Virginia

Virginia: Researchers Seek to Expand Hemp Industry, Farmers Seek New Cash Crop

Hemp

Virginia Tech researchers hoping to expand hemp industry, farmers hope hemp will become new cash crop

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Every year, the U.S. imports hundreds of millions of dollars in industrial hemp. However, industrial hemp cannot legally be grown in the U.S. because of an unscrupulous outdated law.

Hemp proponents looking to change the law say thousands of jobs would open up and hundreds of millions of dollars could be generated.

"We're talking tens of thousands of jobs," says Kimley Banks, Agriculture Marketing Director for Halifax County.

Virginia: VSU to Host Industrial Hemp Field Day on August 17

VSU Industrial Hemp Field Day

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A first-of-its kind industrial hemp field day at Virginia State University (VSU) will provide a forum for potential growers, researchers, marketing experts and hemp product users to discuss the future of the crop in Virginia and neighboring states.

The event, which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug 17 from 8am-3pm at VSU's Randolph Farm located at 4415 River Road in Petersburg, VA, will showcase an industry overview, discuss markets for industrial hemp products, industrial hemp research at VSU, and an industrial hemp plot tour.

Virginia: Governor Amends Mandatory Driver's Suspension Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed legislation into law amending the state's mandatory driver's suspension law.

Under existing law, defendants convicted of a marijuana violation lose their driving privileges for six months, even if the offense was not driving related.

Under the new legislation, SB 1091, the mandatory suspension will no longer apply to adults convicted of simple marijuana possession offenses.

The new law takes effect July 1, 2017.

States like Virginia enacted drivers' suspension laws due to the direction of the federal government decades ago. Members of Congress introduced legislation this week, 'The Better Driver Act,' to eliminate federal provisions that encourage states to suspend drivers' licenses in situations involving non-traffic related minor drug violations.

Virginia: Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Is "Only Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement in Richmond today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "dependency" on marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions addressed the group: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."

He said he supports a renewed drug awareness campaign on the "terrible truth about drugs" much like the ones started decades ago.

He continued: "In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse."

Virginia: General Assembly Passes Two Marijuana-related Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In this year's session of Virginia's General Assembly, 17 marijuana-related bills were proposed. The House and Senate voted to pass two of those proposed bills.

One of the bills focuses on driver's license reform. Under Virginia law, a driver's license is suspended for six months for any drug possession charge, regardless of whether a motor vehicle was involved or not.

This new reform will allow a judge to determine the outcome for first offenders, with alternatives including community service.

"What this really helps do is open up the conversation and help lawmakers realize that this truly is a bipartisan effort and the demand for this type of reform is abundant, not only within their communities but within the legislature itself," Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director of Virginia Norml, said.

The other bill passed allows pharmacies to manufacture and produce cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil to treat epilepsy.

A bill that would have allowed marijuana to be grown in the state for medicinal uses was proposed, but was not passed.

Virginia: Republican Representative Introduces Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Republican representative from Virginia introduced legislation this week to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, allowing states to form marijuana policies on their own.

The bill would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act but would not legalize the sale and use of marijuana in all 50 states. It would only allow states to make their own laws without the possibility of federal interference.

“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California,” Rep. Thomas Garrett (R) said in a statement. Virginia presently does not allow medical or recreational marijuana use.

The bill specifies that transporting marijuana into states where it is not legal would still be considered a federal crime.

“This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia,” he continued in the statement.

Virginia: Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Publicly Announces Support For Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam wrote on Medium and in a press release yesterday afternoon that he supports decriminalization of marijuana.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk and hopeful candidate for Governor wrote in Medium, "As a doctor, I’m becoming increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief, drug-resistant epilepsy, and treatment for PTSD, By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” he wrote. “African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement—money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”

Virginia: Fifth Harmony's Lauren Jauregui Cited For Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lauren Jauregui of girl band Fifth Harmony was cited for possession of marijuana on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told ET that the singer was given a citation at the Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia.

According to Dina LaPolt, attorney for the 20-year-old singer and Fifth Harmony, "Lauren Jauregui was not arrested and detained as reported, but simply given a citation for possession of marijuana and released on her own recognizance."

"She will address the matter appropriately through the legal system," LaPolt continued. "This will not interfere with any future scheduled performances or activities."

Fifth harmony fans took to Twitter after news of Jauregui's citation broke out, using the hashtag "#FreeLauren". Singer JoJo tweeted "#legalizeit".

Fifth Harmony is scheduled to headline Vevo Brasil's FunPopFun Festival by Fanta on Wednesday. That's likely where she was headed when she was cited.

The girl group -- which is also made up of Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Camila Cabello -- is also scheduled to perform at Power 96.1's Jingle Ball in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday.

Virginia: First Hemp Crop Harvested In Decades

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia is harvesting its first hemp crop grown since the plant was banned 70 years ago.

“People think it was tobacco that started this colony, but it was also hemp,” Jason Amatucci, founder and executive director of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition explained to the Richmond Times.

Virginia farmers were actually required to grow hemp during the Colonial Era, some of which was used to provide fiber for the Royal Navy's rope, according to Republican Delegate Joseph R. Yost, a sponsor of Virginia’s hemp research bill. “It’s funny that we had to pass legalization just to do research,” Yost said.

