A Resource Center for the Defense of Federal Marijuana Cases
Senate votes to confirm Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, ripening the issue of whether federal marijuana law enforcement policy will continue to operate under the guidance of the Obama administration's "Cole Memorandum," or be dramatically altered towards enforcement of marijuana offenses under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher re-introduces the "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act," HR-975, which would protect people from being prosecuted under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), provided they were acting pursuant to their particular state's laws. The bill was first introduced in 2013, and again as a bipartisan bill in 2015.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana
Gov. Cuomo has asked New York lawmakers to remove criminal sections for people who buy and use, but not sell, marijuana, stating, "Recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety. The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives." Gov. Cuomo also noted that such a practice would be consistent with the current national trend.
Donald J. Trump inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issues new code for cannabis extracts, while clarifying that “Extracts of marihuana [including CBD oil] will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances.”
Donald J. Trump elected as the 45th President of the United States.
Colorado Doctors Sanctioned Over Medical Marijuana Recommendations
The Colorado state Medical Board announced in late July that four doctors have had their licenses suspended after they allegedly recommended that 1,500 medical marijuana patients grow an excessive amount of cannabis plants. This has been the biggest disciplinary action against Colorado doctors who recommend medical marijuana to patients.
July 29, 2016
Illinois Decriminalizes Marijuana
Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of marijuana up to 10 grams. With the passage of the bill, Illinois became the 21st state to decriminalize consumers of marijuana.
June 16, 2016
Ohio Passes Medical Marijuana Vaporization Law
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523 into law, regulating the licensed production and sale of non-smokeable medical cannabis formulations for who suffer from certain qualifying conditions, including AIDS/HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and PTSD. When the law goes into effect in September, medical marijuana will be available in the form of oils, tinctures, edibles, patches, and vaporizable herb. Smoking is banned, and THC content in herbal matter must be limited to 35 percent. Cannabis extracts can have up to 75 percent THC.
June 16, 2016
Colorado Permits Medical Marijuana in Schools
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1373 ("Jack's law"), allows medical marijuana patients to use non-smokeable cannabis formulations in school. Hickenlooper said that if is own child needed medical marijuana during the day while in school, he would want him to be able to have access to his medicine. The new law allows primary caregivers to administer cannabis medicine. New Jersey is the only other state with similar legislation.
June 2, 2016
Problematic Marijuana Uses Decreases Among Teenagers
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, fewer teenagers use cannabis, and those who do are using it less problematically than before. More than 216,000 teens, ages 12 through 17, participated in the study, which was federally commissioned. The percentage of those surveyed who used cannabis fell by 24 percent between 2002 and 2013. The results of the study reflect other data that indicate that teen cannabis use also decreased over the past 15 years, despite increasingly more legal cannabis laws.
June 2, 2016
Most California Residents Favor Legal Marijuana
According to a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, most residents of the state think "the use of marijuana should be legal." Broken down by demographics, support for marijuana legalization was highest among African Americans (78 percent), and those between the ages of 18 and 34 (66 percent). Sixty-three percent of those earning more than $80,000 a year also favored legalization. Support was lowest among those over the age of 65 (49 percent).
May 30, 2016
International Law Permits Cannabis Legalization
International law permits regulated cultivation and trade of recreational marijuana on the grounds that individual states' are obligated to positive human rights, according to research by legal scholars Piet Hein van Kempen and Masha Fedorova from Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Other arguments for legal cannabis are based in public health issues, citizen safety, and crime reduction — all "positive human rights" obligations. So far there has not been any study looking into what the implications would be, however, if cannabis were internationally legal.
May 26, 2016
Congress Votes to Allow Veterans Access to Medical Marijuana
The US Senate and House of Representatives voted to permit veterans to use medical marijuana in states that have medical marijuana programs. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, proposed by Representative Blumenauer (D-OR) for the Fiscal Year 207 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, makes it so that veterans are immune to federal sanction should they seek out medical marijuana from a doctor. Veterans who live in states with medical marijuana legislation be able to obtain their cannabis recommendations from their V.A. doctor instead of having to find another doctor specifically focused on medical marijuana.
May 19, 2016
Louisiana Amends its Dormant Medical Marijuana Law
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill that amends the state's already dormant medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 271 allows doctors to "recommend" instead of "prescribe" medical marijuana to patients. The significance of the amendment rests on a semantic difference: doctors cannot legally "prescribe" cannabis products because they are still illegal under federal law which classifies them as Schedule I (in the same category as heroin). Rather, a cannabis "recommendation," skirts breaking the law. The amendment also adds conditions that would be eligible for medical marijuana treatment, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, seizures, cachexia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, spasticity, and muscular dystrophy. With SB 271, Louisiana is ready to become the 25th state to allow medical marijuana.
May 19, 2016
Maine and Connecticut New Legislation Permits Medical Marijuana in Hospitals
Recently signed legislation in Maine and Connecticut permit manufactured medical cannabinoid formulations to be used in hospitals. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which provides protection to nurses who give qualified patients medical marijuana products. Similarly, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed LD 726, which protects hospital staff and administrators from criminal or civil sanctions if they give qualified patients non-inhalable medical marijuana products.
