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Massachusetts: Boston's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost four years after voters approved medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the first Boston dispensary opened today, August 3.

The new dispensary in downtown Boston on historic Milk Street is the seventh to open in the state.

Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita expects business to be brisk. Columbia Care is the parent company of Patriot Care, which is opening the Boston location.

"But we don't expect it to be overwhelming," Vita said. "It's still a medically focused program so the patients we see have all received their certification from physicians approved by the state."

Fr. Joe Quinn, a friar at St. Anthony's Shrine, attended the opening on Wednesday.
"This takes away the stigma, which is wonderful," he said. "This is a medication and that's all it's used for."

There were more than 27,000 medical marijuana card holders in Massachusetts as of the end of June.

The other Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries are located in in Ayer, Brockton, Brookline, Lowell, Northampton and Salem.

Oregon: Teen Facing Federal Drug Charges Over One Gram Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A teenager in Oregon is facing federal drug charges and up to a year in prison for possession of one gram of marijuana, his lawyer said. Federal authorities have not prosecuted a marijuana case in Oregon since 2011.

Devontre Thomas, 19, is a recent graduate of Chemawa Indian School in Salem with plans to attend college this fall. But first he'll have to appear at the federal courthouse in Portland to fight the charge, the result of an incident in March 2015.

Recreational marijuana use by adults was legalized in 2014 in Oregon, but the substance remains illegal under federal law, where it is classified as a Schedule I drug. Heroin and LSD are considered Schedule I, drugs with no medical value but with an extreme potential for abuse. The Justice Department has officially backed off from interfering with state-level marijuana laws, since the issuance of a memo 1n 2013 by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. But the memo states that U.S. attorneys should continue to prosecute cases involving "the distribution of marijuana to minors."

Many are saying that it's a case of the federal government going too far, considering the small amount of pot Thomas was found with, enough for a couple of joints.

Oregon: State Fair To Feature Marijuana Plants For First Time

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It's not unusual for state fairs to display award-winning vegetables and animals along with different-colored ribbons decorating the winners. But it is unusual for a fair to display award-winning marijuana, and this will be the first year the Oregon State Fair does just that.

The event runs August 26 through September 5 at the fairgrounds in Salem. There will only be nine plants on display, according to Don Morse, chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, the sponsor of the marijuana exhibit.

The plants will be in a greenhouse watched by a security guard. Only people 21 and older will be allowed in to view the plants.

The plants will be awarded ribbons like any other prize-winning crop.

"We are doing it 4H style," Morse said. "You get a blue, purple or yellow ribbon. We are celebrating the plant as a farm crop from Oregon."

The plants will have been judged by a panel of marijuana growers before being displayed at the fair.

But there won't be any sampling. "We are not promoting the use of cannabis," Morse said. "We are there to show plants to people over 21 what award-winning cannabis plants look like."

Oregon: Hemp Farmers Ask For Help From Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of Oregon hemp farmers, along with residents who want to grow hemo next year, on Wednesday asked state regulators at a hearing to clear roadblocks preventing the industry from thriving. Meanwhile, the hemp industry is thriving in other states with less onerous regulations.

But the types of changes they're asking for would require the help of the Oregon Legislature, not just state regulators, reports Taylor W. Anderson at The Bend Bulletin.

That's where the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association comes in. The group will ask hemp-friendly lawmakers to help fix the issues the state's nine licensed hemp farmers had in their first year of cultivation.

"Right now, the biggest changes to the legislation that we need is regarding greenhouses and propagation freedom," said Courtney Moran, a Portland attorney who is organizing the group. "This is the only crop in Oregon that you cannot grow in a greenhouse or use cuttings or clone."

The Oregon Department of Justice ruled in September that, since the 2009 state law legalizing hemp didn't include the specific word "greenhouse," and because greenhouse isn't included in the dictionary definition of "field," hemp farmers can't grow the plant indoors. Yeah, these guys really need to get out more.

Oregon: Legislature Votes To Allow Recreational Marijuana Sales By Medical Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senate Bill 460, to allow the limited sale of recreational marijuana at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries beginning October 1, passed the Oregon Legislature with a Thursday vote in the House.

The measure, which had already clerared the Senate, passed the House on a 40 to 18 vote, reports Larry Meyer at The Argus Observer. Recreational marijuana sales would otherwise have had to wait until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission got the rules in place sometime next year, leaving customers to buy it through the black market.

