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Oregon: Billboard, Press Conference to Highlight Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol

Regulate Marijuana in 2014!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just days before one of Oregon’s largest and most celebrated beer and wine festivals, a provocative new billboard highlighting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol will be the centerpiece of a press conference to be held in downtown Portland on Thursday.

The Marijuana Policy Project will hold the news conference, Thursday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. in front of the billboard at the intersection of SW 13th Avenue and SW Alder Street.

Noting that April is Alcohol Awareness Month, the billboard features a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf below the words "Beer," "Wine," and "Safer," respectively. It encourages Oregonians who will be drinking at upcoming beer and wine festivals to think about how marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to consumers and the community.

"Our goal is to make this year's beer and wine festivals as educational as they are enjoyable," said Roy Kaufmann, Oregon representative of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We simply want attendees who are drinking to think about the fact that marijuana is objectively less harmful than the pint of beer or glass of wine they have in their hands."

Maryland: Hearing Thursday On Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

(Illustration: The Weed Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil citation and fine. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST in Room 101 of the House Office Building.

S.B. 297 would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce) of marijuana to a civil citation with no possibility of jail time and a fine of up to $100. Currently, it is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The decriminalization bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Carroll & Howard), was approved in the Senate last week by a vote of 30-16.

"Every year, Maryland wastes millions of dollars prosecuting tens of thousands of adults simply for choosing to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol," said Dan Riffle, a former prosecutor now serving as deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana would allow police and prosecutors to focus on violent criminals and real threats to public safety."

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on S.B. 297, a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

Maine: Concerns Raised About Pesticides On Medical Marijuana

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

The Maine Department of Health on Monday said its investigation of Wellness Connection of Maine, the operator of four of the state's eight medical marijuana dispensaries, had revealed 20 violations of state law and program rules, including pesticide use and security breaches.

But on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald, the same newspaper which had run the headline "State: Marijuana supplier used pesticides, violated rules" ran another story by the same reporter, Michael Shepherd, headlined "Dangers of pesticides on cannabis pretty hazy."

It seems five of the nine pesticides that state officials say were used by the medical marijuana dispensary group contain active ingredients that are safe for many uses and are federally approved for tobacco, according to Maine's official pesticide toxicologist.

However, the state still says it can't vouch for the pesticides' safety on marijuana, because not much is known about the chemicals' interaction with cannabis when smoked.

Regulators don't set standards for pesticide use on marijuana, because it is illegal under federal law; that's why Maine prohibits all pesticides in its medical marijuana program.

West Virginia: Lawmakers To Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana Bill Thursday

(Photo: Marijuana.com)House Health and Human Resources Committee will discuss proposal to allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The House Health and Human Resources Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

H.B. 2961, the Compassionate Medical Marijuana Use Act of 2013, introduced by State Rep. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor), would allow patients with certain qualifying medical conditions to possess up to six ounces of marijuana with their doctor's authorization.

It would initially establish five tightly regulated compassion centers across the state to provide patients with safe, reliable access to medical marijuana. Patients would also have the option of privately cultivating up to 12 plants in their homes. The bill currently has nine cosponsors, including two Republican delegates.

“The evidence is clear that medical marijuana can provide significant benefits to people suffering from a variety of serious illnesses,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University.

New York: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In Legislature

(Photo: 420 Times)Legislation Would End the Needless Suffering of Thousands of Seriously Ill New Yorkers

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino on Wednesday introduced a bill that would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs.

If passed, New York would join 18 other states – including New Jersey and Connecticut -- and the District of Columbia in allowing patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses to access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

The entire program, including the registration of patients and the licensing of producers and dispensaries, would be subject to strict state regulation and oversight.

Doctors, physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners could authorize medical marijuana patients to the New York Department of Health, reports Teri Weaver at Syracuse.com. The department would create a patient registry; patients would have photo ID cards and would be allowed to buy up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis at a time from certified growers or dispensaries.

The department would also be in charge of approving growers and sellers. Growers would be required to cultivate marijuana indoors at secure locations. Growing and selling would be taxed up to $250 pound, according to the proposal.

Colorado: Audit Says Medical Marijuana Has Inadequate Oversight

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

Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has neither adequately defined its mission nor determined what resources it needs, according to a state audit released on Tuesday.

The auditors found that Colorado's highly touted "seed-to-sale" oversight of 1,440 medical marijuana businesses doesn't actually exist, reports Eric Gorski of The Denver Post.

