Washington

Washington: Cannabis Freedom Fighter, Rainbow Valley Founder, Gideon Israel Passes Away

Cannabis Freedom Fighter

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Gideon Israel, 68, cannabis activist and winner of the High Times Freedom Fighter of the Year award in 1999, died on September 8 in Olympia, Washington. Born Jeff McMonagle, Israel grew up in Lacey, Washington and attended North Thurston High School, legally changing his name after joining the Love Family.

Israel often held public, utopian gatherings at his 42-acre property, Rainbow Valley, in south Thurston County, Washington, until the authorities shut him down and seized the property. Israel was a polarizing figure in Thurston County for decades because he clashed with local authorities over the festivals he hosted at Rainbow Valley, according to the Olympian.

Washington: Governor Inslee Gives Statement on AG Sessions’ Reefer Madness

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 24, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated that “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a crime.” The AG singled out Washington state and said it was not following the law and fueling a war.

U.S.: Congresswoman Introduces Bill Allowing States to Effectively Regulate Cannabis

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized some form of cannabis and more are expected to vote on legalization in 2018. Yet, cannabis possession or use for any purpose is still prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act, leaving every participant in the state markets — including cancer patients — at risk of prosecution.

On July 28, Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-WA) reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534) to protect medical patients, recreational users and small businesses in states that have legalized and regulated cannabis from being prosecuted now or in the future.

Washington: Historic Industrial Hemp Crop Planted In Moses Lake

HempLogic at Moses Lake, WA

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last year, the Washington Legislature voted to permit industrial hemp. Today in Moses Lake, industrial hemp seeds were planted. This historic event, which was presented by the Washington Hemp Industries Association and sponsored by HempLogic USA and Hemp Ace International, celebrated the first legal planting of the versatile, valuable industrial hemp crop in Washington State in approximately 90 years.

The commemoration featured agronomic and regulatory guidance from experts, hemp industry leaders and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

Washington: Lawmakers Say Inflatable Tube Men Can't Sell Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday, Washington lawmakers voted to ban the use of "inflatable tube displays, persons in costume, or wearing, holding, or spinning a sign with a marijuana-related commercial message" by retail businesses selling cannabis products.

The marijuana bill also has some positive aspects as well, such as allowing Washington residents to share marijuana with other legal adults for the first time, and allowing cannabis retailers to operate five dispensaries. Presently they are limited to three dispensaries.

The stated purpose of this prohibition of marijuana-promoting blow-up ads is to protect children. Current regulations already prohibit marijuana advertisements from using cartoon characters, toys or other depictions deemed "especially appealing to children or other persons under legal age to consume marijuana."

But Washington legislators felt that a number of outdoor advertisements from recreational dispensaries were flouting the spirit, if not the letter of the law.

Images of a billboard put up by Clear Choice Cannabis in Tacoma were circulated around the Washington legislature as proof of cannabis businesses potentially targeting children. It featured a cat wearing a "thug life" collar along with text saying "I'm so high right meow."

Alaska: Feds Block Rainforest Farms From Paying Taxes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.

“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.

Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”

Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.

Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.

Washington, DC: Garrett Announces Press Conference On Federal Marijuana Deregulation Legislation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A press release was issued today by 5th District Congressman Tom Garrett announcing details for a press conference highlighting H.R. 1227 - the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.

H.R. 1227 seeks specifically to remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from the federal schedule of controlled substances, thereby leaving regulation up to the states.

In a February 27 press release, Garrett stated:

"I have long believed justice that isn't blind, isn't justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California."

The press conference will be held on May 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM at House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol (back-up rain location to be determined).

Speakers planned for the conference are U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, parents of Haley Smith, Sophia Miller, and Jennifer Collins (children with medical conditions such as epilepsy who are benefiting from medical marijuana), and several other bipartisan members of Congress that have cosponsored this legislation who have sent in tentative confirmations, such as U.S. Congressman Scott Taylor.

Washington, DC: Seven Marijuana Activists Face Federal Charges For Offering 4/20 Joints To Congressional Staff

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Capitol Police officers arrested seven marijuana activists on federal charges Thursday as they gave away free joints to Capitol Hill staffers.

Activists from the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, or DCMJ, stood on a sidewalk near Senate offices -- non-federal land -- to avoid arrest and intervention by the Capitol Police.

