Marijuana

Rhode Island: Legalizing And Regulating Marijuana Would Yield Nearly $50 Million In New Tax Revenue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a report issued this week by the advocacy coalition Regulate Rhode Island, legalizing, regulating, and taxing the state's marijuana market would result in the generation of nearly $50 million in new annual tax revenue.

Commercial sales of cannabis are estimated to reach $161 million by 2020, according to the report. Taxing this retail market at rates comparable to those in Colorado or Washington would yield $48.3 million per year.

The Adult Use of Cannabis act is legislation pending in the Rhode Island House and Senate to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. Connecticut has similar legislation pending.

Similar legislation was approved by voters in Massachusetts in November.

Washington: Survey Shows Marijuana Use By Young People Largely Unchanged After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to 2016 data compiled by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the percentage of young people using marijuana has not increased since legalization occurred.

The 2016 Healthy Youth Survey asked 230,000 students in grades 6 through 12 about their marijuana use, and results indicate "rates of teen marijuana use have remained steady" post legalization. Findings were similar to those in the 2015 survey, also conducted by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Self-reported marijuana use by high school students has fallen significantly since the 1990s, despite the trend toward more liberal marijuana laws and penalties. "We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful [and] that [accessibility and use] would go up," Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in December. "But it hasn't gone up."

U.S.: Public Support For Marijuana Legalization Surged In 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Public support for marijuana legalization surged in 2016, according to data just released from the General Social Survey.

57 percent of Americans told the survey's pollsters last year that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” up from 52 percent in 2014.

The numbers from the General Social Survey agree with other national surveys last year, which found support ranging from the upper 50s to low 60s.

The survey indicates different attitudes toward marijuana legalization, divided mainly by age and political party. Two-thirds of respondents ages 18 to 34 supported legalization in the survey, as well as majorities of those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64. But seniors 65 and older stood apart, with only 42 percent supporting legalization.

Support for legalization among Democrats and independents has risen much faster than among Republicans. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the former two groups supported legal marijuana. Among Republicans support stood at only 40 percent.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been outspoken in his criticism of legalization, but the Trump administration has been noncommittal in its approach to marijuana enforcement

Oregon: Two Congressmen Are Introducing Three Bills To Reform U.S. Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two Oregon lawmakers plan to introduce three bills Thursday to reform marijuana laws. The bills could wipe away thousands of cannabis-related criminal convictions and make life easier for those involved in the legal marijuana industry.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats from Oregon, a state where recreational marijuana is legal, named their joint proposal the "Path to Marijuana Reform".

One bill, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry. It would change the tax code “to allow businesses operating in compliance with state law to claim deductions and credits associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.” deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry.

The Marijuana Revenue And Regulation Act would remove cannabis from the list of drugs federally outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, weed is listed in the Schedule I category, which is reserved for the most dangerous types of drugs, like heroin, for example.

The Marijuana Policy Gap Act would “exempt any person acting in compliance with state marijuana law from criminal penalties” under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also give certain federal marijuana offenders a clean slate.

Georgia: Atlanta Considers Eliminating Jail Time For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If the Atlanta City Council passes a bill under consideration, people caught with marijuana in Atlanta may not have to do jail time and pay a $1,000 fine.

The Atlanta City Council will consider legislation at April's meeting to lower fines for marijuana possession to $75 and eliminate any jail time. Under current law, people caught possessing marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and can receive up to six months in jail.

Advocates are pushing for the change, saying the move is necessary to address racial disparities in arrests for marijuana use.

92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he was conflicted because he doesn’t want to encourage drug use, but agreed that the penalties outweighed the violation. But he suggested that $75 may be too low a fine and that jail time could be warranted in some circumstances.

“For me this is an extremely complicated subject,” said Bond, who said he has lost friends to drugs. “I believe as a policy body, we ought not to rush this.

Oregon: Hemp Bills Would Move Crop Into Mainstream

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two bills would bring hemp more into the mainstream of Oregon's agriculture by creating a commodity commission and seed certification process for the crop.

“Industrial hemp has a huge potential in Oregon, we just need a few tweaks to help move it forward,” said Matt Cyrus, a hemp grower in Deschutes County, during a March 28 legislative hearing.

House Bill 2372 would allow Oregon's hemp industry to join 23 other crop, seafood, and livestock sectors with a state commission meant to promote and research a commodity through fees raised from producers.

House Bill 2371 would establish a system to get the purity of hemp seeds certified through a system overseen by Oregon State University.

“It’s truly about a certified seed, one we know Oregon can count on,” said Jerry Norton, a hemp grower.

HB 2371 would also establish a hemp pilot program at OSU to comply with federal provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill that allow hemp research.

Commercial hemp production is still illegal under federal drug laws which place hemp in the same category as marijuana, its psychoactive cousin.

Tennessee: Legislature Blocking Cities' Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As several states and cities seek to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee's Republican legislature is blocking such efforts in Memphis and Nashville.

Police in those cities could soon be losing their option of issuing a minor citation to individuals found to possess small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee legislators have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession.

