Cannabis

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.

Iowa: Medical Marijuana Bill On Fast Track In Senate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legislation is moving quickly through the Iowa Senate that would authorize the use of medical marijuana to provide help for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other ailments.

Senate Study Bill 1190, The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday. The measure would then be sent to the House for consideration.

“This is not just a statement bill. We would like to get this through the House and down to the governor’s desk," said Schneider, a supporter of medical cannabis. Lawmakers would need to act soon, however, because the 2017 session could end next week.

Illinois: Lawmakers Push To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois lawmakers say that legal recreational marijuana will be part of the state's future; it's a question of when, not if. That is the message sent this morning from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate cannabis, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.

They say prohibition of marijuana has not worked and it's time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which creates violent crime.

Cassidy cited surveys that show that 66 percent of the Illinois population support cannabis legalization.

The lawmakers believe that adults should be allowed to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana, and that legalization would create millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The lawmakers were joined by representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups also make up part of the coalition

Nevada: New Bill Would Make Regulations For Marijuana Edibles Strictest In the Nation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana last year, and sales could possibly start by this summer if things work out. A new marijuana-related bill has been introduced to the state regarding edible marijuana products that will be the strictest in the nation if it passes.

The Marijuana Times reported:

"One of the more recent bills that was introduced to the Senate aims to further restrict processors of edibles, who already have to adhere to strict packaging requirements. Nevada Senate Bill 344 would make it illegal for cannabis edibles to have sugar in them unless they are considered baked goods – effectively banning candy like lollipops and gummies, as well as sodas, chocolate bars and other items that are widely popular in legal cannabis states.

Colorado: Lawmakers Pass Bill Outlawing Cooperative Marijuana Grows

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado’s legislature has passed another bill as part of their efforts to reign in the state’s so-called cannabis gray market, the Associated Press reports. If the governor signs it, the measure would outlaw cannabis cultivation co-ops, which allow people to grow plants for others under the state’s adult-use laws.

Under current state law, people over 21 are allowed to grow their own cannabis or assist others, allowing a single farmer to cultivate crops for an unlimited number of people, which allows the growers to avoid taxes that can reach as high as 30 percent in some jurisdictions.

The bill also allocates $6 million a year from the marijuana tax fund for law enforcement in order to help them investigate illegal grows.

Governor John Hickenlooper indicated that he would sign another bill this week that limits the number of marijuana plants allowed to be grown by an individual from 99 to 12. That legislation would force medical cannabis cardholders allowed to grow more than 12 plants to grow in locations zoned for agricultural or commercial purposes, or buy from licensed dispensaries.

New Mexico: Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed her third marijuana-related bill this session, stopping a bill that would have expanded the state’s medical cannabis program. Last month she vetoed two pieces of legislation that would have allowed for industrial hemp production in compliance with the 2014 Federal Farm Bill.

The legislation would have added 14 qualifying conditions to the medical cannabis program, including post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorder, and chronic pain. The law would have also permitted reciprocity in the program for non-residents. The measure would also allow medical marijuana patients to be eligible for organ transplants, an issue that has created controversy after a recent Maine medical marijuana patient was denied a kidney transplant because of his use of cannabis.

Martinez included a statement with the rejection of the medical marijuana reforms. In that message, she said it is the responsibility of the Department of Health and the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to add conditions to the qualifying conditions list and that adding conditions via legislative action “would eliminate an important responsibility of the Board.”

Maryland: Registration For Marijuana Patients And Caregivers Begins

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Patients and potential caregivers in Maryland can now sign up for medical marijuana licenses with a doctor’s approval that they meet one of the qualifying conditions under the law.

Registration began yesterday for those whose last names start with the letters A through L; registration for those whose last names start with the letters M through Z will begin on Apr. 17; and open registration begins on Apr. 24.

“Medical cannabis is currently not available in the state of Maryland,” the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website states. “The industry is still being constructed and we expect availability by the end of summer 2017 depending on industry progress. The Commission will make a public announcement once medical cannabis becomes available to the public.”

Oregon: Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Marijuana Merchants From Keeping Buyer Information

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon lawmakers approved a bill Monday to ban sellers of marijuana for recreational use from keeping information from their customers to protect buyers from possible penalties under federal law.

Although more than two dozen states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

The bill, passed by the Oregon House of Representatives 53-5, bans merchants who sell recreational marijuana from keeping information for more than 48 hours that they collect from identification, such as a driver license.

The state Senate approved the bill in March. It now goes to the desk of Oregon Governor Kate Brown for her to sign into law.

"I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure that their personal identification information is not somehow compromised," Senator Floyd Prozanski told a committee last month.

Recent comments from members of the Trump administration indicate that federal anti-marijuana laws might be stepped up.

Brown and the governors of Alaska, Colorado and Washington - states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized - sent a letter in early April to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requesting to work with the administration if they planned to enforce federal marijuana laws.

