Chile: Mother Restricted Access To Baby For Smoking Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Chilean mother says a hospital is restricting her from seeing her newborn daughter because she admitted smoking marijuana a few days before she gave birth.

During labor, Sindy Melany Ortiz told hospital officials that she had used cannabis to relieve pain in one of her arms that had been broken, report Eva Vergara and Luis Andres Henao of the Associated Press.

Six hours after her daughter Luciana was born on November 19, a social worker and a psychologist told her that the hospital had "activated a security protocol" and that her baby was being transferred to the neonatology unit. She said that since then, she's only been allowed to see Luciana for 2.5 hours a day, and is not allowed to breast-feed her.

"The pain (in my arm) was too strong," Ortiz said. "We researched several methods to ease it and we took a decision as a family because we didn't think it would affect the baby. It wasn't recreational, it was strictly medicinal."

Hospital officials in the southern Chile city of Talcahuano claimed they were just following protocol when they told a local court they'd found traces of marijuana in the mother's system.

"We've taken actions for the greater good of the child," claimed Patricia Sanchez, acting director at the hospital. "There's nothing out of the norm, and as consequence the baby is hospitalized."

Virginia: Marijuana Arrests On The Rise; Blacks Arrested 3 Times More Than Whites


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Virginia has sharply rising arrest totals for marijuana possession, and a disproportionate number of black people have been arrested in the Commonwealth, according to a new study based on data reported to the FBI.

Marijuana arrests dropped nationally by 6.5 percent between 2003 and 2014, but possession arrests in Virginia rose by 76 percent during that period, according to research by the Drug Policy Alliance in New York, reports Tom Jackman at The Washington Post.

Arrests of black people for marijuana in Virginia increased by 106 percent from 2003 to 2013, accounting for 47 percent of the state's arrests, even though the state's population is only 20 percent black.

The stats were compiled by public policy professor Jon Gettman of Shenandoah University in Winchester Va., and follow his national marijuana arrest analysis for the ACLU in 2013. That study showed that black people were 3.7 times more likely than whites nationwide to be arrested for marijuana, and that 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession.

The disparity in the District of Columbia, where blacks are eight times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than whites, led the D.C. Council to decriminalize cannabis in 2013, followed by voters legalizing it in 2014.

U.S.: 'The Empty Chair at the Holiday Table' Campaign Highlights Incarceration


Mothers from the Moms United to End the War on Drugs National Campaign Speak Out About the Devastation and Loss Caused by Punitive Prohibitionist Drug Policies

Each holiday season, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and moms from around the country share their stories of loss while calling for an end to the War On Drugs -- which has been so disastrous for tens of millions of families. Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the war on drugs.

The holidays are a particularly painful time for families – whether they are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, lost on the streets due to drug problems, in danger because of Drug War violence, or have lost a loved one to accidental overdose.

New Jersey: Legislature To Hold First-Ever Hearing On Marijuana Legalization


More Than 20,000 People Are Arrested for Marijuana Possession in New Jersey Every Year

Advocates Applaud Hearing and Call for Common-Sense and Popular Marijuana Reform

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, November 16 will hold the first-ever hearing on marijuana legalization in New Jersey.

The committee will hear invited testimony on how New Jersey could legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults and how this has worked in the other states that have legalized marijuana. Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the committee, has also introduced legislation to legalize marijuana.

“The Drug Policy Alliance supports taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults and thanks the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking testimony on this issue," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director of Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The criminalization of marijuana is costly, unfair and compromises public safety.

"New Jersey wastes more than $125 million dollars a year arresting people for marijuana possession," Scotti said. "This absurd policy criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and wastes law enforcement resources that would be better spent on serious public safety issues.”

California: Congresswoman Lee Recognized With National Cannabis Industry Association's Leadership Award


Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Wednesday received the 2015 Legislative Leadership Award from the National Cannabis Industry Association at the organization’s fifth annual gala dinner.

“It is truly a humbling honor to receive this award. I’d like to thank the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Board Chairwoman Jamie Lewis and Executive Director Aaron Smith for this tremendous honor,” said Congresswoman Lee.

NCIA is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S.,a and the only organization representing cannabis-related businesses at the federal level.

“Over the last five years, NCIA has been a tireless advocate for a common sense and pro-business cannabis policy that is focused on providing care and legal access,” added Congresswoman Lee.

