Legalization

Massachusetts: Marijuana Legal At Midnight Tonight

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It will be legal for adults 21 and over in Massachusetts to possess marijuana and to grow the plant at home starting at midnight tonight. The Governor's Council recently certified the results of the November election.

“This is a historic day for Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, who was the spokesman of the Yes on 4 campaign. “[W]e urge all residents intending to use or grow marijuana to educate themselves regarding what is and isn’t allowed under the new law.”

Borghesani also argued against changing the law, as some officials have said they intend to do next year. “This law was written with great deliberation and care, and it requires no legislative fixes or revisions. It would be unwise to extend the period where possession is legal but retail sales aren’t in effect. We hope that the Cannabis Control Commission is appointed by the March 1 deadline and that they begin the crucial work of writing the regulations that will control the new industry,” he said.

Massachusetts: Sen. Stan Rosenberg Wants To Raise Legal Marijuana Smoking Age To 25

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said Tuesday that he would be interested in raising the legal smoking age for marijuana under state law to 25.

He did admit, however, that it was his idea alone, and that it would be hard to accomplish in the Legislature.

"I feel obligated to put it on the table and have it discussed even if the decision is to stick with 21," Rosenberg said.

In November, voters passed a measure to make marijuana use and possession legal for adults 21 and over. Although no retail stores are opening yet, pot will be legal to possess in the state on Thursday.

When asked by reporters why he favors the later age for legal pot use, he said that he has seen neurological studies indicating that the brain is not fully developed until age 25, and smoking large quantities of marijuana can affect brain development and have a lifelong impact.

He acknowledged the idea is only his personal opinion, and said "it's not going to be a popular proposal."

U.S.: Fewer Teens Are Smoking Marijuana Despite Fears That Legalization Would lead To Increased Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A report released Tuesday by The Marijuana Policy Project says that fewer teenagers are smoking marijuana. The report should help invalidate the claims that marijuana legalization and reform lead to increased teen use.

The Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) made the following points:

-Among 8th-graders, the rate of past-year marijuana use dropped significantly from 11.8% in 2015 to 9.4% in 2016, its lowest level since 1993. Past-month marijuana use also dropped significantly, from 6.5% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016, and daily use dropped from 1.1% in 2015 to 0.7% in 2016.

-Among 10th- and 12th-graders, rates of past-year, past-month, and daily marijuana use remained relatively stable compared to last year.

-Rates of use among 12th-graders appear to be higher in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without them, but previous studies have found that rates of use were already higher prior to the adoption of such laws.

-Students’ perception of risk surrounding marijuana remained relatively stable from 2015 to 2016. The perception that marijuana is very easy or fairly easy to access declined slightly for 8th- and 10th-graders, and it increased slightly for 12th-graders.

Italy: Legal Marijuana Could Come Soon Despite Pope's Disapproval

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new movement to legalize marijuana is taking place in Italy and the Pope is not happy about it. Although the Italian government has abolished its state religion, the people are still heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, so it will be interesting to see how much influence his opinion will have when the issue is voted on soon.

The Italian parliament is already discussing what legal marijuana would be like in their country. The bill being considered is supported by many groups on the left side of Italian politics. The bill would allow Italian citizens to grow up to five plants at a time, and carry up to five grams in public and be in possession of up to fifteen grams at home.

Pope Francis is still firmly against legalizing marijuana, seeing it as a drug and a risk for addiction, and not a gift from God as some people see it. In 2014 the pope said there should be no yielding or compromise on the ban of marijuana. He has said that legalization of cannabis would not solve the real problems surrounding the drug.

Hopefully the Italian people will lead the way in Europe to establishing progressive marijuana policies and other countries will begin to follow suit.

Maine: Marijuana Opponents Start Recount, But Fail To Staff Enough Volunteers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The State of Maine passed Question 1 on Election Day with a narrow margin of just under 3,000 votes, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Opponents of legal marijuana in the state have called for a recount, a process that could take a month and cost the state an estimated half a million dollars. But opponents didn't provide enough volunteers to recount the votes for the first two days.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the The Yes on 1 campaign, which backed the initiative that appears to have legalized recreational marijuana, criticized the No on 1 side and said the shortage of counters had slowed the tedious process of hand counting ballots.

