2017

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Expansion Moves Ahead In State House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A broad expansion to Georgia’s medical marijuana law passed a House panel Monday, coming closer to a floor vote before Friday's deadline for passage.

House Bill 65, sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would double the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome.

The bill would also allow people who have registration cards from other states that similarly allow possession of certain low-THC cannabis oil to also possess the oil in Georgia.

The bill passed on a 7-3 vote, and the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee made changes that would require annual reporting by doctors who oversee medical marijuana patients. They also removed post-traumatic stress disorder from the proposed list of newly eligible diseases.

Under Georgia’s 2015 law, patients who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

The oil can have no more than 5 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the component of marijuana that causes a "high".

The bill must win passage from the House by Friday to have a clear path to becoming law.

Colorado: Governor Hickenlooper Invokes States' Rights On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appeared on NBC's "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd Sunday, where he invoked states' rights when asked if Attorney General Jeff Sessions might enforce federal law against the recreational use of marijuana.

Hickenlooper told Todd that he opposed recreational marijuana in 2012, when 55 percent of Colorado voters made personal use of the substance legal for adults 21 and over.

"It's in our constitution," Hickenlooper said on Sunday. "I took a solemn oath to support our constitution. So, I am -- and it's interesting, it's the sovereignty -- the states have a sovereignty just like the Indian tribes, just like the federal government does. So, it's an interesting--"

"You don't think it's clear that the federal government could stop you? You don't think it's a clear-cut case?" interrupted host Chuck Todd.

"Exactly. I don't think it is," Hickenlooper replied. "And I think it's certainly -- it's never my choice to be in conflict with federal law. Let's make that clear.

U.S.: Marijuana Lobbyists Denounce White House Attack On Legalized Recreational Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, issued a statement denouncing the White House's attack on recreational marijuana in response to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's comments to reporters regarding the Trump administration's marijuana policy in yesterday's press briefing.

“It would be a mistake for the Department of Justice to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have created carefully regulated adult-use marijuana programs,” Aaron Smith said. “It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace.

“These programs are working. Marijuana interdictions at the Mexican border are down substantially, youth use has not increased in states with legal access to cannabis, and responsible cannabis businesses are contributing tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact to their communities.

“The American people overwhelmingly support this approach. National polls show that 60% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for adult use. Furthermore, 71% of Americans – including majorities in both parties and every age group – oppose the federal government cracking down on these voter-supported programs.

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.

U.S.: New Poll Shows Americans Want Feds To Respect State Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday morning, a vast majority of U.S. citizens believe in legalizing marijuana, and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws.

Ninety-three percent of Americans surveyed in the poll support legal medical marijuana, and 59 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The nationwide survey included 1,323 voters. The results reflected trends similar to those indicated in national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October.

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.

U.S.: GW Pharma Moves To Monopolize CBD Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bruce Barcott of Leafly has exposed some actions taken by GW Pharma (NASDAQ: GWPH) that seem to attempt to limit competition from suppliers of CBD.

Lobbyists have been engaged in several states by the company and its U.S. subsidiary, Greenwich BioSciences, companies which are both supporting legislation in South Dakota and Nebraska that would “effectively give GW/Greenwich a temporary monopoly on legal CBD products” in those states for its Epidiolex.

If given FDA approval, Epidiolex could be on the market in early 2018. Legislation advancing in both South Dakota and Nebraska suggests that CBD would be permitted only from FDA-approved providers.

Barcott says GW Pharma and Greenwich BioSciences have hired lobbyists in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin and possibly in California. Barcott attempted to contact GW Pharma for comment but has not yet received a reply. Should GW Pharma succeed in stifling competition, it could have a serious impact on hopeful in-state poducers of CBD, as well as companies both foreign and domestic who extract CBD from industrial hemp.

California: Gunmen Rob San Diego Marijuana Dispensary Delivery Driver

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A marijuana dispensary delivery driver in San Diego was robbed at gunpoint Monday evening in Point Loma Heights by two men who got away with his stash, police reported.

Officers responded at about 7:30 pm to the 3900 block of West Point Loma Boulevard where the suspects had ordered the marijuana to be delivered, according to Officer John Buttle.

The first suspect was described as a Hispanic male about 5 feet 7 inches tall with a slender build wearing dark clothing, Officer Buttle said. The second suspect was described only as a black man in his mid-20s.

No further information is yet available.

West Virginia: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In State Senate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill was introduced Tuesday in the West Virginia Senate to make medical marijuana legal in the state.

Senate Bill 386 was introduced to create the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.

A commission and a special revenue account for medical marijuana would be set up by the bill.

The West Virginia Cannabis Commission would license medical marijuana growers and set up guidelines for them.

