barack obama

U.S.: New White House Drug Czar Has Quite An Idea Where To Put Nonviolent Drug Users

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) will be President Trump's drug czar, CBS News reports. Marino's congressional voting record shows he is a hard-liner on marijuana issues and he recently said that he'd like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of “hospital-slash-prison.”

Marino will oversee the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a branch of the White House that advises the president on drug policy issues. Whereas the office under President Obama quite publicly retired the phrase “war on drugs,” Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is moving to put criminal justice back at the forefront of drug policy.

Although Marino seems to share that view, his views are unlikely to influence the administration's policy in the same ways Sessions's views do. The drug czar's office has traditionally played a limited role in setting policy. It coordinates drug control strategy and funding across the federal government instead.

In Congress, Marino voted several times against a bipartisan measure to prevent the Justice Department from going after state-legal medical marijuana businesses, a measure which eventually passed.

He voted against a measure to allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, as well as against a separate measure to loosen federal restrictions on industrial hemp.

U.S.: Jeff Sessions Makes New Controversial Statements About Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make statements that upset marijuana advocates and business investors, but it is remarks he recently didn't say that has mostly interested journalists covering the marijuana industry.

In prepared remarks, Sessions had planned to repeat a line he had used earlier when addressing a group in Virginia, saying that marijuana was only "slightly less awful" than heroin. He chose not to repeat the line, however.

He did question the current situation when it comes to abiding by the Cole memo, as the Obama administration had done.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions replied to a question as to whether his Department of Justice (DOJ) would sue states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

“I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that,” Sessions said, “but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are two main points to take away from Sessions' remarks for marijuana businesses.

U.S.: Serving Life Without Parole For Pot, Man Denied Clemency

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ferrell Scott was sentenced to life in prison for possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, a drug that's now legal in many states. Scott, a black man with no hope for parole despite an exemplary behavior record, appealed to President Obama for clemency. He learned his appeal was denied when he received an e-mail about "bad news" from a friend. He called home, worried that something had happened to his 93-year-old mother.

His daughter answered the phone, crying, and told him the news. “She cried like a baby and she was telling me that she didn’t know what she was supposed to do now. Couldn’t understand it,” Scott told The Watch in a phone interview.

“Why haven’t I been contacted? I hope this is a mistake. My God I’m f—–!” he wrote to Amy Povah, who runs CAN-DO, an advocacy group for prisoners incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

His name was on the list of clemency denials published on the Justice Department’s website on Tuesday.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do, what’s gonna happen,” Scott says. “Well, I kind of know what’s going to happen. I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. I don’t know, man, I’m so depressed and shaken. I honestly thought I would get it.” Scott then brings up a good point: Obama has admitted to using the drug that landed Scott in prison for life.

U.S.: Obama Comments On Marijuana In Exit Interview

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Obama criticized the DEA for being behind the times on marijuana in his recent exit interview with Rolling Stone, saying that pot should be treated like cigarettes and alcohol.

“If you survey the American people, including Trump voters, they’re…in favor, in large numbers, of decriminalizing marijuana,” Obama said in the interview conducted the day after Election Day and published on Tuesday. “I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner pressed Obama on marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug in the interview, which his administration decided not to change in August.

“Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict but are done either legislatively or through the DEA,” Obama answered. “As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

The president also stressed his belief that federal prohibition enforcement is not acceptable in states that have legalized marijuana.

Canada: Growing Medical Marijuana At Home Now Legal

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Effective on August 24, Canadians will be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana at home with a prescription from a doctor.

Canada's CTV reported "The federal government has announced new rules that will allow medical marijuana users to grow their own at home. The new regulations, which will replace the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, also include other changes, such as labelling requirements for dried pot and cannabis oils."

Meanwhile southward in the States, marijuana consumption or possession remains federally illegal, with an American being arrested for marijuana possession every 42 seconds to one minute. In states where marijuana has not been legalized, an arrest for possession can lead to job loss, thousands of dollars in court costs, and five years or more in a private prison.

