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U.S.: 'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claims Debunked By Leading Researcher

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When a study was released last week claiming that marijuana use damages DNA, and that damage could be passed to one's children, of course it made headlines around the world. For many of us who have been acquainted with cannabis for a long time, the study sounded like nonsense, and now one of the field's leading researchers is calling "reefer madness" on the flawed study from Australia.

While the study from the University of Western Australia claims that smoking pot will give your kids cancer, cannabis has been shown in cell, animal, and limited human trials to prevent, halt, or kill cancer, researchers note, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. The study, released last week by Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at UWA, had the lengthy, scientific-sounding title, “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” and was published in the July 2016 issue of the journal Mutation Research.

California: National Tech and Cannabis Influencers Convene In SF At New West Summit

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Tommy Chong’s “Choice” Cannabis Brand, Upper Playground, SPARC, Christopher Willits, Lynette Shaw Added to San Francisco’s Cutting-Edge Disrupt Conference

This Friday, nationally-renowned technologists, venture capitalists, media publishers, entertainment brands, and leaders in the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry will converge at the groundbreaking New West Summit.

Tommy Chong’s cannabis brand Chong’s Choice, the iconic San Francisco apparel brand Upper Playground, the award-winning SPARC dispensary, musician Christopher Willits, iconic activist Lynette Shaw, and California Assemblyman Rob Bonta are among the many highlights at New West Summit, this Friday and Saturday Nov. 20-21 at the Parc 55 Hotel San Francisco.

New West Summit’s complete program, curated by David Downs, editor of "Smell the Truth" on SFGate.com, includes 30 panels or keynotes, and approximately 80 panelists from across the spectrum of tech, finance, media and the $10 billion marijuana sector.

“The event’s tight focus and expert programming has garnered us significant buzz, and we’re ecstatic at how well this first Summit has come together," said Summit co-organizers Dean Arbit and Jim McAlpine in a press release. "There’s no better time or place in the world to be discussing the intersection of these industries.”

Summit Highlights:

• Special guest and Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana founder Lynette Shaw will receive Lifetime Achievement Honors Friday.

California: HUGE VICTORY For Medical Marijuana Dispensary In Federal Court

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana providers across the United States scored a major victory in federal court on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer ordered the lifting of an injunction against one of California's oldest medicinal cannabis collectives, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), reports David Downs at SF Gate.

The injunction can no longer be enforced in the wake of a Congressional spending amendment passed by Congress last year.

Judge Breyer ruled that the newly enacted Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prevents the federal government from prosecuting MAMM and it founder Lynette Shaw. The ruling, in federal District Court for the Northern District of California, will have a huge legal impact, according to attorneys.

The medical marijuana industry in California and other states has faced a federal crackdown since 2011. Big dispensaries like Harborside Health Center and Berkeley Patients Group are facing federal forfeiture actions.

Congress in December de-funded the Department of Justice's war on state-legal medical marijuana, but the DOJ has continued to narrowly interpret Congressional law to continue to crackdown.

The law's authors say that DOJ is breaking Congressional law by going after state-legal medical marijuana providers.

Shaw's attorney, Greg Anton, in June motioned for the Court to dissolve the injunction against Shaw, citing the new Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, Section 538.

California: Gov. Brown Vetoes New Hash Crimes Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed a bill which would have created new penalties for making hash oil with flammable chemicals like butane. Brown said the state already has enough laws, and a prison overcrowding problem, and doesn't need to make the problem worse.

The Golden State has seen a rise in explosions and fires caused by the extraction of cannabis concentrates using volatile solvents like butane, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. But it's already against the law to make butane hash oil (BHO) in Cali. Arson and criminal negligence are also already crimes there.

Assembly Bill 849, from East Bay Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, would have created a new crime carrying prison sentences of up to six years for BHO blasters who hurt others. The bill passed the California Assembly -- unanimously! -- on August 31.

But Gov. Brown vetoed AB 849 and eight others for good measure, blasting reationary, "get tough" laws that result in prison overcrowding but don't do a damn thing to improve public safety.

"Each of this bills creates a new crime -- usually by finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed," Brown said. "This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.

California: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Says Golden State Will Legalize Marijuana In 2016

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California voters will legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults in the 2016 general election, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom predicted on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday. "I'm leading the effort," Newsom added.

"As some folks may know, we're very likely to have a ballot initiative in 2016 and we have strong confidence that we'll win," Newsom said, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

"We gotta do it right and be thoughtful and deal with the legitimate concerns folks have about our children, and not allowing Big Tobacco come in and do Big Marijuana," Newsom said. "So we want to do it in a very thoughtful way and we want to have that opportunity next year."

Lt. Gov. Newsom has been working with a Blue Ribbon Commission on legalization; its findings were released this summer. An initiative is expected soon.

A winning marijuana legalization initiative campaign could cost half a million dollars or more, and that's just for paid signature gatherers, never mind the ads. Those will run a cool $10 million or so -- and that's assuming no major opposition.

