in the report. “This non-intoxicating substance has literally changed the lives of many Oklahomans.”

“This makes it clear that if the FDA does approve a cannabidiol drug for use for medical treatment, that it would be legal,” Echols said.

Florida: Smoking Marijuana Not Allowed Under New Medical Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida's House and Senate are making changes to the state's medical marijuana constitutional amendment enacted by voters last November, but neither body has any intention of allowing smoking, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Michael Minardi, a lawyer and medical marijuana advocate in Florida, said that the legislature ignores the wishes of the more-than 70 percent of voters who approved the law during the General Election.

“These are veterans. These are the elderly. These are seniors, and people with ALS or PTSD, who benefit [from] and use cannabis in a smoked form,” he said in the report. “What you are doing here, by creating this legislation when 71 percent of the people support it, is going against their will.”

State Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican who has supported marijuana legislation in the state, said smoking provisions will not be included in the final version of the bill.

“There is agreement between the majority of the House and Senate that the smoking of cannabis is not an act that is consistent with a healthy life and not consistent with consuming medicine,” he said.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, who has proposed banning marijuana-infused edibles, called the current bill “a work in progress.”

Oregon: Rep. Blumenauer Says Marijuana Has 'Come Of Age Politically'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Rep. Earl Blumenauer spoke with reporters in a conference call today, and said that “marijuana has gone mainstream” and “has come of age politically.”

“We’re continuing to watch the evolution of the issue as more and more people are involved, as the industry grows and as the consensus that this ought to be something that the federal government ought not to try and suppress, regardless of peoples’ individual feelings about marijuana,” he said. “The overwhelming number appeared not to want the federal government to interfere with what states do.”

When asked about the possibility of the Trump administration cracking down on states with legalized marijuana, Blumenauer said that “one thing has been consistent and that is we’ve received inconsistent signals from this administration on a wide variety of issues.”

“I think what is important is, first of all, what the candidate Trump said on the campaign trail that the state ought to be able to pursue with what the states are doing – I think that’s consistent with what most people I know who have some familiarity with Donald Trump think is his actual opinion,” he said. “…Marijuana got a lot more votes than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”

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