Washington, DC: Supreme Court May Rule On Colorado Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The US Supreme Court were scheduled to meet today to discuss the case brought against Colorado by Nebraska and Oklahoma over marijuana legalization.

The justices' first determination is whether or not to even consider the case. The lawsuit requests that the Supreme Court overturn Colorado's legal marijuana program.

Their decision is expected early next week. Sam Kamin, a University of Denver professor who specializes in marijuana law, said the justices may not have even gotten around to discussing the case Friday. The case has previously been pushed back twice at conferences.

"We just don't know what's going on behind the scenes," Kamin said.

In the lawsuit, two of Colorado's neighboring states ask the Supreme Court to overturn the state's legal marijuana industry, saying that state-authorized legalization conflicts with federal law, and that marijuana coming across Colorado borders has created a burden.

Colorado officials defended the legality of their marijuana industry, while the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to not take the case.

Kamin implied that the death of Justice Antonin Scalia could impact the case. Scalia seemed to support the argument in a speech he made in Boulder a couple months before the suit was filed.

"[T]he Constitution contains something called the Supremacy Clause," he said about marijuana, referencing the provision that says federal law tops state law when the two are in direct conflict.

Texas: NFL Quarterback Jim McMahon Reveals Coach Ditka Knew Players Smoked Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

NFL coach Mike Ditka knew some of his Chicago Bears players were using marijuana during the team's heyday in the 1980s, including Super Bowl champion quarterback Jim McMahon.

McMahon revealed the news at the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo in Fort Worth, TX.

“Mike Ditka would say, ‘Oh, all you guys, you pot smokers,’ That’s what he’d call us,” McMahon said at the event, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “‘You pot smokers.’ We’d say, ‘It’s better than being drunk out here. We’re still functioning.’ ”

Marijuana use is still banned in the NFL and will likely remain so for some time. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell commented on the NFL policy in his annual news conference in February. “It’s an NFL policy and we believe it’s the correct policy, for now, in the best interest of our players and the long-term health of our players,” Goodell said. “I don’t foresee a change in that clearly in the short term, but we’ll continue to be in touch with our medical personnel. If that changes, we’ll discuss it.”

McMahon was taking 100 Percocet pills every month to relieve the pains and aches, but was able to kick the pills after he discovered medical marijuana, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Virginia: Industrial Hemp Legalized

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Thanks to new legislation, hemp will soon be grown commercially again in Virginia, WVIR-TV reported today.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week permitting the legal manufacture of industrial hemp products. The law goes into effect on July 1.

The Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition (VIHC) called it a historic milestone after years of campaigning for legalization.

Hemp was banned for decades because of its association with marijuana. Hemp is a versatile, useful plant which can produce seed foods, hemp oil, rope, cloth, paper, and fuel. Many countries, including Canada and France, currently legally grow hemp.

“This is going to open up our farmers to that global market, and it's experiencing double digit growth as well because of the great reasons of the nutritious seed. BMW has it in their cars, a lot of people don't realize that. They're looking at putting manufacturing plants here in Virginia already,” said Jason Amatucci with VIHC. The VIHC says the United States is the largest importer of industrial hemp products in the world, so growing it on US soil should be a big opportunity.

Many states cannot legally produce hemp due to a national ban from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

Singapore: Jackie Chan Supports Death Penalty For Drug Offenders

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan, 61, spoke at an anti-drug press conference in Singapore Thursday, saying, "On some issues, I do support the death penalty," the UK Daily Mail reported.

Referring to drug traffickers, he said, "When you're hurting thousands and thousands of young children, I think these kind of people are useless. You should get the right punishment."

Both Singapore and China have laws calling for capital punishment for the crime of drug trafficking.

Chan's own son, Jaycee, 32 completed a six month prison term in February for "sheltering others to take drugs" after police found 100 grams of marijuana in his home in Beijing.

The Rush Hour actor said that he was "shocked" and "ashamed" when he found out his son was busted for pot. "[Young people say marijuana] 'it's okay, it's just like a cigarette.' I say, 'It's not okay, not in my family.' I would never think it would happen to my family. The day I found out, I am so ashamed, I am so angry. How (did) that happen?" said Chan, also a martial artist, film director, and producer. I was very angry but it made me more determined to be against drugs."

Photo BBC

North Dakota: Candidates For Governor Debate Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

During Thursday night's North Dakota gubernatorial debate, the Republican candidates disagreed on the issue of ending marijuana prohibition.

The contenders were asked their opinion on possible ballot measures on legalization and medical marijuana.

KXMB-TV reported that state Rep. Rick Becker said "he'll support whatever North Dakotans want. He would vote yes."

Former Microsoft executive Doug Burgum said that he would vote yes on medical marijuana, but no for recreational.

Wayne Stenehjem, current state attorney general, says he opposes legalizing marijuana for any purpose. He says he's talked with attorney generals in states that have legalized marijuana and feels that doing so in North Dakota would cause a "host of problems."

"We will not be healthier or safer if we legalize marijuana," Stenehjem said. "It's a bad move."

