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New Jersey: Gov. Christie Calls Marijuana Legalization 'Beyond Stupidity'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the push for cannabis legalization “beyond stupidity,” adding that it’s “not time for use to be cool and say, ‘Pot’s OK,’” during a forum on substance abuse hosted by the New Jersey Hospital Association, NJ.com reports.

“We are in the midst of the public health crisis on opiates,” Christie said during his remarks. “But people are saying pot’s OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything’s OK. Baloney.”

Christie rallied against pro-legalization politicians, including Democrat Phil Murphy who is the favorite in this year’s gubernatorial campaign in the state.

“People like [Rep.] Nick Scutari and [Senate President] Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn’t matter because people can buy it illegally anyway,” Christie said in the report. “Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis. Let’s legalize cocaine. Let’s legalize angel dust. Let’s legalize all of it. What’s the difference? Let everybody choose.”

Democrat Scutari is the main sponsor of legalization legislation expected to be introduced in the legislature next year. Sweeney has indicated he would support the bill.

Mexico: President's Signature Will Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Mexico’s lower House of Congress passed a bill Friday that will legalize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, according to a report from Reuters. The Senate approved the measure in December and now it goes to the desk of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is expected to sign it.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement posted to its website.

A bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in Mexico was introduced more than a year ago but has been stalled in the Senate.

Washington: Lawmakers Say Inflatable Tube Men Can't Sell Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday, Washington lawmakers voted to ban the use of "inflatable tube displays, persons in costume, or wearing, holding, or spinning a sign with a marijuana-related commercial message" by retail businesses selling cannabis products.

The marijuana bill also has some positive aspects as well, such as allowing Washington residents to share marijuana with other legal adults for the first time, and allowing cannabis retailers to operate five dispensaries. Presently they are limited to three dispensaries.

The stated purpose of this prohibition of marijuana-promoting blow-up ads is to protect children. Current regulations already prohibit marijuana advertisements from using cartoon characters, toys or other depictions deemed "especially appealing to children or other persons under legal age to consume marijuana."

But Washington legislators felt that a number of outdoor advertisements from recreational dispensaries were flouting the spirit, if not the letter of the law.

Images of a billboard put up by Clear Choice Cannabis in Tacoma were circulated around the Washington legislature as proof of cannabis businesses potentially targeting children. It featured a cat wearing a "thug life" collar along with text saying "I'm so high right meow."

Minnesota: Authorities Find $1.4 Million Worth Of Marijuana Smuggled In New Ford Fusions

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police in the state of Minnesota have found approximately 1,100 pounds of marijuana hidden in the trunks of around 22 brand-new Ford Fusions manufactured and shipped from Mexico's Ford plant in February and March of this year, Alpha News reports. The total street value of the marijuana seized is around $1.4 million.

It began in February, when St. Paul authorities discovered 80 pounds of marijuana hidden in the spare tire wells of two Fusions ready for delivery in a railway vehicle holding lot. Authorities soon learned the cars were part of a larger group of 15 cars -- 13 of which had already been delivered to dealerships.

Police tracked down the remaining cars and found a 40-60 pound brick of marijuana in the spare tire well of each one. One of the Ford Fusions recovered had already been sold to an 86 year-old man. Police in Dillworth, Minnesota later found an additional 217 pounds of marijuana in seven more Ford Fusions after railroad employees discovered the drugs during a routine inspection.

Authorities believe the marijuana was placed in the cars by members of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel as they were loaded onto train cars for shipment to the US, and that the plan was to have someone break into the railway cars once they reached the US and recover the marijuana to be distributed.

Alaska: Feds Block Rainforest Farms From Paying Taxes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.

“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.

Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”

Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.

Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.

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