SF Gate

U.S.: Marijuana Industry Takes A Step Forward With DOJ

HarborsideHealthCenter

The cannabis industry had a major victory last week, without even appearing in court. The U.S. Department of Justice, after four years, dropped the case to shut down Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, which is currently the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the United States.

Robert MacCoun, a law professor and drug-policy expert at Stanford University, in an interview with SF Gate perfectly explained how this market is changing: "The framework is moving from the war on drugs to tricky issues of regulation, taxation and who is going to be in control of this major new industry," he said.

The reason for the softer approach is in part economical. According to a report by Marijuana Business Daily, the entire marijuana industry, including tourism, which is an impact of legalization, is projected to provide $44 billion to the economy by 2020.

Legal marijuana sales in the U.S. alone spiked to $5.4 billion in 2015, up from $4.6 billion in 2014. Sales are projected to hit $7.1 billion in 2016.

California: HUGE VICTORY For Medical Marijuana Dispensary In Federal Court

LynetteShawMAMM[AlanDep-MarinIndependentJournal]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana providers across the United States scored a major victory in federal court on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer ordered the lifting of an injunction against one of California's oldest medicinal cannabis collectives, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), reports David Downs at SF Gate.

The injunction can no longer be enforced in the wake of a Congressional spending amendment passed by Congress last year.

Judge Breyer ruled that the newly enacted Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prevents the federal government from prosecuting MAMM and it founder Lynette Shaw. The ruling, in federal District Court for the Northern District of California, will have a huge legal impact, according to attorneys.

The medical marijuana industry in California and other states has faced a federal crackdown since 2011. Big dispensaries like Harborside Health Center and Berkeley Patients Group are facing federal forfeiture actions.

Congress in December de-funded the Department of Justice's war on state-legal medical marijuana, but the DOJ has continued to narrowly interpret Congressional law to continue to crackdown.

The law's authors say that DOJ is breaking Congressional law by going after state-legal medical marijuana providers.

Shaw's attorney, Greg Anton, in June motioned for the Court to dissolve the injunction against Shaw, citing the new Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, Section 538.

California: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Says Golden State Will Legalize Marijuana In 2016

GavinNewsomeChinInHand[420Magazine]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California voters will legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults in the 2016 general election, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom predicted on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday. "I'm leading the effort," Newsom added.

"As some folks may know, we're very likely to have a ballot initiative in 2016 and we have strong confidence that we'll win," Newsom said, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

"We gotta do it right and be thoughtful and deal with the legitimate concerns folks have about our children, and not allowing Big Tobacco come in and do Big Marijuana," Newsom said. "So we want to do it in a very thoughtful way and we want to have that opportunity next year."

Lt. Gov. Newsom has been working with a Blue Ribbon Commission on legalization; its findings were released this summer. An initiative is expected soon.

A winning marijuana legalization initiative campaign could cost half a million dollars or more, and that's just for paid signature gatherers, never mind the ads. Those will run a cool $10 million or so -- and that's assuming no major opposition.

California: Residency Requirement For Medical Marijuana May Be A Myth

RealCaliforniaCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The residency requirement for legally getting a medical marijuana authorization in California doesn't really exist, according to at least two Bay Area lawyers who say the industry is misinterpreting state law.

Veteran marijuana lawyer William Panzer on Thursday confirmed the contents of a talk given by another attorney, Lauren Vazquez, to a group of entrepreneurs on January 22, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

"No, there is no residency requirement," Panzer said. "It's just misinformation."

"Why not?" Panzer said. "My wife hurt her ankle in Florida and had to go to the doctor for pain pills. They didn't say, 'Sorry, you don't live in Florida.'"

Almost all authorizing physicians and dispensaries in California enforce the residency requirement, turning away tens of millions of dollars in business each year by enforcing what looks to be a non-existent rule.

One of every 20 California adults is estimated to have used cannabis medicinally for a "serious" condition, and 92 percent of them believe it was helpful, according to recent polls.

Vazquez, speaking to about 30 marijuana investors, said that the preface to the 1996 Compassionate Use Act mentions "Californians," but the preface has no legal weight. This was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in a split ruling in 2013, allowing cities and counties to ban medical marijuana activity.

New Study: Marijuana Fights Alzheimer's Disease

AlzheimersCannabis(TokeSignals)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Yet another study is adding to the growing body of evidence for using cannabis to treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease. The study found that unlike conventional anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals, THC has "no toxicity."

New research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in September "strongly suggest[s] that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer's disease through multiple functions and pathways," reports David Downs at SF Gate.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than five million Americans diagnosed. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer's or other dementia, and it cost the nation about $203 billion in 2013.

Researchers at the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University wanted to look into the "potential therapeutic qualities of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with respect to slowing or halting the hallmark characteristics of Alzheimer's disease."

U.S.: War On Marijuana Defies Science, Doctors Testify In Federal Court

AlsoFirstOnMYSchedule

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three medical experts on Friday, Monday and Tuesday testified in federal court that the federal government's war on marijuana defies science, and is thus unconstitutional.

Decades of medical studies prove cannabis isn't the danger the government has claimed it is, the experts told a federal judge, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

The epochal cultivation trial, U.S. v. Schweder in the Eastern District of California, in which U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is allowing a hearing on a defense motion to declare marijuana's Schedule I classification as unconstitutional, has national implications.

