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California: Hottest Startups Woo Cleantech Investors With Wide-Ranging Tech

From clean diesel engines to personal solar panels, investors had a wide range of new technologies to peruse.

By Christine Blackman, Cleantech Group

Life isn't easy for startups, especially those looking for cash at a time when private equity and institutional investors are spending slowly (see More deals, fewer dollars for cleantech in '09?).

But nearly 20 companies tried their luck pitching to the more-than 900 attendees of the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this week.

Entrepreneurs from a wide variety of cleantech categories took the opportunity to present colorful visuals and persuade investors that the business plans were secure, despite the global economic crisis.

We monitored the presentations, and picked out a few favorites.

Ener-G-Rotors: Schenectady, N.Y.-based Ener-G-Rotors developed an expander appliance to capture low-grade, low-temperature waste heat from industrial, combined heat power operators and commercial buildings.

The company was given an award for the most promising technology at the forum. Browse past winners here »

Low grade heat that is lost in energy consumption every year could heat every U.S. residence for three years, CEO Michael Newell said. Ener-G-Rotor’s appliance is installed next to the heat source and uses an organic rankine cycle to extract heat from vapor and steam at temperatures as low as 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

United States: Beginning of the End - US Attorney General Says Ending DEA Raids

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 25 with DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters that ending federal medical marijuana raids "is now American policy."

"What the President said during the campaign...is consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement" - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Don Duncan, California Director of Americans for Safe Access, says the Attorney General’s comments are the latest sign of a sea change in federal policy prompted by a groundswell of grassroots pressure by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies.

"They came as a response to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids carried out by Bush Administration holdovers in California in January and February," Duncan said.

President Obama indicated he would end the DEA raids during his presidential campaign, a position reiterated by the White House following DEA raids in raids which took placeon February 4.

Michigan: City Pulse - Marijuana Journal

by R.D. Winthrop

Marijuana Journal is a weekly column tracking the implementation of the state medical marijuana law. This column also appears online every Monday.

Medical cannabis users wondering how to go about obtaining state ID cards when the registration period opens in April need to talk to their physician —and by "physician" I mean an M.D. or D.O.-licensed in Michigan — right bloody now.

Do not hesitate, get on the phone and start your due diligence regarding your own medico-legal status. You´ll need time to get paperwork in order, and if your physician is not yet fully informed about the law and its protections you may meet our classic foes, Fear and Loathing. We´re hearing of physicians who don´t want to hear it.

Here´s the bottom line: If your physician will certify your need for cannabis, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Assonication believes you will indeed receive medical quality cannabis, and will stand by your effort to do so.

But you have to start with your physician. Now.

You can find all the information, forms, and personal support you need at http:// michiganmedicalmarijuana.org/. Once you register (anonymously, if you wish), all the information we gather is available, and you are free to talk with anyone in the public forums we host there.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Backers Push Bill

By KSTP.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Supporters of medical marijuana are enlisting family members of those who have died in slow agony as they push to get a bill to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's desk this session, even though he remains opposed.

Opponents include a former drug dealer who said authorizing seriously ill patients to obtain and use marijuana would just open the door to mischief.

The bill took its first step on Wednesday, passing the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee on a divided voice vote after an emotional hearing.

"If medicinal marijuana or medical marijuana will alleviate someone's pain in their dying days, who in the hell are we to say no to that?" said Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, who said he became a supporter after watching his mother die of cancer.

Joni Whiting - who lost her 26-year-old daughter, Stephanie, to cancer in 2003 - broke down crying after reading a statement about the ordeal and the relief marijuana brought Stephanie. Whiting said she was anti-drug but came around when she saw how it helped her daughter. She said someone left a package of marijuana on her doorstep after she asked friends how to buy it.

"I have never known who to thank for it but I remain grateful beyond belief," Whiting said.

She added: "I would have no problem going to jail for acquiring medical marijuana for my suffering child."

But others raised doubts.

Hempcrete - Hemp Building Materials - Hemp For Houses

by Rolf B. Priesnitz, Hemphasis.net & Wikipedia

Houses built from hemp have been found to use less energy, create less waste and take less fuel to heat than conventionally constructed homes.

Hemp is perhaps best known for its Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that make it a great addition to a healthy diet, and as a cotton substitute in ecologically-sound clothing and bedding. But it is also a versatile, environmentally-sound building material.

A hemp crop can be grown without the use of herbicides or insecticides and produces up to four tonnes of material per acre per year. Hemp is categorized as a bast fiber crop. It has a stem consisting of an outer skin containing long, strong fibers and a hollow wood-like core or pith. Processing the stems results in two materials: hurds and fibers, both of which have properties that make them extremely useful in building construction.

