United States

United States: LSU, Ole Miss, Southern University, Cultivating Cannabis

Ole Miss Federal Cannabis Plot

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The Louisiana State University (LSU) Ag Center and Southern University Ag Center will soon be joining the University of Mississippi as an official medical cannabis producers.

Recently, the Louisiana Legislature passed a law allowing LSU and Southern University to cultivate and produce medical cannabis. The research will include extensive studies on cannabis to treat HIV, AIDS, cancer and seizure disorders.

“The medical research on this, in terms of marijuana, is lacking in general. We have a lot of antidotal information, but not a lot of real clinical studies of if you do this, you get this outcome,” said vice president of LSU agriculture, Dr. Bill Richardson.

U.S.: Congressman Reintroduces Legislation to Give Students a Second Chance

Illinois Cannabis Arrests

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 14, Illinois Congressman Bill Foster (D) reintroduced legislation to change penalties students face when convicted of minor marijuana offenses. The Second Chance for Students Act would allow students convicted of an offense involving the possession of marijuana to retain financial aid eligibility for six months while they complete a drug rehabilitation program.

Under current U. S. Federal policy, students convicted of drug offenses lose eligibility for federal financial aid for a period of time.

"One mistake should not ruin a student’s future,” Representative Foster said.

U.S.: Federal Bills Seek To Reclassify Drug Possession Felonies as Misdemeanors

U.S. Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On June 27, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (D) reintroduced the Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment Act of 2017, known as the RESET Act. The bipartisan legislation would reclassify specific low-level, non-violent drug possession felonies as misdemeanors. On May 27, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the original bill, S. 1252 in the United States Senate.

Take Action: Support New Federal Legislation To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws

Take Action: Support New Federal Legislation To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws

CARERS Act would ensure patients have access to lifesaving care without fear of federal prosecution

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Recently U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congressional leadership demanding that Congress set aside the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects states that have lawfully enacted medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

Last week, medical cannabis proponents in the US House and Senate introduced The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2017, which would codify Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections into law and forbid the Justice Department from overriding them.

U.S.: Attorney General Jeff Sessions War On Cannabis Needs To End, Says ALCU

Attorney General Sessions, Prohibitionist

Our top law enforcement official is a criminal justice dinosaur who has a history of endorsing ineffective policies and racist political rhetoric, says American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Forty-six years ago, when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse to be “America’s public enemy number one”, decades of harmful and misguided rhetoric began. In an op-ed last Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions touted misleading statistics and called for tougher sentencing. The propaganda is AG Sessions latest effort to escalate the War on Drugs and undo medical and recreational cannabis laws.

Uruguay: Marijuana Museum To Open Soon

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis three years ago, and will soon be host to a new, unique museum totally dedicated to marijuana.

This Friday, the Cannabis Museum will open its doors in the capitol city of Montevideo for the first time. Organizers say the project is part of “continuing the rich history of freedoms that Uruguay has always adopted in an avant-garde way.”

Amsterdam, which also has a museum dedicated to marijuana, is contributing items for display, according to museum Director Eduardo Blasina.

The museum will be the first one dedicated to marijuana in Latin America and the southern hemisphere. Its mission, in part, is to promote “biological and cultural diversity,” according to the museum’s Facebook page, while also serving as a “cultural club.”

“It’s a way to connect people who love nature, art and science,” Blasina said.

Uruguay fully legalized production, use and sale of recreational marijuana in 2013, including allowing users to grow up to six pot plants for personal use.

The region is seeing a movement toward legalizing marijuana. Just last year, Columbia legalized medical marijuana, and Chile harvested its first medical marijuana crop.

U.S.: 11 Lawmakers Urge Congress To Include Medical Marijuana In Funding Bill

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U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal.

Although the provision passed both chambers of Congress, it was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Conference Report failed to include Senators Daines and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) amendments that would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in 26 states which have medical marijuana programs. The amendment does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.

U.S.: Derrick Morgan Becomes 2nd Active NFL Player To Support Marijuana Research

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Last week Derrick Morgan, starting outside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, became the second active NFL player to call on the league to support cannabis research in order to see how specific compounds in the plant can help treat or prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE.)

"If there's any evidence that this could help players, they owe it to us to explore it," Morgan told USA Today. "You hear about a lot of former players suffering from depression and dementia.

"Or the suicides," Morgan said. "[The NFL] could and should be a leader in this. If there's any evidence that this could help players, they owe it to us to explore it ... It's a legitimate ask."

Morgan went on to tell Katie Couric in an exclusive interview: "Given how much influence 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."

