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Pennsylvania: Some Patients Could Get Medical Marijuana This Summer

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana is one step closer for patients in Pennsylvania. Some will be able to gain access to cannabis this summer, but others will have to wait a lot longer.

The wait will be over soon for patients under age 18, reports Mark Roper at Fox 43.

"The mothers are the ones who fought for this law, so their kids should come first," said medical marijuana attorney Gabe Chorno. "I have no problem with that. Unfortunately for vets and adult patients, we have to continue to wait."

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy on Wednesday morning announced the details on the first phase of regulations. Once the first temporary regulations are established, parents will be able to get medicinal cannabis for their children in other states before it is grown and available in Pennsylvania.

Parents will be required to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and receive an identification card for their child.

"The drafters of the legislation, as well as the governor, as well as the Department of Health, wanted to be sure that we assisted these parents that really were instrumental in supporting this legislation," said Dr. Murphy.

Study: Marijuana Doesn't Affect Physical Health, Except For Gums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chronic marijuana use has about the same impact on health as not flossing, according to an extensive new study.

A research team led by Madeline H. Meier of Arizona State University tracked the cannabis habits of 1,037 New Zealanders all the way from birth to middle age, to see exactly what effects marijuana has on common measures of physical health, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. Those measures included lung function, systemic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar, and dental health.

After controlling for other factors known to affect health -- especially tobacco use and socioeconomic status -- cannabis use had no negative effect on any measure of health, except for dental health. People who smoked more marijuana had a higher incidence of gum disease.

Even after controlling for dental hygiene, such as likelihood to brush and floss, the relationship between marijuana use and poor dental health persisted.

Washington: Marijuana and Athletics Coming To Seattle July 31 With The 420 Games

420Games[420games.org]

When Jim McAlpine first came out with The 420 Games, many people were skeptical. “Most people would just laugh at me as I explained my idea,” McAlpine said. “The stigma runs deep and people immediately go to the propaganda ingrained in their brain that says marijuana and athletics don’t mix. Well, that’s exactly why I started The 420 Games, because I knew all of those people were wrong.”

It appears McAlpine may be onto something. As the games head strong into a second year, Newsweek, TIME, The Atlantic, Elite Daily, and sports publications such as Runner’s World have been paying attention.

The 420 Games is a series of 4.20 mile runs in different cities. Dubbed “Going the Extra Mile for Cannabis,” the event is 1.1 miles longer than a typical 5K.

The event series developed to de-stigmatize cannabis and those who use it, has signed on several professional athletes, Olympic gold medalists and others who are now endorsing “The Games.” Ricky Williams, Heisman Trophy winner and NFL standout is currently The 420 Games main spokesman.

Marijuana and Athletics: Coming out of the Closet

Despite a long history of persecution by way of public criticism, penalties and in some cases the pursuit of criminal charges, more athletes are refusing to keep their medical cannabis use a secret.

Washington: Willie Nelson Partners With Spokane Marijuana Grower/Processor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Spokane marijuana processor has partnered with country music legend and cannabis connoisseur Willie Nelson on his new company, Willie's Reserve.

Willie's Reserve is working with growers and processors in Washington and Colorado, including Growing Like A Weed, an I-502 cannabis producer/processor located in Spokane's Mountain Dome Winery building, to grow product to be packaged under the Willie's Reserve brand, reports Azaria Podplesky at Inlander.

"Willie and his family and a few close friends, developed the brand with emphasis on environmental and social issues, to lend support to the gradual end to marijuana prohibition across America," announced a 2015 press release from Willie's Reserve.

Master gardener Fred Renteria of Growing Like a Weed (GLW) said a Willie's Reserve represented contacted him a couple of months back, shortly after GLW switched from the medical marijuana sphere to the recreational I-502 market.

The representative liked GLW's organic approach to growing.

Oregon: Recreational Marijuana Edibles, Topicals, Extracts On Sale June 2

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While recreational marijuana customers in Oregon have been able to buy up to 7 grams of flower since last October, edibles, topicals and extracts haven't been available to them until now. That all changes on Thursday, June 2, when all of the above will be available -- albeit in limited amounts -- to adults 21 and older.

