Washington Post

Washington, DC: Mayor To Propose Doubling Marijuana Possession Limit For Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The possession and use of medical marijuana is legal in Washington, D.C. for those who receive a recommendation from a physician. Patients can purchase their weed from a licensed dispensary, although they can only purchase and possess up to two ounces in a given month. However, that may soon change as the district’s mayor will soon introduce a proposal that would double this limit.

Mayor Muriel Bowser “will propose doubling to 4 ounces how much weed medical marijuana patients can buy a month,” according to Aaron C. Davis, a reporter for the Washington Post.

Medical marijuana legalization was approved by voters in 1998 in the District of Columbia, just two years after the first state (California) legalized the medicine. However, the law wasn’t implemented, and the first dispensary didn’t open, until 2013 due to Congress continually blocking it. Now the system is up and running smoothly, though many patients and patient advocates do consider many portions of the law to be too restrictive, including the two ounce limit.

The possession and personal cultivation of recreational cannabis is legal for everyone 21 and older in D.C., in addition to the medical marijuana being legal, thanks to an initiative approved by voters in 2014.

Study: Marijuana Doesn't Affect Physical Health, Except For Gums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chronic marijuana use has about the same impact on health as not flossing, according to an extensive new study.

A research team led by Madeline H. Meier of Arizona State University tracked the cannabis habits of 1,037 New Zealanders all the way from birth to middle age, to see exactly what effects marijuana has on common measures of physical health, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. Those measures included lung function, systemic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar, and dental health.

After controlling for other factors known to affect health -- especially tobacco use and socioeconomic status -- cannabis use had no negative effect on any measure of health, except for dental health. People who smoked more marijuana had a higher incidence of gum disease.

Even after controlling for dental hygiene, such as likelihood to brush and floss, the relationship between marijuana use and poor dental health persisted.

U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

U.S.: Senate Hearing Reminds Americans That 'Good People Don't Smoke Marijuana'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control was light on actual facts and fully of heavy-handed rhetoric. At one point -- and I'm unfortunately serious in reporting this -- Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said "this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it's not something to laugh about ... good people don't smoke marijuana."

This seems to be a new low even for the dim-witted Sessions, who says stuff his constituents back in the Heart of Dixie really should be embarrassed about -- in 2014, he said providing healthcare to veterans is an "entitlement" we "can't afford" -- but who knows; they keep electing his dumb ass.

The hearing, hosted by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) was ostensibly held to investigate whether the Department of Justice has been enforcing federal marijuana laws harshly enough. What these yahoos did was bring forth a parade of anti-marijuana witnesses, not bothering to counter their testimony with anyone who actually knew what they were talking about.

U.S.: Support For Marijuana Legalization Hits All Time High Of 61%

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey released on Friday by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago shows record support for marijuana legalization in the United States, at 61 percent.

The survey asks, "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?", which is the same wording as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The AP asked a follow-up question which showed that 24 percent of legalization supporters said cannabis should be made available "only with a medical prescription." Another 43 percent wanted to restrict purchase amounts. One-third of legalization supporters said there should be "no restrictions" on purchase amounts.

"This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we're not in a situation -- for the first time in history -- where every major presidential candidate on both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference."

While cannabis legalization is very popular among Democrats (70 percent) and independents (65 percent), just 47 percent of Republicans support it.

Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Make You Anxious Or Depressed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Using marijuana as an adult is not associated with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, according to a new study published on Thursday.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, challenges some previous studies which claimed an association between marijuana use and both depression and anxiety, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

Scientists examined the records of nearly 35,000 American adults who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. They looked at the prevalence of cannabis use among study participants in 2001 and 2002, then checked on their rates of mental health problems three years later, in 2004 and 2005.

After controlling for confounding factors such as socioeconomic differences, family history, environment, and past and present psychiatric disorders, researchers found that "cannabis use was not associated with increased risk for developing mood or anxiety disorders."

Lead author Mark Olfson of Columbia University and his colleagues think that some prior evidence of supposed links between marijuana and psychiatric disorders could be due more to confounding factors than any actual connection.