A ballot initiative approved by District of Columbia voters in 2014 made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess 2 ounces of cannabis and to give it away. But marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

The few dozen activists booed the officers loudly as they walked those arrested across Constitution Avenue to police vans.

Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and the public face of legalization in the nation’s capital, was among those arrested.

It was planned for the joint giveaway to last from "high noon" until 6:20 p.m., but it ended at 2:15 p.m, with many of the activists saying that the police had "stolen" many of the 1,227 joints rolled to express support for H.R. 1227, which would put an end to federal marijuana prohibitions.

Eva Malecki, communications director for U.S. Capitol Police, issued the following statement:

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Vow To Smoke And Get Arrested On Steps Of U.S. Capitol

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens of marijuana advocates plan to light joints on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday as part of an effort to urge Congress to support marijuana legalization. Committing the offense on federal land could draw a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The April 24 event will mark the first time activists plan to light up on federal land.

It also would be the first significant protest to take place under the Trump administration, which has suggested it may crack down on violations of federal drug laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana.

"You can only ask nicely for so long before you have to change your tactic," said Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the advocacy group DCMJ. He said he's made sure his 13-year-old daughter will be taken care of and that his rent is paid in case he must spend an extended period of time in jail.

"It's come to this," he said.

Eidinger's group plans to distribute free marijuana joints to anyone with a congressional ID badge on a city street outside the Capitol. Under current law, possessing the joints on city streets is not a crime, but smoking it is.

The group has already rolled more than 1,000 joints and has dozens of volunteers ready to distribute them.

Any mass arrests from Monday's planned protest would be left to federal prosecutors in the District to handle.

Colorado: Lawmakers Back Off Plan To Legalize Social Cannabis Clubs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Colorado have backed down from a plan that would have legalized social cannabis clubs after Governor John Hickenlooper expressed disapproval, saying that the move could attract a crackdown from the Trump Administration, according to an Associated Press report.

The proposal was approved last month, after it originated in the Colorado Senate with bipartisan support. House lawmakers ultimately turned down the measure, however.

Gov. Hickenlooper said last month that he would veto any cannabis club measure allowing indoor smoking that came across his desk, saying that “given the uncertainty in Washington … this is not the year to be out there carving off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana.”

There currently are about 30 cannabis clubs operating in Colorado, all private clubs operating under local laws.

The social use measure would have been the first statewide acceptance of social cannabis clubs.

The legislature's retreat demonstrates the uncertainty felt by lawmakers in legalized states about the Trump Administration, who has so far refrained from making a firm statement one way or another about its stance on the marijuana legalization laws that have been passed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington D.C.

Oregon: Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Marijuana Merchants From Keeping Buyer Information

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon lawmakers approved a bill Monday to ban sellers of marijuana for recreational use from keeping information from their customers to protect buyers from possible penalties under federal law.

Although more than two dozen states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

The bill, passed by the Oregon House of Representatives 53-5, bans merchants who sell recreational marijuana from keeping information for more than 48 hours that they collect from identification, such as a driver license.

The state Senate approved the bill in March. It now goes to the desk of Oregon Governor Kate Brown for her to sign into law.

"I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure that their personal identification information is not somehow compromised," Senator Floyd Prozanski told a committee last month.

Recent comments from members of the Trump administration indicate that federal anti-marijuana laws might be stepped up.

Brown and the governors of Alaska, Colorado and Washington - states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized - sent a letter in early April to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requesting to work with the administration if they planned to enforce federal marijuana laws.

U.S: Governors From Four Marijuana States Ask Trump Administration To Leave Cannabis Alone

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governors from the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana want the Trump administration to leave marijuana research alone.

In a letter sent Monday, the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington say that marijuana legalization has expanded their economies.

The governors also say in the letter that legal marijuana can be regulated to protect public safety and that legalization reduces "inequitable incarceration," or people of color being disproportionately jailed for cannabis crimes.

The letter was addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The governors say they opposed legalization at first, but warn that a federal pot crackdown at this point "would divert existing marijuana product into the black market."

Washington: Survey Shows Marijuana Use By Young People Largely Unchanged After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to 2016 data compiled by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the percentage of young people using marijuana has not increased since legalization occurred.