Defense witnesses Gregory Carter, M.D., and Carl Hart, Ph.D., testified in Sacramento on Friday, and Philip Denny, M.D., testified on Monday and Tuesday. Government witness Bertha Madras, Ph.D., a former deputy drug czar under President George W. Bush, argued in that marijuana isn't medicine.

Madras compared cannabis to heroin, saying that humans no longer smoke opium poppies for pain relief. But while more than 22,000 Americans will die from prescription drug overdoses this year, with opioid pills killing more than any other prescription, cannabis has no lethal overdose level and zero recorded deaths from overdose in history.

California: Cops Wear 'FUCK THE GROWERS' Shirts During San Diego Pot Raids

FuckTheGrowers...Marijuana'sStillIllegal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana for medicinal purposes was legalized by California voters at the ballot box back in 1996 -- but some law enforcement types apparently still haven't gotten the message. Police routinely terrorize thousands of patient-cultivators every year with warrantless, no-knock raids, willfully ignoring established law, and now a San Diego narcotics officer has been photographed wearing a t-shirt reading "FUCK THE GROWERS... MARIJUANA'S STILL ILLEGAL -- while raiding patients.

Advocacy group Reform California on October 24 posted pictures of a San Diego Narcotics Task Force officer wearing the profane shirt during a Wednesday raid in Imperial Beach, reports David Downs at SF Gate. The photo was reportedly snapped by a 10News photojournalist.

While marijuana is still illegal under federal law for any purpose, state law enforcement officers are supposed uphold state laws. California residents with a doctor's authorization can possess or grow any amount of marijuana deemed medically necessary by their physician.

California: Democratic Party Platform Calls For Marijuana Legalization

CaliforniaDemocraticPartyEndorsement

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pointing out that it could put billions of dollars into state coffers and provide much-needed jobs, California Democrats on Sunday insert a plank in their party platform calling to "support the legalization, regulation and taxation of pot in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

On the marijuana issue, California Democrats "support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol," the official party platform reads, reports Seema Mehta at the Los Angeles Times.

The change -- a monumental political shift -- comes as 3,000 state Democrats met over the weekend at a three-day convention in Los Angeles, where they heard a Saturday appeal by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on the issue, reports Carla Marinucci at SF Gate. The former San Francisco mayor told the Democrats that the state should be leading, not following, on an important issue that, according to the latest polls, is experiencing a surge of popular support among Americans.

Washington: Marijuana DUI Patrols Planned for Seattle Hempfest

SmokesPotOnFridayGetsTHCDUITicketOnSunday

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With up to 200,000 expected in Seattle this weekend for Hempfest, cops looking to make "marijuana DUI" arrests -- whether those charged are actually impaired or not -- are going to have a target-rich environment.

The world's largest pot rally, hits the Seattle waterfront this weekend -- and it's probably not a coincidence that Washington state's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign starts at the same time, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The Drive Sober campaign runs from August 16 through September 2, reports Ben Livingston at SF Gate, and it will especially focus on catching drivers who have been smoking marijuana.

"Officers can tell when a driver is experiencing other effects of marijuana influence such as relaxed inhibitions, altered perception of time and distance, disorientation, incomplete thought processes and increased pulse," a clueless press release from law enforcement, customized county by county for the state, tells us.

New York: Hypocritical Anti-Pot Republican Legislator Changes Course, Says Yes To Decrim

SteveKatz

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A conservative New York Assemblyman who was busted for marijuana possession after voting against medical marijuana changed his course last week, voting for cannabis decriminalization.

Assemblyman Steve Katz on May 30 voted in favor of A. 6716, which would make small amounts of cannabis in public view a ticketable offense rather than an arrestable one. In 2011, Katz voted against a medical marijuana law in the Assembly.

Katz was stopped for speeding in March and ticketed for having a couple joints' worth of pot in the car. "At his court date, Katz got his case dismissed in an almost textbook instance of white privilege," writes David Downs at Smell the Truth.

The lawmaker had been going 80 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone on the New York State Thruway, according to the police report. It was the 59-year-old Putnam County lawmaker's first known pot bust.

Assemblyman Katz sits on committees for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, as well as Higher Education.

Earlier this month, the hacktivist collective Anonymous Team Vendetta temporarily took down Katz's website for what the group called his hypocrisy.

United States: Feds' war on medical marijuana goes overboard

By SF Gate Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! The Department of Justice maintains that there has been no change in the Obama administration's medical marijuana policy. President Obama recently told Rolling Stone, "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana - and the reason is, because it's against federal law."

Yet it also was against federal law in 2008, when candidate Obama did say he would not "use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws" authorizing medical marijuana. Today, the Department of Justice is waging a full-throated war against medical marijuana dispensaries in California and other states that have legalized it.

In October, a group of California U.S. attorneys announced that they would focus on medical marijuana outlets. They've been raiding area dispensaries ever since. Last week, the office of San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag stepped up its offensive by going to federal court to force the landlords of Novato's Green Door Wellness Education Center and Green Tiger dispensary to forfeit their properties.

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