Oregon: Marijuana Advocates Take Legalization Message To Capitol

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

Advocates of marijuana legalization are taking their message to Oregon's capitol. A legislative panel on Tuesday will look at a measure that would legalize and tax cannabis. The move comes as Washington state, next door, prepares rules about how to regulate and tax pot after voters there approved legalization in November.

"I understand this is a heavy lift for the Legislature to pass this bill this year," said Anthony Johnson, who heads New Approach Oregon, a political action committee formed to legalize the herb, reports Chris Lehman at Northwest News Network.

"Our neighbors to the north are going to start collecting taxes from Oregon residents who are purchasing marijuana," Johnson said.

Voters in Oregon last fall rejected Measure 80, a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana. But Johnson said New Approach Oregon's bill is more restrictive; it would allow more state control over the production and distribution of cannabis.

U.S.: Marijuana Super PAC Wants To Go National With Legalization

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

Two brothers, Mark and Dennis Rogers, have started an effort to end the federal prohibition of marijuana -- both medical and recreational -- by creating the nation's first pro-marijuana super PAC (political action committee).

The Legalize Marijuana Super PAC was founded to deal with legal troubles concerning marijuana use, according to Mark Rogers, reports Sterling C. Beard at The Hill.

The Rogers brothers have already sent in their application to the Federal Election Commission, reports Kiki Van Son at Policymic.

They've also made known their opposition to the efforts of local law enforcement to eradicate the use of Marinol, an FDA-approved synthetic pharmaceutical substitute for herbal cannabis which is available by prescription.

"A couple of our local judges here have said it creates a problem for them because they can't distinguish between Marinol and marijuana," Rogers said.

"People that find themselves in legal trouble, that is essentially the only way that they can medicate," Rogers said, "even though we've made several distinctions in our state to circumvent [federal marijuana laws], the local authorities really grind you under their thumb."

Washington: Zoning Could Restrict Seattle Marijuana Sales In Tourist Areas

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

Some Seattle City Council members want to keep legalized marijuana -- approved by Washington state voters last November via Initiative 502 -- away from the city's tourist areas, historical districts and family zones.

An amendment to the city's Land Use Code has been proposed by council members Nick Licata and Sally Clark which would restrict the growing, processing, selling and delivery of cannabis in Capitol Hill's Harvard-Belmont area, the Downtown core, and other historical districts and family zones, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

Areas where marijuana sales and cultivation would be allowed under I-502 are already greatly restricted within Seattle's city limits; these changes would even further restrict the areas where it would be allowed.

The proposals are a response to legalization and the need to develop regulations surrounding marijuana and cannabis products, according to city officials.

"The proposal would not alter federal or State criminal law related to marijuana, and it would not place any City employee in the position of permitting or sanctioning any marijuana-related activity," the city said in a statement.

Maryland: Hearing Thursday On Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil citation and fine. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST in Room 101 of the House Office Building.

S.B. 297 would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce) of marijuana to a civil citation with no possibility of jail time and a fine of up to $100. Currently, it is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The decriminalization bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Carroll & Howard), was approved in the Senate last week by a vote of 30-16.

"Every year, Maryland wastes millions of dollars prosecuting tens of thousands of adults simply for choosing to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol," said Dan Riffle, a former prosecutor now serving as deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana would allow police and prosecutors to focus on violent criminals and real threats to public safety."

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on S.B. 297, a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

Missouri: Survey Shows Half of Voters Support Marijuana Legalization

Photo: National Cannabis CoalitionBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey commissioned by a pro-cannabis group says at least half of Missourians favor marijuana legalization.

According to the poll, conducted by DHM Research, 50 percent of respondents supported legalization, 45 percent opposed it, and five percent were undecided, reports KMOX.

Five hundred likely 2014 Missouri voters were asked if they'd support a ballot measure nearly identical to the one that the pro-marijuana group Show-Me Cannabis Regulation tried to get on the ballot in 2012.

After the initial survey, participants heard more details about the proposal and were presented with an equal number of statements supporting and opposing it. That process increased support for the proposal to 54 percent.

"This poll confirms that support for legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol continues to grow, and that is just as true in Missouri as it has been in Colorado," said John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.

Washington: House Bill Aims To Tax Marijuana Brand Names

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

A Washington state House committee on Friday held a public hearing on a bill that would tax marijuana "brand names" and trademarks likely to be introduced in the state when the sale of legal marijuana starts at the end of this year.

House Bill 1976, as heard by the House Finance Committee, would tax $3.60 per $1,000 of "assessed value" on "all trademarks, trade names, brand names, patents and copyrights related to marijuana," reports Rachel La Corte of The Associated Press.

