New York Times

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/hemporg/public_html/news/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 34.

U.S.: Study Shows Opioid Overdoses Fell With Medical Marijuana Legalization

OverdosePills[Medscape.com].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Using state-level death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, a group of researchers discovered that the annual rate of opioid overdose deaths decreased substantially -- an average of 25 percent -- following the passage of medical marijuana laws, compared to states still under cannabis prohibition.

The increase of opioid prescriptions in the United States has had devastating public health consequences, including addiction, organ damage, and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently urged physicians to be "very cautious" in prescribing these drugs, reports Colleen Barry in an op-ed at The New York Times.

Marijuana, as pointed out in the comments to Barry's article, "is infinitely safer than any prescription opioid, and it certainly should be available as an option ... if it can save one life from an overdose it is worth it, never mind a massive 25% reduction."

Global: Marijuana-Based Drug Found To Reduce Epileptic Seizures

Epidiolex[GWPharmaceuticals].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first major clinical trial of an experimental drug derived from marijuana has shown that Epidiolex reduces epileptic seizures, the product's developer announced on Monday.

The shares of Big Pharma giant GW Pharmaceuticals more than doubled on Monday after the announcement.

GW said Epidiolex achieved the main goal of the trial, reducing convulsive seizures when compared with a placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare, severe form of epilepsy, reports Andrew Pollack at The New York Times.

If Epidiolex wins regulatory approval, as expected, it would be the first prescription drug that is extracted from marijuana. Marinol (Dronabinol), the THC capsules prescribed for nausea and appetite, use synthetic rather than plant-derived THC.

Epidiolex is a liquid containing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.

As many as one-third of the nearly 500,000 American children with epilepsy aren't sufficiently helped by existing Big Pharma drugs, according to GW. Parents of these children have, in desperation, tried medicinal cannabis extracts prepared by medical marijuana dispensaries.

U.S.: Start-Ups Step In For Wary Banks To Serve The Marijuana Industry

MoneyMarijuana[HeraldTribune].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Several recently created start-ups are looking to solve one of the most persistent problems facing the nascent marijuana industry in Colorado, Washington and other legal states: the cash-only nature of a business which is still defined as illicit by the federal government.

While voters in Washington and Colorado in 2012, chose to bring marijuana commerce into the mainstream, with Oregon and Alaska joining the club in 2014, the federal government hasn't, shall we say, shown much political courage when it comes to biting the bullet and joining the 21st century.

VISA and MasterCard won't process transactions from marijuana dispensaries, fearing federal racketeering charges since cannabis is still nonsensically considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. And most banks are scared silly by the prospect of "marijuana money" being in their vaults, for the same reason.

This means most medical marijuana dispensaries and recreational pot stores have a constant influx of cash, and the options of what to do with it range from dangerous on the one hand to more dangerous on the other.

Tokken, Hypur, and Kind Financial, among other start-ups, have started putting together software that helps banks and pot shops monitor and record sales, with the eventual goal of moving transactions away from cash, reports Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times.

California Deputy Arrested In $2 Million Pennsylvania Pot Bust

TomKearneyCopsAndWeed[ClareBecker-TheEveningSun]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A deputy sheriff who worked for a Northern California anti-narcotics task force got caught in a $2 million marijuana bust in Pennsylvania last week.

Authorities are now trying to figure out if any of the cases that Deputy Christopher M. Heath worked on have been tainted, reports Christine Hauser at The New York Times.

Heath, along with another man, 31-year-old Tyler Long, drove across the U.S. to deliver about 122 packages of marijuana to someone in West Manheim Township, Pa., according to police. But the cops had been tipped off, and they stopped the car around midnight on December 28.

The two men were arrested, along with a third man in the vehicle, Ryan J. Falsone, 27. In addition to the cannabis and cash, cops found Deputy Heath's badge and his duty firearm, according to David Sunday, the York County chief deputy prosecutor.

The Pennsylvania officers didn't know before the arrest that Deputy Heath worked in law enforcement, Sunday said.

Details about the bust were announced by York County District Attorney Tom Kearney and reported in local papers.

Mexico: Supreme Court Opens Door To Legalizing Marijuana

SupremeCourtOfMexico[LGBTQNation]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door to legalizing marijuana, delivering a direct challenge to the nation's harsh drug laws and adding to the debate in Latin America over the costs of the War On Drugs.

The vote, by the court's criminal chamber, declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use, report Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed at The New York Times.

The ruling applies only to a single cannabis club that brought the lawsuit, and does not strike down Mexico's current drug laws. But according to experts, it is likely the first of a wave of legal actions that ultimate could legalize marijuana.

The flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States continues, after decades of the America-backed War On Drugs has produced much destruction but few lasting victories. The drug traffic fuels political corruption in Mexico, which remains engulfed in violence.

“It’s the drama behind all of our efforts,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a corporate lawyer who was one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case. "It's clearly a significant part of the business," said Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland expert on the global Drug War and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation.

Oregon: Legal Marijuana Sales Begin Oct. 1; Past Convictions Can Be Cleared

OregonMarijuanaComingSoon

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon wasn't the first state, or the largest, to legalize marijuana. But when it begins retail cannabis sales next month, the state will blaze a new trail, because it will consider applications to clear the record of past marijuana convictions.

Paperwork which would forever seal old pot offenses is now available in Oregon, thanks to a new law, and those who complete the process can legally say to any employer, landlord or anyone else who asks that they've never been convicted or cited for any drug crime at all, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times.

Fifteen years ago, when Erika Walton, then in her 20s, handed a bong to someone who turned out to be a police officer, she was cited for marijuana possession. She paid the fine, but the violation continued to haunt her as part of her record.

"It's taken away a lot of my life," Walton said as she inked out her fingerprints, which Oregon requires for sealing the file. Walton said the minor citation cost her when she had to disclose it on job applications and for volunteer positions at her children's school.

Colorado: Activists Pull Back On Denver Marijuana Nightclubs Measure

DenverMarijuanaBar[TedSWarrenAP]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Activists campaigning to allow marijuana to be legally used in adults-only businesses such as bars and nightclubs said on Thursday they are withdrawing a ballot measure that would have put the issue before Denver voters this November.

Sponsors said they were pulling the initiative because they hope to reach a compromise with city officials and business groups that could result in a local ordinance allowing some limited social cannabis use in Denver, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.

Colorado's recreational marijuana legalization law doesn't allow "public use." But activists said restrictions had prohibited cannabis everywhere except in private homes and a few 420-friendly bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the state.

The ballot proposal would have allowed adults to consume cannabis edibles or inhale vaporized marijuana outdoors, if blocked from public view.

Organizers said it's still too early to know what might be included in any compromise ordinance. If that effort stalls, they said, the ballot measure might be reintroduced next year.

Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Mexico: Drug Trafficker 'El Chapo' Is Folk Hero No. 1

ElChapoTshirt[NewYorkTimes]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In Sinaloa State, Mexico, where Joaquín Guzmán Loera -- better known as El Chapo -- was born, the notorious drug trafficker's spectacular escape through a hidden tunnel under what was supposed to be the most secure prison in Mexico has enhanced his status as an outlaw folk hero.

American officials claim Guzmán has contributed to "the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption," yet for many Mexicans, he is a combination of Robin Hood and billionaire, report William Neuman and Azam Ahmed for The New York Times.

El Chapo fought the law, and unlike the Bobby Fuller Four, he won. He beat what many Mexicans view as a corrupt ruling class, and Mexico -- just like America -- loves an outlaw.

“Why do people admire him?” said Adrián Cabrera, a blogger in Culiacán wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of El Chapo. “Because he’s a living legend. He’s like Al Capone. He’s like Lucky Luciano. Like Tony Soprano. Like Scarface. He’s like a character on a television show, except that he’s alive, he’s real.”

U.S.: Obama Plans To Free Scores of Nonviolent Drug Prisoners

ObamaThumbsUp

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Aides expect President Barack Obama, sometime in the coming weeks, to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up for nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, the President will likely commute more sentences at one time than has been done in half a century, since the days of LBJ.

Flexing his clemency power is part of a bigger effort by the President to correct what he sees as the excesses of the "tough on crime" crowd, where politicians threw away the key even for minor criminals, reports Peter Baker at The New York times. With many Democrats and even Republicans now admitting the nation went too far, Obama holds the power to make a difference, especially for many young minority males who are disproportionately affected by biased enforcement of the drug laws.

The total number of sentence commutations by Obama may surpass 80 in the coming weeks, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward after his administration's call for clemency applications. A slow-as-molasses review process has advanced only a few of those, and just a tiny fraction have reached the President's desk for a signature.

U.S.: Entrepreneurs Increasingly Using Hemp For Home Construction

HempField[GreenBuilt.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Wall Street analyst James Savage thought there must be a better way. Growing disturbed about the conditions he saw on TV after events like Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti, he started looking for a better building material -- and the material he found, through a simple Internet search, was industrial hemp.

"There has to be something better we can do than this," he recalled thinking, reports Matt A.V. Chaban at The New York Times. "Who knew hemp would be the answer to what we were looking for?"

Savage started a company, Green Built, to create building materials derived from cannabis. His first project has been his own 1850s farmhouse, but he said he believes hemp-based building materials can transform both agriculture and construction.

