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Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Voter-backed Decriminalization For Marijuana Possession In Memphis And Nashville

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has signed into law a bill that undoes recent marijuana decriminalization measures in the state’s two largest cities, the Tennessean reports.

Voters in Memphis and Nashville last year approved the decriminalization of marijuana, both of which gave police officers the option of issuing tickets for small-time marijuana possession in place of making arrests. However, Republican state lawmakers pushed a bill to the governor’s desk that says state law overrides local law in regards to Class B misdemeanors and above, under which marijuana possession falls.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors was Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown. He said of the decriminalization measures, “You can’t allow an officer at their whim to treat two different individuals who have potentially committed the same crime in drastically different ways depending on what that officer feels like at a given time.”

“You just can’t have cities creating their own criminal code, willy-nilly,” Lamberth said.

Despite their popularity among the cities’ voters, reports have indicated that police in Nashville and Memphis did not take much advantage of the change in local laws, which are now no longer valid.

Tennessee: Legislature Blocking Cities' Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As several states and cities seek to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee's Republican legislature is blocking such efforts in Memphis and Nashville.

Police in those cities could soon be losing their option of issuing a minor citation to individuals found to possess small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee legislators have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession.

The ban would conform to proposals by the Trump administration to step up federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

"I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. "But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Memphis and Nashville recently authorized their police officers to issue a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service to someone caught with a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Tennessee law currently imposes a misdemeanor charge for possession punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for people caught with a half ounce or less.

Tennessee: Loretta Lynn Admits To Trying Marijuana At 84

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Loretta Lynn stood up for her pot-smoking friend Willie Nelson recently in an interview with People.

In addition, the legendary singer/songwriter admitted to trying marijuana herself for the first time at age 84.

"[Willie is] one of the greatest people in the whole world. I know he smokes pot, by my goodness, there's a lot [of] people doing a lot worse than smoking pot," Lynn said.

She said that she had tried marijuana for the first time a few months ago.

"I got glaucoma and they gave me one of these cigarettes. I took one smoke off of it and it hit me right here in the chest. I like to have died! Glaucoma is just going to have to take over."

Lynn was hospitalized in August after taking a fall, but she's not slowing down.

"They tell me to rest all the time," she said. "But I'm not tired!"

U.S.: 4 States Most Likely To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Next

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legalized recreational marijuana has been a big news headline ever since the Election Day, when the number of states with legal pot going from 4 to 8. Several other states are getting closer to seeing legal recreational pot legalized, with some being closer than others.

In Arizona, Proposition 205 was defeated by a margin of just 2 percent. Cannabis advocacy groups encouraged by the close defeat will focus their attention on remaining hesitant voters. They expect to see legal recreational weed passed very soon. California just passed Prop 64, but similar measures in 2010, 2012, and 2014 were defeated. Oregon voted “No” on legal cannabis in 2012, then “Yes” in 2014.

Recreational marijuana becomes officially legal in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016, allowing adults to possess as much cannabis as they can grow. Otherwise, individuals can have up to 1 ounce, including 5 grams of concentrate. Neighboring states Rhode Island and Vermont are likely to follow suit, since citizens of those states could easily cross the border to take advantage of legal pot in Massachusetts. Both states are interested in the tax revenue the legal cannabis industry generates.

Tennessee: Attorney General Says Cities Cannot Enact Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Th Tennessee Office of the Attorney General issued an opinion this week that recently approved marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Memphis and Nashville conflict with state drug laws, and therefore may not be enforced.

City council members in both cities voted this fall to impose local ordinances giving municipal police the option of issuing citations for minor marijuana offenses in lieu of making criminal arrests.

The opinion reads, "[T]he ordinance[s] cannot stand because [they] impede the inherent discretion and responsibility of district attorneys general to prosecute violations of the Drug Control Act."

The opinion was requested by state Republican senators Brian Kelsey and Ron Lollar.

Under Tennessee state law, first-offense marijuana possession violations are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Colorado: Marijuana Is Legal In Some States - But Only If You're A U.S.Citizen


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana may be legal in a growing number of states, but not many people know that it's still very much against the law for all non-U.S. citizens to use it. In fact, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has penalized and deported more people convicted of marijuana-related crimes in the past decade than ever before.

Claudia, a native of Chile, learned this the hard way after being flagged for an in-depth security screening after landing at Los Angeles International Airport on October 8, 2015. "It's normal," she says. "Sometimes the officers review people." Besides, she had never been in trouble in her life.

Agents directed Claudia into a big, open room where she was asked to place her luggage on a table for examination. Officer Torres, a customs agent, asked her about her planned one-week trip to San Francisco and made friendly small talk as he went through her suitcase and purse.

