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North Carolina: Cops Kill Teen In Elementary School Parking Lot In Marijuana Sting Gone Bad


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, thought it was a good idea to carry out an undercover marijuana sting in the parking lot of an elementary school. Now one teenager is dead, another wounded, and neighbors are upset about the cops' choice of location for the operation.

The shooting involved a marijuana deal between an undercover officer, an informant and two teenage suspects, reports Brigida Mack at WBTV. Police claim Jaquaz Walker, 17, shot the informant in the shoulder after trying to rob him, and that's why they opened fire.

Residents of the Hidden Valley neighborhood of Charlotte said they want to know why Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers chose their neighborhood, reports Trish Williford at WSOC.

"It bothers me because I live right across from the school, and it is bad that it was on the school grounds," said Wilmer Bourne, who lives steps away from the location of the shootout. "That is what bothers me so much."

Walker, 17, was wearing an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet at the time of his death, according to Police Chief Rodney Monroe. He faced breaking and entering charges, which is why he was on the electronic monitor, according to WBTV.

Walker's aunt lashed out at the police for the way her nephew died. "He was a normal kid," she said. "But he got gunned down."

U.S.: Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws


Bipartisan Resolution Urges Obama to Stop Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Polls Show Majority Voter Support for Letting States Set Their Own Policies

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Conference of Mayors on Monday unanimously passed a resolution criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.

"In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana," said Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, Colorado. "The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference.

"Cities and states across the country are enacting forward-thinking reforms to failed marijuana prohibition policies, and for the federal government to stand in the way is wasteful and contrary to the wishes of the American people," Mayor Hogan said.

Despite campaign pledges that "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," President Obama's administration shuttered more state-legal medical marijuana providers in one term than were closed by federal authorities during the two terms of George W. Bush's presidency.

U.S.: Marijuana Dominates Drug Seizures Along Mexico Border


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Unsurprisingly, marijuana is the most-seized substance along the border between the United States and Mexico -- more than methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined, according to a new study.

The Center for Investigative Reporting found that more than 17 million pounds of pot were seized at the border from 2005 to 2011.

"In case you were wondering, that works out to more than 16.3 billion joints seized between 2005 and 2011," said Marie McIntosh, news engagement specialist at the CIR. "That's about seven joints per American per year for that period. And while that's a lot of pot, that's just what was seized, not what actually made it over the border."

Southern California's Campo Station -- the facility with the highest number of busts in California, outside the San Diego ports of entry -- had 1,506 seizures between 2005 and 2011 totaling more than 111,000 pounds of cannabis. But the median seizure size is small, 0.4 ounces. "That suggests the checkpoint may be more effective at stopping consumers of marijuana, rather than big-time smugglers," McIntosh offers.

At the Ajo Station in Arizona, more than a million pounds of pot were seized from 2005 to 2011. There were 3,510 busts with a median seizure of 277 pounds. "This higher median could mean agents are stopping smugglers, rather than people carrying a few grams for recreational use," McIntosh said.

U.S.: House Passes Amendment Protecting State Rights To Grow Hemp For Research


Bipartisan Coalition Works to Give Colleges and Universities Ability to Conduct Critical Research

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An amendment allowing colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal, without fear of federal interference, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 225 to 200.

Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the amendment to H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, the FARRM Bill.

“Industrial hemp is an important agricultural commodity, not a drug,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan, common-sense amendment, which I’ve introduced with Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp growth and cultivation is already legal.

"Many states, including Colorado, have demonstrated that they are fully capable of regulating industrial hemp," Rep. Polis said. "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp—but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here.

U.S.: Patrick Kennedy Crusades Against Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, suggesting his own past drug use gives him the moral authority to speak out against marijuana, railed against pot on the June 14 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Kennedy, a former eight-term U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, leads Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), an organization which opposes cannabis legalization. He is an admitted former OxyContin addict, alcoholic, and cocaine abuser.

On Maher's show, Kennedy claimed studies show a link between marijuana and schizophrenia. He also suggested "heavy use" of pot by teenagers can lead to an IQ drop.

"Your reasoning is, 'You shouldn't do things because kids might,' " Maher pointed out. "Adults shouldn't have fires or drive cars. Kids might do all kinds of bad things."

"This is like global warming denying," Maher said. "This is the kind of stuff we heard years and years ago... It just seems so un-Kennedy-like to bge against what I said a couple of weeks ago was the new gay marriage. The next civil rights movement is to get equality under the law for people."

Kennedy has admitted he was treated for cocaine use during his teenager years. He also acknowledged he abused drugs and alcohol while he was a student at Providence College.

