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Colorado: Denver Considers Limiting Home Cultivation of Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Denver City Council, busily making rules around marijuana use ever since Colorado voters decided to legalize cannabis with the Amendment 64 vote last year, will next week decide whether to limit the number of pot plants that can grown at home.

The ordinance would allow up to six marijuana plants per adult for recreational use to be grown in a home, but set a maximum of 12 plants per dwelling unit, reports Jeremy Mayer at The Denver Post.

Some cannabis advocates say the plan would disproportionately affect veterans and medical marijuana patients, but Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, who sponsors the ordinance, claimed it comes from "safety concerns."

"The police are very worried about the homegrows and the problems they could cause, fires, pesticide use, the mold, structural damage, children who might be living in these areas and THC on surface areas," Robb claimed. "They really want to be able to go in and have law enforcement ability to do our zoning."

Robb's supposed concerns, which echo the talking points of an anti-pot group called Smart Colorado, "seem pretty weak," according to Jacob Sullum at Forbes.

Alaska: Hundreds of Marijuana Plants, Charges Tossed Out of Court


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of marijuana plants, along with the indictment against a Mat-Su, Alaska couple, were thrown out of court on Monday.

A judge dismissed the charges against Trace and Jennifer Thoms of Meadow Lakes after suppressing the "drug evidence" seized by Alaska State Troopers in their 2010 raid west of Wasilla, reports Casey Grove at the Anchorage Daily News.

An earlier court dispute about the troopers' search warrant had focused on whether Trooper Kyle Young was truthful when he claimed he could smell marijuana from across a swamp while driving by on a below-freezing night. Upon checking, Trooper Young said he later found that the Thoms's electrical bill was higher than that of a typical home.

The issue of Young's truthfulness regarding his smelling ability got the case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent it back to Alaska for another hearing. A judge finally ruled Trooper Young was truthful.

But the September 20 ruling to throw out the evidence was based on the overreach involved in the troopers' search. They looked in buildings not included in the warrant, more than 100 yards from the home, not on the same electric meter and not associated with the house's day-to-day activities. The judge ruled those buildings were not covered by the warrant.

Uruguay: Growers Celebrate As South American Nation Prepares To Legalize


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With Uruguay about to become the first nation on Earth to fully, formally re-legalize cannabis since the the United Nations Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics in 1961, marijuana cultivators there are eagerly preparing for the day when they can openly grow the herb.

"To be a grower, once this is up and running, will be something like a sommelier," said Julio Rey, 38, reports Juan Forero at The Washington Post. Rey already has eight plants in two lighted cabinets.

Under a bill approved by the lower house of Uruguay's General Assembly, and expected to pass the Senate in the coming weeks, citizens will be allowed to grow up to six plants in their homes. Cooperatives of up to 45 members will be allowed to cultivate up to 99 plants for their own use.

Growers in places such as the rural town of Florida, Uruguay, where Rey lives, will also likely cultivate for the larger market, selling to the government. Cannabis will be supplied to pharmacies, the only retail outlets allowed to sell to individual customers. Marijuana smokers will have to sign up on a national registry, and sales to children or foreigners will be prohibited.

Arizona: 25-Mile Law Restricting Homegrown Medical Marijuana Is Challenged


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An attorney representing Arizona's top health official says that a constitutional right to control your own health care does not mean that medical marijuana patients have the right to grow their own cannabis.

Attorney Gregory Falls, representing Arizona Health Director Will Humble, is asking Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper to throw out claims by two men that, as legally registered medical marijuana patients, they are constitutionally entitled to plant, grow and harvest their own supply, reports Howard Fischer ofCapitol Media Services in the Arizona Daily Star.

According to Falls, the fact that Arizona voters allowed those with a doctor's authorization to obtain and use cannabis does not mean patients can ignore other provisions of the medical marijuana law. The law approved by voters in 2010 says patients living within 25 miles of the nearest state-licensed dispensary have to buy their marijuana from the store.

The ability for nearly 40,000 Arizona medical marijuana patients statewide to legally grow their own hangs on the outcome of the battle. A decision against Humble would mean each of them has the right to grow up to 12 plants.

