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

Missouri: New Marijuana Law Takes Effect In St. Louis


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you get caught with a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis, you'll get a summons like a traffic ticket instead of being charged under the more severe state law.

The new law, which took effect on Saturday, was sponsored by Alderman Shane Cohn, who said he thinks smoking pot is a bad health decision, reports KMOX.

"I think my message is always 'Just say no," Cohn said. "I think I've made it perfectly clear that I've never even smoked cigarettes, let alone marijuana."

Cohn said the decriminalization law is just an attempt to "streamline city processes."

"This isn't something that's radical," Cohn said. "This is being done in other parts of the state of Missouri."

The ordinance doesn’t define "small amount," which will largely be left up to the interpretation of police officers, reports Nicholas J.C. Pistor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The police department is expected to have a written policy on handling such matters.

8th Ward Alderman Stephen Conway noted that offenders would now wind up with a ticket. In the past, he said, many of them were being let go without any formal legal charge at all. “In a way, this actually reintroduces a penalty,” Conway said in April.

New York: Man Hands Out Marijuana Lollipops On The Street


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Oakland, California man has been handing out marijuana lollipops on the streets of New York City since April.

"Marijuana has had a bad rap for too many years, man," activist Judah Izsraael, 44, co-owner of Weed World Candies, said on Wednesday, reports Shane Dixon Kavanaugh of the New York Daily News. "Its time is now."

Izsraael, driving a Ford Econoline van painted with pot leaves and ganja babes, said he has handed out weed lollipops along St. Marks Place and West 4th Street, Times Square and Union Square for a month now. The candies have strain names such as White Widow, O.G. Kush and Blueberry Dream.

"We just set up wherever," Izsraael said. "We're all about educating people."

A handful of attractive women in denim shorts and tank tops working for Izsraael stood on 14th Street near University Place on Wednesday night, offering passersby handfuls of the pot-laced lollipops. While most ignored the spectacle, others were agape.

"Is this for real?" asked one wide-eyed woman. "How do you not get caught?"

"Izsraael claims his candies contain only a small, yet legal, amount of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets you stoned," reports the Daily News, but of course that's nonsense, since there is no "legal amount" of THC under federal law.

"We're not giving out blunts," Izsraael said. "We can't guarantee that everyone is going to get high."

California: Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sentenced To Six Years In Federal Prison


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A California medical marijuana dispensary owner on Friday was sentenced to six years in prison on federal drug charges. Bryan Smith of Elk Grove owned and operated the R&R Wellness dispensary in Sacramento, and grew cannabis that was sold there.

Five of Smith's codefendants got prison terms of one to two years, reports Kathy Robertson at the Sacramento Business Journal.

When the Elk Grove Police Department searched Smith's home in February 2011, they discovered an indoor marijuana growing operation and processed cannabis. Raids of his residence, of R&R Wellness and of a warehouse in June 2011 -- after a four-month investigation -- claimed they found equipment for an electrical bypass to steal power for a growing operation, more marijuana, hash, cannabis-infused edibles, cash, a shotgun and a pistol, according to the cops.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Elk Grove Police Department, who, oddly, seem more interested in enforcing federal law rather than the California state law they are sworn to uphold. Perhaps tellingly, they got help from the federally funded Sacramento High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bender and Olusere Olowoyeye prosecuted the casae.

Oregon: 15-Year Federal Prison Term For Medical Marijuana Grower


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A medical marijuana patient and grower whose farms were raided back in October 2011 was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison.

Brian Wayne Simmons, 40, of Medford, was sentenced by senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner on charges of conspiracy and "manufacturing/distributing" marijuana, reports the Medford Mail Tribune. Simmons was convicted after a four-day jury trial in December 2012.

He owned and operated Brian's Green Thumb Farm in Central Point, Oregon. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and local police raided the farm in October 2011, confiscating 456 "large" cannabis plants. Agents seized 64 more
plants at a second grow site near Medford.

The plants were described as ranging in height from five to eight feet, according to court records. Agents also confiscated what they claimed was "thousands of pounds of harvested marijuana" being processed at the two sites.

