Marijuana

Connecticut: Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut lawmakers debated Tuesday on recreational marijuana legalization, and found only disagreement.

“It is time to consider legalizing marijuana for adults,” said State Rep Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, and sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational use during testimony before the General Assembly public health committee.

“I realize this is a difficult issue for many,” Ziobron said. “But legal marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana has never caused a fatal overdose in the 7,000 years of reported human use.”

Carolyn Dennis of Milford told the committee she opposes legalizing marijuana, especially under the guise of raising revenue.

"Do not threaten our state’s future by endangering the future welfare of our citizens’ health for a dollar,” Dennis said. “I expect that unlike the supporters of this proposed bill, you will not let budget woes take a front seat over the health of the residents and workers, children and adults in the state.”

Massachusetts and Maine voters last year authorized recreational use and the sale of weed is expected to begin next year. Weed is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Nevada and Oregon.

Massachusetts: Senator Patricia Jehlen To Lead Committee On Marijuana Policy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senator Patricia Jehlen has officially been named as leader of the new Committee on Marijuana Policy, according to The Common Wealth Magazine. The lawmaker will be in charge of the Senate side of the state Congress, and charged with looking at how to ‘revamp’ the new marijuana law.

Senator Jason Lewis, Vice Chair of the committee, has been an opponent of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that his concerns arise from being a father as well as a public official.

“I am opposed to the likely ballot question because this is the wrong time for Massachusetts to go down this road, and a commercial, profit-driven market is the wrong approach to take,” Sen. Lewis said in the Boston Globe report.

The House Chair has not been named at this point, but the duo will handle issues such as taxes on retail sales of marijuana, the local control over dispensary locations, and the potency of edibles.

Nearly two million voted 'yes' to Question 4 on Election Day, making Massachusetts one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use.

Despite vigorous campaigning against marijuana legalization from Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo,

Illinois: Democrats Demand Trump Clarify Stance On Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Illinois state Democrat is asking the Trump administration for greater clarity on whether they will be opponents to state laws legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerich sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday criticizing the administration for teasing a crackdown on states with legal marijuana but giving no follow-up details on their plans. The Chicago Tribune reports that the legal future for medical patients and businesses involved in the marijuana industry is uncertain due to the absence of an official position on both recreational and medical marijuana.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference on February 23 that the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“If the Trump administration seeks greater enforcement, then it should clearly define what this means so hard-working people in Illinois can make informed decisions,” Frerich said in the letter. “Vague statements undermining medical marijuana violate commonsense and only serve to hurt the people who have pursed this treatment as a last resort.”

Massachusetts: State Treasurer Seeks Clarity From Trump Administration On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who's in charge of implementing the new recreational marijuana law in the state, wrote Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking guidance on federal enforcement of marijuana.

"In recent weeks, comments from the Trump Administration suggest that the [Department of Justice] may be considering a change [in enforcement]," Goldberg wrote to Sessions. "I would greatly appreciate your prompt response to clarify whether this is true — and if so, what changes we should prepare for before we commit significant public resources to implementing Massachusetts' recreational marijuana laws."

In a briefing last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he believes "you'll see greater enforcement of [recreational marijuana]," drawing a distinction between medical and recreational cannabis.

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the Justice Department is sending "mixed messages" around marijuana policy.

"I certainly would like to get some clarity and some certainty on that, and that's just one example of an area where we need more information," she said in a Herald Radio interview on Monday.

Pennsylvania: Auditor General Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) said Monday he strongly supports legalizing marijuana in the state, and said it is a taxable asset the state needs.

"Cities in Pennsylvania and some towns have started their own decriminalization process," DePasquale pointed out.

He cited states that have legalized marijuana and have been reaping the benefits of legalizing and taxing the plant.

"The regulation and taxation of marijuana train has rumbled out of the station across the United States," DePasquale said. "The question is whether Pennsylvania is going to miss its stop as the train moves its way across the country and allow other states to pick up the business opportunities."

"I'm a hundred percent behind him," Dan Skaggs of Lords Valley told WNEP16. "Looking at the revenue that alone Colorado has generated, we could get Pennsylvania out of bankruptcy."

