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?)

Idaho: House Committee Holds Hearing On Anti-Marijuana Resolution

There is a truth that must be heard!It's Reefer Madness Time In Idaho: Measure Would Declare State Should 'Never' Legalize Marijuana 'For Any Purpose'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning held a hearing on SCR 112, a Senate resolution declaring that it's the "position" of the Idaho Legislature that the state should never legalize marijuana for any purpose.

"Wait," you may be thinking. "I thought representatives, in a democracy, asked the people what they think about issues, not dictate to them how it will be." That's apparently not how it works, at least in Senator Chuck Winder's mind.

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States," Winder, a Republican from Boise, told the House State Affairs Committee, reports The Spokesman-Review. "I think what this resolution is trying to do is just to make a statement that Idaho recognizes the problems that marijuana is creating in other states," he said, without defining exactly what kinds of "problems" are supposed to be happening.

"This is just a statement, it doesn't change the law," Winder said. "It's just a statement on behalf of the Legislature of Idaho." So, back to that "Legislature dictating to the people" thing.

Oregon: Legislature Considers Legalizing, Taxing Marijuana

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

Oregon lawmakers are looking at a plan to legalize and tax marijuana under House Bill 3371, scheduled for an April 2 public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill would legalize the production, processing and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to six mature marijuana plants and 24 ounces of dried cannabis, the same amounts currently allowed for patients under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of licensing marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers under HB 3371. Meanwhile, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee the taxation of cannabis.

Marijuana producers would be taxed $35 per ounce under the bill. That money would go to a "Cannabis Tax Account," 40 percent of which would go to state schools, with 20 percent each going to Oregon State Police, the general fund, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.

If passed, HB 3371 would take effect on July 1, 2014.

Colorado: Medical Marijuana Training Program Approved

Photo: Cannabis NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill aimed at training dispensary personnel and others who work in medical marijuana businesses was approved on Tuesday by the Colorado Legislature and is headed to Governor John Hickenlooper's desk.

The state Senate voted 23-12 on Tuesday to approve the bill, which creates a "responsible medical marijuana vendor" designation, reports The Associated Press.

The designation, which remains optional rather than mandatory, would allow dispensaries to train their employees regarding the state's medical marijuana rules, and how to spot fake patient ID cards.

The businesses could then get a break if they run afoul of state regulations. A similar designation has already been created for the alcohol industry.

Recreational marijuana stores created by Amendment 64, which are soon to appear, wouldn't be affected by the measure. The Legislature is still working on the rules for those shops, which will be allowed to sell cannabis to any adult 21 or older.

Something similar to a "responsible vendor" designation is likely to come in the recreational marijuana market, as well, according to observers.

The "responsible vendor" measure, backed by the medical marijuana industry, passed the House last month.

(Photo: Cannabis News)

New York: New Report Shows NYPD Spent 1 Million Hours Making Marijuana Arrests

Photo: The L MagazineBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Report: “One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012”

NYC Has Dubious Distinction of “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World”; Majority of Those Arrested Are Black and Latino Youth

Report Released As State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Makes Final Push to Pass Marijuana Reform Proposal This Week

A new report released on Tuesday documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years.

These, of course, are hours that police officers might have otherwise have spent investigating and solving serious crimes.

The report was prepared by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and recognized expert on marijuana possession arrests, at the request of members of the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature.

Ohio: Ballot Drive Launched To Legalize Medical Marijuana

Ohio: Ballot Drive Launched To Legalize Medical MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Ohio voters could get the chance to decide on a constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana and create a million new jobs statewide, if the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment gets the necessary signatures.

The signature drive for the amendment, which would allow medicinal use of cannabis and the cultivation of industrial hemp, was launched over the weekend in Lorain County, reports Jessica James at the Northern Ohio Morning Journal.

Ohio Rights Group President John Pardee and his wife Linda, of Amherst, attended an event in Oberlin on Saturday which launched the drive to collect 1,000 signatures required for the approval of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for a full statewide petition.

If approved by the attorney general, the group will need 385,000 signatures of valid voters to get the amendment on the ballot.

"We are for medical marijuana for qualifying residents and veterans in need, but we're also incorporating the permission for farmers to grow industrial hemp," said Pardee. "There are very low levels of THC, the psychoactive drug compound in marijuana, in hemp. But because it's a part of the cannabis genus, it is also prohibited."

