2017

Canada: Marijuana To Be Legalized By 2018

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to reports from Bloomberg and CBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will introduce legislation to make recreational marijuana legal for adults by July 2018.

CBC expressed certainty that the government will make an official statement confirming the plan by April 10.

According to Bloomberg:

The federal government, which is following the recommendations of a government-appointed task force, will ensure the marijuana supply is "safe and secure," while Canada’s provinces will be allowed to determine how it is distributed and sold, according to CBC News. Ottawa will set a minimum purchasing age of 18 — in line with Trudeau’s comments that the legal age to purchase marijuana should be the same as alcohol — while the provinces could set a higher age, the report said.

Trudeau has made it clear, however, that current laws still apply, and that people found growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana before legalization occurs will be processed according to those laws.

Colorado: Proposed State Crackdown On Marijuana Home Grows Getting Weaker

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A plan to crack down on home marijuana grows in Colorado is heading to the governor's desk after lawmakers changed the bill to give medical cannabis patients more leeway.

A Senate committee voted 5-0 to limit the number of plants grown to 12 per residential property statewide. Current law allows up to 99 plants.

Lawmakers changed the bill to allow medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow up to 24 plants, if they register with state and local authorities. Registration is presently required only if the patient has more than 99 plants.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers from both parties have said the marijuana crackdown is a top priority as the state awaits word of how the new federal administration plans to treat marijuana states.

Among 28 states with legal medical marijuana, Colorado is the only one that allows patients to grow more than 16 plants at home.

“It is time that we fix this before someone comes in and fixes it for us,” said Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, speaking on behalf of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lawmakers amended the bill to make it a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, to be caught with too many plants until the third offense.

Connecticut: Marijuana Legalization Hearing Draws Conflicting Testimony

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing on legalizing marijuana for adults in Connecticut Wednesday produced plenty of conflicting testimony about risks and benefits associated with the plant. Topics of concern ranged from health concerns to the state's need for tax revenue.

Very different attitudes toward recreational marijuana were expressed by members of the General Assembly's judiciary committee. Some lawmakers opposed cannabis legalization, while some strongly supported it.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argued that the plant is less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and that millions of dollars of illegal cannabis is currently being sold in Connecticut every year. Marijuana legalization "would take control of the marijuana market out of the hands of drug dealers," said Joseph LaChance, a medical marijuana patient from Milford.

Martin M. Looney, the Senate's top Democratic leader, testified that prohibiting marijuana use in Connecticut has been as ineffective as alcohol Prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Looney and others argued that the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales could help solve Connecticut's fiscal crisis. Currently, medical marijuana can be sold to patients with a few certain qualifying conditions in Connecticut, but the sales are not taxed.

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

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

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

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

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

Washington has the highest tax at 37%. Colorado has a 29% tax on marijuana, followed by Alaska at 25% and Oregon at 17 percent. Oregon municipalities can enact an additional tax of up to 3 percent with the approval of voters.
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Illinois: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Identical legislation was introduced Wednesday to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in Illinois by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and would allow facilities to sell marijuana to adults over 21 years of age and tax those sales "in a manner similar to alcohol."

Steans said the taxes collected from marijuana sales would help solve the state budget recover.

"Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor's $5 billion budget gap," she said.

Steans pointed out that Oregon collected more than $60 million in new tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, and Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, collected more than $140 million in 2016 from legal marijuana sales.

Steans introduced legislation last year to decriminalize possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which is now the law. Illinois began its medical marijuana program in 2013.

U.S.: Jeff Sessions Makes New Controversial Statements About Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make statements that upset marijuana advocates and business investors, but it is remarks he recently didn't say that has mostly interested journalists covering the marijuana industry.

In prepared remarks, Sessions had planned to repeat a line he had used earlier when addressing a group in Virginia, saying that marijuana was only "slightly less awful" than heroin. He chose not to repeat the line, however.

He did question the current situation when it comes to abiding by the Cole memo, as the Obama administration had done.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions replied to a question as to whether his Department of Justice (DOJ) would sue states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

“I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that,” Sessions said, “but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are two main points to take away from Sessions' remarks for marijuana businesses.

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.