A variety of wood-like products, such as fiberboard, roofing tiles, wallboard, paneling, insulation and bricks, can be made from the compressed hurds. The fibers can also be used like straw in bale wall construction or with mud in a sort of modified cob style of building.

United States: Paul Stanford Discusses Increasing Medical Marijuana Acceptance in U.S. (VIDEO)

By Bonnie King, Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - Medical Marijuana is now legal in 13 U.S. states. This ironic number is a demonstration of the growing popularity of laws that legalize and regulate the medicinal use of cannabis for sick people.

Along with Dr. Phillip Leveque who writes regularly on the subject, one of Oregon's central figures in the effort to bring this herb to people in a legal way is Paul Stanford of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation which operates clinics in several states.

The newest clinic is in Michigan. Paul says their relatively new clinic in the greater Detroit area is off to a great start.

Paul says in the interview posted below, that there are about a quarter of a million legal medical marijuana patients in the United States.

In Oregon, there are over 20,000 and in California there are over 300,000.

Asia: Eco Concerns Slowly Turning Asia Textiles Green

Green-friendly fabrics may be expensive, but increasing consumer demand for the environmentally-correct now is forcing Asia's textile giants to go the extra mile to produce clean cloth.

In a sign of the times, at Paris' twice-yearly Texworld textile trade fair this week, around 60 of the 660 firms exhibiting from around the world flew the green flag, a sharp increase on previous sessions, organisers said.

In China, Bangladesh and India, the world's top textile producers, as well as in Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan, natural fibres, organic yarns, fair trade practices and clean processing are creeping into an industry often chided for polluting soils, wasting water and employing child labour.

"We will be starting organic and fair trade by next year," said Sajedur Rahman Talukder, a marketing manager for Bangladesh's biggest textile-maker, Norman Group of Industries, whose tens of thousands of workers supply western firms such as Ikea.

"It is a market demand."

Eco-friendly fabrics, added South Korean firm Ludia, might currently be a niche product around 15 percent more expensive than run-of-the-mill textile, "but in two or three years the consumers will pay the difference."

"Eco-friendly is our key item, the market has changed," said a company manager.

Oregon: ACLU Stands Up for Medical Marijuana Patients - Join Them

By ACLU-Oregon

In 2009, the Oregon legislature will consider legislation that allows employers to fire an employee who is never impaired in the workplace simply because the employee lawfully uses medical marijuana during non-work hours to treat a medical condition. Yet the law would not penalize workers who take physician-prescribed medications and are actually impaired at the workplace. This is fundamentally unfair and discriminates against medical marijuana patients.

No worker should be removed from a job simply because he or she suffers from a debilitating medical condition that can be controlled by the lawful use of medical marijuana. Actual impairment, not which medication is used, should be the focus of any law giving employers the power to fire employees (indeed legislation is unnecessary because employers already have the ability to terminate impaired employees).

Under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 1998, Oregonians have the right to use medical marijuana when recommended by a physician to treat a medical condition. Employment laws should not single out medical marijuana patients for harsher treatment than patients using other medications, such as codeine, amphetamines, morphine or other lawfully prescribed controlled substances.

This legislation does not make the workplace safer.

Washington State: Lawmakers Considering Decreasing Pot Penalty

By BRIAN SLODYSKO, Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Civil liberties groups, medical marijuana supporters and a smattering of music festival-goers may have reason to rejoice: The Legislature is considering a proposal that would effectively decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

A bill proposed by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would reduce the penalty for possessing marijuana in quantities of 1.4 ounces or less to a civil infraction carrying a $100 fine.

"Marijuana has been demonized and has been demonized in such an overboard manner," Kohl-Welles said Tuesday.

Currently, possession of small amounts of the leafy drug is a misdemeanor offense, warranting arrest and carrying the possibility of punishment with fines and jail time.

If Kohl-Welles' bill is approved, possession of marijuana would no longer be an offense subject to arrest. However, teenagers younger than 18 would still be subject to current law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill Tuesday.

"Marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco or caffeine," said former state Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland, testifying before the committee. "The most dangerous thing about marijuana is the possibility of getting arrested for its possession... I don't think it's the devil weed that many say that it is."

Civil liberties groups support the measure, saying law enforcement officers should focus on more serious crimes.

