university of denver

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U.S.: Ruling Could Limit Federal Marijuana Prosecutions

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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.

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

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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.

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

WelcomeToColoradoMarijuana

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

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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

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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: Health Officials Consider Lowering Medical Marijuana Patient Fee

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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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