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Global: Iceland Tops The World In Marijuana Use; U.S. Comes In #2

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization has been a political issue in the United States for some time, and while it remains illegal in most states, others have softened their stance in recent years.

Colorado and Washington both passed initiatives by popular vote to decriminalize and legalize cannabis in 2012. In 2014, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., followed suit.

Many states including Massachusetts, California, Missouri, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Ohio have flirted with legalization for a few election cycles, with buzz growing.

The United States isn't the only country where people use marijuana legally or illicitly. In fact, it isn’t even the country with the highest reported marijuana use.

To determine the countries with the highest marijuana use, HealthGrove used data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which covers reported use of cannabis for each country in the last year. Although HealthGrove included the most recent data available, the year collected varies by country.

"We've ranked the list from least to most reported usage, and provide legality information for each country," according to HealthGrove.

Iceland tops the list. The Top 5 is rounded out by the United States, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Canada.

Missouri: Brother, Sister Get 15 Years Each For Growing 20 Marijuana Plants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A brother and sister who were caught with 12 marijuana plants and eight seedlings inside their home have been sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison.

Natlie DePriest and David DePriest each received 15 years, the harshest possible sentence which can be given for cannabis cultivation in Missouri, reports Daniel Miller at the Daily Mail. The maximum punishment for manslaughter in Missouri is also 15 years.

A maintenance man entered the DePriests' home in the city of Farmington, Missouri, in 2001, in order to "fit a fire extinguisher" while they were out, and photographed what he thought was a "pipe bomb" on the counter.

He informed the police, showing them the pictures, and they conducted a search, considering the photos probable cause. They found the marijuana plants inside a bedroom closet, along with three pounds of dried cannabis, a rifle which was a quarter-inch shorter then the legal limit, two legal pistols and two bulletproof vests.

They also found ledgers they claimed contain sales record totaling up to $8,000 a month. The "pipe bomb," basis of the entire search, turned out to be no such thing, and harmless.

Global: UN Orders Security To Confiscate Open Letter Calling For End To Drug War

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Letter Signed by Over 1,000 Leaders and Celebrities, Distributed by Performers Dressed in Prohibition Era Costumes, Seized from Attendees Entering the UN

Hillary Clinton Latest to Sign Letter, Joining Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, More Than a Dozen Former Heads of State, and Hundreds of Other Legislators, Cabinet Ministers, Former UN Officials, and Celebrities

On the opening day of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) gathered more than 60 performers dressed in costumes from the era of U.S. alcohol prohibition to greet attendees at the entrance to the United Nations and hand them copies of the “Post-Prohibition Times,” a newspaper printout of a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

UN Security was apparently ordered to confiscate the letter, and attendees were ordered to hand over their copies upon entering the building. According to a number of participants in the UN Special Session, they were told that the document was not allowed in the building.

New York: Artists Announce 'The Museum of Drug Policy' On Park Avenue, NYC

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The Museum of Drug Policy is a popup cultural hub that includes an immersive art experience and special live programming looking at the impact of current drug policies on populations around the world . The Museum will occupy space on Park Avenue for three days this month, during the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem.

Through art, conversations and experiential events, the Museum will showcase that the moment is now for drug policy reform and that damage caused by the War On Drugs is evident across the world. The Museum will uplift the voices of people most impacted by the global drug policy: people who use drugs, crop growers, people who are incarcerated, people who have saved lives or lost loved ones to drug overdose, people on death row for drug offenses, doctors who can’t prescribe adequate pain relief to their patients, and other voices of the international drug policy reform movement.

The Museum of Drug Policy will feature 70+ works from artists around the world, with interactive art installations, keynote addresses, panels, and community discussions that take attendees on a journey exploring the real impact and human cost of drug policy in communities around the world.

U.S.: Town Hall With Dr. Angela Davis Will Look At Ending America's Obsession With Prisons

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Live Interview with Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele

Opportunity for Public to Listen In & Ask Questions: RSVP Required

Dr. Angela Davis, political activist and Distinguished Professor Emerita from the University of California, Santa Cruz, will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele on Monday, April 11 from 4–5pm EST, for a discussion about America’s obsession with punishment and prisons and how to heal from the policies that have destroyed families and communities after nearly 50 years of the Drug War.

