Wall Street Journal

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Japan: First Lady Touts Revival Of Hemp Culture


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Japan's First Lady Akie Abe raised eyebrows this month after telling a Japanese magazine that she's considered becoming a hemp farmer to help revive the traditional culture.

Abe, in an interview with Spa!, was quoted as saying she'd become interested in hemp cultivation and considered applying for a permit to grow the plant after studying its history, reports Jun Hungo at The Wall Street Journal.

"Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively," Abe said. "While it is not yet permitted in Japan, I think it can be put into great practical use for medical purposes as well."

Japan maintains a hard line with its marijuana laws. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in 1948 bans the cultivation, purchase, import and export of marijuana. But before that, hemp was widely grown in Japan and used to make fabric and for use in imperial ceremonies.

There are still legal hemp farms in Japan, but they are rare and require special permits.

Abe said she'd like to revive the Japanese tradition of cultivating hemp. "I've even considered myself to apply for a permit to grow hemp," she said.

The article included a photo of the First Lady visiting a hemp farm in western Japan in August and posing for a photo in the middle of the hemp field.

Photo: Akie Abe/Facebook

U.S.: Willie Nelson's New Marijuana Brand Willie's Reserve Gets Funding


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Country music legend Willie Nelson is teaming up with private investors looking to cash in on a celebrity-endorsed brand of marijuana.

Tuatara Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, this wee announced its partnershipwith Nelson, 81, known for such standards as "Always On My Mind" and "On The Road Again," as well as for his well-documented fondness for cannabis, reports Tom Huddleston, Jr., at TIME.

Under the partnership, Tuatara will lead a group of investors financing the development of a legal recreational marijuana brand featuring Nelson's name and likeness.

"Willie's Reserve" will be a "premium cannabis lifestyle brand" for recreational marijuana users in states where it is legal, starting with Colorado and Washington "and also other states as regulations allow." Local businesses in those states will grow, distribute, and sell Willie's Reserve marijuana based on the brand's specifications and "quality standards," according to a press release from Tuatara and Nelson.

"I hear stories from people across the country about how the end of marijuana prohibition is improving their lives," Nelson said. "Legal marijuana makes sense. Good business will prove it can work in America," said Nelson.

U.S.: Daily Marijuana Use Exceeds Daily Cigarette Use Among College Students


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Daily marijuana use among college students in the United States is at an all-time high, with college students now more likely to smoke cannabis on a daily basis than cigarettes, according to the results of a nationwide survey released on Tuesday.

The long-term study, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, shows that the number of students who smoke marijuana daily is at its highest level since 1980, when such data was first compiled, reports Ben Kesling at The Wall Street Journal.

"There's no question marijuana use has risen considerably," said principal investigator Lloyd Johnston of the Monitoring the Future study. "In December, we released results on secondary-school students, and we're seeing a rise in daily marijuana use there as well."

Nearly 6 percent of college students in 2014 reporting smoking cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, up from 3.5 percent in 2007. Fewer students see marijuana as a health threat, with just 35 percent of high school graduates surveyed in 2014 saying regular cannabis use is dangerous, down from 55 percent in 2006.

About one of every 17 high school students uses cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, according to findings released last December by the university.

Arizona Supreme Court Says State May Not Deny Medical Marijuana To Felons On Probation


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday issued two rulings barring courts and prosecutors from denying medical marijuana use as a term of probation, if the convicted felons in question have valid medicinal cannabis authorizations.

In the first case, a Cochise County man convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to sell was forbidden from using medical marijuana by a probation officer after his release from prison, reports Michael Kiefer at The Arizona Republic. In the second, a woman pleading guilty to DUI in Yavapai County refused to abstain from using medicinal cannabis as a term of her probation, prompting the prosecution to withdraw the plea agreement. Both had valid Arizona medical marijuana cards.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that both probationers had the right to use marijuana for their medical conditions under state law, and that prosecutors and courts couldn't take that away from them as a term of probation.

