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Washington: Residents Seek Answers About Legal Marijuana At Final Public Forum

Photo - Washington: Residents Seek Answers About Legal Marijuana At Final Public ForumBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 200 people attended a marijuana forum Thursday night in Bremerton, Washington, the last of eight meetings the state Liquor Control Board has held around the state as it prepares licensing regulations for the newly legal cannabis industry.

Speakers overwhelmingly supported rules that would allow a marijuana cottage industry, rather than a market dominated by a few large corporate producers and a black market, reports Josh Farley at The Kitsap Sun.

"My biggest fear is that Big Agra, Big Pharma, and other corporations, having had no real great investment, interest or sacrifice, will lobby hard to seek control and dictate to those who are now in this historic position," said Christy Stanley, a Kingston mother of four who wants a future in the cannabis industry.

Stanley focused her support on the cottage industry that could develop and asked that no barriers be erected that could hinder that type of development, rather than a big corporate takeover.

Some of those attending expressed concerns about high taxes, the scientifically unsupported low marijuana blood limit for driving included in the legalization measure, and "exposing drug use to children."

California: L.A. Mayor Frontrunner Calls On Feds To End Marijuana 'Hypocrisy'

Source: blogdowntownBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Los Angeles mayoral frontrunner Eric Garcetti is calling on the federal government to reclassify marijuana as medically useful, urging the Obama Administration to end what he called the "hypocrisy" of current pot laws.

"I think the federal government should do that swiftly and end some of the hypocrisy on the use of marijuana as a medicine," Garcetti told HuffPost Live's Jacob Soboroff on Wednesday.

Garcetti said the issue is personal for him because of fellow L.A. City Council member Bill Rosendahl, who is fighting cancer, reports The Huffington Post. According to Garcetti, if it weren't for medical marijuana, Rosendahl would not be able to keep food down during his cancer treatments.

During an emotional city council meeting last October, Rosendahl begged his fellow council members to reverse a recently passed dispensary ban in Los Angeles.

"Where does anybody go, even a councilman go, to get his medical marijuana?" Rosendahl asked during the meeting. He decided not to seek reelection this year, in order to focus on his recovery.

Florida: Robert Platshorn's Pot Infomercial Pulled By Orlando Station

Florida: Robert Platshorn's Pot Infomercial Pulled By Orlando StationBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Robert Platshorn wants to spread the good news about medicinal cannabis. Since late last year, the former pot smuggler -- who served almost 30 years in federal prison after the "Black Tuna Gang" was busted by authorities -- has been buying TV time on local stations for his infomercial aimed and senior citizens, Should Grandma Smoke Pot?

The 30-minute show aims to educate the elderly on the pros of medical legalization, and is an extension of Platshorn's popular "Silver Tour," reports Kyle Swenson at Broward Palm Beach New Times.

Having already successful bought airtime and aired the show on stations in the Tampa area and in South Florida, Platshorn was ready to crack the Orlando market on WKCF, a CW affiliate owned by Hearst Media. But the deal fell apart at the last minute when the station got cold feet about the infomercial's message.

"When we bought the time to start running in March, they were very happy to sell it to us," Platshorn said. Should Grandma Smoke Pot? was scheduled for six half-hour slots on WKCF, according to Platshorn, at a total price of about $2,200; the deal was signed on February 26.

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Push Begins

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Push BeginsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) wants Maryland patients who need medical marijuana to have safe access to it. Glenn held a Thursday news conference to discuss a bill which would allow the distribution of medicinal cannabis to patients with chronic or debilitating medical conditions through compassion centers.

Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, one of four surviving federal medical marijuana patients, is expected to deliver remarks during the event, reports WBAL.

Rosenfeld still receives 300 pre-rolled joints from the federal government each month as part of the Compassionate Investigative New Drug program, as he has for almost 30 years. The IND program stopped taking on new patients during the George H.W. Bush Administration, when it became clear that hundreds of AIDS patients would be eligible.

Glenn has already introduced the medical marijuana legislation. Baltimore County Delegate Dan Morhaim, a physician, has also introduced a two bills this session.

New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill 14-1

Photo - New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill 14-1By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill to allow New Hampshire residents with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana moved one step closer to becoming law on Thursday when it was approved 14-1 by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. House Bill 573 will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), would allow seriously ill patients to use medicinal cannabis if their doctors recommend it. Patients would be allowed to grow up to three mature marijuana plants in their homes, or obtain cannabis through one of five nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan has expressed support for passing medical marijuana legislation. A similar medical marijuana bill that passed with bipartisan support last session was vetoed by then-Governor John Lynch.

Prior to the vote, Rep. Patrick Culbert (R-Pelham) made an emotional plea to his colleagues, sharing his experience caring for his wife, Judy, as she slowly died of cancer. He recounted how she found relief from her "agonizing" symptoms the one time she tried using medical marijuana -- but did not use it again, because she feared being arrested.

"People like Judy shouldn't have to die like that," Rep. Culbert said. "She should have died with dignity and she didn't."

Idaho: New Medical Marijuana Petition Drive Aims For 2014 Ballot

Photo - Idaho: New Medical Marijuana Petition Drive Aims For 2014 BallotBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Compassionate Idaho on Friday, March 15 will release a new petition to put medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot for the voters to decide.

The petition will address the failed medical marijuana policy of Idaho that is currently putting seriously and terminally ill patients in the position of being "criminals," according to the group.