Prosecutors claimed Simmons had registered more than 20 patients as growers on his sites in an attempt to comply with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. At his trial, one of the patients who was registered as a grower at Simmons' farm testified she didn't know the other patients involved or tend the plants herself.

U.S.: Drug Czar Claims Marijuana Is Drug Most Often Linked To Crime


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sure, he's required by law to oppose marijuana legalization. And of course, being put in such an untenable and nonsensical position requires one to lie one's ass off on a regular basis. But still didn't make it sound one whit less ridiculous when Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Thursday claimed that marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime in the United States.

Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), dismissed calls for cannabis legalization as a "bumper-sticker approach" that should be avoided, reports Rob Hotakainen at the McClatchy Washington Bureau. He claimed a study by his office -- which, again, is required by law to oppose pot legalization -- showed a "strong link" between marijuana use and crime.

Eighty percent of the adult males arrested in Sacramento, California last year tested positive for at least one illegal drug, Kerlikowske said. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, found in 54 percent of those arrested.

There were reportedly similar results in New York, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago. The study included examinations of 1,736 urine samples and 1,938 interviews with men who were arrested.

New York: Actress Amanda Bynes Arrested on Marijuana Charge


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former Nickelodeon child star Amanda Bynes was arrested Thursday evening in New York City, charged with tampering with physical evidence, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of marijuana. Building officials at her apartment called police to commplain she was rolling and smoking a joint in the lobby.

"There was a 911 call at her apartment building that someone was smoking marijuana in the lobby," NYPD spokesman Det. Brian Sessa told ABC News. Once police arrived, a building official took them upstairs to Bynes' apartment and she let them inside, according to Sessa.

"There was a heavy smell of marijuana," Sessa claimed. "[Then] she took the bong and threw it out the window."

She then told police "It was just a vase," according to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Chikaelo Ibeabuchi, reports Colleen Long of The Associated Press.

"My client completely denies illegally throwing anything out of her window," said Andrew Friedman, Bynes' attorney for the arraignment.

The alleged bong has not been recovered form the street 36 floors below, the NYPD had to admit.

Bynes appeared disheveled in a long blond wig and sweats Friday in criminal court, where the judge released her on her own recognizance and gave her a July 9 court date.

Oregon: Medical Cannabis Advocate Accused of Selling Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana activist Lori Duckworth, 48, and her husband, Leland Duckworth, 49, on Thursday were raided at the Southern Oregon Cannabis Community Center, a downtown Medford storefront where thousands of Oregon patients got cannabis. The Duckworths are accused of selling marijuana.

Duckworth, a mother and grandmother, became the latest high-profile figure in Oregon's cannabis community to be caught up in a "drug investigation," reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Oregon allows medical marijuana growers to recoup the costs of supplies and utilities when supplying cannabis to state-registered patients, but bans the "sale" of medical marijuana.

Raids on the Duckworths and others in southern Oregon came as state lawmakers were considering a bill that would legalize dispensaries. Lawmakers are also looking at a bill which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of conditions that can qualify patients to be authorized by a physician for medical marijuana.

Federal agents last year raided sites associated with James Bowman, reputedly one of Oregon's largest medical marijuana producers. Washington County law enforcement last year shut down The Human Collective, a dispensary that served as one of Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's campaign stops.

Louisiana: Bill Which Would Have Reduced Marijuana Penalties Gets Majority Support; Fails Anyway

(Graphic: Would Have Ended Life Sentences For Marijuana In Louisiana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislation that would have reduced Louisiana's draconian marijuana penalties found a majority of support in the state House of Representatives on a 46-45 vote -- but it failed anyway, because House rules require any bill to pass with a simple majority of total House members, making 53 votes necessary to enact a new law.

The bill would have greatly reduced prison sentences and fines for marijuana offenders in the state. On May 21 it went to the House floor for the third reading; the final 46-45 vote was tantalizingly close to changing the face of marijuana enforcement in Louisiana.

