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U.S.: Congresswoman Challenges Trump Administration on Its Support of D.C. Marijuana Rider

Congresswoman Norton

Congresswoman Norton Stands Up to Trump Administration Regarding Harmful D.C. Cannabis Rider

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Yesterday, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) used an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which primarily focused on opioid policy, to challenge the Trump Administration’s support of the anti-home-rule rider that bars the District of Columbia from using its local funds to regulate and tax cannabis sales. Possession of cannabis remains legal in D.C. because Norton found a loophole in the rider, which tried to block the District’s voter-passed referendum that legalized cannabis altogether.

U.S.: Justice Department Planning Cannabis Crackdown

Make America Great Again

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The Trump administration’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is scheduled to release a report by July 27 advocating for tougher sentences for those producing, selling and using cannabis.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz (D), linking to a report on the crackdown, described the plans as “backward and inhumane.

"I hope every third-party voting progressive remembers this, ” Senator Schatz added.

U.S.: Vice President Pence Ramps Up Drug War Rhetoric

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

This week at the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, Vice President Mike Pence added fuel to the issue of recreational and medicinal of cannabis in the United States.

During his summit speech on June 21, Vice President Pence, said, "At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice will no longer let the worst offenders off easy. We’re once again pursuing the most serious readily available, provable charges for drug traffickers and violent criminals.... This is about stopping drugs from entering our schools so that our children can shape their future."

United States: Attorney General Sessions Asked Congress To Allow DOJ To Prosecute Medical Cannabis Providers

Jeff Sessions

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

According to a recent letter to Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections within The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a bill which has significant bipartisan support in Congress.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment protections prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

United States: Trump Administration Rhetoric Against Cannabis Includes Mandatory Minimums

Sessions Trump

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In May, the Trump Administration upped its tough-on-crime rhetoric, which would put in place policies that would take our country back into the dark era of the 1980's. A memo last month from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which directed federal prosecutors to pursue the severest penalties possible for any crime, including drug offenses, sought mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes.

Sessions, recently proclaimed, “We know that drugs and crime go hand-in-hand. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business. If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it by the barrel of a gun.”

One of the key architects of Sessions' sentencing memo was Steven Cook, a former federal criminal justice prosecutor.

U.S. Trump Reserves Right To Ignore Medical Marijuana Protections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President Trump signed his first major piece of legislation last Friday -- a $1 trillion spending bill that prevented a federal government shutdown -- but with his signature he included the reservation that he may ignore medical cannabis protections found in the bill.

“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump wrote in his signing statement, according to a Summit Daily report.

Trump's statement has created confusion on how Trump is going to deal with marijuana. In one interview he said, “Legalized marijuana is always a very difficult question. For medicinal purposes and medical purposes, it’s fine.”

But since moving into the White House, he has seemed less open to the idea. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there could be “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions spoke out about cannabis in March, saying it is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. He also said that medical marijuana “had been hyped, maybe too much.”

However, Sessions suggested he would protect state’s rights to legalize medical marijuana.

U.S.: New White House Drug Czar Has Quite An Idea Where To Put Nonviolent Drug Users

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) will be President Trump's drug czar, CBS News reports. Marino's congressional voting record shows he is a hard-liner on marijuana issues and he recently said that he'd like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of “hospital-slash-prison.”

Marino will oversee the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a branch of the White House that advises the president on drug policy issues. Whereas the office under President Obama quite publicly retired the phrase “war on drugs,” Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is moving to put criminal justice back at the forefront of drug policy.

Although Marino seems to share that view, his views are unlikely to influence the administration's policy in the same ways Sessions's views do. The drug czar's office has traditionally played a limited role in setting policy. It coordinates drug control strategy and funding across the federal government instead.

In Congress, Marino voted several times against a bipartisan measure to prevent the Justice Department from going after state-legal medical marijuana businesses, a measure which eventually passed.

He voted against a measure to allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, as well as against a separate measure to loosen federal restrictions on industrial hemp.

California: Marijuana 'Sanctuary' State Bill Proposed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make the state a "sanctuary" for the marijuana industry and the many residents who legally use the plant.

In an effort to avoid a federal crackdown on the Schedule I classified drug, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has alluded to considering, lawmakers introduced a new bill that would prevent local and state officers from enforcing certain federal marijuana laws on marijuana businesses, cultivators and consumers unless they obtained a court order signed by a judge.

