Political

Illinois: Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (Economic Development)

Illinois Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Chicago, IL - State lawmakers continued their in-depth look at cannabis policy reform earlier this week as they heard testimony on the economic boost Illinois could expect following the end of cannabis prohibition. Travel icon Rick Steves, Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon, economist Adam Orens, and several Illinois business owners discussed the benefits and challenges Illinois could expect upon adopting a better law.

Maine: Prohibitionist Governor Vetoes Cannabis Regulation and Implementation Bill

Maine-Flag

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Friday, Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated cannabis market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016.

The progressive bill, LD 1650, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use and delay cannabis social consumption lounges until summer 2019.

Canada: Quebec Sets Minimum Age for Cannabis Consumption at 18

Quebec Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Thursday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the call that the minimum age for the consumption of legal cannabis in Quebec will be 18.

After several caucus meetings, where everyone was allowed to express their views on the hot issue, Couillard made a ultimate decision, opting for 18 instead of 21 as some requested, government sources confirmed on Friday.

The opposition Coalition, led by Avenir Québec, had also been calling for age 21 because they believed smoking cannabis at such a young age can have negative effects on the brain. Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette was pushing for age 21, but voted for 18, after reconsidering.

Georgia: Atlanta City Council Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis

Atlanta Cannabis Decriminalization

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis in an unanimous decision. After the historic 15-0 vote from the City Council, the proposed ordinance was sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to either sign or veto the legislation. If the mayor signs it, which he said he intends to, the ordinance will become city law.

After the vote, Mayor Reed indicated that he was interested in signing the legislation. In a tweet, the mayor thanked council members for their "leadership on marijuana reform."

U.S.: FBI Reports 653,249 Arrests for Cannabis in 2016

Cannabis Arrest

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. The staggering data equates to one person being arrested for cannabis approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

In the U.S. today, arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty that needs to end.

Massachusetts: Advocates Seek Assurances From Cannabis Control Commission

Mass Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Many advocates in the cannabis industry feel the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) members who opposed Question 4, the state's recreational cannabis law, should make clear that their personal positions will not impact their board responsibilities in implementing the law.

Advocates are asking CCC Chairman, Steven Hoffman, to request that the governor and the Legislature provide adequate funding to get the legal sales system up and running on the current schedule.

U.S.: Senators Reintroduce Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

US Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, the bipartisan authors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) reintroduced their comprehensive legislation to review prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars.

The legislation, spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), improves judicial discretion at sentencing for low level offenders and helps inmates successfully reenter society, while tightening penalties for violent criminals and preserving key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.

Michigan: Cannabis Legalization Coalition Nearing Petition Drive Goal

Michigan Signature Gathering

Backers of a ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan are approaching the finish line

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Hundreds of petition circulators in Michigan have been busy collecting signatures for the legalization of cannabis.

Josh Hovey, the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, says the group is pushing forward and their petition drive will collect its 300,000 signature in the coming days.

"We're around 80 percent toward our goal, which puts us at about 280,000 signatures. If we can keep our fundraising up the we'll be pushing 300k very soon and wrapping up the signatures in the next month," Hovey told Hemp News.

Oregon: New Plant Limits for Medical Marijuana Program Hurting Patients

Oregon Capitol

New state regulations attempting to address the flow of medical cannabis into the black market leaves patients in painful bind

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Oregon public health officials drafted strict rules for how many plants medical cannabis patients may cultivate at home or at a grow-site registered with the state. Legislators claim the regulations are the result of bi-partisan legislation passed this past session to stop the flow of medical cannabis to the community. A residence may have no more than a dozen mature plants, no matter how many people live there, including recreational plants. The law does not define the size of immature plants.

U.S.: Trump Intends to Nominate Pennsylvania Congressman Marino as Drug Czar

Tom Marino, Prohibitionist

Trump to name Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) as White House Drug Czar

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The position of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who is responsible for setting broad federal approaches to controlled substance policy and certifying the drug budgets of other agencies, will be given Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino, a former state and federal prosecutor.

Rep. Marino has consistently voted against marijuana law reform measures on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, as a member of Congress since 2011.

Utah: Patients Coalition Launches 2018 Signature Drive for Medical Cannabis Initiative

Utah Patients Coalition 2018

Patients, advocates, and dedicated volunteers begin signature drive across the state

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The campaign to place a medical cannabis initiative on the November 2018 ballot has entered their signature gathering phase. The Utah Patients Coalition are collecting signatures throughout the state and are assembling teams on a daily basis. To qualify for the ballot, more than 113,000 valid signatures are required.

