Oregon: Recreational Marijuana Sales Exceed $100 Million For The Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It was reported Tuesday that recreational sales in Oregon surpassed $100 million between January and July. Data provided by the state's Department of Revenue estimated recreational sales at $102 million, bringing the state about $25.5 million in marijuana taxes.

Oregon legalized adult use marijuana legalization in 2014. The law took effect on July 1, 2015 and dispensaries began sales on October 1, but sales were tax-free until January 4 of this year. Since then, a 25 percent sales tax has been imposed on recreational marijuana sales.

Oregon had taken in about $60 million in May. The significant bump in sales is probably due to the marijuana market expanding to edibles, extracts, and topicals in early June.

“We know some people would embrace [edibles] because they don’t like smoking, for example, so it would be an easier thing to go to,” said Mazen Malik, senior state economist with the Office of Legislative Revenue. “Others would just want to try them because they are new and different and they want to see how they work.”

Michigan: Marijuana Vote Kept Off Ballot With Federal Court Ruling


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A federal judge denied a court motion today meant to stop the printing of election ballots in Michigan until signatures supporting marijuana legalization could be counted.

The decision came at noon today, September 13, in U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's courtroom in Flint.

Plaintiffs Sean Michael Myers and Dakota Blue Serna both signed and circulated petitions to place a ballot question asking voters to legalize marijuana in Michigan and filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, Sept. 8.

Parker ruled after a hearing that lasted over an hour that there is not enough time to stop the process of Michigan's election to place the issue on the ballot.

"...It's really too late to have an effect," she said while ruling on the plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order to pause election processes. She noted a Sept. 24 deadline to send ballots to overseas voters, and a 40-day window that the state legislature has to be given to look at the ballot initiative before the election.

MI Legalize turned in 354,000 signatures for the ballot issue -- well over the total needed to qualify for the November ballot — but state rules made signatures older than 180 days void, blocking it from being added to the ballot.

Massachusetts: New Poll Shows Marijuana Legalization Winning

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new statewide poll of likely voters shows that 50 percent support the marijuana legalization measure this November in Massachusetts.

Question 4 would allow adults over 21 to cultivate, possess, and use marijuana, and sets up a regulatory structure under a Cannabis Control Board.

Forty-five percent in the WBUR/MassINC poll are opposed to legalization and five percent are undecided.

The poll of 506 likely voters took place between September 7 and September 10.

"Younger people are very much in favor of legalization, and it declines steadily as you move up the age brackets to where you get to voters who are 60-plus, and they're opposed to it by a 17-point margin," Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, told WBUR.

Eighty percent of respondents in the poll said they did not believe pot use is morally wrong. Fourteen percent said they did. Six percent are undecided or just don't know.

When asked what they thought was most harmful to a person's health, 42 percent said tobacco, 19 percent said alcohol, 13 percent said sugar ,and 4 percent said marijuana.

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot measure, and made medical marijuana legal the same way in 2012..

Idaho: State Struggles To Stop Pot Smugglers


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.

Massachusetts: Legalization Campaign Has Raised $2.4 Million This Year, Seven Times More Than Opposition Campaign


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The campaign in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21 in Massachusetts has raised over $2.4 million so far in 2016, according to data from the state.

The $2.4 million raised by Yes on 4 is almost seven times the amount the initiative's opposition campaign, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, has raised. This group, which is supported by Governor Charlie Baker and others, has only raised $360,000 so far this year.

The New Approach PAC has been the primary contributor to the Yes on 4 campaign, having donated $2.1 million of the $2.4 million raised.

The Yes on 4 campaign has spent nearly all the money donated, with only $22,500 still on-hand. Most of the money was spent on TV commercials, but the New Approach PAC is expected to make another large donation soon.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts has spent very little of their funding, still having $320,000 on-hand.

If Question 4 passes in November, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of pot. It would also allow the personal cultivation of up to six plants, and allow those in a private residence to possess up to ten ounces instead of just one.

November 8 is the day of the vote. Marijuana legalization is up for a vote the same day in Arizona, Maine, Nevada, and California .

U.S.: Celebrities High On Marijuana Businesses


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Whoopi Goldberg was a guest on Stephen Colbert's Late Show on CBS last week and was introduced by the host, who said "My first guest is an actor, author, talk show host, and has her own line of premium pot."

She's joined an ever-growing group of celebrities who are pushing their own line of specialty marijuana products that includes Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Tommy Chong.

"It's gotten into the fad scenario at this point," Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch told USA Today, " where celebrities almost feel obligated to attach themselves to the cause."

Goldbergs's company, Whoopi & Maya, focuses on cannabis-infused salves, balms, and edibles designed to relieve menstrual cramps, her company website says.

When asked by Colbert how she got into the business, she said "A friend of mine said to me 'Hey, Snoop Dogg is doing this and Willie is doing this.' "

Here are some of the well-known names of celebrities and the pot products they represent:

Snoop Dogg: Snoop's branded line of marijuana, Leafs By Snoop, includes flavors such as Lemon Pie, Purple Bush, and Northern Nights. He says on his website, "Let's medicate, elevate, and put it in the air. Snoop Dogg doesn't actually own the business; a company in Colorado does. He can't own it because he's not a resident in Colorado.