As Democracy Now describes Angela Davis: "For more than four decades, the world-renowned author, activist and scholar has been one of most influential activists and intellectuals in the United States. An icon of the 1970s black liberation movement, Davis’ work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations. She is a leading advocate for prison abolition, a position informed by her own experience as a fugitive on the FBI’s Top 10 most wanted list more than 40 years ago."

Angela Davis’s talk is the seventh in a series of quarterly telephone town halls sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance. The conversations seek to bring some of the most learned and influential people working in the field of drug policy before the general public so that together we can create an ever-more informed and shared understanding about drugs and society.

Washington: Steep Hill Labs Releases Open Letter To Cannabis Community

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Steep Hill Labs on Wednesday released an open letter to the Washington State cannabis community encouraging a call to action to prevent contaminated cannabis from entering the patient and consumer supply chain.

"In a recent third party audit of certified I-502 laboratories in Washington State, cannabis contaminated with pesticides and microbiological organisms like E. coli are being passed by certain disreputable labs, which means unsafe products are getting onto shelves," said Steep Hill CEO Jmîchaele Keller. "This is unacceptable when technology and the proper science are in place to insure safety to prevent health risk to consumers and patients."

Recent independent third party testing, including that done upon the initiative of Ian Eisenberg of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle, showed many samples of I-502 recreational weed had traces of pesticides, causing concern in the community, especially among medicinal users with compromised immune systems and liver function.

Keller said Steep Hill stands with other leading labs in the industry, like Trace Analytics, who apply scientific best practices to put public health first.

"Together we are here to uphold standards of quality in this industry for consumer protection, and we cannot succeed if other laboratories cheat the system," said Keller.

Criminal Justice, the War on Drugs, and the Pursuit of Civil Liberty

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Born and raised in Cook County, Illinois, the friends I had and the life I enjoyed would earn me the label of long-haired, jean jacket wearing Deadhead, by some. Being lumped into a stereotype often has disadvantages, and I was an indignant witness to many atrocious casualties of the failed War on Drugs, specifically regarding marijuana. The shakedown always feels imminent, even today.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

In the United States, marijuana arrests, prosecutions, and convictions have wrought havoc on both individuals and communities, causing direct harm and resulting in dire collateral consequences including affecting eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status.

Marijuana convictions can also subject people to more severe charges and sentences if they should ever be arrested for or convicted of another crime. In addition, the targeted enforcement of marijuana laws disproportionately against people of color, and the unsettling, humiliating experience such enforcement entails, creates community mistrust of the police, reduces police-community cooperation, and compromises public safety.

Nevada: Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Host Patient Orientation

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The+Source, one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries to open for business in the Las Vegas Valley, will offer an informational orientation and seminar at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 3.

Located at 2550 S. Rainbow Blvd., the orientation is free of charge and does not require an RSVP. Aimed at new medical marijuana patients and cardholders, the orientation is also open to the public and anyone interested in learning more about the medical uses of cannabis.

All attendees will have the opportunity to speak with The+Source’s director of medical education, Dr. William Troutt. Attendees do not have to be cardholders to participate.

“It has been my sole focus to consult with thousands of patients to help them find the cannabis-based medicine that is right for their ailment,” said Dr. Troutt. “Every patient is different; and how each person reacts to various strains of cannabis is different. I work with The+Source to educate patients, so they can find the best medication.”

More information about the upcoming orientation can be found online at www.thesourcenv.com.

About The+Source

"The+Source aims to provide a safe, clean, comfortable, respectful and compassionate environment to its patients looking to obtain medical marijuana," according to the dispensary.

Maine: Police Department's Post About Misplaced Marijuana Goes Viral

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"If you've lost a baggie of marijuana at the Rite Aid store, please give us a call. We would like to speak with you."

This brief statement, which the Madawaska Police Department posted on its Facebook page on Sunday, hasn't led to anyone coming forward, but it had been Liked more than 1.3 million times, generated 756 shares, and triggered a storm of comments.

With no other evidence, there hasn't been any further police investigation, according to Office Jamie Pelletier, who was on duty at the time, reports Tory Jones Bonenfant at the Fiddlehead Focus.

