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Michigan: Cannabis Legalization Petition For 2018 Approved For Circulation

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The initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan approved to circulate petition for 2018, Revenue would go to K-12 schools, road repairs and participating cities and counties

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Thursday, the Michigan State Board of Canvassers approved the language of a cannabis legalization initiative for the November of 2018 ballot. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA), the group behind the initiative, has 180 days to collect 252,523 valid signatures from registered Michigan voters.

Minnesota: Medical Cannabis Patients Report Benefits In Department of Health Study

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Majority of Minnesota Medical Cannabis Patients Saw Benefit in Program’s First Year

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Based on patient surveys and other data, a significant number of patients who used medical cannabis during the first year of Minnesota’s marijuana program reported benefits, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Less than a quarter of patients who participated in the study experienced negative side effects from cannabis.

The MDH study draws on data from survey results as well as enrollment, purchasing, and related health information to describe the experience of patients using medical cannabis from the program’s start on July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

“Based on this evidence from the first year, Minnesota’s approach is providing many people with substantial benefits, minimal side effects, and no serious adverse events,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Washington, DC: Cannabis Legalization Bill Receives Bipartisan Support On Capitol Hill

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia held a press conference Wednesday urging Congress to pass H.R.1227, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. The legislators are renewing their efforts as the Trump administration pushes to go after non-violent drug crimes. The bill currently has 11 sponsors.

The bipartisan bill, if approved, would remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances and put cannabis in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

Kentucky: University of Louisville Studying Industrial Hemp for Fuel

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

For a second consecutive year, the University of Louisville's Conn Center for Renewable Energy is planting industrial hemp at the school’s Belknap Campus. The university is planting two types of hemp and kenaf to research their potential as renewable energy resources.

The study will focus on the potential for the crops to fulfill energy needs and become a replacement source for biofuels, fibers and 3-D printer applications.

The research will be included in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.

Interim president of U of L, Greg Postel, stated that researchers are seeking "unusual answers to renewable energy questions."

“Having the crops grow on campus actually raises awareness about the research that we have going on at Conn Center,” said Assistant Director Andrew Marsh.

"What we do with this plant matter is actually convert it into substances that will help solve energy problems, so the mission of the center is to work on technologies to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and this industrial hemp and kenaf planting is one of those research directions," said Marsh.

Many farmers in Kentucky believe hemp could help revitalize Kentucky’s agricultural sector, and the hope is the research at Conn will help students and scientists study the crop’s potential as a fuel.

U.S.: Willie Nelson Tells U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Smoke Some Pot

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On May 17, singer-songwriter Willie Nelson had some advice for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions has also said in the past that "good people don't smoke marijuana." As the nation's top law enforcement officer, he has signaled a broad crackdown against both social and medicinal uses of the drug, which remains illegal federally.

Florida: First Gainesville Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Friday, May 19th, a Winter Garden-based medical marijuana firm, Knox Medical, will open a dispensary storefront in Gainesville, one of its first in Florida since the approval of a medical marijuana amendment in November.

“What we’re doing is changing people’s perception of what cannabis in Florida is all about,” said Bruce Knox, the company’s founder and chief operating officer. “Education is key to what will be our success in years to come,” he continued.

In Florida, a patient must have been treated by a qualified physician for at least three months before becoming eligible to receive medical marijuana treatments.

Before medical marijuana becomes an option, according to the state Health Department’s Office of Compassionate Use, a patient must have also tried other treatments without success.

“They’re coming in as the last option,” according to retail operations worker Daniel McVay. “We want to get on that patient’s level.”

Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in November 2016 to legalize medical marijuana, broadening access to cannabis beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved two years ago by the Legislature.

Maryland: First Licensed Medical Marijuana Grow Operation Approved

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Wednesday, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the commission that oversees Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis program, voted to approve the state’s first full license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The Stage 2 license, which was awarded to ForwardGro LLC, is a final approval from regulators for the cultivation of plants. The approved business will have to wait for dispensaries to be inspected and licensed before it can sell cannabis products to approved patients to comply with state law.

Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, said: “The patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”

Rand, whose son suffers from epilepsy, became passionately involved in the Maryland legislature in 2013 as a parent advocate. She is the founder of a parental advocacy group for the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland for children with epilepsy.

“A new industry in Maryland has been officially launched,” said Patrick Jameson, Executive Director of the commission, "They can start to grow immediately. Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”

Oregon: PDX Hempfest Expo To Be Held June 10

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Now in their fourth year, Seattle Hempfest and the former Oregon Hemp Convention have joined forces to produce PDX Hempfest Expo

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Seattle Hempfest and the former Oregon Hemp Convention have joined forces to produce Portland Hempfest Expo in an effort to advance the public profile of the cannabis industry.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 10, 2017, from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm at the Portland Expo Center, 2060 N. Marine Drive, Portland, OR 97217.

