Marijuana

Colorado: One Attempt At Marijuana Potency Limit Fails

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An initial effort to cap the potency of marijuana sold in recreational pot shops was rejected by Colorado lawmakers late Wednesday.

Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton. had proposed barring stores from selling marijuana and marijuana products, including concentrates, containing more than 15 percent THC, an amount that is lower than the average potency sold in recreational stores

The proposal was narrowly voted down by lawmakers on the House Finance Committee, with a vote of 6 to 5.

The proposed limit was part of an amendment to House Bill 1261, a bill reauthorizing Colorado's rules for recreational marijuana stores.

Some type of potency cap is expected to be considered again, after more study,

"We'll be revisiting this next year, for sure," Rep. KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat who was a no vote on the amendment, said at Wednesday's hearing.

A state study last year showed that the average potency of raw marijuana in Colorado is 17.1 percent THC. The average potency of concentrated marijuana is 62.1 percent THC.

Georgia: Small Town Mayor Wants To Treat Marijuana Like Traffic Ticket

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Clarkston, GA city council may make their municipality the first in Georgia to decriminalize one ounce or less of marijuana.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry told WSB-TV that he wants simple possession to be treated like a traffic ticket. The proposal being considered would result in a $5 fine for simple possession.

“This is still a controversial issue. At some point it’s going to take a city council, county commission, mayor or elected officials to step up and do something,” he said. “It’s obvious the war on drugs has been a failure.”

The proposal is now being considered by the city's public safety committee.

Marijuana would still be legal, but the penalty would change, just requiring violators to pay the fine.

“We don’t want to ruin someone's life for something that is as harmless as being in possession of a very small amount,” Terry said. “I don’t want our police officers to spend their time worrying about low-level nonviolent drug offenses. I’m more concerned about stopping violent crime and burglaries in Clarkston.”

The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in May.

Singer, Songwriter and American Icon Merle Haggard Passes Away at 79

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In a statement from his son, Ben Haggard said of his father, "He loved everything about life and he loved that everyone of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn't just a country singer, he was the best country singer that ever lived."

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

Merle Haggard, the prolific singer-songwriter whose autobiographical outlaw songs and political anthems are loved across generations of fans, died April 6 surrounded by family at his home in Palo Cedro, California.

Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, Haggard was instrumental in developing the Fender Stratocaster twang and rugged baritone voice of the Bakersfield Sound and recorded 38 No. 1 hits, including "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," "Mama Tried" and "Sing Me Back Home."

Haggard, although best known for his 1969 classic “Okie From Muskogee" which protested the counterculture of the time, had evolved his stance on the marijuana plant over the years.

US: DEA Considers Dropping Marijuana From Category Of Most Dangerous Drugs Within Three Months

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana may soon be demoted on the Drug Enforcement Agency list of most dangerous drugs.

The DEA said it should decide in the first half of 2016 whether to reclassify marijuana in a category other than Schedule I, a group that is said to have no medical purpose but "potentially severe psychological or physical dependence." Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote.

Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans want pot available for recreational use, but it's unlikely the DEA decision will change its status of being illegal according to federal law.

Reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II would make it easier for researchers to earn about its effects, medicinal and otherwise.

Currently, all marijuana used for research is grown by the University of Mississippi.

Twenty-three states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, with Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia having legalized recreational use.

The head of the DEA, however, has voiced strong opposition to the idea that marijuana has medical benefits.

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it's not,” DEA head Chuck Rosenberg said in November.

Arizona: Pro-marijuana Group Calls Out Attorney Bill Montgomery With Over-sized Check

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Arizona pro-marijuana group calls Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery a hypocrite, saying he accepted $8,050 in political contributions from companies in the alcohol industry.

"It's absolutely outrageous the county attorney accepts campaign contributions from an industry that promotes a product and substance that is far more dangerous than marijuana," said J. P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Holyoak is challenging Montgomery to disprove three statements by the end of April, recognized nationally as Alcohol Awareness Month:

1. Alcohol is significantly more toxic than marijuana, making death by overdose far more likely with alcohol.

2. The health effects from alcohol consumption cause tens of thousands of more deaths in the U.S. annually than the health effects from the consumption of marijuana.

3. The use of alcohol is more likely to be a contributing factor in acts of violence than the use of marijuana.

California: Lawmakers Propose New Oral Swab Test To Catch High Drivers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State officials in California Tuesday proposed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to use new technology to catch motorists driving while high.

