Recreational

Washington: Seattle Works Out Zoning Plan For Legal Marijuana Growers, Sellers

SeattleMarijuanaTourism

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A week after Washington state issued rules for its newly legal marijuana industry, Seattle is working on its plan for where cannabis growers and sellers will be allowed to do business.

The zoning law, currently under construction, will make residential areas, single-family and multi-famioly zones, off limits for pot businesses, reports Tim Haeck at MyNorthwest.com. Neighborhood commercial zones, as well as certain downtown zones and historic districts, will be off limits as well.

"It's our intent that we not have a concentration, not only in particular neighborhoods for that matter, we don't want a concentration in the city of Seattle," said Seattle City Council member Nick Licata. (Our question is, what would be wrong with a concentration of marijuana outlets?)

Licata said allowable locations include other commercial and industrial zones scattered throughout the city limits so as not to create a "pot zone" (hello, Aurora Avenue).

"We are not going through with a rubber stamp saying on a map these are marijuana districts," Licata said. "Eventually there probably will be a map produced that will show where marijuana enterprises can exist."

The original bill limited "marijuana manufacturers" -- growers, in the real world -- to spaces of 10,000 square feet, but that's too small, according to advisor Philip Dawdy, a longtime journalist and activist on the cannabis scene in Seattle.

Colorado: Residents Will Smoke More Than 2 Million Ounces Of Weed In 2014

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study from Colorado State University estimates that Coloradans will use more than two million ounces of marijuana in 2014.

The study, from the Colorado Futures Center at CSU, predicts that some 642,772 state residents -- about 12 percent of the population -- will buy legal marijuana next year, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post.

The researchers believe that each cannabis customer will purchase about 3.5 ounces of pot during the year (seems rather conservative to us), for a grand total of 2,258,985 ounces of weed sold -- about 142,000 pounds, or 71 tons.

The study estimates each ounce of weed will cost about $185; they arrived at that figure by averaging prices at the crowd-sourced website PriceofWeed.com. Based on that price, and with estimated taxes added, Coloradans will be spending about $420 million (yeah, $420 million) on marijuana in 2014.

But that figure, like Coloradans themselves, could get substantially higher. When the data were compiled, recreational marijuana was still illegal, and PriceofWeed.com currently shows the average price of "low quality" marijuana at $222.

Voter-approved Amendment 64 also allows Coloradans to grow their own cannabis, so the numbers could go down if more residents opt to do it the smart way rather than paying retail prices.

Washington: Legal Marijuana Draft Rules Facing Opposition

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state's proposed rules for newly legal marijuana aren't even 24 hours old yet, but are already under attack by critics.

The draft regulations -- 46 pages of them -- were released on Thursday, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting, and they cover everything from where cannabis can be grown to the criminal history of those who apply for licenses.

Under the proposed rules, anyone who wants to be involved in the legal marijuana business would have to submit to a background check. This even includes the financial backers of marijuana businesses; any felony convictions in the past decade would likely disqualify applicants.

The locations where cannabis will be grown has resulted in much discussion. The Board wants to limit grows to secure buildings or greenhouses, indoor cultivation only.

Another limitation in the proposed rules -- a ban on hash, hash oil and other concentrates extracted from cannabis, unless they're infused into an edible product -- is generating lots of controversy.

"I believe that the products that we're producing have received a bad rap because of the nickname BHO, butane extracted hash oil," Jim Andersen, who works with a company called XTracted, said.

Butane is often used to extract the THC, Andersen said, but he claimed if it's done right it leaves no chemical traces; he plans to fight the ban on marijuana extracts.

Colombia: Unprecedented Document Puts Marijuana Legalization On The Table

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Organization of American States Secretary General Presents Historic Drug Policy Report to President Santos of Colombia

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday morning released a report that envisions possible scenarios for future drug control policy. The OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, will present it Friday afternoon to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the Casa de Nariño (the Colombian White House). The report – “Scenarios for the Drug Problem in the Americas, 2013-2025” – presents four possibilities for how drug policy could evolve in the Americas, most of which break from the current U.S.-led approach. The report is the first of its kind, providing a thoughtful and detailed visualization of alternatives to the existing drug prohibition regime.

The OAS received its mandate at last year’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena following a discussion among the presidents about the need for new drug control policies that could better reduce the violence and other negative consequences of prohibitionist policies.

With some presidents speaking openly in favor of legal regulation of currently illegal drugs, President Obama acknowledged that ending prohibition is “a legitimate topic for debate” and also stated: “I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places.”

U.S.: Marijuana Majority Launches Online Tool To Contact Mayors

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The online cannabis activism site Marijuana Majority has launched a new tool which makes it easy for people to contact their mayors in support of marijuana reform.

