Legalization

Delaware: Bill Approved By Legislative Committee For Legalized Adult-use Marijuana, Moves To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to create a taxed-and-regulated marijuana market in Delaware has passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee and will now move to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation would regulate and tax cannabis “in the same manner as alcohol,” allowing adults to purchase marijuana products, but makes no provisions for growing at home.

State Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said she believes the measure will pass the House, which will likely take up the legislation after the legislature’s June recess.

“The numbers that we’re getting, about $22 (million) and $25 million on the conservative side that’s just off the sale,” Keeley said in a WMDT report. “If we actually look at this as an economic driver it makes perfect sense.”

Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a supporter of the measure, spoke out about it recently at a Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting.

“Education is suffering," she said. "Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.”

The measure would allot 20 percent of tax revenues collected from legal cannabis sales to go to the Department of Education.

California: Attorney General Becerra Vows To Fight Feds On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would “probably be the 1 millionth person in line” to fight Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tried to crackdown on California's legal marijuana industry in a recent interview with Politico.

“Cannabis is last century’s argument. We’re beyond that,” Becerra said in the interview. “I suspect if you took a real quick poll here, I bet if we took a poll, who has got cannabis, it’d be pretty — you don’t have to raise your hand, but you know what I’m saying.”

The former Democratic Congressman admitted that he had tried it “at a younger time” when asked by reporter David Siders about his own marijuana use.

“So then it was illegal?” Siders asked the Attorney General.

“I also drive over the speed limit periodically, so,” Becerra responded.

The federal budget includes an amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana regimes and hemp programs but it does not include language preventing a crackdown on recreational programs. Donald Trump recently included a statement in an omnibus spending bill that could allow him to ignore the amendment.

“I would love to see Jeff Sessions come to California and tell us we’re not going to move forward on cannabis,” Becerra said. “Something tells me that it’s not gonna happen.”

Vermont: Legislature First To Pass Marijuana Legalization Measure

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's legislature has approved a bill that would legalize marijuana possession and small grows for adults and would create a Marijuana Regulation Commission that will draft legislation for a tax-and-regulate system.

The passage of this bill makes Vermont's legislature the first one to approve ending marijuana prohibition.

If Republican Governor Phil Scott signs the bill, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to two mature and four immature plants beginning on July 1, 2018.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a report from The Hill. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

The measure was a compromise between the House -- who passed their own bill last week to legalize possession and small grows -- and the Senate, who passed a tax-and-regulate measure last week.

The Hill reported that the governor has not indicated whether he will sign the measure and has previously said cannabis legalization was not “a priority.”

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Calls Marijuana Legalization 'Beyond Stupidity'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the push for cannabis legalization “beyond stupidity,” adding that it’s “not time for use to be cool and say, ‘Pot’s OK,’” during a forum on substance abuse hosted by the New Jersey Hospital Association, NJ.com reports.

“We are in the midst of the public health crisis on opiates,” Christie said during his remarks. “But people are saying pot’s OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything’s OK. Baloney.”

Christie rallied against pro-legalization politicians, including Democrat Phil Murphy who is the favorite in this year’s gubernatorial campaign in the state.

“People like [Rep.] Nick Scutari and [Senate President] Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn’t matter because people can buy it illegally anyway,” Christie said in the report. “Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis. Let’s legalize cocaine. Let’s legalize angel dust. Let’s legalize all of it. What’s the difference? Let everybody choose.”

Democrat Scutari is the main sponsor of legalization legislation expected to be introduced in the legislature next year. Sweeney has indicated he would support the bill.

Alaska: Feds Block Rainforest Farms From Paying Taxes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.

“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.

Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”

Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.

Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.

Colorado: Gov. Hickenlooper Meets With AG Sessions, Hopeful Administration Will Maintain Status Quo

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and came away with the feeling that a federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana is not likely, the Denver Post reports. Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Doug Friednash indicated that Sessions is more focused on other priorities, such as the proposed border wall, than he is with legal marijuana markets.

Friednash said that Sessions viewed the 2014 Cole memo as “not too far from good policy.” The Cole memo directs the Department of Justice to not interfere in state-sanctioned cannabis programs.

Hickenlooper pointed out to the attorney general that since legalization there has been no rise in teenage cannabis use in the state, and that emergency room visits have steadily decreased as officials have enacted laws to better regulate cannabis-infused edibles.

Colorado lawmakers backed off a plan earlier this month to legalize cannabis social clubs, after Hickenlooper indicated he did not support the plan due to fears that it could attract federal intervention.

Washington, DC: Garrett Announces Press Conference On Federal Marijuana Deregulation Legislation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A press release was issued today by 5th District Congressman Tom Garrett announcing details for a press conference highlighting H.R. 1227 - the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.

H.R. 1227 seeks specifically to remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from the federal schedule of controlled substances, thereby leaving regulation up to the states.

In a February 27 press release, Garrett stated:

"I have long believed justice that isn't blind, isn't justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California."

The press conference will be held on May 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM at House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol (back-up rain location to be determined).

Speakers planned for the conference are U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, parents of Haley Smith, Sophia Miller, and Jennifer Collins (children with medical conditions such as epilepsy who are benefiting from medical marijuana), and several other bipartisan members of Congress that have cosponsored this legislation who have sent in tentative confirmations, such as U.S. Congressman Scott Taylor.

Georgia: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Legalization Leads To Lower Medicaid Costs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Patients use fewer prescription drugs in states where medical marijuana is legal, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the association between medical marijuana regulations and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries between the years 2007 and 2014.

Researchers reported, "[T]he use of prescription drugs in fee-for-service Medicaid was lower in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without such laws in five of the nine broad clinical areas we studied." They added, "If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion."

The team previously published a report in 2016 that medical cannabis access was associated with significantly reduced spending by patients on Medicare Part D approved prescription drugs.

Other studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, migraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

Washington, DC: Activists Arrested Again At Pro-cannabis Rally

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

At least four activists were arrested yesterday at a "smoke-in" at the Capitol held by members of D.C. Marijuana Justice, a pro-cannabis activist group. DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger was among those arrested, the Associated Press reports. He also was one of eight arrested during last week’s Apr. 20 joint giveaway at the Capitol, in which only two were charged.

Ricardo Harven had a message during the smoke-in for the more than 20 Capitol Police who came to crackdown on the event.

“Congress approved our federal law, it is federally legal [to possess] marijuana in the District of Columbia,” Harvin said, “So remember that as you come in to arrest us.”

Capitol Police Spokesperson Eva Malecki said that the four people charged with possession, two women and two men, were violating federal law.

Eidinger said the activists are urging lawmakers to reject an amendment introduced by Republican Rep. Andy Harris that would prevent the city from passing local laws to legalize marijuana regulation and sales.

“One of the reasons we are fighting so hard to overturn this Andy Harris rider is because there’s unfinished business here in the nation’s capital,” Eidinger said in a Washington Post report. “Basically, we have legalization without commercialization.”

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.

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