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."

New Jersey: George Washington Bridge Guard Caught Smoking Pot On The Job

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

A security guard at the George Washington Bridge (which spans the Hudson River, between New York and New Jersey) was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly smoking marijuana on the job.

Sami Omar, 26, of North Bergen, New Jersey, is an employee of FJC Security, a private company that contracts with the Port Authority, authority spokesman Steve Coleman said, reports Dan Ivers of

Port Authority Officer Kevin Hart was reportedly conducting regular post inspections at around 2 p.m. when he smelled "a strong odor of marijuana" coming from the book in which Omar was working. When questioned by Hart, Omar replied that "there must have been a skunk nearby," Coleman said. (Nice try, Omar.)

Omar, whose job is to watch for suicide jumpers and terror attacks, allegedly sprayed aerosol inside the booth in an attempt to mask the cannabis smell.

Hart searched the area, finding a half-smoked blunt and a small bag of weed.

Omar was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a "controlled dangerous substance."

The Port Authority called Omar's conduct "intolerable" and said it would review its security policies.

New Hampshire: House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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

The New Hampshire House on Thursday, for the fourth time in five years, passed a bill which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. But Governor Maggie Hassan has said she's not in favor of decriminalization, and the New Hampshire Senate has shot down all three of the recent attempts by the House to pass such a law.

Bill supporters said that marijuana prohibition doesn't have public support and is a financial and regulatory burden on the state, reports Morgan True at The Associated Press. Supporters noted that both alcohol and tobacco have worse health and societal impacts than does cannabis.

"A criminal offense and a criminal record can do much more harm than a small amount of marijuana," said Rep. Joel Winters (D-Nashua) during debate on the House floor.

The House voted 214-115 to pass the decrim bill after Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathright (D-Nashua) lost a floor fight over the issue, reports Dan Tuohy at NashuaPatch. Harriott-Gathright brought the bill to the House on behalf of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which recommended the House kill the bill.

Congresswoman Co-Sponsors Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

There is a truth that must be heard!Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) Co-sponsors Congressional Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Bill would allow states to set marijuana policies without federal interference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-District 1) this week joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Pingree, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, on Monday, joining a bipartisan group of supporters in the House. There are currently 14 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on February 5 introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level. It would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

Washington: Police Retraining Drug Dogs Not To Sniff For Now-Legal Marijuana

(Photo: The Raw Story)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One of the happiest readjustments having to be made after Washington state voters approved marijuana legalization measure I-502 last November is underway: the police are retraining drug-sniffing dogs not to sniff for cannabis, because it's now legal for adults to possess up to an ounce in the Evergreen State.

Since the smell of marijuana no longer automatically means a crime has taken place, that changes the constitutional status of a police drug-detecting dog alerting on your property, reports Ian Millhiser at Think Progress.

If a dog is trained to sniff out marijuana and it alerts after sniffing an adult suspect, it no longer necessarily means a crime has taken place, because the dog likely only reacted to the presence of cannabis on the suspect.

So marijuana-sniffing dogs can no longer provide "probable cause" that a suspect is engaged in criminal activity, because the dogs are trained to alert when suspects are doing something that is no longer illegal under state law.

As a result of this dilemma, several police departments in Washington are retraining their drug-detecting dogs. Many law enforcement agencies around the state, including the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Patrol, will no longer be training their dogs to alert for marijuana.

Michigan: Marijuana Defendant Gets 11 Years For 6 Tons

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

One of nine defendants in a six-ton marijuana bust in Michigan was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

Patrick O'Meara was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo, reports John Agar at

O'Mera had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver marijuana in the 12,000-pound marijuana bust from October 2011.

Earlier, Judge Maloney had sentenced Tony Frank Disla-Santiago to 11 years, three months. Angel Luis De Leon-De Jesus got six years, six months; Flavio Ramos got five years, three months; and Anthony Castro-Gonzales was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration had tracked the shipment, which they claimed had a street value of $12 million.

A DEA special agent in Indianapolis told authorities that a semi loaded with marijuana was headed to a specific location in the city of Wyoming, Michigan. Law enforcement were watching the warehouse as the cannabis was unloaded.

According to the federal indictment, the defendants conspired to possess and distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana from 2009 through October 21, 2011.

New Hampshire: House Overwhelmingly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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

The New Hampshire House, in an overwhelming show of support for medical marijuana, voted 286-64 on Wednesday to pass a medical marijuana bill with a veto-proof majority. It's the fourth time in six years a MMJ bill has passed the House.

House Bill 573 would allow five dispensaries at which Granite State patients could buy medicinal cannabis, reports The Associated Press. It also would allow patients or their caregivers to grow up to three marijuana plants.

"This overwhelming vote comes as a great relief to patients who have been waiting years to legally follow their doctors' advice," said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Patients should not have to live iun fear of arrest in the 'Live Free Or Die' state, and it's a great relief for them to see such strong, bipartisan support from the House."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), was previously approved 14-1 by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. The committee made a number of changes, including a language change from "medical marijuana" to "therapeutic use of cannabis," which was suggested by the New Hampshire Medical Society.

