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Maine: Prohibitionist Governor Vetoes Cannabis Regulation and Implementation Bill

Maine-Flag

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Friday, Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated cannabis market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016.

The progressive bill, LD 1650, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use and delay cannabis social consumption lounges until summer 2019.

U.S.: Record-High Support for Legalizing Cannabis Use, Gallup Poll Finds

2017 Gallup Poll

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Americans are warming up to legalizing cannabis, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support a Gallup poll has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.

The latest figure, based on an Oct. 5-11 Gallup poll, follows shifts in the U.S. legal landscape regarding marijuana since Gallup's 2016 measure. While still illegal at the federal level, the issue was featured on a number of state ballot initiatives in 2016, and with eight states and the District of Columbia having fully legalized marijuana, more than one in five Americans live in a state where they can legally enjoy use of the drug.

Illinois: High School Newspaper Confiscated For Cannabis Content

ETHS

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, prohibitionist administrators at Evanston Township High School confiscated an issue of the student newspaper, declaring it glorified drug use, drug dealing and promoted illegal conduct. Last week, at the meeting of the District 202 school board, the student journalists and first amendment legal advocates argued that the school may have violated state law by failing to show justification before confiscating the paper, which included coverage on cannabis use and policy.

U.S.: Northern Michigan University Offering Cannabis Degree

NMU

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Northern Michigan University in Marquette is offering a cannabis degree. The four-year medicinal plant chemistry degree geared toward the emerging cannabis industry includes classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, bio-statistics, genetics, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, accounting, financial management and perspectives on society.

Other colleges and universities in the U.S., namely Harvard, Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University and University of Denver, offer a variety of classes on cannabis policy and law.

Georgia: Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

Atlanta, GA Decrim 2017

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that he signed the historic city council ordinance decriminalizing marijuana.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” Reed said. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

U.S.: Support The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017

USA

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

This legislative session, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced comprehensive cannabis reform legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017. If passed, the bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Canada: Quebec Sets Minimum Age for Cannabis Consumption at 18

Quebec Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Thursday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the call that the minimum age for the consumption of legal cannabis in Quebec will be 18.

After several caucus meetings, where everyone was allowed to express their views on the hot issue, Couillard made a ultimate decision, opting for 18 instead of 21 as some requested, government sources confirmed on Friday.

The opposition Coalition, led by Avenir Québec, had also been calling for age 21 because they believed smoking cannabis at such a young age can have negative effects on the brain. Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette was pushing for age 21, but voted for 18, after reconsidering.

Georgia: Atlanta City Council Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis

Atlanta Cannabis Decriminalization

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis in an unanimous decision. After the historic 15-0 vote from the City Council, the proposed ordinance was sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to either sign or veto the legislation. If the mayor signs it, which he said he intends to, the ordinance will become city law.

After the vote, Mayor Reed indicated that he was interested in signing the legislation. In a tweet, the mayor thanked council members for their "leadership on marijuana reform."

Lesotho: Kingdom Becomes First African Country to Legalize Cannabis

Roma_Lesotho.jpg

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Lesotho, a country of two-million people surrounded by South Africa, is perfectly situated to produce large volumes of high quality, low cost cannabis due to its expertise in high altitude cultivation.

For many years, Lesotho’s farmers have been growing cannabis for consumption at home and exporting their harvest across the border in South Africa. Similarly, in Swaziland, growing cannabis and exporting the herb to South Africa has provided for many families, despite the plant being outlawed.

Cannabis is not yet fully legal in South Africa, so citizens cannot legally cultivate, sell or smoke, and how the court ruling applies is still somewhat obscure, but it seems, globally, cannabis culture is becoming more tolerated.

U.S.: FBI Reports 653,249 Arrests for Cannabis in 2016

Cannabis Arrest

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. The staggering data equates to one person being arrested for cannabis approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

In the U.S. today, arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty that needs to end.

Washington: Cannabis Freedom Fighter, Rainbow Valley Founder, Gideon Israel Passes Away

Cannabis Freedom Fighter

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Gideon Israel, 68, cannabis activist and winner of the High Times Freedom Fighter of the Year award in 1999, died on September 8 in Olympia, Washington. Born Jeff McMonagle, Israel grew up in Lacey, Washington and attended North Thurston High School, legally changing his name after joining the Love Family.

Israel often held public, utopian gatherings at his 42-acre property, Rainbow Valley, in south Thurston County, Washington, until the authorities shut him down and seized the property. Israel was a polarizing figure in Thurston County for decades because he clashed with local authorities over the festivals he hosted at Rainbow Valley, according to the Olympian.

Colorado: Cultivating Agricultural Hemp on the Western Slope

Colorado Hemp

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Grand Junction, CO - Industrial hemp has only been in the Grand Valley for a few years, but continuous growth in the industry has farmers looking to cultivate a multimillion-dollar industry.