Hemp has had a long history as a fiber used in ropes, sails, and paper products, with Presidents Washington and Jefferson famously cultivating it. Savage is among a small but growing number of entrepreneurs who have turned to hempcrete, which is made using the woody interior of the cannabis stalk combined with lime and water.

Hempcrete provides natural insulation, and is flexible, non-toxic, impervious to mold and pests, and practically fireproof.

U.S.: Labels On Edible Marijuana Products Often Have Potency Wrong, Study Says

CannabisChocolates[FoodSafetyNews]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Most labels on edible marijuana products are inaccurate when it comes to levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, researchers reported on Tuesday.

An analysis of 75 products sold to patients in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles found that just 17 percent of the labels accurately described THC levels, reports Catherine Saint Louis at The New York Times. Sixty percent of the products had less THC than claimed on the packaging, and 23 percent of them had more THC than advertised.

"We need a more accurate picture of what's being offered to patients," said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Abrams wasn't involved in the study, which was published in JAMA.

Products with too little THC may fail to deliver symptom relief, and those with too much may make users feel uncomfortable or anxious.

Cannabis candy, drinks and baked goods from 47 brands were tested in the new study by the Werc Shop, a laboratory with branches in Washington state and California. The study was paid for by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine except for the cost of the testing, which was covered by the Werc Shop; the company's CEO, Jeffrey Raber, is listed as a study author.

New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Toward Health, Safety

NewYorkCityCouncil(logo)

A new New York City drug policy agency would focus as much on health as on policing under a proposal a lawmaker has introduced to shift how the nation's biggest city approaches illegal drug use.

The proposed legislation would create an office to coordinate drug strategy between dozens of city agencies and the community. It emphasizes evidence-based policy making to promote health and public safety and reduce the negative impact of past or current policies.

The drug strategy office would advise city leaders on lowering drug-related deaths and disease along with crime, reports Jennifer Peltz at ABC News. It also would coordinate answers to a problem that sometimes seems to pit one set of government objectives against another, supporters say.

WHAT: Press conference and rally in support of Intro 748, which would create an Office of Drug Strategy, to be immediately followed by a NYC Council hearing on the bill.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 23, 9:00 am EST

WHERE: Steps of New York City Hall

WHO: NYC elected officials and community groups representing public health, drug treatment, mental health, and legal aid providers, and individuals directly affected by current NYC drug policy.

Delaware: Senate Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

DelawareMarijuanaRoadSign

The Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 4-2 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for simple adult marijuana possession and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilimington East) in the Senate, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

The House of Representatives approved HB 39 on June 2, and Gov. Jack Markell (D) said in a March letter to the editor of The New York Times that he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

“Adults should not face potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Sen. Henry said. "The potential impact for employment, housing, and education are too severe under current law for the violation.”

Delaware: House Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

StateLegislaturesTakingOnMarijuanaPolicyIn2015[MPP]

Senate will now consider HB 39, which would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana by adults

The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill 24-14 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill, which was amended on the floor to apply only to adults, will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re grateful the Delaware House agrees and hopeful that the Senate will join them in supporting this commonsense legislation.

"Delaware cannot afford to continue arresting people, jailing them, and giving them criminal records just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Capecchi said.

U.S.: Hillary Clinton Calls For End To 'Era of Mass Incarceration'

Hillary2016[Frontline]

2016 Presidential Candidates United on Need for Major Criminal Justice Reforms

From Rand Paul to Hillary Clinton, Candidates Seek to Reduce Number of People Behind Bars

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday became the latest Presidential candidate to embrace criminal justice reform. In her first major policy speech since announcing her candidacy, Clinton called for an end to the “era of mass incarceration.”

“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison in their lifetimes, and an estimated 1.5 million black men are ‘missing’ from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death,” Clinton said. “The consequences are profound. … It’s time to change our approach,” she added, citing the fact that 1 out of every 28 American children have a parent locked up behind bars.

“The fact that the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president chose the subject of mass incarceration as the focus of her first major policy address since she announced her candidacy is of great significance politically,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Action. “So is the fact that all of the other Democratic candidates and most of the Republican ones agree that something needs to be done to reduce incarceration in our country.”

Global: Justice, Rights Groups Condemn Execution of Nonviolent Drug Offenders By Indonesia

IndonesianDrugExecutions2015

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A number of U.S.-based and international criminal justice reform, human rights and public health groups on Tuesday are joining together to condemn the execution of nonviolent drug offenders by the Indonesian government that just took place.

“Wherever they occur, executions for nonviolent offenses violate human rights,” a sign-on letter from the groups says.

Despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and governments around the world, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Nigerians Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwuduli Oyatanze, and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, and Indonesian Zainal Abidin faced a firing squad at just past midnight Indonesia-time. Serge Atlaoui from France has been given a temporary reprieve and Mary Jane Veloso from the Philippines was given a last-minute reprieve.

U.S.: Medical Cannabis Advocates Call For New Direction At DEA After Leonhart Resignation

MicheleLeonhart[HuffingtonPost]

New DEA Leadership Clears Way For Rescheduling and Other Needed Reforms

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday announced that Michele Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is resigning. Leonhart has been criticized by medical cannabis advocates as well as members of Congress for her unwillingness to adhere to the Obama Administration's stated policies on medical cannabis.

Under Leonhart, the DEA led increased raids against medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivators in defiance of guidance from the Department of Justice steering them away from cases that targeted state-legal medical cannabis patients.

The legacy of Leonhart includes opposing sentencing guidelines reforms embraced by the Obama Administration and other law enforcement agencies, working to maintain cannabis’ Schedule I status, and claiming that rising Drug War violence in Mexico was a sign of success.

During a notable Congressional oversight hearing in 2012, Leonhart refused to state if she thought crack or heroin were more dangerous than cannabis. When President Obama stated in a 2014 New York Times interview that he felt cannabis was no more dangerous than alcohol, Leonhart defiantly spoke out against the President.

Colorado: Lawmakers Don't Want To Refund Marijuana Taxes To The Public

MarijuanaMoney[AssociationsNow]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One year after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana, millions of tax dollars are rolling in, just as predicted. The funds were supposed to be dedicated to school construction, along with regulating cannabis sales, but a legal complication may force the state to refund that money to the public -- and lawmakers don't want that to happen.

A strict anti-spending provision in the Colorado Constitution -- a voter-approved measure called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights -- may require the state to refund nearly $60 million in marijuana taxes, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.

Legislators are trying to figure out a way to keep the money, and they're hoping Colorado voters will let them. Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature don't agree very often when it comes to taxes, but it seems both parties agree they want to keep the cash, and legislators are working on a bill which would ask voters' permission to not give the money back.

"Despite our anti-tax feelings in the state, there's an exception being made when it comes to marijuana," said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Denver-based trade organization that isn't taking a stand on the refund issue. "The industry is making a huge economic impact."

New York: Mayor, Police Commissioner Giving Mixed Signals On Marijuana

NYPDCommissionerWilliamJBratton[NYPost]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in New York City, one of his leading initiatives was responding to possession of small amounts of marijuana with summonses rather than arrests. At the news conference announcing the change -- which affected possession cases involving up to 25 grams of weed -- NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton stood beside the mayor, holding up a bag of oregano measuring 25 grams, as an educational prop for how much pot is allowable.

Last week, this time without the mayor, Commissioner Bratton turned his attention once again to marijuana, report J. David Goodman and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times. Bratton announced homicides were up to 54 through March 1, compared with 45 over the same period last year, as were shootings -- and he claimed marijuana was a factor in the violence.

"The seemingly innocent drug that's being legalized around the country -- in this city, people are killing each other over marijuana," Bratton dramatically announced.

But does the commissioner's sharp turn towards reefer madness territory indicate a schism in the de Blasio administration's approach to cannabis? The mayor said he supports the new policy regarding low-level marijuana possession, voicing concerns that arrests for small amounts of pot disproportionately affect the black and Hispanic communities.

Brazil: Health Agency To Study CBD-Only Medical Marijuana Law

CBD(Cannabidiol)ForEpilepsy

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Brazil will soon study the possibility of legalizing the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana derivative, to treat people suffering from severe seizures.

The country's Health Surveillance Agency, ANVISA, announced that the "reclassification" of the cannabinoid CBD -- which is illegal in Brazil -- will be discussed starting next month, reports the Associated Press.

The statement came on Friday, one day after about 40 people protested in the capital city of Brasilia to demand the legalization of CBD.

Some Brazilians resort to an underground network of illegal cannabis farmers in Rio de Janeiro that extract the CBD and donate it. That network supplies Margaret de Brito with the oil she gives her five-year-old daughter Sofia, who was born with a genetic mutation that causes seizures.

"They won't even let you pay the shipping," Brito said of the clandestine growers' group.

Her daughter's seizures have decreased dramatically since starting the treatment more than a year ago, and she's been able to stop taking another medication that made her drowsy, Brito said.

The Federal Medical Council, which regulates the medical profession in Brazil, earlier this month authorized neurologists and psychiatrists to prescribe CBD to treat epileptic children and teenagers who don't respond to conventional pharmaceuticals. (You'd think a non-toxic alternative would be the first line of treatment, not the last resort!)

Syndicate content