Noting that cannabis sales won't be taxed until January, Democratic Rep. Andy Olson said it will take time to get a tax structure in place. The "tax holiday" will help encourage consumers to get their marijuana from a licensed dispensary, wheere it will have been lab tested, rather than on the black market.

State Rep. Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, Oregon, was one of the 18 "no" votes on SB 460. Bentz said he's "long suspected" that many medical marijuana patients are faking; he cluelessly claimed that this measure "puts the state's blessing" on that.

Bentz also voted against another successful resolution which asked the U.S. Congress to take marijuana off the schedule of controlled substances and allow the cannabis industry access to the federal banking system.

Massachusetts: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three years after the state overwhelmingly voted to allow legal marijuana, the first dispensary in Massachusetts opened on Thursday: Alternative Therapies Group, based in Salem. The dispensary will accept patients by appointment only.

Unlike many other states, no marijuana will be grown on site, and most uniquely, no products will be on display – patients will have to choose their products via a computer screen. So much for the old smell test!

“The highly coveted license was approved on Friday and the facility will be operating in the neighborhood of Downtown Crossing," reports Lynda Johnson CapitalWired.com. "Patriot Care Corp. had already been approved to open such a dispensary in Lowell although provisionally. The corporation won the permit for a location in Greenfield as well thus becoming the only company that has been authorized to run three marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts."

State officials also said they are willing to allow another company to open dispensaries in Northampton and Brookline. "The decision to award Patriot Care Corp. the license has drawn sharp condemnation from a number of critics who claim that the company was being given a special kind of treatment,” reports CapitalWired.com.

Oregon: House Approves Bill Setting Up Legal Marijuana Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state's legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.

The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to "opt out" of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.

Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November's election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.

"I did not support Measure 91," said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). "I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug."

The bill also creates a marijuana tracking system, so bureaucrats can trace weed from seed to sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking the path of marijuana to market.

The bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on how much cannabis is processed and transferred every month.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Ask For Lifeline To Recreational Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensary owners on Thursday begged Oregon lawmakers to let them sell to recreational cannabis users, once legalization is implemented on July 1.

"We don't know a single dispensary doing well in this over-saturated market," said Meghan Wallstatter, who along with her husband Matt owns the Pure Green dispensary in Portland, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. She called recreational marijuana sales a "much-needed lifeline" for medical dispensaries.

The Oregon Health Authority has approved 310 dispensary licenses; another 93 are pending, according to a June 12 tally.

More than 130 dispensaries have been approved in Portland, and only a few of them are making money, according to consultant Sam Chapman, who said it could lead to a a big shakeout with only a few shops left open.

"If we truly want to keep this a craft industry and we want to empower the mom and pop businesses to be able to survive in this industry, we need to have early recreational sales," Chapman said. "A lot of these businesses are starting to drown."

The Oregon House-Senate marijuana committee is looking at language that would allow dispensaries to sell some cannabis products to recreational users while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sets up its own retail network.

Oregon: Politicians Poised To Dismantle Oregon's Medical Marijuana System - CALL TODAY

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Politicians in Salem are poised to pass a bill at 5 p.m. on Monday that would partially dismantle Oregon’s medical marijuana system and ban state-regulated marijuana businesses. The Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91 is planning to slip this by quickly, without any public testimony.

Public testimony is crucial because politicians need to know why this bill is so bad for Oregon. New Approach Oregon is asking that you please take a moment right now to call a few state senators and tell them them the public should have the right to be heard before the medical marijuana system is drastically changed. Phone numbers are below.

"We voted to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana, NOT to have politicians push it into the criminal market and make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get life-saving medicine," said Measure 91 Chief Petitioner Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon.

Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91:
Sen. Ginny Burdick (D): 503-986-1718
Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D): 503-986-1704
Sen. Jeff Kruse (R): 503-986-1701
Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R): 503-986-1950
Sen. Lee Beyer (D): 503-986-1706

Senate Democratic Leadership:
Senate President, Peter Courtney: 503-986-1600
Senate Majority Leader, Diane Rosenbaum: 503-986-1700
Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Arnie Roblan: 503-986-1705
Senate Majority Whip, Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward: 503-986-1717
Senate Majority Whip, Mark Haas: 503-986-1714
Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Michael Dembrow: 503-986-1723

Oregon: Gov. Kitzhaber Claims Home Marijuana Possession Limits Are Too High

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon voters -- a whopping 56 percent of them -- approved Measure 91, which legalized marijuana, up to half a pound of it at home. But now Gov. John Kitzhaber has apparently decided he knows better than voters, and on Tuesday he indicated me might ask the Legislature to set lower limits.

