Legalization

Switzerland: Advocates Renew Push For Legal Adult-use Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Swiss advocates are renewing their push to legalize marijuana consumption and cultivation for adults. Possession of marijuana was decriminalized in Switzerland in 2013, when laws were relaxed and criminal penalties for possessing 10 grams of cannabis or less were reduced to a fine of 100 francs (about USD$100).

An initiative to legalize marijuana failed in Switzerland in 2008. That initiative would have legalized marijuana cultivation and use for everyone, including minors, and didn’t provide for any government tax.

Nine Forrer of Legalize It, the group behind the campaign, argued that legalizing cannabis would help curtail the informal market.

“The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, wrong from a legal point of view and simply stupid from an economic point of view.” Forrer said in a report by Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss German-language newspaper published in Zurich.

The Swiss government is presently considering a trial program that would allow state-controlled marijuana sales in cannabis clubs in four cities and another trial that would allow cannabis sales in selected pharmacies.

Vermont: Senate Votes To Legalize Adult-use Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont State Senators have voted in favor of a bill that would legalize the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana for adults 21 and over for the second year in a row.

The bill, which passed with a 21-9 vote, is an amended version of the legalization measure that Vermont Senators approved last year, which failed to pass in the House.

“We know that prohibition has not worked,” said Sen. Jeanette White, a Democrat from Windham. “Let’s make it safer, less accessible to kids.”

The proposal would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, legalize the home cultivation of the plant, and would establish a regulatory licensing system similar to that found in states that have already legalized it.

Senators who oppose the bill have argued that adult-use legalization would be a bad idea because there is no reliable method of checking drivers for cannabis intoxication. Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, has also expressed concern about intoxicated drivers, but it is unknown if he would veto a legalization bill if it came across his desk.

The bill moves next to the Vermont House, who turned down a similar proposal last year.

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Sends Out 4/20 E-mail

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer sent an e-mail out to many citizens on 4/20 to acknowledge the unofficial marijuana holiday and to encourage them to join the fight to stop federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana.

In the e-mail, Blumenauer says that he has been fighting the battle for marijuana reform for over 40 years. While not such an outspoken advocate until recent years, he did first vote in the Oregon legislature to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana in 1973.

The subject of the e-mail was "Happy 4-20: Take this Joint Action!" and it reads:

Dear Friends,

One in five Americans live in a state where the voters have chosen to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. These regulations are keeping our communities safe from crime, and new jobs and industries are being created.

Unfortunately, a White House spokesperson recently announced a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana. If this happens states will lose billions in tax revenue.

As many of you know I've been fighting this battle for over 40 years. And recently, we have seen a lot of forward movement. Earlier this year, I cofounded the first congressional cannabis caucus to continue the momentum were we are seeing at the state level for cannabis reform. I'm glad to see other leaders stepping up on this issue.

Washington, DC: Seven Marijuana Activists Face Federal Charges For Offering 4/20 Joints To Congressional Staff

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Capitol Police officers arrested seven marijuana activists on federal charges Thursday as they gave away free joints to Capitol Hill staffers.

Activists from the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, or DCMJ, stood on a sidewalk near Senate offices -- non-federal land -- to avoid arrest and intervention by the Capitol Police.

A ballot initiative approved by District of Columbia voters in 2014 made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess 2 ounces of cannabis and to give it away. But marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

The few dozen activists booed the officers loudly as they walked those arrested across Constitution Avenue to police vans.

Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and the public face of legalization in the nation’s capital, was among those arrested.

It was planned for the joint giveaway to last from "high noon" until 6:20 p.m., but it ended at 2:15 p.m, with many of the activists saying that the police had "stolen" many of the 1,227 joints rolled to express support for H.R. 1227, which would put an end to federal marijuana prohibitions.

Eva Malecki, communications director for U.S. Capitol Police, issued the following statement:

Oregon: Rep. Blumenauer Says Marijuana Has 'Come Of Age Politically'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Rep. Earl Blumenauer spoke with reporters in a conference call today, and said that “marijuana has gone mainstream” and “has come of age politically.”

