washington d.c.

U.S.: NCIA Calls On Congress To Restore Commonsense Marijuana Proposals To Bills

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Despite bipartisan, majority support in both the House and Senate, the GOP "leadership" has blocked a fix to the dangerous banking crisis, and also stripped a provision allowing V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients.

Recent actions by Congressional leadership have derailed two commonsense, majority-favored marijuana policy reform proposals that had been expected to pass through the appropriations process. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Friday called on members of Congress to work to restore those provisions as the budget negotiation process continues.

"Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate have supported the commonsense, compassionate ideas that law-abiding cannabis businesses shouldn't be forced into dangerous all-cash operations, and that veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for our country should be able to learn about how medical marijuana could help them deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of their sacrifices," said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

U.S.: House, Senate Bills Aim To Remove Barriers To Marijuana Research

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Medical Marijuana Research Legislation Introduced in House and Senate

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's a major development in federal cannabis legislation this week. Congressmen Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA) will be introducing the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. This bill heeds the calls of the medical research community to address the burdensome processes that currently impede legitimate medical research on marijuana.

The bill is a bipartisan and bicameral solution that removes barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are introducing a similar bill in the Senate.

“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community," said Dr. Harris. "Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research.

U.S.: Senate To Hold Homeland Security Hearing On Alternatives To Drug War

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The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold an unprecedented roundtable hearing on Wednesday morning, June 15, 2016, entitled "America's Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches." The hearing comes at a time where the country is struggling to tackle the opioid epidemic, and policy makers are in search of innovative solutions that avoid the mistakes of the War On Drugs.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), will lay out his vision for ending the war on drugs and forging ahead with new policies based on science, health and human rights. In his written testimony, Nadelmann affirms that "A new approach is needed, one that reduces both the harm caused by drugs and the harm caused by current drug control policies."

“I’ve waited a very long time to be invited by Congress to testify on these issues,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I think it’s a positive sign that political leaders, not just in the states but even on Capitol Hill, now recognize both the failure of the drug war and the need to think outside the box in addressing our country’s drug problems.”

D.C.: Hour-Long TV Show Examines Confusing State of Weed In Our Nation's Capital

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You can own it, but you can’t buy it. You can grow it, but you can’t sell it. You can smoke it in your home, but not on federal land.

FUSION’s Chief Cannabis Correspondent Ryan Nerz rolls into our nation's capital to investigate the controversial world of weed in Washington with “The Naked Truth: District of Cannabis.”

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the most liberal and confusing laws surrounding marijuana, making it a compelling window to the many cannabis contradictions across the country. Nerz, who has traveled to every state that has some form of legalization in the U.S., follows one man's cannabis crusade all the way to the White House, examines some of the weirdest pot laws in the country, and explores some of the special interests involved in the battles over legalization.

“The Naked Truth: District of Cannabis” premieres Sunday, May 22 at 8 PM on FUSION (channel listings). Additional reporting from “District of Cannabis” will be available across FUSION’s digital, social, and OTT channels. Watch a preview here.

U.S.: Blumenauer To Offer Veterans Equal Access Amendment For Medical Marijuana

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Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon this week will offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana, when the U.S. House of Representatives considers the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. This forces veterans out of the VA system to seek a simple recommendation for treatment for eligible conditions as granted to them by state laws.

Rep. Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.

“It’s wrong and unfair to force our veterans outside of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option," said Congressman Blumenauer. "And, our VA physicians should not be denied the ability to offer such a recommendation if they think it may meet the needs of their patient.”

U.S.: AAA Says There's No Scientific Basis For Laws Against Driving On Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Six states that allow marijuana use in one form or another have legal tests which supposedly serve to determine who is driving while impaired -- but those tests have no scientific basis at all, according to a study done by the largest auto club in the United States. AAA, as a result, has called for scrapping those laws.

The study was commissioned by AAA's safety foundation, and it discovered that it's not possible to determine impairment by setting a blood-test threshold for the level of THC, the main component of marijuana responsible the high. Yet the laws in five of those six states automatically presume a driver is guilty of driving while impaired if he or she tests higher than the limit, not not guilty if the level is lower, reports the Associated Press.