HB 103 would have concentrated more on fines and less on prison sentences than the current law, and thus would have helped reduce Louisiana's world-record prison population with more realistic sentencing guidelines, reports William Dilella at NOLA Defender.

The law, notably, would also have created separation between penalties for marijuana and its synthetic imitators such as Spice and K2, which have been shown to have actual side effects and can create legitimate health concerns.

New York: Community Groups Demand An End To Costly 'Stop-and-Frisk' Marijuana Arrests


New Poll: At Least 60% of All Voters Continue to Call for Fixing Marijuana Possession Laws, Including Half of Republicans; Poll is Third This Year Showing Strong Majority Support for Reform

Thousands More New Yorkers Have Been Arrested – at Cost of Estimated $7.5 Million – for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana Since April 1 When Reform Talks Failed During Budget Negotiation

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus on Wednesday gathered with community groups to demand an end to the biased, costly and deceptive practice of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession every year.

Dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state joined them at a press conference and rally to urge passage of sensible marijuana decriminalization legislation, A.6716A (Camara)/S.3105A (Squadron). The proposal would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view; smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Community members and elected officials are demanding that leadership in Albany make fixing this law a top priority. The bill would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people per year for possessing marijuana in public view when police demand that someone “empty their pockets” during a stop-and-frisk encounter.

U.S.: Poll Finds Only 6% of Americans Think Marijuana Possession Should Result In Jail Time


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Only six percent of Americans think minor marijuana possession should result in jail time, according to a new poll. The poll also found that a strong plurality of Americans think the use or possession of cannabis should not have any punishment at all.

Notably, the new Reason-Rupe poll is one of the few surveys in which the usual incarceration vs. treatment questions have been expanded to include no penalty at all, reports Mike Riggs at

When asked, "Which approach do you think government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana?", six percent said possession should be punishable with jail, 20 percent said it should result in mandatory substance abuse counseling, 32 percent said users should be fined, and 35 percent said people caught with small amounts of cannabis shouldn't be punished at all.

The results, according to, suggest that Americans have grown comfortable with the idea of decriminalizing pot, that is, reducing the penalty for minor possession to a civil fine. They are also more sympathetic than ever to the idea of full legalization.

New Jersey: Libertarian Senate Candidate Smokes Marijuana In Park

(Photo of Don DeZarn by Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As photographers snapped pictures, New Jersey Senate candidate Don DeZarn took a deep toke of marijuana smoke. His wife, capturing the scene on a cellphone, asked him who it was for.

"Who is this for?" repeated DeZarn, exhaling smoke, reports Mike Davis of The Times of Trenton. "This is for all my brothers and sisters who are currently being held prisoners of war by our government as a result of the War On Drugs."

DeZarn, 46, running on the Libertarian ticket, called it a public statement for marijuana legalization; no police were on hand to arrest him. Legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis is one of the chief planks of his campaign platform for the state senate; he also calls for cutting property taxes and increasing government transparency.

The fact that our state freely regulates, sells and taxes alcohol -- while prosecuting people who use marijuana in the privacy of their own home -- is insanity to me," DeZarn said. "It's completely insanity that we spend that type of money when there's far worse things out there."

DeZarn said marijuana should be regulated similarly to alcohol, in order to add tax money to the state's coffers while saving on the costs of arresting and charging pot smokers.

New York: Big Apple Marijuana Arrests To Drop 20% In 2013

(Photo: The L Magazine)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York Legislature decriminalized marijuana in that state back in the 1970s. But simple marijuana possession is still the #1 cause of arrest in New York City, with 149,951 pot busts last year. What gives?

NYPD cops use the "public view" exception to the decrim law to trap people, that's what. Officers will misleadingly ask a suspect to "take the pot out of your pocket," and then bust them for "public display" of the weed, which ups what would have been a traffic ticket-like event into a violation with arrest and possible jail time.

More and more civil rights activists have noticed this disturbing phenomenon, and the NYPD is increasingly coming under pressure to stop its dishonest tactics when it comes to busting pot smokers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried last year to remove the "public view" provision in the criminal code last year, reports John Surico at the Village Voice, and even NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has asked his officers to back off with the pot arrests, already.

