Political

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Backers Launch Mother's Day Billboards

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Backers of an initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona launched a pair of Mother’s Day-themed billboards in Phoenix and Tucson on Monday. An image of the billboard is attached, and a high-resolution version is available at http://bit.ly/1N3OkrX.

The ads, which are targeted at younger voters, feature a young woman sitting with her mother and ask: “Have you talked to your parents about marijuana?” The goal of the ads is to flip the script on marijuana education and encourage younger voters to start conversations about marijuana with their family members — especially older generations who have been led to believe marijuana is more harmful than it actually is.

The billboards direct viewers to a website — http://TalkItUpArizona.org — that allows them to send a message about marijuana to their parents or other relatives. The billboards will run through Sunday, which is Mother’s Day.

“For decades, the federal government distributed anti-marijuana propaganda to parents and encouraged them to share it with their children,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “It’s time for younger folks to start sharing the facts about marijuana with their parents and other older relatives.

Spain: Basque Parliament Urges Progress On Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Basque Parliament has asked the Spanish Government, the Parliament and the Justice Administration for "solid progress" on marijuana legalization and regulation, criticizing the "setback" that led to Supreme Court judgments against Basque cannabis clubs.

The House defended a "regulated solution" to allow the operation of cannabis clubs, passed as the Basque Addictions Act on April 7. The text adopted on Monday invites cannabis clubs and associations existing in the Basque Country to go ahead and "establish self-regulatory mechanisms, good practices" and work with the Administration, even though no specific regulations yet exist.

Acting Health Minister Alfonso Alonso last June said the central government is studying an appeal against the Law on Addictions with the possibility that legalizing and regulating the cannabis clubs exceeded the authority of the Basque Country.

It was pointed out that these cannabis clubs have already been operating for some time in Basque Country, and, in general, are pretty good at regulating themselves in an "orderly and responsible" fashion.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Qualifies For November Ballot; Poll Shows Solid Support

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Maine state officials on Wednesday announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question.

The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

Oregon: Pro-Cannabis Group Endorses Ted Wheeler For Portland Mayor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Approach Oregon, the pro-marijuana group which was behind the successful Measure 91 legalization campaign, on Tuesday endorsed candidate Ted Wheeler for mayor of Portland.

"I want to strongly urge you to consider casting your vote for Ted Wheeler, an ally of the marijuana law reform movement and someone who understands the importance of the cannabis industry and implementing the will of the voters," reads a letter from New Approach Oregon's Chief Petitioner, Anthony Johnson.

"When the Oregon Financial Estimate Committee met to determine the amount of revenue Measure 91 would generate for the state, our campaign became very concerned when the state's Legislative Revenue Office projected that legalizing marijuana would only bring in about $17 million in new revenue to the state," Johnson's letter reads. "One elected official on the committee cooly and calmly considered all of the evidence and wisely advocated that the state project a range of revenue. That official was Ted Wheeler, at the time serving on the committee as our state's treasurer.

"Ted advocated for a range of $17 million to $40 million," Johnson said. "And as we just saw the state collect about $7 million in the first two months of taxes, the upper end of the range is looking like a pretty good call.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act Endorsed by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

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Longtime GOP congressman U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) on Tuesday announced his support for the statewide ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

He is the second California Congressman to endorse the measure in as many weeks. U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) announced his support last Monday.

"Rohrabacher is a 13-term Congressman who is a powerful voice for libertarian values," the AUMA campaign announced in a prepared statement. He is the co-author of the bipartisan Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which has been passed as part of the Federal Budget and prevents the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients or distributors who are in compliance with the laws of their state.

“As a Republican who believes in individual freedom, limited government and states' rights, I believe that it's time for California to lead the nation and create a safe, legal system for the responsible adult use of marijuana,” said Rohrabacher.

“I endorse the Adult Use of Marijuana Act for the November 2016 ballot,” the Congressman continued. “It is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.”