"The Supreme Court is recognizing what the people decided when they passed the initiative: You can use your medicine," said David Euchner, assistant Pima County public defender. Euchner argued in both cases as a member of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

The court ruled, however, that the Yavapai County Attorney's Office had the right to withdraw from the offered plea deal because it had not yet been accepted by a judge.

U.S.: Banks Offering Financial Services To Marijuana Businesses


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are now doing business with legal marijuana merchants, and suggested that revised federal rules giving financial institutions the green light to provide services to cannabis businesses are starting to work.

The financial institutions in question cover about one-third of the United States, and have reported relationships with marijuana-related businesses, the top U.S. anti-money laundering official said, reports Jeffrey Sparshott at The Wall Street Journal.

The Obama Administration in February gave the go-ahead to the banking industry to offer financing and accounts to marijuana distributors who are legally conducting their business according to state laws, reports Danielle Douglas of The Washington Post.

"From our perspective the guidance is having the intended effect," said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. "It is facilitating access to financial services, while ensuring that this activity is transparent and the funds are going into regulated financial institutions."

U.S.: Americans Think Sugar Is Worse Than Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Many Americans think sugar is worse for health than is marijuana, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week.

Poll participants were asked to rank the relative harms of alcohol, marijuana, sugar, and tobacco in order of the most harmful to the least harmful in the survey of 1,000 American adults last week, reports Beth Reinhard at The Wall Street Journal.

Tobacco was ranked as the most harmful by 49 percent of respondents, with alcohol coming in second at 24 percent. Sugar was voted the third most harmful, with 15 percent, while marijuana came in as least harmful with just 8 percent.

Respondents said they were more interested in following cannabis legalization stories in the news over other stories, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, reports Alexandra Ward at Newsmax.

"Among the more shocking numbers to me was the legalization story," Todd said. "This idea that more and more states are moving to legalize medical marijuana or recreational use is a story that, according to our poll, is being followed more closely than what's going on in Ukraine, than the healthcare rollout, than the battles over same-sex marriage.

"Over 90 percent of the public say they are following the marijuana story closely," Todd said.

Colorado: $2 Million In Marijuana Sales Taxes - In First Month


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legalization is raking in the cash for Colorado, where state coffers are $2 million fatter from taxes on recreational marijuana from January, the very first month it was legal to sell non-medicinal cannabis in the Rocky Mountain State.

State officials said the numbers are about what they expected, reports Katie Lobosco at CNN Money. Colorado on New Year's Day became the first state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana to adults 21 or older; it's considered the first place in the world where cannabis will be tracked and regulated "from seed to sale."

The state gets a 15 percent excise tax, a 10 percent "special" sales tax and a 2.9 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis, as well as application and license fees. Just the 2.9 percent sales tax, and the license and application fees, apply to medical marijuana, which Colorado voters legalized back in 2000.

Recreational and medical marijuana, considered together, brought in about $3.5 million in taxes for Colorado in January, reports Carla Mozée at Wall Street Journal Market Watch.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper expects the state to get about $134 million in taxes from the cannabis industry in the next fiscal year. He wants much of the marijuana tax money will be used in programs aimed to keep kids from using cannabis.

U.S.: New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Yet another national poll has shown Americans want legal cannabis. A solid majority -- 55 percent -- of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. That majority would back nationwide laws similar to the ones in Colorado and Washington state, which allow adults over 21 to possess limited amounts of cannabis for personal use.

While 24 percent of Americans polled don't approve of marijuana legalization, they wouldn't actively seek to repeal such laws if they were backed by state voters and Legislatures, reports Michael O'Brien at NBC News.

More states could go legal this year. Alaska voters will get a chance in August to decide on marijuana legalization; Florida's Supreme Court on Monday approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative for November's ballot. Petitioners in Washington, D.C., are trying to qualify a legalization measure for this fall's ballot, as well.

New York: Premier of 'America's Longest War' Highlights Disastrous 40-Year War On Drugs


Panelists Include: Director Paul Feine, Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann, New York City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O'Grady and The New York Times’ John Tierney

Reason TV is hosting a special New York City reception, panel discussion and screening of the new Drug War documentary America's Longest War on Tuesday, September 24.