Australia: Legislation Will Legalize Medical Marijuana Cultivation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Australian government on Tuesday introduced legislation to Parliament that would legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal or scientific purposes.

The bill would amend the half-century-old Narcotic Drugs Act and create a licensing scheme, reports Rod McGuirk at the Associated Press. Marijuana is currently illegal in Australia, but two states are considering legalizing it for medicinal purposes.

"This government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may have some applications and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available," Health Minister Sussan Ley told Parliament.

The bill is guaranteed to become law; the principal opposition party has already pledged support. "In fact, I've had support across the chambers and around the country and I really believe this is bipartisan," Ley said, reports Alexandra Beech at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A 2013 government survey of 24,000 Australians found that 69 percent supported allowing cannabis use for medicinal purposes.

U.S.: Obama Says Marijuana Reform Is Not On His Agenda For 2016

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems that cannabis activists who had hoped for a big shift in federal marijuana policies from the Obama Administration in its last year are likely to be disappointed.

White House press secretary John Earnest on Friday said any progress on cannabis law reform would have to come from Congress, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. President Obama had, a day earlier, said marijuana reform isn't on his list of end-of-term priorities, according to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee).

Cohen said he'd asked the President whether he wanted to reschedule marijuana; the federal government considers cannabis a Schedule I substance, the most dangerous category, under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are considered to have a "high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence."

Many lawmakers want to move pot to Schedule II, which would acknowledge the plant's medicinal potential, but would also effectively hand over control of it to Big Pharma, since prescriptions would be required.

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to DE-schedule marijuana, which means removing it from the federal list of controlled substances altogether.

U.S.: DOJ Suspends Asset Forfeiture Equitable Sharing; Police Take More Than Thieves

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Federal Sharing Linked to Circumvention of State Reforms

The Department of Justice on Monday released a memorandum addressed to local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to announce that the equitable sharing program for asset forfeiture funds has been temporarily suspended due to financial considerations.

This means that state and local law enforcement can no longer expect to receive a share of federal funds confiscated through the process of civil asset forfeiture, a method by which law enforcement can seize property and money from individuals without charging them with a crime.

Until now, the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program allowed departments to keep up to 80 percent of assets seized in joint operations, a practice scholars have shown allows local agencies to circumvent reforms in their own states. At least one estimate puts the amount of assets confiscated by law enforcement agencies in 2014 above the total amount of robberies, suggesting, according to Reason Magazine, that “Your local police or sheriff's department is more likely to take your stuff than a robber.”

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Sales Probably Won't Start Until 2017

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients who need to buy marijuana for medicinal purposes in Maryland are probably going to have to wait until 2017 -- nearly four years after the state made it legal.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission on Monday announced it won't award licenses to grow and process marijuana until sometime next summer, and industry officials said it would take another four to six months after than for cannabis to be ready to sell, reports Fenit Nirappil at The Washington Post.

The commission doesn't even have a target date for allowing retail dispensaries to start operation, and cannot say when cannabis will be available to patients.

The Maryland Legislature approved the medical marijuana program back in 2013, but adjusted it multiple times before applications could even be submitted.

The commission said this year it would start issuing licenses in January 2016, but abandoned that timetable last month after getting more than a thousand applications for people who want to be marijuana producers or dispensers.

Several prospective growers have already bought land and are leasing buildings so they can launch quickly if they are awarded licenses.

U.S.: Some Members Of Congress Ready To Call It Quits On Marijuana Eradication

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Drug Enforcement Administration is continuing its losing streak. Last week, 12 House members led by Democrat Ted Lieu of California wrote to House leadership asking for a provision in an upcoming spending bill that would strip half the funds from the DEA's Cannabis Eradication Program and instead spend that money on programs that "play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people": domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction.