Kitzhaber claimed he had "many concerns" about the voter-approved initiative, questioning the logic of allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis at home yet just one ounce in public, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

"The amount you can actually grow in a home-grow operation seems to me to exceed the amount that you're supposed to have legally," Kitzhaber said. "I don't know how you enforce that."

Kitzhaber did not say what kinds of possession limits he'd like to see.

Possession limits were deliberately set higher at home to allow adults to grow their own marijuana and make concentrates and edibles, according to backers of Measure 91.

"Just like home brewing of beer and the home making of wine, you need to have reasonable rules for personal cultivators and hobbyists who want to produce their own marijuana," said Anthony Johnson, chairman of New Approach Oregon, which sponsored the 2014 initiative.

Oregon: Lawmakers Approve Money For Legal Marijuana Rules

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission can now begin the implementation of recreational marijuana legalization under Measure 91 after the Legislature's Emergency Board, composed of state House and Senate members, approved funding for staff, legal help and rule-writing.

The board approved a $583,000 loan for the OLCC, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The money is coming from the state's liquor taxes, with the promise that the Commission will pay it back by the end of the 2015-2017 budget cycle using revenue generated by marijuana sales.

The money will allow commissioners to hire four workers: a program manager, two policy analysts and a public affairs staffer, reports The Associated Press. Regulating recreational marijuana in Oregon might eventually require up to 30 employees, according to one state estimate.

Oregon voters approved Measure 91 with a lopsided 56 percent to 44 percent margin last month, but the ballot initiative left most regulation up to the Liquor Control Commission to work out by January 2016.

Homegrown marijuana and personal possession will become formally legal on July 1, 2015, with commercial sales expected to begin in 2016.

Oregon: New Poll Shows 51% Want To Legalize Marijuana In November

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With less than three months until Election Day in Oregon, and as many as three separate marijuana legalization initiatives vying to appear on the ballot, a new poll shows 51 percent of voters support allowing adults to use, possess and grow cannabis.

The SurveyUSA poll released on Tuesday didn't ask voters which of the three measures they would prefer; instead it simply asked them whether they would support or pose allowing adults in Oregon to use, possess and grow marijuana for their personal use, while allowing the state to regulate and tax it, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.

Just more than half, 51 percent of those polled support marijuana legalization, while just 41 percent oppose it. There are no regional differences within the state on this question, according to the poll, but there are enormous age differences: younger voters support legalization by 48 points, while senior citizens oppose it by 24 points.

Democrats were more likely to support cannabis legalization, and Republicans were more likely to oppose it, according to the poll.

None of the three initiatives has yet qualified for November's ballot, but supporters of all three said they are optimistic that they will turn in more than enough signatures to qualify before the deadline on July 3.

Oregon: Officials Back Off Proposed Ban On Marijuana-Infused Treats

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana-infused edible treats just came within a gnat's whisker of getting banned by Oregon health officials, but seem to have dodged the bullet, at least for now. Officials at the Oregon Health Authority got hundreds of emails opposing the ban, and the new set of rules released on Monday seeks only to ban marijuana-laced products that are made in packaged in ways that might appeal to children.

The new rules ban cannabis-infused edibles that are brightly colored or formed in the shapes of animals, toys, or candies, reports Chad Garland of the Associated Press. They require cannabis products to be sold in child-proof containers, with no cartoons or "bright colors."

In a release announcing the new rules, Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority, said "Marijuana isn't candy, and it shouldn't look like candy."

SB 1531, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month, required the health authority to set the rules. The bill also allows cities and counties to ban dispensaries within their borders, until May 2015 anyway.

The new law calls for the Oregon Health Authority to implement rules designed to keep marijuana away from children.

An earlier draft of the proposed rules would have instituted a blanket ban on all cakes, cookies, candy and gum that contain cannabis, but Burns said the agency had gotten "a couple hundred" emails from patients upset about that.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Required To Register With State, Maintain Security

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Operators of medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon will be required to register with the state, keep encrypted electronic records and maintain 24-hour security beginning in March 2014.

The committee tasked with creating the state's medical marijuana dispensary registry finished its work on Wednesday in Salem, but one member of the panel predicted the program would fail because of inadequate staffing, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The group has been meeting since September to craft rules around background checks, testing for potency and contaminants, and security requirements. A 30-page draft of the rules gives the specifics of how dispensaries will legally operate. Back in 1998, Oregon voters made the state one of the first to allow cannabis for medicinal use.

The Oregon Health Authority will be going over the proposed rules; there will also be public hearings around the state before they are finalized next year.