The audit -- which is quite critical of the MMED -- includes the following highlights:

• A review by auditors of 35 new cannabis business applications found "evidence of potentially disqualifying information" about criminal backgrounds and finances in 13 cases. In 10 of those cases, MMED issued licenses. Five of the 13 files were flagged by auditors for concerns about past felony arrests, financial assistance possibly coming from a "potentially unsuitable person," or involvement in drug and alcohol treatment classes.

• The processing of applications took too long, and the division tried to get those with "problem applications" to just withdraw them instead of persevering through the process. Auditors called this practice "concerning," in part because the law requires the MMED to deny applications that don't meet the requirements.

Missouri: Survey Shows Half of Voters Support Marijuana Legalization

Photo: National Cannabis CoalitionBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey commissioned by a pro-cannabis group says at least half of Missourians favor marijuana legalization.

According to the poll, conducted by DHM Research, 50 percent of respondents supported legalization, 45 percent opposed it, and five percent were undecided, reports KMOX.

Five hundred likely 2014 Missouri voters were asked if they'd support a ballot measure nearly identical to the one that the pro-marijuana group Show-Me Cannabis Regulation tried to get on the ballot in 2012.

After the initial survey, participants heard more details about the proposal and were presented with an equal number of statements supporting and opposing it. That process increased support for the proposal to 54 percent.

"This poll confirms that support for legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol continues to grow, and that is just as true in Missouri as it has been in Colorado," said John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.

U.S.: Supreme Court Limits Police Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs; Requires Warrant

(Photo: Alan Diaz, AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday limited the ability of police to use trained drug-sniffing dogs to check around the outside of homes for illegal drugs that might be inside.

On a 5-4 split, the Court said that law enforcement's use of dogs to investigate a home and its surroundings qualifies as a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and thus requires a search warrant, reports Jonathan Stempel at Reuters.

"A police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is no more than any private citizen might do," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority.

"But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else," Scalia wrote. "There is no customary invitation to do that."

"The home is the first among equals" when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, Scalia said.

The decision upholds a 2011 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court which suppressed evidence found at Joelis Jardines' home with the assistance of Frankie, a trained drug-detecting chocolate Labrador retriever.

"It's a very important decision for all citizens, because it helps ensure their right of privacy in the places where they live," said Howard Blumberg, a public defender who argued Jardines' appeal.

U.S.: As More States Legalize Marijuana, Supporters See Big Future For Hemp

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

With a tide of marijuana legalization poised to sweep across the United States, supporters of industrial hemp see a burgeoning market opening up and big profits for American farmers if they are allowed to grow the crop.

Hemp, like marijuana, is a variety of the cannabis plant; even though most industrial hemp contains little or no THC -- the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- federal drug laws don't differentiate between the varieties, reports Angela Kocherga at KING 5.

"Although it comes from the same plant, it's like non-alcoholic beer," explained author Doug Fine, whose book Too High To Fail predicts a new "green economy."

"I can't give a rational explanation as to why something as valuable as hemp -- which other countries are making so much money off and importing to us -- why we're not growing this by the millions of acres," Fine said.

Federal law prohibits American farmers from growing the crop; a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with lots of security, would theoretically be required. But the DEA has never issued a single industrial hemp license, ever.

Texas: UT Students Want To Stop Marijuana Arrests On Campus

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

Students at the University of Texas are proposing a bill that would be the first of its kind on any campus in the United States: It would stop university police from arresting anyone for marijuana possession, instead giving them a citation similar to a traffic ticket.

Twelve authors are proposing the bill in the UT Student Government, according to graduate student Robert Love, who said tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke are much bigger problems on campus than is cannabis, reports Kris Betts at KVUE.

"Marijuana is not a threat to safety on campus, so let's take resources away from marijuana and put it toward things that are dangerous to students," Love said.

The proposed student government bill would ask UT police to issue citations for all marijuana possession cases under four ounces, instead of making arrests.

"I want to make sure that they have the availability to spend those resources investigating violent crime, rather than forcing them to investigate marijuana crimes on campus," Love said.

Travis County, Texas, where the University is located, currently allows officers to either make an arrest or issue a citation at their discretion. Love says that can encourage racial profiling.

"Citations should be the standard, and that way blacks, white and Latinos get the same treatment under the law," he said.

New York: 225 Marijuana Plants Seized From Olean Home

(Photo: WKBW News)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New York man is in jail after a investigators executing a search warrant found 225 marijuana plants growing in his home in Olean.

Police claimed the cannabis would be "worth about $200,000."

Roman Gabriel, 34, was arrested after police searched the residence around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, reports WKBW.

Investigators claimed they found lighting, an irrigation and ventilation system, and fertilizers in the home, which is owned by Gabriel's parents. They estimated the value of the seized growing equipment at $10,000.