U.S.: Democratic Party Officially Includes Marijuana Reform In Its 2016 Platform

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Democratic National Committee has officially made the decision to include marijuana reform in the party's 2016 platform.

The DNC announced over the weekend that the party wants to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession, increase studies into the plant's therapeutic benefits, and eliminate prohibition affecting states where cannabis is now legal.

In a statement, the party said: “We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”

The DNC's new stance on pot reform is not as deep as what presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for. Sanders last week pushed for the DNC to embrace the total elimination of pot prohibition in the United States.

U.S.: NCIA Calls On Congress To Restore Commonsense Marijuana Proposals To Bills

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Despite bipartisan, majority support in both the House and Senate, the GOP "leadership" has blocked a fix to the dangerous banking crisis, and also stripped a provision allowing V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients.

Recent actions by Congressional leadership have derailed two commonsense, majority-favored marijuana policy reform proposals that had been expected to pass through the appropriations process. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Friday called on members of Congress to work to restore those provisions as the budget negotiation process continues.

"Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate have supported the commonsense, compassionate ideas that law-abiding cannabis businesses shouldn't be forced into dangerous all-cash operations, and that veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for our country should be able to learn about how medical marijuana could help them deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of their sacrifices," said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

U.S.: House Republicans Strip Veterans Of Equal Access To Marijuana In Dead Of Night

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"This isn't right for our veterans, or the American people."
~ Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jeff Merkley

On Wednesday, in the dead of night, as House Democrats held a sit-in for gun safety, House Republicans stripped language that would make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana from legislation to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

With no transparency and little opportunity for Members to review, the House passed the legislation shortly after 3 a.m. local time Thursday. The Senate will vote on the legislation next.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) released the following statement:

“Our language ensuring fair treatment for our veterans had broad, bipartisan support and passed both Chambers—it’s outrageous that it was removed. To add insult to injury, the legislation was released in the middle of the night, not even giving Members of the House an opportunity to review the language before voting on it. This isn’t right for our veterans, or the American people. We will keep fighting to make sure our wounded warriors have equal treatment and the ability to consult with their VA medical providers about medical marijuana as a treatment option.”

U.S.: House, Senate Bills Aim To Remove Barriers To Marijuana Research

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Medical Marijuana Research Legislation Introduced in House and Senate

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's a major development in federal cannabis legislation this week. Congressmen Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA) will be introducing the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. This bill heeds the calls of the medical research community to address the burdensome processes that currently impede legitimate medical research on marijuana.

The bill is a bipartisan and bicameral solution that removes barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are introducing a similar bill in the Senate.

“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community," said Dr. Harris. "Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research.

California: 3,000 Marijuana Professionals To Gather At National Cannabis Industry Association Summit

NCIACannabisBusinessSummit

As California prepares to consider cannabis legalization, the influential Cannabis Business Summit and Expo starts Monday in Oakland, featuring California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Numi Tea CEO Ahmed Rahim, industry leaders, federal lawmakers, and three days of education and networking.

More than 3,000 cannabis professionals from 16 countries will gather at the third annual conference at Oakland Marriott City Center, June 20-22, including a "who's who" of industry leaders and policy makers. The Summit takes place at a crucial time in history, with California's Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) ballot initiative expected to be certified for November voting, and the campaign fully underway.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver the policy keynote address on Tuesday, June 21, at 11 am. Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2018, is a key supporter for marijuana reform and legalization and a high-profile advocate for the benefits of embracing a legitimate cannabis industry.

U.S.: Senate Committee Allows Banks To Provide Services To Legal Marijuana Stores

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Fourth Straight Senate Victory for Marijuana Reform

Senate Bill Would Also Allow D.C. to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 16 to 14 to allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses. Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. The amendment was offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).

Consequently, many marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings.

“One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the illicit market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle.”

U.S.: Company Launches Initiative To Reduce Need For Pesticides On Marijuana

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A long-time partner of the cannabis industry is looking to dry up the need for heavy pesticide use.

Quest Dehumidifiers, which sold its first dehumidifier to the marijuana industry in 2006, has launched an initiative to help growers and consumers better understand the impact humidity levels have on plant health, which in turn may potentially reduce the need for unpopular pesticides.

The effort comes in the wake of an increasing number of recalls, pending state regulations, and consumer demand for truly organic cannabis – all of which will continue to impact growers.

“Cultivators know humidity impacts plant growth, but we see varied levels of understanding when it comes to using dehumidification to help prevent devastating plant molds and fungus, such as powdery mildew,” said Clif Tomasini, product manager at Quest. “We want growers to know we have their back and will give them credible, evidence-based information to help them grow clean cannabis.”