Arizona: Phoenix Medical Marijuana Dispensary Robbed At Gunpoint

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police in Phoenix, Arizona are looking for three suspects for the armed robbery of a medical marijuana dispensary.

According to police, the robbery occurred around 10:00 p.m. on March 26 at Bloom Dispensary near 44th Street and Washington in Phoenix.

One suspect walked through the business and attempted to leave a door unlocked for two accomplices that were seen waiting behind the dispensary. Employees were able to re-lock the door, preventing the suspects from being able to enter.

About one hour later one of the suspects that had been waiting behind the business returned and confronted employees with a gun.

Police say the employees were taken to the back room and forced to surrender money from the business. That suspect then fled in an unknown direction with the money.

All three suspects are described as black men aged between 25-35, 6 feet tall and weighing 180-200 pounds.

Phoenix police are asking anyone with information to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.

Oregon: Marijuana Workers Face Difficulties Applying For Personal Loans

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon's recreational marijuana industry has had a huge impact on the local economy. But employees of cannabis-related businesses are finding it difficult to obtain financial assistance for things like mortgages and car payments.

Since marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug, most federally-regulated banks and credit unions shun marijuana-related businesses. But these obstacles have also carried over to affect a number of cannabis-business employees, who are finding it equally difficult to obtain financial assistance.

Banks and credit unions in Oregon are allowed to deny loan applications for pretty much any reason, as long as discrimination against race, gender or national origin doesn't play a role in the decision. A recent story published by Oregon Public Broadcasting shared the story of Melissa Johnson, who works as a customer service representative at the retail cannabis shop Bloom Well.

Virginia: Governor Amends Mandatory Driver's Suspension Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed legislation into law amending the state's mandatory driver's suspension law.

Under existing law, defendants convicted of a marijuana violation lose their driving privileges for six months, even if the offense was not driving related.

Under the new legislation, SB 1091, the mandatory suspension will no longer apply to adults convicted of simple marijuana possession offenses.

The new law takes effect July 1, 2017.

States like Virginia enacted drivers' suspension laws due to the direction of the federal government decades ago. Members of Congress introduced legislation this week, 'The Better Driver Act,' to eliminate federal provisions that encourage states to suspend drivers' licenses in situations involving non-traffic related minor drug violations.

Missouri: Kansas City Passes Measure To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters approved a measure on Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city's limits.

Nearly 75 percent of voters decided 'yes' on Question 5 which reduces penalties for the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a $25 fine. The measure also eliminates penalties for the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.

The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana," said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML.

The new ordinance takes effect when signed by the mayor or within five days.

Uruguay: Legal Marijuana Sales Set To Begin In July

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legal marijuana sales are set to begin in Uruguay in July, more than four years after the South American nation fully legalized the cannabis trade. Marijuana will be available under the law to citizens and permanent residents 18 years of age and older at pharmacies for $1.30 per gram. Buyers will be limited to purchasing no more than 40 grams per month and will be required to sign up with a national registry. Home growers and cooperative clubs will be allowed to cultivate up to 99 plants.

Presidential Aide Juan Andres Roballo said the registry would be up and running by May 2

The government currently has 16 pharmacies on board, but many pharmacists have doubted the financial benefits of selling cost-controlled cannabis. Some Uruguayans have also expressed privacy concerns over the national registry.

Roballo said that before the registry is launched there would be a public health campaign. He said that he does not believe there will be “an avalanche of users” signing up for the registry.

Uruguay legalized the sale and cultivation of marijuana in 2013 under former President José Mujica in an effort to combat homicides and crime associated with drug trafficking.

West Virginia: Medical Marijuana Legislation Passes House, Goes To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana legislation has passed the House of Delegates in West Virginia and has been sent to Gov. Jim Justice who is expected to sign the bill, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports. The bill does not allow smoking or edibles, however, and the state will not begin to issue industry licenses until at least July 1, 2019.

The measure, which passed 74-24, allows access to the medical marijuana program for patients suffering from wasting syndrome, anorexia, cachexia, chronic pain for which standard medication does not relieve, severe nausea and muscle spasms, seizures, “refractory generalized anxiety disorder,” post-traumatic stress disorder, and those admitted to hospice care.

Patients would be required to be certified by the Bureau for Public Health and could obtain a 30-day supply of medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary. Under the measure, the state would permit 10 cultivators and 30 dispensaries. Growers would be subject to a $50,000 initial fee and $5,000 renewal fee. Dispensaries would be required to pay a $10,000 fee per dispensary location and a renewal fee of $2,500. A 6 percent tax will be added onto sales.

If Governor Justice signs the bill, West Virginia will become the 29th state with access to medical marijuana.

North Carolina: N.C. Hemp Commission Considers Joining Lawsuit Against DEA

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission is considering joining a lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association.

The commission announced its support of the lawsuit verbally last week and plans to announce Thursday whether it will become a party to it.

