U.S.: Legal Marijuana Market Growing Faster Than Smartphones


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new report says legal marijuana is now among the fastest-growing markets in the United States, and is on track to pass the growth rate of smartphones. Fourteen more states will legalize recreational cannabis in the next five years, the report predicts, creating a potential $10.2 billion marijuana market by 2018.

Researchers estimated that more than $1.43 billion worth of legal marijuana will be sold in 2013, reports Carly Schwartz at The Huffington Post. The report predicts that figure will grow to $2.34 billion by next year, a jump of 64 percent. Meanwhile, the smartphone market grew by 46 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to recent figures.

The researchers were unable to find any market growing as quickly as legal marijuana, said Steve Berg, a former managing director of Wells Fargo Bank and editor of the report, the second annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets.

"Those who really understand market dynamics will reap large rewards," Berg predicted.

Colorado alone is predicted to add $359 million to its existing marijuana market in 2014, with the rollout of recreational marijuana stores, as legalized by voters under Amendment 64 last year. Washington state voters at the same time passed Initiative 502, under which state-licensed legal marijuana stores are expected to open in mid-2014.

U.S.: New Gallup Poll Shows 58% of Americans Support Making Marijuana Legal


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Gallup poll released on Tuesday shows 58 percent of voters nationwide “think the use of marijuana should be made legal.” Only 39 percent of respondents said they do not. Support increased by eight percentage points since Gallup asked the same question in October 2011, at which time it found a record-high 50 percent in favor.

The poll is the first conducted by Gallup since voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. It also comes nearly two months after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not interfere in the implementation of those state laws and others that effectively regulate marijuana for medical use.

The national poll of 1,028 registered voters was conducted October 3-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The full results are available here.

“The dramatically increasing support for making marijuana legal should come as no surprise," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Marijuana prohibition has been an abject failure. Most Americans realize it is unjust, wasteful, and counterproductive to invest in the criminalization of adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol.

Washington: Medical Marijuana Patient Denied Custody Of Infant Daughter


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Advocates are rallying around the cause of Billy Fisher, a Spokane, Washington medical marijuana patient who has been denied custody of his infant daughter, in part because he refused to attend an inpatient "chemical dependency" rehabilitation program for his medicinal use of cannabis.

The Department of Social and Health Services, after taking the child from Fisher's estranged wife, ordered an assessment of Fisher before allowing him custody of the baby, reports Jim Camden at the Spokesman-Review of Spokane.

Despite the fact that Fisher has a doctor's authorization to legally use medical marijuana for pain from a 2007 back injury, a "chemical dependency assessment" trainee in Spokane ordered 30 days of inpatient drug treatment for his medicinal cannabis use. Fisher, who said he tried marijuana when opiate-based painkillers left him unable to work, refused.

Fisher said he mainly uses cannabis oils to kill the pain, and only smokes occasionally when the oils aren't effective.

Colorado, Washington Governors Ask Feds To Allow Marijuana Banking


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The governors of Colorado and Washington on Wednesday asked the federal government to change bank regulations to allow marijuana businesses to do banking, and to allow the states to continue implementing voter-approved cannabis legalization.

In a letter to federal banking regulators, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called access to the banking system "a necessary component in ensuring a highly regulated marijuana system that will accurately track funds, prevent criminal involvement, and promote public safety," reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.

"Our states will soon be licensing hundreds of retail stores, each of which will, without a normal banking relationship, be forced to conduct business on an all-cash basis," the governors' letter states. "This creates an unnecessary inviting target for criminal activity."

Banks have been reluctant to cater to marijuana-related businesses, fearing they'd fall afoul of federal money laundering and conspiracy laws. But last month, a Department of Justice memo lessened the threat of criminal prosecution against state-legal marijuana businesses that follow the rules. Inslee and Hickenlooper wrote in their letter than the Justice Department showed "bold leadership" with that memo.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, the most restrictive classification possible.

Oregon/Washington: National Cannabis Industry Association Hosting Events


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Cannabis Industry Association will host education and networking events this week for industry stakeholders and organization members. MJ Freeway is sponsoring the NCIA events in Portland, Oregon (on Monday) and Tacoma, Washington (Tuesday).

The Cannabis Industry Reception in Portland will serve as a networking opportunity for interested parties in the state's marijuana industry who want to meet NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith and members from within the state. Attendees can potentially join the organization themselves, and can learn more about the NCIA's activities both at the state and the national level.

