kevin sabet

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U.S.: Congressman Disputes Anti-Cannabis Organization’s ‘Lie’

Representative Earl Blumenauer

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In June, the loudest prohibitionist cheerleader committed to continuing the failed War on Drugs sent out a press statement showing they are continuing to try and roll back progress on cannabis reform.

Kevin Sabet and his organization, SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) falsely claimed that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer provision prohibiting the Department of Justice from enforcing federal laws against state-legal medical marijuana programs was removed from the Congressional spending bill.

California: Kennedy Group Puts $2 Million Into Fighting Pot-legalization Measures

California weed 2.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A national coalition that includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight marijuana legalization initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in California.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is the anti-legalization group founded by Kennedy and co-founders David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration.

Sabet, president of the group SAM Action, said that California will get a large amount of the money, because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals.

“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the state.

If approved by voters this November, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of pot for recreational purposes and would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

SAM Action also plans to fund battles against marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballots in Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Arizona, where signatures have been turned in, according to Sabet.

Colorado: Marijuana Pesticide Regulations Deprioritized


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado regulators have known since 2012 that some marijuana in the state is grown with dangerous pesticides, but pressure from the cannabis industry and lack of guidance from the federal government delayed their regulatory attempts, and they ultimately decided on a less restrictive approach than originally planned.

Three years of emails and records, along with dozens of interviews, show state regulators struggled with the issue while the marijuana industry protested that proposed pesticide limits would leave their crops vulnerable to parasites and disease, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

As state officials were preparing a list of allowable pesticides on marijuana last year, officials at the Colorado Department of Agriculture stopped the process -- under pressure from the cannabis industry, according to The Post.

"This list has been circulated among marijuana producers and has been met with considerable opposition because of its restrictive nature," wrote Mitch Yergert, the CDA's plant industry director, shortly after the April 2014 decision. "There is an inherent conflict with the marijuana growers' desire to use pesticides other than those" that are least restrictive.

U.S.: Miley Cyrus Passes Around Lit Joint Backstage At Video Music Awards


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Miley Cyrus doesn't mind anyone knowing she enjoys marijuana. In fact, the 22-year-old entertainer came backstage at the Video Music Awards with a lit joint and passed it around to photographers.

"I've been doing this shit for awhile," Cyrus said, reports Mesfin Fekadu of the Associated Press. "Because you're all my friends, and my song is kinda, sorta about the love of marijuana and the love of humankind, I brought a little joint if anyone would like any. Anyone?"

Cyrus, who flashed one of her breasts during the show, sang a song, "Dooo It!" which included the lyrics, "Loving what you sing, and loving smoking weed." She ate what were supposed to be marijuana brownies during one skit with Snoop Dogg, and lit up with a group of friends in another. She held up a selfie stick and told the group of people behind her, "Everyone say marijuana!"

Pot is popular among MTV's target audience, but these antics predictably came under criticism from an organization which ran anti-cigarette smoking ads during the VMAs. That organization, the Truth Initiative, has complained to MTV's parent company about the multiple references to cannabis during the show, claiming it would "send the wrong message" to young viewers.

U.S.: Federal Govt. Won't Stop Native Americans From Growing, Selling Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In an epochal shift likely to change the face of American society forever, the federal Department of Justice on Thursday will tell U.S. Attorneys not to prevent Native American tribes from growing or selling marijuana on their sovereign lands, even in states where cannabis is illegal.

The new memorandum will offer guidance which will be implemented on a case-by-case basis, according to U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon of North Dakota, chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues, reports Timothy M. Phelps at the Los Angeles Times.

Tribes must still follow the eight guidelines or "areas of concern" offered by the federal government after Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize marijuana in the 2012 elections. The federal guidelines will also apply in Oregon and Alaska, where voters chose to join the ranks of legal states in 2014.

While it is still unknown just how many reservations will take advantage of the new policy, it seems likely that many will, judging by the proliferation of tribal casinos. Many tribes, however, remain opposed to legalizing marijuana on their lands, and federal officials will continue to enforce the law in those areas, if requested.

Oregon: Group Cancels Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Marijuana Summit After Complaints


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A taxpayer-funded anti-drug group has canceled an October summit in Madras, Oregon, after complaints were raised by sponsors of Measure 91, a ballot measure which would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The event, like 12 other local appearances, was scheduled just before the November vote.

The summit was to feature Kevin Sabet, a prominent opponent of cannabis legalization, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. Sponsors of Measure 91 this week charged that it was wrong for organizers to use federal funds to help pay for an appearance by Sabet, a former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) adviser who has formed Smarter Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an anti-pot organization.

The taxpayer-funded "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour" was billed as a supposedly non-political event, since it would likely violate campaign rules for funds to be used for political purposes -- and this was flagrantly scheduled for just before the marijuana vote. Sabet had claimed that he wouldn't talk about the ballot measure on the tour.

The summit was canceled because he "could see from an outside perspective that it could look like a conflict," admitted Rick Treleaven, executive director of BestCare Treatment Practices and organizer of the event.

U.S.: Debate On Legalized Marijuana To Be Broadcast Wednesday


Retired Superior Court Judge Jim Gray will be debating marijuana legalization with Dr. Kevin Sabet of Project SAM on Wednesday, July 16, at the Colorado School of Mines in an event that will be broadcast live.

A former federal prosecutor, judge advocate for the Navy JAG corps and superior court judge, Gray is in the Denver area this week meeting with media and civic groups and preparing for the Wednesday debate on the merits of marijuana legalization, regulation and control.