"We've seen a number of individual mayors speaking up in recent months about the negative impact that prohibition has on their cities and towns, and we thought a focused action trying to get more mayors to add their voices to the debate might be fruitful," Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority told Hemp News.

"After people send a letter using our tool, they are then prompted to tweet to their mayor and also given the option to be connected with the mayor's office by phone," Angell told us.

To use the tool for contacting your mayor, visit http://marijuanamajority.com/mayors/.

Colorado: First Hemp Crop In 60 Years Now Growing

(Photo: Marijuana.com)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's first industrial hemp crop in almost 60 years is now growing.

Ryan Loftin, a farmer in Springfield, Colorado, on Monday began planting 60 acres of industrial hemp in fields previously used for alfalfa, according to the Denver Post.

He and business partner Chris Thompson are installing a seed press to produce hemp seed oil, reports Patricia Collier of The Associated Press.

Hemp, like marijuana, comes is a form of the cannabis plant. Industrial hemp typically contains little or no THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, but it has dozens of uses in food, fuel, clothing and industrial materials.

(Photo: Marijuana.com)

New Jersey: Libertarian Senate Candidate Smokes Marijuana In Park

(Photo of Don DeZarn by Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As photographers snapped pictures, New Jersey Senate candidate Don DeZarn took a deep toke of marijuana smoke. His wife, capturing the scene on a cellphone, asked him who it was for.

"Who is this for?" repeated DeZarn, exhaling smoke, reports Mike Davis of The Times of Trenton. "This is for all my brothers and sisters who are currently being held prisoners of war by our government as a result of the War On Drugs."

DeZarn, 46, running on the Libertarian ticket, called it a public statement for marijuana legalization; no police were on hand to arrest him. Legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis is one of the chief planks of his campaign platform for the state senate; he also calls for cutting property taxes and increasing government transparency.

The fact that our state freely regulates, sells and taxes alcohol -- while prosecuting people who use marijuana in the privacy of their own home -- is insanity to me," DeZarn said. "It's completely insanity that we spend that type of money when there's far worse things out there."

DeZarn said marijuana should be regulated similarly to alcohol, in order to add tax money to the state's coffers while saving on the costs of arresting and charging pot smokers.

Colorado: Attorney Threatens 1st Amendment Lawsuit Over Marijuana Magazine Rule

(Graphic: The Huffington Post)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Denver attorney is threatening a lawsuit if Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs House Bill 1317, the marijuana regulation bill that includes a requirement for marijuana magazines to be kept behind store counters.

HB 1317, recently passed by the Legislature, also contains other regulations on the sale of marijuana and the licensing of cannabis businesses, report Lindsey Sablan and Phil Tenser of The Denver Channel. Gov. Hickenlooper has said he intends to sign the plan into law.

David Lane, a veteran criminal and defense attorney based in Denver, threatened a lawsuit over the marijuana magazine rule. He is representing two cannabis publications, the Daily Doobie and the Hemp Connoisseur.

"My own personal belief is that this is a blatant First Amendment violation," Lane wrote in a letter to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. "It has apparently passed muster with the House and Senate and the governor will be signing it shortly. Please inform Governor Hickenlooper that if this is signed into law, he can expect a First Amendment law suit filed promptly."

Study: Smoking Marijuana Regularly Not Linked To Lung Cancer

(Graphic: Weed Smokers Guide)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Regular marijuana smokers are no more likely to develop lung cancer than those who smoke only occasionally, according to a new study. The study's results back up those of other large-scale studies.

The finding of no significant increase in lung cancer risk held true whether marijuana users smoked once, twice, or more each day, and regardless of how many years they had smoked, Dr. Li Rita Zhang reported at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, writes Michele G. Sullivan of the Oncology Report Digital Network.

Colorado: Legislature Gives Final Approval To Rules For Legal Marijuana

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

History was made on Wednesday as the Colorado Legislature gave final approval to a bill asking voters to tax recreational marijuana, moving the Mile High State closer to becoming the first in the the U.S. to pass laws regulating legal cannabis.

The Colorado Senate on Wednesday morning approved the tax measure and another bill spelling out rules for marijuana stores and sent both the the House, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. The House then quickly passed House Bill 1318, the bill on cannabis taxes, and sent it to Governor John Hickenlooper's desk.

House members will now take up the second measure, covering rules for the pot stores.

The Senate's Wednesday morning marijuana votes came with little discussion. Only Mark Scheffel (R-Parker) stood to speak about the bills on Wednesday, in contrast with Tuesday's lengthy debates on both bills.

Sen. Scheffel said he has reservations about allowing more open and legal access to marijuana (apparently disregarding the fact that the voters of the state obviously have no such reservations). Scheffel claimed he worried about the impact of marijuana legalization "on the kids," but decided to support the tax bill anyway.