May 5, 2016
Maine Initiative to Legalize Adult Use Marijuana Makes it to November Ballot
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, as the proponents for Maine's legalization initiative call themselves, gathered enough signatures for their bill to qualify for the November ballot. The measure calls for legalizing adult possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, and the establishment of licensed dispensaries with products subject to a ten percent sales tax. According to the Maine People's Resource Center, 54 percent of the state's residents would approve the initiative.
May 5, 2016
Vermont Rejects Marijuana Adult Use Legalization Measure
Vermont House legislators voted to reject a Senate bill proposing to regulate the adult use, commercial production, and sale of marijuana. Governor Peter Shumlin had expressed his support for the bill, which had also passed through the Vermont Senate. The House did, however, vote in favor of provisions that establish an advisory commission to recommend policy for future marijuana legislation. After the vote, Governor Shumlin expressed his disappointment that "a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state."
April 21, 2016
Pennsylvania Passes Medical Marijuana Law
After Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3, legalizing the manufacture and use of cannabis products for qualifying patients, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. Under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program, up to 25 companies will be allowed to grow marijuana to sell among 150 dispensaries throughout the state. Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's, ALS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, damage to nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable neurological spasticity, neuropathies, PTSD, seizures, glaucoma, autism, neuropathic pain, sickle cell anemia, and any other severe, chronic, or intractable, untreatable pain, and other terminal illnesses. Doctors will need to take a special training course before they can recommend cannabis to patients. The law also bans smoking cannabis flower, as patients can only use manufactured cannabinoid formulations like capsules, oils, tinctures, and topical creams.
April 18, 2016
The Cannabis Science and Policy Summit Inspires More Thoughtful Paths to Legalization
The Cannabis Science and Policy Summit in New York April 17-18 explored a variety of issues, including the relationship between medical and adult use markets, the impacts of cannabis on the brain, legalization and racial inequality, cannabis investing, the relationship between cannabis and the demands for other drugs, the impacts of cannabis policy on use, and cannabis in international drug treaties, as would be imminently discussed at UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs). Among the speakers included Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), one of Congress's biggest advocates for legalizing marijuana. "The United States, when it thinks something i right or important, it doesn't hesitate to stand alone," Blumenauer told Rolling Stone during the conference. "Why not drug policy?"
April 7, 2016
DEA Prepares to Respond to Petition Calling for Marijuana Rescheduling
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is set to respond within the next few months to an administration petition that calls for marijuana to be Federally reclassified. In response to a 2015 inquiry from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and seven other senators, the DEA said that they intend to respond to a 2011 petition filed by former Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, asking for marijuana to be rescheduled to Schedule II.
March 24, 2016
Supreme Court Declines Challenge to Marijuana Legalization Laws
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the proposed law suit from Oklahoma and Nebraska challenging the legality of Colorado's adult use marijuana program, which allows for the sale and production of recreational cannabis. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt had filed suit against Colorado on the grounds that the state's marijuana program was "fundamentally at odds" with the Federal Controlled Substances Act as "the diversion of marijuana from Colorado contradicts clear Congressional intent." Nebraska and Oklahoma argued that Colorado's marijuana law "frustrates federal interest in eliminating commercial transaction in the interstate controlled-substances market" and that it was burdensome for neighboring states.
March 10, 2016
Marijuana Seizures at the Southern Border have Decreased
According to data released by the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection, Federal law enforcement agents nowadays seize less marijuana at the country's southern border than previously — in large part due to increased marijuana production on American soil. In 2015, Federal agents confiscated about 1.5 million pounds of marijuana at the border of Mexico, which is the lowest amount confiscated in a decade. In 2009, Federal agents confiscated nearly 4 million pounds. Almost 100 percent of all marijuana seizures at US borders has been at the southern border.
March 3, 2016
Polls Show 60 Percent of Californians Support Marijuana Legalization
With the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) likely to appear on the November ballot, California has a high chance of legalizing marijuana. A recent Probolsky Research poll indicates that 60 percent majority of California voters intend to vote yes on a legalization initiative. The demographics most in favor include 18- to 34-year-olds, who were 80 percent in favor, along with 69 percent of self-identified Democrats. The AUMA is endorsed by major policy reform groups, including NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and DPA (Drug Policy Alliance).
February 18, 2016
Federal Legislation Introduced to Restore Financial Aid Eligibility to Students with Minor Marijuana Offenses
Senate Bill 2557, The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences form Ending Student Success Act, also known as the SUCCESS Act, is sponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The SUCCESS Act repeals a section of the Higher Education Act that deprives students of financial aid due to prior drug offenses, as well as removes questioning about drug convictions from the FAFSA, or student federal aid, application. "A youthful mistake shouldn't keep a person out of college and the middle class," said Senator Casey.