Happily, it seems this is finally starting to have an impact, 35 years after decrim.

Study: Smoking Marijuana Regularly Not Linked To Lung Cancer

(Graphic: Weed Smokers Guide)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Regular marijuana smokers are no more likely to develop lung cancer than those who smoke only occasionally, according to a new study. The study's results back up those of other large-scale studies.

The finding of no significant increase in lung cancer risk held true whether marijuana users smoked once, twice, or more each day, and regardless of how many years they had smoked, Dr. Li Rita Zhang reported at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, writes Michele G. Sullivan of the Oncology Report Digital Network.

California: Obama Administration Targets Respected Marijuana Dispensary For Closure

(Graphic: Berkeley Patients Group)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Berkeley Patients Group, widely considered a national model for regulated medical marijuana providers and one of the oldest nonprofit medical cannabis collectives in California, on Wednesday announced it will fight a civil asset forfeiture suit served against its landlord in an effort to shutter the licensed business and seize the property from which it operates.

Berkeley city officials stood with representatives of Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) at a Wednesday press conference to defend the non-profit collective and announce a resolution condemning the actions of the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney.

In response to a similar case filed against Harborside Health Center by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in June 2012, city officials in Oakland filed a lawsuit to prevent the closure and stop Haag’s suit from moving forward. This response and the resolution from Berkeley City Council represent a growing demand from state and local officials that the Obama Administration allow states to determine marijuana policy per its stated policy.

New York: Former City Worker Sold Marijuana After Being Laid Off; Gets 5 Years In Prison

(Graphic: YNN)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A former worker for the City of Niagara Falls, New York has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for selling imported Canadian marijuana.

Wally Reynolds, 37, told officers he resorted to selling weed because he had been laid off from his former job working for the city, reports WIVB.

Reynolds allegedly admitted he sold marijuana between June 2004 and February 2010, and also managed others who distributed pot throughout the western New York state area, according to assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who handled the case.

Baumgarten claimed that Reynolds supervised other individuals in a "drug conspiracy" that imported marijuana from Canada into the United States.

He was convicted of conspiring to possess and distribute more than 100 kilograms of cannabis, and after pleading guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, was sentenced to a mandatory minimum five years in prison.

Reynolds had faced up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million.

The plea was the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.

(Graphic: YNN)

California: Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Supreme Court on Monday held that localities may entirely ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions in a closely watched case, City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center.

The result of the Court’s ruling is that tens of thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients in California will be without safe and legal access to medical marijuana. To date, more than 200 localities have banned dispensaries outright; many more are expected to do so after Monday's ruling.

While there are more than 50 localities in California that have adopted ordinances that comprehensively and successfully regulate medical marijuana and provide meaningful patient access, many others have enacted bans over frustration and hostility at the burden of medical marijuana regulation falling at the local level.

It is likely that the Court’s decision Monday, absent action by the Legislature, will lead to more localities enacting bans.

Eleven other medical marijuana states regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana at the state level. California is unique in placing the responsibility to regulate entirely at the local level and in its complete absence of statewide oversight.

D.C.: Dept. of Health Launches Zombie Campaign To Discourage Youth From Using Fake Weed

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Mayor Vincent Gray and the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday launched D.C.'s first campaign against "synthetic marijuana" use among District youth. The zombie-themed campaign will highlight the negative side effects and dangers of the illegal drug, which really shouldn't be called "marijuana" at all, since -- unlike cannabis -- it can be dangerous.

Synthetic smoking mixes go by a variety of different names such as Spice, Spice Gold, K2, Zombie World, Scooby Snax, and Potpourri. They are often packaged in bright, colorful three-ounce plastic pouches decorated with designs, graphic imagery, quotes from cartoon characters and popular movies, and other recognizable mainstream logos.

Public health and law enforcement officials have traced the sale of the drug to many D.C. tobacco shops and smoke shops, gas stations, convenience stores and over the Internet.