On August 10, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox to begin gathering signatures after supporters held 10 public hearings across the state and met with various state departments and stakeholders.

Michigan: Effort To Legalize Marijuana On Pace to Make 2018 Ballot

Michigan Cannabis 2018

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The signature drive to legalize marijuana in Michigan in November of 2018 is swiftly progressing toward making the ballot.

Robin Schneider, the Finance Director for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told Hemp News, "Last week, we passed the 200,000-signature mark – meaning we’re well on our way to reaching our goal of collecting 366,000 signatures. 252,523 of these signatures need to be validated to get on the ballot in 2018 and end cannabis prohibition once and for all."

If the proposal to end marijuana prohibition is approved by voters, Michigan would become a national leader in cannabis reform by allowing personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older.

U.S.: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Continues to Deny Cannabis Science

Jeff Sessions, Prohibitionist

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions vows medical cannabis has no medicinal value and science still contradicts his stance

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the ever outspoken cannabis prohibitionist, has been pushing for Congressional permission to prosecute medical cannabis providers in states that have legalized the drug for medical use.

AG Sessions, who points to America’s “historic drug epidemic” to justify the crackdown, denies extensive research showing medical cannabis access lowers rates of opioid-related overdose.

Massachusetts: Governor Appoints Senator Flanagan to Cannabis Control Commission

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker named state senator Jennifer L. Flanagan as the gubernatorial appointee to the five-member Cannabis Control Commission, the commission charged with regulating both the adult use and medical marijuana industries.

Maine: State Delays Recreational Cannabis Sales, Governor Urges Cannabis Crackdown

Maine Cannabis

Last November, ballot initiative Question 1 gave Maine lawmakers and regulators nine months to write the rules

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Maine won’t be able to meet its February deadline to allow recreational cannabis sales, according to state officials.

Republican State Sen. Roger Katz said the agencies responsible for the recreational market rollout don’t have sufficient time before the deadline to perform such tasks as licensing growers, writing departmental rules and hiring new inspectors.

Last Month, Gov. Paul LePage stated he wished the Maine Legislature had repealed the referendum-passed law legalizing recreational cannabis use.

Wisconsin: Senator Invests in Canadian Cannabis Farm Creating Conflict of Interest

Sen. Frank Lasee, Profiteer

Earlier this year, when the state senator voted to expand access to medical cannabis in Wisconsin, he was doing so as an investor of a Canadian cannabis farm embroiled in turmoil

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In 2016, Wisconsin State Senator Frank Lasee of De Pere, bought $5,000 to $50,000 in the stock of Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp, according to public disclosures reviewed this week.

Kansas: 16-Year-Old Running for Governor, Plans to Legalize

Jack Bergeson on Kimmel

Jack Bergeson, 16, a Wichita high school student, is running for Kansas governor

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Even though he won’t be able to legally cast a vote, Jack Bergeson, a 16-year-old from Wichita, is running for Governor of Kansas in 2018. His political platform includes legalizing marijuana for social use.

“Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.”

Utah: Initiative Approved to Begin Collecting Signatures for Medical Cannabis in 2018

Utah Patients Coalition 2018

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Utah Patients Coalition has received approval from Lt., Governor Spencer Cox, to begin gathering signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot. After holding 10 public hearings across the state and meeting with various state departments and stakeholders, Utah Patients Coalition will now proceed to collect the more than 113,000 required signatures to place doctor-approved access to medical cannabis on the ballot for Utah voters to approve.

U.S.: Congresswoman Introduces Bill Allowing States to Effectively Regulate Cannabis

US House of Representatives

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized some form of cannabis and more are expected to vote on legalization in 2018. Yet, cannabis possession or use for any purpose is still prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act, leaving every participant in the state markets — including cancer patients — at risk of prosecution.

On July 28, Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-WA) reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534) to protect medical patients, recreational users and small businesses in states that have legalized and regulated cannabis from being prosecuted now or in the future.

U.S.: DOJ Task Force Recommends Against Sessions Targeting Legal Marijuana Providers

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Recommendations would preserve current policy of not interfering with medical and adult-use businesses that comply with state law and federal guidelines

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A Dept. of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy is not recommending any policy changes that would target state-legal marijuana programs or businesses operating in compliance with state laws, according to a report by the Associated Press. The task force asked for continued study and dialogue on the issue.

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