The bill doesn't specify how those "values" would be determined, and instead says the Department of Revenue can "adopt rules" for determining those amounts. So it sounds suspiciously as if the department could tax almost any amount they wanted, depending on how highly they decide to arbitrarily value the brand names.

Washington voters last November approved I-502, which legalized up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over and allows for its legal sale through state-licensed stores. The state in December is scheduled to start issuing licenses to a few marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, with the cannabis taxed a whopping 25 percent at each of the three stages of the process. No home-growing is allowed under I-502.

Colorado: Congressman Says Marijuana Was A 'Great Association For Me' In 2012

Photo by Chet Susslin/National JournalBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) knows when he's politically associated with a good thing, and in 2012 that good thing was marijuana.

"My campaign headquarters last summer, we shared [a building] with a dispensary," Polis said while visiting a dispensary this week, reports Ben Terris at the National Journal. "You could see the sign, it was like, 'Marijuana, Jared Polis.'

"Marijuana outperformed me by 10 points, so it was a great association for me," Polis said.

Polis spoke from the soon-to-be-opened D.C. medical marijuana dispensary, Metropolitan Wellness Center. He was accompanied by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressional staffers, marijuana advocates and dispensary employees.

Within months, "certain D.C. residents will be able to come [to the center] to legally choose from more than a dozen strains of medical marijuana from Master Kush to Blue Dream."

Polis and Blumenauer have introduced legislation to end the federal prohibition on marijuana and set up a way to tax its sale.

Nevada: UFC Exec Asks For More Tolerant Stance With Marijuana: 'Society is Changing'

(Photo of Marc Ratner: Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

UFC executive Marc Ratner on Thursday asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel to evaluate how it handles fighters who test positive for marijuana.

"Society is changing," Ratner told the panel, reports John Morgan at USA Today. "It's a different world now than when I was on the commission. States are legalizing marijuana, and it's becoming more and more of a problem with fighters testing positive (for marijuana) and the metabolites."

Ratner, who used to be executive director of the NSAC, is now UFC's vice president of regulatory affairs. His comments at Thursday's meeting were given during the public comment portion of the agenda.

The NSCA in 2012 suspended welterweight Nick Diaz for one year when his drug test was positive for cannabis metabolites. It was Diaz's second positive drug test in Nevada after also testing positive for marijuana metabolites in 2007.

More recently, the NSAC suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for nine months and fined him $900,000, 30 percent of his $3 millinon purse for a September 2012 fight with Sergio Martinez.

Ratner told the NSAC it needs to reconsider its position on marijuana cases.

New Jersey: George Washington Bridge Guard Caught Smoking Pot On The Job

(Photo: New York Daily News)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A security guard at the George Washington Bridge (which spans the Hudson River, between New York and New Jersey) was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly smoking marijuana on the job.

Sami Omar, 26, of North Bergen, New Jersey, is an employee of FJC Security, a private company that contracts with the Port Authority, authority spokesman Steve Coleman said, reports Dan Ivers of

Port Authority Officer Kevin Hart was reportedly conducting regular post inspections at around 2 p.m. when he smelled "a strong odor of marijuana" coming from the book in which Omar was working. When questioned by Hart, Omar replied that "there must have been a skunk nearby," Coleman said. (Nice try, Omar.)

Omar, whose job is to watch for suicide jumpers and terror attacks, allegedly sprayed aerosol inside the booth in an attempt to mask the cannabis smell.

Hart searched the area, finding a half-smoked blunt and a small bag of weed.

Omar was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a "controlled dangerous substance."

The Port Authority called Omar's conduct "intolerable" and said it would review its security policies.

Congresswoman Co-Sponsors Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

There is a truth that must be heard!Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) Co-sponsors Congressional Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Bill would allow states to set marijuana policies without federal interference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-District 1) this week joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Pingree, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, on Monday, joining a bipartisan group of supporters in the House. There are currently 14 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on February 5 introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level. It would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

Washington: Police Retraining Drug Dogs Not To Sniff For Now-Legal Marijuana

(Photo: The Raw Story)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One of the happiest readjustments having to be made after Washington state voters approved marijuana legalization measure I-502 last November is underway: the police are retraining drug-sniffing dogs not to sniff for cannabis, because it's now legal for adults to possess up to an ounce in the Evergreen State.

Since the smell of marijuana no longer automatically means a crime has taken place, that changes the constitutional status of a police drug-detecting dog alerting on your property, reports Ian Millhiser at Think Progress.

If a dog is trained to sniff out marijuana and it alerts after sniffing an adult suspect, it no longer necessarily means a crime has taken place, because the dog likely only reacted to the presence of cannabis on the suspect.