The measure, known as Assembly Bill 1578, would prohibit “using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person [and/or transfer them to federal authorities] for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by a law in the State of California.”

The law would also protect the private information of marijuana businesses and customers, as it would prohibit local and state authorities from sharing personal records and documents regarding cannabis from the federal government.

The bill, introduced in February, was sponsored by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer along with three other assembly members and two senators.

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."

U.S.: Roger Stone Calls For Trump To Back Legal Marijuana, Hits Sessions For 'Outmoded Thinking'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Roger Stone, a long-time enthusiastic surrogate of President Donald Trump, has publicly implored the president to back marijuana legalization. Quoting Thomas Jefferson and The Bible to justify his position, he also blasted U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his "outmoded thinking" on cannabis.

Stone published a blog post on Friday calling on Trump to remain true to sentiments he expressed as a presidential candidate, when he said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states. His administration has suggested in recent days that it would err on the side of stricter enforcement of marijuana laws.

Stone said the president should "honor his word and keep his promise, irrespective of what his Cabinet members may say." The Republican added that "there are so many other ways that law enforcement can be put to good use rather than to persecute harmless farmers and shopkeepers who are abiding by state law."

Stone took aim at Sessions on his website, saying the former Alabama Senator was "far from the mainstream" in his opposition to marijuana.

"Perhaps Attorney General Sessions has forgotten his Genesis from the Old Testament," wrote Stone, a veteran political operative who often is seen defending Trump on news shows.

U.S.: Public Support For Marijuana Legalization Surged In 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Public support for marijuana legalization surged in 2016, according to data just released from the General Social Survey.

57 percent of Americans told the survey's pollsters last year that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” up from 52 percent in 2014.

The numbers from the General Social Survey agree with other national surveys last year, which found support ranging from the upper 50s to low 60s.

The survey indicates different attitudes toward marijuana legalization, divided mainly by age and political party. Two-thirds of respondents ages 18 to 34 supported legalization in the survey, as well as majorities of those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64. But seniors 65 and older stood apart, with only 42 percent supporting legalization.

Support for legalization among Democrats and independents has risen much faster than among Republicans. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the former two groups supported legal marijuana. Among Republicans support stood at only 40 percent.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been outspoken in his criticism of legalization, but the Trump administration has been noncommittal in its approach to marijuana enforcement

Oregon: Two Congressmen Are Introducing Three Bills To Reform U.S. Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two Oregon lawmakers plan to introduce three bills Thursday to reform marijuana laws. The bills could wipe away thousands of cannabis-related criminal convictions and make life easier for those involved in the legal marijuana industry.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats from Oregon, a state where recreational marijuana is legal, named their joint proposal the "Path to Marijuana Reform".

One bill, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry. It would change the tax code “to allow businesses operating in compliance with state law to claim deductions and credits associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.” deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry.

The Marijuana Revenue And Regulation Act would remove cannabis from the list of drugs federally outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, weed is listed in the Schedule I category, which is reserved for the most dangerous types of drugs, like heroin, for example.

The Marijuana Policy Gap Act would “exempt any person acting in compliance with state marijuana law from criminal penalties” under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also give certain federal marijuana offenders a clean slate.

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.

Illinois: Democrats Demand Trump Clarify Stance On Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Illinois state Democrat is asking the Trump administration for greater clarity on whether they will be opponents to state laws legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerich sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday criticizing the administration for teasing a crackdown on states with legal marijuana but giving no follow-up details on their plans. The Chicago Tribune reports that the legal future for medical patients and businesses involved in the marijuana industry is uncertain due to the absence of an official position on both recreational and medical marijuana.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference on February 23 that the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“If the Trump administration seeks greater enforcement, then it should clearly define what this means so hard-working people in Illinois can make informed decisions,” Frerich said in the letter. “Vague statements undermining medical marijuana violate commonsense and only serve to hurt the people who have pursed this treatment as a last resort.”

Massachusetts: State Treasurer Seeks Clarity From Trump Administration On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who's in charge of implementing the new recreational marijuana law in the state, wrote Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking guidance on federal enforcement of marijuana.

"In recent weeks, comments from the Trump Administration suggest that the [Department of Justice] may be considering a change [in enforcement]," Goldberg wrote to Sessions. "I would greatly appreciate your prompt response to clarify whether this is true — and if so, what changes we should prepare for before we commit significant public resources to implementing Massachusetts' recreational marijuana laws."

