sam kamin

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U.S.: Ruling Could Limit Federal Marijuana Prosecutions


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal appeals court is expected soon to rule on the scope of the law that could point the way to ending or overturning at least six federal marijuana prosecutions and convictions.

People who are fighting federal marijuana charges say that a recent act of Congress should have stopped the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting them, because their activities were legally allowed in their states. Cannabis is still illegal under federal law for any purpose.

"It's been the hardest thing I've ever hard to deal with in my life when you see the government coming down on you for simply trying to be healthy," said Rolland Gregg, who along with his family has fought federal marijuana charges, reports the Associated Press. Gregg said the cannabis plants found on his property in Kirkland, Washington were for medicinal use and in compliance with state law.

Washington, DC: Supreme Court May Rule On Colorado Marijuana Legalization

supreme court marijuana.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The US Supreme Court were scheduled to meet today to discuss the case brought against Colorado by Nebraska and Oklahoma over marijuana legalization.

The justices' first determination is whether or not to even consider the case. The lawsuit requests that the Supreme Court overturn Colorado's legal marijuana program.

Their decision is expected early next week. Sam Kamin, a University of Denver professor who specializes in marijuana law, said the justices may not have even gotten around to discussing the case Friday. The case has previously been pushed back twice at conferences.

"We just don't know what's going on behind the scenes," Kamin said.

In the lawsuit, two of Colorado's neighboring states ask the Supreme Court to overturn the state's legal marijuana industry, saying that state-authorized legalization conflicts with federal law, and that marijuana coming across Colorado borders has created a burden.

Colorado officials defended the legality of their marijuana industry, while the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to not take the case.

Kamin implied that the death of Justice Antonin Scalia could impact the case. Scalia seemed to support the argument in a speech he made in Boulder a couple months before the suit was filed.

"[T]he Constitution contains something called the Supremacy Clause," he said about marijuana, referencing the provision that says federal law tops state law when the two are in direct conflict.

Oregon: Legal Marijuana Sales Begin Oct. 1; Past Convictions Can Be Cleared


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon wasn't the first state, or the largest, to legalize marijuana. But when it begins retail cannabis sales next month, the state will blaze a new trail, because it will consider applications to clear the record of past marijuana convictions.

Paperwork which would forever seal old pot offenses is now available in Oregon, thanks to a new law, and those who complete the process can legally say to any employer, landlord or anyone else who asks that they've never been convicted or cited for any drug crime at all, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times.

Fifteen years ago, when Erika Walton, then in her 20s, handed a bong to someone who turned out to be a police officer, she was cited for marijuana possession. She paid the fine, but the violation continued to haunt her as part of her record.

"It's taken away a lot of my life," Walton said as she inked out her fingerprints, which Oregon requires for sealing the file. Walton said the minor citation cost her when she had to disclose it on job applications and for volunteer positions at her children's school.

U.S.: Spineless Federal Judge Declines To Remove Marijuana From Schedule I List


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you've ever doubted that the deck is stacked, you can safely lay those doubts to rest. A federal judge in California on Wednesday unexplainably declined to remove marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the nonsensical ruling in response to a motion by defense lawyers to dismiss charges in a case the authorities claim involves a marijuana growing operation, reports Don Thompson at the Associated Press.

Marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act means the U.S. federal government officially considers cannabis to be roughly on par with heroin (also on Schedule I) in terms of danger. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

It was the first time in decades that a federal judge seriously considered marijuana's classification. To rule that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance means ignoring the vast body of medical evidence that has accumulated in recent decades, including hundreds of clinical studies and thousands of patient testimonials.

Mueller's move to hold a hearing last year to look at the issue is considered a significant step reflecting growing skepticism about federal marijuana laws, according to Sam Kamin, an expert on cannabis regulation at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Colorado: These Are The Good Old Days - Things About To Change In Marijuana Market


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This may be the golden age of marijuana in Colorado, and things are about to change.

Supply-and-demand is ever-so-slowly leading to lower prices on the recreational front, and legislative changes are in the offing that could make it more difficult for doctors to authorize medicinal cannabis for severe pain, reports Jeremy P. Mayer at The Denver Post. Voters could be asked to add a special tax onto medical marijuana, and there's even been some reckless talk about discontinuing medicinal cannabis altogether, lumping all cannabis sales into the recreational market.

"It is fluid," said Samn Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. "Everyone knew this was going to happen.

"This is the first-of-its-kind regulation," Kamin said. "We knew we weren't going to get everything right the first time."

Medical marijuana caregivers in Colorado may grow up to six plants for up to five patients, for a total of 30 plants, but some get a waiver to grow more. As of May, the state had about 5,000 registered caregivers.

A bill will be introduced in the Colorado Legislature next session to reduce the number of plants that caregivers can grow for their patients, and require the caregivers to go through a much more stringent approval process with state health officials.