So marijuana-sniffing dogs can no longer provide "probable cause" that a suspect is engaged in criminal activity, because the dogs are trained to alert when suspects are doing something that is no longer illegal under state law.

As a result of this dilemma, several police departments in Washington are retraining their drug-detecting dogs. Many law enforcement agencies around the state, including the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Patrol, will no longer be training their dogs to alert for marijuana.

Maine: Drive Launched To Legalize Marijuana In Portland

Photo - Maine: Drive Launched To Legalize Marijuana In PortlandSupporters to highlight the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, and it is illogical to punish adults for using the safer alternative

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana policy reform advocates will hold a press conference on Thursday, March 21, to announce the start of a citywide signature drive to make marijuana possession legal for adults within the city limits of Portland, Maine.

The petition, filed earlier this month by the Portland Green Party, would make possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana legal under city ordinance. The Portland Green Party will also be coordinating the signature drive for the initiative.

Advocates will announce the details of the petition and highlight the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, and it is therefore illogical to punish adults for using the safer alternative.

Scheduled to speak at the event are Portland City Councilor Dave Marshall, Zachary Heiden of the ACLU of Maine, Tom MacMillan of the Portland Green Party, and David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

WHAT: News conference to announce kick-off of citywide signature drive to make marijuana possession legal

WHEN: Thursday, March 21, 10 a.m. EST

WHERE: Portland City Hall, State of Maine Room (2nd Floor), 389 Congress St.

WHO: Tom MacMillan, Portland Green Party Chair

Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government Opposes

Photo - Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government OpposesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Danish city of Copenhagen wants to legalize cannabis. But while city officials overwhelmingly support the move, the national government of Denmark may not let them go ahead with the plan.

Last year the Danish national government rejected tentative legalization plans that had been approved on a 39-9 vote by the Copenhagen City Council, reports Fergus O'Sullivan at The Atlantic Cities.

Last week, officials from Seattle, where Washington state voters legalized marijuana last November, were flow in for a conference to help write a policy that stands a better chance of overcoming reluctance from non-metropolitan Danish and neighboring Swedish mayors.

Copenhagen would prefer to keep marijuana sales under state monopoly, controlling prices and importing supplies, possibly even from now-legal Colorado and Washington, though Washington officials have already nervously downplayed that possible plan, citing possible federal law enforcement concerns.

To prevent so-called "pot tourism," only Danish passport holders over the age of 18 would be allowed to buy weed. Cannabis outlets might also restrict sales by demanding proof of residency in Copenhagen.

Maryland: Senate Votes To Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana

(Photo of Candace Junkin, Moms For Marijuana, courtesy of Candace Junkin)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would reduce the penalty for up to 10 grams of marijuana from criminal possession to a civil fine. Meanwhile, another bill in the Maryland House goes even farther.

That bill, sponsored by Delegate Curt Anderson, would legalize the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over, reports Pat Warren at CBS Baltimore. It would remove all penalties for possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and would allow adults to grow up to three plants.

"Cigarettes are legal," Anderson said. "Alcohol is legal. Both, by far, are more dangerous drugs than marijuana."

Under Anderson's legalization bill, the state would license retail marijuana stores, wholesale facilities, and testing facilities and collect a tax on pot sales.

"We're making out kids criminals," said activist Candace Junkin of Moms For Marijuana, who testified before lawmakers in favor of the bill.

According to Junkin, the legislation is important to Maryland for many reasons.

"The resources we could save in law enforcement and the dismantling of the black market is in the forefront," she told Hemp News on Friday morning. "But most important to this Maryland mom of four and grandmother of three, is our children.

Washington: State's Legal Marijuana Consultant Said In 2010 That Legalization 'Can't Be Done'

There is a truth that must be heard!Massachusetts-Based Think Tank Is Successful Vendor To Provide 'Technical Expertise' As Board Implements Cannabis Legalization

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has chosen a Massachusetts-based firm , Botec Analysis Corp., led by Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, to be its official marijuana consultant. Ironically, Kleiman, in a 2010 editorial, wrote that state-level legalization "can't be done."

Botec, based in Cambridge, Mass., was chosen to provide technical expertise as the WSLCB implements Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measured approved by 55.7 percent of the state's voters last November. Dr. Kleiman teaches public policy at UCLA, and is considered an expert in criminal and drug policy, including probation, parole, and incarceration. (More on that corrections-intensive resumé in a moment.)

Botec specializes in crime and drug policy, and will serve as the prime contractor. The fact that both the think tank and Kleiman specialize in "crime" is cause for concern among some marijuana advocates, who long for the day when cannabis will be defined in something other than criminal terms. (Was it too much to ask for this to happen after voters approved legalization?)

