Washington: Microsoft Is Starting A Marijuana Software Service


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington-based Microsoft Corp., one of the nation's largest tech companies, plans to offer software for governments to track marijuana in states where it's legal.

The New York Times reported the news, calling Microsoft "the first big company to say it's serving the legal marijuana trade."

The software is designed to help states where pot is legal track marijuana plants from “seed to sale” — a service known as track-and-trace.

The Times says that large companies have shied away from any involvement in the marijuana industry until now, with the drug still illegal in most states and under federal law.

A number of states have legalized recreational marijuana, like Washington, Microsoft's home, and half of the states have legalized medical marijuana in some form. California, Arizona and several other states will vote on legalization this fall.

State-legalized marijuana sales are expected to climb to $6.5 billion this year, up from $4.8 billion last year, according to marijuana-industry analyst Matthew A. Karnes of Green Wave Advisors.

Microsoft has branded its cannabis-compliance software Kind Government Solutions, and will offer the software to government and regulatory agencies via its cloud-computing Azure Government platform.

Washington, DC: Marijuana Crusaders To Demonstrate At White House Again

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana activists say they will smoke pot outside the White House again this Friday, following an April protest that resulted in lots of media coverage but only two citations.

DCMJ, the group behind Initiative 71, say it's organizing a demonstration outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on May 20 at 5:20 PM. May 20th is the 124th anniversary of Harry Anslinger's birth. Anslinger was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and drafted the "Marihuana Tax Act" in 1937 that effectively criminalized weed.

The group will not be bringing back the infamous 51-foot inflatable joint that was present at April's rally "due to the serious nature of this demonstration."

"We want the Obama administration to take cannabis reform seriously, so we are dressing seriously," the group writes in a newsletter. "If you are a military veteran, we urge you to wear your service uniform tomorrow. If you are a civilian, please wear a suit and tie or a button-up shirt. Dress up for your mugshot! Too often there is a stereotype of cannabis reform advocates as not serious, but you can help change that perception by simply dressing up to get down."

U.S.: Ruling Could Limit Federal Marijuana Prosecutions


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.

Washington: King County Bans Pot Businesses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Metro King County Council imposed an emergency, 4-month moratorium on legal marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas. No public notice was given in advance of the action, but a hearing must be held within 60 days.

Council members said Monday in an 8-1 vote that the moratorium on growers and processors was spurred by a community meeting earlier this month in Ravensdale at which roughly 100 people registered opposition to pot businesses.

The council decided to extend the moratorium to retailers as well after hearing that shops were clustering in parts of Skyway and White Center.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, a representative for rural areas, sponsored the emergency proposal. He said the lack of public input was necessary. Had the council not moved in stealthy fashion, Dunn said, pot entrepreneurs would have flooded the county with applications in advance of a moratorium.

The emergency moratorium took effect Monday, after the council’s vote. It prohibits King County from accepting or issuing any permits for pot businesses. The county must hold a public hearing within 60 days to allow feedback.

Dunn and several other council members said they did not support a lasting ban on legal business, but Dunn likened the lack of restrictions on growers and processors in the county’s rural residential areas to the “wild West.”

District Of Columbia: Obama Administration Invites DCMJ To White House For Meeting On Marijuana Scheduling Issue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The White House extended an invitation to the leadership of DCMJ, the marijuana legalization that successfully worked to pass Initiative 71, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana in the District of Columbia.

The invitation is for a meeting on Monday, April 25, to discuss marijuana law and the Controlled Substances Act. DCMJ recently held a peaceful “Reschedule 420” demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience on Pennsylvania Avenue, that featured a 51-foot inflatable joint and drew thousands of activists and supporters, some of whom lit up weed in defiance of the federal government listing marijuana as a Schedule One drug.

“DCMJ appreciates greatly the invitation by the Obama administration to begin an educated and passionate dialogue into the need to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule One drugs,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “Thanks to Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, Americans, especially people of color, are needlessly incarcerated, and critical medical research into the healing properties of cannabis is placed on hold for no good reason.”

District Of Columbia: Private Marijuana Clubs Banned

District of Columbia Council banned private marijuana clubs today.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The DC Council voted to ban private marijuana clubs for marijuana consumption on Tuesday, making the District's cannabis legalization laws even more perplexing. The bill banning the clubs passed with a vote of 7 to 6 and now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has already said she supports prohibiting them.

In 2014 Initiative was passed on the ballot referendum by a more than two-to-one margin, legalizing the possession, home cultivation, and private consumption of marijuana for adults. The initiative prohibits use in public venues, such as parks. Today's approved legislation modifies DC's law to add private membership organizations to the list of public venues.

The new text reads: “For the purposes of this provision, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a private club, which includes any building, facility or premise used or operated by an organization or association for a common avocational purpose, such as a fraternal, social, educational, or recreational purpose, is considered a place to which the public is invited.”

