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U.S.: Congressmen Take Aim At Federal Marijuana Ban

Photo: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 43 years since the Nixon Administration kicked off the modern War On Drugs with the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act -- and a few members of Congress have begun a push to finally overturn the ban on marijuana.

About 10 lawmakers, mostly liberal Democrats, are writing bills they say will serve as legislative guideposts for the future if, as expected, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives ignores their proposals during this Congress, reports Raju Chebium of USA Today.

It's time to end the federal prohibition on cannabis, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), because 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and many others are also exploring that option due to growing public support.

"Maybe next year, maybe next Congress, but this is going to change," Blumenauer said. "And the federal government will get out of the way."

"I'm very patient," Blumenauer explained. "I've been working on this one way or another for 40 years, and I think the likelihood of something happening in the next four or five years is greater than ever."

Meanwhile, the old guard of prohibitionists keeps beating the drum for the status quo in the War On Drugs.

Arizona: Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients Are Under Attack

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

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act -- a voter-approved initiative -- has been law for more than three years. But several state and county officials have tried to usurp the wishes of the voters, and these efforts continue.

The medical marijuana program falls under the protection of the Arizona Voter Proposition Act, Prop 105. Based on this provision legislators who try to work against the spirit of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act are violating the loyalty oath they signed when entering office.

In the past three years, the Arizona Legislature has made it legal for employers to look up which of their employees use medical marijuana, and has simplified the process for law enforcement officers to track sick patients.

"Legally, the Arizona State Legislature may only advance the intent of the ballot measure passed by voters, but citizens have been set up for disappointment," states a Wednesday press release from a group called the American Council for Patient Liberty (ACPL).

"The new Senate Bill 1441 enables destruction of all medical marijuana in the state of Arizona without due process and is a hindrance to patient liberty," the group's press release states.

Florida: DEA Says Marijuana Growth 'Rampant' Throughout Sunshine State

Photo: Kottonmouth KingsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana growth is "rampant" throughout Florida, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, but the DEA says it is cracking down on cannabis cultivation in the Sunshine State.

The DEA allocated $500,000 to Florida's Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program last year, an increase of $50,000 over 2011, reports Ben Bornstein at WUFT.

That tax money paid for something called "marijuana-growth detection training" for law enforcement agents throughout the state, according to Judith Ivester, program coordinator for domestic marijuana eradication.

Ivester said that 87 percent of the money was used to "reimburse investigative costs" for local law enforcement, which she said provided an incentive to identify, investigate and eradicate the plant.

According to the report, 772 marijuana cultivation sites were discovered in 2012, resulting in 723 arrests and 37,388 plants being destroyed.

North Central Florida is a hotbed for cannabis cultivation, Ivester said. She claimed indoor growth is more prevalent in South Florida "because the area is more urban." Growers in heavily populated counties like Dade and Broward move their grow-ops inside to avoid detection, according to Ivester.

Iowa: Rodeo Clown Convicted For Growing Marijuana; Faces 20 Years In Prison

Photo by Dan Williamson, Iowa Press-CitizenBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa man who worked as a rodeo clown in local and national rodeos faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison after being convicted Friday of conspiracy to "manufacture marijuana."

Federal prosecutors claim Rory Meeks, 55, of Marion, Iowa, planted cannabis along corn and soybean fields in rural areas of Jones County, tending the plants all summer, reports the Iowa Press-Citizen.

Authorities claim Meeks and others harvested and dried the plants each fall, then sold the marijuana for several years in a row.

Jurors found Meeks guilty, after a three-day trial, of growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants between 2004 and 2011. He had been acquitted of one count of manufacturing marijuana in April 2011.

Meeks performed as a clown for prominent Iowa City-area charities. He now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $20 million fine, and at least 10 years of supervised release following imprisonment.

(Photo of Rory Meeks by Dan Williamson, Iowa Press-Citizen)

Colorado: CU Officials Say 4/20 Gathering Is Unwelcome On Campus

Colorado: CU Officials Says 4/20 Gathering Is Unwelcome On CampusBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Officials with the University of Colorado at Boulder said they still firmly oppose a large-scale marijuana party that traditionally takes place on campus every 4/20. With April 20 falling on Saturday this year, the party could be huge.

Despite the fact that Amendment 64, approved by voters in November, made marijuana use legal for all adults in the state, it is still illegal to smoke pot in public, CU-Boulder officials said, reports Brittany Anas at the Boulder Daily Camera.

"4/20 is most certainly an unwelcome gathering on the campus," sniffed CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.

CU officials said the smoke-out "disrupts academics," and they'll be making a stern announcement as early as next week about what the school's plans are to squelch the 4/20 celebration.