An oral swab test would be used by law enforcement officers when probable cause is found that a driver is impaired and has failed sobriety field tests.

A hand-held electronic device would test for the presence of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines,and pain medications, including opiates, according to Republican Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas, author of the bill.

“Sadly, we’ve become a nation of self-medicating, careless people,” Huff said. “The public is naïve in understanding how dangerous our roads are made by people who are abusing opiates, meth and cannabis.”

The new proposal is “premature," said Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Gieringer said the technology was not widely used by law enforcement.

“Oral swab testing is still an unproven technology,” Gieringer said. “Its accuracy has not been demonstrated in controlled, published scientific studies. There's no evidence that oral swab testing results have any correlation to impaired driving.”

Nebraska: Legislature Backs Down From Medical Marijuana

The Nebraska legislature abandoned medical marijuana Tuesday evening.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nebraska senators re-opened the debate to legalize medical marijuana in the state Tuesday, but the idea was voted out Tuesday evening.

The vote lost approval just three votes short of the 33 needed to force a vote on a medical marijuana bill introduced last year.

Opponents argued marijuana has not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration and cannot be tested for safety like other drugs.

The bill was opposed by Attorney General Doug Peterson, Gov. Pete Ricketts, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Advocates pointed out that medical marijuana is already legal in 23 other states and tried to emphasize it is in Nebraska's best interest to regulate it.

Bill sponsor Tommy Garrett of Bellevue said he will support a petition process to place the measure on the general election ballot.

Nebraska: Lawmakers Revisit Medical Marijuana Debate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nebraska senators revisited a bill Tuesday that was introduced last year to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The measure would limit the number of qualifying conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana. The list would not include chronic pain and would not allow consumption of the drug by smoking.

Advocates point out that medical marijuana is now legal in 23 other states and that it is in the best interest of Nebraska to pas laws to regulate it.

Opponents say marijuana is illegal on the federal level, marijuana has not been approved bt the Food and Drug Administration, and cannot be tested for safety and accurate doses.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, and the Department of Health and Human Services oppose the bill.

Michigan: Ex-lawmaker Who Grew Marijuana Gets 45 Days In Jail

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A former Michigan state lawmaker has been sentenced to 45 days in jail and two years of probation for growing marijuana.

Former Rep. Roy Schmidt, who served in the state House from 2008 to 2012, was sentenced on Tuesday.

The Democrat-turned-Republican was arrested in June 2015 after police raided his home in Grand Rapids, confiscating three pounds of marijuana and 71 marijuana plants.

Schmidt originally claimed he was operating under the state's medical marijuana law. He later abandoned that line of defense, admitting to police that he sold marijuana to "10 to 15 people who were not his patients.... no more than 20."

Schmidt is required to report to the Kent County Jail by 9 am Friday.

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh City Council Approves Lighter Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pittsburgh City Council decreed earlier today that possessing or smoking marijuana will be punishable by a summary offense, and not a misdemeanor as state law mandates.

The council voted 8 to 1 in favor of the move to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Mayor Bill Peduto is expected to sign the amended ordinance within 10 days.

The new rule would mean Pittsburgh police could issue a summary citation punishable by a fine of $100 for smoking or $25 for possession of a small amount of marijuana. It would appear on a criminal record as violating “certain defined conduct” rather than including words such as marijuana or controlled substance, making it harder to search for in a person’s criminal record.

“This is a small step — but an important step — in helping young men who may have a small amount of marijuana on them, not be entered into the criminal justice system,” Councilman Ricky Burgess said before the vote.

Simple marijuana possession is a misdemeanor in the state of Pennsylvania and is punishable by 30 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Vermont: New TV Ads Say 'Vermont Is Ready' To Regulate Marijuana

New TV ads say "Vermont is Ready" to regulate marijuana

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana began airing a new television ad today, just as members of the Vermont House of Representatives are preparing to vote on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over.

The ad is titled "Vermont Is Ready" and is being aired in both thirty-second and 60-second versions. The ads can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/qicp4i.

The ad features a diverse group of Vermonters saying, “It’s time” to end marijuana prohibition and “Vermont is ready” to regulate marijuana for adult use. One woman says, “It’s time for marijuana sales to take place in regulated businesses,” and another says, “It’s time to stop punishing adults for using a less harmful substance than alcohol.” Dr. Joseph McSherry, a Richmond neurologist, says, “It’s time to create rules for testing and labeling marijuana so that consumers can know what they’re getting.”