World Remembers Activist Peter McWilliams, 13 Years After His Passing


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

On June 14, 2000, the world lost one of its bravest activists for medical marijuana and personal freedom. Peter McWilliams, author of Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do and many other books, passed away after a battle with cancer and HIV when the government took away the cannabis he used to control his nausea. More than a decade after his death, it's important to remember just who and what this man was.

McWilliams [1949-2000] lived a rich life. He was many things: author, publisher, photographer, poet and activist, among others. But one of the most important things Peter was, was an inspiration. His courage and charisma were and continue to be a source of strength to many who are struggling with illness and with the injustice of our marijuana laws.

He had a remarkable career starting in the 1970s, writing more than 40 books, including works on depression, losing a loved one, computers, and poetry (yes, he was a real Renaissance Man). Several of McWilliams' books made The New York Times Top 10 nonfiction bestseller list.

Peter's 1993 libertarian manifesto Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do remains one of the greatest affirmations of the right of citizens to act and live in any peaceful, honest lifestyle, including their inalienable right to drugs and especially cannabis. It emphasizes personal freedom and the responsibility that goes along with it.

Global: Outlawing Marijuana Censors Science, Researchers Say


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The outlawing of natural substances such as cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms and other psychoactives amounts to scandalous censorship of science and hampers research into potentially important medicinal uses, leading scientists said on Wednesday.

"Drug laws" and international treaties have set back key research in areas such as consciousness by decades, the scientists argued in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, reports Reuters.

"The decision to outlaw these drugs was based on their perceived dangers, but in many cases the harms have been overstated," pointed out David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London who is a former British government drugs advisor.

Nutt said the laws amounted "to the worse case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo," in a statement accompanying the paper.

"The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe," Nutt said. "And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes."

Maine: Senate Refuses To Let Voters Decide On Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maine Senate on Monday blocked a chance for the state's voters to decide for themselves at the ballot box whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The Senate voted 24-10 Monday morning against sending the question to November's ballot, reports Christopher Cousins at the Bangor Daily News. That followed a Friday vote in the House of Representatives where the measure, LD 1229, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), fell four votes short of passage.

LD 1229 would have created a system of regulating and taxing marijuana. After a majority of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee opposed that plan, lawmakers voting with the minority moved forward with an amendment calling for a voter referendum, giving them a chance to decide, on a straight up-or-down question, whether Maine should craft rules to allow the legal, recreational use of cannabis. That was the question being debated on Monday in the Senate.

Some senators argued that the Maine Legislature should act before the issue is forced upon them by a voter initiative, but others seemed mostly concerned with not having their votes recorded as "supporting marijuana legalization."

Ohio: Man Cited For Possession After He Reports Stolen Marijuana To Police


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Ohio man was cited for marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia on Saturday after he told police someone had stolen his marijuana.

Derrick Boone, 34, of Lorain, Ohio, admitted to having a small amount of cannabis in his possession after police responded to an "unwanted man" call in the 4700 block of Chelsea Avenue, reports The Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County.

Boone pulled police Officer Rudy Arce aside to talk privately to him, then told the officer he was upset that someone had taken his marijuana, according to Arce's report.

When asked if he had any pot on him, Boone replied that he was carrying marijuana in his sweatpants.

A small amount of marijuana was found and seized in the ensuing search.

Boone's girlfriend said she called the cops after he got mad at her and accused her sons of stealing his weed.

(Graphic: Hemp Beach TV)

Massachusetts: Judge Decides Marijuana-Growing Mom Shouldn't Go To Jail


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A judge in Massachusetts said on Wednesday that he didn't see the need for marijuana-growing mom Cathy Luong, 45, to go to jail.

Hampden Superior Court Judge John S. Ferrara rejected an agreement between defense and prosecution that would have put Luong in jail for six months, giving her two years' probation instead, reports Buffy Spencer at The Republican.

Workers and police entered Luong's $400,000 Springfield home on December 11, 2011, due to a gas leak emergency. They found a large hydroponic cannabis-growing operation, got a warrant based on what they saw, and seized the evidence.

Luong on May 31 pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. The sentencing was held last Wednesday.

The state had dropped a charge of violating a drug-free school zone, with its mandatory two-year sentence, and possession of a large capacity firearm, in reaching the plea agreement which was rejected by Judge Ferrara.

The gun had been found in a drawer in Luong's nightstand.

Assistant D.A. Matthew W. Green and defense lawyer Thomas Lesser had agreed to ask Ferrara to sentence Luong to one year in the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center, with six months to be served and the rest suspended with two years' probation.

Alabama: Colorado Marijuana Mogul Caught With Pot; No Smoking For 2 Years


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Colorado man who's behind one of the largest medical marijuana products companies in the state won't be allowed to use cannabis for two years after he pleaded guilty to pot possession in Alabama.