February 4, 2016
Florida Medical Marijuana Bill Qualifies for November Ballot
The new measure to appear on Florida's ballot in November 2016 would amend the state's constitution to allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with "debilitating" conditions. The measure, called the "Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions," is backed by over 683,00 signatures, collected by the bill's proponents, United for Care. The bill must receive over 60 percent of the vote for it to become Florida law.
February 4, 2016
Puerto Rico Adopts Regulations for Medical Marijuana Distribution Program
The Puerto Rico Health Department has approved regulations to oversee the licensed production and distribution of medical marijuana within the territory's borders. The new medical marijuana program will be in effect by the end of 2016. Under the program, patients will be able to obtain cannabis products like oils and pills from dispensaries. Patients will not be able to cultivate their own cannabis or smoke whole plant.
January 21, 2016
The Majority of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana
According to national survey data compiled by YouGov.com, 52 percent of those pollsters agreed that "the use of marijuana should be legalized, while 34 percent opposed. Of those who support legalization, 66 percent are Democrats, 62 percent have a household income of $100,000 or more, and 59 percent are African American Sixty-six percent agreed that the "government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth, and 62 percent believed that the government should not enforce federal law in states that have their own medical or adult use marijuana laws.
January 7, 2016
Columbia Legalizes Medical Marijuana
President Juan Manuel Santos has signed legislation to regulate the production and exportation of medical marijuana. Licenses will be available to grow cannabis, to manufacture cannabis-based medical products, and to export them outside the country. Colombia's already existing marijuana laws allows for personal possession and cultivation, but not commercial production, manufacture, and sale.
February 4, 2015
Surgeon General Concedes Marijuana Helpful for Treating Certain Medical Conditions and Symptoms:
Today, United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy conceded that marijuana may be beneficial in treating some medical conditions, stating ”We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” and that, "I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us.” Murthy, who became surgeon general in December, has softened his stance on medical marijuana. Last year, during his confirmation hearing, Murthy told senators, “Just like other drugs, I don’t recommend marijuana, and I don’t think it’s a good habit to use marijuana. If I had kids, I would tell them not to use it.”
February 4, 2015:
Recreational Bills in Connecticut Legislature:
Two bills recently proposed in the Connecticut legislature would legalize, regulate and tax the recreational use of marijuana. One of the bills, HB 6703, introduced on February 2, 2015, by Connecticut House of Representatives Deputy Majority Leader Juan Candelaria, would make it legal for adults over 21 to consume marijuana. The state would be required to regulate sale, possession, use and cultivation. The second bill, HB 673, introduced on January 23, 2015, by Rep. Edwin Vargas of Hartford, is almost identical.
February 1, 2015
Jeb Bush Smoked Marijuana in High School:
The Huffington News reports that, while a high school student at the Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, GOP 2016 presidential frontrunner Jeb Bush smoked marijuana. According to one classmate, “The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb’s room. He had a portable stereo with removable speakers. He put on Steppenwolf for me.” Bush's marijuana use stands in stark contrast with his political opposition to legalizing medical marijuana and his championing of jail over treatment for non-violent offenders.
Reacting to the revelation, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted Bush over his "hypocrisy" on marijuana.“You would think he’d have a little more understanding then,” Paul, who may be a rival to Bush in the Republican primary, told The Hill Friday. “He was even opposed to medical marijuana. This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do."
January 29, 2015
Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch Takes Hard-Line Stance Towards Marijuana During Confirmation Hearing:
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, currently United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told the Senate Committee on the Judiciary today that she disagreed with the president's no-big-deal stance on marijuana, stating, "I certainly don't hold that view and don't agree with that view of marijuana as a substance," and that, "I think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I'm able to share." Ms Lynch went on to say, "But I can tell you that not only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support legalization, nor would it be the position should I be confirmed as attorney general."
February 24, 2014
More than 40 Maine Legislators Urge Consideration of Legalizing Marijuana:
On Friday, over 40 Maine State legislators signed a memorandum, authored by State Representative Diane Russell, which urged the State's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee to consider the potential for generating tax revenue through the legalization and development of an adult, recreational marijuana market. Last year, Maine's House of Representatives was only four votes short of winning approval to place the question of legalizing recreational marijuana use on the ballot.
September 16, 2013
California Fails to Enact Clearer Regulations on Cannabis for the Coming Year:
After hours of debate this past Friday the 13th, California legislators failed to adopt statewide medical and commercial cannabis regulations. Assembly Member Tom Ammiano’s Assembly Bill 604, intended to more clearly delineate regulations in the state of California, did not make it through tough opposition from law enforcement and League of Cities lobbyists. AB 604 was the melange of two earlier bills that had previously been defeated: AB 473, intended to create another division in the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control to enact new regulations, and SB 439, written in order to delineate the guidelines of medical marijuana. In light of the Department of Justice’s recent memo to respect state marijuana laws, the ambiguity of California’s medical cannabis laws and regulations places the state in an unfortunate circumstance. California is well overdue for clearer regulations on marijuana, given the fuzzy discrepancies that exist between California’s 17-year-old marijuana laws - SB 420 and Prop 215, which delineate medical marijuana laws, but fail to add up to a complete and coherent set of guidelines. Given the rapid development of the cannabis industry, it is imperative that California work to more efficiently enact relevant regulations to keep up with the reality of these swiftly changing times in the history of marijuana policy.