Marshall University's Forensic Science Center was established as the primary testing laboratory.

A new criminal offense would be created for anyone distributing, possessing, manufacturing or using marijuana that was intended for authorized medicinal use.

The bill will be referred to the Health and Human Resources Committee and then on to the Judiciary Committee.

Indiana: House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill For Epilepsy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

People who have epilepsy in Indiana could soon be treated with a marijuana-based oil thanks to a new bill passed by the Indiana House.

The chamber approved the bill with an overwhelming vote of 98-0 today, February 21. A similar measure was previously approved by the state Senate.

The bill would allow the use of cannabidiol oil, otherwise known as CBD. The oil does not get patients high, but it contains compounds that have been found to lessen the effects of some forms of epilepsy.

Although the measure is a far cry from legalizing a comprehensive medical marijuana program, it is the farthest a medical marijuana bill has ever advanced in the State House.

New Mexico, Hawaii: States Pass Bills To Decriminalize Industrial Hemp

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Both New Mexico and Hawaii overwhelmingly passed bills earlier this month to decriminalize industrial hemp. Passage of the bills into law would set the stage for the people there to nullify federal prohibition of the plant.

Rep. Rick Little (R-Chaparral) introduced New Mexico's House Bill 166 (HB166) on Jan 18.

A coalition of eight Democrat representatives introduced Hawaii's House Bill 773 (HB773) on Jan. 20.

The new legislation will remove industrial hemp from each state's list of controlled substances. Both bills will require no license and will create no state regulatory structure. Industrial hemp would be treated like any other plant, such as corn, in both states. Residents of the states will now be able to start farming industrial hemp should they be willing to risk violating ongoing federal prohibition.

The New Mexico House passed HB166 by a 53-13 vote on Monday, February 18, and Hawaii's House Agricultural Committee passed HB773 by a 7-0 vote on February 8.

Colorado: Parachute Getting State's First Drive-through Marijuana Shop

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The town of Parachute in western Colorado will soon be home to what is almost certainly the state's first drive-through marijuana shop.

The business will open in a former car wash in March.

The new store, named Tumbleweed Express, had their business license application approved by the Parachute Board of Trustees last week.

"We think the drive-through is a very creative and innovative idea," Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur said. "The really good news is that other businesses are benefiting from it," he added.

He said that travelers stopping to buy marijuana in Parachute are more likely to stop at restaurants and other shops.

The store had already received an approval from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. No-one under the age of 21 will be allowed on the premises -- not even in the back seat of a car or van.

“As far as I can tell, we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” said Robert Goulding, spokesman for the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The shop is required to have security and surveillance. Marijuana is not allowed to be seen outside of the store.

Parachute Mayor Roy McClung said the town's economy would have been in serious trouble without legalized recreational marijuana.

Vermont: New Bill Proposed To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont saw a complicated bill to legalize recreational marijuana fail last year. A new, simpler bill is proposed that would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow Vermonters to grow several plants at home.

“The more conservative it is, the more appealing it will be to people outside this room,” said Republican Rep. Tom Burditt, one of the bill’s sponsors at the House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday. Burditt voted against last year’s bill.

The former bill, which passed the Vermont Senate, but failed in the House, would have created a commercial market for marijuana in the state, much like the system established in Colorado.

The new bill is much shorter, and would be more like the system in Washington, DC, where there are no provisions for sales but people can possess and grow small amounts of marijuana.

Republican Governor Phil Scott will be the new bill's biggest obstacle. He opposed the bill last year when he was lieutenant governor, and has raised concerns against legalization.

Rebecca Kelley, Scott's spokeswoman, said the Governor wants any marijuana legalization law to address public safety concerns, including law enforcement’s ability to test for impairment and keep roads safe.

Wisconsin: Governor Walker Still Thinks Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told reporters Thursday that he would support a CBD oil bill, but he is opposed to any measure that would bring marijuana into his state. He still thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.

Walker was promoting his new budget package in a visit to Western Technical College in La Crosse when he went as far as to link marijuana use with harder drugs.

“I do not, however, support measures that would open the door with legalized use of marijuana in state,” Walker said, “because law enforcement, increasingly, from one end of the state to another, from democrats as well as republican sheriffs, have told me, ‘Do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug to other drugs.'”

Clinton Gallagher wrote a letter to the editor of The Cap Times, a local media outlet for Madison, Wisconsin, upset with the Governor resurrecting the 'gateway theory', which has been debunked.

“We must stop allowing hypocritical vote-seeking politicians to refer to marijuana as the gateway drug when everybody that was once a teenager knows it’s alcoholic beverages that cause death and destruction, insidiously sanctioned by all who oppose legalization of marijuana,” he wrote.

