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United States: Federal Appeals Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel for 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court’s dismissal of Nebraska and Oklahoma's attempt to overturn Colorado’s recreational cannabis law, according to the Denver Post.

Nebraska: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Nebraska are considering a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in the state, which would make it the first midwest state to do so.

Nebraska and Oklahoma together sued the state of Colorado in 2014 after it approved adult-use recreational marijuana. The two states argued that growers in Colorado were illegally selling marijuana in their states.

Nebraska now could potentially be joining the list of states that have legalized medical marijuana, however. Lawmakers are currently considering a bill from State Senator Anna Wishart called the Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow use of medical marijuana in certain cases.

The bill passed out of committee in March and will now go before the Senate, where it is expected to face opposition. A representative of the state attorney general's office and the head of the Nebraska State Patrol have already testified against the bill.

Governor Pete Ricketts also opposed a similar measure last year.

Nevertheless, Wishart told the Omaha World Herald she is “optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment.”

The Nebraska bill would allow those suffering from certain chronic or severe diseases and conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

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


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.

Nebraska: Marijuana Groups Already Petitioning For 2018 Ballot


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

With 54 days left until November's election, a group of marijuana advocates pushing to eliminate Nebraska's penalties for those caught with small amounts of pot has already begun gathering signatures to put the issue before voters in 2018.

A second group seeking a broader constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana entirely has also filed 2018 petition language with the Nebraska Secretary of State's Office.

Volunteers started gathering signatures for the more limited proposal Aug. 5, targeting high-traffic areas and events such as last week's Omaha rally by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

"We're in Lincoln three times a week," said Mark Elworth Jr., a perennial candidate for elected office from Omaha who drew up the petition language and is leading the campaign.

Nebraska decriminalized marijuana in the 70s, but anyone caught with an ounce or less is still subject to a fine.

Elworth said the most significant consequence for people who are caught with pot, particularly teenagers, is the permanent record it creates.

"We're trying to protect people," he said. "Those minor possession tickets ... they can ruin people's lives."

Idaho: State Struggles To Stop Pot Smugglers


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon and Washington are collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue from recreational pot sales, but neighboring Idaho is struggling to keep up.

Between 2011 and 2015 Idaho State Police saw a huge increase in the amount of marijuana they seized from people passing through their state.

"We've seen almost, approximately a 1000 percent increase in the amount of marijuana that we've seized in Idaho since it's became legal in Washington," said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

ISP seized 131 pounds of marijuana in 2011. But in 2015 after voters in Oregon and Washington voted to legalize pot, the amount of marijuana seized climbed to 1,644 pounds.

Corporal Kevin Kessler and his K9 partner are responsible for many of those seizures. He said the busts begin as traffic stops and from there they find pot. Much of the time the pot is not destined for Idaho but it is being smuggled farther east.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said the pot seized by ISP is not being diverted to the black market. WSLCB Spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter said they track marijuana from seed to sale.

Nebraska: Medical Marijuana Petition Effort Delayed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nebraska groups seeking to get a medical marijuana question on the ballot in the state have decided to delay a petition drive because of the time and expense required.

Shelly Gillen, a medical marijuana advocate whose son Will might find help from the drug for his epileptic seizures, told the Lincoln Journal Star that backers are aiming now for a petition drive to force a 2018 vote.

“We just can’t count on the Legislature,” she said. “We’ve been doing this since Will was 11. He’s now 14. So we’ve been through it three legislative sessions.”

The governor and attorney general led in opposing a bill to allow medical marijuana that failed this spring.

State Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue sponsored the bill. He estimates it would have cost $700,000 to nearly $1 million to pay for the petition drive and advertising.

“It required so darn much money to get something on the ballot,” he said. “I really thought we had a great chance of getting it passed.” He said he will continue trying to pass a bill if he is re-elected.

“It’s going to be an uphill struggle,” Garrett said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of new senators that we’re going to have to convince.”

Colorado: Nebraska And Oklahoma's New Tactic To Overturn Marijuana Legalization

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The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma are asking to intervene in an ongoing court case in their newest effort to overturn marijuana legalization in Colorado.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a proposed lawsuit brought against Colorado by the two states last month. Earlier this month, Nebraska and Oklahoma responded by asking to be added to a case at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

That case is the consolidation of two separate appeals filed by legalization opponents whose lawsuits were dismissed by a lower court. Nebraska and Oklahoma's motion means that all of the ongoing challenges against Colorado's legalization of marijuana have merged into a single court case.

Since Colorado became the first state in country to allow licensed stores to sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years old, the state has faced a number of lawsuits seeking to overturn the law. None of them have succeeded.

