capitol hill

D.C.: Congresswoman Lee Joins National Cannabis Industry Association Press Conference

BarbaraLeeCongresswomanCalifornia[Facebook]

Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Thursday joined several of her colleagues and members of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) for a press conference on Capitol Hill demanding respect for state laws and fairness for the industry.

“Today, I’m pleased to join my colleagues and the National Cannabis Industry Association in making one simple request to Congress: 'Treat the industry just like any other business,'” Lee said. "It’s past time for the federal government to end its counterproductive overreach into state-legal cannabis markets.

"Last week, I was proud to join Harborside Health Center in celebrating the U.S. Attorney’s decision to end its unnecessary case against this health center," Lee said. "While it was victory for Harborside, there are still centers in my district and around the country that continue to face harassment.

"Additionally, outdated laws continue to prevent many state-legal businesses from thriving, including our arcane banking laws," Lee said. "These laws serve only to trap these businesses in the cash-only market, restrict their access to capital and prevent them from engaging in simple business-to-business transactions.

"This industry is just like any other, and Congress needs to ensure it has access to banking, just like any other industry," Congresswoman Lee said.

Washington: Marijuana Legalization 'Largely A Technicality'; Laws Still Target Poor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Washington state since 2012, but just how legal is it? To all appearances, legalization, as implemented in the state, has benefited mostly the wealthy, from those who've been able to afford the expensive licensing process for the recreational pot shops to the well-to-do weed consumers who don't have to worry about being busted anymore.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of ways for every-day pot smokers like me and you to run afoul of the law. For the masses, "legalization" in Washington feels like "more of a theoretical freedom," with cannabis governed under the same laws that prohibit public consumption of alcohol, reports Michael Thomsen at Slate.

"If you're smoking in plain public view, you're subject to a ticket," Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said back in 2012, just as legalization measure I-502 was going into effect.

In Washington state -- as in the rest of America, even "legalized" places -- publicly sharing a marijuana high with friends can land you a court summons, and possibly even a night in jail.

D.C.: Drug Policy Alliance To Host Lobby Day On Capitol Hill To End The War On Drugs

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More than 200 Attendees Will Meet with Lawmakers and Lunch with Members of Congress Who Have Championed Drug Law Reform in Congress

DPA-Led Constituent Lobby Day Occurs Just Hours before the Start of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, VA

The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a Federal Lobby Day on Wednesday, November 18 that is expected to bring more than 200 people from nearly 25 U.S. states and 15 countries to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would roll back some of the worst excesses of the failed War On Drugs.

The lobby day comes as numerous reform proposals gain momentum in Congress, including sentencing reform, marijuana law reform, and overdose prevention.

“Members of Congress are under a lot of pressure to reform punitive and ineffective drug policies and we’re turning the heat up,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. (DPA). “Our supporters will talk about what they’re doing in their community to reduce the harms associated with both drugs and the war on drugs.”

Lobby day participants will meet with lawmakers in roughly 70 meetings over the course of the day and attend a special luncheon with five members of Congress who have championed legislative efforts to reform federal marijuana and other drug laws. This historic constituent lobby day comes on the same day that House lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to advance major drug sentencing reform legislation.

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Calls For End To Failed Marijuana Prohibition

EarlBlumenauerPointsUp[AssociatedPress]

As Oregon’s Emerging Marijuana Industry Visits Capitol Hill, Rep. Blumenauer Calls for Federal Government to Get Out of the Way

As representatives from the Oregon Cannabis Association visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor called for an end to the federal government’s failed approach of marijuana prohibition.

“Mr. Speaker, advocates from the new emerging marijuana industry in Oregon are descending on Capitol Hill at a very critical time for this fledgling industry," Congressman Blumenauer said. "They have a report about the implementation of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 91, overwhelming approved by voters last year to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the state level.

“Possession became legal July 1st," Blumenauer said. "Retail sales were authorized in existing dispensaries on the 1st of October to significant interest around the state. The first week saw an estimated $11 million in sales. They are working hard to implement the spirit and the letter of the measure, working closely with the Oregon legislature to refine it – learning from the experiences of states like Washington and Colorado that have already legalized adult use.

