Utah: Medical Marijuana Bill Fails In House Vote

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Utah House of Representatives committee has ruled against Senate Bill 73, a bill that would have made limited medical marijuana legal for qualifying Utah patients.

Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), a co-sponsor of the bill defended it before the House Health and Human Services Committee Monday, but committee members voted against it 8-4, Fox13 News reported in Salt Lake City. The bill would have allowed access to some forms of medical marijuana, including oils, extracts, and edibles.

The committee considered and recommended Senate Bill 89, which would allow qualifying patients to use cannabidiol, an extract from marijuana with a low concentration of THC.

U.S.: Jeb Bush Expresses Support For Decriminalizing Marijuana


Bush Receives Upgrade in Marijuana Policy Project’s Presidential Candidate Report Card

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Bush — who had not previously expressed support for decriminalization — from a ‘D’ to a ‘C-’ following a Friday interview on a Boston radio station

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Jeb Bush from a “D” to a “C-” in its 2016 presidential candidate report card on Friday following a radio interview in which the former Florida governor expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana.

“It’s one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that,” the former Florida governor said in an interview with Joe Mathieu of Boston’s WBZ NewsRadio, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

Bush had not previously endorsed a removal of criminal penalties for cannabis possession.

Bush, however, didn't waste any time in proudly displaying his vast ignorance on the subject of cannabis.

He referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug” during the interview, referencing a theory that was thoroughly debunked by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in a 1999 report commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also said “the new marijuana” is “highly, highly toxic,” despite researchers consistently finding that marijuana is among the least toxic drugs and incapable of producing a fatal overdose.

Vermont: Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced In Legislature


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont State Senator David Zuckerman has introduced a bill to legalize, tax and regulate the production, sale and recreational use of marijuana in the state.

Zuckerman himself doesn't expect the bill to pass this year, reports Morgan True at VT Digger. "I think this is a building year, more than a likely passage year," he said.

Last year the Vermont Legislature decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. The bill, which took effect in July, replaced criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket, for up to one ounce.

While Gov. Peter Shumlin has said marijuana legalization is "not a priority" this year, he is "closely watching" the regulation and taxation of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, according to spokesman Scott Coriell.

Matt Simon with the Marijuana Policy Project said MPP will spend 2014 trying to build a consensus about the path to legalization.

"We want to pass (tax-and-regulate) in 2015, and I don't see any reason why Vermont wouldn't be one of the first states to do this through the Legislature," Simon said.

U.S.: One In Four Americans Say They'd Buy Marijuana If It Became Legal


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legalizing marijuana would more than double its potential market, if a new HuffPost/YouGov poll is to be believed.

The poll indicates that 26 percent of Americans say they would buy cannabis if it was legal in their state, compared to 9 percent who said they already buy it, reports Emily Swanson at The Huffington Post. The percentage who said they would buy marijuana "often" jumped from 1 percent who already do so, to 4 percent who said they would buy it "often" if it was legal.

When asked how often they'd buy weed, 18 percent said they'd buy it more often than they do now if it ws legal. That includes 16 percent who said they'd never buy pot now but would, at least on rare occasions, get it if it was legal.

Those under age 30 were more likely to say both that they'd buy cannabis if it was legal (35 percent) and that they already do so now (16 percent). But even among those 65 and older -- almost none of whom said they ever buy marijuana now -- 9 percent said they'd get it at least occasionally if it was legal.

D.C.: Press Conference and Council Hearings This Week on Marijuana Decriminalization


Legislation Urgently Needed After Recent Reports Find that One in Eight African Americans in D.C. are Arrested for Marijuana Possession

Drug Policy Alliance to Testify in Support of Decriminalization and Ask Councilmembers to Take Additional Steps to End Marijuana Prohibition

On Wednesday, October 23, at 6 PM, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and other D.C. advocates will join Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) for a press conference at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library to urge D.C. Councilmembers and Mayor Vincent Gray to expedite passage of the “Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013 (Council Bill 20-409).”

Bill 20-409 would decriminalize the possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less in the District of Columbia and has received the support of 10 out of 13 Councilmembers. An alternative legislative proposal was introduced in September by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

This press conference will convene moments before a public hearing on this legislation begins at the same location. The Drug Policy Alliance will offer testimony at an additional hearing that is scheduled to take place at the D.C. Council Chambers on Thursday.

WHAT: Press conference hosted by Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and advocates, followed by a Public Hearing on marijuana decriminalization

WHEN: Wednesday, October 23rd at 6:00 PM

Massachusetts: Prospective Dispensary Owners Question Officials About Moratoriums


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective medical marijuana entrepreneurs on Thursday warned that moratoriums in Massachusetts communities are severely hampering their site searches, and that the state might need to give applicants some flexibility in specifying the locations of shops and cultivation centers.

Members of the Massachusetts Department of Health were peppered with questions during a two-hour session about the licensing process for medical marijuana businesses, including the problems created by temporary dispensary bans in certain towns, reports Dan Ring at The Republican.

