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Illinois: Legal Medical Marijuana Smells Like Money And Jobs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The skunky aroma of marijuana in a rural southeastern Illinois town isn't a source of complaints... in fact, to most residents, it smells like money and jobs.

It's almost harvest timer in the historic town of Albion, which means a new farmland ritual is beginning amid the surrounding cornfields, reports Carla K. Johnson at the Associated Press.

Ataraxia is one of a handful of cultivation centers in Illinois, and it's the first to complete a gauntlet of state requirements. Stores in Albion can't sell liquor, but marijuana has been welcomed as a badly needed source of employment.

A t-shirt for sale in town makes light of the odd juxtaposition: it says Albion is "High and Dry." That's OK; marijuana's safer than alcohol!

"It's brought our little town to life," said Cheryl Taylor, who sells the shirts at her shop on the square.

The history-making cannabis crop is being cut and dried behind the locked doors of a giant warehouse down a country road, behind the New Holland tractor dealer and the Pioneer seed plant. By mid-October, strains including Blue Dream, OG Kush, Death Star and White Poison will be turned into oils, creams, flowers for smoking, and edibles.

Illinois: House Approves Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois House on Thursday approved a decriminalization measure under which possession of small amounts of marijuana would result in a fine instead of arrest.

Minor cannabis possession would go from a crime with up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500 to become more like a traffic ticket, with no court time and a fine maxing out at $125, reports Jessie Hellmann at the Chicago Tribune.

House Bill 218 would apply to people caught with 15 grams or less of marijuana, just over half an ounce.

The legislation would create a uniform penalty throughout the state, and eliminate the option for police to arrest people carrying small amounts of cannabis, according to sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

"We currently have a patchwork of local ordinances where there is the possibility of getting a ticket but not a given that you'll get a ticket, so it's an open question where you go whether you're going to get arrested or get a ticket," Rep. Cassidy said.

"That creates a system whereby it depends on where you live, and what you look like, and unfortunately more often than not, it is folks who are black and brown who are being arrested, who are being pulled off the streets, pulled away from their jobs and their families and put into our jails and prisons," she said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Conference This Weekend In Chicago

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"Don't be shy," says Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, a Michigan-based nonprofit hosting a medical marijuana conference this weekend in Chicago. "It's OK to talk about marijuana -- cannabis."

As Illinois' medicinal cannabis rules are being finalized, the Chicago Cannabis Conference 2014 is being held this weekend, June 7-8 at Navy Pier. It will feature experts, advocates and businesspeople speaking about issues from the medicinal uses of cannabis to how to cook with pot.

According to Parikh, his group includes a consultant, a doctor and a nonprofit executive. They plan to use the conference to boost awareness of the medical benefits of marijuana, and to boost its image.

"If you respect the law, the law will stay," Parikh said. "We're trying to teach that as well."

Dr. Herman Toney, a medical marijuana advocate, will be joined at the conference by medical and scientific experts including naturopath Dr. Rob Streisfold, pediatrician Dr. Roberet Hicks, and cannabis researcher Dr. David Ostrow, reports Will Schutt at Medill Reports.

Panels will also be included where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical marijuana.

Illinois: Chicago Police Still Making Marijuana Arrests, Despite New Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Surprise, surprise: Give cops the option to bust you, or not, for pot, and they will still bust you. Chicago police continue to arrest almost all people caught with small amounts of marijuana -- despite a city ordinance that allows them to write tickets and avoid the arrest, according to a new study.

When the ordinance was first passed in 2012, supporters -- including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy -- claimed it would enable officers to issue tickets and stay on the street, rather than go through the time-consuming process of hauling pot offenders to jail.

But apparently the police enjoy that process -- or else, they really dislike marijuana users.

About 93 percent of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases resulted in arrests by the Chicago Police Department in 2013, the first full year the decrim ordinance was in effect after being passed in 2012, according to the study from Roosevelt University's Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, reports the Associated Press.

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

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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.

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