Judge Gray is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officials who believe that prohibiting illicit drugs only serves to empower the criminal networks that sell them, wastes law enforcement time and resources, contributes to racial disparities in the justice system, saddles people who would be better served by treatment with criminal records and ultimately is ineffective at reducing use.

The event will be broadcast live at .

"The essential question is, would you rather have government regulators and legitimate business owners deciding how marijuana is grown, what it's laced with, and who can buy it, or would you rather leave those decisions -- and multiple billions of dollars in profits -- to drug cartels and juvenile street gangs?" Judge Gray asked.

Vermont To Study Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's administration is getting ready to study the fiscal and other impacts of marijuana legalization; the task was assigned by the Vermont Legislature.

Gov. Shumlin said he agreed with lawmakers that "it's timely to do a study," said Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding, reports Dave Gram at the Burlington Free Press,/i>. Spaulding's agency is tasked to report its findings to the Legislature by January 15, 2015.

"We're not going to prejudge what our position would be at the end of it," Spaulding said.

An amendment to a bill whose main purpose was removing a cap on the number of patients who can get medical marijuana in Vermont is responsible for the study. It called for a study of "possible taxing systems" for marijuana, any savings or costs connected with legalizing, regulating and taxing it, the experiences of Colorado and Washington in legalizing cannabis.

Spaulding admitted the Shumlin Administration hadn't yet figured out how to do the study, but then it's been less than a week since the Legislature adjourned. "I know that we're going to take it seriously and we'll probably do a pretty thorough study," he said.

Gov. Shumlin has repeatedly said he wants to see what happens in Washington and Colorado before moving ahead with legalization for Vermont. Spaulding cautioned that the January 2015 deadline for the report may be too soon to answer than question.

Alaska: Marijuana Legalization Officially Makes August Ballot


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Alaska's voters will decide on August 19 if the state will be third to legalize marijuana and regulate and tax it sale.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell on Wednesday ordered election officials to put the issue on the ballot, confirming that an initiative effort satisfied the legal requirements, reports Steven Nelson at US News.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska turned in more than 45,000 signatures on January 8, about 36,000 of which were validated by state officials. Just more than 30,000 signatures were required to qualify for the ballot.

"A bipartisan tidal wave of public support for regulating marijuana like alcohol in Alaska has pushed this issue onto the ballot, and we will be running an aggressive campaign designed to build on that momentum," said CRMA spokesman Taylor Bickford.

Adults 21 and older would be allowed to have up to an ounce of weed and grow six plants at home if the initiative passes.

Stores selling cannabis would be licensed by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board; the Legislature would have the option of creating a Marijuana Control Board.

A quirk in Alaska state law allows the ballot question to appear on the August ballot with primary elections of political parties, rather than on the November general election ballot.

Alaska: Marijuana Legalization Backers Turn In Signatures For August Ballot


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group which advocates legalizing marijuana said on Wednesday they've turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska turned in more than 46,000 signatures, about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. If the Alaska Division of Elections approves the signatures, ballot language will be prepared.

The sponsors of the legalization initiative, modeled on Colorado's Amendment 64, said the next step will be to spread the word and garner support. "We'll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways," said Tim Hinterberger, one of the measure's three sponsors and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Medical Education.

"It's clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy," Hinterberger said. "The proposed initiative will take marijuana sales out of the underground market and put them in legitimate, taxpaying businesses."

"Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and sensible regulation will bolster Alaska's economy by creating jobs and generating revenue for the state," Hinterberger said, reports Faith Karmi at CNN.

Colorado: Recreational Marijuana Stores Stocking Up For January Sales Debut


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first state-licensed marijuana retailers in modern times will open on January 1 in Colorado, serving the state's cannabis users with a newly legal system instituted by Amendment 64, approved by voters last year.

Possession, cultivation and private use of marijuana by adults have already been legal in Colorado for more than a year under the new law, but the first marijuana retailers will finally open on New Year's Day, reports Keith Coffman atReuters.

Operators of the first eight cannabis retailers scheduled to open Wednesday morning in Denver, as well as a handful of stores in other cities, are anticipating a big demand for store-bought, legal weed.

"It will be like people waiting in line for tickets to a Pink Floyd concert," said Justin Jones, owner of Dank Colorado in Denver, who has run a medical marijuana dispensary for four years and now has a recreational pot retailer license.

"This is groundbreaking," said Mike Elliot, spokesman for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group of Colorado. "We are away ahead of Washington state, Amsterdam and Uruguay."

Washington state voters legalized marijuana for adults (although not cultivation) on the same day Colorado voters did so, but marijuana still isn't commercially available in the Evergreen State, and won't be for at least six more months, due to stifling bureaucratic regulations.

U.S.: Feds Have No Viable Legal Challenge To Marijuana Legalization, Admits Deputy A.G.


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Justice Department doesn't have a viable legal basis on which to challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, Deputy Attorney General James Cole admitted on Sunday.

"It would be a very challenging lawsuit to bring," Deputy Attorney General Cole said while testifying at the first Congressional hearing on cannabis legalization in the two states, reports Jacob Sullum at Forbes.

Cole said that simply repealing state penalties for growing, possessing, and selling marijuana does not create a "positive conflict" with the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

He argued that the feds would be on firmer legal ground if they tried to preempt state licensing and regulation of cannabis businesses which are newly legal under state law. But the deputy attorney general said that approach would mean that if such litigation were successful, it would leave the industry unregulated.

That's why the Department of Justice decided on the approach summarized in the memo Cole issued on August 29, limiting federal enforcement to cases that involve eight "federal concerns," including sales to minors, drugged driving, and diversion of marijuana to other states.

"We have reserved quite explicitly the right to go in and preempt at a later date," Cole said, summarizing the DOJ's policy as "trust, but verify."

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