September 12, 2013
Feds Discussing Banking and Marijuana Business:
Recent conversation has started to take place in regard to financing marijuana business. While federal money-laundering laws and the potential to cross into dubiously legal territory have discouraged banks to open accounts for marijuana businesses, the government has engaged in discussions with bank regulators to verify whether banks in states where marijuana is legal (i.e., Colorado and Washington) can do business with dispensaries and other marijuana enterprises. Undoubtedly, this new conversation is in light of Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that the Feds will henceforth respect state marijuana laws. Nonetheless, banks have been cautious to serve institutions engaged in marijuana sales and other business in fear of violating federal law. Yet, if this fear is so widespread, it may only instigate unregulated and under-the-table marijuana transactions and undermine the spirit of the new state laws that bring to light the legitimacy and reality of marijuana business.
September 10, 2013
Senators Entertain a “Smarter Approach” to Marijuana Laws:
During a congressional hearing on marijuana laws, which followed James Cole’s Department of Justice memo dated August 29, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont declared the need for a “smarter approach” in regard to marijuana policy, effective regulation, and particularly the role played by federal laws. Cole’s memo stated that the DEA would no longer challenge state marijuana laws and would enforce laws (in states where marijuana is sanctioned) based solely on a small list of violations, such as distributing marijuana to minors or collecting revenue from illegal enterprises. Furthermore, Sheriff John Urquhart from Washington brought up the issue of financing marijuana business, and suggested the government change federal law so that banks may open accounts for such enterprises. Urquhart went on to agree with federal opinion that “we don’t want our children using marijuana,” but pointed out that the Drug War in general is a failure and has done little to decrease demand for illicit substances. Nonetheless, while there still exist imperfections in the regulation of marijuana in states such as Colorado, general consensus at the hearing among Deputy Attorney General Cole and state senators remains positive about the future of marijuana laws in this country and optimistic about coming change and solutions.
September 6, 2013
Senator John McCain on Marijuana Legalization:
This past Thursday, John McCain announced his recognition of the shifting role of marijuana in politics and policy; he expressed openness to the idea of legalizing marijuana. “Maybe we should legalize [marijuana]. We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people,” declared McCain. McCain’s statement is exceptionally timed, correlating with Eric Holder’s recent conversation with state officials to have the Feds respect state marijuana laws. Moreover, his mention of the “will of the people” points to a reality that places social and political will in opposition to each other if national marijuana laws do not change. In fact, a recent study indicated that nationally, the amount of those who have used marijuana has increased from 14.5 million in 2007 to 18.9 million — 7.3% of the population — in 2012. Furthermore, the number of daily users - 7.6 million — is also increasing.
Sanjay Gupta Reverses Position:
In “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta apologizes for ever having opposed the medical use of marijuana, since proponents of medicinal cannabis are not illegitimate advocates merely looking to get high. Instead, Gupta now reflects on the gravity that “someone dies in the US every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose,” and yet there is not one case of death from a marijuana overdose... because it is impossible to physically overdose on marijuana. Most pharmaceutical medications, Gupta reckons, do not work tremendously well on pain from chronic diseases such as cancer, and moreover cause patients to develop a tolerance to them. It is hence not surprising to Gupta that a survey revealed that 76% of doctors would recommend marijuana to help alleviate the pain from breast cancer. The medical legitimacy of marijuana as medicine is reflected in the local laws in 20 states plus the District of Columbia that condone medical marijuana. Many other states will soon introduce legislation that follows suit, hopefully pressuring the federal government to change re-evaluate national marijuana laws.
August 6, 2013
Washington State Faces Surge of DEA Raids on Dispensaries:
On July 24, over $12 million of taxpayers’ money was spent on over a dozen of simultaneous raids on Washington State medical marijuana providers. This event is not the first in its history. Similarly, in 2011 the Feds executed a coordinated offensive against dispensaries in the Seattle area, and a number of raids throughout California in 2012. Americans for Safe Access calculates the cost of the raids to be over $300,000, but that the investigations leading up to them push the overall cost to $12 million. According to ASA, the DEA used four percent of its 2012 budget to target medical marijuana providers in states where it medical marijuana is legal.
August 6, 2013
Americans for Safe Access Plans to Petition Supreme Court to Reschedule Marijuana:
With hundreds of scientific studies proving the medicinal benefits of cannabis, the federal government nonetheless has yet to acknowledge its medical use. This past July, ASA petitioned the Supreme Court to review the January Circuit Court decision in ASA v. DEA upholding the DEA's denial to reschedule cannabis. While ASA had permission from the DC Circuit to sue the federal government in regard to the classification of cannabis, their appeal was nevertheless denied on the grounds of new standards for medical efficacy. The new standard stringently requires expensive trials with thousands of patients, conflicting with the standards established by the First Circuit in Grinspoon v. DEA in 1987, which held that DEA cannot uphold the FDA's lack of marketing approval as evidence that cannabis is not accepted for medical use.
