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Washington: Officials Delay Announcement of State Marijuana Consultant

Source: Victoria TaftBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state officials were supposed to name the Evergreen State's new marijuana consultant on Tuesday, but said they had received so many applications for the new position that they are delaying the announcement of a winner.

There were 98 applications for the job, which pays $87,000 a year. The chief duty of the marijuana consultant will be to advise the state Liquor Control Board on rules governing Washington's new legal marijuana industry, according to spokesman Mikhail Carpenter, reports The Associated Press.

Additionally, the marijuana consultant will be expected to "gather input" from police, farmers, cannabis users and others to help Liquor Control Board director Pat Kohler "understand the product and the industry itself," The Seattle Times reported last month.

According to Smith, the consultant is needed to determine how much weed is consumed in Washington, so the state can come up with a way of knowing how much should be grown and sold. "We're trying to get that sweet spot," Smith said, "where we can get that right amount that is produced in Washington state to meet the market demand."

California: Poll Shows Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization

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

A poll released last week shows a solid majority of Californians surveyed in February -- 54 percent -- support allowing marijuana to be legalized, sold and taxed like alcohol.

The level of support has risen four percentage points since Field Poll last posed the question to the state's registered voters in 2010, reports A few months after that poll, Proposition 19, which would have made California the first state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis, got only 46 percent of the votes cast, losing by just under 700,000 votes.

Voters in Washington and Colorado last year ignored federal marijuana laws, passing initiatives which permit adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis. Tellingly, opinion polls in those two states, taken just ahead of the November election, showed less support for legalizing marijuana than voters in the new California poll are expressing.

Marijuana legalization got the most support in the San Francisco Bay area, where almost 70 percent of voters endorsed the idea.

A group of marijuana activists has already announced plans to put another initiative on the 2014 ballot.

U.S.: Former DEA Heads Urge Justice Department To Block Marijuana Legalization

Source: Salem-NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seeking to thwart the will of the voters of Colorado and Washington state, former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration are pushing for continuation of the disastrous policies of the War On Marijuana. For the second time in six months, the former DEA heads have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to block state-level efforts to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

On Tuesday, the former DEA heads sent a letter to Holder calling on him to block implementation of new laws in Colorado and Washington. Holder will appear on Wednesday before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The ex-DEA directors sent a similar letter to Holder back in September, urging him to speak out against the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, as he had done in October 2010 before California's Proposition 19 legalization vote.

But the White House and Attorney General this time chose to remain silent, allowing citizens in Washington and Colorado to vote without the threat of federal obstruction. Both initiatives won with about 55 percent of the vote, exceeding President Obama's margin of victory in Colorado as well as the margins of victory by the candidates for governor and attorney general in Washington state.

Illinois: Man Gets 24 Years For Marijuana

Source: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Texas man who was caught with 73 pounds of marijuana in Douglas County, Illinois, three years ago was sentenced last week to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

A jury had convicted Antonio Sustaita, 39, of Beeville, Texas, of marijuana trafficking, possession with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana after the cannabis was found in the pickup truck in which he was a passenger, reports the East Central Illinois News Gazette.

The truck was stopped on I-57 north of Arcola by Illinois State Police on February 4, 2010, because it had a cracked windshield "and an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror." (Did you know they could list an air freshener as "probable cause"?)

A drug dog alerted on odors coming from the back of the truck, and the cops searched it, finding that the gas tank had been modified and held 42 bricks of cannabis.

In addition to the 24-year prison sentence, Judge Mike Carroll ordered Sustaita to pay a street value fine of $60,000 and a $3,000 mandatory assessment.

Because of the amount of marijuana involved, Sustaita could have gotten up to 60 years in prison.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Is 'About Compassion,' Says Author Of Bill

Florida state Senator Jeff Clemens [Photo: The Political Hurricane]By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida state Senator Jeff Clemens last week introduced a bill that would finally allow patients in the Sunshine State with serious qualifying medical conditions to legally possess and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

S.B. 1250, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, named after Florida Cannabis Action Network president and ALS patient Cathy Jordan, would allow qualifying patients to have up to four ounces of marijuana and to grow up to eight marijuana plants, reports Chris Joseph at Broward Palm Beach New Times.

"When a patient comes into your office and tells you all the meds that they're taking don't work, don't relieve their suffering, but marijuana does, it's hard to look that person in the eye and not do something about it," Sen. Clemens said.

Clemens already made history three years ago when he introduced the first-ever medical marijuana bill in the Florida Legislature. It was quickly shot down, but the senator said he knew from the outset that this would be an uphill, four- to six-year battle.

