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Maine: Final Results Are In, Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Final results of Maine's referendum to legalize recreational marijuana were tabulated Thursday, declaring recreational marijuana legal in the state. The count took nearly two days because of how close the race was, with victory coming within a fraction of a percentage point.

Supporters had already claimed victory and predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas.

The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it," said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

People 21 or older will now be allowed to possess and use up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities.

The campaign that pushed for legalization turned immediately toward the implementation process on Thursday. They said they hope marijuana will be available in retail establishments by 2018.

"We're excited that Maine is going to join many other states that have decided to have a smarter marijuana policy — a policy that no longer punishes adults for smoking marijuana," said David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes On 1.

Colorado: Officials Ask Arizona Group To Pull Marijuana Political Ads

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legislators in Colorado say the group Arizonans For Sensible Drug Policy are airing misleading political advertisements that oppose the legalization of marijuana in the state of Arizona.

Proposition 205, if passed, aims to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

The group opposed to Proposition 205 began airing "No on 205" television ads that claim Colorado schools did not receive the millions of dollars promised and that politicians spent more on regulating the industry.

However, the Colorado officials who played a central role in the budgeting of marijuana taxes say this is not true and that more than $138 million went to schools and less than 10 percent of pot tax revenues were spent on regulation.

Colorado Senator Pat Steadman and Representatives Millie Hamner and Jonathan Singer emailed Seth Leibsohn and Sheila Polk, the leaders of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, citing what they say are multiple incorrect claims on their "No on 205" ads talking about marijuana tax revenue spending and rates of teen pot use in Colorado.

They counter the ad's statements with information drawn from three state government documents they attached to the email.

Here is the transcript of the email:

Dear Mr. Leibsohn and Ms. Polk:

California: Prop 64 Gains Major Newspaper Endorsements

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The campaign behind California’s Proposition 64 to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older announced that they’ve received the official endorsement of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

According to the Yes on Prop 64 campaign, this means that “every large-circulation daily newspaper in Southern California has now endorsed Proposition 64.”

The paper opposed Proposition 19 to legalize cannabis in 2010. The Union-Tribune joins the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Orange County Register and Riverside Press Enterprise as outlets that opposed Prop 19 in 2010. All publications support Proposition 64 in this year’s election.

The Union-Tribune went directly after one of the primary attacks used by opponents of the measure: that it decreases road safety.

“The recent increases in those states of the number of people in fatal accidents found to have THC in their systems may reflect a greater emphasis on drug testing instead of a spike in stoned motorists,” the paper says.

“Marijuana use has barely increased among Washington teenagers and somewhat increased among Colorado teens, reflecting a trend in the Rocky Mountain State that predated adult legalization.”

A list of newspaper endorsing Prop 64:

Los Angeles Times
San Francisco Chronicle
San Jose Mercury News

Maine: Governor LePage Warns Against 'Deadly' Marijuana In Over-the-top Video

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maine Governor Paul LePage released a false and misleading video Thursday attempting to convince voters to vote "no" on "Question 1", the state's marijuana legalization referendum up for a vote on the upcoming ballot.

“Question 1 is not just bad for Maine, it can be deadly,” LePage warns, before falsely claiming traffic fatalities have gone up in Colorado since the state legalized recreational pot.

He makes a claim that “people addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.” He predicts a future where children and pets die from accidentally consuming “marijuana snacks,” and in which drug culture impinges on “schools, daycare centers and churches.”

“They will smoke weed and sell pot at state fairs,” he adds. “Businesses could not fire employees for using marijuana.”

According to a recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana has had no noticeable effect on traffic deaths in either Colorado or Washington.

And marijuana has been proven to reduce opioid deaths. In the 23 states where medical marijuana was legal in 2014, there were nearly 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Maine State Rep. Diane Russell (D) of Portland believes the video could actually help the campaign for legalization.

Arizona: Marijuana Measure Fate Uncertain As More Money Pumped In To Defeat It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Foes of Arizona's measure to legalize marijuana are collecting a huge amount of cash in a last-minute bid to defeat it.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has collected more than $2.7 million so far, the latest figures show. More than $900,000 of that has come in the past three weeks as different polls have shown the fate of Proposition 205 could swing either way.