"One of my top priorities is to ensure that District youth have an opportunity to learn, live, and grow in a city that takes a proactive approach to ensure their right to a healthy, safe and drug-free life," Mayor Gray said. "The new campaign designed to create awareness of the extreme dangers and negative effects of synthetic marijuana is remarkable and very necessary.

California: Feds Continue Attacks on Medical Marijuana Collectives

(Photo: Patient Advocacy Network)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal crackdown on medical marijuana continues, with the feds sending landlord threat letters from the U.S. Department of Justice to collectives. A new round of letters went out this week to landlords and collectives throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Many California cities have had similar federal interference recently, including Oakland, Berkeley, Fairfax, Long Bach, Santa Ana and others.

Los Angeles has lost more than 80 collectives, and San Francisco has seen more than a dozen permitted medical cannabis dispensaries close due to the federal threats of asset forfeiture, prosecution and imprisonment.

California's Patient Advocacy Network is responding with a Day of Action on Monday, May 6. "Feds Out of California" rallies will be held from noon until 1 p.m. in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento, with more details to be announced.

• San Francisco: Noon, Federal Building, 90 7th Street, S.F., CA 94103

• Los Angeles: Noon, Edward R. Royal Federal Building, 255 E. Temple St., L.A., CA 90012

• Sacramento: Noon, Federal Building, U.S. District Court, 501 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Supporters are encouraged to contact California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday, May 6, to demand that she stand up for California and defend Prop 215, the medical marijuana law. Ask that Atty. Gen. Harris work to stop the federal attacks on collectives, patients, property owners and banks.

Netherlands: Maastricht Mayor To Clamp Down On Cannabis Cafe Foreign Sales

(Photo: The Fix)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Dutch mayor has warned his city's 13 cannabis cafes ("coffee shops") that he will take legal action if they continue with plans to sell marijuana to non-residents this Sunday.

The local cannabis cafe association announced its intentions earlier that all outlets will sell to people who don't live in the Netherlands on Sunday, when the Dutch celebrate the end of World War II, reports Dutch News.

Under recently adopted rules, the cafes, known as coffee shops, are now only allowed to sell marijuana to people who officially live in the Netherlands.

But a court ruling last week in favor of one coffee shop -- closed by Mayor Hoes because it sold to foreigners -- has given rise to hopes that the ban on sales to foreigners would be lifted.

"That ass should f off... really... Since this stupid rule there's an increase of shady dealers running around the city in the evening," commented Roy Kwarten. "And they sell a lot more than just cannabis. People who just enjoyed a smoke on the 'weed'-boat or coffee shop seldom bother anyone... These dealers are something else altogether, though. And they attract too many junkies, as well."

The bigger northern cities in the Netherlands, Amsterdam in particular, have said they will "use their discretion" about imposing the ban on foreigners, which means, in effect, they are ignoring it.

New Jersey: N.J. Weedman Publishes Legal Motion To Help People Busted For Pot Possession

(Photo: Martin Griff/The Times)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Longtime cannabis advocate Ed Forchion, the N.J. Weedman, has turned his attention to the marijuana laws themselves. Forchion, a Pembertown Township resident, has posted a 12-page legal motion online which he said can be used by anyone arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey.

"I'm tired of being a one-man gang," Forchion said, reports Mike Davis at The Times of Trenton, N.J. "I've been arguing these arguments for years. I'm just putting it out there. I don't care who does it, but let's get it done."

Forchion filed the brief in response to his most recent bust, after two Evesham, N.J., police officers found two joints on him after a vehicle stop on April 15.

"It's just like taking aspirin or Motrin," Forchion said. "I've got three joints with me right now. This could happen to me every day. I just about always have something on me."

Forchion argues that his arrest -- and all cannabis arrests since January 18, 2010 -- should be declared null and void.

That's because former N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine on that date signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law. The Act allows patients with specific serious illnesses to register with the state, and to buy cannabis from one of six allowed dispensaries (only one of which is open so far).

Syndicate content