Marijuana

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.

California: Study Shows Marijuana Decriminalization Associated With Improved Labor Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Data compiled by economists at the University of California shows that reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with greater overall employment and higher wages.

Researchers at the Economic Self-Sufficiency Research Policy Institute at the University of California at Irvine assessed the relationship between statewide marijuana decriminalization laws and labor outcomes.

The report says that decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. The greatest average wage increase was experienced by African-Americans.

"This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes," the authors concluded. "This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."

Colorado: Retail/Recreational Marijuana Licenses Increase, Medical Licenses Decrease

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The latest Colorado Marijuana Market Report finds that retail/recreational licenses are increasing in number while medical licenses are decreasing. Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is the producer of the quarterly Market Report.

“The total number of active marijuana business licenses issued by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division is at an all-­time record high of 2,971, up from 2,913 in December 2016,” says Seaborn. “52.5 percent of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, down from 54.5 percent in December 2016. 47.5 percent are for recreational/retail businesses, up from 45.5 percent.”

Retail dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all increased in number since December 2016, the report finds, while medical centers, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all decreased.

The Colorado Marijuana Market Report will be a quarterly publication by Seaborn analyzing the data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Industrial Hemp Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill expanding the availability of licenses for the state's hemp production, reports the Register-Herald. The measure will allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to approve a license for any individual rather than just state colleges and universities.

First-time license applicants will be required to submit their fingerprints and undergo state and federal background checks at their own expense. Individuals granted a license will be “presumed to be growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes,” according to the bill text. Licenses will expire annually on December 31.

The measure passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

Crescent Gallagher, communications director for the Department of Agriculture, said industrial hemp could play a role in improving the state’s economy.

“The department is looking forward to working with individuals who are interested in growing industrial hemp,” he said in an April 5 Gazette-Mail report. “The hope is that hemp becomes a niche crop that helps grow our agriculture industries and spur economic growth to help diversify our economy.”

U.S.: National District Attorneys Association Pens Prohibitionist Paper

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The National District Attorneys Association has released a paper supporting the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

The authors conclude that “federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be applied consistently across the nation to maintain respect for the rule of law.”

The paper goes on to say "As a Schedule I drug, federal authorities have found that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and lacks safety for use under medical supervision."

The NDAA working group called children’s access to cannabis “one of the most significant concerns about legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.”

“Legalization of marijuana for purported medicinal and recreational purposes has increased access by children,” the letter contends. “…It is vitally important to do all we can to prevent access to marijuana by youth in America. Their health, safety and welfare demand no less.”

Nevada: Senate Passes Four Cannabis-related Bills, One Banning Candy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nevada's Senate passed four marijuana-related bills recently: one that would allow cannabis clubs, one dealing with cannabis product packaging, one that would allow the governor to work with state tribes interested in the cannabis industry, and a measure that would allow medical marijuana to be used to treat opioid addiction, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Provisions in the packaging bill would ban cannabis-infused products containing sugar, except for baked goods. Industry leaders argue that the bill's definition of "candy" is too broad.

“Candy,” according to the bill text, is defined as “a product which contains sugar and is produced in the shape of a cartoon, character, mascot, action figure, human balloon (sic), fruit or toy or any other shape determined by the Division [of Public and Behavioral Health] to be likely to appeal primarily to children.”

The packaging bill also includes a requirement for childproof containers and requirements for THC content labeling.

The bill dealing with state tribes would require that tribal cannabis regulations be as strict as state regulations. The cannabis club legislation would allow businesses and special events to apply for a license to allow marijuana on their premises, subject to some zoning restrictions.

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.

Oregon: Legislature Forcing OMMP Into OLCC And Will Make Patients Pay For It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

SB 1057's latest amendments are on the schedule for another Public Hearing and Possible Work Session for the Tuesday, April 25th meeting of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization.

