Recreational

Massachusetts: Attorney General Asks Voters To 'Wait' On Legalizing Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is asking state voters to "wait" to legalize marijuana.

Voters could be faced with a ballot question in November to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use. Atty. Gen. Healey is asking residents to vote no, reports Ashley Afonso at WWLP.

"Not now, not at this time," Healey said. "We're in the midst of his opioid crisis." (Evidently, the Attorney General doesn't know that cannabis is an exit drug out of opiate addiction.)

"I think it's really important that we talk about the public health aspects which haven't really been talked about," Healey said. "Legalizing recreational marijuana I think is a really bad idea for many reasons, but to me most important is the health and well-being of young people."

Massachusetts already has legalized medicinal cannabis, and has decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce for adults. The new measure would legalize recreational weed for adults 21 and older. It would also add taxes on cannabis sales and a commission that would oversee the regulation of the industry.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association wrong-headedly opposes legalization, claiming "safety concerns" including "greater youth accessibility." What they don't seem to realize is that black market dealers don't ask for ID, and legal marijuana stores do.

U.S.: Supreme Court Rejects Other States' Lawsuit Over Colorado Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its marijuana legalization law. Oklahoma and Nebraska had claimed the Colorado law had created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states.

The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claimed that federal marijuana prohibition preempts the law that Colorado voters decisively adopted in 2012. The Federal Government filed a brief urging the high court to reject the case.

"There is no question about it: This is good news for legalization supporters," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "This case, if it went forward and the Court ruled the wrong way, had the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date. And the notion of the Supreme Court standing in the way could have cast a dark shadow on the marijuana ballot measures voters will consider this November.

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."

Uruguay: Wide World of Cannabis Explores First Country To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis and pop culture media platform Merry Jane is investigating cannabis globally in their new original series, "Wide World of Cannabis," which premieres Wednesday.

The first episode, "Uruguay Part 1," travels to South America to explore the first country in the world to completely legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana.

"This is just the start of Merry Jane's deep dive into cannabis use around the world," publicist Katie Jang told us on Wednesday.

Merry Jane was recently launched by entertainment icon Snoop Dogg and media entrepreneur Ted Chung.

The website, including partners Seth Rogen, Guy Oseary and Miley Cyrus, features the latest news on cannabis, business and entertainment, as well as a location mapping service for dispensaries, and an encyclopedia of all things cannabis.

Colorado: Feds, Local Cops Raid Suspected Illegal Marijuana Grows

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This isn't quite how we pictured legalization. Denver police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Tuesday morning raided multiple unlicensed marijuana grows as part of a two-year investigation.

There have been no arrests, and police faced no resistance at any of the locations where officers executed search warrants, said Denver Police Commander Marcus Fountain, reports Noelle Phillips at The Denver Post.

Police wouldn't say how many sites were raided, and wouldn't quantify the amount of cannabis seized (I don't know, maybe they haven't figured out how much they're stealing yet).

The grow sites were across the Denver area, including residential areas, according to Fountain, who said the investigation continues.

Law enforcement has identified no connections to any gangs or cartels, according to Fountain. Police have more interviews to perform, and more locations to investigate, he said.

"It's likely to go on for several more months," Fountain said. "It's that complicated."

Police claim "it's possible" that "some of the operators" may be shipping weed out of state, reports the Associated Press. Well, lots of things are possible, but that doesn't mean we need to base police raids of them.

Washington: Tipping Now Allowed In Marijuana Stores

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you know a particularly good budtender at a recreational marijuana store in Washington state, you can now legally show your appreciation by adding a little greenery to the scenery.

Monetary tipping of budtenders wasn't allowed in Washington recreational marijuana stores until Monday, March 14, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised its policy, effective immediately.

"The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has received several inquiries asking about the practice of bud tender tip jars," Deputy Chief Steve D. Johnson said in an email under LCB letterhead. "In response, the LCB has reviewed their position and this bulletin is to clarify the policy on allowable tipping."

"Tipping has not been an allowable practice in a licensed retail marijuana location," the email reads. "This position was adopted based on an interpretation of RCW 69.50.357, and indications that prices of products were being manipulated based on the size of a tip to avoid paying excise tax.

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.

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.

California: Anti-Marijuana Activist Is Determined To Stop Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Anti-marijuana activist Roger Morgan is determined to stop marijuana legalization in California -- and because of failure of Prop 19 in 2010, he feels he has a good chance.

Morgan is leading the Stop Pot 2016 campaign, the primary political opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), the cannabis legalization initiative backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Napster founder Sean Parker, reports Zach Weissmuller at Reason.com.

Morgan's "Safe and Drug-Free Community Act" aims to keep commercial cannabis illegal, and to more heavily regulate medical marijuana in California.

In an often-contentious interview with Weissmuller, the two discuss what science does and doesn't say about the effects of cannabis on the brain; the unintended consequences of prohibition; and what lessons California voters can draw from legalization in places in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska.