Idaho: Boise County Marijuana Bust Yields 40,000 Plants, Five Arrests


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State and federal law enforcement said they've destroyed more than 40,000 marijuana plans and arrested five people suspected of running an illegal growing operation in two locations in Boise County, Idaho.

It was the biggest ever pot growing bust in the county, according to the Boise County Sheriff's Department, with an estimated street value of "nearly $100 million," reports The Associated Press.

The plants were found at two locations, one on public land near Rabbit Creek, where police last week arrested Jose Misael Ayala-Talavera, 19, Marcos Solano-Farias, 30, and Carlos Cerda-Carpio, 40, at a camp near the grow site. Officers also seized guns, harvested plants, irrigation equipment, food supplies and camping gear.

While looking into the Rabbit Creek grow op, the cops found out about another grow east of Lowman, Idaho, in the Payette River drainage. State, local and federal law enforcement on Wednesday removed more than 4,800 more plants from that location.

Police arrested two others during a September 13 raid of a home in Caldwell, Idaho. The suspects were identified by federal prosecutors as Juan Pablo Villasenor-Villa, 28, and Mariah D. Villasenor-Rodriquez, 21. A search of the home netted nearly $69,000 in cash, seven vehicles and 348 pounds of cannabis.

Four of those arrested were identified by federal officials as Mexican citizens.

New Hampshire: Man Gets Year In Jail After Being Spotted In 'How To Grow Marijuana' Videos


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Hampshire man was busted after accidentally appearing in "How to Grow Marijuana" videos he uploaded to YouTube.

Kyle Berry, 40, didn't want to appear in the 35 anonymous clips he posted, not realizing that his face was reflecting off a shiny surface in his grow room, and that his name was on a package from a marijuana seed company, reports Lee Moran of the New York Daily News.

Berry said that was was growing the cannabis for his own use after undergoing 17 surgeries, reports Ray Brewer at WMUR-TV. But on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to "manufacturing a controlled substance" and was sentenced to a year in jail, with four months suspended, and fined $500.

"Showing how to grow it, how to set it up, what chemicals he uses, where he gets his seeds," said Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Jerome Blanchard. "He's very detailed about how he is doing it."

After being tipped off to the video's, authorities started watching them for clues; that's when they saw Berry's face and also noticed that he showed his name on a package addressed to him.

"In a video dated Oct. 17, 2012, the defendant showed a package received from the United Kingdom containing marijuana seeds that shows the postage from the Royal Mail," Blanchard said. "The package had the defendant's name on it."

Connecticut: East Hartford Considers Marijuana Growing Facility


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An unnamed group of investors is interested in building a medical marijuana growing facility in a vacant industrial building next to the East Hartford Golf Course in East Hartford, Connecticut.

The group is interested in about 100,000 square feet of space in a vacant building in an industrial park at 88 Long Hill Street, according to Development Director Eileen C. Buckheit, reports Suzanne Carlson at The Hartford Courant.

An application hasn't yet been submitted to the city, which means the plan is still in the preliminary stages. Buckheit said there are still many unknowns when it comes to medical marijuana production, and the process "will not be an easy one" for interested parties.

The group that has approached East Hartford city officials has experience running growing facilities elsewhere, and is looking to get one of the three to 10 licenses that Connecticut plans to award for marijuana growing operations, Buckheit said.

There is a non-refundable $25,000 fee just to apply for a license, with no guarantee of acceptance, according to Buckheit.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protections has this summer been drafting rules for the state's medical marijuana industry, and expects to begin licensing producers and dispensaries later this year. The businesses could start operating in the first half of 2014, according to officials.

California: Tailgating of Deputy Leads To Bust of Marijuana Grow


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Never ride the cops' bumper, man. A man getting stopped for allegedly tailgating a Humboldt County sheriff's deputy led to the discovery of an illegal marijuana grow site allegedly run by the driver.

The deputy was driving a marked patrol truck southbound on U.S. Highway 101 near Eureka when a pickup truck came up behind him in the fast lane, reports the Eureka Times-Standard. The truck remained behind him, and the deputy felt he was being followed a little too closely.