Medical marijuana advocates are currently petitioning, hoping to get an initiative on the ballot this November. The measure needs 13,452 valid voter signatures by July 11 to qualify for the ballot. The measure would allow medical marijuana patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and grow up to eight plants if they live further than 40 miles from a dispensary.

There are no Democratic candidates running for North Dakota governor, an office which has been held by Republicans since 1992.

Washington, DC: Senate Could Vote To Allow Marijuana Banking This Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The US Senate may soon vote to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana providers.

Most banks and credit unions are hesitant to do have any dealings with cannabis businesses. Federal money laundering and drug laws force many dispensaries, even those operating legally under state law, to operate on a cash-only basis, creating a dangerous situation for potential robberies.

An amendment introduced Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon will hopefully change that. He and six bipartisan co-sponsors are pushing to attach the proposal to a bill (S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016) scheduled to be considered by the Senate this week.

The amendment would prevent federal officials from penalizing banks that do business with the marijuana industry. Current law can allow officials to punish these banks through prosecutions, asset seizures, or termination of their FDIC insurance.

It is unknown if the amendment will be voted on by the Senate. It could come down to whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky chooses to give it floor time over other amendments that have been submitted. As of Thursday, there were 91 pending amendments to the bill.

Colorado: Denver NORML Files Measure To Permit Social Cannabis Clubs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Denver Chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (Denver NORML) filed a municipal initiative in Denver this week to okay the establishment of private, licensed marijuana clubs within the city.

"Denver residents and visitors alike need places other than private homes to legally and responsibly enjoy legal marijuana with other adults," said Jordan Person, executive director of Denver NORML.

Advocates will need less than 5,000 signatures to place the measure on this November's ballot.

The measure, if passed, would permit social events and licensed establishments to allow for the consumption of cannabis by adults 21 and over. Authorized facilities would not be allowed to sell or dispense marijuana; patrons will have to bring their own.

Oregon: Portland Pot Dispensary Donates Sales To Sanders' Campaign

A Portland, OR pot shop pledges a portion of its sales to Sanders' presidential campaign.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A marijuana dispensary in Portland is planning to donate a portion of its sales to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, KGW-TV reported today.

Foster Buds, which has two stores, pledged to contribute ten percent of sales from every $10 "Farmer 12" joint to Sanders' campaign.

“The cannabis community has never been appropriately represented or considered on a federal stage. Cannabis enthusiasts, supporters and medical patients come from every walk of life now, and we all deserve a president who will rally to reschedule cannabis and transform America’s Cannabis policies,” Foster Bud wrote on Instagram. “We believe Bernie Sanders is the best and most likely candidate to appropriately represent the needs of our community.”

The stores will also be giving away "Burn One For Bernie" T-shirts.

Store manager Ken Martin feels it's only logical to support Sanders. “Everything he’s looking to do is for the betterment of us. He’s looking to keep the medical community, he sees the advancements — so why not support him?” Martin asked.

Sanders has come out in favor of ending federal prohibition of marijuana. His website says that he supports medical marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational marijuana, as well as the right of states to opt for full legalization. He co-sponsored the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 to ensure access to banking services for legitimate marijuana businesses.

Washington, DC: Supreme Court Ruling Could End Legal Colorado Marijuana Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A lawsuit brought forth by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado's legal marijuana market will be discussed by the Supreme Court on March 4. The suit has the potential to shut down Colorado's legal marijuana industry.

The controversial lawsuit, 'Nebraska and Oklahoma Vs. Colorado', suggests the two states “are suffering a direct and significant detrimental impact” as a result of the retail pot market in Colorado. The Court’s final verdict could have “devastating implications for marijuana legalization.”

The plaintiffs are requesting that the Supreme Court put an end to Colorado's marijuana industry because Amendment 64 conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act while violating the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They claim that legalization has “created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system” that is leading to marijuana being smuggled into neighboring states.

The complaint asserts that the federal government is creating a difficult environment for law enforcement and Oklahoma and Nebraska citizens.

The Supreme Court gatekeeper, US Solicitor general Donald Verilli, Jr. says the case should be dropped because the dispute is not “an appropriate case for the exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction.” He filed a briefing last year advising the court to dismiss the case, since the criminal actions defined by the complaint are being committed by individuals and not by the State of Colorado.

United Kingdom: Restaurant Under Police Review After Pot Farm Found In Basement


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A UK restaurant is under review after police discovered a suspected marijuana farm in the basement.

Ramsbottom, UK police announced yesterday that they have applied to Bury Council for a licensing review for Bellini, on Bolton Street.

Police confirmed the grounds for the review are that marijuana was being grown in the restaurant's basement.

Dennis Warner, designated premises supervisor for Bellini, did not respond to an inquiry from the Lancashire Telegraph last night.

Borough Council officers will set down the case for a full hearing after March 18. Representations regarding the application can be made to the licensing manager at the borough council until that date.

Councillors have the ability to impose extra conditions on the restaurant's license, suspend the operation of the business, or close the restaurant down.

Photo courtesy Lancashire Telegraph

Wyoming: Marijuana Edibles Bill Dies In House

 In Wyoming, a bill to regulate marijuana edibles died in the House.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill seeking to establish penalties for possession of marijuana edibles and beverages containing cannabis failed Monday in Wyoming when it missed a legislative action deadline.