Colorado: Lawmakers' Attempt To Repeal Marijuana Legalization Falls Short

(Illustration: The Denver Channel)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization in Colorado "appeared to be in serious trouble" Monday night, according to The Associated Press. But the late-night effort fell short.

A bipartisan group of state senators late on Monday raced a midnight deadline to possibly repeal retail cannabis legalization. It was a last-moment plan, because lawmakers on Wednesday conclude their work for the year.

Facing the threat of a filibuster and being outvoted in the House, state senators gave up the repeal plans and adjourned Monday just before 10 p.m. without advancing the repeal, the AP reports.

The possibility of repeal arose after the Senate had given initial approval to a cannabis DUI blood-limit standard that they had rejected several times before, including twice this year.

The repeal measure was described by Senate President John Morse as an attempt to "get the marijuana industry's attention" and urge their support for taxes, which will require another vote this fall because of Colorado tax law.

"Here is the inherent problem: The marijuana industry has no incentive to support a tax increase it promised voters," claimed Morse.

Ohio: Cincinnati Mayor Hopeful Announces Support For Legalizing Marijuana

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cincinnati mayoral candidate Jim Berns, a Libertarian, has announced his support for the re-legalization of marijuana.

"The vast majority of Americans do not realize that the USA became a great country before marijuana was criminalized in the 1930s as a way to discriminate against Mexican-Americans and blacks moving from the south to the north," Berns said, reports WCPO.

Bern said he supports Ohio Rep. Robert Hagan's proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use, and also a second proposal which would allow people 21 and older to buy and use cannabis. He said he agrees with Hagan's idea that too much money is spent on the War On Drugs with little progress to show for it.

"Over and over I heard stories how loved ones got into trouble with the law for using marijuana, a substance of little danger compared to alcohol," Berns said. "These stories illustrate how we are making a serious health problem into a tragedy for families and the community.

"Over 300 Ohioans are killed in alcohol related traffic accidents each year," Berns said. "According to DrugFacts.org, of the over two million people who died in 2009 in the U.S., none were from the use of marijuana."

Colorado: Lawmakers Expected To Vote On Marijuana Regulations As Deadline Approaches

(Graphic: The Coloradoan)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Colorado Senate committee is expected to vote on legal marijuana regulations and taxes Friday as the deadline for such a decision is closing in.

Lawmakers have until Wednesday to come up with regulations and tax rates for marijuana, newly legal since state voters approved Amendment 64 in November, reports The Denver Channel.

Members of the Legislature have clashed over whether to set a marijuana blood limit for drivers, and whether to limit the size of growing operations and the number of cannabis outlets.

If the Senate Finance Committee approves the regulations and taxes on Friday, the full Senate must still debate the bills. Senators may work over the weekend -- an unusual move -- to get the job done.

Ohio: Lawmaker Introduces Marijuana Legalization and Medical Cannabis Proposals

(Graphic: The Weed Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced two proposals, one of which would allow patients with certain conditions to use marijuana medicinally, and another which would provide Ohioans the chance to legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box.

Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) introduced the proposals at the statehouse on Thursday, reports 10tv.com.

House Bill 153 would allow patients to use marijuana to treat medical ailments with their doctor's authorization.

The other measure, House Joint Resolution 5, would provide state residents with the opportunity for a statewide vote to legalize and tax cannabis. The measure is based on Colorado's successful legalization measure from last year, Amendment 64, according to Rep. Hagan's office.

"With billions upon billions spent on the War On Drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more sensible drug policy in this country," Rep. Hagan said. "This issue deserves a Yes or No vote by the people."

(Graphic: The Weed Blog)

Maine: Lawmakers To Hold First Hearing On Bill To Legalize Marijuana

(Graphic: Medical Marijuana Blog)Group of legislators will join local advocates to discuss the measure at a pre-hearing news conference in the State House Welcome Center Friday

Bipartisan group of 35 legislators co-sponsoring bill to establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maine Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety will hold a hearing Friday at 10 a.m. ET Friday, May 3, on a bill that would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

"A majority of Americans are ready to move beyond marijuana prohibition, and this bill presents our legislature with a golden opportunity to take the initiative to develop a sensible new approach," said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "I hope members of the legislature will keep in mind our state motto, 'Dirigio' or 'I lead,' when hearing testimony and casting their votes on this bill.

"Marijuana is objectively far less harmful than alcohol for the consumer and for society," Boyer said. "People are fed up with laws that punish adults for making the safer choice."