Massachusetts: Hearings On Recreational Marijuana Begin In Statehouse

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hearings on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts began today, March 20, in the Statehouse in Boston, where lawmakers are considering changes in the voter-approved legislation legalizing marijuana.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a Democrat, supported legalization, and has said he intends to respect voters' wishes while considering changes, including a significant increase in the proposed 3.75 percent sales tax, decreasing the number of plants citizens are allowed to grow, and increasing the legal age for purchase past 21.

Governor Charlie Baker opposed legalization and signed a bill that will likely delay the opening date of marijuana shops from January to July 2018.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Democrat, also opposed legalization.

The joint House-Senate committee beginning its hearings in the Statehouse today was created by DeLeo and Rosenberg.

According to the Associated Press, members of the "Yes on 4" group that helped lead the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana are expected to testify.

The group has been defending its victory since Election Day, when 54 percent of state voters approved marijuana legalization, responding to lawmakers attempts to weaken, delay or substantially change the law.

Nova Scotia: Class-action Lawsuit Launched Against Canopy Growth Over Pesticide In Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia has launched a class-action lawsuit against Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) and its subsidiary Mettrum over recalls of medical marijuana that contained unauthorized pesticides.

Wagner's filed a statement of claim with Nova Scotia's Supreme Court alleging that Mettrum breached its contract with consumers and that its development, distribution and sale of medical marijuana was negligent.

Mettrum was purchased earlier this year by Canopy Growth, Canada's largest publicly traded medical marijuana producer.

Lawyer Ray Wagner says representative plaintiff Neal Partington, a house painter from Nova Scotia, says he suffered vomiting and severe nausea over the six months that he was taking Mettrum products to deal with symptoms of an injury.

Wagner said it could take six to eight months before the court decides whether to certify the class-action lawsuit.

Virginia: Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Is "Only Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement in Richmond today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "dependency" on marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions addressed the group: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."

He said he supports a renewed drug awareness campaign on the "terrible truth about drugs" much like the ones started decades ago.

He continued: "In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse."

Nevada: Senate Bill Would Allow Cities To License Public Consumption Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill being considered by the Nevada Senate would allow cities to license public consumption of marijuana.

Nevada Senate Bill 236, proposed by Senator Tick Segerblom, would legalize cannabis clubs and marijuana use at events in Nevada.

“If we’re going to attract people to Nevada to use marijuana, which I think we are, then we need to find a place to use it,” Segerblom said while speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “My concern is that given that fact, we’re going to have lots of people come here to Nevada and want to purchase it, and then we’re going to have to figure out where they can use it, or if they don’t have a place for them to use it. Then, they’re going to be walking up and down the strip or walking in downtown Reno, which I don’t think any of us want that.”

Currently, Nevadans can only use marijuana in their homes per state law. Many tourists stay in hotels, but because it’s still illegal under federal law, marijuana is not allowed in any building where gambling takes place.

When asked about the federal government and their policies on marijuana at the recent MJ Biz Con in Las Vegas, Senator Segerblom answered by saying, “We protect state rights. They aren’t going to tell us what to do.”

New Mexico: Bill Approved To Lower Marijuana Penalties

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill recently approved by the New Mexico State Senate would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a $50 fine if passed. The Senate voted to replace penalties which could include jail time for simple marijuana possession with a purely monetary penalty.

If the bill passes, possession of a half ounce of marijuana or less would be handled much like a traffic ticket with no court appearances required unless the fine is challenged. The passage of the bill through the Senate was only challenged by eight Republicans and one Democrat who voted against the bill. The proposed bill has now moved to the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces told the Associated Press the changes would free up resources for courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys to focus on pursuing violent crime cases amid a state budget crisis.

Ontario: Cannabis Culture Dispensary Back In Business One Day After Police raid

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Ottawa, Ontario reopened recently one day after a police raid had closed it down.

The shop had just opened about three weeks ago.

Police arrested five men at the shop Thursday morning and charged them with five counts of possessing a Schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking (marijuana, THC oil, THC shatter, hashish and CBD oil) and one count of possessing the proceeds of crime under $5,000.

A spokesman for Cannabis Culture said Thursday night that the shop would reopen as soon as possible.

Customers were visiting the shop again by 10:30 am Friday.

Activists Marc and Jodie Emery, the couple that founded Cannabis Culture, have been granted bail.

Marc Emery faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery is charged with five similar counts.