Last week the Wyoming Senate passed a bill to make it a felony to possess more than three ounces of food or drink containing marijuana or its active ingredient, THC. However, the House Judiciary Committee removed the felony language after listening to testimony that it's difficult to measure how much THC is present.

Ever since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014 Wyoming has seen a great increase in possession of marijuana edibles and beverages. Neighboring Montana has medical marijuana.

The Wyoming Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue, possibly leaving district judges across the state to interpret the law differently.

Rep. Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie, voted to remove language specifying possession of marijuana edibles as a felony in last week's House Judiciary Committee. He said the debate over how to test THC levels demonstrated "the futility of the state trying to regulate what is essentially a plant."

Pelkey, an attorney, said he expects the Legislature will address regulation for marijuana edibles before the next year's general legislative session.

Oregon: World Famous Cannabis Cafe Closing Due To New Clean Air Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Madeline Martinez, proprietor of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, announced Monday that she will close the establishment next week following another warning from public health officials claiming the business disregards new indoor air rules.

Martinez, a veteran marijuana legalization advocate and Cafe owner, announced that the closure will take place after the March 7 final Stoner Bingo Session.

A surprise inspection last week led to the decision. Erik Vidstrand, a Multnomah County tobacco program specialist pointed out ashtrays and remnants of smoked joints and reminded her that smoking is not allowed in the cafe under state law, Martinez said.

"I told them they are infringing on my constitutional rights," said Martinez, whose patrons must bring their own marijuana to consume at the club. "I have a right to gather peacefully. That is what I am exercising. They are very concerned about the toxicity (of cannabis smoke), which is ridiculous."

The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act originally only targeted tobacco, but added vaporizer pens, e-cigarettes, and marijuana last year.

Cigar bars and smoke shops still allow tobacco consumption under the indoor clean air act, if certified by the state.

Among other detractors of the clean air act, many medical marijuana patients who live in housing with no-smoking rules feel this is unfair. Cannabis clubs have often been their legal alternative for a place in which to medicate.

Arizona: NFL Player Jaelen Strong Arrested For Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Jaelen Strong, Houston Texans wide receiver, was arrested and charged with marijuana possession in Scottsdale, Arizona over the weekend, according to a Scottsdale Police Department Report.

Strong was riding in a black Maserati which was stopped for having no visible license plates, the report said.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall was driving the car. When officers made contact with him they detected a strong marijuana odor "coming from the inside of the vehicle."

"All of the occupants were questioned about the odor, if they had marijuana in their possession, and if they had a medical marijuana card," according to the police synopsis. "Strong admitted that he was in possession of some marijuana and advised that he did not have a medical marijuana card."

Strong was charged with possession of marijuana after surrendering a cigar box with three joints inside. He was booked and later released from Scottsdale City Jail.

"The Houston Texans are aware of the incident regarding WR Jaelen Strong in Scottsdale, Ariz. We are disappointed in the choices Jaelen made to put himself in this situation. We will have no further comment at this time."

Texas: Former NFL Players Praise Marijuana At Fort Worth Conference

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and other retired football players discussed marijuana use in the NFL on a panel at the Southwest Cannabis Conference in Fort Worth Sunday.

“I have arthritis pretty much in all my joints,” McMahon, a 15-year NFL player, told the Star-Telegram before the roundtable discussion. “My head problems have been pretty severe at times. [Marijuana] makes all that pain go away. I just forget about the pain.”

It wasn't until he moved to Arizona in 2009 that he began to see that marijuana is a safer, more effective alternative to painkillers.“When I was playing ball, there was all these pharmaceuticals they were giving you, which are not good for you,” he said. “I had to get off those pills.”

"We'd have to take pills on a daily basis just to practice," said Ricky Williams, former Miami Dolphins running back. "That's when I promised myself I was going to find another way to practice." Williams turned to cannabis as an alternative to painkillers. Williams was caught violating the NFL substance abuse policy several times and was suspended from play the entire 2006 season.

Ricky Williams and Jim McMahon were joined on the panel by Marvin Washington, former Denver Broncos defensive end, encouraging athletes to use marijuana as an alternative to opioids and pharmaceuticals.

In addition to being a safer substitute for painkillers, studies have recently shown that cannabis is effective in treating chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by repeated head trauma, like concussions.

Missouri: Study Shows Decrease In Problematic Cannabis Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis say that the prevalence of problematic cannabis use is decreasing. Despite an estimated 19 percent reported increase in cannabis use by adults between 2002 and 2013, investigators concluded that cannabis problems actually declined.

The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. "It's not surprising that marijuana use is on the rise—several states have legalized it for either medicinal or recreational use—but our data suggest that the use rate hasn't come close to doubling," said first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. "That doesn't mean there are no problems. The two studies agree that close to 1 in 10 adults uses the drug. The difference is that we believe the 2002 survey for the other study underestimated the percentage of adults using the drug."

"We're certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use," the lead researcher of the study said. "But our survey didn't notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling."

Separate evaluations of cannabis use by young people have determined that high school student's use is significantly lower today than 15 years ago.

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