“We are thrilled to partner with our Portland family as we continue to define the Pacific Northwest as a regional leader in the burgeoning cannabis industry,” said Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest's Executive Director.

“Cannabis is not the gateway to hard drugs like we’ve been told, but it can be a gateway to economic recovery and sustainability. The proof will be on full display at the PDX Hempfest Expo,” McPeak continued.

A full day of educational sessions with professional Cannabis speakers will educate attendees about rapidly changing developments in the Cannabis industry. A high concentration of legitimate Cannabis industry technology buyers will be present.

United Kingdom: Liberal Democrats Add Marijuana Legalization To Platform

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Liberal Democratic leaders in the United Kingdom announced Friday that they plan on pushing for marijuana regulation and taxation as part of their political platform. Research by the liberal Democrats revealed that 87,247 police caseloads related to cannabis were opened in 2015, equaling an estimated 1,044,180 police hours and £31 million (more than USD$40 million) in enforcement, the Independent reports.

“The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market,” the manifesto states. “Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.”

Marijuana is a Class B substance in the U.K. and possession carries a five-year jail term. Dealers can be sentenced to up to 14 years.

The party's plan would legalize cannabis use for adults 18 and over, would limit THC content, and would require that all marijuana products contain CBD. The party says that "skunk" (marijuana that has been bred to remove most, or all, CBD) is responsible for harming the “mental and physical health” of youth.

“The current approach is a disaster for young people…There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength,” the party contends. “‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.”

Israel: Medical Marijuana Restrictions Loosened, Public Use Of Cannabis Oil And Vapor Allowed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New medical marijuana rules in Israel will allow patients to consume cannabis as an oil or vapor in public and will reduce wait times for patients to receive authorization to use and possess medical marijuana, according to a report from Jerusalem Online. Israeli Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman

Israel is a leader in national marijuana policy reform, having decriminalized marijuana use in March. Non-medical users caught smoking cannabis in public are subject to a $271 fine for the first offense, and the fine is doubled on the second. A third offense leads to probation; criminal charges are imposed only on the fourth offense.

MK Tamar Zandbergm chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse said the policy “sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals.”

The Agriculture and Health Ministries plan to provide about $2.1 million in funding for 13 medical cannabis studies that will range from biochemical and medical research to improving crop yields.

The Multidisciplinary Center of Cannabinoid Research was launched last month at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will coordinate and conduct research on marijuana's biological effects in an effort to determine potential commercial applications.

Kansas: NASCAR Driver Carl Long Forced To Remove Marijuana Business Logo From Car

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Associated Press reported that NASCAR driver Carl Long showed up at the Kansas Motor Speedway Friday with the logo of a marijuana vaping company on his race car, and NASCAR officials forced him to remove it.

The logo for Veedverks, a Colorado-based medical marijuana dispensary, was on the hood of Long's No.66 car.

A spokesman for NASCAR said the logo was never vetted and approved, and that it violated rules governing sponsorship and paint schemes.

NASCAR officials said it will not adorn the car the rest of the weekend.

New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

Florida: Lawmakers Fail To Reconcile Medical Marijuana Implementation Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida lawmakers failed to enact legislation this legislative session establishing rules for the implementation of Amendment 2, a voter-initiated measure that legalizes the use, production, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment was approved in November, passing with the support of more than 70 percent of voters.

Unless lawmakers convene a special legislative session to address the issue, Department of Health staff will be responsible for establishing regulations for the program. Those rules are due by July 3. The amendment calls for the program to be operational by October.

Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Legislation To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Mexico have approved the legalization of medical marijuana products. President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has spoken in favor of the measure, must sign it to make it official.

The measure authorizes the Health Ministry to design regulations for the use, importation, and production of pharmaceutical products derived from CBD-dominant/low-THC cannabis. Presently, CBD-infused products may be imported into the country on a case by case basis.

The personal possession of up to five grams of cannabis was decriminalized by Mexican lawmakers in 2009. President Nieto proposed legislation last year to increase this threshold to one ounce.

In 2015, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-drug laws should not trump individuals' rights to grow and consume marijuana for their own personal use.

Nevada: Retail Marijuana Sales Begin In July

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana dispensaries in good standing with the state of Nevada will be able to begin retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults on July 1. They will be able to apply for "early start" licenses on May 15. The rules were approved by the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday in a 6 to 1 vote.

Last November a majority of voters passed the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market.

Criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana were eliminated in Nevada effective on January 1, 2017. Initially, provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of marijuana were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Several other states which have passed laws to legalize adult-use marijuana, such as Maine and Massachusetts, have made moves to delay the implementation of legal adult-use marijuana laws.

