Idaho: Marijuana Activists Launch New Campaign For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Idaho Secretary of State's Office has approved a petition that could create a medical marijuana program in the state.

Current marijuana laws in Idaho are harsh, especially when compared to neighboring states which allow some sort of medical use of the drug or have outright legalized it like Washington and Oregon. In Idaho, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense and the state doesn’t approve the medical use of the drug.

If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and is passed, Idaho will join 25 other states that have a medical marijuana law. The initiative includes a long list of qualifying conditions that encompasses cancer, glaucoma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and others. Patients that qualify for the program would be allowed to legally possess 24 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants.

“We didn’t want to leave anything out,” says Angela Osborn, board secretary for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association, or IMMA, the group sponsoring the petition. “We didn’t want to leave a patient out; we didn’t want to leave a disease out. We want it super simple and to help as many people as possible.”

Massachusetts: Another Poll Shows Support For Recreational Marijuana Is High

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A second poll on Question 4, the Massachusetts initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, suggests support for the initiative is high.

A new poll conducted by WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio and UMass-Amherst shows a 53 percent. majority of voters surveyed support the statewide ballot initiative legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts. Seven percent of the 700 people polled remain unsure.

Passing the initiative this November would allow the use, cultivation, possession and distribution of recreational marijuana for individuals at least 21 years old.

According to WBZ, "Support for the measure (in the new poll) cuts across all demographic categories, with only voters over 55 years old and self-described conservatives opposing the measure."

The support does not come without some concerns, however.

WBZ reports:

41% of those polled say they'd be bothered if a pot store opened up in their neighborhood
52% didn’t like the idea of pot ads on TV or radio
61% expressed alarm over the prospect of people using in public.
25% claimed people growing pot in their homes would be troubling

Mexico: Police Find Van With Cannon Used To Shoot Drugs To US

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Mexican federal police said in a statement last week that they found a van parked on a street in Agua Prieta equipped with a 10-foot (3 meter) air cannon which smugglers used to shoot drugs into the U.S.

Agua Prieta is situated just across the border from Douglas, Arizona.

It was reported stolen from the city of Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora over the summer.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Vicente Paco said Tuesday that agents regularly see numerous methods used by smugglers to send contraband over the border fence.

The most common is lobbying softball-sized marijuana packages over the fence and into the U.S., often in residential backyards, Paco said in a statement. Smugglers pay someone on the U.S. side to retrieve the packages, which are then distributed around the country.

Paco said high-pressure air cannons can be used to launch heavier packages, up to 60 pounds. The Border patrol has also seen smugglers use trebuchets, a type of catapult that can be made out of wood.

Smugglers have even been seen using ladders and heavy equipment to hoist trucks loaded with marijuana over the border fence, which in parts of Arizona reach 26 feet (7.9 meters) in height.

Nevada: New Poll Finds Majority Of Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New polling shows that a majority of voters in Nevada are in favor of legalizing cannabis. The poll’s release comes less than 50 days before voters will get their say on Question 2 to legalize recreational cannabis for everyone 21 and older.

The new KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 53% of voters in Nevada support legalizing cannabis. Just 39% oppose the move, with 8% undecided.

The results mark a modest but steady increase from a KTNV-TV 13 poll released in July which found support for legalization to be at 50%, with opposition at 41%; the percentage of undecided voters was roughly the same, though slightly higher, at 9%.

“We will be spending the next seven weeks educating all Nevadans about the benefits of regulating marijuana,” says Joe Brezny, a spokesperson for the Yes on Question 2 campaign. “We have no doubt that once we do, a solid majority of Nevada voters will choose to regulate marijuana so that we can take the market away from criminal actors.”

If Question 2 is passed into law, it will be legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot. They’ll also be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants, and marijuana retail outlets will be authorized to distribute the plant.

Alaska: Army Says Troops Are Banned From Attending Marijuana Fairs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Army stated Thursday that soldiers in Alaska are officially banned from attending marijuana fairs, even though pot is now legal in the state.

The ban applies to fairs and conventions and goes so far as to include hemp products, the Associated Press reported.

According to a letter from Army Maj. Bryan Owens, the reason that 11,000 Alaska-based soldiers are banned from these sorts of events is because the events may negatively affect the health and discipline of troops. Authorities say the letter is necessary since the military expects cannabis-related events to increase in the state, since the drug has been legalized there for recreational purposes. In addition, some suppliers have started offering marijuana discounts to troops.

Moreover, marijuana itself is still banned in the military, as it remains a Schedule I drug on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act.

As of today, 25 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legal marijuana.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Therefore Alaska, being one of those four states, allows adults over 21 to purchase up to an ounce of pot and to grow up to six plants.