“We’re continuing to watch the evolution of the issue as more and more people are involved, as the industry grows and as the consensus that this ought to be something that the federal government ought not to try and suppress, regardless of peoples’ individual feelings about marijuana,” he said. “The overwhelming number appeared not to want the federal government to interfere with what states do.”

When asked about the possibility of the Trump administration cracking down on states with legalized marijuana, Blumenauer said that “one thing has been consistent and that is we’ve received inconsistent signals from this administration on a wide variety of issues.”

“I think what is important is, first of all, what the candidate Trump said on the campaign trail that the state ought to be able to pursue with what the states are doing – I think that’s consistent with what most people I know who have some familiarity with Donald Trump think is his actual opinion,” he said. “…Marijuana got a lot more votes than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”

Colorado: America's First Drive-Thru Marijuana Store Opens 4/20

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

America's first drive-thru marijuana shop is opening on April 20, the unofficial marijuana holiday celebrated across the country.

Sitting on the site of a former car wash in Parachute, a small town in western Colorado, the Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru will allow cars to actually pull into the building so it complies with the law stating pot must be sold indoors. No-one under 21 will be allowed on the premises, even if they are in the back seat of a car.

“I didn’t set out thinking this would be national news,” CEO Mark Smith told the Post Independent. “I didn’t have some big epiphany. I just saw a need for our customers.”

Smith’s customers will be able to drive through and make purchases from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday.

Canada: No Relief For Past Marijuana Convictions Under Legalization Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canada's federal marijuana legalization plan does not include a provision providing general amnesty for past convictions of low-level marijuana possession, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a Canadian Press report.

“That’s not an item that’s on the agenda at the moment,” he said, adding that until the legalization bill is passed current laws pertaining to cannabis possession, use, and sale “need to be respected.”

In a policy paper released last year, the C.D. Howe Institute, a Canadian public policy think tank, said that legalization could initially result in an increase in cannabis consumption, and the need for more police enforcement and monitoring, which could force more government spending.

“This discussion suggests that dropping charges against individuals for illegal possession who have no other Criminal Code convictions or charges, would save considerable government resources without other significant offsetting adverse spillovers,” the paper stated. “Similarly, the federal government should consider pardoning individuals who have been convicted for illegal possession but have not been convicted or charged for any other Criminal Code offense.”

Guam: Measure To Legalize Adult-use Marijuana Pulled Due To Trump Administration Fears

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Guam’s gubernatorial administration has pulled a bill that would have legalized marijuana possession and use by adults in the U.S. territory due to federal uncertainty. Eric Palacios, special assistant to Gov. Eddie Clavo, says the move doesn’t necessarily mean the plan is dead but just temporarily on hold.

“We are suspending our efforts, and we are not terminating what we originally intended to do via the introduction of the bill,” Palacios said in the report. “And so, until we get a clearer picture of where things stand on the federal side, especially in light of the Attorney General’s pronouncement, we don’t feel it would be prudent moving forward.”

According to the governor’s Communications Director Oyal Ngirairkl, the suspension “is meant to give lawmakers time to better understand the Trump administration’s still evolving stance on this and the result of actions other U.S. jurisdictions are taking.”

Ohio: Madeira Says 'No' To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The city of Madeira, Ohio - a suburb of Cincinnati - has decided to allow no medical marijuana dispensaries within its limits.

Madeira City Council passed an ordinance by emergency to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana within the city at its April 10 meeting.

“Medical marijuana may or may not have its merits but I don’t think Madeira would be ... appropriate for a dispensary to be located,” said Councilman Scott Gehring.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately since Council passed it by emergency. State laws regulating medical marijuana in Ohio go into effect on September 8.

A moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was approved within the city in August. Law Director Brian Fox advised against continuing the moratorium and drafted the legislation for the prohibition. He also drafted legislation to limit dispensaries to certain areas.

“I am not outright opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the possibility that we might have residents that would very much appreciate and value having close access to that. But it seems that there are still a lot of unknowns in how this will be enforced and what that would mean,” Councilwoman Nancy Spencer said.