August 5, 2013
Illinois Approves Medical Marijuana:
As of August 1, Illinois became the 20th state in the Union to sanction medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. While “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” is deemed one of the toughest medical marijuana bills in the nation, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn nevertheless signed his approval to provide relief to some of the most severely ill patients in the state. Medical conditions accounted for include those such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, and other severe or chronic diseases. Under the new program, patients may possess up to 2 ½ ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks; however, they cannot grow their own medicine. Not until January 1, 2014, will the law come into effect. Still, however, Illinois maintains harsh penalties for possession of cannabis by non-patients. For possession of less than 2 ½ ounces, non-patients may face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,500. According to Marijuana Policy Project, Illinois “has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the nation.”
July 11, 2013
New Hampshire’s Legalization of Medical Marijuana Renders Medical Cannabis Legal in 40% of the US:
New Hampshire is now the 20th state to have approved medical marijuana laws, making marijuana legal for medical use in 40 percent of the US states. Progress towards legalization of medical marijuana started in 1996 with the passage of California’s Prop 215, and medical marijuana laws have come to be supported by over 80% of Americans, according to the ABC/Washington Post Poll of 2010. While polling numbers vary, it stands that public opinion vastly favors the legalization of medical marijuana. More states continue to entertain measures to legalize medical marijuana, such as Illinois and New York. It is only a matter of time before half or more than half the states in the Union legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
July 11, 2013
Washington D.C. Entertains Decriminalization Bill:
On July 10, Tommy Wells, member of DC’s City Council, introduced a measure that would decriminalize possession of marijuana for personal use. Wells proposes to reduce possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil infraction, calling for no more than $100 ticket. Erick Altieri, NORML Communications Director, claims that DC currently “has the highest rate per capita for marijuana charges of any city in the country,” and furthermore, DC’s current marijuana laws disproportionately affect people of color. Hence, given the current circumstance, 75% of DC residents are in favor of Wells’ measure.
July 7, 2013
Vermont Decriminalizes Up to an Ounce of Marijuana for Non-patients:
On July 1, Vermont legislation signed into law a measure that reduces penalties for the possession of marijuana. Similar to decriminalization laws in California, Oregon, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Maine, Vermont’s new law has demoted the non-medical possession of cannabis as a civil, not criminal, offense. For those under 21, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or paraphernalia now merits a civil fine and no longer a criminal misdemeanor. Furthermore, up to five grams of hashish is also decriminalized under the new law.
July 5, 2013
Oregon Votes to Reduce Penalties for Marijuana Possession - Now Waiting on Governor's Approval:
The Oregon legislature has recently approved Senate Bills 40 and 42 reducing penalties for possession of marijuana. SB 40 lightens the penalty for possession between one and four ounces, as from a felony to a Class B misdemeanor. Possession of less than a quarter ounce of hashish, once a felony offense, has also been reclassified to a Class B misdemeanor. Fines for civil violations of marijuana possession of less than an ounce have also been reduced. Furthermore, SB 42 allows for violators of civil possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to retain their driving privileges.
June 25, 2013
US Mayors Conference Passes Resolution Asking Feds to Defer to State Marijuana Laws:
Yesterday at the US Conference of Mayors, Resolution No. 32 was unanimously passed calling for the federal government to revere local state marijuana laws. The resolution urges President Obama to “reexamine the priorities of the federal agencies to prevent the expenditure of resources on actions that undermine the duly enacted marijuana laws of the states.” Tom Angell from Marijuana Majority calls on Obama to adhere to the changes in the federal relationship with state marijuana laws he promised in his 2008 campaign.
June 1, 2013
Colorado Governor Signs Legislation to Legalize Regulated Cannabis:
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently signed into law House Bills 1317 and 1318 - the nation’s first legislation to legalize regulated marijuana. Statewide commercial production and sale of marijuana is now permitted for those over 21. HB 1317 delineates the regulatory legislation for the retail marijuana, while HB 1318 establishes the rates by which to tax the sales and production of commercial cannabis. These tax rates are then subject to approval by a majority of voters; nonetheless, a recent poll indicated that 77% of Colorado voters support a 15% excise tax on the sale of marijuana and a 10% sales tax to be spent on the costs of regulating the cannabis industry.
May 14, 2013
Israeli Researchers Find that Smokable Cannabis Reduces Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:
In a clinical study comparing inhaled cannabis versus a placebo, researchers at Meir Medical Center in Israel recently found that medical marijuana is incredibly effective in reducing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. The study indicated that an 8-week treatment with THC resulted in a 100-point decrease in Crohn’s Disease and activity index (CDAI) scores, while the placebo did not. CDAI is a tool to quantify the symptoms of Crohn’s. Of the eleven patients treated with THC, five even reported to have achieved remission of the disease. In a 2011 survey, about half of Crohn’s disease patients admit to medicating with cannabis to ease their symptoms.