Gabriel was arraigned and is being held on $5,000 bail.

(Photo: WKBW News)

Virginia: Correctional Officer Busted For Bringing Marijuana Into Jail

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

A correctional officer in Virginia is facing charges after he allegedly tried to bring marijuana into the Danville Adult Detention Facility.

Ezra Lamont Price, 32, or Danville, Va., was arrested at the jail last Wednesday morning, according to Danville police, reports the Greensboro News-Record.

The Special Investigations Division of the Danville Police Department were called in after supervisors asked for the probe, reports WAKG. An investigation had begun after supervisory staff had suspected a correctional officer was taking contraband into the facility, reports WXII.

Price was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was taken to the Danville City Jail, then transferred to a jail in another jurisdiction.

The suspect is being held under a $7,500 secured bond. Additional charges are expected, according to police.

Price is currently on administrative leave, pending termination.

D.C.: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary In Nation's Capitol To Open Next Month

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

Everything's in place at Capital City Care in Washington, D.C. -- the security cameras, the scales, the signage. Everything, that is, except the cannabis. The first medical marijuana dispensary in the United States' capitol city is set to open in April.

"It's very high-grade, very pure, very potent marijuana," said David Guard, cofounder and general manager of the dispensary, reports Abha Bhattarai at The Washington Post. "But first, everything has to be triple-checked. We have a high level of security and an inordinate number of cameras."

The cannabis itself is being grown in a separate building in northeast D.C. The rules adopted by the D.C. Council require that the marijuana plants be in the ground at least 60 days before they are harvested, and each cultivation facility can grow no more than 95 plants at the time.

Capital City Care plans to sell four strains of medical marijuana by mid-April from its 2,000-square-foot storefront on North Capitol Street. Five more licensed dispensaries are scheduled to open soon after that.

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Final Approval from House of Delegates

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Final Approval from House of DelegatesBroadly supported proposal would allow academic medical research centers to provide medical marijuana to patients with serious illnesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that could allow Maryland citizens with serious illnesses to obtain medical marijuana legally via state-regulated programs took an important step toward becoming law today when the Maryland House of Delegates voted 108-28 to send it to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

“People who use medical marijuana to treat illnesses like cancer and multiple sclerosis shouldn’t have to resort to the illicit market to obtain doctor-recommended medicine,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “States around the nation are successfully implementing programs that provide patients with safe, legal, and reliable access to medical marijuana.”

HB 1101, introduced by Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore), an emergency room physician, would create a commission through which academic medical research centers could apply to operate medical marijuana programs. The programs would provide patients with marijuana grown by the federal government or state-licensed growers regulated by the commission.

Arizona: Medical Marijuana Policy Experts Host Phoenix Educational Event

There is a truth that must be heard!Arizona bills, federal legislation on the docket for discussion at trade association event

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host an Educational Series Event on Tuesday, March 26 in Uptown Phoenix. Geared to assist medical marijuana entrepreuners and investors create responsible and successful businesses, Educational Series Events feature a panel of experts and networking period for cannabusiness professionals.

Tuesday's 90-minute program will feature experts on state and federal marijuana policy who will discuss efforts to reform federal law as well as the ongoing efforts in the Arizona legislature to improve or quash the medical marijuana program.

The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period and networking reception.

What: NCIA Educational Series Event, "State and Federal Policy Update"

Where The Vig Uptown, 6015 N. 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ

When: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 7-10 p.m.

Who: Ryan Hurley, Rose Law Group, Phoenix, AZ (bio)

David Jones, Capitol Counsel, Washington, DC (bio)

Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association, Phoenix, AZ (bio)

Moderated by Betty Aldworth, National Cannabis Industry Association, Denver, CO

Nevada: Lawmakers Fly To Arizona For Marijuana Dispensary Tour

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

Nevada legislators today left the State Capitol in Carson City on a marijuana mission to Arizona.

Five state senators and one Assembly member went to Phoenix to tour a medical marijuana dispensary and a grow house before meeting with Arizona legislators to discuss the state's new system of safe access to cannabis for patients, reports Andrew Doughman at the Las Vegas Sun.

Organizing the fact-finding mission was Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), a lawyer who has a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" poster in his Carson City office.

Segerblom hopes Nevada can create dispensaries and fix a flaw in the the state's medical marijuana law, whereby people are constitutionally allowed to have medicinal cannabis, but have nowhere to legally buy it.