Washington, DC: Congress Reauthorizes Protection For State Medical Marijuana Programs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs are safe for now as Congress has approved spending legislation which the President has signed into law that reauthorizes language protecting those programs. But the President issued a signing statement expressing his personal opposition to the measure, saying that those provisions could interfere with his constitutional authority. Signing statements are often issued by presidents, but they do not carry the weight of law.

Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to "prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." That language is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, passed in 2014.

State-sponsored hemp programs were also reauthorized, thanks to a similar amendment.

Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, 2017; at that time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire.

Forty-six states presently acknowledge the therapeutic use of marijuana and various marijuana-derived products. Thirty states recognize hemp as an industrial crop.

Colorado: New Cannabis Sales Record Set In March

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado set a new record in cannabis sales in March, with a total in combined medical and recreational sales of $132 million, according to state Department of Revenue figures outlined by the Cannabist. March was the tenth consecutive month that had sales totaling more than $100 million.

Adult use sales made up $93.3 million of March’s record-breaking sales, while medical cannabis sales totaled $38.4 million.

Andrew Livingston, director of economics and research for the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, estimates that by the end of the year Colorado’s sales could reach $1.6 billion.

At ten months into the state’s fiscal year, licenses and application fees for medical cannabis businesses have fallen 8.5 percent, and 25.4 percent for retail businesses, according to the Department of Revenue. Miles Light, an economist with the Marijuana Policy Group, said the decline “shows that fewer new firms are entering and… sales should be tapering off or declining.” However, he was surprised that sales “continue to grow so quickly.”

“We are not surprised that almost all of the sales growth is in the retail marijuana space,” he said.

Delaware: Bill Approved By Legislative Committee For Legalized Adult-use Marijuana, Moves To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to create a taxed-and-regulated marijuana market in Delaware has passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee and will now move to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation would regulate and tax cannabis “in the same manner as alcohol,” allowing adults to purchase marijuana products, but makes no provisions for growing at home.

State Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said she believes the measure will pass the House, which will likely take up the legislation after the legislature’s June recess.

“The numbers that we’re getting, about $22 (million) and $25 million on the conservative side that’s just off the sale,” Keeley said in a WMDT report. “If we actually look at this as an economic driver it makes perfect sense.”

Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a supporter of the measure, spoke out about it recently at a Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting.

“Education is suffering," she said. "Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.”

The measure would allot 20 percent of tax revenues collected from legal cannabis sales to go to the Department of Education.

Cayman Islands: Hospital Begins Dispensing Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hospital in the Cayman Islands has begun dispensing medical marijuana oils almost six months after Gov. Helen Kilpatrick signed the medical marijuana bill into law, according to a CNS Business report. Grand Cayman’s CTMH Doctors Hospital & Cayman Pharmacy Group will prescribe and dispense the cannabis oils for various serious, chronic medical conditions such as cancer and epilepsy, and as a pain reliever for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis symptoms.

The hospital is being supplied by Canada’s CanniMed Therapeutics Inc., since the law does not allow medical cannabis products to be cultivated or produced on the islands. Initially, cannabis oils will be dispensed to a small number of physician-selected patients as they seek to educate themselves and track patient progress.

“There will be follow-up phone calls from the pharmacists themselves to closely monitor each patient. The pharmacist will also provide feedback for the physicians and together they will work towards an individually tuned treatment plan,” the hospital said in a press release. “Professional Pharmacy will consider prescriptions for cannabis oil from all licensed prescribers. Patients are encouraged to seek medical advice on this therapy directly from their physicians.”

Texas: Slow Paperwork Prevents Medical Marijuana Vote

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Texas legislature failed to pass a medical marijuana regime before the end of session and the failure was due to the Calendars Committee not receiving paperwork for the bill on time, according to the Texas Cannabis Report.

The report says that the measure was not heard by the Public Health Committee until one week before the end of the legislative session. By the end of that hearing, 77 of the House’s 150 members had signed on in support — enough to pass the bill. The committee passed the bill on Friday.

Heather Fazio, a member of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said that Health Committee Chair Rep. Four Price might have had “his heart and mind” opened by the testimony at the hearing.

“He still wasn’t ready to vote for the bill himself, but he was attentive during the hearing and demonstrated exceptional character when he allowed the bill to be voted on by the committee,” Fazio said in the report.

The Calendar Committee said the paperwork had not arrived on Monday, meaning they were unable to schedule the bill that day. The paperwork arrived Tuesday, but that was too late for the House to take it up. The next opportunity to revisit the legislation is 2019 as the Texas legislature meets every other year from January through May.

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