Legalization

US: Five States Officially Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan certified a marijuana legalization initiative for November's ballot, meaning this year's election will see five states voting on the issue.

Four states have already legalized marijuana through voter's ballots, Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana in 2014, but not commercial sales.

Those states have a combined population of about 17 million people. Legalization in the most populous state, California, alone would more than double that figure, and winning in all five states would triple it.

On November 9 we could see almost a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization if all five states were to pass it. The five states are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. California seems most likely to win, based on current information. The possibility of legalization in Maine and Nevada is looking good as well. It will be a tougher sell in Massachusetts, with Arizona looking like the state with the biggest hurdle to jump for pot legalization.

U.S.: Clinton Campaign Says She Would Reschedule Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hillary Clinton's campaign issued a statement today, saying she plans to reschedule marijuana if elected in November.

The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced its decision to keep marijuana on the list of Schedule I drugs, in the same category as heroin and LSD, but the Clinton campaign thinks the drug serves a higher purpose.

“Marijuana is already being used for medical purposes in states across the country, and it has the potential for even further medical use,” Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor to Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post. “As Hillary Clinton has said throughout this campaign, we should make it easier to study marijuana so that we can better understand its potential benefits, as well as its side effects."

Clinton seems to disagree with the DEA's decision to keep marijuana on the Schedule I list, and the campaign said if she is elected she would reclassify the drug to a Schedule II substance, which would mean acceptance that marijuana has a medical use for treatment.

“As president, Hillary will build on the important steps announced today by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. She will also ensure Colorado, and other states that have enacted marijuana laws, can continue to serve as laboratories of democracy,” Harris continued.

Oregon: Senators Criticize DEA For Refusal To Reclassify Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, criticized a DEA decision today to keep marijuana on the list of Schedule I controlled substances.

"The DEA's decision flies in the face of choices made freely by voters in Oregon and many other states about the legality of marijuana," Wyden said in a statement. "The bottom line is the DEA is keeping federal law behind the times."

Merkley accused the DEA as interfering with Oregon's economy.

"The federal government shouldn't force Oregon's legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees and bills," Merkley said.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the Oregon congressional delegation's loudest voice for ending marijuana prohibition, released his outraged statement on Wednesday, before the official decision was officially announced

The DEA's decision, just announced will keep marijuana in the same category as drugs such as LSD and heroin, also considered Schedule I, drugs with no medical value but with a high potential for abuse.

"[Marijuana] does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," wrote Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator. "There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse."

U.S.: DEA Ignores Science, Refuses To Reshedule Marijuana

The DEA announced there will be no rescheduling of marijuana; it's still Schedule I.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp news

The Drug Enforcement Administration's much-anticipated decision on rescheduling marijuana came a bit early, late on Wednesday instead of Thursday as promised. Perhaps they were eager to reveal their plan -- to change nothing.

In spite of the fact that half of our 50 states in the U.S now recognize medical marijuana as a useful, beneficial substance for multitudes of people, the DEA will not reschedule the plant.

Contrary to the clear wishes of a majority of American citizens, as many recent polls have shown, the DEA will not reschedule this plant.

In total disregard of the recommendations and advice of scientists, doctors, and researchers, the DEA is not rescheduling marijuana.

It remains a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government, a drug with no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD. Cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids are classified Schedule II because they have some accepted use in medication.

"This decision isn't based on danger," DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg told NPR. "This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it's not."

Clearly it's a decision not based on science or the wishes of the American public.

California: Yes On 64 Campaign Receives First Newspaper Endorsement

California's marijuana legalization campaign, Yes on 64, received its first endorsement from a major newspaper

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Yes on Proposition 64 campaign announced Monday that California's first major newspaper has strongly endorsed Yes On 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

The East Bay Times (formerly the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Hayward Daily Review, Fremont Argus, West County Times and other papers) of the Bay Area News Group, the largest publisher of daily and weekly newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, came out in favor of Proposition 64, calling it “solid,” “smart,” and “long overdue.”

The endorsement reads as follows:

Once again, California voters must decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. They have previously rejected such initiatives, and while Proposition 64 — this year’s incarnation — isn’t perfect, it is a much more thoughtful proposal that should be passed.

Proposition 64 would allow adults 21 years or older to use pot, grow up to six plants in their homes and possess about an ounce of marijuana and about a quarter ounce of hash.

The proposition piggybacks on the regulatory framework for medicinal use that state lawmakers finally developed last year.