D.C.: DCMJ Says White House Meeting Was Good First Step

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Legalization Group Seeks Higher Level Sit Down

DCMJ, the cannabis legalization group that successfully worked to pass the Initiative 71 ballot measure legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia, called their meeting with the White House “a move in the right direction” toward removing marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substance Act.

“This is a good first step, but we hope to continue the dialogue with the White House,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “We thanked the White House for extending the invitation, but it is clear that our work is far from finished.

"This is only the start," Eidinger said. "What we are requesting is a higher level meeting with senior administration officials, ultimately moving toward a cannabis policy reform summit with President Obama and key stakeholders such as patients, patient advocates, business owners, grassroots advocates, the disabled community, scientists, the medical community, veterans and others.”

D.C.: Marijuana Advocates Light Up In Public At Capitol's First Cannabis Fest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 5,000 people attended the inaugural National Cannabis Festival on Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium fairgrounds on Saturday, with the goals of bringing together the District's newly legal marijuana industry and advocating for broader legalization.

"We're going to keep pushing until we get the laws that we want," said NCF organizer Caroline Phillips, reports Joshua Swain at Reason.com.

Revelers bought pipes and bongs, learned best indoor cultivation practices, and picnicked while enjoying an open-air concert at the festival.

NCF had officially banned marijuana use at the event, and public consumption of cannabis is illegal on federal land. But some attendees lit up anyway, and park security looked the other way.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Efforts Differ In Who Can Grow, Who Can Use

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Ohio looks likely approve medical marijuana, and would become the 25th state to do so if either a new state law clears the Legislature, or a constitutional amendment is approved by voters this November.

State lawmakers and two citizen advocacy groups are working simultaneously to bring medicinal cannabis to Ohioans who have qualifying medical conditions, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

Here are some key differences among House Bill 523 (which is the proposed legislation), the Marijuana Policy Project amendment, and the Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp amendment, according to the Dispatch.

Impact: HB 523, the legislation, would change only Ohio law. Both ballot proposals would amend the Ohio Constitution.

Marijuana in smokeable form: HB 523 does not specifically allow it but doesn’t rule it out. Both ballot issues would allow it.

Home-grown pot: The legislation would not allow growing marijuana at home; both ballot issues would allow it in limited quantities.

Growers: The Marijuana Policy Project amendment would allow 15 large growers and unlimited small growers. Neither the legislation nor the cannabis and hemp amendment specify grower numbers.

Wisconsin: Bernie Sanders Says Marijuana Should Not Be A Federal Crime

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Campaigning for President in liberal Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) defended marijuana, saying it should not be a federal crime.

Sanders criticized the American War On Drugs, saying that millions of lives have been "ruined" because they got a police record, and sometimes prison sentences, for possessing marijuana, reports Tom Kertscher at Politifact.

"Today, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed in the same Schedule I as heroin," Sanders said. "That is nuts."

"Now people can argue -- although I suspect in this audience, there may not be much of an argument -- about the pluses and minuses of marijuana," Sanders said, drawing cheers from the crowd of thousands at the Alliant Energy Center. "But everybody knows marijuana is not a killer drug like heroin."

Sanders then pointed out he's introduced legislation which would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act -- as in DEscheduling cannabis, not REscheduling it. (Merely moving marijuana to Schedule II would effectively hand over its control to Big Pharma.)

Global Commission on Drug Policy 'Profoundly Disappointed' With UN

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The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Thursday announced it is "profoundly disappointed" with the adopted outcome document agreed at the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on "the world drug problem." According to Commissioners, the document does not acknowledge the comprehensive failure of the current drug control regime to reduce drug supply and demand.

"Nor does the outcome document account for the damaging effects of outdated policies on violence and corruption as well as on population health, human rights and wellbeing," the statement from the Commission reads. "By reaffirming that the three international conventions are the 'cornerstone of global drug policy,' the document sustains an unacceptable and outdated legal status quo."

