supreme court

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United States: Supreme Court Rejects Missouri Tech College Drug Test Bid

Supreme Court

This case establishes -- once and for all -- that under the Fourth Amendment, every person has the right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure, including college students

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the State Technical College of Missouri regarding an appeals court ruling that its mandatory drug testing policy is unconstitutional when applied to all students. With the refusal to intervene, the nation's highest court brought an end the six-year legal dispute with State Technical College of Missouri, formerly known as Linn State Technical College.

Montana: Judges Reject Appeal Over Medical Marijuana

pot plants.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal challenging a Montana law that limits medical marijuana providers to selling the drug to a maximum of three patients per day.

The justices let stand a Montana Supreme Court ruling on Monday that upheld key provisions of a state law that rolled back much of the 2004 voter-approved initiative legalizing medicinal marijuana.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association said the rollbacks would force the closure of dispensaries and leave patients without a legal way to obtain the drug.

The new restrictions are set to take effect Aug. 31.

Oregon: Measure 91 Advocates Endorse Brad Avakian for Secretary of State


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization advocates New Approach Oregon, the organization behind the successful Measure 91, on Wednesday endorsed Democratic candidate Brad Avakian for Secretary of State. Avakian currently serves as Oregon Labor Commissioner.

"Supporters of Measure 91, we have an exciting Secretary of State's race that involves three qualified Democratic candidates. I want to introduce you to one of those candidates, Brad Avakian, an ally of the marijuana law reform movement for more than a decade when he, as Labor Commissioner, fought for a medical marijuana patient who was fired for using cannabis medicinally," New Approach Oregon's Anthony Johnson wrote in a March 30 email. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court rejected that argument and the fight for true equality and freedom goes on, even after legalizing and regulating marijuana.

"Brad Avakian is the progressive in the race for Secretary of State, and you can see that in the endorsements that he has received, including some of the same endorsers who advocated for Measure 91, such as the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 Union and the Working Families Party," Johnson wrote. "If we can elect Brad Avakian as our next Secretary of State we will have a true supporter of sensible marijuana policies in the 2nd most prominent governmental position in Oregon.

U.S.: Support For Marijuana Legalization Hits All Time High Of 61%


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey released on Friday by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago shows record support for marijuana legalization in the United States, at 61 percent.

The survey asks, "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?", which is the same wording as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The AP asked a follow-up question which showed that 24 percent of legalization supporters said cannabis should be made available "only with a medical prescription." Another 43 percent wanted to restrict purchase amounts. One-third of legalization supporters said there should be "no restrictions" on purchase amounts.

"This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we're not in a situation -- for the first time in history -- where every major presidential candidate on both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference."

While cannabis legalization is very popular among Democrats (70 percent) and independents (65 percent), just 47 percent of Republicans support it.

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

Clarence Thomas.jpg

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.

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.

Mexico: Medical Marijuana Has Been Used For Centuries, But Is Illegal


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A debate on whether to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational uses in Mexico is still in its early stages, but Mexicans have used marijuana for therapeutic purposes for centuries.

The current national discussion was kicked off last month when the Mexican Supreme Court issued a historic ruling authorizing four people to grow and smoke cannabis, opening the door for others to seek similar permission, reports Sofia Miselem at AFP.

"I really have a lot of faith in it," said a 53-year-old grandmother who spoke on condition of anonymity and uses marijuana-infused alcohol as a topical treatment. "When I'm very tired, I spread it on my legs, feet and body.

"It's really good," she said. "I can go without salt but not without marijuana with alcohol. My grandmother used it," she said.

For generations, "grandma's magic remedy" has been used in Mexico to combat a range of pains, fevers and other medical complaints. Cannabis-infused oils, pastes, and teas are used for headaches, insomnia, nausea, and pain.

"Infused into alcohol is the traditional use for rheumatism as well as muscular and circulation pains," said Humberto Rocca, a doctor specializing in addictions and herbalism. "It's an ancient medicine, passed on from generation to generation. Young people know that their grandmothers or mothers use it."

Mexico: Supreme Court Opens Door To Legalizing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door to legalizing marijuana, delivering a direct challenge to the nation's harsh drug laws and adding to the debate in Latin America over the costs of the War On Drugs.

The vote, by the court's criminal chamber, declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use, report Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed at The New York Times.

The ruling applies only to a single cannabis club that brought the lawsuit, and does not strike down Mexico's current drug laws. But according to experts, it is likely the first of a wave of legal actions that ultimate could legalize marijuana.

The flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States continues, after decades of the America-backed War On Drugs has produced much destruction but few lasting victories. The drug traffic fuels political corruption in Mexico, which remains engulfed in violence.

“It’s the drama behind all of our efforts,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a corporate lawyer who was one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case. "It's clearly a significant part of the business," said Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland expert on the global Drug War and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation.

Canada: Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Legal In All Forms


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canadian medical marijuana patients can legally use all forms of cannabis, the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday.