Last spring, CU took the unprecedented step of actually shutting down the Boulder campus to outside visitors on April 20. Norlin Quad -- the location of the party, which had grown to 12,000 pot-smokers -- was completely shut down.

University officials even put a foul-smelling fertilizer on the Quad to deter crowds. As a result, a far smaller crowd of only about 300 people gathered on a smaller campus field.

New York: Minority Caucus Joins Community Groups Calling For Fix To Broken Marijuana Possession Law

New York: Minority Caucus Joins Community Groups Calling For Fix To Broken Marijuana Possession LawBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus on Tuesday will gather to urge an end to the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession.

They will be joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state to urge passage of Governor Andrew Cuomo's marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal, outlined in his 2013 State of the State Address, would decriminalize possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis in public view, but smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Fixing the law would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people every year for possessing marijuana in public view -- after police have misleadingly demanded they "empty their pockets" during a stop-and-frisk encounter.

The reform proposal outlined by Gov. Cuomo is supported by dozens of community organizations throughout the state, state legislators, the NYC Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Additionally, the reforms are supported by law enforcement leaders from across the state, including NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley, all five NYC district attorneys (Democrat and Republican), district attorneys from Long Island, Buffalo and Albany, and police leaders like the Albany sheriff and Rochester police chief.

Washington: Shooting At Growhouse Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Critical

Washington: Shooting At Growhouse Leaves 1 Dead, 1 CriticalBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One person is dead and another is critically wounded after a shooting at a marijuana grow house in SeaTac, Washington, early Monday morning.

A woman called 911 just before 3 a.m. to report the shooting, according to King County Sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West, reports Kelly Koopmans at KOMO.

Deputies discovered one person dead inside the home in the 3000 block of South 146th Street in SeaTac. Another person who had been shot was taken in critical condition to Harborview Medical Center.

There were two attackers, and both escaped, according to Sgt. West. No description was immediately available.

About 50 cannabis plants were inside the House, according to West. Officers are trying to determine if the shooting happened during a robbery attempt.

The name of the person who was killed had not been released as 9 a.m. on Monday.

California: $1 Million Worth of Camouflaged Marijuana Found at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Photo of Col. Nina Armagno by Janene Scully/Santa Maria TimesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vandenberg Air Force Base officials say that marijuana smugglers crashed a 20-foot boat onto the beach on base property, leaving behind at least $1 million worth of marijuana just after 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

The marijuana was found near an overturned boat north of Wall Beach, according to Vandenberg officials, and was removed by Homeland Security investigators, who "took over" the investigation around 5:40 p.m. on Thursday, reports The Los Angeles TimesZ.

The cannabis was camouflaged, according to Col. Nina Armagno, a 30th Space Wing Commander, reports Janene Scully at the Santa Maria Times.

"What it looks like to me are large bags, kind of like dark-colored trash bags, wrapped up and stacked, and actually they have been covered in what looks like an attempt to camouflage them with brush," Armagno said.

"We immediately secured the scene and started searching the beaches and the local area," Armagno said. "I ordered all facilities to be searched and secured."

California: L.A. Mayor Frontrunner Calls On Feds To End Marijuana 'Hypocrisy'

Source: blogdowntownBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Los Angeles mayoral frontrunner Eric Garcetti is calling on the federal government to reclassify marijuana as medically useful, urging the Obama Administration to end what he called the "hypocrisy" of current pot laws.

"I think the federal government should do that swiftly and end some of the hypocrisy on the use of marijuana as a medicine," Garcetti told HuffPost Live's Jacob Soboroff on Wednesday.

Garcetti said the issue is personal for him because of fellow L.A. City Council member Bill Rosendahl, who is fighting cancer, reports The Huffington Post. According to Garcetti, if it weren't for medical marijuana, Rosendahl would not be able to keep food down during his cancer treatments.

During an emotional city council meeting last October, Rosendahl begged his fellow council members to reverse a recently passed dispensary ban in Los Angeles.

"Where does anybody go, even a councilman go, to get his medical marijuana?" Rosendahl asked during the meeting. He decided not to seek reelection this year, in order to focus on his recovery.

U.S.: Former DEA Heads Urge Justice Department To Block Marijuana Legalization

Source: Salem-NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seeking to thwart the will of the voters of Colorado and Washington state, former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration are pushing for continuation of the disastrous policies of the War On Marijuana. For the second time in six months, the former DEA heads have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to block state-level efforts to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

On Tuesday, the former DEA heads sent a letter to Holder calling on him to block implementation of new laws in Colorado and Washington. Holder will appear on Wednesday before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The ex-DEA directors sent a similar letter to Holder back in September, urging him to speak out against the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, as he had done in October 2010 before California's Proposition 19 legalization vote.