"As a bold leader, Congresswoman Lee has been a longtime champion of rational marijuana policies -- even before the position was popular, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the NCIA. "Now that a majority of Americans support reform, Representative Lee will no doubt be among those who lead the charge to finally end the disastrous policies of prohibition.

"The Congresswoman is also an exceptional servant to the cannabis businesses in her district by sponsoring important legislation that would end the industry's unfair and dangerous banking access crisis,” Smith said. “We are proud to be able to honor her visionary leadership by presenting her with our annual Cannabis Industry Legislator of the Year award."

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Collects More Than 100,000 Signatures


64,750 valid signatures are required to move the initiative another step closer to the November 2016 ballot

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Monday announced it has collected more than 100,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts. The signatures must be reviewed and certified by town and city clerks before being submitted to the secretary of the commonwealth by December 2.

The valid signatures of 64,750 registered state voters are required to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. After the secretary of the commonwealth’s office tallies and confirms the signatures, the petition will be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the Legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 additional signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

“Massachusetts voters want the opportunity to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in 2016,” said campaign manager Will Luzier. “This initiative will replace the underground marijuana market with a tightly regulated system of licensed businesses that pay taxes and create good jobs.

“It should not be a crime for adults to engage in the responsible consumption of a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” Luzier said. “Police have far more pressing things to worry about than issuing citations to every adult they find in possession of a small amount of marijuana.”

In summary, the proposed initiative would:

Global: Religious Leaders Urge UN To Stand By Call For Decriminalization of Drugs


The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) is urging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stand by their call for decriminalization of drug use and possession in the United States and around the world.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson -- but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew its briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, according to the BBC.

“Locking up people for non-violent drug use is inhumane, immoral and ineffective, said Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. “At the center of SDPC’s thrust is our belief that there needs to be greater emphasis on policies that focus on Harm Reduction over criminalization.”

SDPC, an interdenominational network of African American congregations, clergy and lay leaders is actively engaged in organizing multifaith activities for the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on global drug policy.

In a recent meeting with a multifaith group of leaders in early October, SDPC outlined a working paper to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in April, 2016. That paper argues for a shift in the ideology and practice in the United States concerning drug use and possession.

Mexico: Supreme Court Opens Door To Legalizing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Introduces First-Ever Senate Bill To End Marijuana Prohibition


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. The bill is available online at

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so.

Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced medical marijuana legislation, known as the CARERS Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

Texas: Marijuana Activists To Gather In Dallas Saturday For Advocacy Training Event


Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform activists, including a former Dallas police official, will gather Saturday, Oct. 31, for an advocacy training event at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the second in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12. The first event was held earlier this month in San Antonio.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Joe Morris, a retired senior police corporal who enforced marijuana laws in uniform and undercover during his tenure at the Dallas Police Department. He will join representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy for media availability at 9:30 a.m. CT, and members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 10:15 a.m. CT.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a public policy failure and a public safety nightmare,” said Morris, who participated in hundreds of marijuana-related undercover stings during his career, oftentimes involving buying marijuana from or selling it to high school students.

U.S.: Sen. Bernie Sanders To Introduce Legislation To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition


First-Ever Bill Introduced In Senate To Legalize Marijiuana; Second Major Cannabis Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate This Year

Support for Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Continues to Grow

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders is to announce at a Wednesday town hall meeting that he is introducing legislation in the Senate that would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, end federal marijuana prohibition, and let states set their own policies without federal interference.

The bill, which could be introduced as early as Thursday, is expected to be similar to a 2011 bill introduced in the U.S. House by Democrat Barney Frank and Republican Ron Paul known then as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. It would be the first bill ever introduced in the U.S. Senate to end the failed war on marijuana.

“Clearly Bernie Sanders has looked at the polls showing voter support for marijuana legalization,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana reform was already moving forward in Congress but we expect this bill to give reform efforts a big boost.”

Virginia: Big Increase In Marijuana Possession Arrests, Especially In Black Communities


Virginia Moving in Wrong Direction as U.S. States and Congress Reform Marijuana Laws

Black Virginians Arrested for Marijuana Possession at 3.3 Times the Rate of White Virginians, Despite Equal Rates of Marijuana Use

Report Released as Thousands Prepare to Gather Next Month in Arlington for World’s Largest Drug Policy Reform Conference

A new report has found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, especially in black communities. The report was authored by Shenandoah University professor and researcher Jon Gettman and released on Wednesday by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

“As states around the country pass reforms to scale back the role of criminalization in marijuana policy, Virginia appears to be moving in the wrong direction,” said Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, policy manager with the DPA and former Virginia criminal defense attorney. “This troubling report should encourage Virginia lawmakers to fix the Commonwealth's broken marijuana policies.”

