Washington

Washington: Pot Harder For Kids To Buy Than Booze, Cigarettes Despite Falling Prices

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington state agents recently learned that minors may have a slightly easier time buying booze or cigarettes than pot at state-licensed stores.

State agents doing checks for all three restricted products say that licensed marijuana stores passed tests for selling to underage buyers 90 percent of the time. The compliance rate was slightly less in stores that sell liquor, at 86 percent. The compliance rate for tobacco sales was slightly lower than that, according to Justin Nordhorn, enforcement chief for the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which oversees all three products.

The state currently has more than 1,200 licensed growers and processors and 462 licensed marijuana stores, according to Board Director Rick Garza. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, it recorded almost $1 billion in sales. For the current fiscal year, that’s expected to hit $1.3 billion, even though the price of marijuana is falling.

When state-licensed marijuana stores first opened in 2014, pot was selling for about $30 a gram, he said. The current price averages $8.61 a gram.

The board's staff continues to develop regulations as the industry grows. In January the state Agriculture Department will begin spot testing marijuana for pesticides. In February, marijuana edibles will be required to carry a red sticker with a hand that says: "Not For Kids."

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

U.S.: Report Says Beer Volumes Declining In Markets Where Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a new report from Cowen and Company, beer sales are declining in three longtime craft beer meccas.

Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst specializing in the beverage, tobacco and cannabis sectors, said that the beer business is underperforming in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, where recreational marijuana is now legal.

“While (marijuana) retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016,” Azer wrote.

Craft beer sales are slowing in those markets but the “biggest drag” is on mainstream beer producers. Economy beer volumes are down 2.4 percent and premium domestic volumes, such as Bud Light and Coors Light, are down 4.4 percent, Azer wrote.

Craft beer growth has also slowed in the three markets analyzed by Cowen. Colorado is “in decline” while Oregon and Washington are still seeing some growth, Azer noted.

Meanwhile, import beer sales seem unaffected by legal marijuana, although volumes in those three western states are still lagging “meaningfully” behind the growth seen nationally.

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Maine: Final Results Are In, Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Final results of Maine's referendum to legalize recreational marijuana were tabulated Thursday, declaring recreational marijuana legal in the state. The count took nearly two days because of how close the race was, with victory coming within a fraction of a percentage point.

Supporters had already claimed victory and predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas.

The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it," said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

People 21 or older will now be allowed to possess and use up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities.

The campaign that pushed for legalization turned immediately toward the implementation process on Thursday. They said they hope marijuana will be available in retail establishments by 2018.

"We're excited that Maine is going to join many other states that have decided to have a smarter marijuana policy — a policy that no longer punishes adults for smoking marijuana," said David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes On 1.

U.S.: Leaked Documents Expose Why The FDA Says Marijuana Is Not Medicine

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New uncovered documents give an insider's look at why the federal government does not recognize marijuana as medicine despite the reality that 25 states have legalized the plant for medical use so far. The 118-page document contains memos between the DEA's chief, two FDA officials, the governors of Rhode Island and Washington and several other government officials.

According to the documents, one of the reasons the FDA came to their decision is because “Individuals are taking the substance on their own initiative rather than on the basis of the medical advice from a practitioner licensed by law to administer such substances,” officials wrote in a summary.

The Drug Enforcement Administration rejected two petitions to reschedule marijuana last August. The DEA ruled that the marijuana that millions of Americans rely on in 25 states has “no currently accepted medical use.”

Maine: Governor LePage Warns Against 'Deadly' Marijuana In Over-the-top Video

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maine Governor Paul LePage released a false and misleading video Thursday attempting to convince voters to vote "no" on "Question 1", the state's marijuana legalization referendum up for a vote on the upcoming ballot.

“Question 1 is not just bad for Maine, it can be deadly,” LePage warns, before falsely claiming traffic fatalities have gone up in Colorado since the state legalized recreational pot.

He makes a claim that “people addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.” He predicts a future where children and pets die from accidentally consuming “marijuana snacks,” and in which drug culture impinges on “schools, daycare centers and churches.”

“They will smoke weed and sell pot at state fairs,” he adds. “Businesses could not fire employees for using marijuana.”

According to a recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana has had no noticeable effect on traffic deaths in either Colorado or Washington.

And marijuana has been proven to reduce opioid deaths. In the 23 states where medical marijuana was legal in 2014, there were nearly 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Maine State Rep. Diane Russell (D) of Portland believes the video could actually help the campaign for legalization.

U.S.: Legal Marijuana Hasn't Caused Any Of The Problems Opponents Said It Would

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of the measures to legalize marijuana in 2012 in Washington and Colorado said that doing so would wreak havoc on society, and that children would end up using the drug and high drivers would terrorize the roadways. They said the fiscal benefits associated with taxed and regulated marijuana wouldn’t be worthwhile.

