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Michigan: Town's Attempt To Ban Medical Marijuana Goes To State Supreme Court

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

A Michigan city's attempt to ban medical marijuana appears to be alive again after the state Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the case.

The state Court of Appeals about seven months ago ruled that a new Wyoming, Mich., ordinance, which essentially bans medical marijuana, was not legal, reports John Tunison of A three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously that the Wyoming city ordinance conflicts with the states Medical Marihuana Act.

The court rejected Michigan's argument that state law contradicts the federal prohibition on marijuana, which the U.S. government considers a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses.

Medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek, who is an attorney, started fighting the ban after the Wyoming City Council passed the ordinance back in November 2010. Council members who passed the ban said marijuana could be distributed safely by pharmacists (who, by federal law, aren't allowed to touch the stuff), but not by licensed marijuana caregivers.

Ter Beck sued, saying the ordinance went against the will of the state's voters, who by a 63 percent margin approved the law in 2008. Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber ruled in favor of the city, then the Court of Appeals reversed his ruling.

Indiana: Governor To Sign Bill Increasing Penalties For Marijuana

(Photo: American Elephants)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With the rest of the United States moving toward relaxing the marijuana laws, Indiana seems to be bravely marching into the past. The Hoosier State's penalties for marijuana are getting tougher after Gov. Mike Pence requested -- and got -- stricter laws for low-level cannabis offenders.

The bill, HB 1006, still has at least one committee hearing, then it goes to the full Senate for a vote, Skywolf Neal Smith of Indiana NORML told Hemp News on Wednesday. It could be changed in committee or on the Senate floor; if there are significant changes, it will have to go back through the House for approval of the Senate changes, Smith said.

The increased penalties come as part of an overhaul of Indiana's criminal sentencing laws; possession of anything over about one-third of an ounce of marijuana is now a felony in Indiana. Pence said last week that he believed the bill would "send a message that the state is "tough on drug dealers."

Another part of the new law would require that felons -- which, of course, now include low-level pot possession defendants -- serve at least 75 percent of their sentences, up from the 50 percent or less that inmates might now serve if they earn good time and education credits while in prison.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls; Bong Ban Moves Forward

There is a truth that must be heard!Republican Legislator Suggests Medical Marijuana Patients Move Out of the State

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act can't even get a hearing in the Florida Senate or House, despite the fact that seven of 10 Floridians support medical marijuana. Meanwhile, a bill banning bongs was approved by a Senate committee -- unanimously.

What's going on in Florida? Things are so bad, that one Republican legislator, Jimmy Patronis of Panama City, has suggested that Cathy Jordan and other Floridians who need medical marijuana for their conditions should move out of the state and go somewhere it's legal, reports the Huffington Post.

"Shame on us as a Legislature for not taking the opportunity to hear this bill this year," said House bill sponsor Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) on Monday. She introduced the bill after getting cancer herself last year and talking with fellow patients about how marijuana alleviated their suffering.

"I thought, 'These are real people,' and I cannot turn a blind eye and stick my head in the sane and pretend like it's not happening, because it is," Edwards told ABC Action News.

California: Half-Ton of Marijuana Seized in Frozen Fish Shipment

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

U.S. Border Patrol agents seized more than half a ton of marijuana hidden in a shipment of fish this week at the Mexican border near San Diego, officials said on Friday.

The 29-year-old Mexican truck driver arrived at the border crossing about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, driving a tractor trailer with a shipment of frozen fish, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities, reports CBS LA.

One CBP officer sent the driver, truck, and shipment for an inspection; Border Patrol officers then used imaging technology to see "anomalies" in the cargo of tongue fish. Another CBP officer with a drug-detecting dog inspected the shipment, and the dog alerted on the contents.

A reported 232 packages of cannabis were found hidden in the cargo, totaling around 1,058 pounds. Officers claimed the weed had a "street value" of $476,000.

Officers seized the weed and the truck, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The driver was booked into the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center and will face federal charges from the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.

(Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Oregon: Pro-Marijuana Billboard Destroyed By Vandals

Regulate Marijuana in 2014!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A pro-marijuana billboard in Portland, Oregon, put up to coincide with the city's Spring Beer & Wine Festival, was destroyed by vandals Thursday night. The vandals removed the billboard from its backing, causing it to fall off the sign, rendering it unreadable.