Oklahoma: State May Legalize Medical Marijuana Soon

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oklahoma could legalize medical marijuana a year before voters get a chance to decide on State Question 788 if Representative Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) gets his bill passed.

Critics of the new bill complain that it only covers a few ailments and is too narrow.

House Bill 1877 would allow medical marijuana for the following list of conditions: Glaucoma, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Proctor's bill is modeled on the medical marijuana measure passed in Arkansas in 2016.

“Arkansas is a state that is very similar to Oklahoma, and this will give us the opportunity to see what works there and also see what doesn’t work,” Rep. Proctor told NewsOK in an interview.

State Question 788 is pending, but House Bill 1877 would speed up access to medical marijuana by a year or more.

William Jones, a leader of Oklahomans for Health, does not support Proctor's bill, complaining that it limits medical marijuana use to patients with a handful of ailments.

Arizona: Border Patrol Seizes Catapult Used To Launch Marijuana Into U.S.

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Border Patrol agents in Arizona recently discovered and seized a drug catapult being used to launch marijuana into the United States from Mexico. The agents dismantled the catapult after it was seized by Mexican authorities.

The catapult was found attached to the top of a border fence near Douglas Port of Entry about 120 miles southeast of Tucson, according to a statement released Tuesday by Customs and Border Protection officials. The device was constructed using square tubing welded to a heavy spring, with rope tied around it.

The device was used to launch two bundles of pot into the United States from Mexico. The bundles weighed 47 pounds combined.

The discovery was made by agents February 10, after they approached several people standing near the fence. The agents found the weed nearby after the people ran away.

The catapult was seized by Mexican authorities, after the CBP alerted them. The CBP dismantled the catapult soon after.

The US federal agency punned by tweeting: “#USBP agents spring into action dismantling catapult used to launch #Marijuana”.

Texas: Former NFL Players Advocate For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several former NFL players are hoping to change the league's ban on marijuana.

A cannabis convention was held at the Revention Music Center in Houston Wednesday night ahead of Super Bowl LI. Jim McMahon, former NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion, was one of several former players in attendance.

“Marijuana is not a drug,” said McMahon. “It’s a medicinal herb. Drugs happen only when man puts their hands on it.”

McMahon and other former players shared stories of how marijuana saved their lives.

“I went through a real bad depression and laid down on the railroad tracks and tried to commit suicide myself so it was just by the grace of God that I found God and found cannabis as well,” said Boo Williams, former NFL tight end.

“[I had] constant thoughts of suicide and depression and rage and all these things that were neurologically disrupting my life and I can’t say enough about making that transition,” former NLF offensive lineman Kyle Turley said.

He continued, “I don’t take an aspirin to this day, an Aleve, an Advil, nothing. I have a strict cannabis regimen that I use.”

McMahon hopes to help remove the stigma related to marijuana and promote its benefits to the general public as well as former NFL players.

Utah: Committee Unanimously Passes Medical Marijuana Research Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Utah’s House Health and Human Services committee unanimously passed House Bill 130, allowing research on medical marijuana without federal approval.

State Representative Brad Daw (R), the bill’s sponsor in the House, said, “This is the first step in what I think is the right policy direction for this state.”

The proposal specifically:

allows a person to possess cannabis, a cannabinoid product, and an expanded cannabinoid product and to distribute the cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product to a patient pursuant to an institutional review board-approved study; and
allows a person conducting an institutional review board-approved study to import and distribute cannabis, a cannabinoid product, and an expanded cannabinoid product under certain circumstances.

Proponents of medical marijuana are frustrated with the decision, believing there is plenty of research to prove its medical use, and want the state to expand upon a law passed in 2014 that allows for the medical use of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil, but only for those with epilepsy to allow full-plant use (as well as THC), and to greatly expand the list of qualifying conditions.

California: San Diego Allows Recreational Pot Sales In Medical Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The San Diego City Council met on Tuesday to consider proposed regulation changes in marijuana business practices in the city. One of the main issues discussed was the possibility of allowing recreational pot sales in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Terrie Best, Chapter Chair of Americans for Safe Access in San Diego, told The Weed Blog that “council voted to grandfather in (and write land use law within 9 months) business tax certification holders in the areas of manufacturing, cultivation and testing. Deliveries will now need to be connected to a Medical Marijuana Card Clinic (MMCC) conditional use permit only, no stand-alones. We also may have lost events where products are used and consumed.”

She added, “Our outdoor Proposition 64 six plant personal right must be exercised under a green house, and all MMCC’s will be allowed to sell to adults 21 and over along with their patient clients.”

Best applauded the city council, saying “Not too bad for a town FULL of loud prohibitionists. I am upset about the delivery loss and event ban though. But, I don’t think it will stop us.”

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.

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