Virginia, along with 30 other states, began establishing hemp research programs after Congress passed the farm bill in 2014, allowing the Virginia Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

“It seemed far-fetched to me,” Yost admitted, “But the more research and study you do about it, the more you see the possibilities.” Yost is a proponent for the economic-boosting potential of industrial hemp, especially in states hurt by the loss of jobs in the dying tobacco industry.

Arizona: Marijuana Measure Fate Uncertain As More Money Pumped In To Defeat It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Foes of Arizona's measure to legalize marijuana are collecting a huge amount of cash in a last-minute bid to defeat it.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has collected more than $2.7 million so far, the latest figures show. More than $900,000 of that has come in the past three weeks as different polls have shown the fate of Proposition 205 could swing either way.

The most recent survey was released Monday, and it shows 43 percent of those questioned in support and 47 percent opposed. That could leave the outcome up to the 10 percent who told OH Predictive Insights they had not made up their mind.

Less than a week ago the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry poured $498,000 into the anti-205 measure.

Virginia-based SAM Action, short for Smart Approach to Marijuana, a group that has opposed legalization efforts in many other states, recently made a new $115,000 donation.

The pro-205 effort benefitted from a $110,000 donation two weeks ago from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. That company makes cleaning products, including those that use hemp oil. But various restrictions on growing hemp have forced the company to look elsewhere for its supplies.

Global: Medical Cannabis Institute Launches Online Curriculum For Nurses

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Medical Cannabis Institute (TMCI) on Thursday announced today that it has been rebranded as TMCI Global (TMCI). The change, according to the company, reflects the Institute’s mission to become the hub for international cannabinoid professional education reaching healthcare professional around the world.

“Our newly designed and branded website continues to serve the global healthcare community, but now we have expanded our content, functionality and deepened our author contributor and affiliate programs so that TMCI Global can provide the best online medical cannabis learning experience for healthcare professionals,” said Vicky Mossman, VP Partner Development at Scitent, the parent company for TMCI Global.

As part of the new website unveiling, TMCI launched Medical Cannabis Curriculum for Nurses, the first comprehensive online medical cannabis curriculum for nurses. The program, at $369, has 8 hours' credit available for Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) contact hours, according to TMCI.

Virginia: Industrial Hemp Legalized

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Thanks to new legislation, hemp will soon be grown commercially again in Virginia, WVIR-TV reported today.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week permitting the legal manufacture of industrial hemp products. The law goes into effect on July 1.

The Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition (VIHC) called it a historic milestone after years of campaigning for legalization.

Hemp was banned for decades because of its association with marijuana. Hemp is a versatile, useful plant which can produce seed foods, hemp oil, rope, cloth, paper, and fuel. Many countries, including Canada and France, currently legally grow hemp.

“This is going to open up our farmers to that global market, and it's experiencing double digit growth as well because of the great reasons of the nutritious seed. BMW has it in their cars, a lot of people don't realize that. They're looking at putting manufacturing plants here in Virginia already,” said Jason Amatucci with VIHC. The VIHC says the United States is the largest importer of industrial hemp products in the world, so growing it on US soil should be a big opportunity.

Many states cannot legally produce hemp due to a national ban from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

Virginia: Marijuana Arrests On The Rise; Blacks Arrested 3 Times More Than Whites

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Virginia has sharply rising arrest totals for marijuana possession, and a disproportionate number of black people have been arrested in the Commonwealth, according to a new study based on data reported to the FBI.

Marijuana arrests dropped nationally by 6.5 percent between 2003 and 2014, but possession arrests in Virginia rose by 76 percent during that period, according to research by the Drug Policy Alliance in New York, reports Tom Jackman at The Washington Post.

Arrests of black people for marijuana in Virginia increased by 106 percent from 2003 to 2013, accounting for 47 percent of the state's arrests, even though the state's population is only 20 percent black.

The stats were compiled by public policy professor Jon Gettman of Shenandoah University in Winchester Va., and follow his national marijuana arrest analysis for the ACLU in 2013. That study showed that black people were 3.7 times more likely than whites nationwide to be arrested for marijuana, and that 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession.

The disparity in the District of Columbia, where blacks are eight times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than whites, led the D.C. Council to decriminalize cannabis in 2013, followed by voters legalizing it in 2014.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Patients Deliver Petition Demanding DEA Head's Firing

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100,000+ Petition Signers Outraged That Obama Administration Official Called Medical Cannabis a "Joke"

A group of medical marijuana patients and their supporters on Friday delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures demanding the resignation or firing of the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after he called the medical use of cannabis a "joke."

The petition -- http://change.org/nojoke -- has more than double the amount of signatures garnered by an earlier petition that helped lead to the ouster of the previous DEA head, who also opposed medical marijuana. The current petition was started just two weeks ago.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my son Jagger is still alive today because of medical cannabis," said Sebastien Cotte, who participated in the petition delivery. "Cannabis has tremendously decreased the pain and seizures caused by his mitochondrial disease, while improving his quality of life. For our family, that’s no joke.”

