Cannabis

U.S.: Roger Stone Calls For Trump To Back Legal Marijuana, Hits Sessions For 'Outmoded Thinking'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Roger Stone, a long-time enthusiastic surrogate of President Donald Trump, has publicly implored the president to back marijuana legalization. Quoting Thomas Jefferson and The Bible to justify his position, he also blasted U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his "outmoded thinking" on cannabis.

Stone published a blog post on Friday calling on Trump to remain true to sentiments he expressed as a presidential candidate, when he said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states. His administration has suggested in recent days that it would err on the side of stricter enforcement of marijuana laws.

Stone said the president should "honor his word and keep his promise, irrespective of what his Cabinet members may say." The Republican added that "there are so many other ways that law enforcement can be put to good use rather than to persecute harmless farmers and shopkeepers who are abiding by state law."

Stone took aim at Sessions on his website, saying the former Alabama Senator was "far from the mainstream" in his opposition to marijuana.

"Perhaps Attorney General Sessions has forgotten his Genesis from the Old Testament," wrote Stone, a veteran political operative who often is seen defending Trump on news shows.

California: Cannabis Club In Modesto Provides Cannabis Oil For Kids, Support For Parents

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A cannabis club has opened in Modesto, California for children, where they can obtain CBD oil, and families can network with others using cannabis oil to treat their children. Jason David, the president of Jayden’s Journey, named after his son, said the dispensary is necessary because “when a child is sick the whole family is sick.”

Zya Mao is a six-month old patient of the dispensary who suffers from epilepsy. Her father, Jhoson Mao, believes cannabis oils are a better alternative to prescriptions and his daughter’s doctor is not advising against it.

“We noticed… she feels present, her eye is not as wobbly as it used to be,” Mao said in a report from Fox4KC.

Zoe Poe is an eight-year old patient who suffers from ADHD ADD extreme. Sherry Poe, Zoe's mother, said her daughter “started getting ticks” and “crying all the time” while on prescription drugs, and at one point told her mother “she didn’t want to live anymore.” Zoe has been using cannabis oil for a year and a half.

“She sleeps. She’s gained weight,” Poe said. “She’s happy; she smiles; she laughs.”

“If it doesn’t work, throw it away,” David said for parents considering using cannabis oil treatments for their children. But for many patients, he said, “it changes your life like it changes my son’s life."

West Virginia: Amendment To Bill Would Legalize Hemp-Derived CBD In The State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in West Virginia have explained language in a bill that would add substances to the drug schedule that would allow the sale, distribution, and prescription of hemp-derived CBD oils, according to a Herald-Dispatch report. The amendment differentiates between CBD products derived from hemp and CBD derived from marijuana plants containing more than the .3 percent THC allowable under federal law.

The changes were made by the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Director of the West Virginia Hemp Industries Association Morgan Leach said the original version would cause confusion regarding CBD.

Leach said that making the “cash crop” available will help the state become “a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation.”

“This revision protects West Virginia hemp farmers’ ability to cultivate and process hemp for CBD. This is one of our biggest revenue streams that will help make our farmers more money as they begin to develop this crop in West Virginia,” Leach said in the report. “Our goals are to (build) industries around food products, dietary supplements, cosmetics and topicals, paper, textiles, bio-plastics, advanced battery technologies and much more.”

The measure has been sent to the Senate with a recommendation to pass it.

Oregon: Clean Cannabis Possibly Coming To An End

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon currently has the toughest pesticide testing laws of all the states with legal adult-use marijuana, but that could be about to change. A newly proposed revision would reduce the restrictions on pesticides, causing the allowable limits of pesticides in marijuana to be increased.

The two major changes being proposed to Oregon’s pesticide testing:

1 - Lessening the regulations on concentrate testing — instead of every batch being tested for pesticides, processors would only need to submit a single random sample per year.

2 - Reducing the required amount of cannabis flower needed per test batch from 33% to 20%.

Proponents of the changes claim the lack of edibles and concentrates on recreational shelves is a result of the long turnaround time for lab results. They say that these proposed changes will allow processors to get their products to retail faster.

But “after delving deeper into the issue, it appears the current shortage is being driven by pesticide contaminated cannabis,” reports Keith Mansur with the Oregon Cannabis Connection.