Using data compiled from the Uniform Crime (UCR) Program and the Virginia State Police, the report found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia consistently increased from 2003 to 2013, as did the racial disparity in arrest rates. Federal government data consistently shows that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates.

U.S.: Presidential Candidate Ben Carson Wants To Intensify The War On Drugs


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Presidential candidate Ben Carson, who is seeking the Republican nomination, wouldn't just continue to wage the failed War ON Drugs if elected, like everyone since Nixon. He would ramp up and intensify the futile policy, he said last week in an interview.

Speaking with conservative commentator Glenn Beck, Carson answered "Absolutely," when asked if he'd continue the War On Drugs. "I intensify it," he added.

"Legalize marijuana?" Beck asked. "I disagree with it," Carson replied.

Last year, Carson claimed marijuana is "gateway drug," despite all the science proving the contrary. "It tends to be a starter drug for people who move on to heavier duty drugs -- sometimes legal, sometimes illegal -- and I don't think this is something that we really want for our society," he said.

"You know, we're gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity and you know, it's just, we're changing so rapidly to a different type of society and nobody is getting a chance to discuss it because, you know, it's taboo," Carson claimed. "It's politically incorrect. You're not supposed to talk about these things."

No, Ben. You're not supposed to cluelessly spout in public and make yourself appear an idiot if you're interested in preserving any dignity.

North Carolina: Former Physician Charged For Growing Marijuana In Garage


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A former physician in North Carolina said he is unapologetic about the changes he faces after cannabis plants were seized from his garage.

Gordon Piland is looking at five felonies and one misdemeanor charge after a raid by Buncombe County Sheriff's investigators, reports Kimberly M. King at WLOS.

Piland admits he had about 30 cannabis plants growing in his garage in his rented home in Candler, N.C. "It's a plant given to us by the creator," he said.

One felony charge is for possession of psilocybin mushrooms; another is for possessing what Piland said is an old bottle of his late brother's prescription Percocet to remind him of his brother's tragic addiction to pain medication.

The rest of the charges are for Piland's possession and and alleged sale of marijuana.

Piland has a medical degree from Wake Forest, but his license to practice was revoked in the 1980s, he said, when cops found more than 100 marijuana plants in his home on the North Carolina coast.

Piland said he considers himself a naturopath, and said he helps ill people who get relief from smoking cannabis. "I'm not doing anything but basically fulfilling my oath as a physician," he said.

"People who have cancer and are trying to treat themselves, some people who are on chemotherapy have looked to me for various forms of cannabis,” Piland said.

South Carolina: Marijuana Charges Dropped After Cop Kills Teen In Parking Lot


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a horrific abuse of police power, 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was shot and killed in July in a Hardee's parking lot by an officer after an undercover narc lured 23-year-old Toni Morton, Hammond's date, there to sell marijuana. After Hammond was shot and killed, Morton was charged with possession of 10 grams of marijuana.

On Tuesday, three months later, local Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams announced she won't be pressing charges after "careful consideration of the facts of the case, a thorough review of the State investigation, and an extensive review of all applicable law," reports Ed Krayewski at

Police claim the officer, Mark Tiller, acted in "self defense," but attorneys for Hammond's family point out that an autopsy they commissioned found Hammond was shot in the back. The dash cam video of the incident, released by authorities, shows that Tiller fired at Hammond after the car was already driving away.

Attorneys also petitioned the South Carolina attorney general to remove Adams from the case, since it involved a cop within her circuit and because of other conflicts of interests. Adams refused to recuse herself, while the attorney general hasn't responded to the petition.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the incident to determine whether to bring federal charges. The U.S. attorney investigating asked her not to release any more information about the shooting, Adams claimed.

New York: Lawmakers To Hold Public Forum To Discuss Ending Marijuana Prohibition


Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger Sponsor Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger on Wednesday will host a public forum to discuss the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

This bill will effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

This discussion comes at a time when marijuana reform has gained unprecedented momentum. In the United States, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for adults and national support for legalization has reached 58 percent.

Despite all of the progress around the country, New York State and Buffalo residents, continue to suffer from disproportionate enforcement of prohibition in communities of color, with thousands of arrests every year.

