Political

U.S.: Blumenauer, Conyers Call For Public Health Approach To Drug Policy

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Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers (MI-13) on Thursday led 12 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April.

From states taking action to end the failed prohibition of marijuana to lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs proven to reduce HIV infection rates, the United States has made significant advancements moving away from a punitive approach to drug policy to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose. The upcoming UNGASS provides an opportunity for the United States to showcase these advancements as a model for international drug policy.

U.S.: Company Offers BernOneDown.com Website Domain For $150K

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The website domain name BernOneDown.com is on the market for sale, a Denver-based company announced on Friday. The asking price is $150,000.

Todd Mitchem Companies announced it is selling off that domain and several more of their cannabis related domain names such as MainStreamCannabis.com, VapeAndVinyasa.com, and PeopleAgainstTrump.com.

Todd Mitchem, CEO of TMC, believes the BernOneDown domain will be one of the company's biggest hits yet.

"We all sat around and just realized it was time," Mitchem said. "We have been storing many domains for a long time and with Bernie's latest successes and the fact that he moves to Northern states with a path to the nomination, we knew now was the time to sell this domain to a team that will want to do something amazing and special with it."

Mitchem's team, which developed such brands as High There!, CannaSearch, Mindful, and IONvape.com (clean vape technology for the e-cig industry), believes the BernOneDown.com domain will go fast, and they believe it will resonate with people.

"Cannabis is going mainstream and Bernie's view on legalization is proof that it is time to offer his supporters a great domain to utilize," Mitchem said.

To find out more about this domain, visit www.BernOneDown.com.

Alabama: Democratic Senate Nominee Favors Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

While the pace of cannabis law reform may sometimes seem far too slow, we are making major progress. One way that I know this, is by watching my home state of Alabama, the "Heart of Dixie," rightly considered one of the most conservative states in the union.

You may be asking, "Progress? What progress?" Well, for the first time in history, as far as we've been able to determine, the 2016 Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Alabama favors marijuana legalization.

"Current marijuana policy in Alabama, and across America, lacks reason, intelligence and sanity," said Democratic Senate nominee Ron Crumpton, a native of Wilsonville, Alabama. "It creates criminal enterprises, puts our children in unnecessary danger and clogs our courts and prisons with people who would be considered normal productive members of society, but because they choose to use marijuana as opposed to alcohol, they are considered criminal."

It is mighty refreshing to see a major party nominee for Senator with such an enlightened viewpoint -- and doubly so, since Crumpton is from the Deep South.

"The prohibition of marijuana promotes violence, costs millions of dollars in law enforcement/corrections, and violates the constitutional rights of Americans," Crumpton said. "Using marijuana does not present a viable danger to anyone. Therefore, denying the use of marijuana, or arresting someone for the use of marijuana is not only a violation of our personal rights and liberties… it is asinine."

Canada: Medical Cannabis Tax Petition Gains Momentum With Diverse Support

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Almost 7,000 Canadians who share the view that medical cannabis should not be subject to taxation have signed a petition in Parliament urging the federal government to address the unjust tax burden medical cannabis users pay on a daily basis.

With broad support from non-government organizations in the health sector, compassion clubs, marijuana dispensaries, clinics, and federally licensed producers, Petition e-190 has galvanized all corners of a diverse industry, according to supporters.

The petition is open for signature until June 14.

At present, cannabis is the only physician-authorized medicine subject to sales tax. Without insurance coverage, patients already pay for their medication out of pocket.

Adding another cost is a prohibitive barrier that affects Canadians' ability to choose the medical therapy that best manages their symptoms, according to Hilary Black, the petition's founder.

"The diversity of the organizations promoting this petition shows how important this issue is," said Black. "There is a very simple fix and I hope our new federal government will act swiftly to treat cannabis the same way it treats other prescription medications."

Organizations supporting this effort are as diverse as the Canadians who are prescribed marijuana by their doctors. These organizations include:

Dravet Syndrome Foundation
BC Compassion Club Society
Emerald Health Botanicals

Massachusetts: Marijuana Inititiative Backers Launch St. Patrick's Day Billboard In Boston

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Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts launched a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard Monday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will hold a news conference today at 12 p.m. ET in front of the digital billboard, which faces Seaport Blvd. on the south side of District Hall. The ad will run through Sunday, March 20, when local and state leaders will gather for the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the nearby Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively. It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance.

Montana: Medical Marijuana Patients Ask Court To Delay Harsh Restrictions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients and their supporters are pushing back against harsh new restrictions on Montana's program -- restrictions so Byzantine, that many providers are closing down rather than try to meet them.

The owners of Montana Advanced Caregivers on Thursday held a barbecue at their location in south Billings. Patients were stocking up on medicinal cannabis because of an uncertain future, co-owner Jason Smith said, reports Matt Hudson at the Billings Gazette.

Smith and his business partner, Rick Abromeit, needed to sell some of their existing stock of marijuana or else risk having an illegal amount once the new law is fully implemented.

The Montana Supreme Court on February 25 upheld provisions of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, a 2011 bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that, for all practical purposes, shut down the program as it had been run in Montana since voters approved medical marijuana back in 2004.