"Licensed and regulated sales have already created jobs and generated revenue for our great state, and the sky hasn't fallen like our opponents predicted," said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner for Measure 91, which legalized marijuana in the state.

Starting on June 2nd, Oregon will take the next step as adults 21 and over will be able to purchase:

• One marijuana-infused edible per day containing up to 15 mg of THC
• Any amount of cannabis-infused topical products containing no more than 6 percent THC
• One receptacle of cannabis extract containing up to 1,000 mg of THC

California: Santa Catalina Island To Vote On Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A real estate broker hopes to turn his office into the first medical marijuana dispensary on Santa Catalina Island, off the Southern California coast near Long Beach.

Mark Malan is trying to sweeten the pot, so to speak, by promising to share a small portion of the revenue with local schools and city government, reports Louis Sahagun at the Los Angeles Times.

"It's going to create wheelbarrows of money," Malan said confidently.

A petition drive led by Malan has enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would repeal Santa Catalina's current ban on cannabis dispensaries and allow at least two of them in the three-square-mile resort community with a population of about 3,800.

The Avalon Medical Cannabis Facility Act of 2016 would impose an annual license tax of $10,000 per dispensary and direct half of that amount to Avalon Schools, a K-12 complex of 750 students operated by the Long Beach Unified School District.

The initiative would also put a 12 percent transaction fee on all medicinal cannabis purchases, which would be divvied up one-third to drug and alcohol education for local students; one-third to Avalon's general fund; and one-third to its parks and recreation department.

U.S.: 'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claims Debunked By Leading Researcher

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When a study was released last week claiming that marijuana use damages DNA, and that damage could be passed to one's children, of course it made headlines around the world. For many of us who have been acquainted with cannabis for a long time, the study sounded like nonsense, and now one of the field's leading researchers is calling "reefer madness" on the flawed study from Australia.

While the study from the University of Western Australia claims that smoking pot will give your kids cancer, cannabis has been shown in cell, animal, and limited human trials to prevent, halt, or kill cancer, researchers note, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. The study, released last week by Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at UWA, had the lengthy, scientific-sounding title, “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” and was published in the July 2016 issue of the journal Mutation Research.

Washington: UW To Host June 14 Conference on Marijuana Policy

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City and state officials, entrepreneurs, attorneys and others will come together June 14 for a day-long conference at the University of Washington on the future of marijuana policy in the state.

The event, co-hosted by the Cannabis Law and Policy Project and UW Professional & Continuing Education, will be held at the UW School of Law and feature 30-plus speakers. The day aims to provide a comprehensive look at current and future regulations governing the retail and medical marijuana industries in Washington and elsewhere.

The conference kicks off with an overview of state marijuana policy from Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and a presentation from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on policy issues in the city.

Following a discussion about recent litigation in Washington’s marijuana industry and an open panel discussion, the event will break off into three afternoon tracks.

California: Marijuana Enforcement Nearly 4 Times More Severe For Blacks

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Black and Latino Boys and Young Men at Particular Risk, Despite Similar Marijuana Use Rates Across Racial Lines

California to Vote on Removing Criminal Penalties and Legal Regulation of Marijuana This November

New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011.

Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable in California by a base fine up to $100 (plus substantial fees).

Despite marijuana usage rates being similar across racial and ethnic lines, data provided by the Los Angeles and Fresno Police Departments show that black and Latino people in those cities were issued marijuana possession citations at higher rates than white people in the years immediately following the penalty change from misdemeanor to infraction.

The data also reveal that marijuana possession enforcement falls mostly on young people. In both cities, the majority of infractions were issued to persons 29 years of age and younger.

Louisiana: Fishermen Find Brick of Marijuana On Beach

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Capt. Theophile Bourgeois and his clients on Friday discovered a brick of cannabis while walking along an island beach in the Chandeleur chain off the Louisiana coast.