The lawsuit would be filed by Founder’s Hemp of Asheboro – the first company to register in North Carolina as an industrial hemp producer. Founder's Hemp said that it intends to sue the DEA over its ruling that products made with CBD or cannabidiol hemp, which are in the same cannabis family as marijuana, are illegal and cannot be transported across state lines.

“We cannot let this stand as an industry,” Bob Crumley, president of Founder’s Hemp, said during a meeting of the Industrial Hemp Commission last week. “If we let what the DEA is currently doing stand, we need to fold our tents and give everybody their money back.”

Through the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research, and more than 30 states, including North Carolina, have passed laws allowing hemp research and pilot programs.

However, the DEA has maintained that the transportation of hemp seeds across state lines is illegal, and that it is illegal for farmers to sell their finished hemp products in other states within the U.S.

California: Marijuana 'Sanctuary' State Bill Proposed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make the state a "sanctuary" for the marijuana industry and the many residents who legally use the plant.

In an effort to avoid a federal crackdown on the Schedule I classified drug, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has alluded to considering, lawmakers introduced a new bill that would prevent local and state officers from enforcing certain federal marijuana laws on marijuana businesses, cultivators and consumers unless they obtained a court order signed by a judge.

The measure, known as Assembly Bill 1578, would prohibit “using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person [and/or transfer them to federal authorities] for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by a law in the State of California.”

The law would also protect the private information of marijuana businesses and customers, as it would prohibit local and state authorities from sharing personal records and documents regarding cannabis from the federal government.

The bill, introduced in February, was sponsored by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer along with three other assembly members and two senators.

West Virginia: Watered-down Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill making the use of medical marijuana legal in West Virginia was approved by the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

The bill, SB386, passed the Senate last week. It would have created a West Virginia Cannabis Commission charged with overseeing medical marijuana regulation in the state.

On Monday, the House of Delegates amended the bill so that instead of a commission, it would create an advisory board within the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health.

Several other changes were made by the House as well. In a 51-48 vote, delegates approved an amendment by Delegate John Shott, R- Mercer and House Judiciary chairman, that would prohibit smoking, ban people from growing their own plants, and charge $100,000 annual fees for growers and processors.

While proponents of the original bill spoke against Shott’s amendment Monday, saying the Senate may not concur with it, and that it benefited pharmaceutical companies at the expense of low-income West Virginians, on Tuesday morning, proponents in the House were saying they supported the amended legislation.

“It really is a good first step,” said Delegate Mike Pushkin, D- Kanawha. “We can fix it later.”

Nebraska: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Nebraska are considering a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in the state, which would make it the first midwest state to do so.

Nebraska and Oklahoma together sued the state of Colorado in 2014 after it approved adult-use recreational marijuana. The two states argued that growers in Colorado were illegally selling marijuana in their states.

Nebraska now could potentially be joining the list of states that have legalized medical marijuana, however. Lawmakers are currently considering a bill from State Senator Anna Wishart called the Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow use of medical marijuana in certain cases.

The bill passed out of committee in March and will now go before the Senate, where it is expected to face opposition. A representative of the state attorney general's office and the head of the Nebraska State Patrol have already testified against the bill.

Governor Pete Ricketts also opposed a similar measure last year.

Nevertheless, Wishart told the Omaha World Herald she is “optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment.”

The Nebraska bill would allow those suffering from certain chronic or severe diseases and conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

Texas: Cowboys' Owner Jerry Jones Wants NFL To Drop Its Marijuana Ban

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Jerry Jones spoke up at the Annual League Meeting for NFL team owners last week, telling the group that he wants the NFL to "drop its prohibition on marijuana use."

His fellow owners reminded him that a change won’t be coming anytime soon because it’s something that would have to be collectively bargained.

Jones is certainly not alone in the NFL in questioning the league's ban on marijuana use. Former Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said in an interview for Sportsday a few months ago that he compared it to alcohol.

"I see guys that partake in marijuana are calmer, cooler than guys that drink", Carr said. "I haven't really seen too many people get in jams or binds with their emotions or losing their cool off of marijuana."

Several other retired NFL players, such as former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, have spoken out in recent months encouraging the NFL to consider new information available, and to drop its ban on medical marijuana. Some players feel that using medical marijuana is safer than using prescription painkillers, which can be addictive.

The NFL told Pro Football Talk it is "willing to listen to the medical community" regarding the use of marijuana.

U.S: Governors From Four Marijuana States Ask Trump Administration To Leave Cannabis Alone

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governors from the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana want the Trump administration to leave marijuana research alone.

In a letter sent Monday, the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington say that marijuana legalization has expanded their economies.

The governors also say in the letter that legal marijuana can be regulated to protect public safety and that legalization reduces "inequitable incarceration," or people of color being disproportionately jailed for cannabis crimes.

The letter was addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The governors say they opposed legalization at first, but warn that a federal pot crackdown at this point "would divert existing marijuana product into the black market."

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