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 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.

U.S.: Veteran Faces Jail For Using Marijuana To Treat PTSD

Service dog Rodney's got Jeremy Usher's back as Jeremy looks at the names on Weld County Veterans Memorial. Photo by Joshua Polson, The Greeley TribuneBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Colorado veteran is facing jail time for using cannabis medicinally while on probation, to manage his post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Former U.S. Navy Corpsman Jeremy Usher returned home in 2003 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sleepless nights, panic attacks, combat flashbacks, and nightmares. Additionally, a traumatic brain injury resulted in memory loss and severe stutter.

At first, Usher, 31, turned to alcohol to quell the symptoms of PTSD; that's how he ended up on probation in Weld and Larimer counties for his second and third DUI charges, reports Whitney Phillips at The Greeley Tribune. But he says he's now doing well in counseling and school -- at least, until his current predicament of facing jail for using medical marijuana while on probation.

Medical marijuana is the one treatment that's helped Usher with his PTSD, but it violates the terms of his probation to use it - which puts him at risk of going back to jail.

"The court systems are very black and white, and PTSD is the definition of gray area," Usher said. "They are not acknowledging the gray area."

Oregon: CRRH and ACLU of Oregon Work Together for Cannabis Freedom

By Paul Stanford, CRRH

Oregon: CRRH and ACLU of Oregon Work Together for Cannabis Freedom Campaign for the Restoration & Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) is a federal 501(C)4 political committee working to end hemp & cannabis prohibition. CRRH put Measure 80 on Oregon's 2012 ballot, and, last November, Measure 80 garnered 47 percent of the vote in Oregon to regulate marijuana and legalize hemp. CRRH is proud to be working with the ACLU of Oregon now to change our punitive marijuana laws.

CRRH believes that marijuana is a bellwether issue for the future of freedom. Cannabis has been purposely cultivated for over 10,000 years and produces more fiber, food, fuel and medicine than any other plant. Cannabis is the oldest and most productive crop sown. Please support CRRH and our vital work to restore hemp.

CRRH is proud to congratulate Mr. David Findaque for his much deserved 'E.B. MacNaughton Civil Liberties Award’.


United States: Petition to Pardon Medical Marijuana Provider Chris Williams

As a young man enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, Chris Williams swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." Now is the time to show him your support!

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Montana – Medical cannabis provider Chris Williams has been fighting federal prosecution since March 14, 2011, when federal agents served him a search warrant for his business, Montana Cannabis, along with 25 other medical marijuana businesses across Montana. Caregivers operating in compliance with Montana state medical cannabis law were shut down and arrested.

This raid (and others before and since) was in direct contradiction with the 2009 memo from the justice department, when the Obama administration stated that they “should not focus federal resources on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws,” and clearly shows how out of sync our Federal marijuana policy is with not only state law, but also the opinion of the America voter.

Oregon: Earl Blumenauer - The Marijuana Initiative Process, The Decade of Decision

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

Earl Blumenauer on Reform Since 1973, when Earl Blumenauer first voted for legislation that successfully decriminalized marijuana in Oregon, he has been a supporter of a reasonable approach to marijuana regulation.

While he feels there are still many questions about the effects of marijuana use, he believes that this is an issue best left to the states. Blumenauer strongly supports the initiative process and encourages people to push forward in this process of changing the law.

"I suspect that doing your job right, engaging people in this debate, in this discussion, looking at the facts, trying to bring people together in a thoughtful non-hysterical way, letting the evidence speak for itself...I suspect this will be your decade of decision," Blumenauer proclaimed at the 2010 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's (NORML) Conference at the Governor Hotel in Portland.

After so many years working for the people of Oregon, Blumenauer has seen the evidence of our failed war on drugs, and feels that a re-examination of the way we handle marijuana and hemp would be greatly beneficial. Oregon has the potential to lead the way forward to a better future through regulation rather than prohibition.

Global: Canada Invests In Hemp Processing

Creating a market can present a challenge for producers, but there's a new option on the horizon in Canada: Hemp.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Canada's Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that the government is investing in Advanced Foods and Materials Canada (AFM) to increase production capabilities of technology that turns flax and hemp straw into high-quality fiber. AFM will invest the money to increase the capacity of the bio refining process.

"These are by-products. Most farmers would rake up their flax straw and burn it in the fall. This now gives them potential value in re-manufacturing of that waste product," stated Ritz.

"When you see something like this that takes a waste by-product and puts the potential of tremendous value into it, it's a no-brainer to invest in those types of strategic initiatives," proclaimed Ritz.

The development of this technology will substantially increase the value per acre of hemp and flax crops by finding uses for parts of plants that are currently considered waste. The group believes the increased production and availability of high-value cellulose products will create living wage jobs in manufacturing, transportation, and research and development, which will in-turn benefit the agricultural sector and stimulate Canada's economy.