The Oregon reception will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, September 30, at the Paragon Restaurant in Portland.

The Washington Educational Series Event will focus primarily on the state's legalization of retail marijuana sales through I-502, exploring the implementation of the legislation and its impact throughout the country. Also presented will be information about what NCIA itself is doing to advance the industry's interests.

The Washington event opens its doors at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 1, at the Pacific Grill in Tacoma.

For more information about either event, or to register for either, visit the NCIA events page at http://thecannabisindustry.org/events.

U.S.: Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In its first-ever hearing on cannabis legalization, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday discussed “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws." The move comes shortly after the Department of Justice announced on August 29 that it will not seek to stop Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales, as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

Coming shortly after major announcements from the DoJ limiting the use of mandatory minimums and declaring that the federal government will respect democratically enacted state marijuana laws as long as states smartly regulate the trade, advocates hope these announcements signal a shift in Obama Administration policy toward more sensible drug enforcement, though federal laws still remain unchanged.

The hearing reinforced the growing consensus among legal marijuana regulators, law enforcement officials, and cannabis business professionals that allowing access to banking services is now the most pressing obstacle to the success of the regulated marijuana industry realizing its potential to effectively control cannabis sales in the states where it is legal for medical or adult use, and ensuring the eight federal enforcement priorities outlined in last month's DoJ memo can be upheld, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Obama Administration Wrong Not To Challenge Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's no wonder that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has been foot-dragging for years when it comes to implementation of his state's medical marijuana law, signed by his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine on Corzine's last day in office: He really hates cannabis.

While speaking to a crowd in Point Pleasant, N.J., on Thursday, Gov. Christie said the Obama Administration's decision to not legally challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington was "a mistake" that essentially legalizes cannabis, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Christie vowed that "will never happen" in New Jersey while he is governor. But something tells me Christie doesn't have to worry about a second term.

Christie was responding to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the Obama Administration would not challenge the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to legalize marijuana possession.

"Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department is deferring its right to challenge the legalization laws at this time," the memo read. "Marijuana is and remains illegal under federal law."

Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, claimed Holder overstepped his authority.

U.S.: Feds Approve State Marijuana Legalization: DoJ Will Allow CO, WA To Go Forward


Colorado and Washington to Establish Systems for State-Regulated Marijuana Retail Sales

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At a Thursday press briefing, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with implementation of laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana production and distribution.

Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of Washington and Colorado that the DoJ would "allow" the states to create a system of regulation implementing the ballot initiatives that legalized adult use of marijuana, reports Ryan Grim at The Huffington Post.

The directive will also apply to the 20 states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a three-and-a-half page memo to U.S. Attorneys.

"The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests," Cole's memo reads. "A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice."

The memo outlines eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. According to the new guidance, DoJ will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:

• The distribution of cannabis to minors;

Russia: President Putin Criticizes Other Countries For Even Thinking About Legalizing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't think other countries should legalize marijuana. Putin criticized countries which are moving towards cannabis legalization at a drug policy conference on Wednesday.

"We consider it essential to fight all kinds of drugs," Putin said at the annual International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Moscow, reports Ria Novosti. "We observe with concern the relaxation in laws by some countries moving towards the legalization of so-called soft drugs."

Putin didn't specify which countries he meant, but voters in two U.S. states, Colorado and Washington, approved limited recreational marijuana legalization in November, and the Organization of American States (OAS) in May released a study calling for a serious discussion on legalizing marijuana, which was quickly rejected by President Obama.

Guatemala's new president, Otto Perez Molina, in September called for the legalization of drugs in a regulated market.

Both of the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana, plus 16 more, have also legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The trend towards legalization was criticized in a 2012 report the the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

U.S.: Obama's Drug Czar Condemns Marijuana Legalization

(Photo of Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske by LIFE Magazine)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Surprise, surprise -- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske really hates marijuana legalization.

Kerlikowske, President Obama's drug czar, spoke out this week against recently passed state laws in Colorado and Washington which legalized the possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. As director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Kerlikowske is required by law to oppose cannabis legalization.

The Drug Czar said the Obama Administration doesn't plan on honoring the new state laws that allow adults in Colorado and Washington to legally use pot, reports RT.com. Last year, voters in both states passed separate laws allowing residents and visitors over 21 to legally have up to an ounce of marijuana.