But State Representative Sid Kavulich, a fellow Democrat, says the state shouldn't be so quick to follow Colorado's lead.

"It's still too early, Colorado certainly," said Kavulich, who represents the 114th District. "Let's wait a few years, see what kind of revenue comes in, what develops over a few years with the general legalization."

Virginia: General Assembly Passes Two Marijuana-related Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In this year's session of Virginia's General Assembly, 17 marijuana-related bills were proposed. The House and Senate voted to pass two of those proposed bills.

One of the bills focuses on driver's license reform. Under Virginia law, a driver's license is suspended for six months for any drug possession charge, regardless of whether a motor vehicle was involved or not.

This new reform will allow a judge to determine the outcome for first offenders, with alternatives including community service.

"What this really helps do is open up the conversation and help lawmakers realize that this truly is a bipartisan effort and the demand for this type of reform is abundant, not only within their communities but within the legislature itself," Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director of Virginia Norml, said.

The other bill passed allows pharmacies to manufacture and produce cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil to treat epilepsy.

A bill that would have allowed marijuana to be grown in the state for medicinal uses was proposed, but was not passed.

Israel: Cabinet Makes Move To Decriminalize Recreational Marijuana Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Israeli cabinet took a major step toward decriminalizing recreational marijuana use on Sunday, approving a plan that would impose fines rather than criminal penalties on those caught using the drug in public.

Growing and selling marijuana, widely used here both recreationally and medicinally, would remain illegal.

“On the one hand, we are opening ourselves up to the future,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet. “On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two."

The decision must still be approved by Israels' Parliament, the Knesset.

Prior to Sunday, people charged with marijuana use could face heavy fines and even incarceration. Under the new rules, people caught using marijuana publicly a first time would face a fine of about $270 rather than criminal charges. Charges would increase with repeated offenses, with criminal charges filed after a fourth offense.

The new rules were drafted by Gilad Erdan, the public security minister. “The government’s approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement,” he said after the cabinet’s decision on Sunday.

Virginia: Republican Representative Introduces Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Republican representative from Virginia introduced legislation this week to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, allowing states to form marijuana policies on their own.

The bill would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act but would not legalize the sale and use of marijuana in all 50 states. It would only allow states to make their own laws without the possibility of federal interference.

“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California,” Rep. Thomas Garrett (R) said in a statement. Virginia presently does not allow medical or recreational marijuana use.

The bill specifies that transporting marijuana into states where it is not legal would still be considered a federal crime.

“This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia,” he continued in the statement.

Nevada: Feds Threaten To Shut Down Las Vegas High Times Cannabis Cup

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by Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Feds threaten to shut down the 2017 Las Vegas High Times Cannabis Cup in a Feb. 16 letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe.

The article reports that U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, based in Las Vegas, sent a Feb. 16 letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe reminding the tribe that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The letter obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal said that the marijuana trade show and festival, planned for March 4 and 5, would be in violation of that law.

In the letter, Bogden states, “I am informed that the tribal council is moving forward with the planned marijuana event referred to as the 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup because it is under the impression that the so-called ‘Cole Memorandum’ and subsequent memoranda from the Department of Justice permit marijuana use, possession and distribution on tribal lands when the state law also permits it. Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”

The Cole Memorandum provides guidance to federal officials in states that have legalized marijuana in some form.

The Guidance Memorandum, another memo, indicates that tribal governments and U.S. attorneys should consult government-to-government as issues arise.

Washington, DC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Warns Of An America With 'Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that easing access to marijuana could lead to local markets selling the drug.