More than 400 attendees showed up for the event at the Somerville Holiday Inn, because it was the only pubic meeting the state will have on the licensing process before a November 21 deadline for submitting final applications for medical cannabis licenses. State officials plan to announce the awarding of licenses on January 31.

With moratoriums across Massachusetts limiting prospective locations, Fotis Loulourgas of Needham, CEO of a company which wants a medical marijuana license, asked if the state will insist that applicants list definite addresses of planned dispensaries.

"If that's the case, we are all looking at the same five buildings," he said.

Colorado: Under Denver Ordinance Just The Odor Of Marijuana Could Get You A Year In Jail


"Bad News, Dude: If That Pot You're Smoking Smells Like Pot, It's Not Legal Anymore"

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems the minute marijuana legalization was approved by voters in Colorado and Washington, some politicians started trying to find ways to undermine the will of the people. Now, in Denver, the mere smell of marijuana wafting from your backyard could be illegal if the city council passes a new ordinance.

The ordinance, which will be introduced at Monday's city council meeting, comes in advance of legal retail marijuana sales, which are scheduled to begin in January, reports Jeremy Mayer at The Denver Post.

The ordinance would prohibit pot smoking in parks and in the 16th Street Mall, and would also ban toking in private property if it is "visible to the public," such as on your front porch or in a car, or if the odor of cannabis could be detected from neighboring property.

"Your activities should not pervade others' peace and ability to enjoy," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive," the Mayor claimed. "I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your back yard." The mayor didn't explain why we should have to smell his intolerance from ours.

If the ordinance is approved by the city council, the mayor will sign it and it will take effect immediately. Offenders could face a fine of $999 and up to a year in jail.

Illinois: Work Begins On Medical Marijuana Rules


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois officials have begun the work of setting up a system of regulations to let patients buy medical marijuana in the state.

Officials from at least four state agencies are meeting to draft rules that will govern medicinal cannabis distribution, reports Kurt Erickson at The Southern Illinoisan. Their goal is to have a final version ready for the Legislature by May.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, passed this summer, makes Illinois the 20th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It allows patients with serious medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other conditions to legally use marijuana with a physician's authorization.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of the law, said he hopes state regulators can issue a draft of their rules before the May deadline. "I know I've laid some difficult tasks on their plates," Lang said. "I'm just pleased that they're meeting now."

Canada: Free-Market Medical Marijuana Overhaul Starts Tuesday


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Canada's Conservative government kicked off a $1.3 billion medical marijuana overhaul on Tuesday that it hopes will serve nearly half a million patients by 2024. The system switches medicinal cannabis cultivation from a cottage industry to one controlled by big businesses.

"Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations," the new system, will "provide access to quality-controlled marihuana for medical purposes, produced under secure and sanitary conditions, to those Canadians who need it," according to the government health agency, Health Canada, reports Hunter Stuart at The Huffington Post. ("Marihuana" is spelled that old-fashioned way because of a precedent set in Canada's controlled substances law.)

It's a major change in the way medical marijuana is distributed in Canada. Until now, medicinal cannabis has mainly been produced by individual growers, who were allowed to supply up to two patients each. Those small-time growers will have their licenses canceled, and large, privately owned marijuana farms will replace them.

Global: Guatemalan President Calls for Global Drug Policy Reform in UN Speech


President Pérez Molina Praises Voters of Colorado and Washington for Legalizing Marijuana and President Obama for Allowing Them to Proceed

Commends President Mujica of Uruguay for Marijuana Legalization Proposal; Says That U.N. Should Allow Countries to “Experiment with New Models”

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina on Thursday spoke out forcefully against the failures of drug prohibition and urged countries to experiment with new drug control models while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.

Pérez Molina praised the voters of Colorado and Washington for legalizing marijuana, President Obama for allowing the laws to proceed, and President José Mujica of Uruguay for his marijuana legalization proposal.

Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states –- and the first political jurisdictions in the world -– to legalize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults last November. Uruguay is likely to join them soon; the country’s House passed a marijuana legalization bill in July and its Senate is expected to follow suit in October.

Last month, the White House announced that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws, as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

Oregon: Two Marijuana Legalization Initiative Petition Drives Start Strong


By Steve Elliott and Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The national wave of marijuana law reform is gaining momentum every day, and it isn't going to leave out Oregon. More than 30,000 people came to Kelley Point Park on September 7 and 8 for the ninth annual Hempstalk Festival, and more than 5,000 of them signed two marijuana initiative petitions while they were there.

Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult recreational marijuana use, possession and cultivation.

Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.

The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.

"Marijuana prohibition does not work and is expensive to maintain," Stanford said. "We must move forward on a better path for hemp and marijuana in Oregon."

New Zealand: Cannabis Advocate Runs For Mayor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Zealand cannabis legalization advocate Dakta Green, who's been jailed two times for possession of marijuana, has entered the race for mayor of the Ruapehu District.

Green, 63, is back in his home town of Taumarunui after a 40-year absence and said he wants to make a mark, reports Merania Karauria at The New Zealand Herald. The activist has bought the former freezing works administration centre, and wants to turn it into a museum.