But despite those laws, both of which overwhelmingly passed with about 55 percent of the vote, Kerlikowske said the Administration will continue to enforce the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act, under which marijuana is listed as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin and PCP. Even methamphetamine and cocaine are considered safer drugs than cannabis under the UCSA; both of those substances are classified as Schedule II, by definition safer than marijuana.

U.S.: NIDA To Spend $2 Million Trying To Find Negative Effects Of Marijuana Legalization

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal National Institutes for Health and the National Institute for Drug Abuse are waving around $2 million, hoping researchers will try to find negative impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.

The NIDA has long been notorious for its well known practice of only funding studies which look for negative effects, rather than any positive effects of cannabis.

"In November 2012, voters passed ballot initiatives in the states of Washington and Colorado to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use," reads the so-called "funding opportunity" at NIH.gov, reports Mike Riggs at Reason.com.

"We know little about the impact this shifting marijuana policy environment has had or will have on epidemiology, prevention and treatment of substance use, misuse, and related health outcomes such as HIV and other risk behavior (i.e. drugged driving)," the "funding opportunity" reads.

The NIDA officially considers all marijuana use to be "abuse."

The NIH and NIDA will begin accepting applications on April 30.

United States: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Looks To Expand After 2012 Victories

By Alex Dobuzinskis, Huffington Post

United States: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Looks To Expand After 2012 Victories After a decades-long campaign to legalize marijuana hit a high mark in 2012 with victories in Washington state and Colorado, its energized and deep-pocketed backers are mapping out a strategy for the next round of ballot-box battles.

They have their sights set on possible ballot measures in 2014 or 2016 in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first in the country to allow marijuana for medical use. Although those states more recently rejected broader legalization, drug-law reform groups remain undeterred.

"Legalization is more or less repeating the history of medical marijuana," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If you want to know which states are most likely to legalize marijuana, then look at the states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana."

A political arm of the alliance spent more than $1.6 million as one of the main funders of the Washington state campaign.

The passage of the ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state in November allowed personal possession of the drug for people 21 and older. That same age group will be allowed to buy the drug at special marijuana stores under rules set to be finalized next year.

Rolling Stone: The Next Seven States To Legalize Pot

Why Oregon, California and more are likely to follow Colorado and Washington toward legalization

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

There is a truth that must be heard! The Berlin Wall of pot prohibition seems to be crumbling before our eyes.

By fully legalizing marijuana through direct democracy, Colorado and Washington have fundamentally changed the national conversation about cannabis. As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. And our political establishment is catching on. Former president Jimmy Carter came out this month and endorsed taxed-and-regulated weed. "I'm in favor of it," Carter said. "I think it's OK." In a December 5th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) suggested it might be possible "to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law." Even President Obama hinted at a more flexible approach to prohibition, telling 20/20's Barbara Walters that the federal government was unlikely to crack down on recreational users in states where pot is legal, adding, "We've got bigger fish to fry."

United States: The end of the war on marijuana

By Roger A. Roffman, Special to CNN

There is a truth that must be heard! (CNN) -- The historic measure to regulate and tax marijuana in Washington State deserves to be looked at closely as a model of how legalization ought to be designed and implemented elsewhere in America.

We've turned a significant corner with the approval of Initiative 502, which purposefully offers a true public health alternative to the criminal prohibition of pot.

Washington: Seattle Hempfest - America's Largest Protestival - Aug 17th-19th

There is a truth that must be heard!WHAT – The Seattle Hempfest XXI, America’s largest "protestival"

WHEN – Noon – 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 17, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 & 19

WHERE – Myrtle Edwards Park - Pier 70 on the downtown Seattle waterfront

Is it time to retire marijuana prohibition? The world's largest cannabis policy retirement party thinks so. Seattle Hempfest 2012 expects many tens of thousands to attend its 21st annual event, and as America’s largest marijuana law reform event Hempfest invites everyone to join in the celebration to end cannabis prohibition Aug. 17-19 at Myrtle Edwards Park.

The 2012 "protestival" features hundreds of booths and six stages of music and speakers dotting the mile plus expanse at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks, on the beautiful Puget Sound. With the Washington state decriminalization Initiative 502 on this November’s ballot, there will be much discussion about the merits and mechanics of regional cannabis reform on all of Hempfest's stages.