When employees opened the Madawaska Rite Aid pharmacy on Sunday, March 20, they found a small baggie near the cash register and entryway. It contained a couple of marijuana buds.

The department claimed it posted the information to "raise awareness," but also to shed some police-style "humor" on the situation.

The Facebook post stirred up a discussion about drug use, parenting, legal growing and medicinal use, current federal laws, community drug awareness, and police priorities and resources.

Even if no charges arise from the incident, Madawaska Police Chief Carroll Theriault said, it is still good that people are discussing drug use in the community.

U.S.: Emergency National Mobilization April 2 To Reschedule Cannabis

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Citizens, Activists and Leaders Rally and Roll Up to the White House with 51 foot “Joint” on Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.

Mass Consumption of Cannabis to Occur at 4:20 p.m.

On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m., DCMJ — the organization that played a critical role in passing Ballot Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana in our nation’s capital — along with leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens will gather along Pennsylvania Avenue directly north of the White House to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis now.

Why on April 2? According to the organizers, the Obama Administration has been a big ZERO on cannabis reform, so DCMJ is rescheduling and actively removing the “ZERO” from “4/20.”

DCMJ has officially requested that President Obama reclassify cannabis as a less harmful substance multiple times since he has taken office in January 2009. However, no action has been taken to reschedule cannabis to date.

Meanwhile, the placement of cannabis in the same category as drugs like heroin — which kills thousands of Americans each each year — remains not only irresponsible, unjust and unfitting, but also makes a continued mockery of the Controlled Substances Act.

California: Marijuana and Athletics Converge at Santa Monica Pier Saturday

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A new demographic and category in sports has emerged. Created to de-stigmatize cannabis and the people who use it, The 420 Games brings a message of fitness, wellness and health.

This Saturday, March 26, this new paradigm of athletics and medical cannabis use will be celebrated by more than 1,000 participants at The Santa Monica Pier. Having kept their cannabis use a secret for fear of judgement or persecution, athletes are now stepping out, inspired by this newly found 'CannaAthletics' movement.

Activists will walk, run, bicycle or skateboard to “Go the Extra Mile for Cannabis” in this 4.20 mile race; wheelchairs are welcome! Out in the water stand-up paddle boarders will follow course along the beach.

"In 2014, I stepped out and created this new genre of athletics and cannabis use in order to inspire the rest of the world to step out with me," said Jim McAlpine, founder of the 420 Games. "The 420 Games is humbled and honored to be credited with the creation of 'CannaAthletics'.

"The 420 Games' purpose is to emphasize that highly functional people, even professional athletes, use cannabis and are hardly the lazy stoners the world has portrayed," McAlpine said. "Fostering a new, positive mindset about those who use cannabis is going to be absolutely critical for the national legalization of marijuana.”

Colorado: Cannabis Industry Preparing For A Big 4/20 In Denver

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With just under a month to go until the biggest day of the year in cannabis, preparations are already underway for the most celebratory 4/20 ever in Denver.

Marijuana businesses in the Mile High City are working hard to get ready for the big crowds of people wanting to get high on April 20, reports KDVR.

With more than 125,000 revelers anticipated, this year's celebration could bring in a record number of tourists, according to local business owners. Savvy merchants have now extended the celebration, declaring April 15-21 "World Cannabis Week."

Love's Bakery in Denver is turning out double the usual amount of marijuana candies, compared to last year. Many dispensaries are working around the clock to stock up with triple their normal inventories.

Educational efforts are greater than ever before, as well; officials want people to use cannabis responsibly, especially when it comes to how much they consume in edible form.

California: 420 Games Invade L.A. As Activism, Fitness Converge At Santa Monica Pier

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The 420 Games’ first event of 2016 takes place March 26 at the Santa Monica Pier. For the first time ever, according to organizers, this southern California landmark will host an organized cannabis-related event, one that is expected to gather more than 1,000 participants.

Created to de-stigmatize cannabis and the people who use it, The 420 Games brings a message of wellness, fitness and health. Activists will walk, run, bicycle or skateboard to “Go the Extra Mile for Cannabis” in this 4.20 mile race. Out in the water, stand-up paddle boarders will follow course along the beach!