Arizona: Maker Of Deadly Fentanyl Donates Half A Million To Defeat Pot Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Advocates of marijuana legalization have been saying for a while that pharmaceutical companies are one of the major supporters of pot prohibition. States that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in opioid abuse.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that fentanyl manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has donated $500,000 to foes of the Prop 205 marijuana legalization initiative.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid several dozen times more potent than heroin. It has been linked to many opioid overdose deaths across the country, especially when mixed with heroin. Marijuana has no reported overdose deaths, ever.

The only product Insys makes is Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray. In just the past month, two former company employees pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to an alleged kickback scheme to get doctors to prescribe Subsys. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the company charging that Insys hawked the drug to doctors for off-label prescribing.

Insys' "desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients' health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes," Madigan wrote.

Insys says on its website that it is working "to develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids."

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.

Alaska: Officials To Issue Cannabis Licenses This Week, Retail Outlets To Open By End Of Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost two years after Alaskan voters approved legalizing marijuana's recreational use for adults, the state's Marijuana Control Board has announced it will begin issuing cannabis business licenses this week allowing cannabis retail stores to open.

The Board expects most of the retail outlets to be open by the end of the year. Since licenses for cultivation facilities and testing sites were issued in June, seeing the stores open by year-end should be easy.

The stores will be able to legally sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years of age. The Board also plans to discuss this week whether it will allow on-site consumption at these stores, something that's currently not allowed.

Question 2, which was approved by voters in 2014 with 53% of the vote, is what made all these changes possible. Because of Question 2, anyone over 21 in Alaska can legally possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana, and can cultivate up to six plants.

Caribbean: Jamaica Hopes To Cash In On Pot Tourism


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.

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Still 'Open' To Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that she would be "open" to the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, but would not give an endorsement of the state ballot question seeking to legalize. She had made comments last year expressing her openness to the idea of legalization.

“Massachusetts is in a very difficult position, because we have decriminalized marijuana, but that means it’s fairly widely available,” Warren said Thursday. “But there’s no real regulation of it…and I think what we really need is to have some regulation of it, and that means I would be open to the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008 through a ballot initiative, and approved medical marijuana the same way in 2012. When asked if she supports Question 4 she reiterated her call for greater regulation.

“What I just said is that I would be open to it because I think that the problem we’ve got right now in Massachusetts is that we’ve decriminalized it which makes marijuana available but there’s no regulation over it for safety,” she said.

Tennessee: Marijuana Decriminalization In Nashville Faces Important Council Meeting

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill that would reduce the penalty in Nashville for possessing or exchanging small amounts of marijuana faces a crucial vote next week at the Metro Council.

The bill was advanced earlier this month with a 32-4 vote, but it may not see the same support within the 40-member body.

The bill will probably have the support of Mayor Megan Barry, who expressed support for decriminalization during last year's mayoral campaign and has expressed continued support for the idea.

Nashville Police Department records indicate an arrest rate for marijuana misdemeanors at about 20 per day without a felony charge.

The police department is opposed to the bill as proposed, and says that it is due to the wording of the proposed ordinance — it says an offender “shall be issued a citation” as opposed to “may be issued,” which would appear to take discretion away from the officer.

“This is something that targets minorities a lot, small amounts of drugs, and it really hurts their ability to break away from a cycle of poverty,” Councilman Fabian Bedne said.

Nashville's simple possession laws would still differ from those of the state of Tennessee, but the state has shown some support for treating minor marijuana offenses less harshly.

Michigan: Court Says No To Marijuana Ballot Question: Advocates Plan Appeal


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Yesterday the marijuana-legalization question on Michigan ballots suffered a setback that may keep the measure off ballots this November.

MI Legalize, the campaign to legalize cannabis in Michigan, failed to submit enough valid petition signatures, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled.

Although 354,000 signatures were submitted -- well over the required 252,000 signatures -- the court agreed with a State Board of Canvassers decision in June that “more than 200,000 were collected more than 180 days before the petition was submitted” to the Secretary of State — a violation of state law.

“We’re disappointed but we always figured this would go to the state Supreme Court — and that’s where we’re headed” with an emergency appeal, said Jeff Hank, a Lansing lawyer and chairman of MI Legalize. Hank and other pro-marijuana advocates are hopeful that they will prevail and see the question on this year's ballot.

However, state election law experts have said for months that MI Legalize is unlikely to succeed this year. Others said the MI Legalize relied on volunteers for too long, not hiring professional petitioners until it was too late to gather the signatures in 180 days.

Alaska: Credit Union Closes Accounts Connected To Marijuana Businesses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has restricted 10 accounts of people applying for state licenses for marijuana businesses, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Recreational marijuana was made legal in 2014 in Alaska, winning a ballot initiative to legalize.