United States: 10 Reasons to Revisit Marijuana Policy Now - Americans Increasingly Favor Legalization of Pot

Culturally, marijuana has become hardly more than a punch line. But in reality, U.S. marijuana policy is no joke; it causes great harm, both directly and indirectly. Here are the 10 most important reasons our marijuana laws deserve serious reconsideration

By Maia Szalavitz, Time.com

There is a truth that must be heard! For the first time ever, a solid majority of Americans supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use: 56%, according to the most recent Rasmussen poll. Support for legalization has been growing steadily since the 1990s; in 1994, just 25% were in favor.

In November 2010, California residents voted on a ballot initiative to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana. Although the measure failed to pass — 46% to 54% — the fact that the initiative made it onto the ballot and garnered that much support was itself historic. Indeed, it was fear of the initiative’s passage that led then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to decriminalize possession of up to 1 oz. of pot shortly before the vote — a move that was intended to bleed voter support from the ballot question. Had it passed, California would have been the first state to legalize the drug outright. In 2012, Colorado and Washington State will vote on total legalization.

Washington: Seattle mayor - Legalize marijuana so we can stop crime

By Jake Ellison, KPLU

There is a truth that must be heard! In his "State of the City" address, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn made an impassioned plea today for the legalization of marijuana saying in the illegal trade in drugs was fueling crime in the city.

"It is time we were honest about the problems we face with the drug trade. Drugs are a source of criminal profit, and that has led to shootings and even murders. Just like we learned in the 1920s with the prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of marijuana is fueling violent activity," the mayor said in the written version of his speech.

He added that the war on drugs "fuels a biased incarceration policy. The drug war's victims are predominantly young men of color."

In a speech that covered the decline and recovery from the recession and the pressure funding cuts have put on city services and workers, the mayor’s focus on crime in the streets brought out the most reaction, according to the Seattle Times.

From his speech:

United States: Marijuana Policy Behind the Scenes - My Notes from a Drug Policy Reform Conference

By Rick Steves, Washington I-502

There is a truth that must be heard! With a group of respected and caring citizens, I have co-sponsored Initiative 502 in Washington State (www.newapproachwa.org), which will legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana for adults. We worked very hard last year to gather more than 350,000 signatures. Last month, we turned them in, and last week, our state government certified that we had gathered enough good signatures. This means that (unless our legislature simply accepts the initiative outright), I-502 will be on the ballot in November of 2012.

I’m working with a wonderful group of activists who (like their counterparts did in the 1930s to end the prohibition against alcohol) endeavor to end the US government’s war on marijuana. We believe that it's not a question of if the USA will stop sending pot smokers to jail...it’s a matter of when. While there are many good reasons to be waging this battle, for me this is a matter of civil liberties and pragmatic harm reduction.

Washington: Initiative to legalize marijuana will go to voters

An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters, Washington state lawmakers said Thursday.


There is a truth that must be heard! OLYMPIA, Wash. — An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters, Washington state lawmakers said Thursday.

If passed, Initiative 502 would make Washington the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. It would place the state at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee that was considering the initiative, said the Legislature would not act on it, meaning it will instead automatically appear on the November ballot.

"We will have more opportunities on the campaign trail this year to discuss this issue," Hunt said.

Because the measure proposes new taxes on marijuana production and consumption, the Legislature would need a two-thirds majority to pass it.

The initiative was certified by the secretary of state's office last month after pro-legalization campaigners turned in more than the 241,153 necessary valid signatures.

Washington: Kitsap cities cloudy on how to handle provisions of medical pot law

By Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

There is a truth that must be heard! BREMERTON — Legislation passed revising Washington state's medical marijuana laws this year turned the focus from dispensaries to collective gardens.

But Kitsap County's cities have been slow to shift gears.

Legislators last spring debated a revision of Washington State's medical marijuana law dealing with cannabis dispensaries. Proponents of the bill (ESSB 5073) sought regulation of dispensaries to clarify their legitimacy. After Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the bill, however, the only substantive new option for authorized patients was a provision for collective gardens.But Kitsap County officials have not moved as swiftly on regulations of gardens as their peers around the Puget Sound region did. And local opinions are all over the board.

The new state law, effective July 22, allows up to 10 authorized patients to cultivate up to 45 cannabis plants in a single location, but no individual can own more than 15 plants. Not clear in the law is how many gardens can be on one tax parcel, how many gardens a patient can belong to or the minimum length of time a patient must be a collective garden member.

The lack of clarity has unsettled cities and counties around the state, many of which recently enacted moratoriums or interim zoning ordinances on the gardens, essentially buying time to weigh the law's ramifications.

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