"It was half in the sand, right up on then beach," Bourgeois said, reports Todd Masson at The Times-Picayune. "My clients were like, 'What do you think it is?' I said, 'I'd bet my left nut what that is.' It was dark; I knew it wasn't cocaine. I said, 'That's weed.'"

They used to be called "square groupers" -- the stray bales of marijuana that occasionally washed up on the Gulf Coast, by-products of a thriving black market that brought weed into the U.S. via the Caribbean.

The anglers cut open the brick to check, and Capt. Bourgeois' suspicions were confirmed. "It was solid seeds and stems," he said. "It stunk. It was skunk weed."

The cannabis was very compressed, according to Bourgeois, and he estimated the weight of the brick as between 15 and 20 pounds. It appeared to have been lost at sea for awhile. "It was old and waterlogged," Bourgeois said.

"It was on the bay side, which meant it made its way through current and came around," he said. "It looked pretty damned old."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Cheer Governor's About-Face On Expanding Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are applauding Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's about-face on expanding the state's medicinal cannabis pilot program, saying it will allow time to show the program is working and help more suffering patients.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang on Friday announced an agreement with the Republican governor to extend the state's four-year medical marijuana pilot program to 2020, reports the Associated Press.

The program had been set to expire in 2018, but advocates said more time is needed because medicinal cannabis sales only began in November 2015.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the Illinois Legislature, adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Governor Rauner had previously balked at adding any conditions, despite recommendations from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Chairwoman Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple of the board said she's "thrilled" that more patients will now benefit from the program.

Photo of Gov. Bruce Rauner: Chicago Now

Colorado: Crackdown Coming For Illegal Marijuana Grows In Colorado Springs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A crackdown is coming in Colorado Springs, according to Mayor John Suthers, who said he expects hundreds of busts of illegal marijuana growers in the coming months.

Those busts are targeting unregistered, commercial-sized operations run by out-of-state residents, mainly from Florida and with ties to cartels, according to law enforcement officials, reports Kaitlin Durbin at The Gazette.

What that hopefully means is that the focus won't be on small-time home grows, where average stoners cultivate a few more plants than 12 legally permitted under Amendment 64, the legalization initiative approved by Colorado voters back in 2012.

"If you look at who is being busted in Pueblo and who will be busted in Colorado Springs over the summer, you can tell: These are organized crime," Suthers claimed. "A lot of them Cubans coming up from Central America, and they're buying or leasing homes, making huge amounts of money (and) trashing the homes."

"There's no question, in Colorado Springs we have large illegal grow operations in several hundred homes," Suthers said.

U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Signature Drive Suspended

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Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Friday evening, "after considerable discussion," suspended a drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.

"We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement," said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. "It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature’s passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.

"With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters," Lynaugh said. "But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.

Arizona: Cannabis Retail Designer Receives 3rd National Recognition

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The awards keep coming for cannabis retail designer Megan Stone of The High Road Design Studio. The young entrepreneur is lighting up the billion-dollar cannabis industry by creating award winning dispensary environments catering to the modern consumer.

This month Stone was announced as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by design:retail magazine for her luxury dispensary designs. Stone was selected for the national recognition from more than 140 nominees for the award, one of three major awards recognizing the Tempe, Arizona based retail designer in 2016. Winners for the retail magazine award were honored in New York City in May.

“I design the way I do because, for many people, cannabis has been a miraculous plant. Buying it should be an experience that reflects that,” Stone said.

Stone’s revolutionary designs have established a new cannabis aesthetic transcending long-standing clichés of tie-dye tapestries and peace-sign motifs. Along with the Top 40 Under 40 Award, Stone was named a finalist for the prestigious 23rd Annual A.R.E. (Association for Retail Environments) Design Awards Competition alongside CHANEL, Target and Nordstrom, and was named Technical Professional Marketer of the Year by SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) Arizona.

Oregon: Oregrown Cannabis Company Brings Beauty To Downtown Bend

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Oregrown Industries, a farm-to-table cannabis company, teamed up with the Downtown Bend Business Association on Thursday to turn an overgrown patch of land near the company's flagship store into a landscaped pocket park.

