john walsh

Oregon: Cannabis Legalization Legend, John Walsh, Passes Away

John Walsh, Oregon Capitol, July 6, 2012

Although his home was in Eugene, Oregon, John Walsh traveled the state collecting signatures and registering Oregonians to vote like Johnny Appleseed planted trees.

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

Today, January 3, the cannabis community lost a colorful and dedicated freedom fighter, John Walsh. Walsh collected signatures for the hemp and cannabis movement for the past thirty years and if asked, he could tell you exactly how many signatures he collected for each and every initiative and ballot measure that relates to hemp or cannabis throughout that period.

"It makes me terribly sad to say that John Walsh, one of the biggest cannabis activists in the country, and dear friend of mine has passed away. It was John that originally introduced me to SSDP during my Freshman year in college. Thank you for everything you have done to make this world a better place," said former University of Oregon President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Sam Chapman.

Chapman worked with Walsh for several years and called him a “poster child” for medical marijuana, on which Walsh relied for his chronic pain. Though he could not walk down stairs and had to do most everything sitting down, Walsh worked tirelessly for the legalization movement. Chapman noted that it was Walsh who inspired him to become involved with the SSDP.

Another SSDP Member, Attorney Bradley Steinman stated, "RIP, John Walsh. Thank you for all your selfless work and hustle to end the war on drugs."

U.S.: WOLA, O'Neill Institute To Examine Public Health Aspects To Legalizing Marijuana

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The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, in collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), has received a $250,000 grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to help develop guidelines on how states, countries, and other jurisdictions that opt to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can create regulatory frameworks, consistent with the goals of legalization, that will work effectively to protect and promote the public health.

“Now is an opportune time to develop regulatory approaches and guidelines that can prevent unnecessary public health harms from the legalization of medical or recreational cannabis while maximizing the potential public health benefits,” said the project’s lead investigator, Oscar Cabrera, Abogado (JD equivalent), LL.M., executive director of the O’Neill Institute. “With new ballot questions and legislation pending, it is especially important, now, to avoid elements that will unnecessarily create health risks or fail to secure potential benefits and likely be harder to fix after they are in place.”

Cabrera says the purpose of the project is not to advocate for or against legalizing cannabis, but rather to inform deliberations over the design and implementation of the laws and regulations governing legalized cannabis products with guidance from relevant experts in public health policy and law, both in the United States and abroad.

Global: Major Groups Call For UN To Respect Countries That Legalize Marijuana

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Human Rights Should Take Priority Over Drug Enforcement, New Letter Says

As the United Nations prepares for the first comprehensive review of global responses to drug problems in nearly two decades, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations is pushing for the international body to respect countries that move away from prohibition.

"Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups write in a new letter being released on Tuesday.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are among the signatories. Also notable are a number of organizations devoted to health policy and AIDS services.

The letter's release is timed to a United Nations "High-Level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem" taking place in New York on Thursday, May 7, in preparation for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) scheduled for April 2016. Advocates believe that countries should take the UNGASS as an opportunity to pursue a range of reforms to global drug policy, including revising provisions of the UN Drug Conventions that threaten to stand in the way of reform.

Colorado: Police Chiefs Host Marijuana Summit, Discuss Impact of Legalization

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The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting a conference this week to discuss the impact of legal marijuana on law enforcement and public safety one year after recreational dispensaries opened in the state.

The conference offers recommendations for dealing with marijuana-related issues under a legal framework in which police are able to work with growers, distributors and others to ensure consumers are protected, that criminals do not profit from sales and that the drug is not available to children.

“This conference is the result of smart regulation,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Now that marijuana is sold in a visible, transparent market, enforcement and regulatory bodies can start making recommendations about how to further public safety surrounding the drug. Instead of arresting people for minor marijuana offenses, cops are now ensuring operations are running safely and legally.”

The event lasts three days, beginning Wednesday of this week, and is expected to draw a crowd of almost 500 law enforcement professionals, including representatives form Alaska, which recently voted to legalize marijuana. U.S. Attorney in Colorado John Walsh and the Drug Enforcement Administration's top officer in the state will also be in attendance.

U.S.: Federal Govt. Won't Stop Native Americans From Growing, Selling Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In an epochal shift likely to change the face of American society forever, the federal Department of Justice on Thursday will tell U.S. Attorneys not to prevent Native American tribes from growing or selling marijuana on their sovereign lands, even in states where cannabis is illegal.

The new memorandum will offer guidance which will be implemented on a case-by-case basis, according to U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon of North Dakota, chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues, reports Timothy M. Phelps at the Los Angeles Times.

Tribes must still follow the eight guidelines or "areas of concern" offered by the federal government after Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize marijuana in the 2012 elections. The federal guidelines will also apply in Oregon and Alaska, where voters chose to join the ranks of legal states in 2014.

While it is still unknown just how many reservations will take advantage of the new policy, it seems likely that many will, judging by the proliferation of tribal casinos. Many tribes, however, remain opposed to legalizing marijuana on their lands, and federal officials will continue to enforce the law in those areas, if requested.

U.S.: Rand Paul Files Measure To Protect Medical Marijuana States From Feds

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Thursday filed an amendment to Senate Bill 2569, the "Bring Jobs Home Act," that would explicitly allow states to pass medical marijuana laws despite the federal Controlled Substances Act. The amendment would also bar prosecutions of patients and doctors involved in medical marijuana when they are in compliance with state laws.

Amendment 3630 allows states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without federal prosecution," reports Phillip Smith at StoptheDrugWar.org.

The amendment then lists 33 states and the District of Columbia that have medical marijuana laws at variance with the federal Controlled Substances Act, including 10 states that allow only for the use of CBD oil (cannabidiol), which, unlike THC, isn't psychoactive, reports Matt Ferner at the Huffington Post.

"What we're trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them," said Brian Darling, Sen. Paul's communications director.

U.S.: Senator John Walsh Offers Protections for Medical Marijuana Patient Gun Rights

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Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients

Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.

“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."

In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.

Colorado: Federal Agents and Denver Cops Raiding Medical Marijuana Facilities

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service agents, along with officers of the Denver Police Department, on Thursday morning are conducting raids at multiple medical marijuana facilities in the Denver, Colorado area.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver confirmed the ongoing raids, reports Michael Roberts at Westword. "Our sources tell us it's likely to continue throughout the day and involvers a notable number of targets," Roberts wrote.

A statement from Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Walsh, gives few details about the raids. Early reports filtering in placed the number of raided operations between 20 and 40.

"The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, the Denver Police Department and state and local law enforcement are today executing lawfully obtained search warrants and seizure warrants," reads Dorschner's statement.

The raided locations included "a couple" in Boulder County, according to a law enforcement source, reports Mitchell Byars at the Boulder Daily Camera.

U.S.: Feds Announce It's OK For Banks To Work With Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Banks and other financial institutions that do business with marijuana dispensaries that are in compliance with state laws are "unlikely" to be prosecuted for money laundering or other federal crimes that could be charged under federal drug laws, a senior Department of Justice official said on Thursday.

The official would not rule out prosecution in any case, but the guidance -- set out during a Thursday briefing on the DoJ's new policy -- is a reversal of administration policy which had warned banks not to work with marijuana businesses, report Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post.

The DoJ official said that the department recognized that forcing dispensaries to operate on a cash basis put them at a greater risk of robbery and violence.

A three-page memo that accompanied Thursday's announcement notes that a well-regulated, legal marijuana industry could come with benefits to public safety and health.

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