Massachusetts: Cannabis Trade Group Advises Prospective Dispensary Owners

Massachusetts: Cannabis Trade Group Advises Prospective Dispensary OwnersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's just two weeks until Massachusetts releases its regulations for medical marijuana, and people interested in getting into the business gathered for a symposium in downtown Boston held by a national cannabis trade association.

Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association educated potential entrepreneurs on Saturday, reports Lynn Jolicoeur at WBUR.

"It's certainly not an easy business to be in," said NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith. "If somebody thinks they're going to get in this and make a bunch of cash and get out without a lot of headaches, then they're wrong and they need to get involved in something else potentially."

"There's something altruistic in nature in being involved in this industry," agreed Ean Seeb, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver. "And if you're getting involved in it simply for the money, it's probably the wrong reason to be involved."

"You need to be fully aware of the possible repercussions of what could happen as a result of you being involved in the industry," Seeb said. "On the other side, the number one reason to be involved is because, at least for us, we want to be on the right side of history."

Draft regulations governing medical marijuana will be released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at the end of March.

Maryland: Bill Would End Jail Time, Reduce Fine For Small Amounts of Marijuana

Maryland: Bill Would End Jail Time, Reduce Fine For Small Amounts of MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate on Monday is scheduled to vote on a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, ending jail time and reducing the fine to a maximum of $100.

The bill, which is expected to pass, will then face review by the House of Delegates, report Kate Havard and Paul Schwartzman of The Washington Post. Under the Senate proposal, people caught with up to 10 grams of cannabis -- just more than a third of an ounce -- would no longer face any jail time.

Under current Maryland law, the punishment is up to 90 days behind bars, with a fine of up to $500.

"We don't want to wrap people up in the criminal jail system for this," said Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County).

Maryland, a Democratic stronghold, has already legalized same-sex marriage and abolished the death penalty. But it has lagged behind states like California, Washington and Colorado on the cannabis issue.

Senate Majority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil) said he expected the decrim bill to pass in the Senate with bipartisan support, though he said he would vote no on it.

California: 2,000 Pounds of Marijuana Found on Santa Barbara Beach

Photo: Los Angeles TimesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An estimated one ton of marijuana was found on Sunday wrapped in plastic bags on Arroyo Quemada Beach in Santa Barbara County, California. Santa Barbara County law enforcement officials claimed the worth of the 2,000 pounds of cannabis as being $4 million.

Sheriff's deputies "located an apparently abandoned 309-foot 'Panga' style boat with two outboard engines and 20+ plus containers on board," the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a news release, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Sheriff's detectives located a significant amount of evidence that was consistent with marijuana smuggling activities, including trash and debris that was strewn about the beach and nearby coastal access trails," the sheriff's release said. Hemp News was unable to confirm at press time if the "debris" consisted of Doritos bags.

Law enforcement officials are now "testing the drugs and other evidence" found at the scene.

New Hampshire: House To Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization, MMJ This Week

Photo - New Hampshire: House To Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization, MMJ This WeekBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Hampshire may take a step closer to legalizing medical marijuana this week with the state House scheduled to vote on a proposal that would allow five dispensaries and permit patients or their caregivers to grow up to three plants. Meanwhile, the House is also expected to vote on a cannabis decriminalization bill.

An amended version of the medical marijuana bill, which restricts out-of-state patients from buying or growing pot in New Hampshire and also tightens other language of the original bill, has been overwhelmingly approved by a House committee, reports The Associated Press.

The New Hampshire Legislature has already passed medical marijuana bills two times, but both were vetoed by former Governor John Lynch. A third attempt was killed in the Senate. Governor Maggie Hassan has endorsed the idea of a "tightly regulated" medical marijuana law, but has expressed concerns about this bill's home-grow option.

Hawaii: House Judiciary Committee Approves Marijuana Decrim Bill

Photo: Care2By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana continues to advance through the Hawaii House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the bill, SB 472 SD1 HD1 over predictable objections from law enforcement officials who claimed the proposal would "undermine their work," reports Anita Hofschneider of The Associated Press.

The Senate version of SB 472 SD 1 decriminalized up to one ounce of cannabis. It passed on the floor of the Hawaii Senate last week by a unanimous 25-0 vote. At that point, it already had been amended from the bill's original form, with higher fines (raised from $100 to $1,000) intended to make the bill "more acceptable" to the House, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.

The House version of the bill, approved by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, lowered the fine back to $100, similar to fines in other decriminalized states. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Kari Rhoads amended the measure to decrease the amount to seven-tenths of one ounce, or 20 grams.