April 26, 2013
Puerto Rico Considers Marijuana Legalization:
Senator Miguel Pereira of Puerto Rico has recently introduced legislation to legalize marijuana. The proposed legislation to reform marijuana laws has received much support as demonstrated by the dozens of activists who rallied in San Juan on 4/20. This week, Senator Pereira filed a bill proposing to legalize the possession of cannabis up to an ounce for those over 21 years of age. Critics of the bill, however, fear it would instigate further violence, as 70% of homicide in Puerto Rico is drug-related. Nonetheless, the current marijuana laws in Puerto Rico are particularly harsh, calling for up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine for simple possession.
April 2, 2013
Rhode Island Decriminalizes Marijuana:
Yesterday, April 1, Rhode Island’s marijuana decriminalization law took effect, making it one of 16 states to have reduced low-level marijuana possession to a civil offense. The new legislation decriminalizes possession of minor amounts of marijuana, an offense which, up until this point, was a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and a year in jail. Now, for possession of adults over 18 years of age is a civil offense, resulting in a $150 fine, but no jail time or criminal record. In over ten other states, including New Jersey, Vermont, Texas, and Missouri.
March 20, 3013
Low Level Marijuana Possession Arrests Cost NYPD One Million Hours:
According to a study done by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, between 2002 and 2012 the New York City police staff spent one million hours in making 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. The time spent on low-level marijuana offenses could have been dedicated to fighting more dangerous crimes that threaten city safety. Rather, private possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis under New York State law is not even a criminal offense, but instead, a civil citation accompanied by a $100 fine. Public possession is a criminal misdemeanor. Many of those charged with marijuana offenses only publicly revealed cannabis on their person after being subjected to a “stop-and-frisk” search. 85% of those stopped, frisked and arrested were black or hispanic, and many of those were minors.
February 27, 2013
Oregon Introduces Measure to Legalize Cannabis:
The Oregon House Committee on Revenue has introduced Bill 3371 to legalize marijuana for adults. The bill would regulate marijuana just as the sale and production of alcohol is regulated. Under the new legislation, adults over 21 years of age would be permitted to possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home. Similar to the regime in Colorado, Oregon as well as six other states with similar pending legislation may follow suit, indicating a sharp shift in how marijuana is to be regulated in the United States.
February 1, 2013
DC Circuit Rejects Petition to Reclassify Marijuana Under Federal Law:
Petitioners from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) had filed a petition in the DC Circuit, seeking to reschedule marijuana under federal law. This week, a panel of the court denied the petition. ASA had sought a hearing on the issue of whether the continued categorization of cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as a Schedule I substance was in conflict with hundreds of scientific studies demonstrating marijuana’s medical usefulness. Nonetheless, the Court affirmed without a hearing the DEA’s refusal to reschedule. The ASA Petitioners plan to appeal this decision.
January 10, 2013
Shifting Perspectives on the Country’s Legal Relationship with Marijuana:
With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has admitted that the country is facing a serious “conversation about marijuana.” In response to the question as to whether the federal government should remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, 84,000 expressed positive support. Kerlikowske stated that the government would need to find a way to reconcile federal law regarding marijuana with the various state laws that conflict with it. It has yet to be seen, however, what steps the federal government will take to lift marijuana from its federal black market status.
December 10, 2012
Colorado Governor Signs Order Legalizing Marijuana Possession, use, and Limited Cultivation:
Today, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an Executive Order officially acknowledging and making effective voters' recent passage of Colorado Constitutional Amendment 64, legalizing personal use, possession and limited cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older. As of today in Colorado, adults can possess, use, buy and transport up to one ounce of marijuana, cultivate up to six plants at home, distribute up to an ounce of marijuana for no remuneration, and consume marijuana, albeit not publicly.
November 29, 2012
Illinois State Assembly Delays Consideration of Legalizing Marijuana for Medical Use:
The Illinois General Assembly was yesterday set to consider whether to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, thereby joining a growing group of states that officially approve cannabis as a medicine. However, given that the measure lacked sufficient support to pass, voting was delayed. The at-issue proposal for a three-year pilot program would make Illinois the second most populous state to allow medical marijuana, after California. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington voters decided on November 6 to legalize recreational use of cannabis.
November 6, 2012
Massachusetts Becomes 19th State to Allow Medical Marijuana:
Massachusetts voters passed Question 3, allowing the medical use of cannabis. In so doing, Massachusetts has become the 19th state in the nation to have acknowledged and legalized marijuana use for medical purposes.
November 6, 2012
Colorado and Washington State Voters Decide to Legalize recreational Use of Cannabis:
The voters of Colorado and Washington have spoken, opting to allow adult recreational use of marijuana. In Colorado, Amendment 64 allows personal use and sale of recreational marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. Taxes raised from marijuana sales will go towards public school construction and the state's general fund. In Washington, Initiative 502 legalizes marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Unlicensed cannabis cultivation remains illegal, however.