The billboard, which promoted marijuana as being safer than alcohol, was paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which helped pass Colorado's Amendment 64, through which Coloradans voted to legalize cannabis last November, reports David Knowles at the New York Daily News. It featured a picture of a pint of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf with the words "beer," "wine," and "safer" printed above each image, respectively.

There is a truth that must be heard!"Portland is a city where a strong majority of people realize that the prohibition of marijuana has failed," MPP's Mason Tvert said. "More voters are acknowledging the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, so this is an important message to keep pushing."

Pointing to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tvert said nobody has ever died from smoking pot.

California: Lawsuit Alleges Long Beach Police Brutalized Marijuana Dispensary Employee

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

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Long Beach police who were raiding a medical marijuana dispensary brutalized one of the employees.

Security camera footage of the incident, which happened June 19 of last year, show employee Dorian Brooks, a young African-American with no prior arrests on his record, lying on the ground when an LBPD officer steps on his neck, reports Nick Schou at OC Weekly.

The footage also shows police officers trying to destroy a security camera after the attack.

When Brooks -- who posed no visible threat to the officers -- cried out in pain from the weight of the cop standing on his neck, officers roughly handcuffed him, according to the complaint, and said, "You're a black drug dealer; you should be used to this."

When officers battered down the security camera -- allegedly trying to destroy evidence of their misbehavior -- debris from the camera fell on Brooks, and he again cried out in pain. At that point, one of the officers told him, "Shut up, you dumb nigger," according to the complaint.

Officers refused to loosen Brooks' handcuffs, according to the lawsuit, and they made racially insulting and otherwise insensitive remarks to two overweight Latino dispensary employees. They allegedly loosened the handcuffs on two white workers.

Massachusetts: Police Say Men Mailed $1 Million In Marijuana From California

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

Seven men were arrested after a six-month investigation into a cross-country operation in which $1 million in marijuana was mailed from California to Malden, Massachusetts, police announced on Thursday.

Seized in a series of raids at Malden homes were six pounds of marijuana, six guns, and thousands of dollars in cash, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, reports Jarret Bencks of the Boston Globe.

Cops say they started investigating the so-called "Maplewood Crew" after U.S. Postal Service employees intercepted several packages containing cannabis addressed to various homes in Malden.

Arrested were:

• Dat Tran, 23; possession of ammunition as an armed career criminal, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana, money laundering

• Reginald Miller, 20; breaking and entering, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, possession of a large-capacity weapon, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of ammunition, destruction of property, being an armed career criminal

• Joshua Joyner, 21; trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana more than 100 pounds

U.S.: Marijuana Super PAC Wants To Go National With Legalization

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

Two brothers, Mark and Dennis Rogers, have started an effort to end the federal prohibition of marijuana -- both medical and recreational -- by creating the nation's first pro-marijuana super PAC (political action committee).

The Legalize Marijuana Super PAC was founded to deal with legal troubles concerning marijuana use, according to Mark Rogers, reports Sterling C. Beard at The Hill.

The Rogers brothers have already sent in their application to the Federal Election Commission, reports Kiki Van Son at Policymic.

They've also made known their opposition to the efforts of local law enforcement to eradicate the use of Marinol, an FDA-approved synthetic pharmaceutical substitute for herbal cannabis which is available by prescription.

"A couple of our local judges here have said it creates a problem for them because they can't distinguish between Marinol and marijuana," Rogers said.

"People that find themselves in legal trouble, that is essentially the only way that they can medicate," Rogers said, "even though we've made several distinctions in our state to circumvent [federal marijuana laws], the local authorities really grind you under their thumb."

Oregon: Billboard, Press Conference to Highlight Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Regulate Marijuana in 2014!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just days before one of Oregon’s largest and most celebrated beer and wine festivals, a provocative new billboard highlighting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol will be the centerpiece of a press conference to be held in downtown Portland on Thursday.

The Marijuana Policy Project will hold the news conference, Thursday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. in front of the billboard at the intersection of SW 13th Avenue and SW Alder Street.

Noting that April is Alcohol Awareness Month, the billboard features a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf below the words "Beer," "Wine," and "Safer," respectively. It encourages Oregonians who will be drinking at upcoming beer and wine festivals to think about how marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to consumers and the community.

"Our goal is to make this year's beer and wine festivals as educational as they are enjoyable," said Roy Kaufmann, Oregon representative of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We simply want attendees who are drinking to think about the fact that marijuana is objectively less harmful than the pint of beer or glass of wine they have in their hands."

