DC

Washington, DC: Garrett Announces Press Conference On Federal Marijuana Deregulation Legislation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A press release was issued today by 5th District Congressman Tom Garrett announcing details for a press conference highlighting H.R. 1227 - the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.

H.R. 1227 seeks specifically to remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from the federal schedule of controlled substances, thereby leaving regulation up to the states.

In a February 27 press release, Garrett stated:

"I have long believed justice that isn't blind, isn't justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California."

The press conference will be held on May 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM at House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol (back-up rain location to be determined).

Speakers planned for the conference are U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, parents of Haley Smith, Sophia Miller, and Jennifer Collins (children with medical conditions such as epilepsy who are benefiting from medical marijuana), and several other bipartisan members of Congress that have cosponsored this legislation who have sent in tentative confirmations, such as U.S. Congressman Scott Taylor.

Washington, DC: Seven Marijuana Activists Face Federal Charges For Offering 4/20 Joints To Congressional Staff

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Capitol Police officers arrested seven marijuana activists on federal charges Thursday as they gave away free joints to Capitol Hill staffers.

Activists from the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, or DCMJ, stood on a sidewalk near Senate offices -- non-federal land -- to avoid arrest and intervention by the Capitol Police.

A ballot initiative approved by District of Columbia voters in 2014 made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess 2 ounces of cannabis and to give it away. But marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

The few dozen activists booed the officers loudly as they walked those arrested across Constitution Avenue to police vans.

Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and the public face of legalization in the nation’s capital, was among those arrested.

It was planned for the joint giveaway to last from "high noon" until 6:20 p.m., but it ended at 2:15 p.m, with many of the activists saying that the police had "stolen" many of the 1,227 joints rolled to express support for H.R. 1227, which would put an end to federal marijuana prohibitions.

Eva Malecki, communications director for U.S. Capitol Police, issued the following statement:

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Vow To Smoke And Get Arrested On Steps Of U.S. Capitol

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens of marijuana advocates plan to light joints on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday as part of an effort to urge Congress to support marijuana legalization. Committing the offense on federal land could draw a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The April 24 event will mark the first time activists plan to light up on federal land.

It also would be the first significant protest to take place under the Trump administration, which has suggested it may crack down on violations of federal drug laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana.

"You can only ask nicely for so long before you have to change your tactic," said Adam Eidinger, a co-founder of the advocacy group DCMJ. He said he's made sure his 13-year-old daughter will be taken care of and that his rent is paid in case he must spend an extended period of time in jail.

"It's come to this," he said.

Eidinger's group plans to distribute free marijuana joints to anyone with a congressional ID badge on a city street outside the Capitol. Under current law, possessing the joints on city streets is not a crime, but smoking it is.

The group has already rolled more than 1,000 joints and has dozens of volunteers ready to distribute them.

Any mass arrests from Monday's planned protest would be left to federal prosecutors in the District to handle.

Washington, DC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Warns Of An America With 'Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that easing access to marijuana could lead to local markets selling the drug.

Speaking to a group of attorneys at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting, he said, “States can pass whatever laws they choose. But I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions went on to criticize a column published by Sam Kamin in the Washington Post Tuesday. Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, argues in the column that the opioid crisis is “a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.” A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2016 found “adverse consequences of opioid use” gradually decreased in states where marijuana had been legalized as individuals switched from opioids to marijuana for pain relief.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said. “This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. ... My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

District Of Columbia: Obama Administration Invites DCMJ To White House For Meeting On Marijuana Scheduling Issue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The White House extended an invitation to the leadership of DCMJ, the marijuana legalization that successfully worked to pass Initiative 71, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana in the District of Columbia.

The invitation is for a meeting on Monday, April 25, to discuss marijuana law and the Controlled Substances Act. DCMJ recently held a peaceful “Reschedule 420” demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience on Pennsylvania Avenue, that featured a 51-foot inflatable joint and drew thousands of activists and supporters, some of whom lit up weed in defiance of the federal government listing marijuana as a Schedule One drug.

“DCMJ appreciates greatly the invitation by the Obama administration to begin an educated and passionate dialogue into the need to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule One drugs,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “Thanks to Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, Americans, especially people of color, are needlessly incarcerated, and critical medical research into the healing properties of cannabis is placed on hold for no good reason.”

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.”

Washington, DC: Marijuana Advocates Plan To Get Arrested Smoking Pot Outside The White House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

This Saturday, organizers of the ballot measure that legalized marijuana in the District plan to host the first large-scale display of pot smoking in the nation's capital. Their plans are to get arrested just outside the White House.

Artists Chris Ridler and Cesar Maxit are constructing an inflatable, 51-foot joint for protestors to carry onto Pennsylvania Ave. They are trying to devise a way to place a fan inside to disperse marijuana smoke into the crowd. If that doesn't work, thay may zip people up in the balloon that want to get high, they said.

Chief organizer of the event Adam Eidinger predicts " dozens, if not hundreds, engaged in civil disobedience" smoking pot this Saturday outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"Obama — he smokes, maybe not now, but he did smoke,” Eidinger said. “So for him to oversee an enforcement regime that has arrested 5 million people for marijuana? I’m very motivated because I think it’s a discriminatory practice.”

Eidinger supports Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential contest; Sanders wants recreational use of marijuana legalized. But Eidinger wants Obama to begin the process of rescheduling marijuana before he leaves office because he thinks it would provide political cover for the probable Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, to finish the job should she win the presidency in November.

Maine: Two Marijuana Legalization Measures Could Be On 2016 Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine voters could be looking at not one but two marijuana legalization measures on the 2016 ballot, if two competing groups are both successful at qualifying for the ballot.

Legalize Maine, based in the northeastern part of the state, on Wednesday announced a plan to have its own measure on the ballot, joining the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has already announced its referendum, reports Sarah Delage atr WCSH.

Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine said the group is focused on jobs. According to McCarrier, marijuana legalization would bring economic development to rural areas.

McCarrier said his group is moving forward with its own legalization plan after talking with people in other states who have worked with the Marijuana Policy Project.

"We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP or the Washington D.C. policy," McCarrier said. "These will be competing measures and we will win."

MPP, based in the District of Columbia, plans to put a similar question on the 2016 ballot. The group put the question to voters in Portland and South Portland, where it was approved, and in Lewiston, where voters rejected it.

"Ideally it makes sense to have one initiative," said David Boyer of MPP. "But if we can't see eye to eye then we will move forward and we hope voters choose the plan that will make marijuana legal and stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol."

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