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U.S.: Sanders Becomes 1st Major Party Presidential Candidate To Support Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersMarijuanaItIsAnObscenity[CannabisAdvocatesForBernie]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Candidate Bernie Sanders, for the first time in this campaign, on Tuesday night indicated at the Democratic presidential debate that he supports marijuana legalization.

When asked how he would vote on an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol that is set to appear on the Nevada ballot in 2016, Senator Sanders said he would likely vote "Yes."

Hillary Clinton was asked if she has taken a position on such proposals, now that it has been a year since she said she wanted to wait to see what happens in Colorado and Washington. She said she was undecided on the issue, but that we should stop imprisoning people for pot use. She also said she supports medical marijuana.

The other three candidates in the debate, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb, were not given the opportunity to answer questions regarding marijuana policy.

"This is the first time we've seen a major candidate for president say he'd probably vote for legalizing marijuana if given the chance," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "That says a lot about how far the politics on this issue have shifted in a very short amount of time.

U.S.: Congressmen Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Eliminate DEA Marijuana Eradication Program

DEARaidsMarijuanaGrow

Congressmen Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) on Wednesday introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

The enormously wasteful and ineffective DEA program distributes funds to state and local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of locating and destroying marijuana cultivation sites. The proposed bill would prohibit federal funds from being distributed to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for any purpose pertaining to the program or any substantially similar program.

“As multiple states legalize marijuana across our nation, it is a huge waste of federal resources for the DEA to eradicate marijuana," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California). "The federal government should focus its precious resources on other issues and let the states innovate in the cannabis field. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill along with Congressman Amash.”

“Civil asset forfeiture allows innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process, and this program encourages civil asset forfeiture by allowing the DEA to use the proceeds of seized property to fund marijuana prohibition enforcement," said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan). "This is especially troubling given that the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition—enforcement is a state-level issue, and an increasing number of states are deciding to back off from prohibition.

U.S.: New DEA Leader Admits Marijuana 'Probably' Not As Bad As Heroin

ChuckRosenbergDEA[KamenkoPajic-UPI]

Head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Says 'I'm Not An Expert'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's progress -- of a sort.

The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted on Tuesday that heroin "probably" is more dangerous than marijuana, an admission his predecessor, the embattled Michele Leonhart, would not make, reports Steven Nelson at U.S. News.

Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said federal DEA agents aren't prioritizing marijuana enforcement, but he's not ordered them off it.

"If you want me to say that marijuana's not dangerous, I'm not going to say that because I think it is," Rosenberg claimed. "Do I think it's as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I'm not an expert."

"Let me say it this way," he added. "I'd rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I'd prefer not to be in an accident at all."

Rosenberg's predecessor, Leonhart, claimed comparisons of marijuana to crack cocaine or heroin would be "subjective" and claimed cannabis is an "insidious" drug.

"This is not a matter of opinion," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It's far less harmful than heroin and it's encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that."

U.S.: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Measure

BankingMarijuana[Inquisitr]

Amendment to appropriations bill would prohibit the Treasury Department from using funds to punish banks that provide financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a measure 16-14 that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns.

A similar amendment was passed by the full House of Representatives in 2014, but was ultimately stripped out during the final omnibus budget negotiations conducted by the Senate. The House has not yet debated the Financial Services Appropriations bill in 2015, but a repeat of the cannabis banking amendment is anticipated if and when that debate takes place.

U.S.: Marijuana Banking Bill Introduced By Bipartisan Group Of Senators

FirstBankOfCannabis[USE]

Legislation Would Allow Marijuana Businesses Access to Financial Services

Marijuana Businesses Currently Operate as Cash-Only Causing Huge Public Safety Concerns

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Thursday introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to provide depository and other financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. Consequently, many cannabis businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings.

“One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the black market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle.”

U.S.: Senators Tell Federal Agencies To Remove Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

CoryBookerAndKirstenGillibrand[MarkWilson]

FDA and NIDA officials express support for ending NIDA’s DEA-mandated monopoly on marijuana available for research purposes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.

They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.

U.S.: Senate Panel Votes To Prevent DEA Interference In State Medical Marijuana Laws

AmericansSupportEndingFederalCrackdownOnMarijuana[USNews]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The vote was 20 - 10.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) to the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

It mirrors the amendment sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that was approved 242-186 last week in the House of Representatives. Passage of identical amendments in the House and Senate typically indicates it will be included in the final spending bill Congress sends to President Obama.