Missouri: Survey Shows Half of Voters Support Marijuana Legalization

Photo: National Cannabis CoalitionBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey commissioned by a pro-cannabis group says at least half of Missourians favor marijuana legalization.

According to the poll, conducted by DHM Research, 50 percent of respondents supported legalization, 45 percent opposed it, and five percent were undecided, reports KMOX.

Five hundred likely 2014 Missouri voters were asked if they'd support a ballot measure nearly identical to the one that the pro-marijuana group Show-Me Cannabis Regulation tried to get on the ballot in 2012.

After the initial survey, participants heard more details about the proposal and were presented with an equal number of statements supporting and opposing it. That process increased support for the proposal to 54 percent.

"This poll confirms that support for legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol continues to grow, and that is just as true in Missouri as it has been in Colorado," said John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.

U.S.: Supreme Court Limits Police Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs; Requires Warrant

(Photo: Alan Diaz, AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday limited the ability of police to use trained drug-sniffing dogs to check around the outside of homes for illegal drugs that might be inside.

On a 5-4 split, the Court said that law enforcement's use of dogs to investigate a home and its surroundings qualifies as a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and thus requires a search warrant, reports Jonathan Stempel at Reuters.

"A police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is no more than any private citizen might do," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority.

"But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else," Scalia wrote. "There is no customary invitation to do that."

"The home is the first among equals" when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, Scalia said.

The decision upholds a 2011 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court which suppressed evidence found at Joelis Jardines' home with the assistance of Frankie, a trained drug-detecting chocolate Labrador retriever.

"It's a very important decision for all citizens, because it helps ensure their right of privacy in the places where they live," said Howard Blumberg, a public defender who argued Jardines' appeal.

Texas: UT Students Want To Stop Marijuana Arrests On Campus

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

Students at the University of Texas are proposing a bill that would be the first of its kind on any campus in the United States: It would stop university police from arresting anyone for marijuana possession, instead giving them a citation similar to a traffic ticket.

Twelve authors are proposing the bill in the UT Student Government, according to graduate student Robert Love, who said tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke are much bigger problems on campus than is cannabis, reports Kris Betts at KVUE.

"Marijuana is not a threat to safety on campus, so let's take resources away from marijuana and put it toward things that are dangerous to students," Love said.

The proposed student government bill would ask UT police to issue citations for all marijuana possession cases under four ounces, instead of making arrests.

"I want to make sure that they have the availability to spend those resources investigating violent crime, rather than forcing them to investigate marijuana crimes on campus," Love said.

Travis County, Texas, where the University is located, currently allows officers to either make an arrest or issue a citation at their discretion. Love says that can encourage racial profiling.

"Citations should be the standard, and that way blacks, white and Latinos get the same treatment under the law," he said.

New York: 225 Marijuana Plants Seized From Olean Home

(Photo: WKBW News)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New York man is in jail after a investigators executing a search warrant found 225 marijuana plants growing in his home in Olean.

Police claimed the cannabis would be "worth about $200,000."

Roman Gabriel, 34, was arrested after police searched the residence around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, reports WKBW.

Investigators claimed they found lighting, an irrigation and ventilation system, and fertilizers in the home, which is owned by Gabriel's parents. They estimated the value of the seized growing equipment at $10,000.

Gabriel was arraigned and is being held on $5,000 bail.

(Photo: WKBW News)

Virginia: Correctional Officer Busted For Bringing Marijuana Into Jail

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

A correctional officer in Virginia is facing charges after he allegedly tried to bring marijuana into the Danville Adult Detention Facility.

Ezra Lamont Price, 32, or Danville, Va., was arrested at the jail last Wednesday morning, according to Danville police, reports the Greensboro News-Record.

The Special Investigations Division of the Danville Police Department were called in after supervisors asked for the probe, reports WAKG. An investigation had begun after supervisory staff had suspected a correctional officer was taking contraband into the facility, reports WXII.

Price was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was taken to the Danville City Jail, then transferred to a jail in another jurisdiction.

The suspect is being held under a $7,500 secured bond. Additional charges are expected, according to police.

Price is currently on administrative leave, pending termination.

New Hampshire: House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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

The New Hampshire House on Thursday, for the fourth time in five years, passed a bill which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. But Governor Maggie Hassan has said she's not in favor of decriminalization, and the New Hampshire Senate has shot down all three of the recent attempts by the House to pass such a law.