“Theirs is a positive story of economic opportunity, product development, tax revenues, more freedom for individuals, and eliminating the racial disparities in the enforcement of a failed policy of prohibition that comes down heavily against young men of color – especially African Americans," Rep. Blumenauer said.

U.S.: ACLU, DPA To Present Capitol Hill Briefing On Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

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Speakers Include Civil Rights Leaders, Former Reagan-Era Administrator of Forfeiture Fund, Victim of Recent Drug Enforcement Administration Asset Seizure

Briefing Highlights Need for Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

A Capitol Hill briefing on federal civil asset forfeiture reform will be presented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Thursday, June 4, from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., in Room 188 of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

WHEN: Thursday, June 4, 2015

10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building

Room 188

Washington, DC 20515

SPEAKERS:

Brad Cates, Director, Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Office (1985-1989)

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Joseph Rivers, Victim of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Seizure

Hilary Shelton, NAACP

Darpana Sheth, Institute for Justice

Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker

RSVP: rsvpaclu@aclu.org

U.S.: Marijuana Policy Project To Celebrate 20th Anniversary Wednesday With Capitol Hill Gala

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will celebrate its 20th anniversary Wednesday evening with a gala on Capitol Hill.

Members of Congress and the marijuana business community will be among those in attendance to recognize the gains that have been made by the organization, which is responsible for most major state-level marijuana policy reforms since 2000.

MPP executive director Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner launched the organization out of their apartments in Washington, D.C. in 1995. It now has nearly 30 full-time staff members and an annual budget of more than $3 million. MPP monitors policy in all 50 states, lobbies in state legislatures and in Congress, coordinates state and local ballot initiatives, and carries out public education activities at the local and national levels.

“For 20 years, our focus has been on changing the debate, changing public attitudes, and changing the laws surrounding marijuana in the United States,” Kampia said. “MPP has evolved right alongside the issue. As support has increased and public dialogue has grown, the organization has expanded and played an increasingly larger role in the discussion.

“Ultimately, the facts speak for themselves; we just make sure people are listening,” Kampia said.

U.S.: National Cannabis Industry Association Drops Tommy Chong As Spokesman

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Iconic stoner Tommy Chong has been dropped as a spokesman by pro-marijuana lobbying group the National Cannabis Industry Association.

According to NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith, the pot lobby is tired of the Cheech & Chong stoner jokes and wants to be taken seriously in Congress, reports Burgess Everett at Politico. The cannabis industry reportedly wants to move past the stoner stereotypes represented by Chong as it tries to remake itself as a "serious suits segment" of the economy.

Smith, in a Monday email sent to Chong's representatives and allies, said that after feedback from "allied members of Congress," the group decided Chong wasn't its best representative in D.C., particularly when it comes to influencing right-wing lawmakers.

"Having Tommy out in D.C. for the NCIA Lobby Days will detract from the overall message we aim for with the event, which is that cannabis business people are regular professionals and relatable to the generally conservative members of Congress we are looking to appeal to," Smith wrote. "We are here to break 'stoner' stereotypes rather than reinforce them."

U.S.: Bill To End Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition To Be Introduced In Senate

CallYourSenatorsTodayTellThemToEndTheWarOnCannabisPatients!

Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law

A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.

U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.

It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.

“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.

"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.

“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.

D.C.: Congress Members Hold Bipartisan Press Conference On Marijuana Legalization

EleanorHolmesNorton(DCCongresswoman)

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and other Members of Congress whose states have legalized or relaxed restrictions on marijuana and who support the District of Columbia’s right to legalize marijuana will host a press conference on how Congress should respond to local and state marijuana legalization nationwide, Thursday November 13, at 11 a.m. on Capitol Hill, Studio B, House Press Gallery.

The other hosts are Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Norton welcomed their support, all of whom have issues with the treatment of their states’ marijuana laws by Congress, but whose jurisdictions do not face the possibility of Congressional meddling like the District.

“I am pleased to stand with my colleagues in a bipartisan response to threats we are already receiving to overturn the will of District of Columbia voters,” Norton said. “Recent polling shows that 54 percent of people nationwide support marijuana legalization.

"The D.C. marijuana legalization ballot initiative, approved by two-thirds of voters, is in line with the majority of Americans," Norton said. "Even when opinions differ on the underlying issue of marijuana legalization, there is no debate that local laws in this country are for local jurisdictions.”