Canada: Broadcasters Deny Cannabis And Hemp Expo Ads

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Some of Canada’s largest television broadcasters have denied ad buys by the Cannabis and Hemp Expo scheduled to take place in Calgary, Ontario in May, CTV News Calgary reports. Bell Media, owner of CTV, and Rogers Communications rejected the ads due to laws that outlaw cannabis advertising in Canada. The logo for the expo also contains a hemp leaf and the word “cannabis.”

“CTV attempted to work with the client to ensure their creative conformed with statutes pertaining to promoting directly or indirectly the sale or disposal of a drug…however the client chose not to move forward with the campaign,” Bell Media said in a statement.

Terra Connors, a representative for Canwest Production, sponsor of the event, said there won’t be any actual cannabis at the expo but it counts licensed producers, dispensaries, and headshops among the exhibitors.

“We understand to a point. I mean, nobody wants to portray illegal activity or anything but that’s not the case,” Connors said in the report. “We’re a legitimate business, promoting a legitimate trade show and we are not doing anything illegal.”

Broadcasters who break the cannabis advertising laws could be fined between $250,000 and $5 million.

South Africa: High Court Says Laws Barring Private Adult Marijuana Use Are Unconstitutional

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

South Africa’s Western Cape Town High Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to prohibit marijuana use by adults in private homes, opening the door for reforms that will allow adults to privately cultivate, possess, and use cannabis, according to a News24 report.

Judge Dennis Davis also directed Parliament to change sections of the Drug Trafficking and Medicines Control acts within 24 months as part of the decision.

The suit was filed by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince, the duo who has been obtaining stays of prosecution for people arrested for possession pending the outcome of their case. They argued that some of the sections of the Drug Trafficking and Medicines Control acts are discriminatory, outdated, or unfair, and applied disproportionately to black individuals.

The judgment will legalize sales, according to News24.

West Virginia: Legislature Fast Tracks Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia has passed the Senate and been fast-tracked through a first reading in the House of Delegates. The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday with a vote of 28-6. Republican Del. Michael Folk motioned to skip sending the bill to House committees on Thursday, based on supporters saying that would have been a death sentence for the measure this late in the session.

Folk’s motion passed the House 54-40, allowing it to move to a second reading and making it eligible for amendments today.

Opponents of the motion said that it was reckless to move the bill forward without a committee hearing and would prevent the implementation of medical marijuana laws in a responsible manner. Delegates say they have been overrun by calls about the bill.

“Like every member of this body, I can’t count the number of emails and phone calls I received on this subject today,” Del. Mike Pushkin (D) said in the report.

The measure would allow patients with approved conditions to access medical marijuana in the state and grow up to two plants at home. The measure would also set up a Medical Marijuana Commission. The program could be rolled out as early as September 2018.

Delaware: Lawmakers Confident They Have Enough Votes To Legalize Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Delaware lawmakers say they have enough votes to pass legislation to make marijuana legal for adult use, and to set up a regulated and taxed marijuana industry in the state. They are opposed, however, by the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council and Democratic Gov. John Carney, the News Journal reported.

State Rep. Helene Keeley (D) and state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D) estimated that a legal and regulated cannabis market could generate $22 million in tax revenues for the state during its first year.

“As the only state in a seven-hour drive to have legalized marijuana, we would become a destination that would attract out-of-state sales, which would have a benefit to our Delaware businesses,” Keeley said in the report.

Henry said legalizing cannabis is “a social justice issue” rather than budgetary, indicating that the measure works to that end by legalizing “something that people always have done and are doing.” Delaware currently faces a $386 million budget deficit.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of negatives that also come with it, and we’re against the bill,” said Jeffrey Horvath, executive director for the Delaware Police Chief’s Council. He added that law enforcement officials in Colorado have told him “the black market is stronger” than before legalization and “teen marijuana use also has increased.”

Rhode Island: Legalizing And Regulating Marijuana Would Yield Nearly $50 Million In New Tax Revenue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a report issued this week by the advocacy coalition Regulate Rhode Island, legalizing, regulating, and taxing the state's marijuana market would result in the generation of nearly $50 million in new annual tax revenue.

Commercial sales of cannabis are estimated to reach $161 million by 2020, according to the report. Taxing this retail market at rates comparable to those in Colorado or Washington would yield $48.3 million per year.