California: Residency Requirement For Medical Marijuana May Be A Myth

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The residency requirement for legally getting a medical marijuana authorization in California doesn't really exist, according to at least two Bay Area lawyers who say the industry is misinterpreting state law.

Veteran marijuana lawyer William Panzer on Thursday confirmed the contents of a talk given by another attorney, Lauren Vazquez, to a group of entrepreneurs on January 22, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

"No, there is no residency requirement," Panzer said. "It's just misinformation."

"Why not?" Panzer said. "My wife hurt her ankle in Florida and had to go to the doctor for pain pills. They didn't say, 'Sorry, you don't live in Florida.'"

Almost all authorizing physicians and dispensaries in California enforce the residency requirement, turning away tens of millions of dollars in business each year by enforcing what looks to be a non-existent rule.

One of every 20 California adults is estimated to have used cannabis medicinally for a "serious" condition, and 92 percent of them believe it was helpful, according to recent polls.

Vazquez, speaking to about 30 marijuana investors, said that the preface to the 1996 Compassionate Use Act mentions "Californians," but the preface has no legal weight. This was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in a split ruling in 2013, allowing cities and counties to ban medical marijuana activity.

New Study: Marijuana Fights Alzheimer's Disease

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Yet another study is adding to the growing body of evidence for using cannabis to treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease. The study found that unlike conventional anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals, THC has "no toxicity."

New research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in September "strongly suggest[s] that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer's disease through multiple functions and pathways," reports David Downs at SF Gate.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than five million Americans diagnosed. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer's or other dementia, and it cost the nation about $203 billion in 2013.

Researchers at the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University wanted to look into the "potential therapeutic qualities of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with respect to slowing or halting the hallmark characteristics of Alzheimer's disease."

U.S.: War On Marijuana Defies Science, Doctors Testify In Federal Court

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three medical experts on Friday, Monday and Tuesday testified in federal court that the federal government's war on marijuana defies science, and is thus unconstitutional.

Decades of medical studies prove cannabis isn't the danger the government has claimed it is, the experts told a federal judge, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

The epochal cultivation trial, U.S. v. Schweder in the Eastern District of California, in which U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is allowing a hearing on a defense motion to declare marijuana's Schedule I classification as unconstitutional, has national implications.

Defense witnesses Gregory Carter, M.D., and Carl Hart, Ph.D., testified in Sacramento on Friday, and Philip Denny, M.D., testified on Monday and Tuesday. Government witness Bertha Madras, Ph.D., a former deputy drug czar under President George W. Bush, argued in that marijuana isn't medicine.

Madras compared cannabis to heroin, saying that humans no longer smoke opium poppies for pain relief. But while more than 22,000 Americans will die from prescription drug overdoses this year, with opioid pills killing more than any other prescription, cannabis has no lethal overdose level and zero recorded deaths from overdose in history.

California: Cops Wear 'FUCK THE GROWERS' Shirts During San Diego Pot Raids

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana for medicinal purposes was legalized by California voters at the ballot box back in 1996 -- but some law enforcement types apparently still haven't gotten the message. Police routinely terrorize thousands of patient-cultivators every year with warrantless, no-knock raids, willfully ignoring established law, and now a San Diego narcotics officer has been photographed wearing a t-shirt reading "FUCK THE GROWERS... MARIJUANA'S STILL ILLEGAL -- while raiding patients.

Advocacy group Reform California on October 24 posted pictures of a San Diego Narcotics Task Force officer wearing the profane shirt during a Wednesday raid in Imperial Beach, reports David Downs at SF Gate. The photo was reportedly snapped by a 10News photojournalist.

While marijuana is still illegal under federal law for any purpose, state law enforcement officers are supposed uphold state laws. California residents with a doctor's authorization can possess or grow any amount of marijuana deemed medically necessary by their physician.

New York: Hypocritical Anti-Pot Republican Legislator Changes Course, Says Yes To Decrim

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A conservative New York Assemblyman who was busted for marijuana possession after voting against medical marijuana changed his course last week, voting for cannabis decriminalization.

Assemblyman Steve Katz on May 30 voted in favor of A. 6716, which would make small amounts of cannabis in public view a ticketable offense rather than an arrestable one. In 2011, Katz voted against a medical marijuana law in the Assembly.

Katz was stopped for speeding in March and ticketed for having a couple joints' worth of pot in the car. "At his court date, Katz got his case dismissed in an almost textbook instance of white privilege," writes David Downs at Smell the Truth.

The lawmaker had been going 80 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone on the New York State Thruway, according to the police report. It was the 59-year-old Putnam County lawmaker's first known pot bust.

Assemblyman Katz sits on committees for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, as well as Higher Education.

Earlier this month, the hacktivist collective Anonymous Team Vendetta temporarily took down Katz's website for what the group called his hypocrisy.

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