U.S.: Some Police Stop Ripping Up Marijuana Plants In Medical States


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police in some medical marijuana states -- who once ripped up marijuana plants by the roots without a second thought, or just stashed them away to die -- are now reevaluating the practice.

Police departments from Colorado and Washington to Hawaii and California are being sued by people who want their cannabis back after prosecutors chose not to charge them, or they were acquitted, reports Sadie Gurman at The Associated Press.

Some former suspects are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash compensation to replace dead plants that the cops either uprooted, or left to die in evidence rooms.

Police departments in some municipalities have, therefore, either stopped rounding up the plants, or have started collecting just a few samples and photographing the rest to use as evidence in court.

"None of us are really sure what we're supposed to do, and so you err on the side of caution," claimed Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

The evolving paradigm under which cannabis is now viewed as medicine rather than as a dangerous scourge which must be wiped out is responsible for the changing ways police departments deal with the question.

"Law enforcement is going to have to think more carefully about what their procedures are and how those procedures might need to change in light of changes in the law," said University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin.

Colorado: Denver Could Lose Bid For Republican Convention Due To Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver would just love to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. It has historically been a popular city for conventions; the Mile High City's scenic vistas and tourist attractions make it a fun place to visit. But that "High" thing is the hang, you see: Denver is also the poster child for legal recreational marijuana since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64.

"Well, big deal," you may be thinking. "The voters expressed their will at the ballot box; isn't that how American democracy works?" Not so fast, Grasshopper. While a majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization, just 36 percent of Republicans agree with that position.

That means an overwhelming two-thirds of GOP members are against legalizing pot.

Denver, undeterred, is still trying to sell itself as the perfect site for the RNC, reports Jon Murray at The Denver Post. But when RNC staffers visited the Mile High City in April -- precursor to a larger scouting mission that started today -- the lunch topic turned to marijuana. And the GOP visitors had plenty of questions.

Colorado: Denver Warns Symphony To Cancel Bring-Your-Own-Marijuana Concert


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems as long as there are any laws at all against marijuana, there are going to be buzzkills looking to make sure nobody has a good time. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra may abandon its plans for bring-your-own-cannabis performances after Denver city officials on Thursday threatened to cancel the events.

The letter, hand-delivered and prepared by city attorneys, along with licensing and police officials, "urges" the CSO to cancel the concerts, report Jon Murray and Ray Mark Rinaldi at The Denver Post. In the city's view, the three planned "High Note Series" concerts risk violating state and city laws banning "public consumption" of marijuana.

The letter is addressed to CSO President Jerry Kern, and is signed by Stacie Loucks, director of Denver's Excise & Licenses Department.

The series, scheduled for the Space Gallery in Denver's Art District, was scheduled to kick off on Friday, May 23.

Should the orchestra ignore the city's advice, the letter says, "We will exercise any and all options available to the city of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners (and) event organizers responsible for any violations of law."

Loucks also warned that concert attendees would be "held accountable" for using marijuana in public. "With the foregoing in mind, we advise that you cancel the effort," the letter reads.

Utah: New State Law Allows Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil Extract For Seizures


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Until this year, extremely conservative states like Utah and Alabama didn't pass medical marijuana laws. Now both of them have something sort of like one. What changed? The advent of "CBD-only" legislation has changed the landscape for medicinal cannabis advocates, especially in conservative locales where lawmakers normally wouldn't touch marijuana with a 10-foot pole.

Cannabidiol, or CBD as it's more popularly known, is the new darling of lawmakers in conservative states who sense the rising tide of popular support for medical marijuana -- and would love to appear to be "doing something" -- but lack the political courage or will to advocate for an actual medical marijuana law.

CBD is politically safe because, as a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it doesn't get anyone high, and better yet, it helps to quell seizures of the kind often found in pediatric epilepsy.

Colorado: Health Officials Consider Lowering Medical Marijuana Patient Fee


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado health officials want to reduce the fee from $35 to $15 for licensed medical marijuana patients. The move could impact how many people remain as patients after recreational cannabis sales begin in January.

The proposal, set to be heard by the state Board of Health next week, would take effect in February, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.

The reason officials are looking at lowering the fee is the state fund that pays for the medical marijuana patient registry is making lots of money -- it currently has more than $13 million in cash. But the fees aren't supposed to be generating profits for the state; the program is just supposed to pay for itself.

"We are required to evaluate our cost and revenue each year and adjust (the fee) as appropriate," said Ron Hyman, who oversees the patient registry as part of his job with the Department of Health.

The lowered fees could mean more people decide to remain in Colorado's medical marijuana program, even after recreational sales begin in January 1. Patients won't have to pay the steep sales and excise taxes Colorado voters approved for recreational marijuana. They are also allowed to possess two ounces of marijuana, instead of just one, like recreational users.

There are currently almost 113,000 medical marijuana cardholders in Colorado.

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