In a briefing last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he believes "you'll see greater enforcement of [recreational marijuana]," drawing a distinction between medical and recreational cannabis.

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the Justice Department is sending "mixed messages" around marijuana policy.

"I certainly would like to get some clarity and some certainty on that, and that's just one example of an area where we need more information," she said in a Herald Radio interview on Monday.

California: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Asks Trump To Cooperate With State On Marijuana Regulation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to President Trump on Friday asking him to not increase federal enforcement of laws against recreational marijuana use.

The letter was copied to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, and follows yesterday's comments made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters, "I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement” against recreational-use marijuana.

“The war on marijuana has failed,” Newsom wrote in the letter. “It did not, and will not, keep marijuana out of kids’ hands.”

“The government must not strip the legal and publicly supported industry of its business and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals,” Newsom wrote to Trump. “Dealers don’t card kids. I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors.”

Newsom was a leading supporter of Proposition 64, approved by voters last November, which made recreational marijuana use legal in California for adults 21 and over. The state plans to begin issuing licenses to growers and sellers early next year.

Newsom also had an issue with comments made by Spicer linking marijuana use to opioids.

Washington, DC: Spicer Says Expect To See 'Greater Enforcement' On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that states should expect to see greater federal enforcement of laws against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

While taking questions from reporters at the daily briefing, Spicer was asked if the government would take action on recreational marijuana use. Spicer replied: "Well I think that's a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you'll see greater enforcement of it. Because again there's a big difference between the medical use ... that's very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."

President Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” he said, also noting previous action by Congress not to fund the Justice Department “go[ing] after those folks.”

As for “recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject,” Spicer said.

Ignoring recent studies which suggest marijuana can help ease the opioid addiction crisis affecting some areas, Spicer went on to actually connect marijuana to the opioid crisis.

United States: Cannabis Activists Join Social Media Blackout on Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20, 2017

Social Media Blackout

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

Cannabis activists are joining a nationwide protest on social media during the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. President by posting only black graphics. Activists are also encouraged to contact their Senators to reject President-elect Trump's cabinet nominations for their anti-cannabis stance.

The wealthiest in U.S. history, President-elect Trump’s cabinet is to include people who have been publicly hostile to the very agencies to which they are expected to provide oversight, revealing an historic plutocracy in the making.

"My concern is that Trump will move cannabis to schedule II, marketing it as "compassionately legalizing medical marijuana" while actually handing cannabis over the the pharmaceutical industry. Nothing about the Trump administration is predictable," stated Vivian McPeak, organizer of the Social Media Blackout.

Washington, D.C.: Marijuana Legalizations Supporters To Hand Out 4,200 Joint At Trump Inauguration

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization activists plan to hand out thousands of joints during President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration to raise awareness about the fragility of legal marijuana under his administration.

The advocacy group behind the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington, DC in 2014 plans to take to the streets to hand out 4,200 joints on January 20, or roughly 40 ounces of weed.

“We are forced to do this type of publicity stunt because the Trump administration hasn’t mentioned marijuana once since he was elected,” said DCMJ founder Adam Eidinger. “It reminds people that the public wants change, and the politicians aren’t doing it.”

Despite the fact that voters legalized marijuana in D.C. in 2014, it remains illegal to buy or sell the drug in the nation’s capital because of action taken by Congress that bans local lawmakers from passing new marijuana laws. Activists hope to align with Trump supporters who also support marijuana legalization in their home states so they can work together to push the Republican administration to expand legalization.

Eidinger said the marijuana protests are not meant to shut down the celebration or to alienate Trump supporters.

Colorado: State Tops $1 Billion In Sales For 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado has passed the $1 billion mark already for cannabis sales in 2016, reaching the milestone after 10 months.

Roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales of legal recreational and medical marijuana were sold by the end of October, according to tax data released from the state's Department of Revenue. 2015 saw total sales of $996 million according to reports from the state.

Colorado has collected more than $150 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales through October 2016, the first $40 million being allocated to school projects.

The state fell just short of the $1 billion mark last year.

It only took Colorado 10 months to pass $1 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2016, one year after the state came up just shy of that milestone revenue figure.

Marijuana businesses in Colorado, which voted to legalize the drug for recreational use in 2012, reported roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales of medical and recreational marijuana and related products this year through the month of October, according to the latest batch of tax data from the state’s Department of Revenue. That number easily tops the roughly $996 million in total marijuana revenue the state reported in 2015.

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