Tennessee: Nashville To Consider Decriminalization Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A newly filed ordinance is seeking to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The ordinance would make the penalty for possession or exchange of a half ounce of pot (14.175 grams) or less a civil penalty with a $50 fine. A court could have the option to suspend the civil penalty and instead mandate 10 hours of community service.

Under current Tennessee law, violators of this offence face a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If the Nashville ordinance is approved, a third offense will remain a felony, as required by state law.

“This would allow the police to just write a ticket,” said Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg, a self-described libertarian who is among those who have introduced the Nashville ordinance.

He said that someone who makes a mistake as a kid could be haunted their entire life because of the criminal offenses they face under the current marijuana law here.

“It’s very unproductive,” he said. “This has been an issue that has been moving nationwide from Florida to Washington as our society has come to understand that the most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Attorney Challenges Marijuana's Schedule I Classification

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pittsburgh marijuana reform activist and attorney Patrick K. Nightingale has filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I classification.

He filed the motion with the Court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Pennsylvania recently joined 25 other states with legal medical marijuana programs.

Nightingale released the following statement regarding his challenge of marijuana's Schedule I classification:

“Both medicinal consumers and recreational consumers are faced with potential prosecution for possession of a Controlled I substance despite the fact that we have a law demonstrating its efficacy for treating any of 17 qualifying conditions. I believe this amounts to a denial of equal protection and the Court is in a position to address this contradiction.”

Congress has so far been unable or unwilling to address this issue affecting all Americans and their right to equal protection under the law.

Hopefully the Court will be forced to finally take action on this issue, amending a violation of our Constitutional Rights.

U.S.: Big Alcohol Is Working To Undermine Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wikileaks' recent dump of Democratic National Committee's e-mails might prove an agenda against both Bernie Sanders and marijuana legalization.

Many major news outlets shared that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other officials received e-mails questioning Bernie Sanders' religion in an attempt to undermine his support among voters.

However, Marijuana.com's Tom Angell uncovered a daily e-newsletter that included a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) warning against the dangers of marijuana.

In the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle, a newsletter produced by the Politico website, the WSWA’s advertisement reads:

"While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

Massachusetts: Politicians Debate Race, Opioid Addiction In Marijuana Legalization Battle

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts have assembled a powerful show of force in the state's top politicians. On Wednesday, the anti-pot Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts released a list of 119 politicians who oppose marijuana legalization.

The list includes Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, and Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Meanwhile, Boston city councilors Michelle Wu and Tito Jackson and State Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, were holding a press conference outside the Statehouse to support marijuana legalization.

Pro-marijuana advocates may face quite a challenge, but voters in Massachusetts have already voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and legalize medical marijuana. Recent polls show that voters are split on the issue of legal marijuana for recreational use.

The Western Massachusetts lawmakers to come out against marijuana legalization on Wednesday include State Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Warren, State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, State Rep. Michael Finn, D-West Springfield, State Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield, and State Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst.

Vermont: Doctors And Researchers Think Marijuana Study Was Flawed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers say a report assessing the public health risks of legalizing marijuana in Vermont is flawed.

The 84-page assessment was released during the legislative session in mid-January, according to the Burlington Free Press. The report offered policy recommendations, a summary and conclusions based on available research.

This spring a bill to legalize marijuana died in the Vermont House.

Doctors and researchers wrote to lawmakers that the scope of the report was too narrow, only focused on the negative impacts, and lacked the context of the state’s opioid crisis.

A state public health analyst who promoted the report says the assessment wasn’t intended to advocate for one side or another. Everyone involved was asked to disregard their own personal biases.

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

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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.

Maine: Travel Guru Rick Steves Donates $50,000 To Marijuana Legalization Campaign

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rick Steves, popular travel writer and television host, has donated $50,000 to Maine's political action committee devoted to seeing recreational marijuana legalized in the state.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says in its latest campaign finance report that it has raised just over $191,000 for the reporting period that ended on July 19.

Steves promised to match “dollar-for-dollar” donations up to a total of $50,000 in a letter to legalization supporters in May. Campaign finance records show that his donation was made on July 18.

“Through my travels in Europe, I’ve learned that pragmatic harm reduction makes much more sense than legislating morality,” Steves wrote in the letter. “And I believe in civil liberties. Responsible adults should be able to use marijuana, just as they can use alcohol. Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have demonstrated that it is possible to build a system of marijuana control and regulation that works. This isn’t about being ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ on drugs. This is about being smart – and controlling and regulating marijuana the right way.”

Steves has worked for legalization in both Washington and Oregon, and resides in Washington.

The campaign in Maine has so far raised a total of $436,000, and had about $93,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Pennsylvania: Dems Become First Major Party To Back A Path To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Democratic Party made history in Philadelphia Monday by voting to approve a national platform endorsing a "pathway" for marijuana legalization.