The Oregon Cannabis Connection reports that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission shall use the system developed and maintained for OLCC licensees:

1. To track the production, processing and transfer of cannabis by Oregon Medical Marijuana Program growers.

2. OLCC may conduct inspections and investigations, including inspections and investigations of OMMP grow sites.

This means that the OLCC will be in the backyard of every OMMP grower that is growing for more than two patients.

Patient-growers will be required to pay $2,000 annually to grow their own medicine at addresses where more than 12 plants are grown.

To protest these changes, contact the Joint Committee members. Their information can be found at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/JMR/Overview

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:

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Vow To Smoke And Get Arrested On Steps Of U.S. Capitol

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens of marijuana advocates plan to light joints on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday as part of an effort to urge Congress to support marijuana legalization. Committing the offense on federal land could draw a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The April 24 event will mark the first time activists plan to light up on federal land.

It also would be the first significant protest to take place under the Trump administration, which has suggested it may crack down on violations of federal drug laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana.

"You can only ask nicely for so long before you have to change your tactic," said Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the advocacy group DCMJ. He said he's made sure his 13-year-old daughter will be taken care of and that his rent is paid in case he must spend an extended period of time in jail.

"It's come to this," he said.

Eidinger's group plans to distribute free marijuana joints to anyone with a congressional ID badge on a city street outside the Capitol. Under current law, possessing the joints on city streets is not a crime, but smoking it is.

The group has already rolled more than 1,000 joints and has dozens of volunteers ready to distribute them.

Any mass arrests from Monday's planned protest would be left to federal prosecutors in the District to handle.

Oklahoma: Governor Signs Bill Changing 'Marijuana' Definition To Exclude Fed-approved CBD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill removing any federally approved CBD product or drug from the state’s definition of “marijuana.” The move does little in helping to provide access to CBD therapies since no CBD-based drug or product has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

State Rep. Jon Echols said the measure “is the next logical step to expanding the state’s highly successful CBD program” and has helped “hundreds if not thousands” of Oklahoma citizens.

“In the history of the program there have been no reported incidents of abuse,” the Republican said in the report. “This non-intoxicating substance has literally changed the lives of many Oklahomans.”

“This makes it clear that if the FDA does approve a cannabidiol drug for use for medical treatment, that it would be legal,” Echols said.

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.”

Wisconsin: Governor Signs Bill Expanding CBD Program

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed legislation legalizing the use of CBD oil for any medical condition if the patient is certified by a doctor, the Journal Sentinel reports.

“Today, we’re making it easier for people in our state to obtain CBD oil without a psychoactive effect to treat a medical condition as advised by their doctor,” the Republican governor said in the report.

The move expands the state's limited medical marijuana program enacted in 2014, which allows families and individuals to obtain CBD oil in extremely limited cases.

Few were able to benefit from the program because the law was so restrictive. The law bars in-state medical marijuana production and requires patients to obtain the oil either online or in a neighboring state with a more comprehensive medical cannabis program, such as Michigan.

There are proposals in both houses of the state legislature that would legalize a more complete medical marijuana program in Wisconsin, including in-state production and a system of dispensaries.

U.S.: DHS Chief Kelly Reverses Marijuana Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly reversed comments he recently made on marijuana Tuesday in his first major speech since being sworn in.

Just two days before, in an interview on "Meet the Press", Kelly said that marijuana is not “a factor in the drug war.”

“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s Sunday show, saying that meth, heroin and cocaine are the three main drugs that have played a role in the U.S. drug crisis that killed more than 52,000 people in 2015.

But during his speech Tuesday, Kelly vowed that Department of Homeland Security staff would continue to investigate and arrest those involved in illegal trade of the drug and called marijuana “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.”

"... Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books," he added.

"DHS personnel will continue to investigate marijuana’s illegal pathways along the network into the U.S., its distribution within the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade according to federal law. [Customs and Border Protection] will continue to search for marijuana at sea, air and land ports of entry and when found take similar appropriate action.

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