President Obama is supposedly working on a plan to help marijuana users that have been busted. Just last week his daughter was seen smoking pot on a widely circulated Web video.

California: Kennedy Group Puts $2 Million Into Fighting Pot-legalization Measures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A national coalition that includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight marijuana legalization initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in California.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is the anti-legalization group founded by Kennedy and co-founders David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration.

Sabet, president of the group SAM Action, said that California will get a large amount of the money, because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals.

“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the state.

If approved by voters this November, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of pot for recreational purposes and would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

SAM Action also plans to fund battles against marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballots in Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Arizona, where signatures have been turned in, according to Sabet.

Indiana: Elkhart Manufacturer Pushes For Hemp Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
hemp News

An Elkhart manufacturing CEO says if it was legal to grow hemp in Indiana, it would create substantial savings in an industry where "pennies count."

During an interview with Inside INdiana Business, FlexForm Technologies Chief Executive Officer Gregg Baumbaugh said his company has to import hemp from Europe. FlexForm uses non-woven natural fibers to produce components that become mats and panel products for the automotive and aerospace industries because hemp fibers result in products that are lighter, stronger and more impact-resistant than wood or fiberglass alternatives.

Baumbaugh says his company uses up to 80,000 pounds of material each week, and that growing hemp locally could save at least $5,000 per 42,000 pounds of material compared to importing.

A federal law signed by President Obama in 2014 allows institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. Nineteen states, including Indiana, have established laws that provide for hemp pilot studies.

Purdue University has taken a leading role in researching how to grow and harvest hemp effectively. Last year, Purdue University Assistant Dean Ron Turco said he believed commercial growth would eventually be part of the state’s economic future.

Washington, DC: Marijuana Crusaders To Demonstrate At White House Again

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana activists say they will smoke pot outside the White House again this Friday, following an April protest that resulted in lots of media coverage but only two citations.

DCMJ, the group behind Initiative 71, say it's organizing a demonstration outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on May 20 at 5:20 PM. May 20th is the 124th anniversary of Harry Anslinger's birth. Anslinger was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and drafted the "Marihuana Tax Act" in 1937 that effectively criminalized weed.

The group will not be bringing back the infamous 51-foot inflatable joint that was present at April's rally "due to the serious nature of this demonstration."

"We want the Obama administration to take cannabis reform seriously, so we are dressing seriously," the group writes in a newsletter. "If you are a military veteran, we urge you to wear your service uniform tomorrow. If you are a civilian, please wear a suit and tie or a button-up shirt. Dress up for your mugshot! Too often there is a stereotype of cannabis reform advocates as not serious, but you can help change that perception by simply dressing up to get down."

U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 58 People In Federal Prison For Drugs

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Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 58 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 61 individuals on March 30, 2016, 95 people in December of 2015, 45 people in July, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014.

All of those who received commutations on Thursday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.

Five of the individuals whose sentences were commuted on Thursday were imprisoned at least in part due to at least one marijuana charge.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"The President is using his constitutional power, but he can only do so much," said Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs. "There is legislation in the Senate that would reduce mandatory minimums and have a greater impact on the prison population, and Leader McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote."

District Of Columbia: Obama Administration Invites DCMJ To White House For Meeting On Marijuana Scheduling Issue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The White House extended an invitation to the leadership of DCMJ, the marijuana legalization that successfully worked to pass Initiative 71, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana in the District of Columbia.

The invitation is for a meeting on Monday, April 25, to discuss marijuana law and the Controlled Substances Act. DCMJ recently held a peaceful “Reschedule 420” demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience on Pennsylvania Avenue, that featured a 51-foot inflatable joint and drew thousands of activists and supporters, some of whom lit up weed in defiance of the federal government listing marijuana as a Schedule One drug.

“DCMJ appreciates greatly the invitation by the Obama administration to begin an educated and passionate dialogue into the need to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule One drugs,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “Thanks to Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, Americans, especially people of color, are needlessly incarcerated, and critical medical research into the healing properties of cannabis is placed on hold for no good reason.”

