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Missouri: Lawmakers To Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A week after an advocacy group announced it would postpone efforts to get marijuana legalization on the Missouri ballot, Governor Jay Nixon told a national audience on Sunday morning that the Legislature would consider medical marijuana.

"Medicinally, I think folks are beginning to see there are things the medical community can help on," the governor said on the CNN show "State of the Union." "Our Legislature might consider that."

"It's a step in the right direction," said Amber Iris Langston of Show-Me Cannabis, a pro-legalization organization in Missouri, reports Tess Koppelman at Fox 4 KC. "I'll take it as a green light."

"I don't think Governor Nelson takes chances with his political support, so it's a strong indication there's support for medical marijuana in Missouri," Langston said. "It's a shame our politicians don't have the courage to stand forward on this issue and say this policy isn't working; this policy is destructive to people in our communities."

While she's happy to see the Governor talk about medical marijuana, Langston said she'd like to also see him support bills that would decriminalize the herb for adults. Missouri has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country; you can be jailed for up to a year for a single gram.

Texas: Gubernatorial Candidate Wendy Davis Supports Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis on Tuesday said she supports medical marijuana, as well as easing the Lone Star State's harsh legal consequences for possession.

Davis said the approach of current Gov. Rick Perry, who said he supports reducing penalties for marijuana in Texas, is "reasonable," according to an interview with Rodger Jones of The Dallas Morning News.

"I do believe that Governor Perry's approach is a reasonable approach, that we as a state need to think about the cost of incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we're really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession," David said, reports Dana Davidsen at CNN.

Under Texas law, possession of even small amounts of cannabis is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by jail time and fines.

Asked about medical marijuana, Davis said she personally supports it, but would gauge the mood of the voters on the issue.

"With regard to medical marijuana, I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for," Davis said. "I don't know where the state is on that, as a population. Certainly as governor, I think it's important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it's ready for that."

U.S.: President Obama Says Easing Up On Marijuana Is Congress's Job

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Barack Obama said in a new interview that it's up to Congress to remove marijuana from its listing as a Schedule I controlled substance, implying that he might support such a move.

In an interview with CNN that aired on Friday, Obama was asked about recent remarks he made to The New Yorker that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, reports Zeke J Miller at Time. The President was asked if he would push to remove cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of the most dangerous drugs.

"First of all, what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama replied.

"I stand by my belief, based, I think, on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge," the President said. "But as I said in the interview, my concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly, and in some cases, with a racial disparity."

A spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had tweeted on Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder could reclassify marijuana after a scientific review, but that it was "not likely given current science."

Alaska: Marijuana Legalization Backers Turn In Signatures For August Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group which advocates legalizing marijuana said on Wednesday they've turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska turned in more than 46,000 signatures, about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. If the Alaska Division of Elections approves the signatures, ballot language will be prepared.

The sponsors of the legalization initiative, modeled on Colorado's Amendment 64, said the next step will be to spread the word and garner support. "We'll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways," said Tim Hinterberger, one of the measure's three sponsors and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Medical Education.

"It's clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy," Hinterberger said. "The proposed initiative will take marijuana sales out of the underground market and put them in legitimate, taxpaying businesses."

"Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and sensible regulation will bolster Alaska's economy by creating jobs and generating revenue for the state," Hinterberger said, reports Faith Karmi at CNN.

U.S.: Majority of Americans Want Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, according to a new poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 55 percent support the legalization of cannabis, while 44 percent are opposed, reports Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. The 55 percent support for legalization represents a rise of 12 points from just more than a year ago.

Polls from both Pew and Gallup have recently shown similar numbers, with majorities supporting cannabis legalization for the first time in American history. Gallup's poll showed support for legalization at 58 percent in October.

Most Americans don't view marijuana as being physically or mentally harmful, according to the new CNN poll. They are evenly split on whether pot is addictive, and whether it leads to other drugs. Only 19 percent describe marijuana use as a "major problem" in society today.

The rise in support for legalization comes as voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, have approved legalization measures. Colorado pot shops began selling weed last week, and Washington's are expected to join them sometime around mid-year.

Colorado: Recreational Marijuana Stores Stocking Up For January Sales Debut

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first state-licensed marijuana retailers in modern times will open on January 1 in Colorado, serving the state's cannabis users with a newly legal system instituted by Amendment 64, approved by voters last year.