"Oregrown is committed to being a positive force in our community," said Oregrown co-founder Aviv Hadar. "This goes beyond creating jobs and local ownership. This pocket park is a small project, but it's an authentic expression of who we aspire to be."

A dozen volunteers from Oregrown and the Downtown Bend Business Association removed weeds and plant lavender beds and other landscaping purchased by Oregrown. The new plants will be watered and maintained through the business association's Flower Basket Program, a project that provides more than 100 hanging flower baskets throughout the downtown area.

"This spot is the gateway to downtown Bend on the north side, and we are so happy to be partnering with Oregrown to improve it," said Rod Porsche, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association. "The area has needed attention for some time. It's great that the folks at Oregrown saw the need and are stepping up to keep downtown Bend beautiful."

Hadar says Oregrown will continue to seek out opportunities be good neighbors.

Canada: Toronto Police Raiding Marijuana Dispensaries For Non-Medical Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Toronto police are currently raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, charging people for trafficking non-medical cannabis.

The drug squad is reportedly working with several police divisions, along with the Toronto Licensing and Standards division in conducting the raids, reports 680 News.

The dispensaries which have been raided are:
• 600 Church St.
• Eden Medicinal Society (Queen Street location)
• Cannabis Connoisseur
• The Green Room (Spadina and Nassau)
• Weed, Glass and Gifts
• Cannawide in Kensington Market

Toronto police claim this is a criminal investigation. The drug squad officers claim they are enforcing Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Police claim they handed out cautions on May 18, and if the dispensaries were still operating illegally, they will be fined.

U.S.: House Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Law Helping Fight Asset Forfeiture

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Legislation Eases Burden of Contesting a Government Forfeiture and Raises Government’s Burden to Keep Property

Advocates Caution that the Bill Will Not End Policing-for-Profit

The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday unanimously approved asset forfeiture reform legislation.

Known as the DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283) and sponsored by Crime Subcommittee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) and others, the bill makes important procedural reforms that will help give property owners fighting a federal civil asset forfeiture action greater leverage to contest a government seizure and increases the federal government's burden of proof in civil forfeiture proceedings.

The DUE PROCESS Act, however, currently does not address the “policing for profit” incentive issue.

Oregon: Marijuana Edible Makers Launch 'Try 5' Public Education Campaign

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The Oregon Responsible Edibles Council on Thursday announced the launch of their initial public education campaign, “Try 5.”

OREC, formed in late 2015, is a non-profit trade association of Oregon edible marijuana processors, with a mission of educating the public regarding the safe and responsible usage of edible marijuana products for adults 21 and over. Through the much needed and timely campaign, “Try 5”, OREC will be able to teach the public about proper dosage levels and help prevent accidental over-ingestion for consumers new to cannabis-infused edibles.

The “Try 5” campaign encourages new and first time edible consumers to “Know Your Dose” and start with no more than 5mg of THC. "Edibles often come in multi-serving packages and newer consumers need to know not to ingest the contents of the entire package," OREC's prepared statement reads.

The campaign features educational posters distributed to licensed dispensaries throughout the state, and will include informational booths at Oregon universities, magazine and newspaper advertisements, as well as t-shirts, hats and buttons to be worn by dispensary employees.

Ohio: Legislature's Embrace of Medical Marijuana Bolsters Amendment Prospects

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With the approval of H.B. 523 by the Ohio Senate and expected concurrence by the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Thursday announced it will move toward the November ballot with the issue of patient’s rights to medical marijuana supported by the Ohio General Assembly.

"This General Assembly has taken a step forward on this issue,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Their support for medical marijuana speaks volumes for eliminating any remaining biases against allowing doctors to recommend this life-enhancing treatment to patients in need.”

"Our Constitutional amendment builds on the legislature’s work by incorporating national best practices and offers voters an opportunity to enact a law free of the horse-trading inherent in the legislative process," Marshall said. "Our amendment also protects the rights of patients in the Ohio Constitution, not leaving this important issue vulnerable to the reach of special interests."

While the legislative bill clears several important societal and policy-making hurdles, it omits a number of critical issues. They include:

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