The House also approved amendments to protect state industrial hemp laws and to reduce the DEA’s budget by shifting money away from marijuana eradication and toward better uses.

"We very narrowly lost a vote that would have stopped DoJ from interfering with all state marijuana laws, not just those that are limited to medical marijuana," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

U.S.: House Narrowly Votes Against Protecting State Recreational Marijuana Laws

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The House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state laws allowing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly defeated a measure 206-222 on Wednesday that was intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws legalizing marijuana for all purposes, including adult recreational use.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana.

Earlier, the House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state medical marijuana laws, which was offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA). It has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and the first time it passed was last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

U.S.: House Votes To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws From Federal Interference

CapitolBuildingMarijuanaLeaf[TheLucidPlanet]

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure 242-186 that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and it passed for the first time last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

The House is now expected to consider a broader measure that would not be limited to medical marijuana. The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws regulating marijuana for adult use, in addition to medical purposes.

U.S.: Bill Introduced In Congress Would Allow States To Determine Their Own Marijuana Laws

MarijuanaRightTurn[ThePoliticsOfPot]

Under the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, producing, distributing, and consuming marijuana in compliance with state marijuana laws would no longer be a violation of federal marijuana laws

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and five Republican co-sponsors on Tuesday introduced legislation in Congress that would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act so that anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law would be immune from federal prosecution.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 would apply to all marijuana-related activities, medical and non-medical, in the states in which they are authorized.

Republican co-sponsors of the re-introduced 2015 bill include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock, and Don Young (R-AK). Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).

Four states have adopted laws regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territory of Guam have adopted laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Two out of three Americans (67 percent) think Congress should pass a bill to make states that tightly regulate marijuana a safe haven from federal marijuana laws, according to a report released in January by Third Way, a centrist think tank.

U.S.: Smackdown! Congressmen Tell Justice Department To Halt Medical Marijuana Prosecutions

DEAGoAway!Protest[MedicalMarijuana411]

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) refuted the Justice Department’s recent interpretation of a spending provision intended to protect state medical marijuana laws and confirmed that any criminal or civil action against medical marijuana providers is a violation of federal law. The full letter is available at http://www.mpp.org/DOJletter.

The letter comes in response to statements made last week by a Justice Department spokesman to The Los Angeles Times. In the article, the spokesman said the Justice Department can still prosecute medical marijuana cases, notwithstanding the spending restriction adopted by Congress. The full article is available at http://mppne.ws/1a6F6bb.

In the letter, the Congressmen call the Justice Department’s interpretation “emphatically wrong” and ask Holder to “bring [the] Department back into compliance with federal law” by halting prosecutions and asset forfeiture actions in states with medical marijuana laws.

Washington: 10-Person Team Sells Marijuana For City Government

NorthBonnevilleCannabisCorner[KPTV]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just a few days after it opened, the nation's only government-run marijuana shop was running low on weed. Open for just a few days, manager Robyn Legun, 36, was frantically trying to restock. "If I don't get this order in this morning, we're going to be out for the weekend," Legun fretted. Someone joked about a typical government operation, always running late.

But this government store is far from typical, reports Todd C. Frankel at The Washington Post. This store -- Cannabis Corner, in North Bonneville, Washington, deep in the Columbia River Gorge -- sells dozens of strains of marijuana, along with pot-infused cookies and coffee, glass bongs, and rolling papers.

And the store does all of this at the direction of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority, making the city government dependent on this once-illegal drug for cash flow.

Legun managed a Bed Bath & Beyond in a previous job, but now she leads a team of 10 city employees trained to sell marijuana. These days, she's placing orders for Blue Magoo, Purple Kush and Pineapple Express.

"I can't believe this is my life," she said.

U.S.: Bill To End Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition To Be Introduced In Senate

CallYourSenatorsTodayTellThemToEndTheWarOnCannabisPatients!

Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law

A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.

U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.

It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.

“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.

"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.

“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.

U.S.: House Committee Votes To Block Marijuana Decriminalization In Washington DC

AndyHarris(R-MD)

Advocates prepare for vote to remove Republican amendment on House floor

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed a Republican-sponsored amendment to the 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill intended to prevent the District of Columbia from implementing its recently passed law decriminalizing the possession of marijuana. It also has the potential to end the District’s medical marijuana program.

The amendment, offered by GOP Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), passed by a vote of 28-21. It prohibits D.C. from spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.

The District of Columbia City Council passed a law in March replacing its criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana with a nominal $25 fine. It is scheduled to take effect July 17.