The AAA foundation recommends replacing those faulty laws with ones that actually rely on science, using specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired on pot, backed up by a test for the presence of THC rather than a specific level. The officers would be responsible for screening for dozens of supposed indicators of marijuana use.

D.C.: Congresswoman Lee Joins National Cannabis Industry Association Press Conference

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Thursday joined several of her colleagues and members of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) for a press conference on Capitol Hill demanding respect for state laws and fairness for the industry.

“Today, I’m pleased to join my colleagues and the National Cannabis Industry Association in making one simple request to Congress: 'Treat the industry just like any other business,'” Lee said. "It’s past time for the federal government to end its counterproductive overreach into state-legal cannabis markets.

"Last week, I was proud to join Harborside Health Center in celebrating the U.S. Attorney’s decision to end its unnecessary case against this health center," Lee said. "While it was victory for Harborside, there are still centers in my district and around the country that continue to face harassment.

"Additionally, outdated laws continue to prevent many state-legal businesses from thriving, including our arcane banking laws," Lee said. "These laws serve only to trap these businesses in the cash-only market, restrict their access to capital and prevent them from engaging in simple business-to-business transactions.

"This industry is just like any other, and Congress needs to ensure it has access to banking, just like any other industry," Congresswoman Lee said.

U.S.: Members of Congress To Join Cannabis Business Leaders Thursday and Friday

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Members of Congress on Thursday will join cannabis industry leaders from across the country for a press conference to kick off National Cannabis Industry Association's sixth annual Lobby Days. More than 100 cannabis business professionals will travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in policy discussions and citizen lobby meetings to advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry.

On May 12, NCIA leaders, business owners, and members of Congress including Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Denny Heck (D-WA), and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), will hold an 11:30am press conference at the House Triangle to kick off two days of meetings across the Hill between cannabis industry leaders and congressional staffs.

Top priorities for these business owners are a solution to the banking crisis, which prevents many legitimate cannabis businesses from accessing basic financial services, and reform to Section 280E of the federal tax code, which forces cannabis business to pay double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.

NCIA members will also advocate for the descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would give states the authority to make their own decisions about how to handle cannabis legality, much as they currently do with alcohol.

D.C.: Leaders On Capitol Hill For National Cannabis Industry Association's Lobby Days

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Cannabis industry leaders from across the country next week will travel to Washington, D.C., for the National Cannabis Industry Association's sixth annual Lobby Days. More than 100 cannabis business professionals will take part in policy discussions and citizen lobby meetings to advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry.

On Thursday, May 12, NCIA leaders, business owners, and members of Congress will hold an 11:30am press conference at the House Triangle to kick off two days of meetings across the Hill between cannabis industry leaders and congressional staffs.

Top priorities for these business owners are a solution to the banking crisis, which prevents many legitimate cannabis businesses from accessing basic financial services, and reform to Section 280E of the federal tax code, which forces cannabis business to pay double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.

NCIA members will also advocate for the de-scheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would give states the authority to make their own decisions about how to handle cannabis legality, much as they currently do with alcohol.

D.C.: DCMJ Says White House Meeting Was Good First Step

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Legalization Group Seeks Higher Level Sit Down

DCMJ, the cannabis legalization group that successfully worked to pass the Initiative 71 ballot measure legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia, called their meeting with the White House “a move in the right direction” toward removing marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substance Act.

“This is a good first step, but we hope to continue the dialogue with the White House,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “We thanked the White House for extending the invitation, but it is clear that our work is far from finished.

"This is only the start," Eidinger said. "What we are requesting is a higher level meeting with senior administration officials, ultimately moving toward a cannabis policy reform summit with President Obama and key stakeholders such as patients, patient advocates, business owners, grassroots advocates, the disabled community, scientists, the medical community, veterans and others.”

D.C.: Marijuana Advocates Light Up In Public At Capitol's First Cannabis Fest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 5,000 people attended the inaugural National Cannabis Festival on Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium fairgrounds on Saturday, with the goals of bringing together the District's newly legal marijuana industry and advocating for broader legalization.

