Legalization

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.”

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Attorney Challenges Marijuana's Schedule I Classification

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pittsburgh marijuana reform activist and attorney Patrick K. Nightingale has filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I classification.

He filed the motion with the Court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Pennsylvania recently joined 25 other states with legal medical marijuana programs.

Nightingale released the following statement regarding his challenge of marijuana's Schedule I classification:

“Both medicinal consumers and recreational consumers are faced with potential prosecution for possession of a Controlled I substance despite the fact that we have a law demonstrating its efficacy for treating any of 17 qualifying conditions. I believe this amounts to a denial of equal protection and the Court is in a position to address this contradiction.”

Congress has so far been unable or unwilling to address this issue affecting all Americans and their right to equal protection under the law.

Hopefully the Court will be forced to finally take action on this issue, amending a violation of our Constitutional Rights.

U.S.: Big Alcohol Is Working To Undermine Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wikileaks' recent dump of Democratic National Committee's e-mails might prove an agenda against both Bernie Sanders and marijuana legalization.

Many major news outlets shared that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other officials received e-mails questioning Bernie Sanders' religion in an attempt to undermine his support among voters.

However, Marijuana.com's Tom Angell uncovered a daily e-newsletter that included a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) warning against the dangers of marijuana.

In the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle, a newsletter produced by the Politico website, the WSWA’s advertisement reads:

"While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

Massachusetts: Politicians Debate Race, Opioid Addiction In Marijuana Legalization Battle

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts have assembled a powerful show of force in the state's top politicians. On Wednesday, the anti-pot Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts released a list of 119 politicians who oppose marijuana legalization.

The list includes Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, and Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Meanwhile, Boston city councilors Michelle Wu and Tito Jackson and State Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, were holding a press conference outside the Statehouse to support marijuana legalization.

Pro-marijuana advocates may face quite a challenge, but voters in Massachusetts have already voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and legalize medical marijuana. Recent polls show that voters are split on the issue of legal marijuana for recreational use.

The Western Massachusetts lawmakers to come out against marijuana legalization on Wednesday include State Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Warren, State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, State Rep. Michael Finn, D-West Springfield, State Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield, and State Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst.

Vermont: Doctors And Researchers Think Marijuana Study Was Flawed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers say a report assessing the public health risks of legalizing marijuana in Vermont is flawed.

The 84-page assessment was released during the legislative session in mid-January, according to the Burlington Free Press. The report offered policy recommendations, a summary and conclusions based on available research.

This spring a bill to legalize marijuana died in the Vermont House.

Doctors and researchers wrote to lawmakers that the scope of the report was too narrow, only focused on the negative impacts, and lacked the context of the state’s opioid crisis.

A state public health analyst who promoted the report says the assessment wasn’t intended to advocate for one side or another. Everyone involved was asked to disregard their own personal biases.

California: Kennedy Group Puts $2 Million Into Fighting Pot-legalization Measures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A national coalition that includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight marijuana legalization initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in California.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is the anti-legalization group founded by Kennedy and co-founders David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration.

Sabet, president of the group SAM Action, said that California will get a large amount of the money, because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals.

“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the state.

If approved by voters this November, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of pot for recreational purposes and would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

SAM Action also plans to fund battles against marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballots in Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Arizona, where signatures have been turned in, according to Sabet.

Maine: Travel Guru Rick Steves Donates $50,000 To Marijuana Legalization Campaign

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rick Steves, popular travel writer and television host, has donated $50,000 to Maine's political action committee devoted to seeing recreational marijuana legalized in the state.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says in its latest campaign finance report that it has raised just over $191,000 for the reporting period that ended on July 19.

Steves promised to match “dollar-for-dollar” donations up to a total of $50,000 in a letter to legalization supporters in May. Campaign finance records show that his donation was made on July 18.

“Through my travels in Europe, I’ve learned that pragmatic harm reduction makes much more sense than legislating morality,” Steves wrote in the letter. “And I believe in civil liberties. Responsible adults should be able to use marijuana, just as they can use alcohol. Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have demonstrated that it is possible to build a system of marijuana control and regulation that works. This isn’t about being ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ on drugs. This is about being smart – and controlling and regulating marijuana the right way.”