The most recent survey was released Monday, and it shows 43 percent of those questioned in support and 47 percent opposed. That could leave the outcome up to the 10 percent who told OH Predictive Insights they had not made up their mind.

Less than a week ago the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry poured $498,000 into the anti-205 measure.

Virginia-based SAM Action, short for Smart Approach to Marijuana, a group that has opposed legalization efforts in many other states, recently made a new $115,000 donation.

The pro-205 effort benefitted from a $110,000 donation two weeks ago from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. That company makes cleaning products, including those that use hemp oil. But various restrictions on growing hemp have forced the company to look elsewhere for its supplies.

California: San Diego Supervisors Unanimously Oppose Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The San Diego Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday opposing Proposition 64, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California.

The vote was 4-0, with Supervisor Greg Cox absent.

“It’s a stark public safety reality that legalization of marijuana results in many negative consequences,” Vice Chair Dianne Jacob said. “It’s obvious, extremely obvious, that legalization of marijuana in Colorado has thus far been a disaster, especially for public safety, which has been this board’s priority.”

San Diego county officials say that in the four states where marijuana has been legalized, marijuana-related traffic deaths, youth access to marijuana and related emergency department and hospital admissions have all risen dramatically, along with underground black market distribution and sales.

“As an elected official, I think it’s important that all the facts get out there and we try to educate the public on this very, very important issue that can have long-term ramifications for all of the citizens in the state of California,” Sheriff Bill Gore said. “Let’s learn from what has happened in Washington and Colorado and not make the same mistakes.”

U.S.: Pro-marijuana Campaigners Launch TV Ads Ahead Of November Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maine and Massachusetts launched their first television ads today, hoping to boost public awareness and support ahead of November votes on the issue.

Voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this Election Day, following the lead of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department officer and current professor of criminal justice at Merrimack College, promoting legalization as a way to better regulate marijuana use.

"Question 4 requires strict product labeling and child-proof packaging and bans consumption by kids," Nolan says in the 30-second spot, citing the question's position on the Nov. 8 ballot, the start of a $650,000 ad campaign.

The Maine ad also features an ex-law enforcement official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion. He argues that legalizing the use of the drug by adults would free up police resources to investigate violent crimes. The Maine group has budgeted $1 million for its ad spending.

The campaigns launch a week after the group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona launched its first blast of TV ads. Voters in California and Nevada will also face ballot questions on the issue this year.

West Indies: Jamaica, Formerly Opposed To Marijuana, Now Wants To Cash In On It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Jamaica has long been considered the land of ganja, but has worked hard to fight that reputation.

Despite strict drug laws and spending millions on public education to diminish its image as a pot mecca, its role as a major supplier of illegal weed to the United States and its international image led by the likes of Bob Marley have been impossible to overcome.

After watching states like Colorado and California generate billions of dollars from marijuana, Jamaica has decided to accept the plant and is looking to promote "wellness tourism", having legalized medical marijuana. The nation also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of pot just last year.

A recent conference at a luxury hotel in Montego Bay attracted government leaders, Rastafarian leaders, business leaders, and pot farmers.

Rastafarian leader First Man kicked off the conference with a speech on the global benefits of marijuana.

“We are talking about a plant that bridges the gap between all of our relationships,” First Man, barefoot with a Rasta scarf around his neck, said to a packed room. “Our planet needs this relationship to happen.”

First Man was speaking at the first CanEx conference, a gathering of government and local leaders trying to figure out just how the country can most effectively make this turn-around, without neglecting international law.

Colorado: New Rule Requires Marijuana Edible Labeling

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new rule takes effect in Colorado Saturday, requiring that edible marijuana products come with a diamond-shaped stamp and the letters T-H-C — not just on the packaging but on the brownies, candies and other edibles themselves.

The rule referencing marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) was added after complaints that the treats look too much their non-intoxicating counterparts. It is the first such requirement in any state with legal weed.