Maine: Drive Launched To Legalize Marijuana In Portland

Photo - Maine: Drive Launched To Legalize Marijuana In PortlandSupporters to highlight the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, and it is illogical to punish adults for using the safer alternative

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana policy reform advocates will hold a press conference on Thursday, March 21, to announce the start of a citywide signature drive to make marijuana possession legal for adults within the city limits of Portland, Maine.

The petition, filed earlier this month by the Portland Green Party, would make possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana legal under city ordinance. The Portland Green Party will also be coordinating the signature drive for the initiative.

Advocates will announce the details of the petition and highlight the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, and it is therefore illogical to punish adults for using the safer alternative.

Scheduled to speak at the event are Portland City Councilor Dave Marshall, Zachary Heiden of the ACLU of Maine, Tom MacMillan of the Portland Green Party, and David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

WHAT: News conference to announce kick-off of citywide signature drive to make marijuana possession legal

WHEN: Thursday, March 21, 10 a.m. EST

WHERE: Portland City Hall, State of Maine Room (2nd Floor), 389 Congress St.

WHO: Tom MacMillan, Portland Green Party Chair

Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government Opposes

Photo - Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government OpposesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Danish city of Copenhagen wants to legalize cannabis. But while city officials overwhelmingly support the move, the national government of Denmark may not let them go ahead with the plan.

Last year the Danish national government rejected tentative legalization plans that had been approved on a 39-9 vote by the Copenhagen City Council, reports Fergus O'Sullivan at The Atlantic Cities.

Last week, officials from Seattle, where Washington state voters legalized marijuana last November, were flow in for a conference to help write a policy that stands a better chance of overcoming reluctance from non-metropolitan Danish and neighboring Swedish mayors.

Copenhagen would prefer to keep marijuana sales under state monopoly, controlling prices and importing supplies, possibly even from now-legal Colorado and Washington, though Washington officials have already nervously downplayed that possible plan, citing possible federal law enforcement concerns.

To prevent so-called "pot tourism," only Danish passport holders over the age of 18 would be allowed to buy weed. Cannabis outlets might also restrict sales by demanding proof of residency in Copenhagen.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Gets Financial Backers

Photo - Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Gets Financial BackersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two major Democratic fundraisers have said they would provide the money and expertise to get legalization of medical marijuana on the Florida ballot in 2014.

"I'm prepared to keep raising money and writing checks until I get the signatures to put it on the ballot," said attorney John Morgan -- who routinely hosts presidents and national political figures at his home, and is a former fundraiser for President Barack Obama -- late on Tuesday, reports Barbara Liston of Reuters.

Morgan recently signed on as chairman of People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), a grassroots campaign that, until now, was operating on a shoestring budget. He was recruited by Ben Pollara, a lobbyist and fellow Obama campaign fundraiser, who recently became treasurer of PUFMM.

The problem was, PUFMM didn't have the money to wage a high-profile battle and couldn't get enough signatures to get their medical marijuana legalization proposal on the ballot.

"We were just scraping together pennies," said Kim Russell of Orlando, who founded PUFMM four years ago. The group could barely afford to photocopy its own petition, she said.

Now, PUFMM has commissioned a poll and is planning to hire a company to manage the petition drive. "It's a 180-degree turnaround," Russell said.

Maryland: Senate Votes To Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana

(Photo of Candace Junkin, Moms For Marijuana, courtesy of Candace Junkin)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would reduce the penalty for up to 10 grams of marijuana from criminal possession to a civil fine. Meanwhile, another bill in the Maryland House goes even farther.

That bill, sponsored by Delegate Curt Anderson, would legalize the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over, reports Pat Warren at CBS Baltimore. It would remove all penalties for possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and would allow adults to grow up to three plants.

"Cigarettes are legal," Anderson said. "Alcohol is legal. Both, by far, are more dangerous drugs than marijuana."

Under Anderson's legalization bill, the state would license retail marijuana stores, wholesale facilities, and testing facilities and collect a tax on pot sales.

"We're making out kids criminals," said activist Candace Junkin of Moms For Marijuana, who testified before lawmakers in favor of the bill.

According to Junkin, the legislation is important to Maryland for many reasons.

"The resources we could save in law enforcement and the dismantling of the black market is in the forefront," she told Hemp News on Friday morning. "But most important to this Maryland mom of four and grandmother of three, is our children.

Washington: State's Legal Marijuana Consultant Said In 2010 That Legalization 'Can't Be Done'

There is a truth that must be heard!Massachusetts-Based Think Tank Is Successful Vendor To Provide 'Technical Expertise' As Board Implements Cannabis Legalization

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has chosen a Massachusetts-based firm , Botec Analysis Corp., led by Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, to be its official marijuana consultant. Ironically, Kleiman, in a 2010 editorial, wrote that state-level legalization "can't be done."

Botec, based in Cambridge, Mass., was chosen to provide technical expertise as the WSLCB implements Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measured approved by 55.7 percent of the state's voters last November. Dr. Kleiman teaches public policy at UCLA, and is considered an expert in criminal and drug policy, including probation, parole, and incarceration. (More on that corrections-intensive resumé in a moment.)

Botec specializes in crime and drug policy, and will serve as the prime contractor. The fact that both the think tank and Kleiman specialize in "crime" is cause for concern among some marijuana advocates, who long for the day when cannabis will be defined in something other than criminal terms. (Was it too much to ask for this to happen after voters approved legalization?)

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