Washington: Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill, 26 More In 'Fit of Childish Rage'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You have to love state Rep. Cary Condotta of Chelan, Washington. This straight-shooting libertarian-leaning Republican calls it as he sees it, and he's very unhappy with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee, piqued with the Washington Senate for not agreeing to a House budget, vetoed 27 bills in a row, according to Condotta, including an industrial hemp bill.

"Apparently in a childish fit of rage our moron, yes that's what I said moron, governor has vetoed a number of really good bills including our hemp bill which was three years in the making," Condotta posted on Facebook late Thursday night. "I would hope that Democrats and Republicans alike would immediately start a recall campaign for this idiot who has never had any business holding this office to start with."

"I think we have grounds to find him unfit for office," Condotta posted. "He has accomplished absolutely nothing in his four years and now has unaccomplished a lot fo hard work because he's emotionally unstable.

"Enough," Condotta posted. The state deserves a competent governor, Democrat or Republican, that has the talent and maturity to lead."

Condotta went on to call Inslee a "The so called governor," and called his fit of pique the "Most outrageous action imaginable."

The representative, no fan of former Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, even went so far as to post "She was very classy compared to this guy."

New Hampshire: House Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday evening in a voice vote that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.

HB 1631 would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

“This is commonsense marijuana policy reform,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It is irrational to brand people as criminals simply for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

Nearly three out of four New Hampshire residents (72 percent) think the legislature should decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released earlier this month. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1Xdt8j9.

“New Hampshire citizens want the legislature to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy,” Simon said. “House members have done their part, and we hope their colleagues in the Senate will join them in supporting this measure.”

D.C.: April 2 White House Rally Will Call For Rescheduling of Cannabis Now

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On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m. in Washington, DC at Lafayette Square, located directly north of the White House, leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens will gather to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis—now.

Why on 4/2? "The Obama Administration has been a big zero on cannabis reform, so we are "rescheduling" from 420 to 4/2," according to organizers.

Who: Speakers from DCMJ, Drug Policy Alliance and other cannabis advocacy groups, along with industry activists, civil leaders and citizens.

What: Emergency Mobilization to Reschedule Cannabis Rally

When: Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.
**Note: At 4:20 p.m. there will be a mass public consumption of cannabis.

Where: Lafayette Square located directly north of the White House on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, Washington, DC.

What you can do:
• Click "Going" and invite your friends on DCMJ Facebook event page
• Tweet with the hashtag #Reschedule420
• Call national cannabis advocacy organizations to endorse #Reschedule420
• Volunteer with DCMJ on 4/2 to help things run smoothly

###

The White House March 8, 2016
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Supporters File Lawsuit Challenging Ballot Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others.

Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office announced that the proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining their determination, state officials said they invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to their finding that the signature of a notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file. It appears more than 17,000 signatures were otherwise valid signatures of registered Maine voters.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Backers File Lawsuit Challenging Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine will file a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday that challenges the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson will announce the details of the suit at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET Thursday in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana (One Portland Square, 9th Floor). Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell.

Last week, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot. While 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

It appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

WHAT: News conference to discuss lawsuit challenging the Maine Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Office of law firm Verrill Dana, 9th Floor, One Portland Square, Portland

WHO: Scott Anderson, partner, Verrill Dana
David Boyer, CRMLA campaign manager

North Dakota: Petition To Put Marijuana Legalization On Ballot Approved For Circulation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A petition to place a measure on the November 8 ballot which would legalize marijuana has been approved in North Dakota.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Wednesday approved the petition, reports Valley News Live. The sponsoring committee will need to get at least 13,452 valid voter signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.

If approved, the measure would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess, use and distribute cannabis, and would prevent the state from requiring a license to do so (I just love that part!), according to Mike Nowatzki at Forum News Service.

It would also prohibit the state, cities and counties from taxing marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia at more than 20 percent.

Eric Olson of Fargo, chairman of the 26-member sponsoring committee, said advocates will start collecting signatures right away. The group is shooting for 20,000 signatures "for a safe margin," Olson said.

Florida: Poll Shows Strong Support For Asset Forfeiture Reform; Bill Heads To Gov's Desk

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An overwhelming majority of registered Florida voters support civil asset forfeiture reform, according to a new poll released by Drug Policy Action. Eighty-four percent of Florida registered voters, including 86 percent of all Republicans and 81 percent of independents, think police should not be able to seize and permanently take away property from people who have not been convicted of a crime.

Sixty-six percent of voters polled, including 65 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats, would be more likely to support a candidate for president who took the position that the government should not be able to take property from a person who has not been convicted of a crime.

“The notion that police officers can take cash or other property from people never charged with any criminal wrongdoing and keeping any profits from the sale of seized property doesn’t sit well with the public,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for Drug Policy Action. “Voters want action on civil asset forfeiture.

"Governor Scott should sign the reform legislation on his desk, and presidential candidates would be wise to address the issue,” Smith said.