U.S.: Detailed Forecast Released For 4/20 In Colorado And Washington


Hallmark hasn’t leveraged its formidable marketing muscle to promote 4/20 — not yet, at least. Nevertheless, an analysis by a cannabis industry source of data intelligence finds that April 20 and the days surrounding it have clearly, and emphatically, emerged as the cannabis industry’s principal holiday, with dramatically boosted sales.

One thing 4/20 has in common with more traditional holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day — lots and lots of candy!

BDS Analytics’ close analysis of cannabis sales during last year’s festivities, based on hundreds of thousands of retail transactions worth millions of dollars in Colorado and Washington, draws a range of fascinating 4/20 conclusions. Among them:

• The four days leading up to, and including, 4/20 in Colorado captured three of the most lucrative cannabis sales days during all of 2015.

• Washington’s sales were less dramatic, at least when compared to the months following 4/20. But 4/20 sales did spike, and BDS Analytics anticipates sales this year tripling or even quadrupling last year’s numbers.

• Sales in Colorado this year should exceed $5 million per day from Friday, April 15 to Wednesday, April 20. One of the days should exceed $6 million.

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Plan To Get Arrested Smoking Pot Outside The White House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

This Saturday, organizers of the ballot measure that legalized marijuana in the District plan to host the first large-scale display of pot smoking in the nation's capital. Their plans are to get arrested just outside the White House.

Artists Chris Ridler and Cesar Maxit are constructing an inflatable, 51-foot joint for protestors to carry onto Pennsylvania Ave. They are trying to devise a way to place a fan inside to disperse marijuana smoke into the crowd. If that doesn't work, thay may zip people up in the balloon that want to get high, they said.

Chief organizer of the event Adam Eidinger predicts " dozens, if not hundreds, engaged in civil disobedience" smoking pot this Saturday outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"Obama — he smokes, maybe not now, but he did smoke,” Eidinger said. “So for him to oversee an enforcement regime that has arrested 5 million people for marijuana? I’m very motivated because I think it’s a discriminatory practice.”

Eidinger supports Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential contest; Sanders wants recreational use of marijuana legalized. But Eidinger wants Obama to begin the process of rescheduling marijuana before he leaves office because he thinks it would provide political cover for the probable Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, to finish the job should she win the presidency in November.

Washington: Pot Bust Interrupts Vancouver Easter Egg Hunt

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A neighborhood Easter egg hunt was halted by a large pot bust Saturday in the Salmon Creek area of Vancouver.

Witnesses said a man in the neighborhood began screaming that his roommates were going to shoot him.

Clark County Sheriff's deputies responded to the home about 6 pm after getting calls about the disturbance.

The deputies soon learned the disturbance was related to an "ongoing large-scale unlicensed marijuana distribution operation" headquartered at a nearby house.

Detectives executed a search warrant and found more than 45 pounds of processed marijuana, valued at over $202,000 on the street.

They also seized over $108,000 in cash, suspected to be drug proceeds, as well as documents and material related to marijuana trafficking.

Despite legalization, Clark County deputies say the illegal marijuana business is booming. They say alleged drug movers often take pot to other states and sell it under the table in order to avoid taxes and in turn, make more money.

Suspects Charles Yorkovich, 24, of Vancouver; Joseph Sullivan, 24, of Vancouver and Jordan Long, 27, of Vancouver were arrested at the scene and booked into the Clark County Jail.

Photo courtesy Clark County Sheriff's office

US: Senators Seek Federal Guidance For Marijuana Business Banking

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Four senators from three states that have legalized recreational marijuana asked federal financial regulators Thursday to issue guidance for financial institutions wishing to offer banking services to marijuana businesses.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to the six top federal financial regulators asking multiple agencies to work together to issue joint guidance to financial institutions from regulators across the federal government.

Currently, many legal marijuana businesses in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, and other states with recreational or medical marijuana are forced to run their businesses on a cash-only basis. Banks fear being penalized by the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal.

This inability to open bank accounts or accept non-cash forms of payment means the businesses have to keep large amounts of cash on hand. Businesses must pay their taxes in cash, creating a logistical challenge for state and local governments to collect taxes.

In 2014, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance on how financial institutions can serve legal marijuana businesses in states that have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana, but without clearer guidance from all federal regulators to provide certainty in the regulatory environment, most banks and credit unions are still not serving marijuana-related clients.

Washington: Governor Vetoes Hemp Legalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several states are presently working on reforming their hemp laws to allow full cultivation, or at least cultivation for research purposes. Hemp products have to be imported into states that have not legalized it, costing millions of dollars. American farmers are eager to be able to grow hemp themselves.