The Adult Use of Cannabis act is legislation pending in the Rhode Island House and Senate to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. Connecticut has similar legislation pending.

Similar legislation was approved by voters in Massachusetts in November.

Washington: Survey Shows Marijuana Use By Young People Largely Unchanged After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to 2016 data compiled by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the percentage of young people using marijuana has not increased since legalization occurred.

The 2016 Healthy Youth Survey asked 230,000 students in grades 6 through 12 about their marijuana use, and results indicate "rates of teen marijuana use have remained steady" post legalization. Findings were similar to those in the 2015 survey, also conducted by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Self-reported marijuana use by high school students has fallen significantly since the 1990s, despite the trend toward more liberal marijuana laws and penalties. "We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful [and] that [accessibility and use] would go up," Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in December. "But it hasn't gone up."

U.S.: Public Support For Marijuana Legalization Surged In 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Public support for marijuana legalization surged in 2016, according to data just released from the General Social Survey.

57 percent of Americans told the survey's pollsters last year that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” up from 52 percent in 2014.

The numbers from the General Social Survey agree with other national surveys last year, which found support ranging from the upper 50s to low 60s.

The survey indicates different attitudes toward marijuana legalization, divided mainly by age and political party. Two-thirds of respondents ages 18 to 34 supported legalization in the survey, as well as majorities of those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64. But seniors 65 and older stood apart, with only 42 percent supporting legalization.

Support for legalization among Democrats and independents has risen much faster than among Republicans. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the former two groups supported legal marijuana. Among Republicans support stood at only 40 percent.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been outspoken in his criticism of legalization, but the Trump administration has been noncommittal in its approach to marijuana enforcement

Oregon: Two Congressmen Are Introducing Three Bills To Reform U.S. Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two Oregon lawmakers plan to introduce three bills Thursday to reform marijuana laws. The bills could wipe away thousands of cannabis-related criminal convictions and make life easier for those involved in the legal marijuana industry.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats from Oregon, a state where recreational marijuana is legal, named their joint proposal the "Path to Marijuana Reform".

One bill, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry. It would change the tax code “to allow businesses operating in compliance with state law to claim deductions and credits associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.” deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry.

The Marijuana Revenue And Regulation Act would remove cannabis from the list of drugs federally outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, weed is listed in the Schedule I category, which is reserved for the most dangerous types of drugs, like heroin, for example.

The Marijuana Policy Gap Act would “exempt any person acting in compliance with state marijuana law from criminal penalties” under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also give certain federal marijuana offenders a clean slate.

Georgia: Atlanta Considers Eliminating Jail Time For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If the Atlanta City Council passes a bill under consideration, people caught with marijuana in Atlanta may not have to do jail time and pay a $1,000 fine.

The Atlanta City Council will consider legislation at April's meeting to lower fines for marijuana possession to $75 and eliminate any jail time. Under current law, people caught possessing marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and can receive up to six months in jail.

Advocates are pushing for the change, saying the move is necessary to address racial disparities in arrests for marijuana use.

92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he was conflicted because he doesn’t want to encourage drug use, but agreed that the penalties outweighed the violation. But he suggested that $75 may be too low a fine and that jail time could be warranted in some circumstances.

“For me this is an extremely complicated subject,” said Bond, who said he has lost friends to drugs. “I believe as a policy body, we ought not to rush this.

Oregon: Hemp Bills Would Move Crop Into Mainstream

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two bills would bring hemp more into the mainstream of Oregon's agriculture by creating a commodity commission and seed certification process for the crop.

“Industrial hemp has a huge potential in Oregon, we just need a few tweaks to help move it forward,” said Matt Cyrus, a hemp grower in Deschutes County, during a March 28 legislative hearing.

House Bill 2372 would allow Oregon's hemp industry to join 23 other crop, seafood, and livestock sectors with a state commission meant to promote and research a commodity through fees raised from producers.

House Bill 2371 would establish a system to get the purity of hemp seeds certified through a system overseen by Oregon State University.

“It’s truly about a certified seed, one we know Oregon can count on,” said Jerry Norton, a hemp grower.

HB 2371 would also establish a hemp pilot program at OSU to comply with federal provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill that allow hemp research.