The ban would conform to proposals by the Trump administration to step up federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

"I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. "But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Memphis and Nashville recently authorized their police officers to issue a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service to someone caught with a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Tennessee law currently imposes a misdemeanor charge for possession punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for people caught with a half ounce or less.

Canada: Marijuana Stocks Soar After Reports That Trudeau Plans To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canadian marijuana stocks were on a high Monday following reports that the government plans to legalize the substance for recreational use for adults by July 2018.

According to the CBC, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is expected to announce the planned legislation the week of April 10.

Shares of Aurora Cannabis and Organigrams holdings were up 10 percent, Aphria rose 7.9 percent, Canopy Growth Corp. jumped 11 percent, SupremePharma and EmblemCorp rose 6 percent.

The minimum age limit for purchasing marijuana will be 18, according to the CBC, although individual provinces can set the minimum age higher if they wish.

U.S.: Study Finds Marijuana Could Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new study shows that U.S. hospitals have not seen an influx of cannabis consumers in states that have legalized medical marijuana as was predicted, but instead have treated far fewer opioid users.

The number of patients admitted for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse decreased on average by 23 percent after states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The study also showed that hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

The report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that fears that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in marijuana-related turned out to be unfounded.

"Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego. "This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary."

An estimated 60 percent of Americans now live in the 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is now legal under state law.

The opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans per day; sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled since 1999.

South Dakota: Two Marijuana Measures Proposed For 2018 Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley recently announced that two marijuana measures have been proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

The sponsor of the measures will circulate petitions with these statements. If the sponsor obtains the required number of signatures (13,871) on each petition by November 2017, as certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot for the November 2018 election.

The measures are titled:

1. “An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use.”
2. “An initiated measure to legalize certain amounts of marijuana, drugs made from marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments.”

Medical marijuana measures appeared on the South Dakota ballot in 2006 and 2010 but failed to pass both years.

Oregon: Study Shows Regular Marijuana Use Associated With Lower BMI

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

People who consume cannabis more than five times per month possess lower body mass index (BMI), on average, than those who do not use the substance, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Archives of Osteoporosis.

Researchers from Oregon's Health and Science University studied the relationship between marijuana use and various health issues in a sample of 4,743 participants nationally between the ages of 20 and 59.

Authors reported, "Heavy users of cannabis had a lower mean BMI compared to that of never users, with a mean BMI being 26.7 kg/m in heavy users and 28.4 kg/m in never users."

Cannabis consumers spent more time per day engaged in physical activity compared to those who occasionally or never use the substance.

60 percent of subjects in the study reported having used marijuana at some point in their lives. 47 percent described themselves as former users. Seven percent said they used cannabis regularly and seven percent said they were occasional users.

Oregon: State May Declare Emergency Over Sessions Cannabis Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon is considering declaring an emergency due to the threat of federal law enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have made the substance legal.

Senate Bill 863 passed last week; it would prohibit marijuana retailers from recording, retaining and transferring types of information that are contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears a picture of a person.

Dispensaries typically collect this type of information across the nation, but SB 863 requires marijuana retailers to destroy the type of information covered within 30 days of Governor Kate Brown signing off on the bill.

Section 4 of the bill states that on passage of the bill Oregon would declare an emergency in the face of threats of federal enforcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the intentions of the current administration are unclear, bit it's good to be prepared.

Vermont: Bill Would Legalize Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in the Vermont House are expected to vote soon on a measure that would legalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, passing the unscheduled vote 8-3.

The full House will vote on the measure in the upcoming days.

The bill would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of pot and two plants under the measure. However, it does not create a regulatory system for selling and taxing pot.

Canada: Marijuana To Be Legalized By 2018

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to reports from Bloomberg and CBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will introduce legislation to make recreational marijuana legal for adults by July 2018.

CBC expressed certainty that the government will make an official statement confirming the plan by April 10.

According to Bloomberg:

The federal government, which is following the recommendations of a government-appointed task force, will ensure the marijuana supply is "safe and secure," while Canada’s provinces will be allowed to determine how it is distributed and sold, according to CBC News. Ottawa will set a minimum purchasing age of 18 — in line with Trudeau’s comments that the legal age to purchase marijuana should be the same as alcohol — while the provinces could set a higher age, the report said.

Trudeau has made it clear, however, that current laws still apply, and that people found growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana before legalization occurs will be processed according to those laws.

Colorado: Proposed State Crackdown On Marijuana Home Grows Getting Weaker

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A plan to crack down on home marijuana grows in Colorado is heading to the governor's desk after lawmakers changed the bill to give medical cannabis patients more leeway.

A Senate committee voted 5-0 to limit the number of plants grown to 12 per residential property statewide. Current law allows up to 99 plants.

Lawmakers changed the bill to allow medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow up to 24 plants, if they register with state and local authorities. Registration is presently required only if the patient has more than 99 plants.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers from both parties have said the marijuana crackdown is a top priority as the state awaits word of how the new federal administration plans to treat marijuana states.

Among 28 states with legal medical marijuana, Colorado is the only one that allows patients to grow more than 16 plants at home.

“It is time that we fix this before someone comes in and fixes it for us,” said Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, speaking on behalf of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lawmakers amended the bill to make it a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, to be caught with too many plants until the third offense.

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