One lawsuit was brought by a group of county sheriffs and another was brought by the owners of a rural property next to a marijuana grow. In both cases, the plaintiffs — backed by national anti-legalization organizations — argued that federal laws criminalizing marijuana should override state law. Federal judges in Colorado dismissed both earlier this year, prompting the appeals, which were later consolidated into a single case.

Nebraska: Legislature Backs Down From Medical Marijuana

The Nebraska legislature abandoned medical marijuana Tuesday evening.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nebraska senators re-opened the debate to legalize medical marijuana in the state Tuesday, but the idea was voted out Tuesday evening.

The vote lost approval just three votes short of the 33 needed to force a vote on a medical marijuana bill introduced last year.

Opponents argued marijuana has not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration and cannot be tested for safety like other drugs.

The bill was opposed by Attorney General Doug Peterson, Gov. Pete Ricketts, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Advocates pointed out that medical marijuana is already legal in 23 other states and tried to emphasize it is in Nebraska's best interest to regulate it.

Bill sponsor Tommy Garrett of Bellevue said he will support a petition process to place the measure on the general election ballot.

Nebraska: Lawmakers Revisit Medical Marijuana Debate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nebraska senators revisited a bill Tuesday that was introduced last year to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The measure would limit the number of qualifying conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana. The list would not include chronic pain and would not allow consumption of the drug by smoking.

Advocates point out that medical marijuana is now legal in 23 other states and that it is in the best interest of Nebraska to pas laws to regulate it.

Opponents say marijuana is illegal on the federal level, marijuana has not been approved bt the Food and Drug Administration, and cannot be tested for safety and accurate doses.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, and the Department of Health and Human Services oppose the bill.

US: Justice Clarence Thomas Enraged Over Supreme Court Rejection Of Marijuana Lawsuit

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Monday, the US Supreme Court rejected an effort by Oklahoma and Nebraska to have Colorado's legalization of marijuana declared unconstitutional.

The majority of justices did not explain their rationale for rejecting the case.

Justice Clarence Thomas was not one of those. In a dissent, he said Article III of the constitution is unambiguous in saying the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over "controversies" between the states and that the majority's decision left the parties without a legal forum to deal with their case.

The case revolves about Colorado's 2012 adoption of an amendment to its constitution to "legalize, regulate and facilitate the recreational use of marijuana," according to Thomas's dissent.

"Amendment 64 exempts from Colorado's criminal prohibitions certain uses of marijuana. ... directs the Colorado Department of Revenue to promulgate licensing procedures for marijuana establishments. ... and requires the Colorado General Assembly to enact an excise tax for sales of marijuana from cultivation facilities to manufacturing facilities and retail stores," Thomas writes.

U.S.: Supreme Court Rejects Other States' Lawsuit Over Colorado Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its marijuana legalization law. Oklahoma and Nebraska had claimed the Colorado law had created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states.

The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claimed that federal marijuana prohibition preempts the law that Colorado voters decisively adopted in 2012. The Federal Government filed a brief urging the high court to reject the case.

"There is no question about it: This is good news for legalization supporters," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "This case, if it went forward and the Court ruled the wrong way, had the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date. And the notion of the Supreme Court standing in the way could have cast a dark shadow on the marijuana ballot measures voters will consider this November.

Washington, DC: Supreme Court Ruling Could End Legal Colorado Marijuana Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A lawsuit brought forth by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado's legal marijuana market will be discussed by the Supreme Court on March 4. The suit has the potential to shut down Colorado's legal marijuana industry.

The controversial lawsuit, 'Nebraska and Oklahoma Vs. Colorado', suggests the two states “are suffering a direct and significant detrimental impact” as a result of the retail pot market in Colorado. The Court’s final verdict could have “devastating implications for marijuana legalization.”

The plaintiffs are requesting that the Supreme Court put an end to Colorado's marijuana industry because Amendment 64 conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act while violating the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They claim that legalization has “created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system” that is leading to marijuana being smuggled into neighboring states.

The complaint asserts that the federal government is creating a difficult environment for law enforcement and Oklahoma and Nebraska citizens.

The Supreme Court gatekeeper, US Solicitor general Donald Verilli, Jr. says the case should be dropped because the dispute is not “an appropriate case for the exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction.” He filed a briefing last year advising the court to dismiss the case, since the criminal actions defined by the complaint are being committed by individuals and not by the State of Colorado.

U.S.: DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Dismiss Suit Against Colorado Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Solicitor General, on behalf of the federal Department of Justice, on Wednesday filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit that the neighboring states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed against Colorado's marijuana legalization law.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., in the brief, argues that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) "does not preempt a 'State law on the same subject matter' as the CSA's control and enforcement provisions 'unless there is a positive conflict' between federal and state law 'so that the two cannot consistently stand together.'

