cannabis legalization

Illinois: Governor Likely To OK Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would "probably be comfortable with" a proposed bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill was approved by the Illinois House on Wednesday in a 64-50 vote. It was passed by the Senate in April with a 40-14 vote. The bill would ensure that no one in Illinois could be criminally charged for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana.

Gov. Rauner vetoed a bill last year to make possession of up to 15 grams of weed a ticketable offense. He said the bill would allow people to carry too much pot and that fines should be more than $55 to $125.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, sponsored the new Senate version of the bill which would allow people caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less to face slightly larger fines of $100 to $200.

Tickets would be expunged automatically twice a year.

Possession of up to 2.5 grams is considered a class C misdemeanor under current law, and can be punished by up to 30 days in jail and a possible $1,500 fine. Possession of more than 2.5 grams is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

Illinois would become the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana possession if Rauner signs the bill.

Rhode Island: Poll Shows 55 Percent Support For Legal Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The bill, H 7752, is known as the 'Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.'

It would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would also establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

A recent poll was conducted by Brown University which found strong support for such a public policy change. Per Brown University:

A strong majority of Rhode Island voters, 67 percent, support the state’s current law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. A majority, 55 percent, support passing a law to regulate and tax the use of marijuana for recreational use, similarly to how alcohol is taxed and regulated. Voters 44 and younger strongly supported this change, at 72 percent, with voters 65 and older split — 43 percent approve and 42 oppose.

Arkansas: Attorney General Certifies Marijuana Amendment Ballot Title

The Arkansas Attorney General has certified the state's marijuana ballot.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arkansas Attorney general Leslie Rutledge has certified the state marijuana ballot title and popular name after rejecting one for several months.

The amendment would provide regulations for industrial hemp, permitting purchases and possession and cultivation of recreational and medical marijuana under state law. The popular name, The Arkansas Cannabis Amendment, was certified as well by Rutledge on Monday, April 25.

The ballot title also mentioned that only those 21 years or older would be allowed to cultivate and produce limited amounts of marijuana, provided that the licensed person cultivate only up to 36 cannabis plants in a location unable to be seen by the public.

The ballot title stated that the General Assembly could impose a 5 percent excise tax, along with a standard sales tax, on all recreational marijuana sales.

It is estimated that the proposal will need about 85,000 signatures in order to be placed on the November ballot.

Arizona: Poll Results Not Favorable For 2016 Marijuana Legalization Effort

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The Arizona Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced earlier this month that it had more than enough signatures to qualify to get marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot. The campaign announced that it had surpassed 200,000 signatures; 150,642 valid signatures are required. However, a poll (put out by an opponent organization called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy) found just 43% support for legalization.

Per AZ Central:

The survey shows 43 percent of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use while 49 percent would vote against it. About 8 percent of likely voters were undecided. The telephone survey has a margin of error of about 4 percent.

When asked if they would be more or less likely to support the ballot measure if they knew recreational marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent and the funds would go to public health and education, 50 percent said they would be more likely to support the measure, while 29 percent said they would be less likely to support it. Eighteen percent said the tax would not really change their decision, while 4 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn't answer the question.

U.S.: CBS Poll Finds That A Majority Of Americans Believe Marijuana Use Should Be Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to the results of a national poll conducted by CBS news, 56 percent of Americans say marijuana use should be legal. The percentage is the highest ever reported by a news agency.

Only 36 percent of the respondents said they opposed legalization.

Younger respondents favored cannabis legalization in higher numbers, with 71 percent age 18 to 34 saying it should be legal. That number is 10 percent higher since CBS posed the same question last year. 57 percent of those age 35 to 64 favored legalization. Only 31 percent of those age 65 or older were in favor of legalization.

Men (59 percent) favored marijuana legalization more than women (54 percent). Democrats (63 percent) were more likely to favor legalization than Republicans (44 percent).

51 percent of the respondents said they have used marijuana, up from 34 percent in 1997.

The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- four percent.

The CBS survey showed results similar to other recent national polls, such as Gallup, and Pew. A majority of Americans clearly feel that marijuana should be legalized.

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.”

Colorado: Report Says More Adults Using Marijuana, But Not Kids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A report released Monday shows that Colorado kids are not smoking more pot since the drug became legal in 2012, but their older siblings and parents sure are.

