Colorado: America's First Drive-Thru Marijuana Store Opens 4/20


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

America's first drive-thru marijuana shop is opening on April 20, the unofficial marijuana holiday celebrated across the country.

Sitting on the site of a former car wash in Parachute, a small town in western Colorado, the Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru will allow cars to actually pull into the building so it complies with the law stating pot must be sold indoors. No-one under 21 will be allowed on the premises, even if they are in the back seat of a car.

“I didn’t set out thinking this would be national news,” CEO Mark Smith told the Post Independent. “I didn’t have some big epiphany. I just saw a need for our customers.”

Smith’s customers will be able to drive through and make purchases from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday.

Canada: No Relief For Past Marijuana Convictions Under Legalization Plan


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canada's federal marijuana legalization plan does not include a provision providing general amnesty for past convictions of low-level marijuana possession, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a Canadian Press report.

“That’s not an item that’s on the agenda at the moment,” he said, adding that until the legalization bill is passed current laws pertaining to cannabis possession, use, and sale “need to be respected.”

In a policy paper released last year, the C.D. Howe Institute, a Canadian public policy think tank, said that legalization could initially result in an increase in cannabis consumption, and the need for more police enforcement and monitoring, which could force more government spending.

“This discussion suggests that dropping charges against individuals for illegal possession who have no other Criminal Code convictions or charges, would save considerable government resources without other significant offsetting adverse spillovers,” the paper stated. “Similarly, the federal government should consider pardoning individuals who have been convicted for illegal possession but have not been convicted or charged for any other Criminal Code offense.”

Guam: Measure To Legalize Adult-use Marijuana Pulled Due To Trump Administration Fears


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Guam’s gubernatorial administration has pulled a bill that would have legalized marijuana possession and use by adults in the U.S. territory due to federal uncertainty. Eric Palacios, special assistant to Gov. Eddie Clavo, says the move doesn’t necessarily mean the plan is dead but just temporarily on hold.

“We are suspending our efforts, and we are not terminating what we originally intended to do via the introduction of the bill,” Palacios said in the report. “And so, until we get a clearer picture of where things stand on the federal side, especially in light of the Attorney General’s pronouncement, we don’t feel it would be prudent moving forward.”

According to the governor’s Communications Director Oyal Ngirairkl, the suspension “is meant to give lawmakers time to better understand the Trump administration’s still evolving stance on this and the result of actions other U.S. jurisdictions are taking.”

Ohio: Madeira Says 'No' To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The city of Madeira, Ohio - a suburb of Cincinnati - has decided to allow no medical marijuana dispensaries within its limits.

Madeira City Council passed an ordinance by emergency to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana within the city at its April 10 meeting.

“Medical marijuana may or may not have its merits but I don’t think Madeira would be ... appropriate for a dispensary to be located,” said Councilman Scott Gehring.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately since Council passed it by emergency. State laws regulating medical marijuana in Ohio go into effect on September 8.

A moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was approved within the city in August. Law Director Brian Fox advised against continuing the moratorium and drafted the legislation for the prohibition. He also drafted legislation to limit dispensaries to certain areas.

“I am not outright opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the possibility that we might have residents that would very much appreciate and value having close access to that. But it seems that there are still a lot of unknowns in how this will be enforced and what that would mean,” Councilwoman Nancy Spencer said.

Mayor Melisa Adrien said she would like to see how dispensaries operate in other communities before allowing them in Madeira.

Vermont: Marijuana Reforms Unlikely To Pass This Session


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Vermont's senate have announced that they will not support a marijuana legalization plan being circulated in the House because it “reinforces a black market approach rather than… [a] more streamlined, regulated system,” Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said in a report on Vermont Public Radio.

The House plan was initially approved by the chamber’s Judiciary Committee but was pulled by House leadership after it became clear it would not pass. The plan would have legalized possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, and allowed them to grow up to two mature and seven immature plants.

Democratic state Sen. Jeannette White said she “can’t imagine” a scenario in which the Senate would pass the House proposal, adding that the measure “does nothing to decrease the black market.”

“It in fact encourages it, because now you’re going to be able to have a certain amount, or an increased amount, and it will be completely legal,” White said in the report. “There’s no place for you to get it, so it’s going to increase the underground market.”

The report disclosed that last year the Senate passed a measure that would have legalized a taxed and regulated recreational marijuana system in the state. That bill failed in the House, however.

Canada: Legislation To Legalize Marijuana Announced


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Canadian government announced new legislation on Thursday legalizing marijuana, fulfilling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promise.