Largely educational in nature, the initiative includes media partnerships, public outreach, in-person meetings with growers, potential funding of third-party research, white papers, and an increasing focus on digital content that answers growers’ biggest questions about dehumidification.

U.S.: Senate To Hold Homeland Security Hearing On Alternatives To Drug War

TheWarOnDrugsIsAWarOnUs

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold an unprecedented roundtable hearing on Wednesday morning, June 15, 2016, entitled "America's Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches." The hearing comes at a time where the country is struggling to tackle the opioid epidemic, and policy makers are in search of innovative solutions that avoid the mistakes of the War On Drugs.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), will lay out his vision for ending the war on drugs and forging ahead with new policies based on science, health and human rights. In his written testimony, Nadelmann affirms that "A new approach is needed, one that reduces both the harm caused by drugs and the harm caused by current drug control policies."

“I’ve waited a very long time to be invited by Congress to testify on these issues,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I think it’s a positive sign that political leaders, not just in the states but even on Capitol Hill, now recognize both the failure of the drug war and the need to think outside the box in addressing our country’s drug problems.”

U.S.: Gary Johnson Promises Not To Get High In The White House If Elected President

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Monday promised he won't use marijuana if he's elected president in November.

Johnson, who won the Libertarian nomination for the second time on May 29, picked former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as his running mate, reports Guy Bentley at The Daily Caller.

The candidate freely admitted in a Monday interview with Jonathan Easley at The Hill that he'd used cannabis as "recently as a month ago," but for some reason promised he wouldn't use it if he is sworn into the Oval Office in 2017.

"The notion of getting that call at midnight or two o'clock -- people need to know there's a firm voice on the other side," he said.

Johnson said he hasn't touched alcohol for 30 years. Before launching his current presidential bid, he was CEO of the marijuana company Cannabis Sativa Inc.

He added that legalizing cannabis would lead to less substance abuse overall, because people would find it to be a "safer alternative than everything else out there, starting with alcohol."

U.S.: National Poll Shows Majority Supports Legalizing Marijuana

AmericanFlagMarijuanaLeaf

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A majority of American registered voters nationwide support the legalization of marijuana, according to the results of a new Quinnipiac Poll released on Monday.

Just more than half -- 54 percent -- said cannabis use should be made legal across the United States, while 41 percent said it should not, reports Nick Gass at Politico.

The results showed partisan polarization, with Democrats favoring legalizing 65 percent to 30 percent, and Republicans opposing legalization 62 percent to 36 percent. Independent voters backed legalization 61 percent to 36 percent, as did men (60 percent to 37 percent) and women, but just by 48 percent to 46 percent, within the margin of error.

Possession of cannabis is already legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia, with a couple of dozen other states having decriminalized the herb.

Majorities of voters younger than 65 said they would support legalization, while 57 percent of those 65 and older said they would oppose it.

U.S.: President Obama Commutes Sentences of 42 More Individuals For Drugs

ObamaSignsDrugSentenceCommutation

Drug Policy Alliance: President Must Do More Before His Term Ends and Congress Needs to Act Now

President Barack Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 58 people in May 2016 and 61 individuals on March 30, 2016. To date, Obama has granted clemency to 348 individuals.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"It’s great to see the President step up the number of commutations he grants, but he should do so many more before his term ends," said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The greatest relief for people behind bars will happen when Congress passes legislation.

"Right now there is legislation in the House and Senate to reduce mandatory minimums that would a significant impact on the prison population," Collins said. "Senator Mitch McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote now."

U.S.: Groundbreaking Cannabis TV Show Delivers National Network Highs

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Free Speech TV’s "Marijuana Straight Talk" is topping national cable network ratings as a journalistic news outlet covering the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry.

Hosted by media entrepreneur and former NPR news anchor Becca Williams, the national TV show’s “420 special” which aired on April 20 received record viewership, becoming the most popular weekly program to date on Free Speech TV network in 2016.

Based on Rentrak ratings service, Free Speech TV garners approximately 1.2 million viewers per month and reaches nearly 40 million households. The station airs on DirecTV and DISH channels, as well as 200 part-time cable affiliates.

Host Williams is a long-time cannabis advocate and consumer who recognized the potential of a broadcast medium devoted to the controversial subject of marijuana. With riveting candor and hard-hitting commentary, Williams rips through fact, fiction and folly to get to the truth behind America’s misconceptions about the “Green Rush.”

"Marijuana Straight Talk"'s episodes tackle the realities of a rapidly expanding cannabis community. From educational and wellness segments to in-depth interviews and historical narratives, the show creates a cannabis culture that is socially conscious, sustainable and prosperous.

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