The report released Monday by the state detailed changes in everything from pot arrests to calls to Poison Control and tax collections. Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers indicated that youth marijuana has not risen significantly since the legalization of recreational use in 2012.

"No significant change" in marijuana use by children under 18 was the result of anonymous surveys given to about 40,000 Colorado students before and after legalization.

Use among high school students actually decreased, going from about 23 percent in 2005 to about 20 percent in 2014.

While use of marijuana did not increase significantly among children, it did jump among adults.

The survey showed a rise in marijuana use among adults in Colorado aged 18 to 25 of about 5 percent from the year before recreational pot was legalized.

A similar spike was indicated in adults over 26, from 7.6 percent in 2012 to 12.4 percent in 2014.

The report showed a marked drop in arrests, but racial disparities in enforcement appear to have not gone away.

Rhode Island: Marijuana Legalization Bill Gets Hearing Tomorrow

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday for the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from businesses, much like alcohol.

A news conference will precede the hearing with marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs joining Regulate Rhode Island to discuss the legislation's potential to create thousands of jobs and encourage new business development.

The House Lounge of the Statehouse is the scheduled location and the conference is scheduled for 1 PM ET. The hearing is scheduled to take place at the rise of the House in Room 101.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

The proposal would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and over. It would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, retail stores, and testing facilities.

Alabama: Police Ruin Mom's Anniversary

A proud Heflin, AL police officer

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police in Heflin, Alabama "stopped a vehicle for multiple violations" Sunday and detected the odor of marijuana smoke. Police reports say that officers spotted a box in the car “sealed with a bow, which the driver claimed was an anniversary gift for his mother.”

Two pounds of marijuana were found in a vacuum-sealed bag in the box.

The Heflin Police Department posted a photo of the proud arresting officer on their Facebook page, holding the box and an anniversary card.

The Facebook text accompanying the photo follows:

"Just a few hours ago, Heflin PD's K-9 Officer Turner stopped a vehicle for multiple violations. The car smelled of burned marijuana. A Probable Cause Search was conducted, and Officers located marijuana residue all throughout the vehicle. Officers also Located a package containing approximately 2lbs. of hydro Marijuana. The suspects are now in jail and off our Streets."

Oregon: First Month Of Recreational Marijuana Taxes Brings In $3.5 Million

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon officials say about $3.5 million in taxes was collected from recreational marijuana sales in January.

The 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales began at the start of January 2016 and the state began collecting taxes from dispensaries last month.

Data released Thursday showed the $3.5 million came from 253 individual payments. There are 309 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. The discrepancy in numbers could mean 56 of the dispensaries elected to not sell recreational pot, or they may just be late with their payment.

A spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Revenue said they will have a better idea of the amount of tax income being generated after dispensaries file tax returns at the end of the quarter.

US: Marijuana Economy Predicted To Hit $44 Billion By 2020

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana Business Daily just released its annual report on the US cannabis industry, predicting up to $44 billion in economic impact by 2020.

The figure includes dales of marijuana and all the money pumped into the economy as a result of sales. It includes everything from wholesale growers to grow-light manufacturers and marijuana paraphernalia.

"We've been expecting rapid growth in the marijuana industry for a while now, and that's exactly what's playing out," says MBD managing editor Chris Walsh. "The main drivers of the growth in recreational sales are Colorado, Washington and Oregon. And also, interestingly, even the mature medical marijuana markets are growing very quickly, like Arizona, New Mexico, and states that have had medical programs for years now. And then you have new medical marijuana states like Illinois, Nevada and Massachusetts."

The actual figure for marijuana sales is estimated at $3.5 billion to $4.4 billion for this year in just states that have legalized recreational and medical use. The overall sales market for marijuana each year in all states (not just where legalized): "Between $30 and $45 billion in the U.S., and that includes the black market," Walsh says. For just legal sales, MBD projects $6 billion to $11 billion by 2020.

Vermont: Legislature On Track To Be First In U.S. To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont could soon become the first US state to legalize recreational marijuana use through legislation and not through a voter initiative. Supporters of marijuana legalization feel this could speed up its acceptance across the nation.

The Senate passed the bill in February; now it goes before state representatives. The bill would allow adults 21 years of age and older to purchase, possess, and use marijuana legally.