U.S.: Study Shows CBD-Dominant Cannabis Extracts Reduce Seizure Frequency

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to data published online ahead of print in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, the administration of whole-plant cannabis extracts rich in the cannabinoid cannabidol (CBD) is associated with reduced seizure frequency in patients with refractory epilepsy,

Researchers reviewed the charts of 272 patients who were taking whole-plant CBD extracts.

Eighty-six percent of those treated observed a reduction in seizure frequency, while ten percent experienced a complete clinical response.

Beneficial side effects were reported, such as better sleep quality, improved mood, and increased appetite.

"The cannabinoids' novel mechanisms of action are an attractive consideration for possible seizure control," authors concluded. "In patients with refractory epilepsy that have a low likelihood of responding to a subsequent AED (anti-epileptic drug), a trial of artisanal cannabis formulas may be indicated."

Colorado: Home Grow Bill Aims To Eradicate Black Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Colorado House committee voted 11-2 Tuesday in favor of House Bill 17-1220, a bill that would limit home growers to 12 marijuana plants per residential home in an effort to eradicate Colorado’s black market. Colorado residents would be restricted to growing six mature (flowering) plants and six immature (non-flowering) plants.

Under current Colorado law, residences are allowed to cultivate up to six plants per person per home. Many cities like Denver already cap flowering plants at 12.

A first-time offense would result in a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine while a subsequent offense results in a felony.

Should the law pass votes in the House and Senate, the new bill would go into effect January 2018 and put extended plant counts in serious jeopardy.

Medical marijuana patients with extended plant counts in Colorado operate under the safety of their medical marijuana cards. Marijuana co-cops and grows that affect residential areas have been put on clear notice:

New Mexico: Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico, has vetoed a bill that would have created a research program for industrial hemp.

The Democrat-sponsored bill was vetoed by the second-term Republican governor on Wednesday without comment.

The bill would have required the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to set up an industrial hemp research program for cultivation and marketing.

Democratic Sen. Cisco McSorley of Albuquerque has authored a more restrictive bill which is on its way to the governor's desk right now. McSorley says it addresses concerns raised by Martinez two years ago about potential conflicts with federal law and provides for police training.

Thirty-one states have authorized hemp research. The 2014 federal farm bill allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development.

California: Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated With Fewer Hospitalizations From Opioids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in the number of opioid-related hospitalizations.

A researcher from the University of California at San Diego, assessing the association between medical marijuana laws and hospitalizations related to opioid use, reported both immediate and long-term reductions in opioid-related hospitalization following changes in law.

"This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies. ... We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year."

The author also dismissed the argument that liberalized marijuana were associated with an increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations, saying "While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations."

Connecticut: Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Would Outlaw Smokable And Edible Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last year, 72 percent of Floridians voted to amend the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with certain qualifying illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's. The Florida Legislature must now come up with medical marijuana rules.

Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues introduced the first medical marijuana regulations yesterday, and they would ban patients from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Only patients that are terminally ill would be allowed to vaporize.

"It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana," says Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign director. "There was unanimous agreement that the new amendment would expand use."

Rodrigues' bill defines the "medical use" of cannabis as "the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana authorized by a physician certification."

Specifically, however, the bill says medical use does not include "possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking or vaping or in the form of commercially produced food items made with marijuana or marijuana oils, except for vapable forms possessed, used, or administered by or for a qualified patient diagnosed with a terminal condition."

Massachusetts: Senator Patricia Jehlen To Lead Committee On Marijuana Policy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senator Patricia Jehlen has officially been named as leader of the new Committee on Marijuana Policy, according to The Common Wealth Magazine. The lawmaker will be in charge of the Senate side of the state Congress, and charged with looking at how to ‘revamp’ the new marijuana law.

Senator Jason Lewis, Vice Chair of the committee, has been an opponent of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that his concerns arise from being a father as well as a public official.

“I am opposed to the likely ballot question because this is the wrong time for Massachusetts to go down this road, and a commercial, profit-driven market is the wrong approach to take,” Sen. Lewis said in the Boston Globe report.

The House Chair has not been named at this point, but the duo will handle issues such as taxes on retail sales of marijuana, the local control over dispensary locations, and the potency of edibles.

Nearly two million voted 'yes' to Question 4 on Election Day, making Massachusetts one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use.

Despite vigorous campaigning against marijuana legalization from Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo,

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