Global: Hemp as a Fuel - Energy Source

By Jeremy Briggs, Hemphasis

Biodiesel fuel from Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil can be used as is in bio-diesel engines. Methyl esters, or bio-diesel, can be made from any oil or fat including hemp seed oil. The reaction requires the oil, an alcohol (usually methanol), and a catalyst, which produces bio-diesel and small amount of glycerol or glycerin. When co-fired with 15% methanol, bio-diesel fuel produces energy less than 1/3 as pollution as petroleum diesel.

Energy and Fuel from Hemp Stalks through Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis is the technique of applying high heat to biomass, or organic plants and tree matter, with little or no air. Reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants and automobiles can be accomplished by converting biomass to fuel utilizing pyrolysis technology. The process can produce, from lingo-cellulosic material (like the stalks of hemp), charcoal, gasoline, ethanol, non-condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone, methane, and methanol. Process adjustments can be done to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol, with 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratios. Around 68% of the energy of the raw biomass will be contained in the charcoal and fuel oils -- renewable energy generated here at home, instead of overpaying for foreign petroleum.

California: Medical Marijuana Group to Lobby Riverside County Supervisors

By K Kaufmann, The Desert Sun

Patients want county to issue guidelines for collectives, end raids

With President Barack Obama voicing support for an end to federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, Coachella Valley patients and advocates are ready to push Riverside County officials for a similar end to raids and prosecution.
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And they are taking their case to the county Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Riverside where several are expected to speak during the part of the meeting reserved for public comments.

“We’re going to ask them to get the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office just to sit down with us to talk about how collectives can operate without them coming in and (people) getting arrested,” said Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, a patient advocacy group.

Swerdlow said he has been trying for a few months to set up a meeting with either the D.A. or Sheriff’s Department, without success.

He estimated 10 or more patients might speak at the board meeting.

Stacy Hochanadel, owner of the CannaHelp dispensary in Palm Springs, said he intends to be at the meeting.

United States: Congress To Holder - Let UMASS Grow Pot

By Ryan Grim, HuffPost Reporting From DC

A bipartisan group of sixteen members of Congress sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to allow the University of Massachusetts to grow its own marijuana for medical research.

Marijuana used for research, and that distributed to patients in a closed federal program, is currently grown exclusively by the University of Mississippi. Patients who have smoked it and researchers who have tried to work with it say it's total swag (very low quality).

For eight years, UMASS Professor Lyle Craker has been fighting with the Drug Enforcement Administration to get a license to cultivate his own medical pot.

In February 2007 Craker looked to have won, when DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that his request was "in the public interest" and called on the agency to license him.

In a last-minute Bush Administration order, however, the DEA reversed Bittner's ruling and refused Craker the license, citing evidence that hadn't been presented during the initial hearing.

The letter from members of Congress encourages Holder "swiftly to amend or withdraw"
the decision and allow Craker to rebut the new DEA evidence.

Forty-five members of the House, along with Massachusetts Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation have all written the DEA in support of Craker's efforts.

Illinois: America Should Grow Hemp Again

By Dan Linn, Illinois NORML

America is the only industrial nation that does not grow hemp. Hemp can be used for many things and at one time in colonial America was illegal not to grow but because of its relations to the cannabis plant it has been outlawed. However, during WWII there was a “Hemp for Victory” campaign.

Illinois should allow its farmers to grow hemp once again. There is not one good reason to continue banning the production of hemp in America. It could help with our struggling economic times or at least should be an option for Illinois farmers. When things get tough shouldn’t all options be considered?

Gov. Ryan twice vetoed legislation in Illinois regarding the production of hemp, but there is no reason why this issue should not be revisited. Hemp can be used for biodiesel fuel, cordage, a food product and many more things so outlawing it makes it even worse. Some say it might save the world and while I won’t go that far at this time I do think it could help, and if it was good to enough to do during WWII I think it should be grown today.

Dan Linn, Executive Director Illinois Chapter National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, Sycamore

Source: http://www.galesburg.com/opinions/x494342176/LETTER-America-should-grow-...

Pennsylvania: History in Every Scene Change

By Howard Shapiro, Inquirer Staff Writer

What you see in the auditorium of the Walnut Street Theatre's main stage is the result of makeovers across two centuries. What you don't see - behind, above and underneath the seating area and the stage - is history intact inside the National Historic Landmark.

The most notable historic piece in the nation's oldest working theater affects every show on the main stage: It's a system of scenery pulleys with sandbag counterweights that must be filled to the proper weight for each piece of scenery that drops into view in every show.

Modern theaters use a simple system of lead counterweights attached to a theater wall on one end and wires that pull scenery on the other. The weights are easily changed to balance different scenery, much as weights are added or removed for different levels of resistance in gym workout equipment.