"This petition, once law, will protect our seriously and terminally ill patients and their caregivers from arrest, prosecution, and forfeiture for obtaining medical marijuana," Compassionate Idaho said in a prepared statement.

The petition is already available for reading at www.compassionateidaho.org, although it doesn't yet have its short and long ballot titles back from the Idaho Attorney General, according to the group.

Once Compassionate Idaho gets the petition back from the state Attorney General, they plan to post a downloadable PDF file of the petition for circulation around the state. Circulation instructions and downloadable voter registration cards will also be available.

New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

Photo - New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Mexico state Senator Ortiz y Pino's Senate Memorial 80, requesting the state Economic Development Department to study the budgetary implications of taxing and regulating marijuana in the state, on Wednesday passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on a 6-1 bipartisan vote.

The memorial bill will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee before being heard by the entire Senate.

"Legislators on both sides of the asile want to know how taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico will improve our economic success as a state," said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Many of the best ideas defy political labels."

"As marijuana reform becomes a mainstream position, political candidates and elected officials are finding it less and less of a political third rail," Kaltenbach said.

A new poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico's registered voters -- 52 percent -- say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, taxing and regulating it in a way similar to alcohol. Forty percent were opposed.

A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last year suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market.

Hawaii: Senate Votes Unanimously To Decriminalize Marijuana

Hawaii: Senate Votes Unanimously To Decriminalize MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Hawaii state Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The proposal now goes to the House.

The bill would make the possession of one ounce or less a civil violation. Lawmakers tacked on a $1,000 fine to emphasize that marijuana is still illegal, despite the shift from criminal to civil penalties, reports Anita Hofschneider of The Associated Press.

The bill is designed to reduce the backlog in Hawaii's criminal justice system, according to sponsor Sen. Clayton Hee.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials, reluctant to give up the disproportionate power over everyday citizens which marijuana criminalization gives them, predictably oppose the bill. They claim decriminalization would make it harder to enforce laws against pot.

A bill to legalize marijuana in Hawaii died in the House earlier this session.

U.S.: Senator Leahy To Attorney General Holder: Leave Marijuana Alone

Photo - U.S.: Senator Leahy To Attorney General Holder: Leave Marijuana AloneBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what he called "a bit of editorializing," U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Wednesday morning suggested to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice should pursue "more serious things than minor possession of marijuana."

Sen. Leahy also asked Atty. Gen. Holder what many people in Colorado and Washington have been wondering about: if Holder was prepared to announce the federal government's official response to the voters of those two states legalizing marijuana at the ballot box last November. But, once again, Holder didn't offer a straight answer.

The Attorney General did say he'd had "good conversations" with elected leaders in the two states, including with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson.

"We expect our ability to announce a policy relatively soon," Holder said.

Both Washington and Colorado are moving ahead with their state-run legal marijuana programs, but could face lawsuits and prosecution from the federal government, which officially considers all forms of cannabis a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

Yes, it's been awhile since federal drug policy had a meaningful reality check.

Michigan: House Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Photo - Michigan: House Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana DispensariesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Michigan House of Representatives is considering a bill which would allow safe access for the state's medical marijuana patients through a system of dispensaries.

The Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center Regulation Act comes after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the transfer of medicinal cannabis between patients -- the kind that takes place in dispensaries -- is not covered or protected by the original Michigan Medical Marihuana Act approved by 63 percent of state voters in 2008.

Mike Callton (R-Nashville) said medical marijuana dispensaries are necessary for patients to have save access to the cannabis recommended by their doctors, reports Dan Lloyd of Heritage Media.

"Frankly, the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling necessitated this legislation," Callton said. "Now there are only two limited ways someone can access medical marijuana: Grow their own, or contract with a caregiver.

"Therefore, we need to allow for provisioning centers or patients will continue to suffer," Rep. Callton said. "The more educated people become about this issue, the more they understand the pressing need before us."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In Legislature

Photo - Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In LegislatureBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill to allow Illinois residents to use medical marijuana in the treatment of their debilitating medical conditions moved one step closer to becoming law on Wednesday when it was approved 11-4 by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now heads to the full 118-member House of Representatives.

House Bill 1, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), a friend to medical marijuana patients for years, would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS to use medicinal cannabis if their doctors recommend it.

Qualified patients would be able to get marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire the cannabis from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would control the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana.

Global: United Nations Warns America Not To Legalize Marijuana

Photo: Raymond Yans, president, INCB. Photo source: United Nations International Narcotics Control BoardBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United Nations has warned the United States against legalizing marijuana, either for medical use or for all adults. Doing so, according to the U.N., violates international law.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the arm of the U.N. in charge of overseeing drug treaties, issued the stern warning about the "unprecedented surge" of marijuana legalization in the U.S., reports Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times. The group apparently has issues with both medicinal cannabis use and general legalization.

"In some U.S. states, they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the [treaties]," INCB scolded in its new report.

The INCB, part of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, singled out Colorado and Washington for particular criticism, since voters in both those states approved general legalization in November.

"They also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing," claimed Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, reports The Guardian.

Medical marijuana laws, as adopted by 18 states in the U.S., are little more than "a back-door to legalization for recreational use," Yans claimed.

Washington: Officials Delay Announcement of State Marijuana Consultant

Source: Victoria TaftBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

California: Poll Shows Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Salem-NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

Illinois: Man Gets 24 Years For Marijuana

Source: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Mexico: House Panel Recommends Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oklahoma: Lawmaker Pushing To Reduce Marijuana Penalties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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