State elections officials said Wednesday the process is back on track after a slight delay at the beginning, and that state staff and other volunteers filled in when necessary. While the state asks each side to provide equal numbers of volunteer counters, there is no state law requiring the No on 1 campaign to provide a certain number of volunteers in order to proceed with the recount.

While the law doesn't require a certain number of volunteers, it would only seem logical for opponents to provide enough volunteers to actually perform the recount they want to happen.

Massachusetts: Pot To Be Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin had warned last week that a delay in the measure legalizing marijuana may be necessary, but says now that will not be the case.

Galvin's office said Friday that he will submit official results of the voter-passed legalization measure to the Governor’s Council Wednesday for certification. Possessing, growing, and using marijuana at home will be legal Thursday if no unforeseen obstacle comes up.

“This closes the door on an era that was marked by hysteria, by injustices, and by ineffective public policy,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the legalization effort. “This opens up an era that may take a bit of getting used to, but as in many other social transformations, people will look back and say: What were we so worried about?"

Adults 21 and over in Massachusetts will be allowed to use, posses, and purchase up to one ounce of pot beginning Thursday.

Marijuana use will still be prohibited in public places and anywhere tobacco smoking is not allowed.

People will be allowed to have up to 10 ounces of pot in their primary residence, and grow up to 12 plants per household.

Marijuana accessories, such as pipes, bongs, and grow lights, also become legal on Thursday.

But there will be no retail stores until January 2018.

Alaska: First Retail Cannabis Outlet In Anchorage To Open This Month

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaskans voted to legalize marijuana more than two years ago, allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of pot, cultivate up to six plants, and to open retail cannabis stores. This month Anchorage will finally see its first cannabis retail outlet open its doors.

Alaska Fireweed’s General Manager William Ingram has announced that they are the first to pass their final inspection and plan to open the store on December 17 at "high noon"

“I couldn’t be more excited to finally open our doors; it’s been a grueling process”, Ingram said. He said it’s taken over 8 months of inspections to get to this point. “I think people expected things to be further along by now, but we’re glad to be where we are”, he says.

Ingram said the clinic will offer nine strains of marijuana on opening day, each grown by licensed cultivator Greatland Ganja. Dried bud, pre-rolled joints, and some devices such as pipes and bongs will be available for purchase.Ingram said customers should expect "a long line", and should remember to bring cash, as it will be the only form of payment they can accept.

Canada: Restrictions On Hemp Are Eased

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made marijuana legalization a campaign promise, and is slowly working towards fulfilling that promise. Health Canada has announced that it has made the process simpler for people to be permitted to grow hemp, marijuana's non-psychoactive cousin, in the country.

The cultivation of industrial hemp has been exempted from the nation’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The minimum acreage requirement has been removed as part of that change, allowing hemp to be grown in even very small fields.

Health Canada says the move “better aligns regulation of industrial hemp with the demonstrated low public health and safety risk of the crop.”

Changes being made are listed here:

--Planning sites no longer will need to be pre-approved, and applicants will no longer need to submit GPS and map coordinates.

--One hemp license will cover all cultivation sites, removing the requirement of obtaining multiple licenses for multiple crops.

--THC testing is no longer required for those growing hemp for grain and fiber.

--Applications will be accepted via e-mail, rather than exclusively in-person.

U.S.: Trump Homeland Security Pick Is Opponent Of Legal Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday his pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security: retired Marine general John F. Kelly, another opponent of marijuana legalization.

Kelly regularly testified before Congress that U.S. marijuana policy reforms make it harder to seek cooperation from Latin American countries in the international war on drugs.