The 2016 Healthy Youth Survey asked 230,000 students in grades 6 through 12 about their marijuana use, and results indicate "rates of teen marijuana use have remained steady" post legalization. Findings were similar to those in the 2015 survey, also conducted by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Self-reported marijuana use by high school students has fallen significantly since the 1990s, despite the trend toward more liberal marijuana laws and penalties. "We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful [and] that [accessibility and use] would go up," Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in December. "But it hasn't gone up."

Massachusetts: State Expects To Make $300M From Marijuana Sales Tax By 2020

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts in July 2018, but the state expects to collect as much as $172 million each year just from sales taxes.

The number was calculated by the Department of Revenue, which assumes marijuana will be taxed at a rate of 12 percent. A 3.75 percent excise tax is expected to be added to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax, and another 2 percent cities and towns can impose if they host a cannabis shop.

If the 12% total remains, Massachusetts would have the lowest marijuana tax rate of any state that has legalized recreational marijuana, except for Maine, where the tax rate is 10%.

Washington has the highest tax at 37%. Colorado has a 29% tax on marijuana, followed by Alaska at 25% and Oregon at 17 percent. Oregon municipalities can enact an additional tax of up to 3 percent with the approval of voters.
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U.S.: New Report Shows Marijuana Could Be Legal In All 50 States By 2021

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new report suggests that every state in the nation could have legal marijuana for medical or recreational use by 2021.

The latest research by GreenWave Advisors shows the marijuana legalization movement is expected to expand into a significant number of states in the next few years. There is already momentum to get marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballots in 2018 and 2020, which could lead to marijuana being legal in some form in all 50 states, the Motley Fool reports.

Last year should be noted as one of the biggest ever in the history of marijuana law reform with voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voting to legalize recreational cannabis. These states joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana and running a regulated and taxed cannabis trade.

Connecticut: Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut lawmakers debated Tuesday on recreational marijuana legalization, and found only disagreement.

“It is time to consider legalizing marijuana for adults,” said State Rep Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, and sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational use during testimony before the General Assembly public health committee.

“I realize this is a difficult issue for many,” Ziobron said. “But legal marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana has never caused a fatal overdose in the 7,000 years of reported human use.”

Carolyn Dennis of Milford told the committee she opposes legalizing marijuana, especially under the guise of raising revenue.

"Do not threaten our state’s future by endangering the future welfare of our citizens’ health for a dollar,” Dennis said. “I expect that unlike the supporters of this proposed bill, you will not let budget woes take a front seat over the health of the residents and workers, children and adults in the state.”

Massachusetts and Maine voters last year authorized recreational use and the sale of weed is expected to begin next year. Weed is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Nevada and Oregon.

Washington, DC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Warns Of An America With 'Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that easing access to marijuana could lead to local markets selling the drug.

Speaking to a group of attorneys at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting, he said, “States can pass whatever laws they choose. But I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions went on to criticize a column published by Sam Kamin in the Washington Post Tuesday. Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, argues in the column that the opioid crisis is “a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.” A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2016 found “adverse consequences of opioid use” gradually decreased in states where marijuana had been legalized as individuals switched from opioids to marijuana for pain relief.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said. “This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. ... My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

U.S.: New Poll Shows Americans Want Feds To Respect State Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday morning, a vast majority of U.S. citizens believe in legalizing marijuana, and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws.

Ninety-three percent of Americans surveyed in the poll support legal medical marijuana, and 59 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The nationwide survey included 1,323 voters. The results reflected trends similar to those indicated in national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October.

U.S.: GW Pharma Moves To Monopolize CBD Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bruce Barcott of Leafly has exposed some actions taken by GW Pharma (NASDAQ: GWPH) that seem to attempt to limit competition from suppliers of CBD.

Lobbyists have been engaged in several states by the company and its U.S. subsidiary, Greenwich BioSciences, companies which are both supporting legislation in South Dakota and Nebraska that would “effectively give GW/Greenwich a temporary monopoly on legal CBD products” in those states for its Epidiolex.

If given FDA approval, Epidiolex could be on the market in early 2018. Legislation advancing in both South Dakota and Nebraska suggests that CBD would be permitted only from FDA-approved providers.

Barcott says GW Pharma and Greenwich BioSciences have hired lobbyists in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin and possibly in California. Barcott attempted to contact GW Pharma for comment but has not yet received a reply. Should GW Pharma succeed in stifling competition, it could have a serious impact on hopeful in-state poducers of CBD, as well as companies both foreign and domestic who extract CBD from industrial hemp.

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