Possession, cultivation and private use of marijuana by adults have already been legal in Colorado for more than a year under the new law, but the first marijuana retailers will finally open on New Year's Day, reports Keith Coffman atReuters.

Operators of the first eight cannabis retailers scheduled to open Wednesday morning in Denver, as well as a handful of stores in other cities, are anticipating a big demand for store-bought, legal weed.

"It will be like people waiting in line for tickets to a Pink Floyd concert," said Justin Jones, owner of Dank Colorado in Denver, who has run a medical marijuana dispensary for four years and now has a recreational pot retailer license.

"This is groundbreaking," said Mike Elliot, spokesman for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group of Colorado. "We are away ahead of Washington state, Amsterdam and Uruguay."

Washington state voters legalized marijuana for adults (although not cultivation) on the same day Colorado voters did so, but marijuana still isn't commercially available in the Evergreen State, and won't be for at least six more months, due to stifling bureaucratic regulations.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Confronted Over Foot-Dragging On Medical Marijuana

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'Don't Let My Daughter Die, Governor,' Father Implores

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that he will decide by the end of this week whether to sign a bill making it easier for children to participate in the state's medical marijuana program. The governor made the comments after being confronted at a campaign stop by the father of a two-year-old epileptic girl who needs medicinal cannabis.

The bill, S2842, passed the New Jersey Assembly back in June on an overwhelming 55-13 vote, but Christie has so far refused to say whether he will sign it, reports Bryan Koenig at CNN. It would expand to children the medical marijuana access already available to adults.

Brian Wilson is the father of two-year-old Vivian, who has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy which results in multiple seizures every day, reports WCBS-TV. Vivian's seizures are so severe, she has stopped breathing twice.

"Every day, she's dying more and more and he keeps on wanting to 'think about' this bill," Wilson told WCBS's Peter Haskell.

U.S.: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Slams Federal Marijuana Policy - 'This Is Hypocrisy'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta slammed federal marijuana policy in a Tuesday interview with Anderson Cooper, following up on his August 7 apology for having opposed medicinal cannabis before reversing his position.

"The U.S. holds a patent [on marijuana] on one hand, and on the other hand, same government says it has no medical applications," Gupta told Cooper, reports Arturo Garcia at The Raw Story. "Journalists are trained to hate hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy. I've never seen it quite like this."

Sanjay explained that the Department of Health and Human Services holds a patent on medical marijuana as "a protectant for the brain," even while classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug with "no accepted medical uses."

The patent states that "cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

New York: Federal Judge Rules Stop-and-Frisk Policy Unconstitutional

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The controversial "stop-and-frisk" tactics of the New York Police Department violate constitutional rights and must be changed, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

The ruling, from Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, results from a class-action lawsuit alleging that NYPD officers routinely stop minority men, particularly blacks and Latinos, without legally defensible reasons, reports CNN.

An outside monitor will be appointed to oversee changes to the NYPD policy, Judge Scheindlin said.

The police had claimed the controversial policy -- in which police stop, question and search people they consider "suspicious" -- helps to deter crime, but the practice is widely criticized, especially because of its use primarily against minorities.

The lead plaintiff in the case is medical student David Floyd, who was stopped twice, once in the middle of the afternoon in front of his Bronx home, according to the 2008 lawsuit.

The trial, featuring nine weeks of testimony, ended in May. It featured testimony both from police officers who say quotas "forced" them to make unnecessary stops, and from men who say police stopped them for no reason.

While attorneys for New York City claimed that one man was stopped because he "appeared to be smoking marijuana," the plaintiffs' attorneys argued that he was simply talking on a cell phone.

Chile: Psychiatrist Leads Crusade To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Chilean psychiatrist known as "Dr. Marijuana" has earned notoriety in his South American nation for his crusade to legalize cannabis.

Dr. Milton Flores, 58, describes cannabis as "a tool and a medicine," reports Rafael Romo at CNN. He says he's used cannabis for years to treat patients with conditions including depression and anxiety -- and he's also smoked pot himself, for 44 years.

Flores is considered Chile's main advocate for cannabis legalization. He also favors legalization of other "entheogens" (psychoactive plants), including peyote, ayahuasca and San Pedro cactus. All were used by local shamans and healers well before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century.