"We're going to keep pushing until we get the laws that we want," said NCF organizer Caroline Phillips, reports Joshua Swain at Reason.com.

Revelers bought pipes and bongs, learned best indoor cultivation practices, and picnicked while enjoying an open-air concert at the festival.

NCF had officially banned marijuana use at the event, and public consumption of cannabis is illegal on federal land. But some attendees lit up anyway, and park security looked the other way.

Global: Blumenauer Says UN Drug Policy Should Be More Just and Compassionate

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) this week joined leaders from around the world in New York at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. Rep. Blumenauer attended the opening day’s events as a Congressional observer.

“There is no better time than now for world leaders to gather to reevaluate international drug policy," Blumenauer said. "The War on Drugs has failed. Instead of escalating the horrific violence of this war, we need a more just and compassionate approach that focuses on public health and harm reduction, rather than punishing drug users.

“I was encouraged to hear a number of countries leading the charge for a different approach, in particular from those countries that have changed or are considering changing their policies surrounding the treatment of marijuana," Blumenauer said. "It was also very promising to hear Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, representing a nation that has experienced horrific violence as a result of the War on Drugs, announce his support for legalizing medical marijuana in Mexico and a call to change a paradigm of prohibitionism that has not yielded results.

U.S.: Prominent Physicians Launch Pro-Marijuana Legalization Group

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Some of the most prominent physicians in the United States have teamed up to launch the nation’s first organization of doctors formed to advocate for the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult use.

"Given that decriminalization has proven to be an inadequate alternative to legalization, now is the time for physicians to begin advocating for effective government regulation of cannabis," Doctors For Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) states on its website.

Until recently, many physicians have been reluctant to publicly voice their opposition to the war on marijuana, lest they appear to condone recreational cannabis use and violate their ethical responsibility to “do no harm,” according to DFCR. But through daily immersion in anecdotal patient experience and scientific evidence, many knowledgeable American physicians recognize:

• Occasional use of cannabis by healthy adults is generally benign, making its prohibition unnecessary.
• Cannabis is far less harmful for adults than alcohol and tobacco, which are both legal because of the impracticality of prohibiting so-called ‘soft’ drugs.
• Cannabis can be harmful to minors, but prohibition doesn’t prevent children and teens from accessing the drug.
• The burden of cannabis prohibition falls disproportionately upon communities of color and the nation’s poor.

U.S.: Blumenauer Applauds Passage of Senate VA Medical Marijuana Amendment

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon on Thursday applauded the Senate Committee on Appropriations for passing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Marijuana Amendment for the second consecutive year.

This amendment, offered by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), would allow VA physicians to provide recommendations regarding the participation of a veteran in a state medical marijuana program.

“For the second time, the Senate has taken action to do what’s right for our veterans," Representative Blumenauer said. "I commend Senators Merkley and Daines for leading this fight in the Senate, and I look forward to pushing it across the finish line in the House.”

“All in all, today’s vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee is very encouraging as we advocate for passage of simple and commonsense measures to reform our marijuana laws,” Congressman Blumenauer said.

D.C.: Council Expected To Permanenty Ban Marijuana Clubs

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Council Chairman Mendelson Wants Council to Disregard Its Own Task Force Convened to Recommend Way Forward on Marijuana Clubs

DPA: Arrest Numbers Show DC Needs Regulated Marijuana Clubs, Not A Ban

The Council of the District of Columbia has scheduled a Tuesday vote on legislation that restricts adult marijuana use in the District, prohibiting marijuana consumption everywhere but the home.

The legislation is opposed by a majority of District residents and a growing number of council members who oppose limiting consumption of marijuana to private residences, favoring instead the creation of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana. Since 2014, nearly 82 percent of all arrests for public consumption in the District have been of black residents. Advocates have voiced concerns over these disparities, and also warn the Council not to cede more control of local marijuana policy to Congress.

U.S.: NCIA Calls On Sen. Grassley To Hold Hearings On Marijuana Legislation

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As Grassley holds outdated prohibitionist hearing, he continues to obstruct bipartisan efforts to help medical marijuana patients and providers

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Monday called on Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to respect the will of the voters and bipartisan members of his own committee by holding hearings on the CARERS Act.