Canada anticipates that legalization will take effect in the summer of 2018.

The new law will make it legal for adults to possess small amounts of cannabis throughout the country and will establish guidelines for who can buy, sell and grow the drug.

The individual provinces will be left to determine specifics of who can possess or sell marijuana.

Marijuana has been legal for some medicinal purposes in Canada since 2001.

Iowa: Medical Marijuana Bill On Fast Track In Senate


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legislation is moving quickly through the Iowa Senate that would authorize the use of medical marijuana to provide help for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other ailments.

Senate Study Bill 1190, The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday. The measure would then be sent to the House for consideration.

“This is not just a statement bill. We would like to get this through the House and down to the governor’s desk," said Schneider, a supporter of medical cannabis. Lawmakers would need to act soon, however, because the 2017 session could end next week.

Oregon: Marijuana Workers Face Difficulties Applying For Personal Loans


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon's recreational marijuana industry has had a huge impact on the local economy. But employees of cannabis-related businesses are finding it difficult to obtain financial assistance for things like mortgages and car payments.

Since marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug, most federally-regulated banks and credit unions shun marijuana-related businesses. But these obstacles have also carried over to affect a number of cannabis-business employees, who are finding it equally difficult to obtain financial assistance.

Banks and credit unions in Oregon are allowed to deny loan applications for pretty much any reason, as long as discrimination against race, gender or national origin doesn't play a role in the decision. A recent story published by Oregon Public Broadcasting shared the story of Melissa Johnson, who works as a customer service representative at the retail cannabis shop Bloom Well.

Missouri: Kansas City Passes Measure To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters approved a measure on Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city's limits.

Nearly 75 percent of voters decided 'yes' on Question 5 which reduces penalties for the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a $25 fine. The measure also eliminates penalties for the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.

The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana," said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML.

The new ordinance takes effect when signed by the mayor or within five days.

Uruguay: Legal Marijuana Sales Set To Begin In July


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legal marijuana sales are set to begin in Uruguay in July, more than four years after the South American nation fully legalized the cannabis trade. Marijuana will be available under the law to citizens and permanent residents 18 years of age and older at pharmacies for $1.30 per gram. Buyers will be limited to purchasing no more than 40 grams per month and will be required to sign up with a national registry. Home growers and cooperative clubs will be allowed to cultivate up to 99 plants.

Presidential Aide Juan Andres Roballo said the registry would be up and running by May 2

The government currently has 16 pharmacies on board, but many pharmacists have doubted the financial benefits of selling cost-controlled cannabis. Some Uruguayans have also expressed privacy concerns over the national registry.

Roballo said that before the registry is launched there would be a public health campaign. He said that he does not believe there will be “an avalanche of users” signing up for the registry.

Uruguay legalized the sale and cultivation of marijuana in 2013 under former President José Mujica in an effort to combat homicides and crime associated with drug trafficking.

U.S: Governors From Four Marijuana States Ask Trump Administration To Leave Cannabis Alone

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governors from the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana want the Trump administration to leave marijuana research alone.

In a letter sent Monday, the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington say that marijuana legalization has expanded their economies.

The governors also say in the letter that legal marijuana can be regulated to protect public safety and that legalization reduces "inequitable incarceration," or people of color being disproportionately jailed for cannabis crimes.

The letter was addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The governors say they opposed legalization at first, but warn that a federal pot crackdown at this point "would divert existing marijuana product into the black market."

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.

West Virginia: Legislature Fast Tracks Medical Marijuana Bill


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


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


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


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

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


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.

U.S.: Study Finds Marijuana Could Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new study shows that U.S. hospitals have not seen an influx of cannabis consumers in states that have legalized medical marijuana as was predicted, but instead have treated far fewer opioid users.

The number of patients admitted for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse decreased on average by 23 percent after states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The study also showed that hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

The report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that fears that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in marijuana-related turned out to be unfounded.

"Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego. "This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary."

An estimated 60 percent of Americans now live in the 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is now legal under state law.

The opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans per day; sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled since 1999.

South Dakota: Two Marijuana Measures Proposed For 2018 Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley recently announced that two marijuana measures have been proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

The sponsor of the measures will circulate petitions with these statements. If the sponsor obtains the required number of signatures (13,871) on each petition by November 2017, as certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot for the November 2018 election.

The measures are titled:

1. “An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use.”
2. “An initiated measure to legalize certain amounts of marijuana, drugs made from marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments.”

Medical marijuana measures appeared on the South Dakota ballot in 2006 and 2010 but failed to pass both years.

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