"UNGASS has not seriously addressed the critical flaws of international drug policy," the statement reads. "It does not call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. It does not urge states to abolish capital punishment for drug-related offences. It does not call on the World Health Organization (WHO) to revisit the scheduling system of drugs. It does not advocate for harm reduction and treatment strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness. Finally it does not offer proposals to regulate drugs and put governments – rather than criminals – in control.

Global: Blumenauer Says UN Drug Policy Should Be More Just and Compassionate

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) this week joined leaders from around the world in New York at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. Rep. Blumenauer attended the opening day’s events as a Congressional observer.

“There is no better time than now for world leaders to gather to reevaluate international drug policy," Blumenauer said. "The War on Drugs has failed. Instead of escalating the horrific violence of this war, we need a more just and compassionate approach that focuses on public health and harm reduction, rather than punishing drug users.

“I was encouraged to hear a number of countries leading the charge for a different approach, in particular from those countries that have changed or are considering changing their policies surrounding the treatment of marijuana," Blumenauer said. "It was also very promising to hear Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, representing a nation that has experienced horrific violence as a result of the War on Drugs, announce his support for legalizing medical marijuana in Mexico and a call to change a paradigm of prohibitionism that has not yielded results.

U.S.: Senate Committee Prevents DEA From Undermining Medical Marijuana Laws

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Vote Comes Just a Week After Committee Voted to Allow Veterans Administration Doctors to Recommend Marijuana to Veterans

Nationwide Bipartisan Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Grows Stronger

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted by 21 to 8 to approve an amendment offered by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Marijuana reforms are repeatedly winning votes in Congress,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Letting states set their own marijuana policies is now a mainstream, bipartisan issue.”

After decades of inactivity on marijuana reform, Congress has moved at lightning pace to advance marijuana reform in recent years.

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend marijuana. The Committee approved similar amendments last year as well as an amendment to allow state-legalized marijuana businesses to access banks and other financial services.

The Mikulski Amendment is expected to pass the full Senate as well as the House. Similar amendments were passed by Congress last year and the year before.

Global: World Leaders Call For Decriminalization and Regulation of Drugs

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Former Presidents of Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland together with Sir Richard Branson, US Former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker and members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy call for reducing the harms caused by failed drug policy

On Thursday, April 21 – the last day of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – several members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy will hold a press conference in New York. The Global Commission will evaluate the outcome of the UN meeting and call for concrete steps to ensure more effective drug policy reform in the years ahead.

The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such gathering of governments in 18 years.

"Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people - through proper medical care and education,” said Global Commission Member Sir Richard Branson. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many many years ago."

Pennsylvania: Governor Says Medical Marijuana Doesn't Mean Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana is now legal in Pennsylvania, but Governor Tom Wolf has rushed to say that doesn't mean full legalization, or even a pathway there.

"This is not a gateway to anything other than ... reinforcing what we've always done and that is allow doctors, encourage doctors, to do what they can do to make the lives of their patients more comfortable," Gov. Wolf told KDKA Morning News.

Implementing the newly legal medicinal cannabis programs is expected to take from 18 to 24 months, but Gov. Wolf said patients should get relief long before that.

"People should be able to start using these medicines quickly," Gov. Wolf said. "If someone were to go to another state and buy it legally and bring it back for medicinal purposes, I kind of doubt that most prosecutors would pursue a case."

States that have effective medical marijuana laws have a 24.8 percent lower opioid overdose death rate, according to a 2014 study done by researchers at the Philadelphia VA. While Gateway Medical Director Neil Capretto called that study "tentative," he said he hopes it's true.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act Endorsed By Congressman Ted Lieu

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Congressman and military veteran U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) on Monday announced his support for the statewide ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Lieu has won awards as a military prosecutor, an advisor to U.S. Air Force commanders and as a law student and private attorney. As a congressman, he serves on the House Budget and Oversight Committees.

Last year, Lieu introduced bipartisan legislation to save taxpayer dollars by blocking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from financing its Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program through civil asset forfeitures.