The CARERS Act is bipartisan legislation, originally introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY), that would allow patients access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution and open up new avenues for research into marijuana's medical potential.

While he continues to obstruct any action to help critically ill patients and the providers who care for them, Senator Grassley is holding a Monday hearing designed to conjure up outdated prohibitionist fear-mongering.

Global: Canadian, Mexican Lawmakers and Advocates Discuss Marijuana Law Reforms

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US Cannabis Legalization Emboldens International Moves, Which Spur Further American Efforts

Just weeks ahead of the highest-level review of the global War On Drugs in nearly two decades, national legislators and activists from Canada and Mexico will join on Wednesday with US-based drug policy reformers to discuss the countries' moves moves away from prohibition-based marijuana laws.

"With the governments of both Canada and Mexico preparing to enact major reforms to their marijuana policies, these moves will have a major impact on the debate here in the US," said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org. "This is especially true with the special session of the United Nations coming up in just a few weeks, where world leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the failure of current prohibition-based drug policies and chart more effective ways forward."

Legislators and advocates will join in Wednesday's discussion, including:
• Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Member of Canada's House of Commons, who argued for legalization at a recent UN/Inter-Parliamentary Union debate on marijuana
• Laura Angélica Rojas Hernández, Mexican senator, who also spoke in favor of legalization at the UN/Inter-Parliamentary Union debate
• David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org
• Donald MacPherson, executive director of Canadian Drug Policy Coalition
• Aram Barra, program officer for Transform Drug Policy Foundation and México Unido Contra la Delincuencia

D.C.: Citizens, Activists Rally And Roll Up To The White House With 51-Foot 'Joint'

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On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m., DCMJ — the organization that played a critical role in passing Ballot Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana in our nation’s capital — along with leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue directly north of the White House to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis now.

Why on April 2nd? "The Obama Administration has been a big ZERO on cannabis reform," according to DCMJ, so the organization is rescheduling and actively removing the “ZERO” from “4/20.”

DCMJ has officially requested that President Obama reclassify cannabis as a less harmful substance multiple times since he has taken office in January 2009. However, no action has been taken to reschedule cannabis to date.

Meanwhile, the placement of cannabis in the same category as drugs like heroin — which brutally kills thousands of Americans each each year — remains not only irresponsible, unjust and unfitting, but also makes a continued mockery of the Controlled Substances Act.

On Saturday, April 2 at 4:20 p.m. in response to the Obama Administration’s lack of action on descheduling cannabis, Americans gathered at The White House to demand immediate action is taken. Event participants also helped to carry a 51 foot “joint” at what is being called the “EmergencyNational Mobilization to Reschedule Cannabis.”

U.S.: Blumenauer, Conyers Call For Public Health Approach To Drug Policy

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Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers (MI-13) on Thursday led 12 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April.

From states taking action to end the failed prohibition of marijuana to lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs proven to reduce HIV infection rates, the United States has made significant advancements moving away from a punitive approach to drug policy to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose. The upcoming UNGASS provides an opportunity for the United States to showcase these advancements as a model for international drug policy.

D.C.: April 2 White House Rally Will Call For Rescheduling of Cannabis Now

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On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m. in Washington, DC at Lafayette Square, located directly north of the White House, leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens will gather to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis—now.

Why on 4/2? "The Obama Administration has been a big zero on cannabis reform, so we are "rescheduling" from 420 to 4/2," according to organizers.

Who: Speakers from DCMJ, Drug Policy Alliance and other cannabis advocacy groups, along with industry activists, civil leaders and citizens.

What: Emergency Mobilization to Reschedule Cannabis Rally

When: Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.
**Note: At 4:20 p.m. there will be a mass public consumption of cannabis.

Where: Lafayette Square located directly north of the White House on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, Washington, DC.

What you can do:
• Click "Going" and invite your friends on DCMJ Facebook event page
• Tweet with the hashtag #Reschedule420
• Call national cannabis advocacy organizations to endorse #Reschedule420
• Volunteer with DCMJ on 4/2 to help things run smoothly

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The White House March 8, 2016
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

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