The proposal would not allow users to grow their own plants and would not allow the sale of edible marijuana products.

Lawmakers have until the end of May, when the current session ends, to act on the proposal.

The law would require a 25 percent sales tax on the drug, which would fund drug education and law enforcement programs.

State Senator Jeanette White was a sponsor of the bill. "It makes for a much more thoughtful and measured approach," she said. "We got to work out the details, we got to ask the questions first and put the whole infrastructure in place before it happens."

Four states,(Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska,) as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana through ballot initiatives, and voters in four more states, including neighboring Massachusetts, are to vote on legalization in November. The drug remains illegal under federal law.

Massachusetts: Hospital Group Against Marijuana Legalization

Massachusetts Hospital Assiciation is against legal, recreational marijuana.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has spoken out against legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

The board of directors of the association unanimously voted against the measure, citing public health and safety concerns, including commercialization of marijuana and increased youth accessibility.

A letter was published in the Boston Globe last week by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, and Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh opposing the legalization measure.

If passed, the proposal would allow the recreational use of marijuana and possession of up to an ounce for adults 21 years of age and over.

It would also allow individuals to possess up to 10 ounces of pot in their homes.

The question could appear on the ballot this November.

Alabama: Bill Would Authorize Research On State Growing Industrial Hemp

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two Alabama legislators are sponsoring a bill to allow research on growing industrial hemp in the state.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman and Ken Johnson, R-Moulton,and would allow a state university or the state Department of Agriculture to research hemp production.

The lawmakers held a news conference at the Alabama State House along with Mcmillan Arrington, owner of a hemp processing plant in Nebraska, and Alabama state Agriculture
Commissioner John McMillan.

The federal Farm Bill passed in 2014 authorizes state agriculture departments and state universities to research hemp production.

About 28 states so far have passed legalization to authorize projects, including all four states bordering Alabama.

Hemp stalks and seeds are used to make a wide variety of different products, such as carpeting, rope, fabric, insulation, paper, building materials, and food products.

Hemp is a form of cannabis, like marijuana, but only has trace amounts of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes a high.

Many automobile components, such as door panels, are made from hemp. Henry Ford was using it in his cars in the 1930s.

Bussman said hemp has the potential to be a boon for Alabama farmers.

"We look forward to giving them the research that they need to grow the product in the best way and the fastest way and the most productive way that they can," he said.

Maine: Lawmakers Reject Marijuana OUI Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Maine rejected a bill attempting to establish a blood level limit for drivers impaired by marijuana.

The Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 7-4 Thursday to reject the bill, expressing concerns that setting a legal limit for THC would not be an accurate measure of impairment because people are affected differently and it remains in the blood long after its psychoactive effects have disappeared.

The debate reflects discussions occurring in other states implementing legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Maine already has medical marijuana; a bid to legalize recreational use could be on the ballot this November, pending a Superior Court judge decision on whether enough valid signatures were submitted by supporters.

The committee vote was the second on proposal L.D. 1628, which was brought back in an amended version after a defeat on Tuesday with a vote of 8-5. Several lawmakers made it clear they couldn't support it.

Rep. James Davitt, D-Hampden, said, "We’re trying to make a scientific determination and none of us on this committee is equipped to do that. We can’t do it.”

17 states have laws making it illegal to have certain levels of THC in the bloodstream while operating a vehicle, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several of those states have set the amount between 1 to 5 nanograms per milliliter. L.D. 1628 sought to impose a 5 nanogram limit – the same limit in place in Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana use is legal.

North Carolina: Charlotte Restaurant Bans Hoodies And Customers Who Smell Like Weed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The manager of Kabuto Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Charlotte, North Carolina believes his customers should show respect for one another. His restaurant displays a sign excluding people who wear baggy pants and hoodies and who smell like marijuana.

TV station WSOC reported that some customers are unhappy with the sign. One nearby resident who did not want to be named told a reporter, "It looks like they are trying to say something about some kind of race."

The restaurant has displayed the sign for three years. Manager Martin Tanaka feels strong enough about his opinions that he recently had the sign enlarged so people wold definitely notice it.

The sign reads: “Take your hood down. Pull your pants up. Finish your phone conversation. Marijuana smell not allowed. We will be glad to assist you.”