Speaking to a group of attorneys at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting, he said, “States can pass whatever laws they choose. But I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions went on to criticize a column published by Sam Kamin in the Washington Post Tuesday. Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, argues in the column that the opioid crisis is “a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.” A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2016 found “adverse consequences of opioid use” gradually decreased in states where marijuana had been legalized as individuals switched from opioids to marijuana for pain relief.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said. “This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. ... My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

Israeli/Canadian Oil & Gas Corp Steals Medical Marijuana Clinics & 250,000 Patients Records

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by Angela Bacca for Huffington Post

After a lifetime of cannabis activism, since he was 18 in 1978, Paul Stanford has been working to legalize marijuana in his home state of Oregon and take his cannabis business public. For over 20 years, he has hosted Cannabis Common Sense, a well-known cable access TV program that served as a launching pad to his multi-million dollar multi-state business, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) Clinics. The clinics were the first to open in most states with legalized medical cannabis and connected doctors with patients in need of state-legal recommendations. Since 2001, the clinics amassed around 250,000 personal patient files and medical records. The private patient files are now at the center of an international business controversy that may leave Stanford penniless.

In 2012, Stanford succeeded at placing The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA, aka Measure 80) on the ballot, but it failed with 46.6 percent of the vote. OCTA was considered more liberal than the legalization laws approved in the same November 2012 vote in Colorado and Washington, and would have allocated two percent of net tax revenues to promote industrial hemp farming. Stanford is recognized internationally as a pioneer working for legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp. In 2014, he again sought to put a slightly revised version of OCTA on Oregon's ballot.

Colorado: Governor Hickenlooper Invokes States' Rights On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appeared on NBC's "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd Sunday, where he invoked states' rights when asked if Attorney General Jeff Sessions might enforce federal law against the recreational use of marijuana.

Hickenlooper told Todd that he opposed recreational marijuana in 2012, when 55 percent of Colorado voters made personal use of the substance legal for adults 21 and over.

"It's in our constitution," Hickenlooper said on Sunday. "I took a solemn oath to support our constitution. So, I am -- and it's interesting, it's the sovereignty -- the states have a sovereignty just like the Indian tribes, just like the federal government does. So, it's an interesting--"

"You don't think it's clear that the federal government could stop you? You don't think it's a clear-cut case?" interrupted host Chuck Todd.

"Exactly. I don't think it is," Hickenlooper replied. "And I think it's certainly -- it's never my choice to be in conflict with federal law. Let's make that clear.

California: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Asks Trump To Cooperate With State On Marijuana Regulation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to President Trump on Friday asking him to not increase federal enforcement of laws against recreational marijuana use.

The letter was copied to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, and follows yesterday's comments made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters, "I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement” against recreational-use marijuana.

“The war on marijuana has failed,” Newsom wrote in the letter. “It did not, and will not, keep marijuana out of kids’ hands.”

“The government must not strip the legal and publicly supported industry of its business and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals,” Newsom wrote to Trump. “Dealers don’t card kids. I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors.”

Newsom was a leading supporter of Proposition 64, approved by voters last November, which made recreational marijuana use legal in California for adults 21 and over. The state plans to begin issuing licenses to growers and sellers early next year.

Newsom also had an issue with comments made by Spicer linking marijuana use to opioids.

U.S.: New Poll Shows Americans Want Feds To Respect State Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday morning, a vast majority of U.S. citizens believe in legalizing marijuana, and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws.

Ninety-three percent of Americans surveyed in the poll support legal medical marijuana, and 59 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The nationwide survey included 1,323 voters. The results reflected trends similar to those indicated in national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October.

Washington, DC: Spicer Says Expect To See 'Greater Enforcement' On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that states should expect to see greater federal enforcement of laws against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

While taking questions from reporters at the daily briefing, Spicer was asked if the government would take action on recreational marijuana use. Spicer replied: "Well I think that's a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you'll see greater enforcement of it. Because again there's a big difference between the medical use ... that's very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."

President Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” he said, also noting previous action by Congress not to fund the Justice Department “go[ing] after those folks.”

As for “recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject,” Spicer said.

Ignoring recent studies which suggest marijuana can help ease the opioid addiction crisis affecting some areas, Spicer went on to actually connect marijuana to the opioid crisis.

U.S.: GW Pharma Moves To Monopolize CBD Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bruce Barcott of Leafly has exposed some actions taken by GW Pharma (NASDAQ: GWPH) that seem to attempt to limit competition from suppliers of CBD.

Lobbyists have been engaged in several states by the company and its U.S. subsidiary, Greenwich BioSciences, companies which are both supporting legislation in South Dakota and Nebraska that would “effectively give GW/Greenwich a temporary monopoly on legal CBD products” in those states for its Epidiolex.