Steves has worked for legalization in both Washington and Oregon, and resides in Washington.

The campaign in Maine has so far raised a total of $436,000, and had about $93,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Pennsylvania: Dems Become First Major Party To Back A Path To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Democratic Party made history in Philadelphia Monday by voting to approve a national platform endorsing a "pathway" for marijuana legalization.

The platform calls for removing marijuana from the federal government's list of Schedule 1 drugs. That list includes LSD and heroin; Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous with a high potential for abuse and no medical purpose.

“The fact that one of the country’s two major parties has officially endorsed a pathway to legalization is the clearest sign we’ve seen yet that marijuana reform is a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group.

“A clear and growing majority of voters want to end prohibition.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton does not back full legalization at the federal level. She has often said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states, allowing them to be “laboratories of democracy.”

Legal marijuana could see a huge expansion this year.

Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on marijuana legalization in November, and voters in Florida and Arkansas will have the opportunity to vote for medical marijuana.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Activists March To Democratic Convention With 51-Foot Joints

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two 51-foot inflatable joints were marched up Broad Street in Philadelphia yesterday to celebrate the Democratic National Committee's progressive platform on marijuana.

About two dozen members of the Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) carried the blow-up joints about 3.5 miles from Philadelphia City Hall to the Wells Fargo enter, where the convention is taking place.

Marijuana is a central issue at the convention this year, and pro-legalization groups are pleased with the progress being made. Activists have been joined by some members of Congress, fighting for marijuana reform, hoping that federal laws will soon mirror those of states that have legalized marijuana.

One joint read "Legalize" and "Hillary, Deschedule Cannabis Now".

The other read "End the Racist Drug War" and Berned by the DNC", referring to the leaked e-mails that showed high-ranking party members had favored Hillary Clinton. Sanders became an advocate for marijuana reform during his campaign, and had a lot to do with why the issue made it part of the DNC platform at all. He refrained from endorsing Clinton until certain issues from his campaign, including marijuana reform and free college tuition, were added to the party's platform draft.

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

Uruguay: Security Fears Holding Back Cannabis Rollout

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Although Uruguay has implemented a new law allowing pharmacies to sell marijuana, most are choosing not to participate because of security problems.

Most of the country's pharmacies have not signed on, citing security issues and complaining of paperwork, cost increases or opposition from customers to selling legal cannabis.

Uruguay legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana in 2013, hoping to create the world's first government-regulated national marketplace for cannabis. Its goal was to fight rising homicide and crime rates associated with drug trafficking in the country

But while the government wants to begin selling marijuana at pharmacies in the coming weeks, only 50 out of 1,200 pharmacies are registered so far.

"I don't see the need to get into a conflict with people who are already selling weed in the neighborhoods," said Marcelo Trujillo, who owns three pharmacies in Montevideo's Cerro neighborhood.

"I just don't want to expose myself or my employees," he said.

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Poised To Appear On November Ballot

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 258,582 petition signatures to the Secretary of State on Thursday; 150,642 valid signatures needed to qualify

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee released a report Wednesday that estimates passage of the initiative will generate nearly $82 million in annual tax revenue, including more than $55 million for Arizona schools

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A citizen initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona is poised to appear on the November ballot after proponents turned in their petition Thursday with more than enough signatures to qualify.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 258,582 total signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State. With 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters needed to place the measure on the ballot, that appears to be a comfortable margin. The secretary of state is expected to determine whether the initiative has qualified by late August.

“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Arizona: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Submitting Signatures

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On Thursday, June 30, at 10:30 a.m., campaign leaders and supporters will hold a news conference just prior to handing over more than 100 boxes of petitions to state officials

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) will submit more than 100 boxes of petitions to state officials on Thursday to place an initiative on the November ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Arizona.

Campaign leaders and initiative supporters will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. in a temporary office located on the second floor of 77 E. Weldon Ave. in Phoenix, where representatives of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office will be accepting and reviewing the petitions.

Initiative backers need at least 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. At Thursday's news conference, they will announce the total number of signatures they will be submitting.