“I’ve reviewed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and believe it creates a legal, responsible and regulated framework for adult use of marijuana that is fiscally responsible, smartly builds on what California has already done with medical marijuana and provides necessary protections for children, workers, local governments, law enforcement agencies and the environment,” said Rep. Lieu.

“As a policy, marijuana prohibition has wasted taxpayer resources while failing to protect our communities,” Lieu said. “The Adult Use of Marijuana Act represents a vastly superior and long overdue new approach.”

Global: Leaders Call For Decriminalization, Regulation Of Drugs During Historic UN Session

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On Thursday April 21 – the last day of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – several members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy will hold a press conference in New York. The Global Commission will evaluate the outcome of the UN meeting and call for concrete steps to ensure more effective drug policy reform in the years ahead. The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such gathering of governments in 18 years.

"Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people - through proper medical care and education,” said Global Commission Member Sir Richard Branson. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many many years ago."

Commissioner and former President of Switzerland, Ruth Dreifuss also notes that "many countries are already successfully adopting innovative harm reduction and treatment strategies such as needle exchange, substitution therapies, heroin prescription and safe consumption rooms.” She adds that “for these efforts to be truly effective, governments must decriminalize the use of drugs for personal use.”

U.S.: Prominent Physicians Launch Pro-Marijuana Legalization Group

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Some of the most prominent physicians in the United States have teamed up to launch the nation’s first organization of doctors formed to advocate for the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult use.

"Given that decriminalization has proven to be an inadequate alternative to legalization, now is the time for physicians to begin advocating for effective government regulation of cannabis," Doctors For Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) states on its website.

Until recently, many physicians have been reluctant to publicly voice their opposition to the war on marijuana, lest they appear to condone recreational cannabis use and violate their ethical responsibility to “do no harm,” according to DFCR. But through daily immersion in anecdotal patient experience and scientific evidence, many knowledgeable American physicians recognize:

• Occasional use of cannabis by healthy adults is generally benign, making its prohibition unnecessary.
• Cannabis is far less harmful for adults than alcohol and tobacco, which are both legal because of the impracticality of prohibiting so-called ‘soft’ drugs.
• Cannabis can be harmful to minors, but prohibition doesn’t prevent children and teens from accessing the drug.
• The burden of cannabis prohibition falls disproportionately upon communities of color and the nation’s poor.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Initiative Backers' Campaign Highlights Alcohol Hypocrisy

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Backers of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts are launching a campaign Friday to highlight the hypocrisy of elected officials who oppose the initiative but promote the use of a more harmful substance — alcohol.

Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol held a news conference Friday morning in front of the Massachusetts State House. They showcased a large, provocative sign featuring their first two targets, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who just announced they have formed a committee to oppose the proposed initiative because they believe marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use.

Baker has proposed legislation to loosen the state’s liquor licensing regulations and expand the number of locations in which alcohol can be served. He also supported repealing the state alcohol tax and opposed a Boston alcohol tax. Walsh proposed legislation to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., providing an extra two hours of drinking time.

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Responds To New Opposition Committee

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Thursday issued a statement in response to Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement the same day, that they have formed a committee to oppose the campaign’s initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Earlier in the day, the Western New England University Polling Institute released the results of a statewide survey that found 57 percent of Massachusetts voters support the proposed initiative and just 35 percent are opposed.

“Our campaign will not allow our opponents to claim the high road on matters of public health and safety," said Jim Borghesani, communications director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "The truth is that the greatest danger associated with marijuana is its illegal status. Our opponents seem to prefer that criminals control the marijuana market and sell untested, unlabeled products to people of any age.

“Gov. Baker and others need to understand that conflating the opioid epidemic with marijuana sends a very dangerous message to our youth," Borghesani said. "The blurring of lines between drugs in this country is a pattern that started with Richard Nixon more than four decades ago. And it has caused more harm than good.

Global: More Than 1,000 Leaders Issue Worldwide Call For End To Disastrous Drug War

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“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century,” the letter says, “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights. Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.

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