The law was largely a response to an ACLU report showing blacks in the District of Columbia are roughly eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, despite similar use rates. In 2010, 91 percent of all marijuana arrests in D.C. were of African Americans.

The District’s medical marijuana law is the product of a 1998 initiative. It was not implemented until 2010 due to a provision in federal law, similar to the amendment offered by Rep. Harris, which was not repealed until 2009.

U.S.: Senate To Vote On House-Approved Amendment To Protect Medical Marijuana States

WashingtonDCCapitoBuildingMarijuanaLeaf

The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.

The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.

“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.

U.S.: 30 Members of Congress Call On Secretary of Health To Remove Roadblock To Marijuana Research

MarijuanaLetterFromCongress06-17-14

Bipartisan letter urges HHS Secretary Burwell to eliminate ‘unnecessary additional review process’ that often prevents scientists from obtaining marijuana for medical research

In a letter sent on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress called on Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to make the process for obtaining marijuana for medical research less burdensome.

"There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence from patients, their family members, and their doctors of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for those suffering from cancer, epilepsy, seizures, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain, and more," the letter reads in part.

"We believe the widespread use of medical marijuana should necessitate research into what specific relief it offers and how it can best be delivered for different people and different conditions," the letter reads. "Yet, the scientific research clearly documenting these benefits has often been hampered by federal barriers."

"In light of the fact that substances like opioids and barbiturates have been researched and developed for human use, it would seem that we should investigate the legitimate medical uses of marijuana," reads the letter. "We request that you review and revise the HHS Guidance to eliminate what we believe to be an unnecessary additional review process."

U.S.: Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

CongressVotesToEndWarOnMedicalMarijuana!

49 Republicans and 170 Democrats approve historic amendment intended to prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from raiding state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After years of effort and six previous tries, an unprecedented victory has finally happened. Congress on Thursday night approved a measure (219-189) that will prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The legislation marks the first time in history that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. A record-high 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in voting for the measure.

The vote on Amendment 25 to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), stops the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been offered seven times since 2003. It received a then-record high 165 votes in 2007, which included 15 Republicans.

U.S.: Congress To Vote On Measure To Protect State-Legal Medical Marijuana

MarijuanaLeafLapel

Vote on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment to Justice Department funding bill is expected TONIGHT or Thursday

Congress is expected to vote on a measure Wednesday night or Thursday that is intended to protect medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), would prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers.

It will be the seventh time the amendment has been offered since 2003.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has been lobbying in support of the measure since its initial introduction.

Photo: Weedist

California: Marijuana Policy Project Endorses GOP Congressional Candidate

CaliforniaCongressionalCandidateIgorBirman

Marijuana policy organization makes maximum financial contribution to challenger of former congressman that called medical marijuana a ‘sham’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) PAC on Wednesday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Igor Birman and contributed $5,000 to his campaign, the maximum allowed under federal law. Birman is challenging former Congressman Doug Ose in a hotly contested Republican primary race in California’s 7th Congressional District, which consists of eastern Sacramento County.

MPP PAC attributed the endorsement to Birman’s strong support for ending marijuana prohibition and his ability to work with members of all parties to enact much-needed changes to federal law. The endorsement was also motivated by the radical anti-marijuana views of former Congressman Ose, who once said during a radio interview that medical marijuana is “a sham that was foisted on the people of [California].”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones endorsed Ose last month, citing the former Congressman’s opposition to regulating and taxing marijuana — an idea supported by 55 percent of California voters, according to a Field Poll released in December.

“Igor is among the growing number of Republicans with common sense views on marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and other thinking conservatives, he recognizes the wasteful and counterproductive nature of marijuana prohibition.

U.S.: House To Vote Again On Amendment To Defund Marijuana Raids

CaliforniaRepDanaRohrabacher(

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Rep. Sam Farr, both of California, are once again offering a bipartisan amendment on the House floor to protect states' rights when it comes to marijuana.

Rohrabacher and Farr have brought up the amendment several times, most recently in 2012, when it was defeated 162-262, reports Emily Ethridge at Roll Call. Since that vote, four more staters -- Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maryland -- have allowed medical marijuana, bringing the total to 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Advocates expect the strongest vote yet when the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations measure, HR 4660, comes to the House floor in a few weeks.

The chief provision of the amendment which will be offered to the appropriations bill would prohibit the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with their state laws.

The House has already voted on similar amendments six times since 2003, with about 150 to 160 votes in support each time. An unusual coalition of social liberals, who see it as a civil rights issue, and conservatives, who see it as a states' rights issue, back the amendment.

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