Vincent "Tripp" Keber, managing director of the company which makes the Dixie Elixirs line of cannabis-infused products, pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor marijuana possession in Baldwin County, Alabama, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. A second charge of marijuana possession was dropped as part of the plea deal, and the whole case will be expunged if Keber stays out of trouble for the next two years, according to his lawyer, Harold Callaway.

Keber will be required to check in with law enforcement in Alabama daily and submit to random drug tests. If those tests show he has used alcohol, marijuana, or any other drugs, he could face up to a year in jail, according to Martha Simmons with the Baldwin County district attorney's office.

"This is a situation during some vacation where I basically made an error in judgment," Keber said.

Texas: Group Hosts Conference Aimed Towards Ending Marijuana Prohibition


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, held its first ever conference in downtown Fort Worth over the weekend. DFW NORML shared the message that criminal penalties should be removed for private possession and use of cannabis by adults.

"We want to minimize abuse and prevent its availability to kids by implementing age controls," said attorney Keith Stroup, who founded NORML back in 1970, reports CBS DFW. Stroup was one of many speakers at the event which also featured local attorneys, activists, law enforcement officials and former California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray.

Speakers discussed the failure of the Drug War, the cost benefits of cannabis legalization, and the need for allowing compassionate care with medical marijuana.

"The idea that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, that it has no medicinal use, is ludicrous," said Judge Gray, citing drugs like Marinol, a synthetic form of THC created by the pharmaceutical industry and classified as a Schedule III drug, available by prescription.

Gray, who served on the Orange County Superior Court from 1989 to 2009 and spent most of his career dealing with drug-related issues, says he's never used an illegal drug. But he's an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, and was also the Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party in the 2012 election.

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Dies; Falls Short By Two Votes


You Can Still Get 20 Years For Simple Possession of Marijuana in Louisiana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession died on the Louisiana Senate floor on Thursday after lawmakers tried three times to get the votes necessary to begin debate.

Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), who tried twice on Wednesday and once more on Thursday to get the 26 votes needed, was heard to say "I'm done. That's it," as he walked away from the podium on Thursday, reports Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times Picayune. The final effort fell short by just two votes.

House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), needed a two-thirds vote of state senators to even be brought up for debate, since it came up after the deadline for normal passage of bills in this year's legislative session.

Opponents claimed the bill would send "the wrong message that it's OK to smoke marijuana in Louisiana." Lawmakers reportedly chuckled and rolled their eyes as Morrell took to the podium on Thursday to rally votes for the bill. Families of those incarcerated for 20 years or more for marijuana possession -- including a few prisoners who got life sentences for pot under the state's habitual offender law -- were less amused.

"I heard the groaning," Morrell said. "I hear the inhaling and exhaling. I think it would be appropriate to at least attempt to have debate on this bill."

Colorado: Regulators Ditch Unconstitutional Rule Treating Marijuana Mags Like Porn


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana publications won't be treated like pornography in Colorado after all, state regulators announced on Thursday in the face of First Amendment lawsuits.

The rule would have forced stores to keep magazines with a "primary focus" away from customers under 21 years old, reports Steven Nelson at US News. It was part of a package of Legislature-approved cannabis regulations sigend into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 28.

The rule is unconstitutional and will be ignored, according to the Colorado State Licensing Authority. The authority issued an "emergency rule" saying "such a requirement would violate the United States Constitution" and Colorado law.

The Colorado Attorney General's office had input on the decision. "We support the laudable goal of keeping retail marijuana out of the hands of those under 21, but that has to be consistent with the Constitution," the attorney general's spokesperson said, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.

U.S.: Rolling Stone Profiles Ethan Nadelmann, 'Most Influential Man In The Battle For Marijuana Legalization'


Insightful Rolling Stone Profile Calls Nadelmann “The Real Drug Czar” and “Most Influential Man in the Battle for Legalization”

Former Senior Bush Advisor: “He is the Single Most Influential Policy Entrepreneur on Any Domestic Issue”

Rolling Stone Special Edition on Marijuana Includes Article by Bill Maher, Feature on Colorado and More

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The war on people who use marijuana, the momentum to end prohibition, the people leading the fight, and of course the “Greatest Stoner Movies Of All Time” are just some of the 12 stories featured in the June 20 special issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is profiled in one of the issue’s main features by Rolling Stone reporter Tim Dickinson. The insightful piece, “The Real Drug Czar,” documents Nadelmann’ s twenty-year career leading the movement to end the disastrous war on drugs. The front cover refers to him as “The Pot Movement’s Power Broker.”

The article describes the pivotal role of Nadelmann’s organization, the Drug Policy Alliance, in marijuana reform’s rapid shift from the fringes to the mainstream of U.S. and international politics – first with medical marijuana in the late 1990s and 2000s, and more recently with marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington.