The stamping requirement comes in addition to extensive labeling and packaging rules that include childproof zippers and lids, along with warnings that the product should be kept away from children and not eaten before driving or while pregnant or nursing.

“We want to ensure that people genuinely know the difference between a Duncan Hines brownie and a marijuana brownie, just by looking at it,” said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat who sponsored the law requiring stamped edibles.

Andrew Schrot, founder of BlueKudu, a company which makes marijuana-infused chocolates, said that when he started his company in 2011 for medical marijuana customers, his pot treats looked like any other chocolate bars. But he said the switch to a recreational market in which new marijuana users were trying his products necessitated change.

Colorado: Marijuana Is Legal In Some States - But Only If You're A U.S.Citizen

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana may be legal in a growing number of states, but not many people know that it's still very much against the law for all non-U.S. citizens to use it. In fact, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has penalized and deported more people convicted of marijuana-related crimes in the past decade than ever before.

Claudia, a native of Chile, learned this the hard way after being flagged for an in-depth security screening after landing at Los Angeles International Airport on October 8, 2015. "It's normal," she says. "Sometimes the officers review people." Besides, she had never been in trouble in her life.

Agents directed Claudia into a big, open room where she was asked to place her luggage on a table for examination. Officer Torres, a customs agent, asked her about her planned one-week trip to San Francisco and made friendly small talk as he went through her suitcase and purse.

Torres asked Claudia about past trips to the U.S., and she told the agent of visits to Tennessee, Louisiana, New York, and Colorado. At the mention of Colorado, he asked to see her phone. He quickly began scrolling through photos from her last visit to the States from April to June of that year. "Can you do this?" she asked.

"Yes", he replied, which Claudia accepted; she had nothing to hide, after all.

California: New Poll Shows Majority Favor Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday shows a majority of Californians support a state measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

The poll reports that 58 percent of the state's voters favor the legalization measure and that the support spanned "most lines of age, race, income, and gender."

The measure is doing best among younger voters: 67 percent of those 18 to 24 years of age said they would vote for Proposition 64. About 50 percent of voters 65 years and older support the measure.

In 2010, the last time California voted for pot legalization, nearly 54 percent of voters opposed the measure.

The LA Times reported :

"Some of the change appears to have come from the ability of Californians to watch what has happened in other states that legalized recreational pot use: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska," said Jon Cohen, an executive for SurveyMonkey, the firm that conducted the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

"Some of the calamitous predictions of legalization opponents haven't come to pass" in other states, Cohen said.

Idaho: State Struggles To Stop Pot Smugglers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon and Washington are collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue from recreational pot sales, but neighboring Idaho is struggling to keep up.

Between 2011 and 2015 Idaho State Police saw a huge increase in the amount of marijuana they seized from people passing through their state.

"We've seen almost, approximately a 1000 percent increase in the amount of marijuana that we've seized in Idaho since it's became legal in Washington," said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

ISP seized 131 pounds of marijuana in 2011. But in 2015 after voters in Oregon and Washington voted to legalize pot, the amount of marijuana seized climbed to 1,644 pounds.

Corporal Kevin Kessler and his K9 partner are responsible for many of those seizures. He said the busts begin as traffic stops and from there they find pot. Much of the time the pot is not destined for Idaho but it is being smuggled farther east.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said the pot seized by ISP is not being diverted to the black market. WSLCB Spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter said they track marijuana from seed to sale.

Colorado: Pueblo County Wants To Say No To Legal Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado for four years, but anti-marijuana activists in Pueblo County have gathered enough signatures to force an unprecedented question on the November ballot: whether to terminate recreational marijuana sales and operations.

Backers of the Pueblo effort to repeal marijuana legalization say retail pot shops and farms have brought increased vagrancy, crime, and an undesirable reputation as the pot capital of southern Colorado. Supporters of legalization say the new industry has helped revitalize an area that has long struggled economically. Repealing it would cost more than a thousand jobs, they say. It would be giving in to the retrograde impulses of “prohibitionists.”

Possession and use of marijuana would remain legal in the county, as would medical marijuana. But more than 100 dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and infused product manufacturers would have to shut down within a year.