"The 420 Games were created to emphasize that highly functional people, even professional athletes, use cannabis and are hardly the lazy stoners the world has portrayed," said creator and producer Jim McAlpine, founder of SnowBomb, a source for ski and snowboard lifestyle and culture. "Fostering a new, positive mindset about those who use cannabis is going to be absolutely critical for the legalization of marijuana.”

Special guest speakers will include LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) member and former Redondo Beach Police Officer Dianne Goldstein; as well as national cannabis thought leader and author of The Cannabis Manifesto Steve DeAngelo. Look for special appearances by UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury, NFL Pro-Bowler Kyle Turley and former NFL players from the Gridiron Coalition who will have their own team of other ex NFL players in attendance.

New York: Victims of the War On Drugs Call For Abolishing The DEA

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Decades of violence, corruption, support for authoritarian governments, and illegal spying on Americans leave DEA unfit for service

Ahead of major United Nations meeting on global drug policy, activists call for new approach focused on public health and safety

What: Banner drop & protest at the NYC Drug Enforcement Administration Office.
When: This Friday (3/18) @ 11 AM
Where: Drug Enforcement Administration, New York City office, 99 10th Ave, NYC 10011

Details: People with a history of drug use, the formerly incarcerated and people living with AIDS, all identifying as “victims of the Drug War,” will protest the Drug Enforcement Administration for its role in perpetuating the worst of drug war policies, including mass incarceration of people of color, fueling violence abroad, and fighting scientific evidence and public health needs in order to wage the Drug War at all costs.

Protesters will do a banner drop off the High Line Park reading "Just Say NO to the DEA", followed by blocking traffic in front of the office.

For more background on DEA abuses, click here to read the fact sheet.

Uruguay: Wide World of Cannabis Explores First Country To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis and pop culture media platform Merry Jane is investigating cannabis globally in their new original series, "Wide World of Cannabis," which premieres Wednesday.

The first episode, "Uruguay Part 1," travels to South America to explore the first country in the world to completely legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana.

"This is just the start of Merry Jane's deep dive into cannabis use around the world," publicist Katie Jang told us on Wednesday.

Merry Jane was recently launched by entertainment icon Snoop Dogg and media entrepreneur Ted Chung.

The website, including partners Seth Rogen, Guy Oseary and Miley Cyrus, features the latest news on cannabis, business and entertainment, as well as a location mapping service for dispensaries, and an encyclopedia of all things cannabis.

Vermont: State's First Cannabis-Dedicated Media Platform Launched

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Two Vermont-based entrepreneurs have founded what they say is the first cannabis-dedicated media platform in the state, starting with the launch of Heady Vermont, a news and culture site that analyzes and follows pot developments in Vermont and the surrounding region.

“The Vermont media's done a fantastic job of covering statehouse developments and cannabis news,” said Monica Donovan, managing partner and publisher.

“We sensed a need for deeper coverage that can evolve with the interests and needs of Vermonters as we move towards legalization,” added Editor-in-Chief Eli Harrington.

Heady Vermont produces and publishes daily news and media content on its site HeadyVermont.com — including in-depth features, guest op-eds and third party listings. In addition to content and media creation, Heady Vermont promotes community cannabis events and education.

"Heady Vermont is all at once newsworthy, enjoyable and thought-provoking, calling for accountability and fairness in a growth industry that frequently needs to check in with itself," said Donovan. "There exists a highly diverse variety of interests and positions at stake in the cannabis community. I think this is a great chance to give voice to the chorus making up the emerging cannabis scene in Vermont."

California: Vouchers For 2,000 Grams Of Weed To Be Given Away Friday At San Jose City Hall

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A California activist today announced he will be giving away vouchers for free weed at San Jose City Hall, Friday, February, 19, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Dave Hodges, founder of Weed4Votes, and the All American Cannabis Club, will give away vouchers for 2,000 grams of weed to California residents today, Friday, February 19, in San Jose, California, at San Jose City Hall.

This is part of Weed4Votes project called Weed4Voters, according to Hodges. The Weed4Voters program promotes awareness of the Marijuana Legalization efforts in the state for 2016.

During the Weed4Voters event, a voucher for 1 free gram of weed will be given to any California resident who provides their contact information to Weed4Votes.com.