If given FDA approval, Epidiolex could be on the market in early 2018. Legislation advancing in both South Dakota and Nebraska suggests that CBD would be permitted only from FDA-approved providers.

Barcott says GW Pharma and Greenwich BioSciences have hired lobbyists in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin and possibly in California. Barcott attempted to contact GW Pharma for comment but has not yet received a reply. Should GW Pharma succeed in stifling competition, it could have a serious impact on hopeful in-state poducers of CBD, as well as companies both foreign and domestic who extract CBD from industrial hemp.

California: Gunmen Rob San Diego Marijuana Dispensary Delivery Driver

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A marijuana dispensary delivery driver in San Diego was robbed at gunpoint Monday evening in Point Loma Heights by two men who got away with his stash, police reported.

Officers responded at about 7:30 pm to the 3900 block of West Point Loma Boulevard where the suspects had ordered the marijuana to be delivered, according to Officer John Buttle.

The first suspect was described as a Hispanic male about 5 feet 7 inches tall with a slender build wearing dark clothing, Officer Buttle said. The second suspect was described only as a black man in his mid-20s.

No further information is yet available.

Colorado: Parachute Getting State's First Drive-through Marijuana Shop

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The town of Parachute in western Colorado will soon be home to what is almost certainly the state's first drive-through marijuana shop.

The business will open in a former car wash in March.

The new store, named Tumbleweed Express, had their business license application approved by the Parachute Board of Trustees last week.

"We think the drive-through is a very creative and innovative idea," Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur said. "The really good news is that other businesses are benefiting from it," he added.

He said that travelers stopping to buy marijuana in Parachute are more likely to stop at restaurants and other shops.

The store had already received an approval from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. No-one under the age of 21 will be allowed on the premises -- not even in the back seat of a car or van.

“As far as I can tell, we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” said Robert Goulding, spokesman for the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The shop is required to have security and surveillance. Marijuana is not allowed to be seen outside of the store.

Parachute Mayor Roy McClung said the town's economy would have been in serious trouble without legalized recreational marijuana.

Vermont: New Bill Proposed To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont saw a complicated bill to legalize recreational marijuana fail last year. A new, simpler bill is proposed that would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow Vermonters to grow several plants at home.

“The more conservative it is, the more appealing it will be to people outside this room,” said Republican Rep. Tom Burditt, one of the bill’s sponsors at the House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday. Burditt voted against last year’s bill.

The former bill, which passed the Vermont Senate, but failed in the House, would have created a commercial market for marijuana in the state, much like the system established in Colorado.

The new bill is much shorter, and would be more like the system in Washington, DC, where there are no provisions for sales but people can possess and grow small amounts of marijuana.

Republican Governor Phil Scott will be the new bill's biggest obstacle. He opposed the bill last year when he was lieutenant governor, and has raised concerns against legalization.

Rebecca Kelley, Scott's spokeswoman, said the Governor wants any marijuana legalization law to address public safety concerns, including law enforcement’s ability to test for impairment and keep roads safe.

Wisconsin: Governor Walker Still Thinks Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told reporters Thursday that he would support a CBD oil bill, but he is opposed to any measure that would bring marijuana into his state. He still thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.

Walker was promoting his new budget package in a visit to Western Technical College in La Crosse when he went as far as to link marijuana use with harder drugs.

“I do not, however, support measures that would open the door with legalized use of marijuana in state,” Walker said, “because law enforcement, increasingly, from one end of the state to another, from democrats as well as republican sheriffs, have told me, ‘Do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug to other drugs.'”

Clinton Gallagher wrote a letter to the editor of The Cap Times, a local media outlet for Madison, Wisconsin, upset with the Governor resurrecting the 'gateway theory', which has been debunked.

“We must stop allowing hypocritical vote-seeking politicians to refer to marijuana as the gateway drug when everybody that was once a teenager knows it’s alcoholic beverages that cause death and destruction, insidiously sanctioned by all who oppose legalization of marijuana,” he wrote.

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