"Cannabis is neither good nor bad," Flores said. "Its use can be appropriate or inappropriate. It's a tool that can have very significant effects."

Flores has spoken out about his position throughout his career, going to great lengths to make his point. He has even been raided, twice, by Chilean drug enforcement authorities.

In March, police seized several marijuana plants at his mountain home. His case went all the way to the Chilean Supreme Court, but it was dismissed on a technicality. More recently, he was found guilty of growing 116 cannabis plants on his property; he was last week sentenced to 541 days -- more than 18 months -- of probation.

U.S.: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Changes His Mind; Now Supports Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has reversed his position on medical marijuana. The former staunch opponent of pot now endorses its use in a new essay and an upcoming documentary.

"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," Gupta, who penned a 2009 article in Time magazine titled "Why I Would Vote No On Pot," wrote for CNN.

"I didn't look hard enough, until now," Gupta wrote, reports Liz Raftery of TV Guide. "I didn't look far enough ... I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis."

The research for Gupta's upcoming documentary film, Weed, required that he speak to "medical leaders, experts, growers and patients." He now believes that "it doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications.

"In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works," Dr. Gupta said.

Gupta pointed to research indicating that only 9 to 10 percent of adult marijuana users become dependent, as compared to 20 percent of cocaine users, 25 percent of heroin users and 30 percent of tobacco users.

California: Harborside Marijuana Dispensary Featured In CNN Series 'Inside Man'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary, Harborside Health Center, was featured in the premiere episode of the CNN series "Inside Man," was hosted by Morgan Spurlock on Sunday.

The weekly TV show is hosted and produced by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who offers an intimate look into diverse sectors of American life and examines issues facing the U.S., including migrant farm workers, the elder care industry, union workers, gun owners, education, bankruptcy and the drought.

In the debut episode, Spurlock works at Harborside's facility in Oakland, California.

"Morgan is one of the most audacious journalists on TV today," said Harborside executive director and cofounder Steve DeAngelo. "He didn't hesitate to perform every job he was tasked with during the five days he worked at Harborside, in full view of the cameras, as the very height of our struggle with the federal government."

The debut episode of "Inside Man" is available in its entirety on CNN.com. Cable subscribers can access each episode through their provider's on-demand service.

Viewers are invited to follow, engage and interact with "Inside Man" and each other using the hashtag "InsideManCNN and handle @InsideManCNN on Twitter and at the Facebook page InsideManCNN.

United States: Why marijuana should be legal for adults

Editor's note: David L. Nathan, a clinical associate professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was recently elected as a distinguished fellow in the American Psychiatric Association. He teaches and practices general adult psychiatry in Princeton, New Jersey.

By David L. Nathan, Special to CNN

United States: Why marijuana should be legal for adults (CNN) -- David Frum is one of today's best and most reasoned conservative political voices, so his recent CNN.com op-ed on marijuana policy was just a little disappointing. Not because he advocates the drug's decriminalization -- he rightly thinks locking people up or arresting them for casual use is a bad idea -- but because he opposes its legalization for adults.

I agree with much of what he says about pot's potential harm, especially for the young and the psychiatrically ill. Like Frum, I am a father who worries about my kids getting sidetracked by cannabis before their brains have a chance to develop. But I am also a physician who understands that the negative legal consequences of marijuana use are far worse than the medical consequences.

United States: States say it's time to rethink medical marijuana

By Matt Smith, CNN

There is a truth that must be heard! Medical marijuana advocates are hoping state governments can succeed where their efforts have failed by asking federal authorities to reclassify pot as a drug with medical use.

Shortly before Christmas, Colorado became the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic in the same league as heavyweight painkillers including oxycodone. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island filed a formal petition with the agency in November, and Vermont signed onto that request shortly afterward.

Tennessee: Scientist's Fight for Medical Marijuana

By Amy Chillag, CNN Segment Producer
Filed under: CNN Newsroom, Tony Harris

Scientist's Fight for Medical Marijuana Bernie Ellis is a public health scientist who grew marijuana on his farm in Tennessee to help dull the pain from Fibromyalgia and degenerative disorder in his hip and spine.

That's until the federal government raided the farm– and sent him to jail. Now he's fighting back to get medical marijuana legalized in his home state. Tony Harris has this story.


Source: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/14/scientists-fight-for-medical-ma...

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