The DEA pisses away about $18 million a year in coordination with state and local authorities to pull up marijuana plants being grown both indoors and outdoors. The ineffectual program has been plagued with scandal, controversy, and ridicule. In the mid-2000s, it was revealed that most of the "marijuana" plants pulled up in the program were actually ditchweed, feral hemp plants that contain almost no THC, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

U.S.: DEA Chief Called Medical Marijuana A Joke; Patients Calling For His Resignation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Last week, acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg of the Drug Enforcement Administration called medical marijuana "a joke" while talking with reporters. Medicinal cannabis patients are now calling for Rosenberg's resignation, with an online petition getting more than 16,000 signatures on Change.org.

"What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal -- because it's not," Rosenberg said in a Q&A with reporters, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine -- that is a joke."

"There are pieces of marijuana -- extracts or constituents or component parts -- that have great promise" medicinally, he said, obeying his masters in Big Pharma who seem to want to market individual cannabinoids, but not the whole, organic plant itself. "But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana -- which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana -- it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine."

Arizona: 28-Pound Brick of Marijuana Falls From The Sky, Smashes Doghouse

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what would likely have been a "Thank you, God!" moment for many of us, a 28-pound brick of marijuana fell from the sky in Arizona, crashing through a family's carport and crushing an empty doghouse.

Maya Donnelly said she and her husband Bill were awakened by what sounded like thunder on September 8, reports Murphy Woodhouse at Nogales International. Maya wasn't so sure it was thunder, but both soon fell back asleep.

But after the couple's children headed off to work and school the next morning, Maya looked out of her kitchen window toward the carport and saw splintered wood. She thought Hulk, the family's German Shepherd, had been up to some mischief.

“I went out to investigate, and sure enough, I looked up to see the hole, and then my eyes trailed down and the big dog’s house was destroyed," Maya said. "It made a hole in that hard plastic doghouse and the bundle was inside...” Good thing Hulk wasn't in there!

The bundle, worth an estimated $10,000, according to Detective Robert Ferros, was likely dropped by an ultralight aircraft by accident, reports CNN. "Normally they don't land on houses," Ferros said.

Pakistan: Military Conflict Threatens Marijuana Crop

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pakistan's traditional marijuana crop, basis of its thriving hashish industry, is being threatened by Pakistan's decade-long war against terrorism and Islamist militancy.

Harvest would traditionally take place in October, and hashish production not long after that, reports Tim Craig at The Washington Post. But much of the crop in the Tirah Valley in Pakistan's tribal belt has been abandoned, and is in danger of becoming yet another casualty of the conflict.

After Taj Muhammad Afridi planted cannabis seeds in February, the Pakistani military began a series of operations in the Tirah Valley against Taliban fighters who were hiding out there. The operation forced Afridi and 250,000 other residents to leave their homes; many are still waiting to return.

"We know that our crops are still there," said Afridi, 65, who has for decades helped make stoners mellow around the world. "But I don't know what the future will be. Will the military allow this?"

U.S.: Evidence Shows Legalizing Marijuana Unlikely To Turn Kids Into Potheads

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Supporters of the War On Drugs often claim that loosening restrictions on marijuana use -- such as decriminalization, allowing medicinal use, legalizing it completely, or even discussing legalization -- will "send the wrong message" to young people and lead to increased teen drug use. But the evidence has repeatedly shown this notion to be inaccurate.

According to two new studies published in the past month, teen marijuana use has fallen since 1996, during which time 34 states have passed some sort of medical marijuana bill, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

"Despite considerable changes in state marijuana policies over the past 15 years, marijuana use among high school students has largely declined," concludes one of the papers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. That study looks at cannabis use among all high school students in the U.S., as measured every two years by the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Hawaii: Medical Marijuana Patients Rely On Down-Low Grower Network

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Most of Hawaii's 13,000 medical marijuana patients first had to commit a crime to obtain and grow their medicinal cannabis under the state's laws. Though Hawaii voters legalized medical marijuana back in 2000, it didn't make provisions for legal dispensaries; it required patients to grow their own supply, but didn't specify where to get the seeds or plants.

"When the state passed the law, they allowed you to have a card, but they didn't provide you any way to get the product, grow the product or how to make the product into any form of medicine," said Jari Sugano, whose first cannabis plant came illegaly from another Hawaiian caregiver, reports News21. The plant was the only way she could grow medical marijuana for her now six-year-old daughter, who has Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy.