Medicinal cannabis patients will now be able to legally consume marijuana, not just smoke it, reports the BBC.

Cannabis oil is now legally allowed instead of only dried marijuana flowers, making it easier to infuse food products.

The right at stake was described by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association as the right to personal autonomy in medical decision-making – no matter what medical science may say about the wisdom of the decision, reports Sean Fine at The Globe and Mail.

The case began back in 2009 when former head baker Owen Smith of the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, a British Columbia collective, was charged with trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana. Smith was caught baking 200 cannabis cookies, reports Trinh Theresa Do at CBC.

A B.C. judge acquitted Smith and gave the Canadian government a year to change laws about marijuana extracts. The case then went to the Supreme Court.

Colorado: Lawsuit Claims Marijuana Taxes Violate 5th Amendment


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A lawsuit was filed on Monday in Denver District Court by activist attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr., seeking to permanently end Colorado's marijuana taxes on the grounds that paying them violates a citizen's Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination -- since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Corry goes beyond that, accusing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of violating the federal "Kingpin" statute (the federal law against operating "continual criminal enterprises") for collecting taxes on a federally illegal substance, reports Denver Direct.

The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed licensed medical and recreational marijuana store, as well as the "No Over Taxation" issue committee, which worked against Proposition AA, a marijuana tax issue approved by Colorado voters last year. Also signing onto the complaint were Kathleen Chippi, Larisa Bolivar, Miguel Lopez and William Chengelis.

Corry is seeking a refund of all marijuana tax monies collected by Colorado, as well as unspecified damages.

In the event that the suit is successful, it could be the basis for overturning all regulations regarding marijuana in Colorado, on the same grounds. As long as marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, states can't require people to give any information about themselves in order to buy or distribute it, Corry claims.

U.S.: Supreme Court Lets Stand Order For AZ County Sheriff To Return Seized Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn Arizona court rulings which order the Yuma County sheriff to return cannabis seized from a woman with a California medical marijuana authorization recognized by Arizona. The justices' decision was issued without comment on Monday in the case of Valerie Okun.

Okun had marijuana in her car when a Border Patrol agent stopped her and her husband in Yuma County in 2011, reports The Associated Press. She was charged with marijuana possession, but the charges were dropped when she provided paperwork proving she was allowed to possess cannabis under California's medical marijuana law.

Arizona's medical marijuana law his reciprocity; that is, it allows people with authorizations from other states to also possess cannabis in Arizona.

But Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot refused to give Okun's medical marijuana back, even after Arizona courts ordered that the medicine be returned.

"It has to do with the courts telling me to commit a crime," the pot-hating Sheriff Wilmot said, reports the Arizona Daily Star. "As far as I'm concerned that's not how we do business."

Florida: With 80% Favoring Medical Marijuana, Opponents Turn To Supreme Court To Stop Measure


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Eighty percent of Floridians favor medical marijuana, according to the latest poll, so opponents, seeing little hope at the ballot box, have now turned to the Florida Supreme Court to stop the momentum of a proposed ballot initiative which would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in the Sunshine State.

The state Supreme Court on December 5 will hear arguments over the language of the medical marijuana proposal, reports Lloyd Dunkelberger at the Herald Tribune. Sponsors need nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures by February in order to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other opponents of the measure claim the ballot language is misleading and would lead to "widespread use of marijuana." Supporters say they are backing the constitutional amendment because state legislators refuse to legalize medical marijuana, and are out of touch with ordinary Floridians on the subject.

A Quinnipiac University poll this month showed Florida voters approve of letting doctors authorize patients to use medical marijuana, 82 percent to 16 percent.

The ballot language is an attempt to let Floridians decide for themselves whether to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis, as 20 other states have done, according to trial lawyer John Morgan, the chief financial backer of the measure.

Florida: State Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Medical Marijuana Initiative


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Florida Supreme Court on December 5 will hear arguments on whether a proposed initiative to amend the state constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, should go before voters on the November 2014 general election ballot.

The announcement came just before supporters and opponents of the measure were to gather at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College for a debate, "The Great Debate! Marijuana Legalization: Make An Informed Decision," reports Alex Sanz at WPTV.

The debate will pit Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), against Kevin Sabet, who director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and a notorious anti-cannabis whack-job.

"It's needed now because there are people who are ill now," said William Deans, an organizer at Medical Marijuana Petition Palm Beach. "We're going to have 900,000 petitioners before it is said and done with, who have signed to indicate that they want this issue on the ballot."

Jeff Kadel, executive director of something called the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, wasted no time in displaying his ignorance on the subject.

Michigan: Supreme Court To Eye Local Bans On Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at a historic case that will determine whether Michigan communities can ban medical marijuana and possibly whether state residents can keep using cannabis at all for medicinal reasons.

Those united against medical marijuana patients include the State Bar of Michigan and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, both of which are trying to get the entire medical marijuana law thrown out, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.