The state is currently creating regulations for those who want to legally grow, sell, and test marijuana.

In July, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union told marijuana license applicants to close their accounts by August 19.

A letter sent to customers said that the credit union, being federally chartered, does not offer accounts to anyone in a marijuana-related business or any other business that violates federal law.

In 2014 the US Department of Justice said financial institutions are subject to prosecution for conducting financial relations with marijuana-related conduct.

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.

U.S.: Clinton Campaign Says She Would Reschedule Marijuana


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hillary Clinton's campaign issued a statement today, saying she plans to reschedule marijuana if elected in November.

The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced its decision to keep marijuana on the list of Schedule I drugs, in the same category as heroin and LSD, but the Clinton campaign thinks the drug serves a higher purpose.

“Marijuana is already being used for medical purposes in states across the country, and it has the potential for even further medical use,” Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor to Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post. “As Hillary Clinton has said throughout this campaign, we should make it easier to study marijuana so that we can better understand its potential benefits, as well as its side effects."

Clinton seems to disagree with the DEA's decision to keep marijuana on the Schedule I list, and the campaign said if she is elected she would reclassify the drug to a Schedule II substance, which would mean acceptance that marijuana has a medical use for treatment.

“As president, Hillary will build on the important steps announced today by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. She will also ensure Colorado, and other states that have enacted marijuana laws, can continue to serve as laboratories of democracy,” Harris continued.

Oregon: Senators Criticize DEA For Refusal To Reclassify Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, criticized a DEA decision today to keep marijuana on the list of Schedule I controlled substances.

"The DEA's decision flies in the face of choices made freely by voters in Oregon and many other states about the legality of marijuana," Wyden said in a statement. "The bottom line is the DEA is keeping federal law behind the times."

Merkley accused the DEA as interfering with Oregon's economy.

"The federal government shouldn't force Oregon's legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees and bills," Merkley said.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the Oregon congressional delegation's loudest voice for ending marijuana prohibition, released his outraged statement on Wednesday, before the official decision was officially announced

The DEA's decision, just announced will keep marijuana in the same category as drugs such as LSD and heroin, also considered Schedule I, drugs with no medical value but with a high potential for abuse.

"[Marijuana] does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," wrote Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator. "There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse."

U.S.: DEA Ignores Science, Refuses To Reshedule Marijuana

The DEA announced there will be no rescheduling of marijuana; it's still Schedule I.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp news

The Drug Enforcement Administration's much-anticipated decision on rescheduling marijuana came a bit early, late on Wednesday instead of Thursday as promised. Perhaps they were eager to reveal their plan -- to change nothing.

In spite of the fact that half of our 50 states in the U.S now recognize medical marijuana as a useful, beneficial substance for multitudes of people, the DEA will not reschedule the plant.

Contrary to the clear wishes of a majority of American citizens, as many recent polls have shown, the DEA will not reschedule this plant.

In total disregard of the recommendations and advice of scientists, doctors, and researchers, the DEA is not rescheduling marijuana.

It remains a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government, a drug with no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD. Cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids are classified Schedule II because they have some accepted use in medication.

"This decision isn't based on danger," DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg told NPR. "This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it's not."

Clearly it's a decision not based on science or the wishes of the American public.

California: Yes On 64 Campaign Receives First Newspaper Endorsement

California's marijuana legalization campaign, Yes on 64, received its first endorsement from a major newspaper

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Yes on Proposition 64 campaign announced Monday that California's first major newspaper has strongly endorsed Yes On 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

The East Bay Times (formerly the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Hayward Daily Review, Fremont Argus, West County Times and other papers) of the Bay Area News Group, the largest publisher of daily and weekly newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, came out in favor of Proposition 64, calling it “solid,” “smart,” and “long overdue.”

The endorsement reads as follows:

Once again, California voters must decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. They have previously rejected such initiatives, and while Proposition 64 — this year’s incarnation — isn’t perfect, it is a much more thoughtful proposal that should be passed.

Proposition 64 would allow adults 21 years or older to use pot, grow up to six plants in their homes and possess about an ounce of marijuana and about a quarter ounce of hash.

The proposition piggybacks on the regulatory framework for medicinal use that state lawmakers finally developed last year.

Tennessee: Nashville To Consider Decriminalization Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A newly filed ordinance is seeking to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The ordinance would make the penalty for possession or exchange of a half ounce of pot (14.175 grams) or less a civil penalty with a $50 fine. A court could have the option to suspend the civil penalty and instead mandate 10 hours of community service.

Under current Tennessee law, violators of this offence face a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If the Nashville ordinance is approved, a third offense will remain a felony, as required by state law.

“This would allow the police to just write a ticket,” said Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg, a self-described libertarian who is among those who have introduced the Nashville ordinance.

He said that someone who makes a mistake as a kid could be haunted their entire life because of the criminal offenses they face under the current marijuana law here.

“It’s very unproductive,” he said. “This has been an issue that has been moving nationwide from Florida to Washington as our society has come to understand that the most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”

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