Oregon: Legislature Considers Legalizing, Taxing Marijuana

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

Oregon lawmakers are looking at a plan to legalize and tax marijuana under House Bill 3371, scheduled for an April 2 public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill would legalize the production, processing and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to six mature marijuana plants and 24 ounces of dried cannabis, the same amounts currently allowed for patients under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of licensing marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers under HB 3371. Meanwhile, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee the taxation of cannabis.

Marijuana producers would be taxed $35 per ounce under the bill. That money would go to a "Cannabis Tax Account," 40 percent of which would go to state schools, with 20 percent each going to Oregon State Police, the general fund, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.

If passed, HB 3371 would take effect on July 1, 2014.

Nevada: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Marijuana

Nevada: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Nevada lawmaker wants to make it legal for adults to possess marijuana. Assemblyman Joe Hogan plans to introduce his bill in Carson City on Friday.

"From seeing the types of crimes that come across my desk, marijuana generally isn't the basis of any of these crimes," said criminal defense attorney Vicki Greco, reports Rikki Cheese of 13 Action News. "I feel like that I've seen alcohol destroy more families and homes than I have marijuana," Greco said.

But legalization is an uphill battle, according to Greco, who said laws would have to address how marijuana would be supplied, potency levels and where and how it could be smoked and sold.

"I think if it's recreational and people aren't getting into trouble with selling and you know, they just want to sit home and relax? I really don't see any harm in it," said Kristy Haslett of Las Vegas.

Another bill in the works would create a system of safe access for Nevada's medical marijuana patients. Although it's already legal to use cannabis in Nevada for medicinal purposes with a doctor's authorization, there is, under current law, no legal way to actually get it.

U.S.: Congressmen Take Aim At Federal Marijuana Ban

Photo: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 43 years since the Nixon Administration kicked off the modern War On Drugs with the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act -- and a few members of Congress have begun a push to finally overturn the ban on marijuana.

About 10 lawmakers, mostly liberal Democrats, are writing bills they say will serve as legislative guideposts for the future if, as expected, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives ignores their proposals during this Congress, reports Raju Chebium of USA Today.

It's time to end the federal prohibition on cannabis, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), because 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and many others are also exploring that option due to growing public support.

"Maybe next year, maybe next Congress, but this is going to change," Blumenauer said. "And the federal government will get out of the way."

"I'm very patient," Blumenauer explained. "I've been working on this one way or another for 40 years, and I think the likelihood of something happening in the next four or five years is greater than ever."

Meanwhile, the old guard of prohibitionists keeps beating the drum for the status quo in the War On Drugs.

Maine: Municipal Marijuana Legalization Measure Circulating In Portland

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

More than a decade ago, Maine set a precedent for the acceptance of marijuana use, when in 1999, state voters decided to exercise their right to approve medicinal cannabis; there have been no serious federal repercussions.

Overall legalization is inevitably coming to Maine. Citizens favor the idea statewide, but support is especially strong in Portland, where more than 70 percent of voters have twice in the past 14 years supported contradicting federal law regarding marijuana, reports Tom MacMillan at The Portland Daily Sun.

An ordinance being circulated by the Portland Green Independent Committee, chaired by MacMillan, is designed to protect otherwise law-abiding citizens of the city from police action, and free the Portland Police Department from enforcing an unjust law, allowing them to focus all their efforts on actually protecting and serving the community.

"The Portland Green Independent Committee has taken up this issue because of the lack of action on the state and federal level," MacMillan said. "Passing this ordinance here in Portland will be an historic step forward for marijuana legalization efforts both in Maine and nationwide."

New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Dies In House; Industrial Hemp Bill Passes

New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Dies In House; Industrial Hemp Bill PassesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would have legalized marijuana in New Hampshire died in the House on Wednesday without any debate. The Democratic-majority House voted 239-112 to kill the bill. On the same day, the House passed a bill to legalize industrial hemp.

It wasn't a party-line vote, reports Ben Leubsdorf of the Concord Monitor. While 135 Democrats and 104 Republicans voted to kill the legalization bill, 61 Democrats and 51 Republicans voted to pass it.

The legislation would have removed all references to marijuana from the state's drug control laws as of January 1, 2014. Marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, but New Hampshire would have followed Colorado and Washington state, where voters in November approved ballot measures to allow the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, on a 12-8 vote, recommended the full House kill the legalization bill. Opponents complained that it would run counter to federal law, while supporters pointed out that cannabis prohibition is not working.

The hemp legalization bill was approved by the full House on a voice vote. Hemp can be used to make rope, fabric, paper, fuel and other products. Like marijuana, it is a variety of the cannabis plant.

Syndicate content