According to a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that lobbies for progressive reform of drug laws, those dire predictions have not come true. In fact, legalization has had a negligible effect on rates of youth marijuana use and traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington, and in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., which have all since approved marijuana for recreational use. In addition, marijuana arrests have plummeted and total revenue from legal weed has surged past $500 million.

“This report shows that a lot of those fears don’t come to fruition in the case of legalization,” said Joy Haviland, staff attorney at DPA. “It’s clear that prohibition has not worked, so states need a new solution going forward.”

Th report finds that marijuana legalization has made no discernible mark on traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado, and total arrests for driving while impaired have declined in both of those states.

Arizona: Marijuana Measure Fate Uncertain As More Money Pumped In To Defeat It

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Foes of Arizona's measure to legalize marijuana are collecting a huge amount of cash in a last-minute bid to defeat it.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has collected more than $2.7 million so far, the latest figures show. More than $900,000 of that has come in the past three weeks as different polls have shown the fate of Proposition 205 could swing either way.

The most recent survey was released Monday, and it shows 43 percent of those questioned in support and 47 percent opposed. That could leave the outcome up to the 10 percent who told OH Predictive Insights they had not made up their mind.

Less than a week ago the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry poured $498,000 into the anti-205 measure.

Virginia-based SAM Action, short for Smart Approach to Marijuana, a group that has opposed legalization efforts in many other states, recently made a new $115,000 donation.

The pro-205 effort benefitted from a $110,000 donation two weeks ago from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. That company makes cleaning products, including those that use hemp oil. But various restrictions on growing hemp have forced the company to look elsewhere for its supplies.

U.S.: Pro-marijuana Campaigners Launch TV Ads Ahead Of November Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maine and Massachusetts launched their first television ads today, hoping to boost public awareness and support ahead of November votes on the issue.

Voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this Election Day, following the lead of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department officer and current professor of criminal justice at Merrimack College, promoting legalization as a way to better regulate marijuana use.

"Question 4 requires strict product labeling and child-proof packaging and bans consumption by kids," Nolan says in the 30-second spot, citing the question's position on the Nov. 8 ballot, the start of a $650,000 ad campaign.

The Maine ad also features an ex-law enforcement official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion. He argues that legalizing the use of the drug by adults would free up police resources to investigate violent crimes. The Maine group has budgeted $1 million for its ad spending.

The campaigns launch a week after the group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona launched its first blast of TV ads. Voters in California and Nevada will also face ballot questions on the issue this year.

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.

Idaho: Marijuana Activists Launch New Campaign For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Idaho Secretary of State's Office has approved a petition that could create a medical marijuana program in the state.

Current marijuana laws in Idaho are harsh, especially when compared to neighboring states which allow some sort of medical use of the drug or have outright legalized it like Washington and Oregon. In Idaho, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense and the state doesn’t approve the medical use of the drug.

If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and is passed, Idaho will join 25 other states that have a medical marijuana law. The initiative includes a long list of qualifying conditions that encompasses cancer, glaucoma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and others. Patients that qualify for the program would be allowed to legally possess 24 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants.

“We didn’t want to leave anything out,” says Angela Osborn, board secretary for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association, or IMMA, the group sponsoring the petition. “We didn’t want to leave a patient out; we didn’t want to leave a disease out. We want it super simple and to help as many people as possible.”

California: New Poll Shows Majority Favor Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday shows a majority of Californians support a state measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

The poll reports that 58 percent of the state's voters favor the legalization measure and that the support spanned "most lines of age, race, income, and gender."

The measure is doing best among younger voters: 67 percent of those 18 to 24 years of age said they would vote for Proposition 64. About 50 percent of voters 65 years and older support the measure.

In 2010, the last time California voted for pot legalization, nearly 54 percent of voters opposed the measure.

The LA Times reported :

"Some of the change appears to have come from the ability of Californians to watch what has happened in other states that legalized recreational pot use: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska," said Jon Cohen, an executive for SurveyMonkey, the firm that conducted the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

"Some of the calamitous predictions of legalization opponents haven't come to pass" in other states, Cohen said.

Idaho: State Struggles To Stop Pot Smugglers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon and Washington are collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue from recreational pot sales, but neighboring Idaho is struggling to keep up.

Between 2011 and 2015 Idaho State Police saw a huge increase in the amount of marijuana they seized from people passing through their state.

"We've seen almost, approximately a 1000 percent increase in the amount of marijuana that we've seized in Idaho since it's became legal in Washington," said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

ISP seized 131 pounds of marijuana in 2011. But in 2015 after voters in Oregon and Washington voted to legalize pot, the amount of marijuana seized climbed to 1,644 pounds.

Corporal Kevin Kessler and his K9 partner are responsible for many of those seizures. He said the busts begin as traffic stops and from there they find pot. Much of the time the pot is not destined for Idaho but it is being smuggled farther east.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said the pot seized by ISP is not being diverted to the black market. WSLCB Spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter said they track marijuana from seed to sale.