New Hampshire: Warrant Issued For Man Arrested In YouTube Marijuana Case


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Hampshire man who was arrested for showing off his marijuana-growing operation on YouTube could be jailed for failing to show up for a Tuesday court hearing.

A judge issued a warrant for Kyle Berry, 40, for failing to appear at a bail-revocation hearing stemming from another pot-growing arrest in Lawrence, Massachusetts, last month, reports James A. Kimble at the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Prosecutors want Berry held without bail until his trial on charges he grew $16,000 worth of marijuana plants at his Auburn, N.H., in November, chronicling his progress on YouTube. Rockingham County deputies said they used the videos -- which accidentally captured Berry's face reflected on a foil-covered wall -- to get arrest and search warrants in the case.

Berry's public defender, Charles O'Keefe, asked the judge to cancel Berry's warrant, saying his client had simply mixed up the court date. Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino responded on Wednesday by asking a judge to reject that request and schedule a new hearing date.

A Lawrence, Mass., police lieutenant came to court on Tuesday to testify about Berry being arrested in Massachusetts for "manufacturing marijuana" while he was free on bail on the YouTube case from New Hampshire, according to Zaino.

The hearing had to be canceled, Zaino said, because of Berry's failure to appear. He was arrested at his daughter's Massachusetts home on April 22.

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Goes Before Full Senate


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession in Louisiana passed a legislative hurdle on Tuesday. House Bill 103 was approved in a Senate judicial committee and sent to the floor of the full Senate. If approved there, the bill would go to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), would lessen the jail time and fines imposed on people convicted of simple marijuana possession, reports Lauren McGaughy of The New Orleans Times Picayune.

Badon said the bill would "keep families together, to keep people [from] going on the unemployment rolls," speaking before the Senate Judiciary C Committee on Tuesday. According to Badon, keeping people charged with marijuana possession out of jail would save Louisiana taxpayers $2.2 million in incarceration costs; the bill's fiscal note backs up his assertion.

The lowered penalties would not apply to those charged with intent to distribute or to those in possession of synthetic products like K2 or Spice.

Russia: President Putin Criticizes Other Countries For Even Thinking About Legalizing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't think other countries should legalize marijuana. Putin criticized countries which are moving towards cannabis legalization at a drug policy conference on Wednesday.

"We consider it essential to fight all kinds of drugs," Putin said at the annual International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Moscow, reports Ria Novosti. "We observe with concern the relaxation in laws by some countries moving towards the legalization of so-called soft drugs."

Putin didn't specify which countries he meant, but voters in two U.S. states, Colorado and Washington, approved limited recreational marijuana legalization in November, and the Organization of American States (OAS) in May released a study calling for a serious discussion on legalizing marijuana, which was quickly rejected by President Obama.

Guatemala's new president, Otto Perez Molina, in September called for the legalization of drugs in a regulated market.

Both of the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana, plus 16 more, have also legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The trend towards legalization was criticized in a 2012 report the the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

New York: Hypocritical Anti-Pot Republican Legislator Changes Course, Says Yes To Decrim


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A conservative New York Assemblyman who was busted for marijuana possession after voting against medical marijuana changed his course last week, voting for cannabis decriminalization.

Assemblyman Steve Katz on May 30 voted in favor of A. 6716, which would make small amounts of cannabis in public view a ticketable offense rather than an arrestable one. In 2011, Katz voted against a medical marijuana law in the Assembly.

Katz was stopped for speeding in March and ticketed for having a couple joints' worth of pot in the car. "At his court date, Katz got his case dismissed in an almost textbook instance of white privilege," writes David Downs at Smell the Truth.

The lawmaker had been going 80 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone on the New York State Thruway, according to the police report. It was the 59-year-old Putnam County lawmaker's first known pot bust.

Assemblyman Katz sits on committees for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, as well as Higher Education.

Earlier this month, the hacktivist collective Anonymous Team Vendetta temporarily took down Katz's website for what the group called his hypocrisy.

U.S.: Blacks Singled Out For Marijuana Arrests Four Times More Often Than Whites


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In the United States, blacks were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups use cannabis at similar rates, according to new federal data in a study from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The racial disparity has grown worse over the past decade, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois (and in the District of Columbia), blacks were are eight times more likely to be arrested for pot, reports Ian Urbina at The New York Times.

Blacks are now 30 times more likely to be arrested for pot in the counties with the widest disparities, according to a new report from the ACLU, "The War on Marijuana in Black and White,", reports Seth Augenstein at the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Even as the disparity has worsened, American attitudes toward marijuana have softened and several states have decriminalized or legalized its use. But about half of all drug arrests in 2011 were for marijuana, about the same as in 2010.

"The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, who was one of the study's authors. "We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner."

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