Rhoads also added language making clear that marijuana possession by minors is still criminal, and emphasizing the supposed "negative effects" of pot on young people.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries May Open This Summer

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts could have safe access through dispensaries by this summer. State public health officials plan to approve final regulations for the shops this spring.

Draft regulations will be issued March 29 by the Department of Public Health, reports Josh Stilts at the The Berkshire Eagle. If approved by the Public Health Council, which reviews all health policies in the state, the rules could go into effect May 24.

Massachusetts cities are not allowed to completely ban local medical marijuana dispensaries, according to a recent ruling by Attorney General Martha M. Coakley. They can, however, regulate and/or delay them through zoning and other measures.

The attorney general's ruling, prompted by a dispensary ban enacted last fall by the town of Wakefield, says that local bans would conflict with the intent of the state's medical marijuana law, approved by 63 percent of state voters in November. Wakefield's dispensary ban came just one week after medical marijuana was legalized.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had written Coakley last month, urging her to rule against Wakefield's bylaw which banned dispensaries.

Nevada: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Marijuana

Nevada: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Nevada lawmaker wants to make it legal for adults to possess marijuana. Assemblyman Joe Hogan plans to introduce his bill in Carson City on Friday.

"From seeing the types of crimes that come across my desk, marijuana generally isn't the basis of any of these crimes," said criminal defense attorney Vicki Greco, reports Rikki Cheese of 13 Action News. "I feel like that I've seen alcohol destroy more families and homes than I have marijuana," Greco said.

But legalization is an uphill battle, according to Greco, who said laws would have to address how marijuana would be supplied, potency levels and where and how it could be smoked and sold.

"I think if it's recreational and people aren't getting into trouble with selling and you know, they just want to sit home and relax? I really don't see any harm in it," said Kristy Haslett of Las Vegas.

Another bill in the works would create a system of safe access for Nevada's medical marijuana patients. Although it's already legal to use cannabis in Nevada for medicinal purposes with a doctor's authorization, there is, under current law, no legal way to actually get it.

U.S.: Congressmen Take Aim At Federal Marijuana Ban

Photo: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 43 years since the Nixon Administration kicked off the modern War On Drugs with the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act -- and a few members of Congress have begun a push to finally overturn the ban on marijuana.

About 10 lawmakers, mostly liberal Democrats, are writing bills they say will serve as legislative guideposts for the future if, as expected, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives ignores their proposals during this Congress, reports Raju Chebium of USA Today.

It's time to end the federal prohibition on cannabis, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), because 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and many others are also exploring that option due to growing public support.

"Maybe next year, maybe next Congress, but this is going to change," Blumenauer said. "And the federal government will get out of the way."

"I'm very patient," Blumenauer explained. "I've been working on this one way or another for 40 years, and I think the likelihood of something happening in the next four or five years is greater than ever."

Meanwhile, the old guard of prohibitionists keeps beating the drum for the status quo in the War On Drugs.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Experts Host Boston Educational Event

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

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host the Northeastern CannaBusiness Symposium on March 16 in downtown Boston. Prior to the release of the Massachusetts medical marijuana regulations slated for March 28, stakeholders in Massachusetts' future medical marijuana market and others engaged in medical marijuana business in the northeast will gather for this trade association symposium.

The half-day educational program will present investors and entrepreneurs interested in Massachusetts' emerging medical cannabis market with an opportunity to glean information from cannabusiness professionals and experts in the fields of regulatory models, operations and ancillary businesses. The event will feature individual and panel presentations, question and answer periods, and an evening networking reception.

"NCIA is honored to have the opportunity to ensure development of the most well-educated and sophisticated local medical cannabis market by connecting Northeastern entrepreneurs with the best and brightest minds in the national industry," said Aaron Smith, NCIA's executive director. "Collectively, the symposium speakers represent decades of experience in the legal medical cannabis industry and can provide unique insight to those looking to contribute to the Commonwealth's nascent industry."

What: Northeastern CannaBusiness Symposium

Maine: Municipal Marijuana Legalization Measure Circulating In Portland

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

More than a decade ago, Maine set a precedent for the acceptance of marijuana use, when in 1999, state voters decided to exercise their right to approve medicinal cannabis; there have been no serious federal repercussions.

Overall legalization is inevitably coming to Maine. Citizens favor the idea statewide, but support is especially strong in Portland, where more than 70 percent of voters have twice in the past 14 years supported contradicting federal law regarding marijuana, reports Tom MacMillan at The Portland Daily Sun.

