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California: Santa Rosa Medical Marijuana Company Raided By Federal DEA Agents

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Care By Design (CBD Guild) production facilities in Santa Rosa, California and Sonoma County were searched and temporarily closed on Wednesday morning by local law enforcement and the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Law enforcement seized equipment, computers, product, payroll, and financial paperwork.

Care By Design produces an array of medical marijuana products for thousands of patients in California, including patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and other intractable medical conditions.

Care By Design products are CBD-centric. CBD is a therapeutically beneficial compound that does not get people high, and can moderate the intoxicating effects of THC. Care By Design products are available in non-smokable formulations such as gel caps and oral sprays, and available in a variety of CBD:THC ratios so that patients can manage the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana.

Hawaii: Marijuana Activist Sues, Says Licensing Medical Pot Violates Federal Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A longtime activist in Hawaii who is facing criminal charges of selling pot for running a now-defunct medicinal cannabis collective is suing to try to stop the opening of state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

The suit was filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court by Mike Ruggles of Mountain View, naming as defendants Hawaii Governor David Ige, state Health Director Virginia Pressler, state Attorney General Douglas Chin, and the four companies which have been awarded state licenses to grow and sell marijuana, along with those companies' owners, reports West Hawaii Today.

Ruggles' suit alleges that Hawaii's medical marijuana dispensary law is a violation of federal racketeering and drug laws.

“The state cannot license people to break federal law and that’s exactly what they’ve done with these dispensaries," Ruggles claimed. "How does California do it? You’ll notice Act 228 (Hawaii’s medical marijuana law passed in 2000) mirrors California’s medical marijuana law word for word. Dispensaries in California are not regulated, and that’s how they get around (federal law). You see, the state cannot give citizens a license to break federal law. What they can do is ignore federal law being broke.”

U.S.: President Obama Commutes Sentences of 42 More Individuals For Drugs

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Drug Policy Alliance: President Must Do More Before His Term Ends and Congress Needs to Act Now

President Barack Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 58 people in May 2016 and 61 individuals on March 30, 2016. To date, Obama has granted clemency to 348 individuals.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"It’s great to see the President step up the number of commutations he grants, but he should do so many more before his term ends," said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The greatest relief for people behind bars will happen when Congress passes legislation.

"Right now there is legislation in the House and Senate to reduce mandatory minimums that would a significant impact on the prison population," Collins said. "Senator Mitch McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote now."

U.S.: Federal Data Shows Marijuana Trafficking Falls Following State Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped significantly after the passage of statewide laws legalizing and regulating the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

According to the new report, the number of cannabis trafficking offenders prosecuted federally fell dramatically after 2012, declining from more than 6,000 a year to fewer than 4,000 in 2015, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report.

The period of decline matches the passage and enactment of marijuana legalization measures in states including Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Those convicted of marijuana trafficking serve an average of 29 months in prison, according to federal data.

A copy of the USSC report is available here for downloading:
https://lists.norml.org/list/mail.cgi/r/chapters/697347662961/dale/canor...

California: One In 10 People Say Police Took Cash, Property Without A Conviction

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Two new surveys find overwhelming public opposition in California to laws allowing law enforcement to seize and keep a person’s cash and property without a conviction

California Legislature considers reform to rein in abuse

In a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a startling 10 percent of adults living in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties said that they had had their property taken by a police officer without being convicted of a crime. Nearly one in five (19 percent) of those living in these three counties also stated that they know someone who had experienced the same.

One of the ways in which law enforcement can legally take property or money from people in the absence of a conviction is through civil asset forfeiture, a highly controversial policy that allows law enforcement officers to seize cash or property that they suspect has been involved in criminal activity, such as drug sales.

While California law offers greater protections, federal forfeiture laws do not require that police arrest or charge a person with a crime, or convict them. If the owner does not file a claim in civil court and prevail in the case, the property is permanently lost, and the majority of the funds go to the same law enforcement agency that seized the cash or property in the first place.

U.S.: Ruling Could Limit Federal Marijuana Prosecutions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal appeals court is expected soon to rule on the scope of the law that could point the way to ending or overturning at least six federal marijuana prosecutions and convictions.