Torres asked Claudia about past trips to the U.S., and she told the agent of visits to Tennessee, Louisiana, New York, and Colorado. At the mention of Colorado, he asked to see her phone. He quickly began scrolling through photos from her last visit to the States from April to June of that year. "Can you do this?" she asked.

"Yes", he replied, which Claudia accepted; she had nothing to hide, after all.

Tennessee: Nashville Marijuana Decriminalization Effort Advances In Metro Council

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A proposal to reduce the charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana took a big step forward Tuesday.

The Metro Council advanced legislation on a second of three readings that would add Nashville to the ever-growing list of cities and states that have passed measures aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.

The ordinance would give police the option of reducing the penalty for people who knowingly possess a half-ounce of marijuana or less in Nashville to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service.

Currently, people caught with a half ounce of pot or less in Tennessee face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“There’s a large criminal justice reform conversation going on now and there’s a large national conversation that is changing around this particular issue,” said Green Hills-area Councilman Russ Pulley, a co-sponsor of the legislation, noting that multiple states have already legalized marijuana and several more will have referendum votes on the matter in November.

“This gets us involved in that conversation,” he said.

The bill will now be considered for final approval on Sept. 20.

Tennessee: Hemp Maze Opens Near Nashville Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An hour south of Nashville there is a hemp maze opening to the public next week.

The Tennessee Hemp Industries Association is giving you the opportunity to meander through a tall, waving industrial hemp forest in Chapel Hill every Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11.

Industrial hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa l species and is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana.

The public will be allowed to walk through and admire the maze, but TNHIA has one rule: no touching. TNHIA says that Tennessee state law forbids any plant material to be taken from the field without a designated license of the state’s agricultural pilot program.

The hemp maze event will serve as “an agritourism study in partnership with the crop’s farmers, landowners and the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association,” according to TNHIA.

Founded in 2013, Tennessee Hemp Industries Association is a non-profit aimed at providing “support to state hemp farmers and businesses in the interest of developing a successful state hemp industry,” according to TNHIA.

The educational event takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11.

Tennessee: Nashville To Consider Decriminalization Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A newly filed ordinance is seeking to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The ordinance would make the penalty for possession or exchange of a half ounce of pot (14.175 grams) or less a civil penalty with a $50 fine. A court could have the option to suspend the civil penalty and instead mandate 10 hours of community service.

Under current Tennessee law, violators of this offence face a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If the Nashville ordinance is approved, a third offense will remain a felony, as required by state law.

“This would allow the police to just write a ticket,” said Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg, a self-described libertarian who is among those who have introduced the Nashville ordinance.

He said that someone who makes a mistake as a kid could be haunted their entire life because of the criminal offenses they face under the current marijuana law here.

“It’s very unproductive,” he said. “This has been an issue that has been moving nationwide from Florida to Washington as our society has come to understand that the most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”

Tennessee: Titans Linebacker Derrick Morgan Joins Eugene Monroe's Marijuana Cause

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan has joined Eugene Monroe in asking the NFL to research the benefits of medical marijuana.

"I feel like the NFL has a responsibility to look into it, to delegate time and money to research this for its players," Morgan told Yahoo Global News. "Given how much influence that the NFL has on society, I think it would help the greater good. There's a lot of people suffering and a lot of people that can benefit from cannabis as a medical treatment."

Monroe had been the only active NFL player to publicly speak out for marijuana policy reform, until appearing with Morgan in an interview with host Katie Couric.

Morgan has played 76 games for the Titans, and has recorded 27.5 sacks. He signed a four-year, $27 million contract in 2015.

Morgan said he's not concerned about the reaction to his position on marijuana as a benefit to NFL players.

"In thinking of the benefits that will come from spreading the awareness and the knowledge about this substance, I think greatly outweighs any backlash or ramifications that might come about it," he told Yahoo. "It's about not only us, but former players, future players and more so society as a whole."

The league has resisted the idea that marijuana could benefit players, clinging to the reality that marijuana is banned under the substance abuse policy.

Australia: Ecofibre Sends 6 Tons Of Hemp Seed To USA

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ecofibre announced Thursday that 6 tons of certified Australian hemp seeds were safely shipped to the United States. The seeds have been distributed to selected farmers in Kentucky and Tennessee to enable the cultivation of 530 acres of commercial hemp production under the 2014 Federal farms Bill, section 7606.

Ecofibre is an Australian company that maintains one of the world's largest and most diverse seed banks of cannabis sativa germplasm.

Ecofibre Chairman Phil Warner said: "This is the third year we have sent certified seeds into Kentucky, scaling from 100 acres last year, and we are impressed with our crop performance so far. We have been researching and working on this opportunity for over 15 years and the USA has always been our target. Given the similarity in latitude and climates to Kentucky and Tennessee, our proprietary Australian cultivars are likely to continue to outperform European and Canadian varieties."