Bill supporters said that marijuana prohibition doesn't have public support and is a financial and regulatory burden on the state, reports Morgan True at The Associated Press. Supporters noted that both alcohol and tobacco have worse health and societal impacts than does cannabis.

"A criminal offense and a criminal record can do much more harm than a small amount of marijuana," said Rep. Joel Winters (D-Nashua) during debate on the House floor.

The House voted 214-115 to pass the decrim bill after Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathright (D-Nashua) lost a floor fight over the issue, reports Dan Tuohy at NashuaPatch. Harriott-Gathright brought the bill to the House on behalf of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which recommended the House kill the bill.

Congresswoman Co-Sponsors Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

There is a truth that must be heard!Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) Co-sponsors Congressional Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Bill would allow states to set marijuana policies without federal interference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-District 1) this week joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Pingree, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, on Monday, joining a bipartisan group of supporters in the House. There are currently 14 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on February 5 introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level. It would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

Michigan: Marijuana Defendant Gets 11 Years For 6 Tons

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

One of nine defendants in a six-ton marijuana bust in Michigan was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

Patrick O'Meara was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo, reports John Agar at

O'Mera had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver marijuana in the 12,000-pound marijuana bust from October 2011.

Earlier, Judge Maloney had sentenced Tony Frank Disla-Santiago to 11 years, three months. Angel Luis De Leon-De Jesus got six years, six months; Flavio Ramos got five years, three months; and Anthony Castro-Gonzales was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration had tracked the shipment, which they claimed had a street value of $12 million.

A DEA special agent in Indianapolis told authorities that a semi loaded with marijuana was headed to a specific location in the city of Wyoming, Michigan. Law enforcement were watching the warehouse as the cannabis was unloaded.

According to the federal indictment, the defendants conspired to possess and distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana from 2009 through October 21, 2011.

Idaho: House Committee Holds Hearing On Anti-Marijuana Resolution

There is a truth that must be heard!It's Reefer Madness Time In Idaho: Measure Would Declare State Should 'Never' Legalize Marijuana 'For Any Purpose'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning held a hearing on SCR 112, a Senate resolution declaring that it's the "position" of the Idaho Legislature that the state should never legalize marijuana for any purpose.

"Wait," you may be thinking. "I thought representatives, in a democracy, asked the people what they think about issues, not dictate to them how it will be." That's apparently not how it works, at least in Senator Chuck Winder's mind.

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States," Winder, a Republican from Boise, told the House State Affairs Committee, reports The Spokesman-Review. "I think what this resolution is trying to do is just to make a statement that Idaho recognizes the problems that marijuana is creating in other states," he said, without defining exactly what kinds of "problems" are supposed to be happening.

"This is just a statement, it doesn't change the law," Winder said. "It's just a statement on behalf of the Legislature of Idaho." So, back to that "Legislature dictating to the people" thing.

New York: New Report Shows NYPD Spent 1 Million Hours Making Marijuana Arrests

Photo: The L MagazineBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Report: “One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012”

NYC Has Dubious Distinction of “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World”; Majority of Those Arrested Are Black and Latino Youth

Report Released As State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Makes Final Push to Pass Marijuana Reform Proposal This Week

A new report released on Tuesday documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years.

These, of course, are hours that police officers might have otherwise have spent investigating and solving serious crimes.

The report was prepared by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and recognized expert on marijuana possession arrests, at the request of members of the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature.

California: 2,000 Pounds of Marijuana Found on Santa Barbara Beach

Photo: Los Angeles TimesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An estimated one ton of marijuana was found on Sunday wrapped in plastic bags on Arroyo Quemada Beach in Santa Barbara County, California. Santa Barbara County law enforcement officials claimed the worth of the 2,000 pounds of cannabis as being $4 million.

Sheriff's deputies "located an apparently abandoned 309-foot 'Panga' style boat with two outboard engines and 20+ plus containers on board," the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a news release, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Sheriff's detectives located a significant amount of evidence that was consistent with marijuana smuggling activities, including trash and debris that was strewn about the beach and nearby coastal access trails," the sheriff's release said. Hemp News was unable to confirm at press time if the "debris" consisted of Doritos bags.

Law enforcement officials are now "testing the drugs and other evidence" found at the scene.

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