U.S.: Willie Nelson Says Obama 'May Be Happy' About DC Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Obama "may be happy" that D.C. voters legalized marijuana in the nation's capital, according to country music legend and stalwart cannabis supporter Willie Nelson.

Nelson, who performed Thursday night at the White House for veterans, says he once smoked a joint on top of the presidential mansion after an appearance there during President Jimmy Carter's administration, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.

The country music icon, a close personal friend of Paul Stanford and the Campaign to Restore and Regulate Hemp (CRRH), has given ringing endorsements to the political initiative work of CRRH.

Nelson said in an interview with CNN that he probably wouldn't bring up the topic of marijuana to Obama on Thursday night, but thinks the President is probably sympathetic to the cause.

"I think I realize how he feels about it and I've read some of his books and things about when he was a kid, how he may have delved into that matter a little bit," Nelson said. "I'm sure he's very understanding of what is going on and he may be happy to see it happening."

Washington: Jobs Fair, Expo For Cannabis Industry Set For Sept. 19

BuddingIndustry(CannabusinessAccelerator)

The Cannabusiness Accelerator event on September 19 will provide the first job fair in Seattle dedicated to job opportunities in the marijuana industry, according to organizers.

Aimed at budding cannabis professionals in Washington state, the Cannabusiness Accelerator event will be held at the Silver Cloud Hotel–Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Organizers said the event will serve as a locus of networking and informational know-how as well as a showcase for program partners which include Your Green Contractor, CannaGuard Security, The High Road Interior Design, and Competitive Edge Engineering.

“The Cannabusiness Accelerator helps connect dispensary and grow facility owners and managers with technology, people and solutions,” said Cannabusiness Accelerator CEO Stan Wagner. “We are spreading knowledge and best practices in this growing space.”

Nathan Mendel, president of Your Green Contractor, Inc., specializes in building grow houses, and has been spreading his know-how from Colorado to Washington to Massachusetts. He said he forward to helping build facilities in the newest state to legalize commercial marijuana

“The legal cannabis trade in Colorado has been an absolute boon to the local economy," Mendel said. "The commercial real estate market upswing has been well documented with industrial vacancy rates at record lows, but the commercial building contractor market has been positively affected as well.

D.C.: Mayor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession In Nation's Capital

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington D.C. Mayor Vince Gray on Monday signed a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation's capital.

The D.C. City Council had approved the bill, which eliminates criminal offenses for an ounce of less of cannabis, and sent it to Mayor Gray's desk for his approval, reports Eyder Peralta at NPR.

Anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana will be charged with civil offense punishable by a $25 fine, repo0rts Martin Austermuhle at WAMU. Medical marijuana patients, of course, are exempt from this civil offense, since they are allowed to possess up to two ounces of dried cannabis.

Support grew for the measure after a 2013 ACLU report found that D.C. leads the United States in the rate of marijuana arrests, and that African American residents are eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis possession.

"This is a victory for the District and a victory for justice," said Council member Tommy Wells, who introduced the decrim bill. "This bill is a tremendous stride to end the disproportionate sociological and economic impact of marijuana arrests on African Americans -- arrests that pull families apart and keep our residents from jobs, higher education and housing opportunities," Wells said.

Washington: Zoning Could Restrict Seattle Marijuana Sales In Tourist Areas

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Some Seattle City Council members want to keep legalized marijuana -- approved by Washington state voters last November via Initiative 502 -- away from the city's tourist areas, historical districts and family zones.

An amendment to the city's Land Use Code has been proposed by council members Nick Licata and Sally Clark which would restrict the growing, processing, selling and delivery of cannabis in Capitol Hill's Harvard-Belmont area, the Downtown core, and other historical districts and family zones, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

Areas where marijuana sales and cultivation would be allowed under I-502 are already greatly restricted within Seattle's city limits; these changes would even further restrict the areas where it would be allowed.

The proposals are a response to legalization and the need to develop regulations surrounding marijuana and cannabis products, according to city officials.

"The proposal would not alter federal or State criminal law related to marijuana, and it would not place any City employee in the position of permitting or sanctioning any marijuana-related activity," the city said in a statement.

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