Mayor Melisa Adrien said she would like to see how dispensaries operate in other communities before allowing them in Madeira.

Vermont: Marijuana Reforms Unlikely To Pass This Session

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Vermont's senate have announced that they will not support a marijuana legalization plan being circulated in the House because it “reinforces a black market approach rather than… [a] more streamlined, regulated system,” Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said in a report on Vermont Public Radio.

The House plan was initially approved by the chamber’s Judiciary Committee but was pulled by House leadership after it became clear it would not pass. The plan would have legalized possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, and allowed them to grow up to two mature and seven immature plants.

Democratic state Sen. Jeannette White said she “can’t imagine” a scenario in which the Senate would pass the House proposal, adding that the measure “does nothing to decrease the black market.”

“It in fact encourages it, because now you’re going to be able to have a certain amount, or an increased amount, and it will be completely legal,” White said in the report. “There’s no place for you to get it, so it’s going to increase the underground market.”

The report disclosed that last year the Senate passed a measure that would have legalized a taxed and regulated recreational marijuana system in the state. That bill failed in the House, however.

Canada: Legislation To Legalize Marijuana Announced

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Canadian government announced new legislation on Thursday legalizing marijuana, fulfilling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promise.

Canada anticipates that legalization will take effect in the summer of 2018.

The new law will make it legal for adults to possess small amounts of cannabis throughout the country and will establish guidelines for who can buy, sell and grow the drug.

The individual provinces will be left to determine specifics of who can possess or sell marijuana.

Marijuana has been legal for some medicinal purposes in Canada since 2001.

Iowa: Medical Marijuana Bill On Fast Track In Senate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legislation is moving quickly through the Iowa Senate that would authorize the use of medical marijuana to provide help for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other ailments.

Senate Study Bill 1190, The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday. The measure would then be sent to the House for consideration.

“This is not just a statement bill. We would like to get this through the House and down to the governor’s desk," said Schneider, a supporter of medical cannabis. Lawmakers would need to act soon, however, because the 2017 session could end next week.

Oregon: Marijuana Workers Face Difficulties Applying For Personal Loans

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon's recreational marijuana industry has had a huge impact on the local economy. But employees of cannabis-related businesses are finding it difficult to obtain financial assistance for things like mortgages and car payments.

Since marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug, most federally-regulated banks and credit unions shun marijuana-related businesses. But these obstacles have also carried over to affect a number of cannabis-business employees, who are finding it equally difficult to obtain financial assistance.

Banks and credit unions in Oregon are allowed to deny loan applications for pretty much any reason, as long as discrimination against race, gender or national origin doesn't play a role in the decision. A recent story published by Oregon Public Broadcasting shared the story of Melissa Johnson, who works as a customer service representative at the retail cannabis shop Bloom Well.

Missouri: Kansas City Passes Measure To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters approved a measure on Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city's limits.

Nearly 75 percent of voters decided 'yes' on Question 5 which reduces penalties for the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a $25 fine. The measure also eliminates penalties for the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.

The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana," said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML.

The new ordinance takes effect when signed by the mayor or within five days.

Uruguay: Legal Marijuana Sales Set To Begin In July

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legal marijuana sales are set to begin in Uruguay in July, more than four years after the South American nation fully legalized the cannabis trade. Marijuana will be available under the law to citizens and permanent residents 18 years of age and older at pharmacies for $1.30 per gram. Buyers will be limited to purchasing no more than 40 grams per month and will be required to sign up with a national registry. Home growers and cooperative clubs will be allowed to cultivate up to 99 plants.

Presidential Aide Juan Andres Roballo said the registry would be up and running by May 2

The government currently has 16 pharmacies on board, but many pharmacists have doubted the financial benefits of selling cost-controlled cannabis. Some Uruguayans have also expressed privacy concerns over the national registry.

Roballo said that before the registry is launched there would be a public health campaign. He said that he does not believe there will be “an avalanche of users” signing up for the registry.

Uruguay legalized the sale and cultivation of marijuana in 2013 under former President José Mujica in an effort to combat homicides and crime associated with drug trafficking.

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