The deputy pulled into the slow lane, and the truck passed him at an estimated 80 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone. The deputy caught back up with the truck and pulled it over.

The driver, Kevin Bourque, 34, of Eureka, was asked to step out of the truck, along with his two passengers. A search of the vehicle turned up a bag containing about a pound of cannabis, paperwork indicating marijuana sales, and about $14,500 in cash, according to the deputy.

A search warrant was obtained for a Eureka address found on papers in the car. At that residence, deputies found and confiscated 497 growing marijuana plants ranging from three inches to four feet in height, along with about 29 pounds of dried marijuana flowers.

Bourque was busted for transportation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and violation of probation. Additional charges for conspiracy to commit a felony and cultivation of marijuana are being sought.

Connecticut: Middletown Approves Marijuana Growing Facility


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Middletown, Connecticut Common Council has approved a medical marijuana growing facility to lease a 15,000-square-foot city-owned building.

At their regular meeting on Monday, the council approved a lease with Greenbelt Management, which must still get a state license before it can begin growing cannabis, reports Alex Gecan at The Middletown Press. Greenbelt would be leasing space on the second floor of the Remington Rand Building at 180 Johnson Street in Middletown.

The measure passed 6-3, with Mary Bartolotta abstaining. Joseph Bibisi, Phil Pessina and Linda Salafia voted against the marijuana lease; Hope Kasper and Deborah Kleckowski were absent.

Jason Nickerson, principal partner of Greenbelt, said he was thrilled with the approval, and had been unsure how the council members would vote.

The move comes two weeks after the town of West Haven's planning and zoning commission approved plans for a similar cannabis cultivation facility with a different grower in that town, reports The Associated Press. That plan also still needs state approval.

A year ago the Connecticut Legislature approved a bill legalizing medical marijuana and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed it into law. Regulations are still being drafted.

Tennessee: Governor's Task Force Wastes Taxpayer Dollars In Annual Marijuana Boondoggle


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

What has the American mainstream press come to? To get the real story behind a "marijuana eradication" article from Tennessee, readers have to go to the comment section.

In a futile, expensive annual boondoggle, National Guard and Highway Patrol helicopters are circling the skies of Tennessee. Are they looking for prison escapees, or perhaps dangerous terrorists? No; they're searching for flowers.

"THP, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, National Guard counter-drug unit work every year to eradicate marijuana, which is a gateway drug," LaFollette Police Chief Jim Jeffries said, demonstrating his inability to complete even one sentence about cannabis without lying. (The so-called Gateway Theory was scientifically disproven years ago.)

Tennessee, you see, has a Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication comprised of several law enforcement agencies, reports Stephanie Beecken of 6 News. For several months each year, law enforcement officials search the state for marijuana plants; they are currently focused on East Tennessee, where much of the state's cannabis crop is grown

U.K.: Up To 1/3 Of Stolen Electricity In Britain Used To Grow Cannabis


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United Kingdom's energy regulator on Wednesday proposed new rules to combat electricity theft, revealing that up to one-third of the power stolen each year goes to grow illegal cannabis.

"Theft of electricity increases the costs paid by customers and can have serious safety consequences," claimed Chiara Redaelli, an economist at Ofgem, which regulates energy in Britain.

"It leads to misallocation of costs among suppliers that can distort competition, and hamper the efficient functioning of the market," Redaelli claimed. "It also has links to organized crime, and in particular cannabis cultivation."

Up to 25,000 cases of electricity theft take place each year in the U.K., according to Ofgem, and this costs the industry at least 200 million pounds ($304 million), about 7 pounds or $10 per customer.

About one-third of the stolen electricity is used to power the lights under which marijuana is grown, according to Ofgem.

The high level of cannabis-related electricity theft is due to the intensive energy requires of marijuana farming, according to Redaelli. She said illegal pot farms each consume around 12,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or electricity per month -- 40 times more than the average domestic consumption of 300 kWh per month.

"This consumption is often not paid for, either because it is unrecorded (because of meter tampering) or because the bill is not paid," Redaelli claimed.