Alaska: Advocates Prepare Push For Marijuana Legalization

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Alaska is poised to become the next battleground in the state-by-state push to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Almost 40 years ago, back in 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that adults have a constitutional right to possess and smoke marijuana for personal use in their own homes, reports Becky Bohrer of The Associated Press. Then in the late 1990s, Alaska became one of the first wave of states to legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

But marijuana law reform then sputtered in the state; residents in 2004 turned down a ballot measure which would have legalized marijuana, in in 2006 the state passed a law re-criminalizing possession of even small amounts of pot.

But supporters say attitudes towards weed have loosened in the past decade, and that they have a real chance in Alaska.

The proposal would make it legal for adults 21 and older to use and possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but not in public. It would set out provisions for legal cultivation and establish an excise tax.

"The whole initiative, as you can tell, is scaled down to be as palatable as possible," said one of the sponsors, Bill Parker.

If the initiative is accepted by the state, supporters will have until January to gather more than 30,000 signatures required to qualify for the 2014 primary ballot.

Colorado: Lawmakers Discussing Repeal of Marijuana Legalization

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Behind the scenes, Colorado lawmakers are talking about introducing a measure that could repeal marijuana legalization in the state, according to advocacy groups on both sides of the issue.

State lawmakers are considering a bill to tax newly legal marijuana by more than 30 percent. Some of them want to add a caveat to the tax proposal -- that cannabis won't be legal anymore unless voters approve the taxes in November.

Legalization supporters called a Friday morning news conference to decry the effort, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. "Numerous" lawmakers are looking at putting a measure before voters that would repeal marijuana legalization in Colorado if voters don't agree to a measure on marijuana taxes this November, said Mason Tvert, one of the authors of Amendment 64, the initiative which legalized cannabis.

The tax measure, which was approved by one legislative committee on Thursday and another on Friday, would place state sales and excise taxes on marijuana that could reach 30 percent of the retail price.

So far, no lawmakers have publicly mentioned a proposal to repeal legalization.

U.S.: Half Of Young Christians Support Legalizing Marijuana, Survey Finds

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The pro-marijuana movement is making inroads in some unexpected places, with a new survey showing almost half of young Christians in the United States favor legalizing cannabis.

In the poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 50 percent of self-identified Christian young adults ages 18 to 29 favor pot legalization, with 44 percent opposed. By way of contrast, only 22 percent of Christian senior citizens who took part in the survey said they favor legalization.

"While most religious Americans overall continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana, the generational sea change on this issue is also shifting the ground inside churches," said Robert P. Jones, CEO at PRRI. "Christian young adults are twice as likely as Christian senior adults to say both that marijuana should be legal and that using marijuana is morally acceptable."

A bigger percentage of young Christians say they find smoking cannabis to be morally acceptable compared with the general population, interestingly enough. Fifty-two percent of young Christians said it's OK to smoke pot, compared with 49 percent of all Americans.

Colorado: Appeals Court Says Legal Marijuana Users' Jobs Aren't Protected

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Coloradans who test positive for marijuana can be fired from their jobs, even if their marijuana use was legal under state law, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday.

The court in Thursday's split decision said marijuana use is still prohibited by the federal government, even though medical marijuana and adult cannabis use has been legalized by Colorado's voters, reports Steven K. Paulson at the Huffington Post.

"For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law," the appeals court ruled.

The decision stems from the case of Brandon Coats, a 33-year-old telephone operator for Dish Network, based in Englewood. Coats, a quadriplegic, has been a medical marijuana patient in Colorado since 2009; he was paralyzed in a car crash as a teen.

He was fired after failing a company drug test in 2010, even though his employer didn't claim Coats was ever impaired on the job. He sued to get his job back, but his claim was dismissed by a trial court in 2011. That judge agreed with Dish Network that medical marijuana isn't a "lawful activity."

Washington: New Police Dogs Not Being Trained To Find Marijuana

(Photo: Special Solutions)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Bremerton Police Department, along with many other law enforcement agencies around Washington State, is not training its new police dog how to sniff out marijuana. After voters legalized marijuana last November, Dusty is the first drug detection dog in Kitsap County who won't be looking for pot.

But in the unlikely event that cannabis once again becomes illegal in Washington, it would be easy to train 18-month-old Dusty accordingly, said Bremerton Police Officer Dahle "Duke" Roessel. "We can train them on marijuana in a weekend," Roessel said, reports Josh Farley at the Kitsap Sun.

The Washington State Patrol won't be training future drug detection dogs to find marijuana, either, according to spokesman Bob Calkins.

"It's problematic because the dogs could alert on a legal amount of marijuana," Calkins explained. "And then we're violating someone's privacy."

There's a concern that if a dog were to find a valuable piece of evidence because he had alerted on a legal amount of marijuana, all the evidence might be thrown out in court, according to Calkins.

For example, if a dog sniffs out a legal amount of marijuana and then a gun used in a murder is found along with it, a judge could rule the gun isn't admissible in court.

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