What: Press Conference re: Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act & Public Forum to follow


- Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes

- Senator Liz Krueger

- The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Campaigns Unite Behind One Ballot Measure


Two competing marijuana initiative campaigns in Maine on Friday announced they will unite behind one state ballot measure to end marijuana prohibition in 2016.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will stop collecting signatures in support of the initiative it filed in March and spearhead the campaign in support of a similar initiative filed in February by Legalize Maine.

Each of the campaigns has collected approximately 40,000 signatures, and they will work together to collect the remaining signatures needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. They have until January to collect a total of approximately 61,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters.

“Joining forces is the best step forward, not only for our respective campaigns, but for Maine as a whole," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "We all agree marijuana prohibition has been a colossal failure and that it must be replaced with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated like alcohol.

"We can more effectively accomplish our shared goal by combining our resources and working together instead of on parallel tracks," Boyer said.

“We had some differences of opinion on some of the specifics, but our initiatives were largely similar overall," Boyer said. "We would not get behind this measure unless we were 100 percent confident that it will effectively and responsibly end prohibition in Maine. We’re also confident that the voters will agree.”

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Calls For End To Failed Marijuana Prohibition


As Oregon’s Emerging Marijuana Industry Visits Capitol Hill, Rep. Blumenauer Calls for Federal Government to Get Out of the Way

As representatives from the Oregon Cannabis Association visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor called for an end to the federal government’s failed approach of marijuana prohibition.

“Mr. Speaker, advocates from the new emerging marijuana industry in Oregon are descending on Capitol Hill at a very critical time for this fledgling industry," Congressman Blumenauer said. "They have a report about the implementation of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 91, overwhelming approved by voters last year to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the state level.

“Possession became legal July 1st," Blumenauer said. "Retail sales were authorized in existing dispensaries on the 1st of October to significant interest around the state. The first week saw an estimated $11 million in sales. They are working hard to implement the spirit and the letter of the measure, working closely with the Oregon legislature to refine it – learning from the experiences of states like Washington and Colorado that have already legalized adult use.

“Theirs is a positive story of economic opportunity, product development, tax revenues, more freedom for individuals, and eliminating the racial disparities in the enforcement of a failed policy of prohibition that comes down heavily against young men of color – especially African Americans," Rep. Blumenauer said.

U.S.: New TV/Internet PSA Unveiled; Designed To Highlight Hypocrisy Of Marijuana Laws


HOBO Unveils Latest Effort In Continuing PSA Campaign To End Prohibition Of Marijuana

Creative Audio/Content Production House Releases “Very Presidential” -- New TV/Internet Spot Designed To Highlight Hypocrisy Of Current Marijuana Laws.

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new TV/Internet PSA spot has just been unveiled which is designed to expose the federal government’s fraudulent handling of marijuana as a Schedule I drug (considered most dangerous, equivalent in danger to heroin and more dangerous than cocaine and methampetamine, both of which are considered Schedule II).

The spot was produced HOBO – the creative audio post and content production company led by company Founder/President Howard Bowler. The PSA will be available to grassroots organizations for use on websites, social networks and during live community events.

A version of the spot "will target states such as Ohio where marijuana legalization measures are on the ballot," according to a HOBO press release, although one finds oneself wishing other states would be spotlighted, since Ohio's legalization measure is easily the worst in the nation, as it hands control of commercial growing in the state to the 10 wealthy investors who financed the campaign.

Texas: Marijuana Activists Mobilizing Statewide; 3 Out Of 4 Voters Support Reform


Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy to Mobilize Activists Statewide in Effort to Inject Marijuana Policy Debate Into 2016 State Legislative Races; New Texas Lyceum Poll Finds Three Out of Four Voters Support Reform

First of several regional advocacy training events will be held Saturday in San Antonio; UTSA criminal justice professor and former corrections officer Michel Gilbert will be a guest speaker

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will hold an advocacy training event Saturday, October 3, in San Antonio that will mark the beginning of a statewide effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Dallas on October 31, Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12.

“Comprehensive marijuana reform saw tremendous progress this legislative session largely because families and regular Texans shared their stories with lawmakers,” said State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio). “The movement to change our antiquated and dangerous prohibition laws are gaining traction. However, that momentum will be lost unless citizens stay engaged with their lawmakers during the interim and campaign season.

“That's why these advocacy training events are so important because citizens will be the catalyst for change,” Sen. Menéndez said. “I'm excited the inaugural training session is taking place in San Antonio. Poll after poll shows Texans are ready for comprehensive marijuana reform.”

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