County Commissioner Sal Pace, the chief opponent of the ballot effort, is pleased that his community is seen as a center for marijuana innovation. He said that almost $4 million in annual tax revenue has gone to college scholarships, 4H and Future Farmers of America efforts, and medical marijuana research at Colorado State University Pueblo.

Caribbean: Jamaica Hopes To Cash In On Pot Tourism

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several Caribbean countries are benefitting from the multi-billion dollar health and wellness tourism industry. Jamaica hopes to become one of them, but is planning an alternative to traditional medicine.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that Jamaica's lush southwestern coast is perfect for "cannabis-infused tourism" where products made from the plant would play a major part in the tourism sector.

Minister Bartlett spoke recently at Canex Jamaica, the first cannabis-centered conference on the business potential of the marijuana trade, where he said he recognized “how the cannabis product and its application could fit neatly in a network of health and wellness that could drive a new demographic into Jamaica with a higher spend and which will be able to establish us as a destination with a difference.”

Bartlett said Jamaica should not be a destination with only all-inclusive properties and mass tourism: “We believe that we can do product differentiation and we can do a level of product diversification which enables us to be attractive to all demographics.”

He said that Jamaica wants a piece of the US$494 billion global market for that kind of tourism.

US: Five States Officially Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan certified a marijuana legalization initiative for November's ballot, meaning this year's election will see five states voting on the issue.

Four states have already legalized marijuana through voter's ballots, Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana in 2014, but not commercial sales.

Those states have a combined population of about 17 million people. Legalization in the most populous state, California, alone would more than double that figure, and winning in all five states would triple it.

On November 9 we could see almost a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization if all five states were to pass it. The five states are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. California seems most likely to win, based on current information. The possibility of legalization in Maine and Nevada is looking good as well. It will be a tougher sell in Massachusetts, with Arizona looking like the state with the biggest hurdle to jump for pot legalization.

Colorado: Gunmen Rob Arapahoe County Marijuana Dispensary

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp news

A marijuana dispensary in Cure, Colorado was robbed Sunday afternoon by a woman and three men with their faces covered, at least one of them wielding a gun. They then escaped in a white sedan.

No shots were fired in the robbery, which occurred around 2 pm. Arapahoe County sheriff's spokeswoman Julie Brooks said "We will not disclose what was taken."

Authorities also declined to discuss the type of gun and other details learned from witnesses at the dispensary, located at 6200 E. Yale Ave.

"It was an armed robbery. Nobody was hurt," Brooks said.

Sheriff's deputies said the robbers were last seen leaving the area in a four-door white sedan.

Vermont: Bernie Sanders Slams DEA For Not Reclassifying Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bernie Sanders responded to the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision not to reclassify marijuana on Thursday, taking to Twitter to make it clear that he was dissatisfied.

The tweet reads:

"People can argue about the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but everyone knows it's not a killer drug like heroin. https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/763727086573920256 …"

Sanders introduced legislation last November while seeking the Democratic nomination for president that would entirely de-schedule marijuana or remove it from the Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing it at the federal level. His legislation is modeled after a bill introduced in 2013 by Rep. Jared Polos (D-Colo.) and would allow states to decide how to regulate marijuana.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

U.S.: DEA's Marijuana Rescheduling Announcement May Not Come In 2016

The DEA has not followed through on their plans to release an announcement in 2016 on rescheduling marijuana.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In April this year the Drug Enforcement Administration sent a letter to lawmakers saying the agency would release an announcement on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of this year. But no announcement was made come July 1, and the DEA has refused to set a new deadline.

A Colorado attorney spoke with a senior executive at the DEA last week and was told that the agency will not be rescheduling marijuana in 2016. "The DEA is not going to reschedule marijuana this year.... They aren't issuing a public announcement about the change," the attorney said he was told.

Marijuana advocates and many legislators have been hoping that the DEA would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. The reclassification would allow for more research and would acknowledge that the substance has medical value.

"We do not have a date set to make an announcement about that one way or another," a representative in the DEA's public-affairs office said today, August 2.

It does not seem likely that the date will be anytime this year.

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

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