U.S.: Canada To Press U.S. On 'Ludicrous' Marijuana Border Policy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canada plans to push the United States to change a border policy that bans Canadians from traveling to the States that admit to having used marijuana, given that Canada plans to legalize pot, a government spokesperson said Friday.

"We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp late on Thursday.

"This does seem to be a ludicrous situation," he said, pointing out that marijuana is legal in Washington state as well as "three or four other jurisdictions in the United States."

A spokesman said on Friday that the Canadian government has been in contact with the U.S. government to make sure officials are aware of Canada's plan to legalize marijuana. The controversy of Canadians being banned from entering the U.S or from future travel to the States has not been addressed yet.

"In terms of the practices of border guards in question, those only came to attention recently and will be discussed in future bilateral discussions," Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Goodale, said in an e-mail.

Officials at the U.S. State Department, the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, and at U.S. Customs and Border Protection have not yet responded to a request for comment.

US: Five States Officially Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan certified a marijuana legalization initiative for November's ballot, meaning this year's election will see five states voting on the issue.

Four states have already legalized marijuana through voter's ballots, Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana in 2014, but not commercial sales.

Those states have a combined population of about 17 million people. Legalization in the most populous state, California, alone would more than double that figure, and winning in all five states would triple it.

On November 9 we could see almost a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization if all five states were to pass it. The five states are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. California seems most likely to win, based on current information. The possibility of legalization in Maine and Nevada is looking good as well. It will be a tougher sell in Massachusetts, with Arizona looking like the state with the biggest hurdle to jump for pot legalization.

Tennessee: Nashville To Consider Decriminalization Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A newly filed ordinance is seeking to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The ordinance would make the penalty for possession or exchange of a half ounce of pot (14.175 grams) or less a civil penalty with a $50 fine. A court could have the option to suspend the civil penalty and instead mandate 10 hours of community service.

Under current Tennessee law, violators of this offence face a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If the Nashville ordinance is approved, a third offense will remain a felony, as required by state law.

“This would allow the police to just write a ticket,” said Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg, a self-described libertarian who is among those who have introduced the Nashville ordinance.

He said that someone who makes a mistake as a kid could be haunted their entire life because of the criminal offenses they face under the current marijuana law here.

“It’s very unproductive,” he said. “This has been an issue that has been moving nationwide from Florida to Washington as our society has come to understand that the most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

Italy: Parliament To Consider Marijuana Legalization Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Italy's Chamber of Deputies plans to debate a legislative proposal on Monday, July 25 to legally regulate marijuana.

“Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally. With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.”

The bill would legalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use at home, and up to 5 grams outside of the home. It would also allow individuals to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would authorize marijuana clubs for up to 50 members. The bill would prohibit import and export of marijuana, public use of marijuana, and driving under the influence of pot.

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Dips After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new survey released Monday showed that marijuana consumption by Colorado high school students has dipped slightly since the state first permitted recreational use by adults.

The biannual poll by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also showed the percentage of teens using marijuana in Colorado was lower than the national average among the age group.

Of the Colorado high school students surveyed in 2015, 21.2 percent had used marijuana during the preceding 30 days, down from 22 percent in 2011, the year before voters approved recreational use for adults over 21.

The rate of pot use by teens nationwide is slightly higher at 21.7 percent, the study showed.

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don't use marijuana, even occasionally,” the department said in a statement.

The department works with the University of Colorado and a citizens advisory committee to conduct the voluntary survey every two years. Approximately 17,000 students responded to the poll.

Voters in Colorado and three other states - Washington, Oregon and Alaska - have approved recreational pot sales to adults in recent years, and Colorado was the first state to open retail marijuana shops in 2014. Six other states are considering similar proposals.

Washington: Microsoft Is Starting A Marijuana Software Service

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington-based Microsoft Corp., one of the nation's largest tech companies, plans to offer software for governments to track marijuana in states where it's legal.

The New York Times reported the news, calling Microsoft "the first big company to say it's serving the legal marijuana trade."

The software is designed to help states where pot is legal track marijuana plants from “seed to sale” — a service known as track-and-trace.

The Times says that large companies have shied away from any involvement in the marijuana industry until now, with the drug still illegal in most states and under federal law.

A number of states have legalized recreational marijuana, like Washington, Microsoft's home, and half of the states have legalized medical marijuana in some form. California, Arizona and several other states will vote on legalization this fall.

State-legalized marijuana sales are expected to climb to $6.5 billion this year, up from $4.8 billion last year, according to marijuana-industry analyst Matthew A. Karnes of Green Wave Advisors.

Microsoft has branded its cannabis-compliance software Kind Government Solutions, and will offer the software to government and regulatory agencies via its cloud-computing Azure Government platform.

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