U.S.: Obama Grants Clemency To 61 People In Prison For Drug Offenses

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Clemencies Come As Advocates Push Mitch McConnell on Sentencing Reform

Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too

President Barack Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 61 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses.

This follows the commutation of 95 people in December, 2015, 45 people in July of that year, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014. All of those who received commutations Wednesday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.

To date, the President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined. And, in total, he has commuted 92 life sentences.

“The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws,” President Obama wrote in a letter to the 61 individuals receiving clemency on Wednesday.

The President cautioned those receiving clemency that what they do with this unexpected opportunity reflects not only on each individual person, but also on all those still behind bars who are seeking the same shot at a new life.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

New Jersey: Son of Musician Peter Tosh Launches Fundraising Campaign to Battle Marijuana Charges

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Charged In New Jersey For Posession With Intent To Distribute Marijuana, Peter Tosh's son Jawara McIntosh Faces 10-20 Years In Jail If Convicted

Jawara “Tosh1” McIntosh, son of the, legendary reggae artist Peter Tosh, is fighting what he believes is a grave injustice for the possession of marijuana. As a Rastafarian, McIntosh argues, “I was raised in the tradition of Rastafari, which is not simply a religion but a way of life. And in the Rastafarian tradition, herb, also known as cannabis, is a sacrament we use freely for spiritual purposes. Besides the fact that the use of this sacred plant should be protected by the Constitution, it is utterly ridiculous that a plant could ever be classified as a drug.”

Legal fees and debt from the sizable bail are mounting. In response, Tosh1 and the Peter Tosh Estate have launched an Indiegogo Crowdfunding account to help McIntosh fight the charges. The account is now live at: www.indiego.com. The decriminalization of cannabis has become a hot topic in recent months, and will certainly be a campaign issue in the 2016 elections.

In fact, it is a widely held opinion among lawmakers that the criminal justice system should be reformed. Recently at the NAACP’s annual convention in Philadelphia, President Barack Obama cited the “long history of inequity in the criminal justice system in America,” and argued that the system was “particularly skewed by race and wealth.”

U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 46; Will Push For Criminal Justice Reform

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Obama to Address Mass Incarceration at NAACP Convention Tuesday and Become First President to Visit a Prison on Thursday

"I believe at its heart, America is a land of second chances." ~ President Barack Obama

Drug Policy Alliance: We Can’t End Mass Incarceration Until We End Drug War

President Barack Obama on Monday commuted the sentences of 46 people incarcerated in federal prison. This follows the commutation of eight people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses in December of 2014, and 22 in March 2015. Fourteen of the people who received commutations on Monday were serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

In taking this step, the President has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug law violations under draconian sentencing laws. President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"We can’t end mass incarceration until we end the drug war. The President's actions today are welcome, but we need much more action," said Michael Collins, policy manager at DPA's office of national affairs. "The public overwhelmingly supports ending the drug war and letting states decide their own drug policies. It's long past time to rectify the US's embarrassing record on mass incarceration."

U.S.: Obama Plans To Free Scores of Nonviolent Drug Prisoners

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Aides expect President Barack Obama, sometime in the coming weeks, to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up for nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, the President will likely commute more sentences at one time than has been done in half a century, since the days of LBJ.

Flexing his clemency power is part of a bigger effort by the President to correct what he sees as the excesses of the "tough on crime" crowd, where politicians threw away the key even for minor criminals, reports Peter Baker at The New York times. With many Democrats and even Republicans now admitting the nation went too far, Obama holds the power to make a difference, especially for many young minority males who are disproportionately affected by biased enforcement of the drug laws.

The total number of sentence commutations by Obama may surpass 80 in the coming weeks, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward after his administration's call for clemency applications. A slow-as-molasses review process has advanced only a few of those, and just a tiny fraction have reached the President's desk for a signature.

U.S.: President Obama Declares Full Support For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama will state his full support for medical marijuana in a CNN special to be aired on Sunday.

The TV special, "Weed 3," features CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who changed his mind and began supporting medicinal cannabis after reviewing the evidence, reports Jonah Bennett at The Daily Caller.