California: Martial Arts Referee Gets 37 Months In Federal Prison For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Veteran martial-arts referee Josh Rosenthal on Tuesday was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, three years' probation and a $100 fine for his role in a large-scale pot-growing operation in Oakland, California.

The sentence matches the prison time recommended for Rosenthal in a January plea deal with federal prosecutors, though it shaves two years off his probation time, reports Steven Marrocco at USA Today.

Before copping a plea, Rosenthal faced from 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and a minimum of five years' probation. Rosenthal had initially pleaded not guilty to drug charges.

Rosenthal was busted in April 2012 after federal agents busted an Oakland warehouse owned by Rosenthal and associate. Inside, agents found 1,356 marijuana plants they claimed were worth $6 million.

A regular at UFC events, Rosenthal oversaw several high-profile bouts. He officiated two MMA events in Utah and California over the past two months, despite his legal troubles. He earlier declined comment on his case.

Kentucky: State Police To Start Flyovers Searching For Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Kentucky State Police are resuming helicopter flyovers this summer as part of the agency's quixotic, expensive annual marijuana "eradication" campaign.

The boondoggle, which wastes untold police time and taxpayer money every year in a doomed fight against cannabis cultivation, is hampered this year by rising fuel costs. That, according to James Mayse at the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, means the whirlybirds won't spend as many hours in the air as they did in past years.

Instead of conducting blanket flyovers, the agency said it will target areas where marijuana has been frequently grown in the past, and will use tips from snitches to schedule areas for inspection.

State Police Trooper Stu Recke said a helicopter works out of one post for about a week during the summer doing "marijuana eradication" work.

The State Police agency also works with the Kentucky National Guard to fight marijuana cultivation, but that joint effort usually focuses on the eastern part of the state.

(Photo: Nashville City Paper)

Oregon: House Could Vote On Medical Marijuana Dispensary Registration Bill Monday


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House could vote Monday on legislation authorizing the state to establish a registration system for medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations.

House Bill 3460 was approved by the Ways and Means Committee last week on a 13-2 vote among House members and a 6-5 vote among Senate members, reports Janie Har at The Oregonian.

Under HB 3460, dispensary owners would be required to pass criminal background checks, document the amount of marijuana coming into their establishments, and verify that it's from state-registered growers. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), would also require that marijuana sold by state-registered dispensaries be tested for impurities.

In addition to record-keeping requirements and background checks, Buckley's bill would prohibit dispensaries from operating with 1,000 feet of schools or other dispensaries.

Buckley, testifying for the bill before the House Health Care Committee, said that regulating the distribution of cannabis is essential to stopping its diversion to the black market. He said it will also give patients a legitimate source for their medicine.

"It's a little bit difficult when a constituent calls you up and says, 'Rep. Buckley, where can I get medical marijuana?' " he said.

Canada: New Rules Ban Home Medical Cannabis Cultivation; Patients Outraged


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canada's medical marijuana program will ban the legal cultivation of cannabis by patients next year, and will also shut down its own production, leaving supplies solely to licensed growers in the private sector.

More than 30,000 patients are legally authorized by Health Canada to use marijuana, reports Rod Nickel of Reuters. Canada back in 2001 became the first country to institute a national medical marijuana program, allowing seriously ill patients to grow and use their own medicinal cannabis.

Canada's medical marijuana program also included a government-run cultivation center in an old zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, although patients compalined the quality of that cannabis was subpar.

"There's far too much potential and actual abuse within the current scheme," claimed Staff Inspector Randy Franks of the Toronto Police Service drug squad. Franks said that police don't have access to the addresses of approved grow sites in private homes.

"These home-grown operations are able to produce far more than they need and they have to do something with it, so they sell it mainstream," Franks claimed, thoughtlessly painting all medical marijuana patients as outlaws.

The new rules became effective on Monday -- but the old rules will run concurrently until March 31, 2014, to allow the Canadian government time to license new growers, according to Jeannine Ritchot, Health Canada's director of medical marijuana regulatory reform.

Colorado: First Hemp Crop In 60 Years Now Growing

(Photo: Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's first industrial hemp crop in almost 60 years is now growing.