From murders on the Mexican border to death row in Mississippi, America’s Longest War, from Reason.tv, shows how the Drug War is destroying families and communities. Viewers will understand the horror and barbarity of the War On Drugs on a visceral level after viewing this film.

The documentary tells the stories of those victimized by the War On Drugs, including a Marine who survived two tours in the Iraq war, only to be shot and killed by police in a drug raid where nothing illegal was found.

Director Paul Feine also introduces you to several other Drug War victims, including a daughter who grew up without her father because mandatory federal sentencing rules forced him to serve 20 years in prison for a nonviolent drug crime.

America’s Longest War shines a light on the very real human costs of the War On Drugs and points to a viable alternative approach to drug policy.

Paul Feine, Director, America's Longest War
Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Councilmember
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director, Drug Policy Alliance
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "The Americas" columnist, The Wall Street Journal

New York: Push To Fix Marijuana Law Likely Dead; Stop-and-Frisk Continues


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was criticized on Thursday by black and Hispanic Democrats who said he wasn't doing enough to stop the tidal wave of "stop and frisk" arrests of minority youth.

Cuomo recently proposed making the "public display" of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation for which police officers issue a summons instead of an arrest. New York lawmakers decriminalized pot back in the 1970s, but New York City Police Department officers got around that by asking suspects to remove the marijuana from their pockets, then busting them for "public display" of pot, an arrestable offense.

The decrim bill was seen as an attempt to address the fallout over the NYPD's controversial tactics, which critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have pointed out leads to disproportionate rates of minorities being busted for pot.

Gov. Cuomo failed last year to reach a deal with Senate Republicans on the public display decrim bill; they opposed the measure, reports Mara Gay at The Wall Street Journal. He again pushed for a slightly different bill, this time decriminalizing public possession of less than 15 grams, in March but again lost.

The issue appears dead again for this year, according to lawmakers.

New Jersey: Likely Next to Legalize Medical Marijuana

By Suzanne Sataline, Wall Street Journal

There is a truth that must be heard! New Jersey is poised to become the next state to allow residents to use marijuana, when recommended by a doctor, for relief from serious diseases and medical conditions.

The state Senate has approved the bill and the state Assembly is expected to follow. The legislation would then head to the governor's office for his signature.

Gov. Jon Corzine, the Democrat who lost his re-election bid this month, has indicated he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office in January. It would likely be one of Mr. Corzine's last acts before relinquishing the job to Republican Chris Christie.

Mr. Christie has indicated he would be supportive of such legislation, but had concerns that one draft of a bill he read didn't have enough restrictions, a spokeswoman said.

The bill has been endorsed by the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians and the New Jersey State Nurses Association.

Some lawmakers oppose the legislation, saying they fear the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries, as in California, where medical marijuana is legal. "It sends a mixed message to our children if you can walk down the street and see pot shops," said Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini.

United States: More States Look to Legalize Medical Marijuana

By Jacob Goldstein, WSJ

There is a truth that must be heard! With the Obama administration pledging to take a hands-off approach to state medical marijuana laws, more states may make it legal for patients to use the drug, which doctors sometimes recommend to treat symptoms such as pain and nausea.

New Hampshire’s state House passed a medical marijuana bill on Wednesday, USA Today reports. A similar bill failed a few years back.

A New Jersey bill passed the state senate last month, a Minnesota bill passed a state House panel earlier this week and both houses of Illinois’s legislature are considering a bill, USAT says.

Under the Bush administration, the DEA regularly raided medical marijuana dispensaries, on the grounds that they were violating federal law, even if they were operating in compliance with laws in more than a dozen states that already allow medical marijuana use.

With the Obama administration’s move away from those policies, “we may be seeing the end of an era,” a UC Berkeley law professor told the WSJ earlier this month.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/03/27/more-states-look-to-legalize-medi...

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