That would cancel the wishes of the 63 percent of Michigan voters who approved the medical marijuana law in 2008, according to groups opposing the medical marijuana ban, which include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the libertarian Cato Institute, based in Washington, D.C.

A few Michigan communities have passed bans on medical marijuana "that carry serious penalties, and that includes jail time," according to activist Tim Beck, 61, of Detroit. The ordinances "didn't even mention medical marijuana -- they just said that any activity that was illegal under federal law was also illegal in their community," Beck said.

The case stems from retired attorney John Ter Beek's 2010 lawsuit to overturn a medical marijuana ban in Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids. Ter Beek is a state-registered medical marijuana patient with a paintful neurological disorder and diabetes, according to the lawsuit.

Washington: State Supreme Court Upholds Medical Necessity Defense For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a landmark case with far-reaching implications, a divided Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a medical necessity defense in a marijuana cultivation case against a man who was fined $4,000 three years ago for growing 42 plants. According to the decision, a prior medical marijuana authorization is not necessary in order to claim a medical necessity defense for cannabis.

The narrow 5-4 ruling sends the case of William Kurtz back to Thurston County Superior Court for further action, reports Brad Shannon at The Olympian. Kurtz -- who uses a wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes him chronic pain -- was fined but not sent to jail by Judge Carol Murphy in October 2010, reported Jeremy Pawloski of The Olympian at that time.

The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, joined by Justices Charles Johnson, Debra Stephens and Steven Gonzalez and Justice Pro Tem Tom Chambers.

Colorado: It'll Be DPA vs. DEA In High-Profile Debate On Marijuana Legalization


2013 Aspen Ideas Festival to Feature Debate Between Former DEA Head Asa Hutchinson and DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann

Debate Will Be Live-Streamed on YouTube on July 1

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond will gather in Aspen, Colorado to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas.

The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics. The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1 (10:20 am-11:20 am Mountain Time / 12:20-1:20 Eastern), Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former Drug Enforcement Administration head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as this segment on CNN’s Crossfire.

California: Supreme Court Decision Expected - Can Cities Ban Marijuana Dispensaries?

(Photo: University of San Francisco)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Supreme Court on Monday is expected to make a major decision, deciding if cities are allowed to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

About 200 citywide bans are hanging in the balance; a Supreme Court decision could resolve years of conflicting rulings by lower courts, reports Maura Dolan of The Los Angeles Times.

Several justices indicated during a February hearing that they favor upholding city dispensary bans. Their comments hinted that the court might rule that local governments have the power to ban the shops, despite California's medical marijuana law, Prop 215, approved by voters back in 1996.

If the court rules that dispensary bans are acceptable, many more communities across the state are expected to zone the shops out of existence, ending safe access to medicinal cannabis for hundreds of thousands of patients. Advocates have lamented that many patients would be forced to drive hundreds of miles to get medical marijuana legally.

The case currently before the California Supreme Court stems from a dispensary ban by the city of Riverside. Lower courts have given conflicting rulings over whether such bans are legally permissible.

U.S.: Supreme Court Says Marijuana Possession Not A Deportable Offense

(Photo: New York Daily Record)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a legal immigrant is not subject to deportation for being convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana.

The court voted 7-2 that Adrian Moncrieffe, a citizen of Jamaica, could not face mandatory deportation, because the basic possession of marijuana is not a federal felony, reports Lawrence Hurley of .

The federal government can deport legal immigrants when they are convicted of an aggravated felony.

Immigration officials tried to deport Moncrieffe after he was convicted under Georgia state law of possession and intent to distribute 1.3 grams of cannabis. The case is Moncrieffe v. Holder,, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-702.

A conviction for marijuana possession does not rise to the level of an aggravated felony if it's a small amount and the defendant was not being paid for it, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the majority in Tuesday's ruling.

Moncrieffe could still be subject to deportation, Justice Sotomayor wrote, but he and others would now be able to contest the decision in further immigration proceedings and the U.S. Department of Justice would be able to use its discretion.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both wrote dissenting opinions.

Michigan: Town's Attempt To Ban Medical Marijuana Goes To State Supreme Court

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Michigan city's attempt to ban medical marijuana appears to be alive again after the state Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the case.

The state Court of Appeals about seven months ago ruled that a new Wyoming, Mich., ordinance, which essentially bans medical marijuana, was not legal, reports John Tunison of A three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously that the Wyoming city ordinance conflicts with the states Medical Marihuana Act.

The court rejected Michigan's argument that state law contradicts the federal prohibition on marijuana, which the U.S. government considers a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses.

Medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek, who is an attorney, started fighting the ban after the Wyoming City Council passed the ordinance back in November 2010. Council members who passed the ban said marijuana could be distributed safely by pharmacists (who, by federal law, aren't allowed to touch the stuff), but not by licensed marijuana caregivers.

Ter Beck sued, saying the ordinance went against the will of the state's voters, who by a 63 percent margin approved the law in 2008. Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber ruled in favor of the city, then the Court of Appeals reversed his ruling.

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