Once the contracted farmers from Kentucky and Tennessee harvest and process the hemp crops, Ecofibre will bring a range of high quality hemp-derived products to the consumer markets via its US subsidiary, United Life Science.

Tennessee: 180 Marijuana Plants Found At 77-Year-Old Congressional Candidate's House

Flo Matheson, a 77-year-old candidate for Congress in Tennessee, was found with 180 marijuana plants at her home.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Flo Matheson, a 77-year-old candidate for Congress in Tennessee, is facing legal problems after police found more than 180 marijuana plants on her property.

She denies knowing about the grow operation but she speaks out about what she calls a bad law.

"I smoke marijuana," Matheson said in an interview with KXAN TV. "I'm guilty. I did it."

She said she knows it's illegal but there's no such thing as bad publicity so she's now using it to help her campaign.

“I really don’t regret that this happened,” Matheson said in an interview with KXAN TV. "It’s been a life changing experience for me in that it has made me more defiant and determined to try and get these laws changed.”

It was last Friday the Crossville Police Department served a search warrant at Matheson's home. They found more than 180 plants in a barn behind her house.

“I had never seen them – I never went back there,” Matheson says.

She said her friend Stephen Harrington needed a place to stay and that he used the barn and fixed things around her house.

She said that he was a disabled vet and was homeless and penniless.

But police found two ounces of pot, cash, and a gun inside her house.

She said it was given to her by a friend that owes her money.

"I guess I would say I smoke it about 2 or three times a week," she said in the interview.

Tennessee: Police Find $400,000 Worth Of Marijuana

John Clark Woods, Photo courtesy Wilso

by Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police found 141 marijuana plants at a residence in Mt, Juliet, TN on Wednesday when they responded to a domestic assault call. Police estimated the plants to be worth more than $400,000.

John Clark Woods, 55, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault after officers went to his residence on Cooks Rd., according to the Wilson County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies noticed marijuana in the residence while investigating the assault report, and narcotics detectives obtained a search warrant.

The sheriff's office reported that they found the marijuana plants growing in the garage. Police said they also discovered two handguns, a shotgun, several pounds of marijuana, and nearly $2,000 in cash believed to be from drug sales.

The case involving the found marijuana will go to a grand jury.

Tennessee; Knox County Residents Given Chance To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Friday, the Knox County Election Commission in Tennessee agreed to give residents a chance to vote on whether to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.

Marijuana would remain illegal in Tennessee, making the vote merely symbolic.

Steve Cooper introduced the initiative, and he will have until June 15 to collect at least 16,100 valid voter signatures to get the two questions on the November ballot.

One question will address whether recreational use of marijuana by people 21 and over should be allowed in Knox County.

"It’s kind of humorous with the recreational use because when you talk about alcohol or other substances, it’s just the legal use. No one talks about the recreational part of it," said Cooper. He is aiming for 20,000 signatures for each petition

The other question concerns the use of medical marijuana.

Cooper announced Friday that he will begin collecting signatures this weekend.

Tennessee: Farmers Backing Out Of Hemp Cultivation

Tennesssee's hemp crop had a tough first year back in business.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The first industrial hemp crop planted in Tennessee in over 70 years was a failure for a majority of farmers in the state. Farmer applications to grow hemp in 2016 stand at half of 2015's total number.

"We were planning to expand a lot this year, if everything would've went well," Chuck Mason with Happy Holler Hemp Farms in Parrottsville, TN told WBIR news. "I would not have cared at all to plant 300 or 400 acres," he continued.

Not only has the family decided to not expand, they have decided to skip out altogether for now.

In 2015, approximately 50 farmers in Tennessee grew the highly regulated plant. So far in 2016, with only two weeks left to apply for a growing permit, half of that number have applied.

"It scared a lot of people off. More than a lot I would say," said Mason.

The last day to apply to grow industrial hemp during the 2016 season is April 1.

Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Supporters Hope To Embolden Legislature


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Half a dozen medical marijuana supporters last week gathered on Legislative Plaza in Nashville holding signs saying "Green Cross Tennessee." The group advocates medicinal cannabis awareness in the state, and hope to embolden Tennessee lawmakers to provide safe access for patients who need the herb.

On Tuesday a legislative hearing in the Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee focused on what will become a new version of Senate Bill 1248, sponsored by Nashville physician and state Senator Steve Dickerson, reports Chris Bundgaard at WKRN.

"I am not the stereotype that has been created," said retired Nashville financial advisor Paul Kuhn just before the hearing. "There are millions of us out there. I am a long time supporter of marijuana law reform. I have seen it help patients like my late wife when legal medications failed completely."