Washington's hemp research legalization bill passed unanimously in the House, and almost unanimously in the Senate (48 to1), but Washington Governor Jay Inslee vetoed the bill yesterday.

Per The Joint Blog: "In a perfect example of how to improperly run a state, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has vetoed 27 bills – over 70% of all legislation passed by the state’s legislature this session – to punish lawmakers for something unrelated; not passing a budget bill.

One of the measures vetoed by Inslee – Senate Bill 6206 – would have legalized the cultivation of hemp for research purposes, including directing Washington State University to study the plant. The measure was passed unanimously in the House of Representatives, and 48 to 1 in the Senate. Although the governor calls it a “worthy bill”, he vetoed it and says he can’t support it until “a budget agreement is reached”."

It is expected that the bill will be re-introduced, giving the Washington Legislature an opportunity to re-pass it.

Washington: Seattle City Attorney Promises Crackdown On Black Market Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization gets rid of the black market, and makes it obsolete, right? Wrong, if your legalization law is written as badly as Washington state's.

I-502, the clunky cannabis legalization measure, was made even worse by SB 5052; last year, that execrable piece of legislation assisted the original measure in completing a coup de grace on medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets in the state.

The onerous taxation scheme and miles of red tape forced upon marijuana retailers by state rules -- along with a healthy dose of old fashioned greed -- mean that, ironically enough, cannabis costs more in legal marijuana stores than on the black market, thus ensuring that the illegal market continues to flourish, even as the state desperately tries to prop up its anointed retailers by arresting their competition.

That's right: in the eyes of recreational marijuana retailers, not just black market dealers, but medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets represent unwelcome competition. You can really see their point when you realize that I-502 store prices average roughly twice the going rate in dispensaries and three times that in farmers markets.

Most patients are on limited incomes as they struggle with chronic illness, and the I-502 store prices, along with the 37 percent tax, makes medicine just about unaffordable.

U.S.: It's A Felony! Feds Warn Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can't Be Mailed


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it's a felony offense to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The recent federal advisory was forwarded to about 100 members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association this week, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The association "strongly discourages" Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery from accepting "any type of marijuana advertising," according to Laurie Hieb, the group's executive director.

"It's against the law," Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. "Unfortunately, the ONPA cannot do anything about this."

A postal official hand-delivered the warning on Monday to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper in Long Beach, Washington. It's not clear what prompted it; the newspaper and the Daily Astorian distribute a weekly supplement called Coast Weekend, which runs advertisments from a dispensary in Long Beach and others on the Oregon coast.

The Long Beach paper reaches about 4,400 people; about 2,560 subscribers receive the paper through the U.S. mail, according to Steve Forrester, president of EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers, including those in Long View and Astoria. Forrester is also editor/publisher of the Daily Astorian.

U.S.: Dropleaf and Julian Marley's JUJU Royal Will Contribute 1% Of Annual Sales To Charity


Dropleaf, the brand management firm that has obtained the exclusive rights to the Julian Marley JUJU Royal brand, has announced it will begin making charitable contributions to the Weed for Warriors Project on an annual basis beginning in 2016.

Dropleaf said it will donate 1 percent of annual sales to a limited number of select charities and the Weed for Warriors Project is the first charity chosen to be a recipient. The charitable donation program will be based on Dropleaf’s annual sales made in 2016, according to Jeffrey Britz of Dropleaf. Other charities will be selected in 2016, he added.

The Weed for Warriors Project benefits military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) The Project seeks to raise public awareness about the need for the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) to change its policies regarding the use of medical cannabis to treat PTSD symptoms. The VA’s current policy is to treat PTSD with prescription psychiatric drugs that are addictive and have debilitating side effects. More information about the Weed for Warriors Project is available at their website, http://wfwproject.org.

Washington: Bills Gathering Support To Allow Home Grow Of Cannabis


By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

Last week, Seattle Hempfest announced support for the upcoming legislation regarding Washington House Bill 2196 and Senate Bill 6083, both of which would allow adult residents of the state of Washington to cultivate up to six cannabis/marijuana plants per domicile. The bills, if passed, will also allow the giving away of up to one ounce of pot between adults and allow citizens cultivating cannabis to possess up to eight ounces. It is currently a felony to give away cannabis in Washington.

After reading the full text of the bills, individuals are encouraged to Comment on HB 2196 & SB 6083.

The people of Washington have voiced their opinion on cannabis prohibition, stating a clear desire for citizens of be able to purchase, possess, and imbibe cannabis, free from prosecution. The implementation of I-502 has resulted in retail outlets for adult purchase of cannabis in many communities, generating jobs and tax revenue.

Unfortunately, it remains illegal for a citizen who is not a medical patient to cultivate any amount of cannabis in Washington. "Spending state resources on prosecuting and incarcerating Washingtonians who grow cannabis is not a prudent or effective use of our resources," stated Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest's Executive Director in a release to Hemp News.