Numerous scientific studies show that marijuana is beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of serious conditions like cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and many others.

"My mom uses medical marijuana to deal with the severe pain caused by multiple sclerosis,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, the organization that started the petition. “This issue is not a laughing matter for her and millions of other people who have seen the benefits of cannabis for themselves."

D.C.: Drug Policy Alliance To Host Lobby Day On Capitol Hill To End The War On Drugs

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More than 200 Attendees Will Meet with Lawmakers and Lunch with Members of Congress Who Have Championed Drug Law Reform in Congress

DPA-Led Constituent Lobby Day Occurs Just Hours before the Start of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, VA

The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a Federal Lobby Day on Wednesday, November 18 that is expected to bring more than 200 people from nearly 25 U.S. states and 15 countries to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would roll back some of the worst excesses of the failed War On Drugs.

The lobby day comes as numerous reform proposals gain momentum in Congress, including sentencing reform, marijuana law reform, and overdose prevention.

“Members of Congress are under a lot of pressure to reform punitive and ineffective drug policies and we’re turning the heat up,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. (DPA). “Our supporters will talk about what they’re doing in their community to reduce the harms associated with both drugs and the war on drugs.”

Lobby day participants will meet with lawmakers in roughly 70 meetings over the course of the day and attend a special luncheon with five members of Congress who have championed legislative efforts to reform federal marijuana and other drug laws. This historic constituent lobby day comes on the same day that House lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to advance major drug sentencing reform legislation.

U.S.: VOCAL-NY and Gretchen Burns Bergman To Receive Activist Award at Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action in the Field of Drug Policy Reform will be awarded to VOCAL-NY and Gretchen Burns Bergman at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21 in Arlington, Virginia.

VOCAL-NY is one of the most effective grassroots membership organizations in the country, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "They weave together a broad range of social justice issues, including working to end the war on drugs," the DPA announced in a press released.

"They have helped reduce New York’s unconstitutional and racially-biased marijuana arrests, raised awareness about overdose prevention, and restored the rights of formerly incarcerated people," according to the DPA. "Their organizing model, centered around the leadership and voices of those most impacted and those most stigmatized – people who use drugs, people living with HIV/AIDS, people of color, people who are formerly or currently incarcerated, or people who live in low-income communities – makes VOCAL-NY vital to the conscience of our movement."a

U.S.: Ira Glasser To Receive Top Award At International Drug Policy Reform Conference

IraGlasser[TheNovemberCoalition]

Glasser Has Shown Leadership in Drug Policy Reform for Nearly 50 Years

Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

The Richard J Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform will be awarded to Ira Glasser at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21, in Arlington, Virginia.

Ira Glasser will be honored for being a leader in drug policy reform for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1967 when he joined the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). He directed that organization from 1970 to 1978, when he became the executive director of the ACLU, retiring in 2001. Ira joined the board of the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) in the early 1990s, becoming its chairman some years later, and played a key role in the merger of DPF and The Lindesmith Center in 2000 to create the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

He has served as chairman of DPA’s board ever since, providing wise counsel and leadership, mentoring staff at all levels, and educating and inspiring countless activists with his unique capacity to place the drug policy reform movement in the historical context of other great political struggles for personal freedom and social justice. His sustained and pivotal contributions to drug policy reform in the United States are both exceptional and unparalleled.

U.S.: 34-Year Police Veteran Neill Franklin To Receive Award At Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginiaa. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, promoting alternatives to the Drug War, and is cosponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

Major Neill Franklin will be presented with the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement. Franklin is being honored for his influential work changing hearts and minds both inside and outside the law enforcement community.

Over the course of his 34-year law enforcement career, Franklin watched hardworking and dedicated fellow police die in the line of fire enforcing policies that don’t do any good. He spent 23 years with the Maryland State Police, including as an undercover agent and as the department’s head trainer, before being recruited by the Baltimore Police Department to reorganize its education and training division.

U.S.: Leading Drug Policy Reformers To Be Honored At International Conference

IraGlasser[TheNovemberCoalition]

Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding, DPA Board President and Former ACLU Head Ira Glasser, Key Grassroots Ally VOCAL-NY, and LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting alternatives to the Drug
War, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

Ira Glasser is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to Drug War extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

Virginia: Drug Policy Reform Conference To Feature Black Lives Matter Cofounder

PatrisseCullorsBlackLivesMatter[Twitter]

Thursday, November 19: International Drug Policy Reform Conference to Feature Town Hall Meeting Featuring BLM Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors and Leading Drug Policy Reform Activists

The Drug War is a primary source of funding for the tanks in towns like Ferguson, the over-policing in New York City and the unprecedented discretion given to police officers to criminalize black people. With the meteoric rise of the Movement for Black Lives and the growing movement for broader drug policy reform, what are the essential questions that drug policy reformers must ask themselves about black lives? And how can we join forces to course correct and create a world where all our communities can thrive?

These questions and many more will be explored at a live town hall as part of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in the Washington, D.C. area from Nov. 18-21. The conference brings together more than 1200 leading international experts, treatment providers, researchers, policymakers and key activists at the leading global forum on drug policy reform.

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