Commercial hemp production is still illegal under federal drug laws which place hemp in the same category as marijuana, its psychoactive cousin.

Tennessee: Legislature Blocking Cities' Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As several states and cities seek to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee's Republican legislature is blocking such efforts in Memphis and Nashville.

Police in those cities could soon be losing their option of issuing a minor citation to individuals found to possess small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee legislators have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession.

The ban would conform to proposals by the Trump administration to step up federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

"I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. "But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Memphis and Nashville recently authorized their police officers to issue a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service to someone caught with a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Tennessee law currently imposes a misdemeanor charge for possession punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for people caught with a half ounce or less.

Oklahoma: Supreme Court Restores Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Title

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has thrown out a rewrite of the title of its ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, clearing the way for a vote on State Question 788. The title of the initiative was re-written by then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt last September, and the measure has been on hold since then. The rewrite led to a lawsuit between Pruitt, Oklahomans for Health, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the rewrite was intended to mislead voters into thinking they were voting for legalizing marijuana for adults.

“Whether it’s the folks that signed this initiative petition or all of the voters who will ultimately have the chance to weigh in on whether or not Oklahoma will have medical marijuana, they should be able to do that without the attorney general injecting his personal political position into the ballot campaign by misrepresenting what the petitioners seek to accomplish,” Kiesel said in a report.

The state Supreme Court ruled that Pruitt’s title changes be stricken and the original title language restored.

Oklahoma voters should get the chance to vote on the measure during the gubernatorial election in November 2018, but Governor Mary Fallin could schedule for a special election before then.

Utah: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Research Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, has signed a bill to allow research into the benefits and risks of medical marijuana. The proposal is supported by the Utah Medical Association, which has been pushing for more research in the hope of expanding the state's limited medical marijuana program, which currently only allows the use of CBD.

The Utah legislature has failed to pass medical marijuana reforms for three consecutive years now. Advocates for reform have already begun to work on getting a question on the ballot for 2018.

The bill signed by the Governor (HB130) will allow researchers to study the benefits, risks, and effects of medical marijuana without federal approval. It will also create a Cannabinoid Product Board to consider future recommendations for medical marijuana policy. The board will consist of four physicians, three medical research professionals, and three members of the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee.

Illinois: Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new poll shows that a majority of Illinois voters support legalizing marijuana, following the introduction of two bills into the General Assembly proposing legalization.

The poll from the Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed that 74.4 percent of Illinois citizens are in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Only 21 percent are opposed, and 4.6 percent either don't know or refused to answer the poll.

The Simon Institute said it collected data from live telephone interviews collected between March 4 and March 11.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and State Senator Heather Steans introduced identical pieces of legislation into both chambers of the General Assembly on March 22. Both lawmakers said the tax revenue from legal recreational marijuana could help with the state's budget deficit.

The bills are SB316 and HB2353.

Canada: Marijuana Stocks Soar After Reports That Trudeau Plans To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canadian marijuana stocks were on a high Monday following reports that the government plans to legalize the substance for recreational use for adults by July 2018.

According to the CBC, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is expected to announce the planned legislation the week of April 10.

Shares of Aurora Cannabis and Organigrams holdings were up 10 percent, Aphria rose 7.9 percent, Canopy Growth Corp. jumped 11 percent, SupremePharma and EmblemCorp rose 6 percent.

The minimum age limit for purchasing marijuana will be 18, according to the CBC, although individual provinces can set the minimum age higher if they wish.

Georgia: House Approves Compromise To Expand Medical Marijuana Program

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A compromise that would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment with medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia House lawmakers Tuesday.

The chamber voted 167-4 to adopt senate Bill 16 after Senate lawmakers backed off a proposal to lower the THC level of the cannabis oil Georgia patients can legally use.

“This bill doesn’t go as far as many of us like, it does add six more conditions,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, (R-Macon) godfather of the state’s medical marijuana program. “And it does allow many more Georgians to benefit from this law.”

"I’m grateful we’ve moved the ball," Peake said. "We’re not there yet. We still have a huge issue of, where do we access the product. And until we deal with that we’re still going to be shortchanging our citizens in some respects."

Peake received a standing ovation from members of the House for his work on the measure after being introduced by Speaker Davis Ralston. Peake is a possible upcoming candidate for higher office.

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill into law.

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