September 10, 2012
Voters of Flint, Michigan Propose Marijuana Possession Depenalization for November Ballot:
Last week, a citizens’ initiative to modify the municipal code was approved by city officials. The initiative proposes to lift criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis or paraphernalia for those over 19. Currently, Michigan State law holds possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor offense, punishable by one year imprisonment and a $2000 fine. Other Michigan cities have followed Flint’s suit. In Detroit, a proposal is on the table to lift criminal penalties for up to an ounce of marijuana for those over 21, and in Grand Rapid and Ypsilanti, voters will decide on proposals to make first-time marijuana offenses a civil fine, and of the lowest priority for law enforcement.
September 6, 2012
California Supreme Court Upholds that Municipalities May Not Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:
On August 22, the California Supreme Court dismissed Pack, et al. v. Long Beach, a state appellate court case holding that cities may ban cannabis dispensaries. Now that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case, it is easier for California State and local governments to regulate medical marijuana cultivation and distribution. Still, there are other appellate court cases to come before the Court. For example, in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health and Wellness Center, Inc., the state appellate court held that state law cannot keep cities from regulating zones for or even prohibiting dispensaries. The Riverside decision is in conflict, however, with Los Angeles v. Alternative Cannabis Collective, et al., which held that a municipality cannot ban cannabis collectives because to do so would violate state law. The Court’s dismissal of Pack, et al. v. Long Beach appears to favor a ruling that California State law overrides local laws banning dispensaries.
September 6, 2012
Medical Marijuana Act Qualifies for Arkansas's November Ballot:
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2012 will now appear on the November electoral ballot. The Act proposes to lift criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession and use of up to two and a half ounces for qualified patients, including those suffering from cancer, Crohn’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia. To facilitate and regulate the distribution of medical marijuana, the Act would also permit state establishment of nonprofit dispensaries for approved patients. Patients may also cultivate fixed amounts of cannabis, themselves. If passed, the Medical Marijuana Act would render Arkansas the 18th state to allow for medical marijuana.
August 17, 2012
No Tax Deductions for Cannabis Dispensaries:
In spite of their compliance with state laws, medical cannabis dispensaries may not file business deductions on their federal tax returns. Tax Court Judge Diane Kroupa ruled that under federal law – Section 280E of the federal tax code provision — it is illegal to deduct expenses from the trade of a controlled substance, such as marijuana. Hence, in Olive v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Kroupa rejected a petition from the Vapor Room to deduct expenses despite their legitimacy under California law.
August 10, 2012
Congress Introduces Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act:
House Bill 6335, also known as the Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, is aimed at the Controlled Substances Act, so that patients who possess medical marijuana in compliance with state law are exempt from civil forfeiture of their property due to state and federal conflict of marijuana laws. California Democrat Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the bill in response to the increased federal raids and civil forfeitures in California lately. She hopes that the bill will “provide clarification to California businesses and security for California patients.” She sees the federal crackdown on medical marijuana as conflicting with voters’ will and undermining democracy. Lee and her eight co-sponsors now await action to be taken on the bill after a review from multiple Congress committees.
August 7, 2012
American Judo Athlete Expelled from the Olympics for Marijuana Use:
Nicholas Delpopolo, 23-year-old American judoka, has been expelled from the Olympics after failing a drug test on account of eating food that had been baked with marijuana. Delpopolo claims he was unaware the baked goods contained cannabis. He was tested on July 30, the day of his competition, and accepted the disqualification gracefully, concluding with hopes to represent the United States in the future. Italy’s 50 km race walk athlete, Alex Schwazer, also was expelled from the Olympics after failing a drug test. Schwazer broke the Olympic record in Beijing, but he is not competing in London this year due to his failed drug test. Meanwhile, past time marijuana users Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have both proven to be major champions, winning multiple medals in London this year.
August 3, 2012
Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Boost the Federal Asset Forfeiture Fund:
Adding up to $1.8 billion, the asset forfeiture fund under the Obama administration is higher than it has ever been. Correspondingly, law enforcement agencies have received more than the fund than ever before, totaling $445 million in 2011. The “equitable sharing agreement” with local law enforcement provides an incentive to execute federal raids — an increasing amount of which on medical marijuana dispensaries — hence providing law enforcement with a portion of the profits seized. In 2011, California received 18 percent or $80 million of all shared asset forfeiture, further illustrating the pervasive financial influence from the dispensaries. The Obama administration’s continued crackdown on dispensaries in medical marijuana states across the country indicates that 2012 may show an even higher record for the federal asset forfeiture fund.
August 2, 2012
Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds that Cities Cannot Ban Medical Marijuana:
In 2010, medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit with the city of Wyoming, Michigan, which upheld an ordinance banning medical marijuana. Judges Joel Hoekstra, Douglas Shapiro, and William Whitbeck found the ordinance unenforceable, ruling that local governments could not use the federal marijuana prohibition to undermine state law. The court’s decision in favor of Ter Beek should now set the precedent, standing as an example to other cities in Michigan, such as Livonia, that had attempted to undercut Michigan citizens’ 2008 decision to allow patients treatment with medical marijuana.