The ad ends with a young woman urging viewers to contact their state representatives and ask them to support S. 241, which would end prohibition and regulate marijuana in Vermont.

The House Committee on Judiciary is expected to vote on S. 241 as early as Friday. The Senate approved the bill on February 25. Gov. Peter Shumlin, Attorney General William Sorrell, and two former attorneys general have expressed support for the measure.

US: Leading Senators Convene Anti-Marijuana Meeting

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Members of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, lead by Senate Judiciary Chairman, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gathered today for a hearing titled, “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?”

Senator Grassley and co-chairman Senator Feinstein (D-CA) conducted the meeting with the apparent purpose of moving marijuana law reform backwards instead of forwards.

The hearing appeared to be an effort to shame the Department of Justice into taking steps toward overturning the marijuana laws in states have legalized the adult sale and use of marijuana.

Comments and contributions were mostly negative. Senator Jeff Sessions reminisced about the good old days of the 'Just Say No' decade and made the statement, "Good people don't smoke marijuana."

The panelists presented a laundry list of purported dangers that they claimed to be the result of changes in marijuana laws, such as supposed spikes in teenage use and traffic collisions.

One highlight of the hearing today was witness Benjamin B. Wagner' reply to Sen. Grassley when asked why the Department of Justice is not challenging adult use marijuana state laws. “The decision to intervene would not be solely based on data," he answered. "If we took out regulation of the market and just left decriminalization, it may leave a more chaotic system than it is now.”

Colorado: Marijuana Dispensary Seeks Naming Rights For Mile High Stadium

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The stadium the Broncos play in is possibly about to be renamed due to the recent bankruptcy filing by Sports Authority, and one potential buyer is a marijuana company.

Native Roots, one of Colorado's largest dispensaries, expanded last year from one store to 14. The chain acknowledged the announcement being made on April Fool's Day was untimely, but insist they are serious about making a multi-million dollar commitment.

"It's not a joke, we're very serious," said Rhett Jordan, a founding partner of Native Roots.

The company has released a possible logo for the stadium, a simple tree with roots instead of a marijuana leaf.

If the naming rights are approved, the new stadium name would be Native Roots Fields at Mile High.

“We’ve always been huge fans of the Broncos, we felt like this was a great opportunity to bring two brilliant brands together,” said Jordan. “Native Roots was born and raised in Colorado and we are the natural candidate for this. I don’t see cannabis going anywhere but up right now so we are prepared for that."

Photo courtesy CBS

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Up For Crucial Vote

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania should face another vote next week.

As of Friday, state Senate leaders and state House leaders were discussing possible changes to the bill passed by the House two weeks ago, according to Fred Sembach, chef of staff for state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, a key figure in the legalization effort.

Most of the discussions were about whether the House is willing to pass a bill containing changes being considered in the Senate.

A legalization bill was passed by the Senate nearly a year ago, but has been delayed in the House until it was approved by a wide margin two weeks ago.

The House bill was substantially different from the Senate bill. That required it to go back to the Senate, setting the stage for yet another critical vote.

Sembach said there are some parts of the House bill that could pose barriers to having a medical marijuana program that actually runs as conceived.

One involves the fact that doctors who want to recommend medical marijuana would have to register with the state and undergo four hours of training. Senate leaders are concerned the requirement will drastically limit the supply of doctors able to care for patients in need of medical marijuana.

Tennessee; Knox County Residents Given Chance To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Friday, the Knox County Election Commission in Tennessee agreed to give residents a chance to vote on whether to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.

Marijuana would remain illegal in Tennessee, making the vote merely symbolic.

Steve Cooper introduced the initiative, and he will have until June 15 to collect at least 16,100 valid voter signatures to get the two questions on the November ballot.

One question will address whether recreational use of marijuana by people 21 and over should be allowed in Knox County.

"It’s kind of humorous with the recreational use because when you talk about alcohol or other substances, it’s just the legal use. No one talks about the recreational part of it," said Cooper. He is aiming for 20,000 signatures for each petition

The other question concerns the use of medical marijuana.

Cooper announced Friday that he will begin collecting signatures this weekend.

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