“Most of the states — countries — I deal with were in utter disbelief that we would, in their opinion, be going in that direction, particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries,” he told the House Armed Services Committee in 2014. “They’re very polite to me, but every now and again when they’re not so polite, the term ‘hypocrite’ gets into the discussion… It is hard for me to look them
in the eye and tell them, ‘You really need to, you know, stay shoulder to shoulder with us,’ because they see us in a sense giving in.”

He argued that marijuana policy reform would lead to increased crime and health care costs. “It’s astounding to me that we are — we’ve just kicked off — the federal government has just kicked off a $100 million program to try to get people to stop smoking tobacco, yet we’re opening up other areas of substance abuse,” Kelly said.

Texas: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Texas state Senator Jose Menendez filed a bill today that would allow people with chronic and debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana to treat those conditions through a prescription from a doctor.

Senator Menendez says if traditionally conservative states like Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas can pass such a measure, Texas should follow suit.

Illnesses like cancer, PTSD, nausea, Parkinson’s, autism, HIV and severe pain are a few of the ailments that would qualify.

Political science professor Doctor Paul Fabrizio told KIDY the road to approval for this bill is a difficult one. If passed in both the House and the Senate, there’s still one huge obstacle.

“If they were to get it passed, they’re gonna have to convince the governor. The governor has been very outspoken in saying he does not support legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. Therefore, he’s not going to sign a bill,” Fabrizio said.

Missouri: Kansas City Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Draws Enough Signatures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Kansas City Star reports that enough signatures were gathered in a petition initiative to allow voters to decide on decriminalizing marijuana possession during the city’s next election cycle in April.

The proposal intends to change current the law to treat 35 grams or less of marijuana as a city ordinance violation with a fine of $25. NORML KC spokeswoman Jamie Kacz said that this would be similar to decriminalization laws passed in St. Louis and Columbia.

The initiative, which was supported by the Kansas City chapter of NORML, gathered over 2,000 signatures of registered voters. The City Council must review and approve the measure before it goes up for a vote. All reviews must be made before January 19, leaving the City Council with less than their allowed 60 days for approval. This means it’s possible they won’t get through their review before the deadline.

Kacz said last week her group wants to work together with the Kansas City Law Department to craft a measure that can pass legal muster and be placed on a city ballot.

Canada: Pot Smokers Feel 'Cheated' By Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana users who helped Justin Trudeau get elected as Canada's Prime Minister now feel "cheated" by his support of a police crackdown on storefront dispensaries, according to a cannabis industry spokesperson.

Abi Roach, a director with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, said that marijuana advocates and users helped the federal Liberals to gain a majority government because of the expectation that Trudeau would allow small businesses to legally sell cannabis to recreational users.

Trudeau has promised to legalize recreational marijuana this spring.

The crackdown under Trudeau has been stricter than under any previous government, Roach said.

“All we’ve seen is raids and arrests and more criminal records and more issues and more problems,” Roach said. “When Trudeau was elected, I cried ... We campaigned our butts off for Trudeau because we wanted him to win so bad because we believed what he was saying ... Wow, was I cheated or what. I think that’s the way most cannabis consumers feel.”

Trudeau supported the legal crackdown in a recent editorial board meeting with the Toronto Star.

Massachusetts: Senate President Says Parts Of Marijuana Law May Be Delayed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A top Massachusetts lawmaker said on Monday that legislators are talking about delaying some aspects of the recently-passed marijuana legalization measure.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said, “We’ve had discussions about delaying some of the dates to give us more time to fine-tune the bill and, in the next few weeks, we have to make final decisions on that.”

Rosenberg, A Democrat who supported legalization, said that if lawmakers implement a delay of the ballot measure, “it’s going to be a very time-limited delay.”

The initiative legalizes possession, use, and homegrowing of marijuana on December 15, a week from Thursday. It requires the state treasurer to appoint a three-person Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the industry by March 2017. Retail stores would be authorized to sell pot starting in January 2018.