An ordinance being circulated by the Portland Green Independent Committee, chaired by MacMillan, is designed to protect otherwise law-abiding citizens of the city from police action, and free the Portland Police Department from enforcing an unjust law, allowing them to focus all their efforts on actually protecting and serving the community.

"The Portland Green Independent Committee has taken up this issue because of the lack of action on the state and federal level," MacMillan said. "Passing this ordinance here in Portland will be an historic step forward for marijuana legalization efforts both in Maine and nationwide."

Arizona: Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients Are Under Attack

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

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act -- a voter-approved initiative -- has been law for more than three years. But several state and county officials have tried to usurp the wishes of the voters, and these efforts continue.

The medical marijuana program falls under the protection of the Arizona Voter Proposition Act, Prop 105. Based on this provision legislators who try to work against the spirit of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act are violating the loyalty oath they signed when entering office.

In the past three years, the Arizona Legislature has made it legal for employers to look up which of their employees use medical marijuana, and has simplified the process for law enforcement officers to track sick patients.

"Legally, the Arizona State Legislature may only advance the intent of the ballot measure passed by voters, but citizens have been set up for disappointment," states a Wednesday press release from a group called the American Council for Patient Liberty (ACPL).

"The new Senate Bill 1441 enables destruction of all medical marijuana in the state of Arizona without due process and is a hindrance to patient liberty," the group's press release states.

Florida: DEA Says Marijuana Growth 'Rampant' Throughout Sunshine State

Photo: Kottonmouth KingsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana growth is "rampant" throughout Florida, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, but the DEA says it is cracking down on cannabis cultivation in the Sunshine State.

The DEA allocated $500,000 to Florida's Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program last year, an increase of $50,000 over 2011, reports Ben Bornstein at WUFT.

That tax money paid for something called "marijuana-growth detection training" for law enforcement agents throughout the state, according to Judith Ivester, program coordinator for domestic marijuana eradication.

Ivester said that 87 percent of the money was used to "reimburse investigative costs" for local law enforcement, which she said provided an incentive to identify, investigate and eradicate the plant.

According to the report, 772 marijuana cultivation sites were discovered in 2012, resulting in 723 arrests and 37,388 plants being destroyed.

North Central Florida is a hotbed for cannabis cultivation, Ivester said. She claimed indoor growth is more prevalent in South Florida "because the area is more urban." Growers in heavily populated counties like Dade and Broward move their grow-ops inside to avoid detection, according to Ivester.

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Is Not A Fringe Issue

Photo - Michigan: Medical Marijuana Is Not A Fringe IssueBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If medical marijuana is a fringe issue, as some in Michigan claim, then "that's one large fringe," according to Michigan op-ed writer Brad Flory.

"It is fashionable to write off the medical-marijuana movement as a fringe group, a fact I discovered two weeks ago in feedback from upstanding citizens annoyed by my soft-on-weed views," Flory wrote on on Thursday.

"Softness on weed was not my intention," he wrote. "I didn't say anything good, bad or indifferent about marijuana or its medicinal value.

"What I said was this: Medical marijuana is only kinda-sorta legal four years after the voters of Michigan legalized it, which is not the way things should work in a healthy democracy," Flory wrote.

"The problem is, state government has created no legal method for selling medical marijuana to people who qualify for it," Flory wrote. "That is not my definition of legalizing something."

Medical marijuana was passed by an overwhelming 63 percent of Michigan's voters.

"For every 37 voters in Michigan who opposed legalization of medical marijuana, 63 supported it," Flory wrote. "It passed in all 83 counties, including ones always described as Republican, conservative and religious."

New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Dies In House; Industrial Hemp Bill Passes

New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Dies In House; Industrial Hemp Bill PassesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would have legalized marijuana in New Hampshire died in the House on Wednesday without any debate. The Democratic-majority House voted 239-112 to kill the bill. On the same day, the House passed a bill to legalize industrial hemp.

It wasn't a party-line vote, reports Ben Leubsdorf of the Concord Monitor. While 135 Democrats and 104 Republicans voted to kill the legalization bill, 61 Democrats and 51 Republicans voted to pass it.

The legislation would have removed all references to marijuana from the state's drug control laws as of January 1, 2014. Marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, but New Hampshire would have followed Colorado and Washington state, where voters in November approved ballot measures to allow the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, on a 12-8 vote, recommended the full House kill the legalization bill. Opponents complained that it would run counter to federal law, while supporters pointed out that cannabis prohibition is not working.

The hemp legalization bill was approved by the full House on a voice vote. Hemp can be used to make rope, fabric, paper, fuel and other products. Like marijuana, it is a variety of the cannabis plant.

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