The platform calls for removing marijuana from the federal government's list of Schedule 1 drugs. That list includes LSD and heroin; Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous with a high potential for abuse and no medical purpose.

“The fact that one of the country’s two major parties has officially endorsed a pathway to legalization is the clearest sign we’ve seen yet that marijuana reform is a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group.

“A clear and growing majority of voters want to end prohibition.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton does not back full legalization at the federal level. She has often said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states, allowing them to be “laboratories of democracy.”

Legal marijuana could see a huge expansion this year.

Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on marijuana legalization in November, and voters in Florida and Arkansas will have the opportunity to vote for medical marijuana.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Activists March To Democratic Convention With 51-Foot Joints

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two 51-foot inflatable joints were marched up Broad Street in Philadelphia yesterday to celebrate the Democratic National Committee's progressive platform on marijuana.

About two dozen members of the Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) carried the blow-up joints about 3.5 miles from Philadelphia City Hall to the Wells Fargo enter, where the convention is taking place.

Marijuana is a central issue at the convention this year, and pro-legalization groups are pleased with the progress being made. Activists have been joined by some members of Congress, fighting for marijuana reform, hoping that federal laws will soon mirror those of states that have legalized marijuana.

One joint read "Legalize" and "Hillary, Deschedule Cannabis Now".

The other read "End the Racist Drug War" and Berned by the DNC", referring to the leaked e-mails that showed high-ranking party members had favored Hillary Clinton. Sanders became an advocate for marijuana reform during his campaign, and had a lot to do with why the issue made it part of the DNC platform at all. He refrained from endorsing Clinton until certain issues from his campaign, including marijuana reform and free college tuition, were added to the party's platform draft.

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

Uruguay: Security Fears Holding Back Cannabis Rollout

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Although Uruguay has implemented a new law allowing pharmacies to sell marijuana, most are choosing not to participate because of security problems.

Most of the country's pharmacies have not signed on, citing security issues and complaining of paperwork, cost increases or opposition from customers to selling legal cannabis.

Uruguay legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana in 2013, hoping to create the world's first government-regulated national marketplace for cannabis. Its goal was to fight rising homicide and crime rates associated with drug trafficking in the country

But while the government wants to begin selling marijuana at pharmacies in the coming weeks, only 50 out of 1,200 pharmacies are registered so far.

"I don't see the need to get into a conflict with people who are already selling weed in the neighborhoods," said Marcelo Trujillo, who owns three pharmacies in Montevideo's Cerro neighborhood.

"I just don't want to expose myself or my employees," he said.

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Poised To Appear On November Ballot

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 258,582 petition signatures to the Secretary of State on Thursday; 150,642 valid signatures needed to qualify

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee released a report Wednesday that estimates passage of the initiative will generate nearly $82 million in annual tax revenue, including more than $55 million for Arizona schools

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A citizen initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona is poised to appear on the November ballot after proponents turned in their petition Thursday with more than enough signatures to qualify.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 258,582 total signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State. With 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters needed to place the measure on the ballot, that appears to be a comfortable margin. The secretary of state is expected to determine whether the initiative has qualified by late August.

“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Arizona: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Submitting Signatures

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On Thursday, June 30, at 10:30 a.m., campaign leaders and supporters will hold a news conference just prior to handing over more than 100 boxes of petitions to state officials

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) will submit more than 100 boxes of petitions to state officials on Thursday to place an initiative on the November ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Arizona.

Campaign leaders and initiative supporters will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. in a temporary office located on the second floor of 77 E. Weldon Ave. in Phoenix, where representatives of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office will be accepting and reviewing the petitions.

Initiative backers need at least 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. At Thursday's news conference, they will announce the total number of signatures they will be submitting.

The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and public education programs.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) Qualifies For November Ballot

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The campaign in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) on Tuesday applauded the announcement by Secretary of State Alex Padilla that the measure has officially qualified for the November 8 General Election ballot in California.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said Jason Kinney, spokesperson for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

“This measure reflects years of hard work, diverse stakeholder input and broad, bipartisan public support," Kinney said. "A growing majority of Californians support a smarter approach to marijuana and we’re gratified that voters will finally have the opportunity in November to pass comprehensive, common-sense policy that protects children, local control, public health and public safety, saves state and local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, funds critical local programs, and serves as a model for the rest of the nation.”

The coalition of endorsers in support of AUMA is the largest ever formed in support of marijuana policy reform in the state, according to organizers.

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