But the White House and Attorney General this time chose to remain silent, allowing citizens in Washington and Colorado to vote without the threat of federal obstruction. Both initiatives won with about 55 percent of the vote, exceeding President Obama's margin of victory in Colorado as well as the margins of victory by the candidates for governor and attorney general in Washington state.

Illinois: Man Gets 24 Years For Marijuana

Source: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Texas man who was caught with 73 pounds of marijuana in Douglas County, Illinois, three years ago was sentenced last week to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

A jury had convicted Antonio Sustaita, 39, of Beeville, Texas, of marijuana trafficking, possession with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana after the cannabis was found in the pickup truck in which he was a passenger, reports the East Central Illinois News Gazette.

The truck was stopped on I-57 north of Arcola by Illinois State Police on February 4, 2010, because it had a cracked windshield "and an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror." (Did you know they could list an air freshener as "probable cause"?)

A drug dog alerted on odors coming from the back of the truck, and the cops searched it, finding that the gas tank had been modified and held 42 bricks of cannabis.

In addition to the 24-year prison sentence, Judge Mike Carroll ordered Sustaita to pay a street value fine of $60,000 and a $3,000 mandatory assessment.

Because of the amount of marijuana involved, Sustaita could have gotten up to 60 years in prison.

Oregon: CRRH and ACLU of Oregon Work Together for Cannabis Freedom

By Paul Stanford, CRRH

Oregon: CRRH and ACLU of Oregon Work Together for Cannabis Freedom Campaign for the Restoration & Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) is a federal 501(C)4 political committee working to end hemp & cannabis prohibition. CRRH put Measure 80 on Oregon's 2012 ballot, and, last November, Measure 80 garnered 47 percent of the vote in Oregon to regulate marijuana and legalize hemp. CRRH is proud to be working with the ACLU of Oregon now to change our punitive marijuana laws.

CRRH believes that marijuana is a bellwether issue for the future of freedom. Cannabis has been purposely cultivated for over 10,000 years and produces more fiber, food, fuel and medicine than any other plant. Cannabis is the oldest and most productive crop sown. Please support CRRH and our vital work to restore hemp.

CRRH is proud to congratulate Mr. David Findaque for his much deserved 'E.B. MacNaughton Civil Liberties Award’.


United States: Petition to Pardon Medical Marijuana Provider Chris Williams

As a young man enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, Chris Williams swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." Now is the time to show him your support!

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Montana – Medical cannabis provider Chris Williams has been fighting federal prosecution since March 14, 2011, when federal agents served him a search warrant for his business, Montana Cannabis, along with 25 other medical marijuana businesses across Montana. Caregivers operating in compliance with Montana state medical cannabis law were shut down and arrested.

This raid (and others before and since) was in direct contradiction with the 2009 memo from the justice department, when the Obama administration stated that they “should not focus federal resources on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws,” and clearly shows how out of sync our Federal marijuana policy is with not only state law, but also the opinion of the America voter.

Colorado: Industrial hemp could jump-start economy

By Amy Gillentine, Colorado Springs Business Journal

There is a truth that must be heard! The Declaration of Independence was written on paper made of hemp. During World War II the federal government launched a “Hemp for Victory” campaign urging people to grow the plant to make ropes for the military.

Until the late 1800s, nearly all cloth and virtually all paper were made from hemp. It was so valuable that hemp could be used as money.

But that was then.

Today, industrial hemp isn’t strictly illegal, but farmers must get a permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency to grow it — something that’s proven impossible. Colorado and Washington have joined nine other states in legalizing the crop. But despite the passage of Amendment 64, the DEA still must give permission, even though states issue their own permits.

Colorado farmers could be able to grow industrial hemp as early as next summer, with state permits alone. It’s unclear if the federal government would raid industrial hemp farms operating without DEA permission.
Needless permits

Supporters say that it makes no sense to require federal permits. Hemp is harmless, they say, and can benefit the economy and environment. Hemp can remediate soil damage, be spun into clothing and bracelets, help create soaps and lotions, and even absorb tons of carbon dioxide a year. Currently, U.S. imports of hemp from Canada and China equal around $2 billion annually.

United States: Marijuana: An Avoidable Loss in Oregon

by FRED GARDNER, CounterPunch

There is a truth that must be heard! Paul Stanford, 52, is the author and prime mover behind Oregon’s marijuana legalization initiative, Measure 80, which had gotten 46.5 percent of the vote as of Sunday morning when I called to offer condolences.

“We came close,” he said. “We won Portland by over 60 percent and they’ve still got about 100,000 Portland votes to count. I think it’ll go above 47 percent when all those votes are counted.” Stanford did not sound downhearted. “Here’s an amazing thing,” he went on. “The day after the election the Oregonian, which had opposed us and called us all kinds of names, ran an editorial arguing that the legislature should now legalize and regulate marijuana!”