Kuhn's name has been attached to a failed medical marijuana bill in past years. On Tuesday he was back with many other medicinal cannabis advocates on Tennessee's Capitol Hill for a hearing on a bill which will be introduced next legislative session.

The measure is expected to allow limited, non-smoking use of cannabis oil and capsules for conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

Tennessee: Hemp Harvest Leaves Farmers Disappointed


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Bureaucratic regulations and a late start hampered hemp farmers in Tennessee this year. The underwhelming return on the first legal hemp crop in 70 years has left them reconsidering their involvement in the state's pilot hemp project.

Legal red tape delayed delivery of the seeds, and then restricted what they can do with the seeds they harvested this year, leaving both Wayne Smith and Randall Ledford feeling like they paid for Tennessee's industrial hemp experiment, reports Nathan Baker at the Johnson City Press.

Smith, after finally receiving his seeds in June, planted three pounds. He harvested 10 pounds of seeds this month, but said he'd likely have had a much bigger yield if he'd gotten the seeds in April, when crops are normally planted.

Smith paid the state $254 for the permit to grow hemp. A buyer he contacted offered 70 cents a pound for the seeds -- a total of $7.

"I'm still pretty floored," he said. "I'm going to use the harvested seed to make oil and maybe sell it as a novelty item."

Ledford said he planted all 27.5 pounds of seeds he got from the state. He harvested 42 pounds of seeds, and said he believes one of his plants, at 7.5 feet tall, was the tallest in the state.

"Everybody's so depressed," he said. "Unless something drastic happens, there's no way I'll do it again next year. There are just too many regulations, too much B.S."

U.S.: National Cannabis Patients Wall Passes 18,000 Members


The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to change the perception of medical cannabis and its legislation, and humanize the perception of its patients, on Tuesday announced that it has exceeded 18,000 members.

"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages while raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," said founding Executive Director Dana Arvidson of The Wall. "One of our primary goals is to assist patients in every state to reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, and to end the needless suffering, before more people die.

"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.

According to Arvidson, The Walls' patient support group welcomes patient questions and offers loving support during times of trial and celebration. "We provide patients with a place to gather with others that feel the same way," Arvidson said. "It truly helps when a Patient knows they are not alone in their struggle.

"We also share patient's stories of healing or their search for healing, and many times their struggle for legalization in states denying them legal access," Arvidson said. "We also do our best to connect them with appropriate doctors and dispensaries in their area."

U.S.: Marijuana Arrest Turns Into Music Career For Chief Greenbud


A simple marijuana possession charge in a small Nashville suburb back in 2005 changed the career trajectory of a small business owner and songwriter. When he saw firsthand how the system handles those convicted of what he saw as a victimless crime, Chief Greenbud decided to share his experience.

After writing several songs on the subject and posting them online, he was asked to perform for a local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Ten years later the Chief is releasing his fourth album and has amassed over 1.7 million followers on his social networks.

Chief Greenbud's latest CD, "Chief Greenbud Volume 4" is set for physical and digital release on August 25.

The Chief said he's especially proud of the title, saying “I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. We've had multiple meetings brainstorming ideas to come up with the perfect name to represent what we're putting on the CD. I feel that we captured its essence,” he noted lightheartedly.

“There are several songs that I am excited for people to hear," Chief Greenbud said. "‘Everybody Gets High’ is an upbeat anthem that every stoner will be able to groove to and sing along with.”

Another song on the disc is 'iBake', about a regular guy who likes to smoke a little weed but is fearful of what may happen if he is caught. As the lyrics state, "I can’t wait for the day when my state says okay, and I won’t waste a single minute being afraid I bake."

Global: National Cannabis Patients Wall Humanizes Patients In 40 Countries


The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to humanize and change medical marijuana laws founded in 2014 in Tennessee, now reaches 40 countries around the world and has more than 17,000 members, organizers announced on Tuesday.

"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages, and raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," explained NCPW founder Dana Arvidson of Nashville, Tennesseee.

“The National Cannabis Patient's Wall not only signifies our solidarity as patients in need of a safer and effective alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals, but also the barriers we must overcome, our current State and Federal laws, which keep us from the medicine we desire and need," Arvidson said.

Arvidson said the group, which maintains a prominent social media presence including on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+, aims to help patients in every state and country reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, "and to end the needless suffering, before more people die."

"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.

According to Arvidson, one of the best parts of NCPW is letting patients know they aren't facing illness and often legal persecution all alone.

"We provide patients with a place to gather with others who feel the same way," she said. "It truly helps when a patient knows they are not along in their struggle.

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