The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and public education programs.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) Qualifies For November Ballot

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The campaign in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) on Tuesday applauded the announcement by Secretary of State Alex Padilla that the measure has officially qualified for the November 8 General Election ballot in California.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said Jason Kinney, spokesperson for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

“This measure reflects years of hard work, diverse stakeholder input and broad, bipartisan public support," Kinney said. "A growing majority of Californians support a smarter approach to marijuana and we’re gratified that voters will finally have the opportunity in November to pass comprehensive, common-sense policy that protects children, local control, public health and public safety, saves state and local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, funds critical local programs, and serves as a model for the rest of the nation.”

The coalition of endorsers in support of AUMA is the largest ever formed in support of marijuana policy reform in the state, according to organizers.

Oregon: Marijuana Edibles Market Growing

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Following the rollout of edible marijuana products to Oregon's recreational cannabis market on June 2, manufacturers of pot-infused chocolate bars and gummy bears are stepping up their production.

The Oregon Legislative Revenue office expects a 10 to 15 percent increase in collected taxes for June recreational sales as a result.

The trend is expected to continue for the next few months, at least. The estimate is based on preliminary reports from the industry, and trends seen in Washington and Colorado, following their introduction of cannabis-infused products.

“It is a new range of products, a new market, and not necessarily the same market that marijuana leaves have been in for a long time,” said Mazen Malik, the senior economist at the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office. “Sales should be toward the higher end (of a 10 to 15 percent boost) in the beginning of the month, and then come down. People want to see how this works.”

Oregon recreational pot taxes in 2016 had reached $14.9 million total by May 30, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. The Legislative Revenue Office anticipates gross tax revenue should average $3.7 million per month.

Arizona: DEA Agent Echoes Message of Billboard Supporting Marijuana Initiative

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The Independence Day-themed ad highlights benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana in Arizona: ‘Adults could buy American and support schools, not cartels’

A 23-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who spent years investigating Mexican drug cartels is throwing his support behind the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Arizona and echoing the message of a billboard supporters launched this week at Tempe Marketplace.

“If Arizona regulates marijuana, adults could buy American,” reads the Independence Day-themed ad, instead of buying marijuana that has been illegally smuggled across the Mexican border into Arizona.

It also notes that revenue from regulated marijuana sales would “support schools, not cartels.” The proposed initiative would initially generate $64 million in annual state tax revenue, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs, according to an independent study conducted by the Grand Canyon Institute.

Arizona: 4th of July Themed Billboard Highlights Benefits of Marijuana Legalization

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Backers of the ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona have launched an Independence Day-themed billboard to highlight the benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana.

“If Arizona regulates marijuana,” the billboard reads, “adults could buy American,” instead of buying marijuana that has been illegally smuggled across the Mexican border into Arizona. The ad also notes that revenue from regulated marijuana sales would “support schools, not cartels.”

The proposed initiative would initially generate an estimated $64 million in annual tax revenue, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs, according to an independent study conducted by the Grand Canyon Institute.

Maine: Initiative To Legalize Marijuana Will Appear On Ballot As Question 1

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Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Monday announced that the initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine will appear on the ballot as Question 1.

The secretary of state set the final wording of the ballot question last week. It reads, “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

“The wording of our ballot question is far more important than the order in which it will appear," said Yes On 1 Campaign Manager David Boyer. "It conveys to voters that the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use will be subject to regulation, taxation, and local control.

"We are pleased, as those themes comprise the core of our initiative and help explain the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition," Boyer said. "Residents of Maine will be hearing a lot more about regulation, taxation, and local control as we spend the next four months encouraging them to vote ‘Yes’ on Question 1.

U.S.: Democratic Party Officially Includes Marijuana Reform In Its 2016 Platform

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Democratic National Committee has officially made the decision to include marijuana reform in the party's 2016 platform.

The DNC announced over the weekend that the party wants to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession, increase studies into the plant's therapeutic benefits, and eliminate prohibition affecting states where cannabis is now legal.

In a statement, the party said: “We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”

The DNC's new stance on pot reform is not as deep as what presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for. Sanders last week pushed for the DNC to embrace the total elimination of pot prohibition in the United States.

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