The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed SB 1044, reforming Florida’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act,” sending the legislation to Gov. Scott’s desk for a signature. Last week the Florida Senate passed the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, in a 38–0 vote.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Plan To Ban Home Cultivation If Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters haven't even legalized marijuana yet, and already state lawmakers are planning how to gut important parts of the law, in case it passes.

A sharply worded Senate report released on Tuesday says that if voters legalize recreational cannabis in the state, lawmakers should promptly cancel their wishes by outlawing home cultivation, imposing high taxes, and prohibiting most edible products, reports Joshua Miller at The Boston Globe.

While the report from the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana claims not to take an official stance on the proposed ballot question to legalize, it repeatedly, and even shrilly, warns of legalization's supposed dangers. The authors claim that legalization could make it easier for children to access marijuana -- despite the fact that it would be limited to adults 21 and older, and black market drug dealers certainly aren't asking for ID currently.

The bipartisan 118-page propaganda piece, I mean "analysis," comes the same week Gov. Charlie Baker, Atty. Gen. Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston published a scathing op-ed in The Boston Globe opp=osing legalization, and the Massachusetts Legislature's judiciary committee heard testimony on the ballot measure.

Massachusetts: Backers of Legalization Initiative To Respond To Senate Committee Report

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The special Massachusetts Senate Committee on Marijuana is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the Senate Reading Room of the State House to release its report regarding the potential impact of regulating marijuana for adult use. Backers of a proposed November ballot initiative to regulate cannabis like alcohol in Massachusetts will hold a media availability outside the Senate Reading Room immediately following the Tuesday news conference to respond to the report.

The report is expected to include recommendations for regulations that should be enacted if marijuana prohibition is repealed by the legislature this session or by voters in November. Members of the committee traveled to Colorado in January to examine the state’s system of regulating marijuana cultivation and sales for adult use.

“We commend the Senate committee members for traveling to Colorado to examine the state’s marijuana regulatory system,” said CRMLA Communications Director Jim Borghesani. “Based on news accounts of the trip, however, it appears some committee members traveled to Colorado with a bias against regulating marijuana and sought information to buttress their positions.

Massachusetts: Backers of Marijuana Legalization Urge Legislators To Approve H. 3932

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Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will testify at a legislative hearing Monday in support of a measure that would end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary is considering H.3932 because the CRMLA submitted more than 105,000 signatures in support of the proposal in December. The measure will appear on the November ballot if the Legislature does not approve it.

“This is the Legislature’s opportunity to embrace a far more sensible marijuana policy,” said CRMLA campaign manager Will Luzier.

“Marijuana prohibition does not eliminate marijuana use," Luzier said. "It only ensures that marijuana is unregulated, untested, untaxed, and sold by gangs and criminals. It is time to regulate marijuana and stop punishing adults for consuming a substance that is less dangerous than alcohol.”

Florida: Senate Unanimously Passes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

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The Florida Senate on Friday voted unanimously to approve SB 1044, which reforms the state’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act.” Introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill now heads to Florida House of Representatives for a floor vote.

The House companion, HB 889, passed its final committee of reference last week. The two bills are identical as amended and if HB 889 passes, civil asset forfeiture reform will head to Gov. Scott to be signed into law.

Civil asset forfeiture reform is a core national policy priority of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Florida is a state the group has specifically targeted for reform.

“This is a tremendous step towards reforming Florida’s outdated forfeiture laws," said Theshia Naidoo, senior staff attorney for the DPA. "The unanimity of the Senate vote speaks volumes to the necessity of these important reforms. The House needs to act quickly to pass this law when it meets next week.”

“The broad, bipartisan coalition that Sen. Jeff Brandes built in the Florida Senate is what made these reforms possible," said attorney Ron Book, who represents the DPA in the Florida Legislature. "This legislation heads to the House with consensus amongst both parties, law enforcement, and reform advocates. We hope the House will act with the same unanimity that the Senate just did.”

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Respond To Determination That Measure Didn't Qualify

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has responded to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot.

At least 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, and state officials determined that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

Based on a document the Secretary of State’s Office provided to the campaign, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary. The notary’s commission is current, according to state records.

“We are very disappointed by the Secretary of State’s determination," reads a prepared statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "Based on documents they have provided, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

"We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality,” the statement reads.

Iowa: Poll Shows Growing Support For Medical Marijuana; Legislature Considers Expanding Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than three of every four Iowans now favor allowing patients to use marijuana medicinally, but most remain opposed to its recreational legalization, according to a new poll.

Iowans have become more comfortable with medical marijuana, which is now supported by 78 percent of the state's adults, according to the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register. That represents a gain of 20 points in support levels in just three years; support was at 58 percent in 2013.

But most Iowans continue to oppose allowing marijuana for fun. Just 34 percent of adults favor that idea, up 5 percentage points from 2013, according to the poll.

The poll results come as Iowa lawmakers are considering expanding the state's tiny, ineffective medicinal cannabis program. The state's current law, passed in 2014, only allows possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a marijuana extract that isn't psychoactive and helps quell seizures associated with severe epilepsy. It provides no legal method to make the CBD oil, nor does it provide any legal method to obtain or distribute it.

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