"Here, for example, it is conceivable that the Court could conclude that whether Colorado's scheme creates a 'positive conflict' with the CSA ultimately turns on, among other factors, the practical efficacy of Colorado's regulatory system in preventing or deterring interstate marijuana trafficking," the Solicitor General -- whose duty it is to represent the federal government before the Supreme Court -- wrote.

“This is the right move by the Obama administration," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "Colorado and a growing number of states have decided to move away from decades of failed prohibition laws, and so far things seem to be working out as planned.

Nebraska: Tribe Interested In Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa, with a 300-square-mile reservation about 90 minutes north of the city of Omaha, is interested in growing marijuana.

"We need jobs," said Daniel Webster, who lives on the reservation, which extends across the state line into Iowa, reports KETV.

Issues such as poverty and unemployment have reached critical levels, according to Omaha Tribe of Nebraska Chairman Vernon Miller. "Right now, my community has a 69 percent unemployment rate," Miller said.

According to Miller, the dire economy is leading to desperate solutions.

"We're not seeing anybody else looking to assist us and we acknowledge that, so we're trying to pursue whatever we can," he said.

The tribe, considered a sovereign nation, early this month polled its members on the legalization and sale of medical, industrial and recreational marijuana. "All three were supported by the majority, so that gave us the direction that the tribal membership wants to pursue," Miller said.

A federal Department of Justice memo last December sparked the interest; it extended the same drug cannabis law guidelines to the Native American reservations are are applied to states. As long as minors aren't allowed access, and the weed isn't allowed to cross borders of jurisdictions that do not allow it, the feds announced they wouldn't interfere with tribes legalizing marijuana sales on the reservation.

U.S.: Nebraska, Oklahoma AGs File Lawsuit To Overturn Colorado Marijuana Legalization


Colorado Attorney General says ‘suit is without merit and [his office] will vigorously defend against it’

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday announced that he has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Colorado’s laws that legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. He said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is also joining the lawsuit, which alleges the state constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters and the implementing legislation approved by state lawmakers is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“We agree with the Colorado Attorney General’s opinion that this suit is without merit," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado marijuana initiative campaign. "This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem."

"They are wasting Nebraska and Oklahoma taxpayers’ dollars by filing this suit, and they’re forcing Coloradans to pick up the bill for defending ourselves against it," Tvert ssaid. "Colorado's top law enforcement officials have better things to do, and you’d think their counterparts in Nebraska and Oklahoma would as well.

“These guys are on the wrong side of history," Tvert said. "They will be remembered similarly to how we think of state officials who fought to maintain alcohol prohibition years after other states ended it.

Nebraska: No Industrial Hemp Crop This Year; Maybe Next Time?


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nebraska won't be harvesting a legal hemp crop this fall, despite the Legislature's passage of a law allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp for research. State bureaucrats at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture are still working on the rules.

The bill in question, LB 1001, tasked the state agriculture department with devising rules and regulations for hemp cultivation in the Cornhusker State, reports Nicholas Bergin at the Lincoln Journal Star. The department is still researching hemp programs in other states, but won't have their ducks -- or maybe I should say hemp plants -- in a row in time for spring planting.

"There will be no hemp research projects initiated under a program this year," said spokeswoman Christin Kamm of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Kamm didn't say when the first crop might be planted.

The industrial hemp bill, which passed overwhelmingly on a 39-2 vote, will allow the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to grow hemp, a variety of cannabis that unlike recreational marijuana does not contain enough THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to produce a high.

Nebraska: Senate hopefuls focus on ethanol

By Kristin Jirovsky/Daily Sun

LINCOLN -- The three Nebraska U.S. Senate candidates discussed their views on ethanol as a renewable fuel source Thursday during a forum at the Mary Riepma-Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Before the forum, Mike Johanns, Scott Kleeb and Steve Larrick watched with several Lincolnites a video entitled, “The Ethanol Maze.” The film was a project completed by students of a depth reporting journalism class taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Each prospective senator then took his turn to share views on ethanol as an option for alternative fuel.

Kleeb, a Democrat, was up first, saying he is a supporter of using corn-based ethanol for alternative fuel.

“This debate is going to be increasingly important,” Kleeb said.

Most of all, Kleeb said that ethanol should be the first piece of the puzzle in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Kleeb posed a question to the event attendees. In 2005, the energy bill was passed that promised a lessened dependence on foreign oil and lower prices for fuel.

“Which of these have we gotten?” he said.

“I do think we need to have higher fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles,” he said.

Green Party candidate Steve Larrick stepped up to the podium next.

“I like the open discussion the film provided,” he said. “We do need to look at all of the issues.”

Larrick went to a more “green” side of the debate. He said the best thing to do is look at the options for cellulosic ethanol.

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