Florida: New Ad Campaign Says Marijuana Isn't Medicine

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The anti-marijuana group Drug Free Florida released a 30 second ad Thursday which opens with a prescription for Marinol, which the group says offers the same benefits as medical marijuana.

Marinol is a pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol, a drug which contains the principal psychoactive component of cannabis. 

The ad then goes on to slam medical marijuana for not being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and for not being prescribed by a doctor.

The group says amendment 2 is a “scam” which would make medical marijuana legal. “You don’t smoke medicine,” the ad says, while pictures of young people smoking marijuana flash on the screen. 

The ad is the latest in the fight against Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida for patients with “debilitating conditions.”

Conditions covered under the amendment would include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and for other conditions which a physician feels using medical marijuana would outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. 

There are differences between Marinol and marijuana. Marinol contains only THC, and can take about an hour to take effect, while smoked or vaporized THC takes effect in a matter of seconds or minutes. Marinol is often used to treat cancer patients, HIV/AIDS patients, and people undergoing chemotherapy.

Arizona: 3 Phoenix Cops Resign After Forcing Man To Eat Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Authorities said Thursday that three police officers in Arizona have resigned after they allegedly forced a motorist to eat marijuana during a traffic stop.

Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner announced the resignations of the officers, who have all served less than a year on the police force, and condemned their actions as “appalling” and “unacceptable” during a news conference. “The conduct alleged by our resident is contrary to everything we stand for as community servants,” Yahner said.

The officers found about a gram of marijuana during the search of a 19 year-old's car last week. They allegedly told the motorist to eat the pot to avoid going to jail, the police chief said. The driver, who said he fell ill afterwards, filed a complaint with the police department, which prompted an internal investigation.

The officers involved were identified as Richard Pina, Jason McFadden and Michael Carnicle.

Yahner said the officers were wearing body cameras but that they had turned the cameras off before the incident.

Kentucky: U.S. Attorney General Admits Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared at a recent town hall meeting in Richmond, Kentucky where she admitted that cannabis is not a gateway drug, probably the most prominent argument made in opposition to legalizing marijuana.

During the town hall meeting, Lynch was asked by a Madison Central High School student whether she believes that the use of cannabis among students will lead to opioid abuse.

“There a lot of discussion about marijuana these days”, Lynch stated. “Some states are making it legal, people are looking into medical uses for it, and I understand that it still is as common as almost anything. When we talk about heroin addiction, we unusually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”

Lynch followed up this statement by being a bit more specific; “It’s not as though we are seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway”.

The National Institute of Health published the results of a study in July which agree with Lynch's statement, saying that cannabis use is not directly associated with an increased use of other drugs.

Ontario: Hamilton Teacher Is Jailed In Abu Dhabi

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A teacher from Hamilton, Ontario is serving time in an overcrowded prison in Abu Dhabi after airport screeners found traces of marijuana in her bag. Heather Augustyn's family is very worried about her, but don't want to talk publicly about her case. They are afraid that any attention that casts the United Arab Emirates in a negative light could affect her chances of release.

27 year-old Heather Augustyn's social pages show a love of travel and numerous messages from her students show how much she is appreciated as a teacher. She graduated from Western's Faculty of Education in 2015. She was headed back for her second term teaching English to students at Abu Dhabi International School when she was chosen for random airport screening. The search yielded traces of marijuana in her bag, one which she shared with others on a recent camping trip. Her family says only a few flakes of pot were found.

She was then forced to sign a confession in Arabic which she didn't understand, and was sent to Al Wathba prison, notorious for overcrowding and human rights abuses.

Oregon: Portland Marijuana Shop Robbed By At Least 4 People With Guns

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several people, some carrying guns, robbed a Portland marijuana dispensary Sunday night, Portland Police officials said.

Green Buds, a dispensary located at Northeast 109th Ave and Sandy Boulevard, was entered by several people about 8:50 pm who robbed the shop at gunpoint.

Police say up to six people were involved in the robbery, both men and women, with at least four of them carrying guns.

Police officers arrived at the dispensary within minutes of the 911 call. They observed two suspects leaving the property to the north towards some railroad tracks.

Special Emergency Reaction Team officers searched the area, but had been unable to locate any suspects as of Monday morning. Detectives released one man detained near the dispensary after determining that he was not involved in the robbery.

Chris Schaaf, owner of the dispensary, said the robbers took all the cash and all the marijuana, but his employees are all safe and unhurt.

Portland Police spokesman Pete Simpson said they are “actively searching for suspects in the area.” Investigators said they aren't sure if any of the suspects fired a gun, or whether anything was taken in the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Portland Police Department by calling 911.

Nebraska: Marijuana Groups Already Petitioning For 2018 Ballot


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

With 54 days left until November's election, a group of marijuana advocates pushing to eliminate Nebraska's penalties for those caught with small amounts of pot has already begun gathering signatures to put the issue before voters in 2018.