“It’s encouraging that these leaders seem to be indicating that there will be no attempt to delay the December 15 possession and homegrow provisions,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the effort to pass Question 4.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Opponents Request Recount Of Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Maine have filed a formal request for a recount of votes after the recent passage of Question 1 to legalize pot for adults over 21 in the state.

The recount request was filed at Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap's office, according to WCSH6.

Question 1 would legalize marijuana cultivation and possession by adults over the age of 21; the measure passed by 4,400 votes.

Petitions seeking recounts were turned in Wednesday afternoon to the Secretary of State’s Office. State officials must verify that at least 100 signatures on each petition came from registered voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election before a recount is scheduled.

Alysia Melnick of the Yes on 1 campaign said the recount is unlikely to change the outcome, given the margin and the accuracy of the state’s voting machines.

“With thousands of votes in the margin, the recount is not going to be successful,” she said, “and it’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and use taxpayer dollars for a recount that will not change the outcome.”

Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, agreed there is no way a recount will change the outcome. “I am disappointed that the ‘No’ camp would waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars when they have clearly lost,” he said.

Rhode Island: State May Follow Massachusetts And Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimonda said Tuesday that she's planning to take a serious look at moving to legalize marijuana for adults in the state following the passing of Massachusetts' pot legalization measure.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello also expressed interest in moving to legalize the plant, saying he’s ready to take up legislation next year because marijuana will become readily available to Rhode Islanders traveling across the Massachusetts border.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio has also announced plans to pursue pot legalization for adults in Rhode Island.

Although recreational marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts on December 15, retail sales won’t begin until at least 2018.

Texas: Legislators File Bills To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after several other states approved measures to weaken restrictions on marijuana, Texas lawmakers are aiming to do the same.

On Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, Texas legislators submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Bills were submitted that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On Nov. 8, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana initiatives, adding them to a growing list of states — including Alaska,Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — that have already approved the drug for recreational use. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota also approved medicinal marijuana initiatives.

The National Conference of State Legislators reports that 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.

Nevada: Ballot Could Add Legal Marijuana To Las Vegas' List Of Vices

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If Nevada approves a Nov. 8 referendum on legalizing marijuana, Las Vegas could soon add recreational marijuana to its list of vices.

Supporters see cannabis as an attractive alternative to $15 cocktails, but pot proponents will have to win over closely divided voters and a risk-averse gambling industry.

Despite their reputation for debauchery, Nevada's rigorously regulated casinos are known to lean to the conservative side to avoid scandalizing the middle-aged tourists who are their majority clientele.

The ballot initiative would not allow municipalities to put blanket bans on marijuana,and it would also bar consumption in buildings that are open to the public. Local governments could restrict the locations of dispensaries, and city-dwellers would be banned from growing their own pot.

California: Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Endorses Marijuana Legalization Initiative

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Monday, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa became the latest high-profile politician to endorse an initiative on next week’s ballot that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California.

Villaraigosa is considering running for governor in 2018 amid a field that already includes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading proponent of Proposition 64.

“I took my time on this measure because I wanted to make sure it included protections for children and public safety,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “In evaluating the measure in its entirety, I am convinced there are enough safeguards to make it a workable proposition.”

The Proposition 64 campaign welcomed Villaraigosa’s endorsement at a time when a recent poll indicated slightly fewer than half of Latino voters support the measure.

“We’re glad to have it,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the campaign.

Rhode Island: Governor Watching Massachusetts Marijuana Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The governor of Rhode Island says she's positioning her state to be ready for the possible legalization of recreational marijuana by improving state oversight of medical marijuana.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo told the Providence Journal the state will have to look harder and faster at recreational pot legalization if Massachusetts voters approve it across the border in next week's election.

If Question 4 on the Massachusetts ballot passes, it would allow retail pot shops to open after January 2018, giving some time for Rhode Island to catch up.

Raimondo says medical marijuana reforms she signed into law this year improve oversight of a flawed system. She says they also create a regulatory framework so the state is prepared if recreational pot is legalized.

She says she remains concerned about keeping kids safe.

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:

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