People who are fighting federal marijuana charges say that a recent act of Congress should have stopped the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting them, because their activities were legally allowed in their states. Cannabis is still illegal under federal law for any purpose.

"It's been the hardest thing I've ever hard to deal with in my life when you see the government coming down on you for simply trying to be healthy," said Rolland Gregg, who along with his family has fought federal marijuana charges, reports the Associated Press. Gregg said the cannabis plants found on his property in Kirkland, Washington were for medicinal use and in compliance with state law.

U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 58 People In Federal Prison For Drugs

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Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 58 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 61 individuals on March 30, 2016, 95 people in December of 2015, 45 people in July, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014.

All of those who received commutations on Thursday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.

Five of the individuals whose sentences were commuted on Thursday were imprisoned at least in part due to at least one marijuana charge.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"The President is using his constitutional power, but he can only do so much," said Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs. "There is legislation in the Senate that would reduce mandatory minimums and have a greater impact on the prison population, and Leader McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote."

D.C.: Leaders On Capitol Hill For National Cannabis Industry Association's Lobby Days

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Cannabis industry leaders from across the country next week will travel to Washington, D.C., for the National Cannabis Industry Association's sixth annual Lobby Days. More than 100 cannabis business professionals will take part in policy discussions and citizen lobby meetings to advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry.

On Thursday, May 12, NCIA leaders, business owners, and members of Congress will hold an 11:30am press conference at the House Triangle to kick off two days of meetings across the Hill between cannabis industry leaders and congressional staffs.

Top priorities for these business owners are a solution to the banking crisis, which prevents many legitimate cannabis businesses from accessing basic financial services, and reform to Section 280E of the federal tax code, which forces cannabis business to pay double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.

NCIA members will also advocate for the de-scheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would give states the authority to make their own decisions about how to handle cannabis legality, much as they currently do with alcohol.

U.S.: DOJ Accepts Decision Saying It Can't Target State-Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Department of Justice has abandoned its appeal of a ruling that said federal prosecutors are breaking the law when they go after medical marijuana dispensaries who are in compliance with state law.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer issued the ruling last October, when he said that enforcing an injunction against a state-legal dispensary would violate a spending rider prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with state laws allowing medicinal use of cannabis, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.

Breyer's ruling is left in force by the ruling in the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) casea, without establishing a circuit-wide precedent. The DOJ's request to abandon the appeal probably came about because it feared the 9th Circuit would agree with Breyer's reading of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which says the DOJ may not used funds to "prevent" states from "implementing" their medical marijuana laws.

The DOJ argued that prosecuting dispensaries, seizing their property, and shutting them down does not prevent implementation of laws which allow them. Judge Breyer rightly ruled that interpretation "defies language and logic."

California: VICTORY! Feds Drop North Bay Marijuana Dispensary Case

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After a grueling 18-year court battle, federal authorities on Tuesday finally dropped their appeal of the Shaw Decision, clearing the way for the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, led by Lynnette Shaw, along with other dispensaries in the North Coast region, to sell medicinal cannabis.

"I WIN and WE ALL WIN," Shaw posted on Facebook Tuesday. "I am Fed Proof - wow - after 18 years of litigation. And I have the first-ever Federal orders that okay my selling medical pot!!"

Santa Rosa lawyer Greg Anton represented Fairfax-based MAMA, the state's first licensed dispensary after it was forced to close in 2011, reports Paul Payne at the The Press Democrat.

The spunky Shaw had sued in federal court, citing a new law authored by a Southern California Congressman which prohibits the feds from spending money to prosecute dispensaries which are operating in compliance with state law.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer last October sided with Shaw, issuing a scathing critique of the Department of Justice position, which he said "tortures the language of the law." Federal prosecutors appealed in December, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S.: Supreme Court Rejects Other States' Lawsuit Over Colorado Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its marijuana legalization law. Oklahoma and Nebraska had claimed the Colorado law had created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states.

The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claimed that federal marijuana prohibition preempts the law that Colorado voters decisively adopted in 2012. The Federal Government filed a brief urging the high court to reject the case.

"There is no question about it: This is good news for legalization supporters," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "This case, if it went forward and the Court ruled the wrong way, had the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date. And the notion of the Supreme Court standing in the way could have cast a dark shadow on the marijuana ballot measures voters will consider this November.