"We're going to hear lots of reasons why we can't do it (or) we shouldn't do it, but to me, if Arizona, which is the most conservative state in the country, can do it, then Nevada can do it," the plain-talking Segerblom said. "It's not a junket. It's not taxpayer money, but it is a legitimate working trip to see it in person."

Traveling with Segerblom are Senators Mark Hutchison (R-Las Vegas); Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas); David Parks (D-Las Vegas); Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), and Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore (R-Las Vegas).

The lawmakers are each paying their own way.

Washington: House Bill Aims To Tax Marijuana Brand Names

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

A Washington state House committee on Friday held a public hearing on a bill that would tax marijuana "brand names" and trademarks likely to be introduced in the state when the sale of legal marijuana starts at the end of this year.

House Bill 1976, as heard by the House Finance Committee, would tax $3.60 per $1,000 of "assessed value" on "all trademarks, trade names, brand names, patents and copyrights related to marijuana," reports Rachel La Corte of The Associated Press.

The bill doesn't specify how those "values" would be determined, and instead says the Department of Revenue can "adopt rules" for determining those amounts. So it sounds suspiciously as if the department could tax almost any amount they wanted, depending on how highly they decide to arbitrarily value the brand names.

Washington voters last November approved I-502, which legalized up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over and allows for its legal sale through state-licensed stores. The state in December is scheduled to start issuing licenses to a few marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, with the cannabis taxed a whopping 25 percent at each of the three stages of the process. No home-growing is allowed under I-502.

Colorado: Congressman Says Marijuana Was A 'Great Association For Me' In 2012

Photo by Chet Susslin/National JournalBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) knows when he's politically associated with a good thing, and in 2012 that good thing was marijuana.

"My campaign headquarters last summer, we shared [a building] with a dispensary," Polis said while visiting a dispensary this week, reports Ben Terris at the National Journal. "You could see the sign, it was like, 'Marijuana, Jared Polis.'

"Marijuana outperformed me by 10 points, so it was a great association for me," Polis said.

Polis spoke from the soon-to-be-opened D.C. medical marijuana dispensary, Metropolitan Wellness Center. He was accompanied by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressional staffers, marijuana advocates and dispensary employees.

Within months, "certain D.C. residents will be able to come [to the center] to legally choose from more than a dozen strains of medical marijuana from Master Kush to Blue Dream."

Polis and Blumenauer have introduced legislation to end the federal prohibition on marijuana and set up a way to tax its sale.

Nevada: UFC Exec Asks For More Tolerant Stance With Marijuana: 'Society is Changing'

(Photo of Marc Ratner: Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

UFC executive Marc Ratner on Thursday asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel to evaluate how it handles fighters who test positive for marijuana.

"Society is changing," Ratner told the panel, reports John Morgan at USA Today. "It's a different world now than when I was on the commission. States are legalizing marijuana, and it's becoming more and more of a problem with fighters testing positive (for marijuana) and the metabolites."

Ratner, who used to be executive director of the NSAC, is now UFC's vice president of regulatory affairs. His comments at Thursday's meeting were given during the public comment portion of the agenda.

The NSCA in 2012 suspended welterweight Nick Diaz for one year when his drug test was positive for cannabis metabolites. It was Diaz's second positive drug test in Nevada after also testing positive for marijuana metabolites in 2007.

More recently, the NSAC suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for nine months and fined him $900,000, 30 percent of his $3 millinon purse for a September 2012 fight with Sergio Martinez.

Ratner told the NSAC it needs to reconsider its position on marijuana cases.

United States: Oregon State University to Offer Class on Industrial Hemp, First in the Nation

Hemp Chart

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

Beginning Spring 2013, Oregon State University will be offering its groundbreaking course on industrial hemp. The online course, WSE 266, is being spearheaded by the College of Forestry’s department of wood science and engineering. The department believes hemp is an extremely useful renewable resource which is worthy of exploration.

Described in the course material as “an introduction to the botany, biology and agronomy of the hemp plant, its origins, historical contexts and implications of contemporary legal and social issues surrounding its use for food, fiber and building products,” the course will be led by hemp consultant Anndrea Hermann, M.Sc, B.Gs, P.Ag, an instructor at the university. Hermann is the President of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), and has recruited several guest lecturers in order to bring a multi-dimensional view to the curriculum.

Hermann has a wide range of hemp knowledge, from fiber and seed agronomy to building applications. She is also a partner at Hemp-Technologies, a North Carolina based company who produces eco-friendly hemp houses in the region.

“It’s an up and coming crop in the United States and we are going to need professionals coming out of academia who are experts in multiple areas,” according to Hermann. "Oregon can become a recognized leader in the environmentally conscience fiberboard manufacturing of the twenty first century."

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