A second group seeking a broader constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana entirely has also filed 2018 petition language with the Nebraska Secretary of State's Office.

Volunteers started gathering signatures for the more limited proposal Aug. 5, targeting high-traffic areas and events such as last week's Omaha rally by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

"We're in Lincoln three times a week," said Mark Elworth Jr., a perennial candidate for elected office from Omaha who drew up the petition language and is leading the campaign.

Nebraska decriminalized marijuana in the 70s, but anyone caught with an ounce or less is still subject to a fine.

Elworth said the most significant consequence for people who are caught with pot, particularly teenagers, is the permanent record it creates.

"We're trying to protect people," he said. "Those minor possession tickets ... they can ruin people's lives."

California: Costa Mesa Police Want To Make It A Federal Case

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorneys representing the Costa Mesa Police Department filed a motion Monday to have a pending lawsuit moved from state to federal court. The lawsuit comes from claims that the Costa Mesa P.D. overstepped the lawful authority of their inspection warrant during a January raid of the now-closed Costa Mesa Collective marijuana dispensary.

In surveillance footage of the raid, CMPD officers can be seen busting through the clinic’s doors with their guns drawn, yelling at patients and caregivers alike to get on the ground. After interrogating the patients and arresting the staff, the officers proceeded to remove surveillance equipment and various elements of the storefront, including items secured in safes.

Matthew Pappas, the Long Beach attorney representing Costa Mesa Collective, says osta Mesa Police crossed the line.

“These guys were doing this to shut down a business without due process because they don’t like it,” said Pappas. “They became judge, jury and executioner.”

Five employees were arrested during the raid, and detained on suspicion of possession with intent to distribute marijuana — a felony offense in California. Pappas said the five individuals spent four days in lockup before being released without charges.

Florida: Port Richey Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Port Richey City Council just became the first government body in Pasco County, Florida to decriminalize the possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

After many weeks of debate, the council passed an ordinance Tuesday night on a 3-2 vote that will allow police the discretion to issue a $155 civil citation in lieu of an arrest on a criminal misdemeanor charge for possessing less than 20 grams of pot, as long as the offender is age 18 or older and not engaged in any other simultaneous crime.

Marijuana activist and local businessman Garyn Angel spearheaded the lobbying effort that led to the council's consideration of the ordinance. He stood in front of City Hall with Port Richey's seal behind him to celebrate the vote, making a speech to a two-man video crew he employs. It went out on Facebook live to his followers, who he said number in the hundreds of thousands.

Dozens of people spoke for or against the ordinance during previous hearings, and there was contentious debate. Ultimately, the council vote was split, with Mayor Dale Massad and council members Jennifer Sorrell and Will Dittmer in favor.

Vice Mayor Terry Rowe and Nancy Britton opposed the vote, afraid that it will encourage drug dealing and use in the city.

There was little debate by Tuesday night; no one from the public or on the council spoke

Colorado: Marijuana Is Legal In Some States - But Only If You're A U.S.Citizen


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana may be legal in a growing number of states, but not many people know that it's still very much against the law for all non-U.S. citizens to use it. In fact, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has penalized and deported more people convicted of marijuana-related crimes in the past decade than ever before.

Claudia, a native of Chile, learned this the hard way after being flagged for an in-depth security screening after landing at Los Angeles International Airport on October 8, 2015. "It's normal," she says. "Sometimes the officers review people." Besides, she had never been in trouble in her life.

Agents directed Claudia into a big, open room where she was asked to place her luggage on a table for examination. Officer Torres, a customs agent, asked her about her planned one-week trip to San Francisco and made friendly small talk as he went through her suitcase and purse.

Torres asked Claudia about past trips to the U.S., and she told the agent of visits to Tennessee, Louisiana, New York, and Colorado. At the mention of Colorado, he asked to see her phone. He quickly began scrolling through photos from her last visit to the States from April to June of that year. "Can you do this?" she asked.

"Yes", he replied, which Claudia accepted; she had nothing to hide, after all.

California: New Poll Shows Majority Favor Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday shows a majority of Californians support a state measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

The poll reports that 58 percent of the state's voters favor the legalization measure and that the support spanned "most lines of age, race, income, and gender."

The measure is doing best among younger voters: 67 percent of those 18 to 24 years of age said they would vote for Proposition 64. About 50 percent of voters 65 years and older support the measure.

In 2010, the last time California voted for pot legalization, nearly 54 percent of voters opposed the measure.

The LA Times reported :

"Some of the change appears to have come from the ability of Californians to watch what has happened in other states that legalized recreational pot use: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska," said Jon Cohen, an executive for SurveyMonkey, the firm that conducted the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

"Some of the calamitous predictions of legalization opponents haven't come to pass" in other states, Cohen said.

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