Washington: Seattle Hempfest - America's Largest Protestival - Aug 17th-19th

There is a truth that must be heard!WHAT – The Seattle Hempfest XXI, America’s largest "protestival"

WHEN – Noon – 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 17, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 & 19

WHERE – Myrtle Edwards Park - Pier 70 on the downtown Seattle waterfront

Is it time to retire marijuana prohibition? The world's largest cannabis policy retirement party thinks so. Seattle Hempfest 2012 expects many tens of thousands to attend its 21st annual event, and as America’s largest marijuana law reform event Hempfest invites everyone to join in the celebration to end cannabis prohibition Aug. 17-19 at Myrtle Edwards Park.

The 2012 "protestival" features hundreds of booths and six stages of music and speakers dotting the mile plus expanse at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks, on the beautiful Puget Sound. With the Washington state decriminalization Initiative 502 on this November’s ballot, there will be much discussion about the merits and mechanics of regional cannabis reform on all of Hempfest's stages.

Up Close: Dr. Tod Mikuriya - Restore Cannabis!

Dr. Mikuriya felt cannabis was an important issue being swept under the rug and believed it was important to elevate conciseness and bring back cannabis to the awareness of the medical community as a therapeutic agent.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! In this recently un-earthed 1991 Time 4 Hemp interview, Dr. Tod Mikuriya talks about the importance of true cannabis research in the United States.

In 1966, Mikuriya became director at the drug addiction treatment center of the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute, in Princeton. In 1967, he became a consulting research psychiatrist at the Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies of the National Institute of Mental Health, where he was in charge of marijuana research. He left the assignment because he felt that the agency was interested primarily in research that highlighted the negative effects of the drug.

Mikuriya would eventually go on to become an author of Proposition 215, the 1996 state ballot measure that made it legal for California doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients.

Up Close: John Sinclair - Free the Weed

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Every once in a while an activist comes along that changes the way a political issue is perceived. Last month, Paul Stanford of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) had the opportunity to interview such a man, John Sinclair. In Stanford’s interview (above), Sinclair discusses the current medical cannabis community and gives his views on where he hopes the cannabis legalization movement will evolve.

Sinclair, an iconic American poet from Flint, Michigan, is the former leader of the White Panther Party, which was an anti-racist counter cultural group of white socialists seeking to help the Black Panthers in the Civil Rights movement from November 1968 to July 1969.

Sinclair has also been steering the marijuana counter culture towards legalization since 1965. He was introduced to marijuana activism after receiving, from New York City, a marijuana flier from Allen Ginsburg and Ed Sanders’ pro marijuana group LeMar (Organization to Legalize Marijuana). Being familiar with a print press, Sinclair created his own marijuana flier and began holding monthly meetings to end marijuana prohibition in the state of Michigan.

Oregon: Global Cannabis March Unites Three Legalization Initiatives

By Michael Bachara, OCTA 2012, Sensible Oregon and OMPI Supporter

There is a truth that must be heard! Portland, OR – This weekend, Portland experienced solidarity from multiple cannabis legalization groups as hundreds assembled from across the region to have their voices heard in the 13th Annual Global Cannabis March through the streets of downtown. Complete with a police escort, marchers began and ended in Portland's living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Members of Oregon National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Oregon NORML), The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, Oregon Green Free, National Green Friends and many others participated in the annual event, which is held every year on the first Saturday in May.

As Oregon hemp and cannabis activists move forward with multiple initiatives for November and beyond, it is time for a common bond to unite us all. The legalization of cannabis has an optimistic chance this year to make the Oregon ballot as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) and Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI) both bear down for the final stretch in signature gathering efforts.

Both OCTA and OMPI have until July 6, 2012 to turn in the required number of signatures, and each campaign is confident they can make it, but will need active participation from Oregon voters.

Oregon: Vote Ellen Rosenblum - Candidate to Become Oregon's First Female Attorney General

"The Attorney General is the people's lawyer, and I have the depth and the range of experience to be a strong advocate for the people of Oregon." Ellen Rosenblum

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! As Oregon moves closer toward marijuana legalization in November with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 (OCTA 2012) and the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative 2012 (OMPI 2012) petition drives, the race for Oregon Attorney General on May 15th between Appeals Court Judge Ellen Rosenblum and former acting U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton will be crucial to the implementation of the cannabis legalization initiatives.

Earlier this month, in a debate at the Eugene City Club, Rosenblum said she supported the state’s current medical marijuana law as one that "provides vulnerable citizens with the medicine they needed to cope with their diagnoses."

On the other hand, Holton said the law is actually "a train wreck, putting marijuana in the hands of people, kids, who are not using it for pain management purposes. Of 50,000 card holders, 30,000 got them from 10 clinics. We’ve got a broken system."

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