The mayoral candidate is also the founder of New Zealand's most visible cannabis club, The Daktory. His motto is "Live like it's legal."

"Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous drugs but are legally available," Green said in 2010. "Cannabis causes less harm to our community."

"The cannabis laws are wrong," Green said. "They are fueled by a pernicious prejudice and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that adversely affect users and their families."

According to Green, cannabis is more natural, healthier option than other drugs, and does not fuel crime. "You smoke a joint right now, you're not going to all of a sudden going to be overcome with the urge to go out and rob a bank or belt somebody over the head," he said. "There's nothing within cannabis that turns you into a criminal."

Uruguay: Goverment Will Sell Cannabis For $2.50 Per Gram To Compete With Black Market


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The bill which legalizes marijuana in the South American nation of Uruguay also does something else: It fixes the price of cannabis at around $2.50 per gram. The bill has been approved by the House, is up for vote in the Senate (which is expected to approve it), and will then be signed into law by President José Mujica, a longtime supporter of drug law reform.

What sets Uruguay's bill apart, reports Kavitha A. Davidson of The Huffington Post, is that it puts the government in charge of the entire marijuana industry, from cultivation to consumption. Individual citizens, cooperatives, and private companies can grow a specified amount of marijuana each month, but it can only be sold to consumers by state-run pharmacies.

Marijuana purchasers will have to register with the government and will be limited to 40 grams per month (which is a bummer, since I could smoke that in two days).

Such regulations could keep Uruguay's estimated 120,000 cannabis consumers from giving up on the black market -- but that's where the $2.50 a gram price scheme comes in. The government has two tools at its disposal to lure customers away from the black market and to the legal market it seeks to create, notes Foreign Policy's Park MacDougald: affordability and quality control.

U.S.: Attorney General Eric Holder Calls for Major Drug Sentencing Reform


Bi-Partisan Support Grows In Congress for Overhauling U.S. Drug Laws

Drug Policy Alliance Urges Administration to Think Big and Leave a Lasting Legacy

In an interview with NPR that aired on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said there are too many people in prison and it is time for federal sentencing reform. He could announce major changes as early as next week.

In the NPR interview Holder said: “The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old. There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

“Attorney General Holder is clearly right to condemn mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Both he and the president have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by securing substantial, long overdue drug policy reform.”

A team of lawyers at the Justice Department is reportedly working on proposals that Holder could present as early as a speech next week. Some of the proposals could include de-prioritizing low-level drug offense.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Drive Motivated By Passion, Not Politics


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The drive to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is driven by passion, not by a desire to boost turnout for the Democratic candidate in next year's gubernatorial race, according to Orlando attorney John Morgan, who is leading the effort. Morgan's personal-injury law firm employs former Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is widely expected to run for governor in 2014 as a Democrat.

Morgan, who has committed to spending up to $3 million to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot, told the Capital Tiger Bay Club that he learned about the medicinal benefits of cannabis 20 years ago when his father was dying of esophogeal cancer, reports Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida.

"I know it works because I have seen it," Morgan said. "Are we going to do what's right, or are we going to get hung up on the word 'drug'?"

Morgan said his father was "the most anti-drug guy in the world," but marijuana helped him endure chronic nausea. "He got to sit at the table and have a meal and a conversation," Morgan said.

"There is no drug in America that cures the nausea from chemotherapy," Morgan said. "They say there is, but there's not."

It's not going to be easy. Passage of the constitutional amendment, should it qualify for the ballot, would require support from not just a majority of the voters, but of 60 percent -- a steep political hill to climb.

Colorado: Marijuana Legalization Debate Monday Between Former DEA Head and DPA's Nadelmann


Marijuana Legalization Continues Rapid Shift From Fringes to Mainstream of U.S. and International Politics

Debate Will Be Live-Streamed on YouTube on July 1

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond are gathering in Aspen, Colorado, to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics.

The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1 (10:20 am-11:20 am Mountain Time / 12:20-1:20 Eastern), Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as this segment on CNN’s Crossfire.

Michigan: Changes To Medical Marijuana Law Take Effect Monday

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Some of the first big changes to Michigan's 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana law take effect on Monday, including extending the one-year registry cards to two years and further defining the doctor-patient relationship necessary for authorization.

An overwhelming 63 percent of Michigan's voters approved the medical marijuana law, but lawmakers claimed it left too much open to interpretation and passed measures at the end of last session which were supposed to "clarify" the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

The doctor-patient relationship needed for an authorization before marijuana can be legally used was one of the biggest issues faced by the Legislature, reports Alanna Durkin at The Associated Press. Lawmakers were concerned that it was just too easy to get authorizized to use cannabis.

But starting Monday, April 1, doctors are required to complete face-to-face medical evaluations of patients, review relevant medical records, and assess their medical condition and history. Follow-up with patients to see whether marijuana is helping are also required.

The new rules will help doctors and patients by codifying what is expected throughout the medical marijuana authorization process, according to Michael Komorn, a Michigan attorney who specializes in medical marijuana law.

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