The third installment of "Weed" has Dr. Gupta delving into the politics of medical marijuana research, including an interview with President Obama. In addition to supporting medicinal cannabis, the President advocates for alternative models of drug abuse treatment which don't involve imprisonment.

The President had previously predicted that more states will legalize recreational cannabis, and has confirmed that although marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the feds won't interfere as states implement legalization.

Gupta and Obama briefly discussed the recent bill on the Senate floor introduced by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. The bill would reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II under federal law. Gupta asked if Obama supports Booker's bill.

U.S.: President Obama Commutes Drug Sentences For 22 People

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

"While today’s announcement represents important progress, there’s more work ahead," Eggleston said. "The Administration will continue to work to review thoroughly all petitions for clemency."

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimum and harsh sentencing guidelines. The Obama Administration also promised improvements in the commutation process.

Yet, despite his Administration's declared support of substantive criminal justice reform, until now Obama has used his power to grant clemency less frequently than nearly all other U.S. Presidents.

U.S.: Surgeon General Says Marijuana Can Be Helpful

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has joined the growing number of top medical professionals and organizations favoring the reform of marijuana allows to allow access to cannabis for medicinal purposes.

"We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful," Dr. Murthy said, reports communications director Jag Davies at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking."

Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in 23 states, the federal government still insists cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no medical value.

It's an "interesting story that's unfolding in our country right now," according to Dr. Murthy, and "we have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana, and I think we're going to get a lot more data on that" as more states legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Patients in states without medical marijuana laws have no legal access at all to this therapeutic substance. Even in states where medical marijuana has been legalized, patients and providers are vulnerable to arrest and harassment from federal law enforcement agents.

U.S.: Obama Predicts More States Will Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to legalize marijuana.

In a YouTube interview, Obama discussed cannabis policy and the contrasts between federal and state law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. Four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) plus the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana.

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to a question from Hank Green, who with his brother runs a YouTube channel with nearly 2.5 million subscribers.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said, about 11 minutes into the video embedded below. “My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

U.S.: Visit By Mexican President Sparks National Week Of Protests Demanding End To Drug War

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As President Barack Obama meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday, January 6, thousands of Latinos in Washington D.C. and other major American cities will protest to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico” – a billion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the War On Drugs.

The main protest of the day will take place in Lafayette Square in front of the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500) starting at 10 AM.

In September 2014, 43 students were disappeared from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. It was quickly discovered that, at the behest of the regional governor, the students had been kidnapped by local police and then handed over to a drug cartel.

Survivor testimonies and a UC Berkeley investigation confirm that members of the Federal Police and 27th Army Battalion stationed very near the scene of the crime were present and had knowledge of the attacks before, during and after. The scandal set off an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy for Peña Nieto’s administration – and all levels of government in Mexico – as scores of mass graves and evidence of other such gross human rights violations surfaced during the course of the search for the 43 kidnapped students.

Since the students’ kidnapping, Peña Nieto has done little to ameliorate the crisis, and his administration has in fact lied and tried to cover up this hugely emblematic case.

Georgia: New Push For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Almost a year after the first medical marijuana bill -- and a rather mild one, at that -- failed in Georgia, suffering patients and those fighting to relieve their pain hope that won't happen again.

As lawmakers prepare for the next General Assembly in January, a poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that 80 percent of Georgians support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, reports Anita Oh at WMAZ.

Since Congress just approved, and President Obama signed into law, a spending measure that eliminated funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct medical marijuana raids on complying businesses in states where medicinal cannabis is legal, those favoring a change of law at the state level have more rhetorical ammunition.

After testifying in September before a medical marijuana study committee led by Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, Katie Crosby, 26, started a Facebook group called Hope For Silent Sufferers. "Imagine, before you even have a thought in the morning, you wake up, just in agony," she said. "A living hell, a living nightmare to be honest."

The group, which advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia, has nearly 20,000 supporters. Through it, Crosby has connected with people like Pamela Skinner, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1996.

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