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.

Colorado: Pesticides Remain Hot Button For Cannabis Industry

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Cannabis Business Alliance calls for sensible regulations

As pesticide legislation works its way through the Colorado General Assembly, the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) is calling for sensible regulation of pesticides.

The Schedule I federal status of marijuana has presented challenges to the Colorado industry: pesticides do not contain labeling for cannabis use, and research is non-existent for the use of pesticides on cannabis. As of now, pesticides cannot be registered with the EPA to be labeled and approved for use on cannabis.

Applying many pesticides off-label may not be dangerous, but the ambiguity puts the industry in an uncertain position as a whole. The same pesticides barred for use by the cannabis industry are, in fact, used every day on strawberries and tomatoes that consumers purchase at major natural grocery chains.

“The cannabis industry wants to comply and work with the government to provide proper regulations for businesses across the state,” said Mark Slaugh, CBA Board Member and iComply CEO. “However, the industry needs more labs certified for pesticide testing, as well as clear and consistent guidelines for businesses.

"Guidelines rooted in evidence-based in science," Slaugh said. "Some facilities may choose to go pesticide free, but there are many options to mitigate pests.

"Not all pesticides are harmful if used properly," Slaugh said. "The current issue is that the industry hasn’t been able to identify pesticides that are labeled for use on cannabis, because of the crop’s federal status.”

U.S.: How Will Marijuana Influence Super Tuesday?

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As Super Tuesday fast approaches, Kind Financial CEO David Dinenberg decided to take a look at the influence of marijuana on the voters in the affected states.

"Most of the Super Tuesday states are historically Red states, and while that might be true today, many of these states are considering passing laws in favor of medical marijuana," Dinenberg said. "Alabama, Georgia, and Texas are considering legislation.

"Others, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, already have medical marijuana and now are considering recreational," Dinenberg said. "Of course, Alaska and Colorado have recreational use."

Dinenberg pointed out that Donald Trump is leading in the polls in every Super Tuesday state that has passed or is considering medical or recreational marijuana. "Mr. Trump is on record supporting states' rights," Dinenberg said. "While he doesn't favor federal legalization, his pro-states' rights just might be enough to fend off his competitors."

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both oppose medical marijuana, according to Dinenberg. "I ask this question to the candidates," he said. "How do you plan on winning an election that 58 percent of the voters disagree with you?"

Oregon: DEA Investigates Cannabis Oil Company True North Extracts

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The owners of True North Extracts, a Portland company which sells CO2 cannabis oil, are being investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to a federal search warrant affidavit.

The homes of True North's owners, Michael Andrew "Drew" Dillon and Michael Corby, were searched by the DEA after the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office shut down the company's extraction facility in Wood Village, saying the warehouse violated building and fire codes, reports Aaron Mesh at Willamette Week.

True North's vape-pen cartridges are sold at medical marijuana dispensaries. The company advertises its products as free of chemical solvents.

"True North products are designed for anyone looking for a completely clean and gentle experience, that benefits mind, body and soul," the company's website reads.

In the search warrant affidavit from December 23, DEA agent Traci Larsen said True North had only enough Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) registration cards to supply a few patients, yet had more than 50 pounds of CO2 oil.

Larsen also wrote she "suspected" Dillon and Corby of "money laundering" and "endangering human life" while illegally manufacturing controlled substances, both federal felonies.

U.S.: Most Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new poll released on Friday by YouGov shows that more than half of Americans -- 52 percent -- now support marijuana legalization, with just 34 percent opposing it. This is up from 48 support legalization when YouGov last asked the question in March 2015.

More than half of all adults under age 65 support legalization, according to YouGov, but more people over 65 (49 percent) oppose legalization than support it (39 percent).

Two-thirds of Democrats (66 percent) and half o independents (51 percent) want to legalize weed, but just over a third of Republicans (36 percent) are down with that plan.

Two-third of Americans as a whole believe government efforts to enforce the marijuana laws cost more than they are worth. A big majority of those favoring legalization (86 percent) agreed with that sentiment, but even legalization opponents narrowly agree that current efforts aren't worth the cost (42 percent to 33 percent).