"It's life-changing. Every single day, we're finding more and more uses for it. Hemp was so widely used back in the day, just the amount of paper we can save converting, it's really awesome," said Tanner Willis, Owner of Colorado Hemp Solutions.

This month, at the Industrial Hemp Regional Resource Development Round-table in Montrose, leaders from government and economic agencies from around the Western Slope gathered together to discuss using hemp as an economic development tool.

Virginia: Researchers Seek to Expand Hemp Industry, Farmers Seek New Cash Crop

Hemp

Virginia Tech researchers hoping to expand hemp industry, farmers hope hemp will become new cash crop

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Every year, the U.S. imports hundreds of millions of dollars in industrial hemp. However, industrial hemp cannot legally be grown in the U.S. because of an unscrupulous outdated law.

Hemp proponents looking to change the law say thousands of jobs would open up and hundreds of millions of dollars could be generated.

"We're talking tens of thousands of jobs," says Kimley Banks, Agriculture Marketing Director for Halifax County.

Massachusetts: Advocates Seek Assurances From Cannabis Control Commission

Mass Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Many advocates in the cannabis industry feel the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) members who opposed Question 4, the state's recreational cannabis law, should make clear that their personal positions will not impact their board responsibilities in implementing the law.

Advocates are asking CCC Chairman, Steven Hoffman, to request that the governor and the Legislature provide adequate funding to get the legal sales system up and running on the current schedule.

U.S.: Senators Reintroduce Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

US Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, the bipartisan authors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) reintroduced their comprehensive legislation to review prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars.

The legislation, spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), improves judicial discretion at sentencing for low level offenders and helps inmates successfully reenter society, while tightening penalties for violent criminals and preserving key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.

Texas: State Issues First Medical Cannabis License

Texas Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Earlier this month a Florida company, Cansortium Texas, was granted the historic first Texas license to grow, process and sell a form of medical cannabis in the Lone Star State.

Cansortium Texas, which sells medical cannabis under the Knox Medical brand, will operate a facility which will be allowed to sell cannabis to epilepsy patients off U.S. 90 in Schulenburg.

Two other companies — Compassionate Cultivation, which is retrofitting a 7,200-square-foot warehouse in Manchaca with customized growing and processing equipment, and Surterra Texas are expected to be awarded state licenses soon after final reviews by the Texas Department of Public Safety, rounding out the three medical cannabis licenses that the agency has said it will issue.

Pennsylvania: Support for Recreational Cannabis Nears 60%

PennsylvaniaLibertyBellMarijuana

Nearly six in 10 Pennsylvanians support social cannabis regulation, a dramatic upturn over the past decade, a new poll shows

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Fifty-Nine percent of the roughly 400 voters surveyed approve of adult-use cannabis legalization, according to a poll by Franklin & Marshall College Center for Opinion Research.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the statistic is dramatically up from the 22% who supported legalization in 2006, the first year the Lancaster-based college started polling Pennsylvanians about social cannabis legalization.

Michigan: Cannabis Legalization Coalition Nearing Petition Drive Goal

Michigan Signature Gathering

Backers of a ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan are approaching the finish line

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Hundreds of petition circulators in Michigan have been busy collecting signatures for the legalization of cannabis.

Josh Hovey, the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, says the group is pushing forward and their petition drive will collect its 300,000 signature in the coming days.

"We're around 80 percent toward our goal, which puts us at about 280,000 signatures. If we can keep our fundraising up the we'll be pushing 300k very soon and wrapping up the signatures in the next month," Hovey told Hemp News.

Australia: Olivia Newton-John Advocates For Medical Cannabis Down Under

Olivia Newton-John

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Entertainer Olivia Newton-John has become an unlikely champion for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia.

"I will do what I can to encourage it. It's an important part of treatment, and it should be available," the iconic singer, said.

Newton-John said she uses the drug – which is legal in her home state of California – and it's helped her during her second fight against cancer.

"I use medicinal cannabis, which is really important for pain and healing," Newton-John said. "It helped me a lot with pain, because, you know, I don't like taking prescription drugs, so it's kind of a no-brainer," Newton-John added.

Oregon: New Plant Limits for Medical Marijuana Program Hurting Patients

Oregon Capitol

New state regulations attempting to address the flow of medical cannabis into the black market leaves patients in painful bind

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Oregon public health officials drafted strict rules for how many plants medical cannabis patients may cultivate at home or at a grow-site registered with the state. Legislators claim the regulations are the result of bi-partisan legislation passed this past session to stop the flow of medical cannabis to the community. A residence may have no more than a dozen mature plants, no matter how many people live there, including recreational plants. The law does not define the size of immature plants.

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