What:
Weed4Voters will be passing out 2,000 vouchers for free grams of marijuana today, Friday.

When:
TODAY
February 19, 2016
2pm - 8pm

Where:
Across the street from San Jose City Hall
200 E Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95112

Recreational marijuana users can redeem their vouchers for free pot after legalization passes. Medical marijuana patients may not have to wait for legalization to redeem their vouchers. "Patients are encouraged to ask their favorite cannabis collectives and delivery services if they are participating in the Weed4Voters voucher program," Hodges said.

U.S.: New 'Rolling With Rogen' Cannabis Series Sparks Up On MerryJane.com

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Merry Jane, a media platform combining cannabis and pop culture, on Wednesday launched a new original series produced and created by Point Grey, “Rolling with Rogen,” starring actor Seth Rogen. The series will include Rogen's personal perspective and helpful tips for enjoying cannabis.

A hilarious and informative tongue-in-cheek how-to video tutorial on successfully consuming cannabis in its various forms. New episodes of “Rolling with Rogen” will be available on Merry Jane.

Merry Jane, recently launched by entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg, and media entrepreneur Ted Chung, represents the new reality of cannabis as part of our daily lives. The website features the latest news on cannabis, business and entertainment, as well as a location mapping service for dispensaries and an encyclopedia of all things cannabis.

Merry Jane also boasts a variety of original series, including:

GGN: Everyone’s favorite “hood news” talk show hosted by Snoop Dogg, where he interviews a variety of entertainers, such as Jimmy Kimmel, Kendrick Lamar, Larry King and more.

Deflowered: An intimate look into the lives of influential people where each episode spotlights a “first time” moment with our guests.

Seed to Strain: A behind-the-scenes look into some of the most well-known cannabis strains.

Wide World of Cannabis: Profiling far flung parts of the world and how they have cultivated their own unique relationship with cannabis.

Jamaica: Oaksterdam Sponsoring Stepping High Festival March 5-6

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The Stepping High Festival, also known as the Jamaican Ganja Cup, is scheduled for March 5 and 6, 2016, in Negril, Jamaica. Offering an authentic Jamaican cultural experience built on the foundation of Rastafari culture and spirituality, family, community, friendship and love. The Stepping High Festival will feature exhibitions, entertainment and education—including seminars conducted by Oaksterdam University.

"Oaksterdam has partnered with Stepping High because of its focus on cannabis, the community, the Jamaican people, and the local jobs available because of the festival," said Dr. Aseem Sappal, provost and dean of faculty for Oaksterdam University. "Now is an exciting time. In addition to partnering with Stepping High, we're also working with the Jamaican government and the University of West Indies, where we are involved in helping lead important cannabis research and development."

Stepping High began in 2003 as an underground event promoted primarily by word of mouth and has become an enviable brand showcasing the finest strains of cannabis and a musical extravaganza that attracts thousands of people from around the world annually.

This year's event will feature two cannabis competitions to judge the highest quality Jamaican marijuana. The Best in the West contest entries will be from Western Jamaica, and the Nation's Best contest will include entries from ganja farmers island-wide.

New York: NYC Marijuana Possession Arrests Drop Under 17K; First Time Since '96

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67% Drop from 51,000 Arrests in 2011

Still A Tale of Two Cities: Young Black and Latino People Arrested at Higher Rates, Despite Young White People Using Marijuana at Higher Rates

According to data just released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, New York City marijuana arrests in 2015 dropped to under 17,000 for the first time since 1996. The 16,590 arrests for low-level marijuana possession in 2015 is a 42 percent decline from the 26,386 in 2014 and a 67 percent drop from the nearly 51,000 arrests in 2011.

“New York is finally starting to shed its embarrassing distinction of being the marijuana arrest capital of the world,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York state director at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Over the last twenty years, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably harmed by our draconian marijuana arrest policies. We must repair the harms of marijuana prohibition and end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers.”

In 2015, with the continuous advocacy of community members, advocates, and elected officials – the New York Police Department made 16,590 arrests for low level marijuana possession, down from a high of 26,386 in 2014. This continues a four year trend of declining marijuana possession arrest by the NYPD.

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