Ryan Loftin, a farmer in Springfield, Colorado, on Monday began planting 60 acres of industrial hemp in fields previously used for alfalfa, according to the Denver Post.

He and business partner Chris Thompson are installing a seed press to produce hemp seed oil, reports Patricia Collier of The Associated Press.

Hemp, like marijuana, comes is a form of the cannabis plant. Industrial hemp typically contains little or no THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, but it has dozens of uses in food, fuel, clothing and industrial materials.


New Hampshire: Lawmakers Call On Governor To Allow Patients To Grow Their Own Medical Marijuana

Gov. Maggie Hassan is insisting legislators remove a provision from HB 573 that would allow patients with serious illnesses to grow their own supply of medical marijuana, leaving patients with no legal source of marijuana for two or more years while alternative treatment centers are being developed

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Hampshire State Reps. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter) and Donald "Ted" Wright (R-Tuftonboro) and other legislators will join medical marijuana advocates – including a retired police sergeant and drug task force member – at a news conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building, where they will call on Gov. Maggie Hassan and members of the Legislature to recognize patients' immediate need for legal access to medical marijuana.

Gov. Hassan is insisting legislators remove a provision from HB 573 that would allow patients with serious illnesses to grow their own supply of medical marijuana, which would leave patients with no legal source of marijuana for two or more years while alternative treatment centers are being developed.

The news conference is scheduled to follow a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting regarding the bill. The Senate meeting will begin at 9 a.m. ET in Room 103 of the Legislative Office Building.

U.S.: Marijuana Eradication By Law Enforcement Down By 60 Percent

(Photo: Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Law enforcement's eradication of marijuana plants has plunged by more than 60 percent in the last few years, from a record high of more than 20 million plants in 2009 and 2010 to fewer than 4 million plants in 2012, according to newly released federal statistics.

The number of cannabis plants eradicated dropped to 6,735,511 in 2011 and 3,933,950 in 2012, far less than goal of 9 million plants that the Drug Enforcement Administration had hoped to destroy, report Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Sledge at The Huffington Post.

Red-faced DEA officials blamed the steep decline in part on California, claiming in the agency's 2014 budget proposal that the Golden State's financial troubles resulted in "the decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts."

(Illustration: The Huffington Post)The DEA also claimed that "drug trafficking organizations" are shifting their cultivation efforts from public lands to private grow areas, and that those who do still grow in parks and on other public land tend to locate in "vast mountainous regions, which are more difficult for law enforcement to detect and reach."

Vermont: Attorney General Says Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Should Include Plants

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A marijuana decriminalization bill is making its way through the Vermont House, and Attorney General Bill Sorrell wants it changed -- he wants it to also allow Vermonters to grow their own.

Sorrell said that if the state doesn't allow people to grow one or two plants, it will force them to buy marijuana illegally, reports Kirk Carapezza at Vermont Public Radio.

"I see the concern about a commercial grow operation trying to say it's all for personal consumption," Sorrell said. "But I don't think you want to foster somebody having to buy marijuana behind a bar in downtown Burlington or Montpelier or wherever."

The bill in the House would decriminalize up to two ounces of marijuana; Sorrell supports decriminalizing 1.25 ounces (about 35 grams).

Meanwhile, Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Flynn claims he's worried that allowing people to grow even small amounts of cannabis would make marijuana "more accessible."

"It's clearly just reclassifying the offense from a crime to a civil infraction," Flynn said. "I think it might be kind of naive to think that people are only going to grow one ounce and then immediately destroy the rest." (Hey, Commissioner Flynn, have you considered that might not end civilization, even if it happens?)

New York: 225 Marijuana Plants Seized From Olean Home

(Photo: WKBW News)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New York man is in jail after a investigators executing a search warrant found 225 marijuana plants growing in his home in Olean.

Police claimed the cannabis would be "worth about $200,000."

Roman Gabriel, 34, was arrested after police searched the residence around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, reports WKBW.

Investigators claimed they found lighting, an irrigation and ventilation system, and fertilizers in the home, which is owned by Gabriel's parents. They estimated the value of the seized growing equipment at $10,000.

Gabriel was arraigned and is being held on $5,000 bail.

(Photo: WKBW News)

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