The rules came about as the result of the Oregon Legislature, earlier this year, passing a law which for the first time explicitly legalizes and regulates medical marijuana dispensaries. Retailers will face a maze of regulations starting next spring, but growers and the labs which test for potency and impurities won't be regulated by the dispensary law.

Oregon: Two Marijuana Initiatives Hold Signature Turn-In

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Cannabis advocates on Friday morning turned in tens of thousands signatures for two marijuana initiatives in the state capitol of Salem. The initiatives are aiming for the November 2014 ballot in Oregon.

Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition, and Initiative 22 is a statute to regulate and tax marijuana, allowing farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food. Organizers behind I-21 and I-22 turned in the signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State's Elections Division offices on the 5th floor in the Public Service Building.

“Prohibition doesn't work," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). "Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste. It is time to end marijuana prohibition.”

Recent polls show that more than 60 percent of likely Oregon voters support ending marijuana prohibition now. "Our initiatives, one constitutional, the other statutory, will poise Oregon to lead this new industry, which some say is the fastest growth industry in America today," Stanford said.

Who: Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, an Oregon nonprofit PAC

What: Press Conference and Signature Turn-In for Two Marijuana Initiatives

When: 10 a.m. on Friday, December 6

Where: Lobby of the Public Service Building at 255 Capitol St. NE; Salem, Oregon

With this submission, I-21 and I-22 move into the lead and

Oregon: Officials Move Forward With Marijuana Dispensary Security Rules

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just how much security should Oregon's medical marijuana dispensaries be required to have in place? That was the question examined by state officials on Monday.

The rules, including input from police, policy makers and cannabis advocates, generated heated discussion among the 13-member panel, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Tom Burns, who supervises the state's pharmaceutical drug program, appointed and moderated the group.

All of this is happening because of the passage of House Bill 3460, passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The law formally legalized the dispensaries, which had been operating in a gray area of the law since Oregon voters approved medical marijuana in 1998.

Until HB 3460 came along, Oregon's medical marijuana dispensaries -- technically illegal but tolerated in a few areas, especially around Portland -- had operated mostly without official interference.

After passage of the bill into law, a committee started meeting in September to hammer out regulations that will govern the shops. The group's deadline for completing the rules is in December; they're expected to meet again before then.

Oregon plans to start accepting applications from prospective dispensary operators starting March 3, 2014.

Oregon: Mandatory Minimums Repealed For Drug Offenses; Probation Expanded For Marijuana

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Strategy Intended To Avert Prison Growth

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Legislature has passed a broad criminal justice bill, HB 3194, that is projected to avert all of the state's anticipated prison growth over the next decade. The bill repeals mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, and expands the use of presumptive probation in marijuana offenses.

The Oregon House passed the measure last Wednesday by a vote of 40-18; the Oregon Senate approved it 19-11 on Monday.

Without action by the Legislature, Oregon's prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates in the next 10 years. This growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent drug offenses, would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million.

In order to get Oregon a better return on its public safety dollars, state officials launched a bipartisan working group to analyze sentencing and corrections trends and to generate policy recommendations for the Legislature. The Oregon Commission on Public Safety used state-level data, the growing body of national research about what works in corrections, and meetings with criminal justice experts to develop the policy options that served as a foundation for HB 3194.

"Oregon's public safety package reflects an emerging national consensus on criminal justice policy that locking up more nonviolent offenders for longer prison terms isn't the best way to fight crime and reduce recidivism," said Adam Gelb, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' public safety performance project.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Gets First Hearing In Legislature

(Illustration: Where's Weed?)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization on Tuesday got its first hearing in the Oregon Legislature when the House Judiciary conducted a brief hearing on House Bill 3371, which would license producers, processors and sellers of cannabis.

Under HB 3371, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would have the authority to tax marijuana, but unlike Washington state's Initiative 502, home cultivation would still be permitted, reports Peter Wong of the Salem Statesman Journal.

"Marijuana legalization is coming to Oregon sooner rather than later," said activist Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon. "It makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol and for the Legislature to take the lead on the issue and make sure sensible regulations are in place."

A survey conducted last week by DHM Research of Portland showed that support for legalization is around the 50 percent mark in Oregon. "It sends a signal to where the voters' attitudes are heading," said John Horvick of DHM.

Predictably, the Oregon State Sheriffs Association is stuck in the past, and opposes legalization, preferring to keep the broad powers over otherwise law-abiding citizens given to law enforcement by the marijuana laws.

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.

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.

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