U.S.: What Happened When States Legalized Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the sale of marijuana for recreational use became legal in Colorado and Washington last year -- and in Oregon this year -- a few predictions, both good and bad, were made about the outcome. Here's what has actually happened so far.


• No increase in teen use: Opponents of legalization claimed young people would flock to weed if the legal penalties were removed. That hasn't happened, reports Daniel Dale at The Star. Major studies have found no increase in teen use in states the legalized medical marijuana; in Colorado, fewer students said they used pot after legalization than before.

• Tax windfall: Colorado has taken in more than $86 million in cannabis taxes and fees this year, far more than for alcohol. Washington state is predicting $1 billion in marijuana taxes over the next four years. "All that money that was going to criminals and the hands of cartels is now being sent toward legitimate taxpaying businesses," said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project.

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.: Marijuana Businesses Access To Banking Act Reintroduced


U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA-10), along with a bipartisan group of 16 other Republicans and Democrats, on Wednesday re-introduced H.R. 2076, the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 to resolve the banking crisis marijuana-related businesses are facing.

By updating federal banking laws and regulations to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws, the legislation allows marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system, ensuring these businesses do not have to operate on a cash-only basis. In addition, a similar companion bill in the Senate is expected to be introduced soon.

“First and foremost this is an issue of public safety,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “Not only are the proprietors at risk, but the employees and customers are also at risk of serious and violent crimes.

"It is estimated that 40 percent of the marijuana-related businesses in Colorado are unbanked," Rep. Perlmutter said. "This means hundreds of millions of dollars in cash are moving around the streets of Colorado. There are now some 213 million Americans who live in the 23 states plus the District of Columbia where the voters have allowed for some use of marijuana, and it is coming to a state near you soon.”

“The federal government can’t keep an eye on business practices if they are forcing them offline and underground,” said Rep. Heck. “Forcing businesses into cash-only territory is a dangerous step away from legitimacy, transparency, and regulation and a huge step towards crime, tax evasion, and access to minors.

U.S.: The Travel Joint Offers Booking Site For Cannabis Travel, Tourism


New website is one-stop shop for booking travel, hotels, restaurants and activities as well as news on cannabis products, tips on cooking with cannabis and more

With a rise in the number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use -- and with more likely on the way in 2016 -- cannabis tourism is becoming an important, but mostly untalked-about market segment. To help bring this market out of the shadows, The Travel Joint has launched a new website that is a one-stop shop for booking cannabis travel.

The Travel Joint allows medical and recreational cannabis users to book every aspect of their travel itineary, including hotels, flights, concert tickets, cannabis tours and more. The Travel Joint's concierge team is also able to arrange for over-the-top luxury experiences like private jet travel and top of the line suites in destinations like Coloardo, Washington and Nevada.

The cannabis travel-booking source and leisure site on Monday launched a revamped, easy-to-use website. The Travel Joint allows medical and recreational cannabis users to book every aspect of their travel itinerary, including hotels, flights, concert tickets, cannabis tours and much more.

“The amount of information related to cannabis tourism and lifestyle that’s spread across multiple websites can be overwhelming,” said The Travel Joint Founder Brannon Zimbelman. “With The Travel Joint, we wanted to have all of the information in one place that is easy to use, easy to understand and easy to book.”

U.S.: Just In Time For 4/20, G FarmaLabs Launches Liquid Gold Extracts NUG RUN Tanks


Cannabis Company Debuts Cannabis Vape Cartridge Using Co2 Extracted Oil from Indoor Marijuana Flowers

G FarmaLabs, a producer/processor of medical and adult use marijuana-based products, on Monday announced the launch of Liquid Gold Extracts NUG RUN Tanks, which contain what the company calls "the purest form of cannabis oil currently available within the medical/adult use marketplaces."

The brand has officially timed the product’s debut in observance of 4/20 to be made available on store shelves of all participating dispensaries carrying G FarmaLabs products.

The company’s NUG RUN oil is produced using a 100 percent blend of indoor marijuana flowers, thus breaking the status quo of traditional oil extraction processes. While most oils are created using the extracted byproducts of cannabis plants, NUG RUN uses the richest part of the plant, which carries the greatest amount of trichomes and terpenes. These are released into the oil during refinement and purification, resulting in much higher potency and longer lasting effect.

“We’re super excited about the launch of NUG RUN as a brand new flagship offering for our Liquid Gold Extracts line,” said Ata Gonzalez, CEO, G FarmaLabs Limited. "When we began development on the product, we were determined to set the bar higher than any other cannabis company currently operating in the market, and we’re confident that our NUG Run extraction process, which uses the actual flowers of the cannabis plant, will provide patients with an unprecedented option in terms of medical and adult lifestyle quality products."

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