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.

Washington: Board To Close Marijuana Retail License Application Window March 31

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Monday announced it will stop accepting marijuana retail license applications March 31 at 5 p.m.

The WSLCB had begun processing retail applications on Oct. 12, 2015, to accommodate additional demand and provide additional access points before the medical and recreational marketplace are merged on July 1, 2016.

“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” said WSLCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith. “We’ll meet the retail cap with priority ones and twos that we’re already processing.”

Retail Cap

On January 6, the Board adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to "align the two markets," i.e., preside over the shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries which weren't able to obtain a 502 license.

Based on staff’s recommendation, the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.

Priority System

SB 5052, the so-called "2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act," which was devised by I-502 merchants as a way of eliminating the medical competition -- and then passed by a Legislature grateful for the productive new source of campaign donations, both over and under the table -- directed the WSLCB to issue licenses in the following priority order.

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.”

Alaska: Marijuana Proponents Say Measure Would Amount To A Ban On Rural Cannabis Shops

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Backers of the 2014 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Alaska are urging legislators to oppose a measure that would severely limit marijuana business locations and access to marijuana for adults in rural Alaska. The amendment was recently snuck into HB 75, an otherwise non-controversial bill intended to clarify marijuana rules following the passage of Ballot Measure 2.

HB 75 was originally intended to establish the maximum number of marijuana plants that can be cultivated per household and define key terms in the law. It was recently expanded to allow the state government to request background checks on marijuana business applicants, at which time Sen. Lyman F. Hoffman (D - Dist. S) introduced an amendment that would make it very difficult to establish marijuana businesses in any unincorporated area of the state.

"Alaskans spoke loud and clear when they adopted Ballot Measure 2, and this amendment would defy the will of the voters,” said Tim Hinterberger, an official proponent of Ballot Measure 2 who served as chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “It is disappointing that some senators would use the state's need for background checks as an opportunity to ban marijuana businesses in rural Alaska. We strongly urge members of the House to oppose this offensive proposal and either amend HB 75 or oppose it and address background checks in a separate bill."

U.S.: Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Claims Legalization To Blame For Violent Crime Spike

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You might think that the uptick in violent crimes in major cities in the U.S. is related to the "Ferguson Effect," as asserted by FBI Director James Comey. But a former White House national drug policy spokesman is now claiming that the violent crime spike is due to marijuana legalization, of all things.

Robert Weiner, who used to be a national drug policy spokesman for the White House, and senior policy analyst Ben Lasky claim the "Fergson Effect" argument consists of "convenient rationalizations by law enforcement,' in a new op-ed for The Washington Times.

"Violent crime has spiked in many U.S. cities over the last year, including a 54 percent increase in homicides in Washington, D.C., in 2015 -- as well as 63 percent in Baltimore and 13 percent in Chicago," Weiner and Lasky write. "It is no coincidence that this uptick comes at a time when drug laws are being loosened throughout the country. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, either for medical purposes or overall."

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.

Colorado: Cannabis Chamber To Hold Press Conference On Marijuana Edibles Standards

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The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) has scheduled a press conference for Thursday afternoon. Attendees will hear from several C4 members, as they discuss C4’s recent all member, voluntary adoption of new edibles standards. There will be time for questions.

The newly adopted standards are as follows: C4 manufacturers will no longer produce or sell marijuana infused edibles that are in the shapes of humans or animals. Animal shapes such as gummy bears, gummy worms, “sour patch kids,” and other items will be prohibited.

“I am proud to announce that members of the C4 organization, along with our Board of Directors, began discussing this initiative to address these concerns in the fall of 2015,” said Tyler Henson, C4 president.

“C4 has worked to ensure our members adopt manufacturing and sales standards which recognize that legal marijuana should only be consumed by adults," Henson said. "This is done in good faith and in the spirit of cooperation with cannabis regulators, community leaders, and our elected officials as we work together to continue to advance both public safety and robust industry standards.”

U.S.: HBO's VICE Series Features White Collar Weed

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Season Four of the Emmy-winning television series VICE on HBO includes the segment "White Collar Weed," and will air on Friday, February 26, at 11 pm ET.

The episode will include two segments, "White Collar Weed," hosted by correspondent Hamilton Morris; and "Beating Blindness," hosted by correspondent Isobel Yeung.

Small-scale weed farmers have been fighting to legalize marijuana for generations, but the closer they get to ending the prohibition on cannabis, the closer they get to a new threat -- corporate takeover of their way of life.

VICE's Hamilton Morris travels to California's renowned Emerald Triangle to meet struggling mom-and-pop marijuana growers, then he visits with the investors and entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the next big consumer market -- if it could put the small guys out of business.

See an advanced clip from Friday's "White Collar Weed" segment, below:

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