New Mexico: House Panel Recommends Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties

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

A New Mexico House committee last week voted in favor of a bill that would remove jail penalties for adults possessing small amounts of cannabis. The panel took the action on the same day that a new poll showed a majority of New Mexico voters favor reducing or even eliminating penalties against marijuana possession.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, on a 3-2 party line vote, gave a "do-pass" recommendation to HB 465, sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane (D-Albuquerque), reports Steve Terrell at The New Mexican. The committee's three Democrats voted for the bill, while the two Republicans voted against it.

The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee. But even if the measure clears the Legislature, conservative Governor Susana Martinez -- a former prosecutor -- has said she's against relaxing the laws on marijuana.

State and local governments waste too much money arresting and jailing people for marijuana possession, according to Rep. Kane. She said police should be able to investigate more serious crimes.

But Republican Rep. Jason Harper said he's worried that if the marijuana laws are loosened, there would be more people using cannabis, and driving under its influence.

Kane said the laws against driving while impaired would not be changed by her bill.

Oklahoma: Lawmaker Pushing To Reduce Marijuana Penalties

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

Marijuana possession penalties could be reduced in Oklahoma under a new bill in the state Legislature.

A second possession offense in Oklahoma, under current law, will get you a felony charge and two to 10 years in prison. But Rep. Cory Williams wants to make first and second offenses a misdemeanor in the state, reports Evan Anderson at NewsOn6.

The bill is off to a great start -- it already passed unanimously through the House Public Safety Committee on a 14-0 vote.

Rep. Williams said it just doesn't make any sense to burden Oklahoma citizens with felony records, when possessing cannabis is legal in some states.

"We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation and a lot of those are for what we consider law level, nonviolent drug offenses," Williams said. "And certainly marijuana is leading that."

A second marijuana possession offense is currently an automatic felony in Oklahoma. While Williams said his bill isn't necessarily a step towards legalizing pot in the state, it does make punishment more rational.

The proposed misdemeanor charge would still carry a maximum one-year sentence; after all, this is still Oklahoma -- think baby steps. (Manufacturing hash can get you a life sentence in this state.)

Williams said he is confident his bill will make it to the House floor.

Washington: Judge Orders Cops To Return Tacoma Man's Marijuana

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

In what could be a precedent-setting case in Pierce County, Washington, a judge on Thursday ordered police to return marijuana that was seized from a Tacoma man during a traffic stop last year.

Municipal Court Judge Jack Emery agreed with Joseph L. Robertson's that the cops had no right to seize the cannabis -- less than 40 grams -- because he is a designated provider of medical marijuana, reports Adam Lynn at The News Tribune.

This might be the first such ruling in Pierce County history, according to Robertson's lawyer, Jay Berneberg. Two owners of a medical marijuana dispensary in the county lost a Superior Court bid to get back the cannabis seized from them during a case which was later thrown out of court.

"As far as that goes, it's a big deal," said Berneberg, who specializes in medical marijuana cases.

Robertson hoped to get his marijuana back from the police property room within a week.

"I feel great," he said outside court. "You've got to stand up for people's rights sometimes."

Police had confiscated the marijuana in May 2012 after stopping Robertson for speeding. The officer who made the traffic stop claimed he smelled cannabis inside Robertson's car and later found a small amount, according to court records.

U.S.: Veteran Faces Jail For Using Marijuana To Treat PTSD

Service dog Rodney's got Jeremy Usher's back as Jeremy looks at the names on Weld County Veterans Memorial. Photo by Joshua Polson, The Greeley TribuneBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Colorado veteran is facing jail time for using cannabis medicinally while on probation, to manage his post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Former U.S. Navy Corpsman Jeremy Usher returned home in 2003 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sleepless nights, panic attacks, combat flashbacks, and nightmares. Additionally, a traumatic brain injury resulted in memory loss and severe stutter.

At first, Usher, 31, turned to alcohol to quell the symptoms of PTSD; that's how he ended up on probation in Weld and Larimer counties for his second and third DUI charges, reports Whitney Phillips at The Greeley Tribune. But he says he's now doing well in counseling and school -- at least, until his current predicament of facing jail for using medical marijuana while on probation.

Medical marijuana is the one treatment that's helped Usher with his PTSD, but it violates the terms of his probation to use it - which puts him at risk of going back to jail.

"The court systems are very black and white, and PTSD is the definition of gray area," Usher said. "They are not acknowledging the gray area."

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