Last October, Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Pew measured the level of support at 53 percent in an April survey.

The new YouGov poll was conducted December 16-17, 2015 and included 1,000 web-based interviews with American adults. The margin of error is ± 4.6 percent.

Kansas: Couple Whose Tea Was Mistaken For Marijuana Loses Federal Suit Over SWAT Raid

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal judge in Kansas last Friday ruled against a couple who'd brought a lawsuit in response to a botched SWAT-style pot raid, in which their home was ransacked by drug agents after a a field test incorrectly identified tea in their garbage as marijuana.

U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum entered the annals of infamy with the ruling that police acted legally and reasonably in planning and conducting the botched raid on the home of Robert and Adlynn Harte, former CIA agents whose children were 7 and 13 ast the time, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason, working on a tip from Marc Sandhaus, a good friend of Hemp News.

The Hartes and their children "were intimidated, accused, traumatized and held under armed guard" for two and a half hours while Johnson County sheriffs' deputies ransacked their home, after which they presented the family with a receipt reading "no items taken," rather than an apology.

According to the lawsuit, when a team of Rambo'd out SWAT team deputies arrived at the suburban Kansas City home, Robert Harte was forced to lie shirtless in the foyer while a deputy with an assault rifle stood over him. The children reportedly came out of their bedrooms terrified, the boy with his hands in the air, reports The Kansas City Star.

U.S.: DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Dismiss Suit Against Colorado Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Solicitor General, on behalf of the federal Department of Justice, on Wednesday filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit that the neighboring states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed against Colorado's marijuana legalization law.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., in the brief, argues that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) "does not preempt a 'State law on the same subject matter' as the CSA's control and enforcement provisions 'unless there is a positive conflict' between federal and state law 'so that the two cannot consistently stand together.'

"Here, for example, it is conceivable that the Court could conclude that whether Colorado's scheme creates a 'positive conflict' with the CSA ultimately turns on, among other factors, the practical efficacy of Colorado's regulatory system in preventing or deterring interstate marijuana trafficking," the Solicitor General -- whose duty it is to represent the federal government before the Supreme Court -- wrote.

“This is the right move by the Obama administration," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "Colorado and a growing number of states have decided to move away from decades of failed prohibition laws, and so far things seem to be working out as planned.

North Carolina: Marijuana Could Be Legal Soon On Cherokee Reservation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana could soon be legal on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, just three hours from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Tribal leaders recently passed a resolution to allow a study on how cannabis could be legalized and used on the reservation, reports Brittany Nicholson at News Channel 9. The study will examine using marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in Cherokee, North Carolina, which is considered its own sovereign nation.

"When what's been referred to as the Cole Memorandum was released by the Department of Justice in October of 2014, this really kick-started the whole conversation," said Joey Owle, a a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and also an organizer of the group Common Sense Cannabis.

Owle presented the feasibility study to the tribal council in October.

"We're talking about a plant, cannabis, marijuana, whether it's a medical application or it's industrial hemp, it's a plant," Owle said. "It has a variety of uses and we shouldn't be neglecting that. We as Cherokee people always used plants for medicine, so that's where were playing into, is our culture."

Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer, predictably enough, is freaking out about "the future of North Carolina" if marijuana becomes legal. The county contains almost 6,000 acres of tribal land.

U.S.: It's A Felony! Feds Warn Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can't Be Mailed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it's a felony offense to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The recent federal advisory was forwarded to about 100 members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association this week, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The association "strongly discourages" Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery from accepting "any type of marijuana advertising," according to Laurie Hieb, the group's executive director.

"It's against the law," Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. "Unfortunately, the ONPA cannot do anything about this."

A postal official hand-delivered the warning on Monday to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper in Long Beach, Washington. It's not clear what prompted it; the newspaper and the Daily Astorian distribute a weekly supplement called Coast Weekend, which runs advertisments from a dispensary in Long Beach and others on the Oregon coast.

The Long Beach paper reaches about 4,400 people; about 2,560 subscribers receive the paper through the U.S. mail, according to Steve Forrester, president of EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers, including those in Long View and Astoria. Forrester is also editor/publisher of the Daily Astorian.

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