Tanaka said he recently had to ask some customers to leave when others complained of the smell of marijuana. “I know in some states marijuana is legal, but you are sitting with other parties at our restaurant and I don’t think it’s respectful.”

Some complain that the references to "hoodies" and "baggy pants" are racially driven. Tanaka denies that and said he will continue to turn away people of all races for violating his standards. “I just don’t like to see anybody’s underwear while I’m eating,” he said.

Michigan: John Kasich Annoyed By Question On Whether He's Smoked Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich became frustrated Tuesday while being interviewed by a Detroit radio reporter about his views on marijuana.

The Ohio governor is hoping to win Michigan's Tuesday Republican primary. He told WWJ radio host Roberta Jasina he is against legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

When Jasina asked him if he'd ever used marijuana himself, Kasich would not answer and instead directed the question back to her.

"I'm not running for president," Jasina replied. "Did you ever smoke it?"

Kasich finally conceded that he used pot in his youth, but added "What is the relevance of what I might have done 30 years ago? I mean this is not what matters when we pick a president," Kasich said. "What really matters is 'Is this somebody that can create jobs? Is this somebody that knows how to command the military, conduct foreign policy.' I think to some degree the course of running for president is a series of 'gotcha questions."

"But there's going to be a limit on the amount of 'gotcha' questions I'm going to answer as we go forward in this campaign," he added.

He said he doesn't believe Michigan voters would approve of legalized medical marijuana.

Voters in his state of Ohio last year rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana for all adults the age of 21 and over.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Says Senate Report Is "Recycled Hysteria"

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Officials with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts called a special Beacon Hill report "hastily written" and said the document ignores the positive aspects of legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the campaign, said the 118-page report ignores the regulatory structure described in their ballot initiative. The initiative is expected to be on the statewide ballot in November.

State senators released the report at a press conference inside the State House.

"A lot of this stuff is directly from 1930s, reefer madness," Borghesani said after seeing the report. "It's just recycled hysteria and we don't think anybody's falling for that," he continued.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol proposal would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to grow cannabis plants at home. It would establish a system of retail marijuana businesses and cultivation facilities, and would add a 3.75 percent state tax on top of the 6.25 percent sales tax.

A Cannabis Control Commission would regulate the substance.

The report from the special State committee called for a prohibition on home growing and heavier taxes.

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, said that he was undecided but leaning towards legalization until taking a trip to Colorado in January. He said he's against legalization now.
"The black market doesn't go away because it's so well-established," he told reporters last week.

Washington, DC: Alabama Senator Calls Marijuana Legalization A "Disturbance"

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

At a Senate discussion yesterday of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) denounced marijuana legalization. The Trump supporter referred to legislation as a "disturbance" for states that have reformed their marijuana laws, and claimed that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

While most lawmakers were assembled to discuss the current, growing epidemic of opioid use and heroin addiction in the US, Sen. Sessions was more into criticizing the Obama administration and its permissive stance on cannabis legalization, according to the online Congressional record.

“You have to have leadership from Washington. You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process", he said. "It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal.”

The "disturbance" has led to a reduced number of DUIs, a decrease in violent crimes, and lower prison populations in states that have adopted legalization.

Early last week, Sen. Sessions became the first sitting senator to endorse Donald Trump for president of the USA during a Republican rally. "At this time in American history we need to make America great again," he told the crowd, while sporting a Trump ball cap bearing that slogan.

US: Marijuana Legalization Cuts Into Mexican Drug Cartel Profits

Marijuana legalization in some US states has cut into Mexican drug cartel profits.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Data recently released by the US Border Patrol shows that 2015 saw the lowest amount of illegal marijuana seized at the US/Mexican border in ten years. Mexican illegal marijuana say that legalization in some US States has led to a dramatic drop in their prices.

The U.S. Border Patrol has released 2015 data showing that the number of marijuana seizures throughout the southwest U.S./Mexico border has fallen to the lowest level in a decade, the Washington Post reports.

Mexican manufacturers of illegal marijuana bricks have driven down prices as residents in California, Colorado, and Washington state now have safe access to reasonably affordable medical marijuana and/or recreational cannabis.

“Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,” a Mexican marijuana grower told NPR news in December 2014. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.”

Legal American production has also led to an increase in quality, as Mexican and Caribbean growers have had to compete with superior American Cannabis products.

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