Chicago Tribune

Illinois: Legal Medical Marijuana Smells Like Money And Jobs


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


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


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


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


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.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs Say Startup Fees Too High


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective medicinal cannabis businesspeople in Illinois say the high cost of entry will prevent many with expertise from entering the new industry. Under proposed rules for the new law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, would-be cannabis farmers need a $2 million surety bond, $250,000 in liquid assets, $25,000 for an application fee, and $200,000 for a permit fee, as well as an approved site.

"We have the know-how," said Robert Boyce, who grows vegetables, flowers and herbs in greenhouses in Lake Zurich, reports Robert McCoppin at The Chicago Tribune. "We have the manpower, the familiarity with growing herbal and medicinal plants, knowledge of building greenhouses. But right now, you're looking at three to five million dollars in startup costs."

Yes, it seems having a green thumb isn't as important as having a lot of green, if you want to enter the medical marijuana industry in Illinois.

While state regulators claim initial costs could vary widely, they say they want to ensure that those who want to run medical marijuana cultivation centers or dispensaries have sufficient money to operate, especially early on when they have to make big investments before having any revenue.

Illinois: Patients Would Lose Gun Rights Under Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois medical marijuana patients would have to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and pay $150 a year, under rules proposed by state officials on Tuesday -- and they would also give up their Second Amendment right to own a gun.

The plan details how adults with 41 specified medical conditions, including cancer, AIDs, and complex regional pain syndrome, may apply to get a medical marijuana patient registry ID card which entitles them to buy medicinal cannabis, reports Robert McCoppin at the Chicago Tribune.

The proposed rules are expected to be expanded over the course of the next year; they govern how medical marijuana can be legally grown, sold and purchased. The Illinois Department of Public Health is accepting comments on the rules until February 7, at which point they will be submitted to a legislative panel for approval by the end of April.

Most of the rules deal with how patients can qualify for an ID card to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, or more if a doctor specifically certifies that it's necessary.

But one controversial proposal says that qualifying patients or caregivers may not possess firearms, even if they have an Illinois gun owner's ID card or concealed carry permit. Violators will be subject to arrest by state police under the proposed rules.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Draws Big Money Interest


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this month signed into a law a bill allowing for a temporary, for-profit medical marijuana industry in the state, allowing cannabis sales to patients who qualify with certain medical conditions and are authorized by their physicians, starting in 2014.

And while the risks of investing in the nascent medicinal cannabis industry are still large -- chiefly including the possibility of the federal government shutting things down -- plenty of investors are willing to cough up hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars to get a chance at serving the new market, reports Peter Frost at the Chicago Tribune.

More than 200 people attended a Saturday event in the Chicago area, paying up to $375 apiece to hear about the medical marijuana business and to rub elbows with business leaders from California, Colorado and Michigan. Another event on Thursday at another downtown hotel drew more than 50.

"I've talked to several potential investors here thinking home-run dollars from the beginning," said Michael Mayes of Chicago, CEO of marijuana consulting and technology firm Quantum 9. "But, here at least, if you're swinging for the fences, you have to know you might strike out."

Mayes also operates two cannabis cultivation centers and three dispensaries in Colorado.

Illinois: Governor To Sign Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana Today


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been a long time coming, and a hard fight. Medical marijuana advocates have made it to the one-yard-line several times, only to be turned back. But today, August 1, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. local time, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill which legalizes medical marijuana in Illinois.

Democratic Gov. Quinn signed the bill in a ceremony at the University of Chicago, reports Ray Long at the Chicago Tribune. The four-year trial program will be the strictest medicinal cannabis law in the nation, according to supporters.

Under the law, medical marijuana can be authorized for patients with nausea from cancer treatment, with multiple sclerosis, and with AIDS.

Quinn's signature will make Illinois the 20th state (plus the District of Columbia) that have legalized cannabis for medicinal uses, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

For years, the medical marijuana bill had fallen short at the Capitol, especially in the House. But this spring, the tireless Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was able to get together the votes needed to send the bill to the Illinois Senate, where a similar, but less restrictive, bill had passed in previous years.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Senate Committee Vote

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Illinois cleared a key Senate committee vote on Wednesday.

The medical marijuana bill was approved on a 10-5 vote by the Senate Executive Committee late Wednesday night, reports Monique Garcia at the Chicago Tribune.

The bill was approved over the objections of members of the law enforcement community, who claimed the bill wouldn't prevent medical marijuana patients from driving while under the influence of cannabis. (Statistics from states where medical marijuana is legal has shown they have fewer fatal auto accidents than before medicinal cannabis laws were passed.)

The bill now goes to the full Senate, which approved similar legislation in 2009. The proposal already cleared the Illinois House last month, and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he is "open minded" on the subject.

Wisconsin: Democrats Support Medical Marijuana - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Two state lawmakers are pushing for legalization of marijuana for medicinal use in Wisconsin. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) named their proposal after Jacki Rickert, who led a 210-mile wheelchair journey in the state to advocate for medical marijuana.

By Associated Press

Wisconsin: Democrats Support Medical Marijuana - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act MADISON, Wis. - Supporters of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes say the time is right to change the law in Wisconsin.

Two Democratic state lawmakers announced on Monday that a bill they are co-sponsoring to legalize medical marijuana will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 15. Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee says he thinks there is enough support to get it passed.

He and Assembly co-sponsor Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison were joined by advocacy groups and patients who say using marijuana can help those ill with cancer regain their appetite and deal with pain from their diseases and treatments.

Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana and Gov. Jim Doyle last month said he would support it if users have a doctor's prescription.



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