The Walnut, though, is one of America's few remaining "hemp houses" (along with another Center City stage, Plays & Players on Delancey Place) - theaters whose scenery drops and lifts the old-fashioned way.

A "hemp house" uses stagehands and sandbags to raise and lower set pieces attached to thick ropes made of hemp, the only fiber strong and stable enough for the purpose. Each time the huge Walnut scenery shop builds a piece of scenery that isn't on stage throughout the play and that doesn't move onstage from the wings, it must be raised and lowered by the hemp system.

US: Obama Has the Chance to Be Another FDR

AlterNet, Jan. 17, 2009

He Can End the Prohibition Era on Marijuana As FDR Did in 1933, Obama Must Now Help End an Utterly Failed, Socially Destructive, Reactionary Crusade Against Marijuana. The parallels between the 1933 coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama must include the issue of Prohibition: alcohol in 1933, and marijuana today. As FDR did back then, Obama must now help end an utterly failed, socially destructive, reactionary crusade.

Source: US: Web: Obama Has the Chance to Be Another FDR

[MAP - Hemp]

Massachusetts: Lawmen Decry New Law that Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

By Dan Ring, The Republican Newsroom

BOSTON - Law enforcement officials say there are many loopholes, unintended consequences and other problems in the new law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The law replaces criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana with a civil fine of $100, about the same as getting a traffic ticket. Sixty-five percent of Massachusetts' voters approved the ballot law on Nov. 4, and it takes effect on Jan. 2

Law enforcement officials still have many doubts about the law. Among the concerns are that some people will not be required to identify themselves if stopped for marijuana, that police officers cannot be disciplined for possessing an ounce of less of marijuana, and that state laboratories which test narcotics for criminal cases will no longer test small amounts of marijuana seized in a civil matter.

In addition, guidelines issued by the state for the law's enforcement say possession of an ounce or less of THC - the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, hashish or hash oil - may now be decriminalized as well.

"The law is very confusing," said Holyoke Police Chief Anthony R. Scott this week. "The law presents a lot of problems for law enforcement."

Street dealers now will probably carry less than an ounce to elude arrest, he predicted. Under the new law, he said, police will no longer be able to arrest people for possessing an ounce or less and use them for information to go after dealers.

Oregon: Marijuana Leveque 2008

By Dr. Phillip Leveque, Salem-news.com

Some may dislike and shudder at such a name. Marijuana Leveque. I don’t. I have been called much worse – Quack, snake oil salesman. In Italy I’m Dr. Pot, here I'm "most dangerous man in Oregon", etc.

After I saw “REEFER MADNESS” six times – I was forced to do so as a pharmacology instructor in medical school - I had to monitor the class to prevent them from laughing out loud or leaving the room.

Even Judge Francis Young of the DEA said it was the safest drug ever found by man. “REEFER MADNESS”, my foot!

Source: http://salem-news.com/articles/december272008/mm_coming_soon_12-27-08.php

[Salem-News.com Medical Marijuana]

Hempfest 2008: Industrial Hemp - What it Can Do for America

Adam Eidinger, David Frankel, Jack Herer, Steve Levine, Chris Conrad and George Rohrbacher on hemp and cannabis.

http://hempfest.org

Farm Aid: Neil Young - Family Farmers

Neil Young discusses Good food, family farms, and fighting factory farms.

http://www.farmaid.org

Massachusetts: 'This Old House' Project Earns 'Green' Certification

Wickedlocal.com

WESTON - The PBS home improvement series "This Old House" recently built a home in Weston that was awarded LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for achievement in green homebuilding.

LEED for Homes is a national third-party certification system for energy efficient "green" homes. LEED-certified homes complete a technically rigorous process that includes a home energy (HERS) rating and onsite inspections to verify the home is built to be energy and water efficient, environmentally sound and a healthier place to live.

The house is one of 61 Massachusetts homes that have been certified using LEED.
The home was built by the Emmy-winning PBS television series "This Old House" and Bensonwood, a New England-based custom homebuilding company.

Green homes have substantially lower utility bills and may qualify for advantageous financing, lower insurance rates and government incentives. Through their commitment to green homebuilding, "This Old House" and Bensonwood are helping to keep homeownership affordable through long-term energy savings.

"Their leadership – demonstrated with the Weston project house – is at the national forefront of quality, and their example can help us all to live better by reducing our environmental footprint, cutting our utility bills, and coming home to a healthier place to live," said Michelle Moore, U.S. Green Building Council senior vice president of policy and market development.

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