The billionaires Back East who put about $5 million into successful initiatives in Colorado and Washington state did not contribute to the Oregon legalization effort. Stanford had implored them for help, to no avail. “If we’d had a half million dollars of outside support for advertising, we’d have won,” he says matter-of-factly.

United States: The end of the war on marijuana

By Roger A. Roffman, Special to CNN

There is a truth that must be heard! (CNN) -- The historic measure to regulate and tax marijuana in Washington State deserves to be looked at closely as a model of how legalization ought to be designed and implemented elsewhere in America.

We've turned a significant corner with the approval of Initiative 502, which purposefully offers a true public health alternative to the criminal prohibition of pot.

Oregon: House Co-Chair Peter Buckley Endorses Marijuana Ballot


There is a truth that must be heard! Oregon State Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), co-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has today become the highest-level state elected official to endorse Measure 80, the marijuana legalization initiative.

In a statement, Buckley wrote:

It makes absolutely no sense to me that we continue to waste millions of dollars every year to prohibit adults from making the choice of whether to consume marijuana, especially when we could be regulating and taxing that market and funding the programs we've been cutting session after session. Oregon is a pioneer state, and I for one want us to make history this November by ending prohibition and regulating marijuana just like we regulate liquor.

Buckley has a bit of a history with the marijuana legalization movement. In 2010, WW reported, Buckley pledged that he would be willing to introduce legislation to the Oregon House that would provide a blueprint for legalizing and taxing marijuana.

However, after the failure of the Proposition 19 legalization ballot in California and the Measure 74 marijuana dispensary ballot in Oregon, Buckley changed his mind about introducing the legislation.

Other prominent politicians endorsing Measure 80 are outgoing city commissioner Randy Leonard and mayoral candidate Charlie Hales.

Oregon: Rep. Peter Buckley throws support behind legal pot measure

By Associated Press

There is a truth that must be heard! MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A prominent state lawmaker has given his support to Measure 80, an initiative that would legalize marijuana.

State Rep. Peter Buckley has served as co-chairman of the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee for the past two sessions.

The Ashland Democrat told the Mail Tribune newspaper he supports regulating marijuana in a manner similar to the regulation of alcohol under the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Legalization would take the "black market" out of Oregon, he said.

Oregon voters will decide this November on the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. The measure would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana consumed by adults.

Buckley said medical marijuana, which the state already allows, has legal loopholes that have frustrated law enforcement and led to abuse.

"I do think it's a problem with some medical marijuana growers," he said. "They've gotten greedy."

According to the YES on 80 campaign, legalizing marijuana could save $60 million annually in law enforcement costs. Taxing it could bring in an extra $140 million. Under the proposal, marijuana would be purchased through state-run stores.

Even if the law is passed, the federal government might question Oregon's authority to legalize the drug. But Buckley said the national debate could change if enough states follow Oregon's lead.

"Hopefully, the federal government will see the light," he said.

Oregon; Measure 80 would legalize pot, allow research

By CANDA FUQUA, Corvallis Gazette-Times

There is a truth that must be heard! If Oregonians pass Measure 80 in the November election, the state would legalize marijuana for adults, but more importantly to Todd Dalotto, it would open the doors for medical research on the plant.

“If it’s free from legal roadblocks, then patients can benefit greatly from the research that takes place in horticulture, in medicine,” Dalotto said Monday in front of the City Club of Corvallis. “Unfortunately, clinical research is hindered to a prohibitive degree, mainly because of federal prohibition.”

Dalotto, a longtime cannabis horticultural researcher and president of CAN! Research, Education and Consulting in Corvallis, offered his take on Measure 80 to the group on Monday. Sandee Burbank, executive director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, also spoke in favor of the measure at the club’s monthly meeting.

If passed, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would create a commission that would license growers, buy and sell the product, and test it for quality assurance. Adults, ages 21 and older, would be able to legally purchase cannabis from state-run stores or grow it, unregulated, for personal use.

In his presentation, Dalotto explained that each strain of the plant contains different properties. With more research, scientists will be able to isolate the parts of the plant, on a molecular level, that contain positive medicinal values and breed out negative properties, he said.

Richard Branson: To Win the Drug War, Follow the States

By Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

There is a truth that must be heard!The war on drugs has had a devastating impact in the U.S. Yet, as Republicans and Democrats gather at their national conventions, neither party has taken a strong stand on the critical need to support drug policy reform.

And that's surprising. Drug reform is not a partisan issue. For Republicans, reform efforts both ensure and secure states' rights and at the same time minimize waste of limited federal dollars. For Democrats, minorities who make up a large portion of their constituency disproportionately bear the greatest burden of current drug policies.

In fact, we have reached a watershed moment for drug reform in the U.S. as attitudes and opinions across the country have dramatically shifted. A Gallup Poll this past year found that fully 50 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.

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