The sale or transfer or seeds and plants is still illegal in Hawaii, even between qualified patients. For 15 years, the absence of a legal solution has fueled a thriving black market and made it hard to know who's using weed legally and who's not. Only this year did the Hawaii Legislature finally get around to legalizing dispensaries.

Texas: Police Search Woman's Vagina For Marijuana - In Parking Lot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Texas woman says sheriff's deputies violated constitutional protections by conducting a body cavity search in the parking lot of a gas station during a routine traffic stop last June.

Charnesia Corley, 21, was driving in Harris County about 10:30 p.m. on June 21 when a male deputy pulled her over, allegedly for running a stop sign, reports Dylan Baddour at the Houston Chronicle. He claimed he smelled marijuana, handcuffed Corley, put her in the back of his cruiser and searched her vehicle for almost an hour.

The officer found no marijuana, said Corley's attorney, Sam Cammack.

Returning to his cruiser, the deputy again claimed he smelled marijuana, and called in a female deputy to conduct a body cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she ordered Corley, who is African American, to pull her pants down, but Corley protested, saying she was handcuffed and had no panties on.

The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, then pulled down her pants and began to insert her fingers into Corley's vagina. "She tells me to pull my pants down," Corley said. "I said, 'Ma'am, I don't have any underwear on. She says, 'Well, that doesn't matter. Pull your pants down," Corley said.

"I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, 'Ma'am, No. You cannot do this,'" Corley said.

U.S.: Department of Justice Admits Lying To Congress About Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Justice Department warned Congress last year that a medical marijuana provision included in an appropriations bill could "limit or possibly eliminate the Department's ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well." But it turns out that was wrong, according to a just-revealed DOJ memo.

The "informal talking points" obtained by Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell were "intended to discourage passage" of the provision, which passed and was signed into law, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The memo was written by the chief of the Justice Department's appellate section and dated February 27, 2015. In it, the DOJ says the provision does not place "any limitations on our ability to investigate and prosecute crimes involving recreational marijuana."

The memo's talking points were repeated by a number of House members who opposed the medical marijuana provision.

Andy Harris (R-Maryland), one of the worst enemies of medicinal cannabis in the entire House, claimed "the amendment as written would tie the DEA's hands beyond medical marijuana." Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) claimed that the provision would "take away the ability of the Department of Justice to protect our young people ... it would just make it difficult, if not impossible, for the DEA and the Department of Justice to enforce the law."

D.C.: No Legal Marijuana Sales For 2 More Years Under GOP House Budget Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After the District of Columbia's voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana, Republicans in Congress flirted with the idea of limiting D.C.'s ability to implement the law, although it was ultimately put into place. Now they're taking another try at blocking legalization: The GOP-controlled House on Thursday advanced a budget resolution saying cannabis can't be sold for two more years in D.C.

The House budget resolution seeks to delay implementation of the measure approved by D.C. voters, reports Clark Mindock at International Business Times.

Voters approved cannabis legalization last November; under the law, residents can grow and possess marijuana, but can't smoke it in public.

Advocates for legal pot said the fact that an outright ban did not appear to be an early budget priority added to other signs that a GOP-controlled Congress may be softening its opposition to marijuana, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.

Indiana: First Church of Cannabis Approved After 'Religious Freedom' Law Passed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Turning around a new law originally intended as a tool of intolerance against gays, the First Church of Cannabis Inc. has been approved by Indiana's secretary of state after the state's "religious freedom" legislation came into effect last week.

Church founder Bill Levin said he filed the paperwork in direct response to Gov. Mike Pence's signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last Thursday, reports Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post. Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved the church as a religious corporation with the stated intent "to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all."

Cannabis is listed as a sacrament in the church's doctrine, according to Levin, who set he was setting up a church hierarchy. Levin wrote out the new "Diety Dozen," a list of suggestions for better living comparable to the 10 Commandments.

The church will grow hemp, he said, though it will not buy or sell marijuana.

"If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them," Levin said. "This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called 'Cannataerians.'"

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