August 2, 2012
Sheriff's Deputies Seize 3,200 Pounds of Marijuana from Santa Cruz Northern Mountains:
Out to determine the legitimacy of marijuana grows in compliance with state laws, Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputies stumbled upon ten spots — four of which were so “egregiously out of compliance that we seized all of the plants,” said Sergeant Peter Hansen. Deputies seized a total of 1,100 plants that weighed 3,200 pounds from these four spots alone. The growers, however, were fortunate enough to be spared arrest and instead received citations. The main issue is the great confusion surrounding the legality of growing medical marijuana and the various rules and regulations that become ambiguous in actual practice.
August 2, 2012
Arizona May Expand Its Medical Marijuana Program:
Though Arizona’s medical marijuana program currently permits patients subject to cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, chronic pain, hepatitis C, and muscle spasms to use medicinal cannabis, the law mandates that petitions be considered that permit expansion of use to treat more conditions. Upon the receipt of petitions to include medical marijuana treatment of sleeping disorders and skin conditions, Will Humble, state health director, explained that these conditions would only be incorporated into the treatment program if scientific evidence proves that marijuana may be helpful. Already, he has rejected requests to add migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
August 1, 2012
DEA Overrides Local State Officials in Continued Raids of San Francisco Cannabis Dispensaries:
With the increased number of raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, patients are being forced into finding medicine on the black market. Recently, US Attorney Melinda Haag threatened two nine-year running San Francisco city-permitted dispensaries with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture. Both dispensaries, HopeNet and Vapor Room, fully legitimate by California State laws, are shutting down today. In response, activists against this new surge of raids on these well-established, law-abiding institutions are holding a “funeral procession” march from the Haight district to the Golden Gate Federal Building, location of Melinda Haag’s office and a press conference that starts at 5 pm. HopeNet and Vapor Room, however, are not the only dispensaries threatened as such, for similar threats have recently been made against nine other San Francisco dispensaries. In an October press conference with all of California’s US Attorneys present, an escalated attack on California’s medical marijuana businesses was agreed upon. Nevertheless, this decision was in direct contradiction with Attorney General Eric Holder’s now empty statement that going after medical cannabis establishments in compliance with state laws would be a low priority. Nevertheless, numerous elected officials have publicly opposed this slew of federal attacks, though not yet to any avail.
July 30, 2012
DC Circuit to Hear Americans for Safe Access v. DEA:
After the DEA’s ten-year denial of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis’ (CRC) 2002 petition requesting a reassessment of marijuana’s therapeutic value, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) v. Drug Enforcement Administration is a lawsuit finally challenging the controlled substances act’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug containing no medical value. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has agreed to hear oral arguments in order to reconsider marijuana’s medical value. Finally patients may have advocacy in court, especially after numerous studies have hence, since 2002 (and prior), proven the medicinal effects of marijuana, and which are only validated by the medical marijuana laws in 17 states. The ASA appeal claims that the government has been arbitrary and dismissive of contrary evidence in its denial of cannabis to patients throughout the country. The ASA thus compels the DEA to re-analyze all scientific data impartially in order to reassess the value of cannabis.
July 27, 2012.
Law Enforcement Cracks Down on Synthetic Marijuana, a Poor and Dangerous Alternative to the Real Leaf:
Executed in 31 states and about 100 cities, the DEA’s Operation Log Jam aims to crack down on synthetic marijuana and other synthetic substitutes for drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine. Law Enforcement agencies have raided smoke shops and other stores carrying these synthetic drugs. While synthetic marijuana has become an alternative to the real Schedule I leaf, hallucinogenic bath salts and other dubious ingredients in mock cannabis have proven to be far more detrimental. Though the physical health affects of cannabis are essentially innocuous, synthetic marijuana has been shown to induce seizures, psychotic fits, and sometimes death. Synthetic marijuana sold under names such as “Spice” and “K2” has already been outlawed, and law enforcement plans to eliminate the rest of the designer drugs that have remained on the market. While sometimes deceptively packaged as incense, bath salts, or plant food, if ingested as one would ingest real drugs, these synthetic intoxicants have fatal potential. Aside from shutting down the manufacturers and raiding the shops stocked with synthetic drugs, Operation Log Jam intends to make it clear that these artificial mock substances are illegal, as well.
July 26, 2012
Massachusetts Sanctions Measure to Legalize Medical Marijuana for November Ballot:
Just last week, Massachusetts approved a statewide proposal to place a medical marijuana measure on the November ballot. If passed, the measure would remove statewide criminal and civil penalties for the possession of marijuana for qualified patients, as well as set up and regulate 35 dispensaries to distribute medical cannabis. If approved, Massachusetts would become the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana, and continue the trend in New England. The Massachusetts Medical Society, the largest doctors’ organization in the state, however, is campaigning against the measure. Nevertheless, at the current moment, a survey revealed that 53 percent of voters would support the bill.
July 25, 2012
Los Angeles City Council Bans Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:
With over 900 medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles alone, many fear that the marijuana business is getting out of control. For that reason, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to ban dispensaries until further evaluation from the state of California’s highest court. All of the dispensaries registered with the city will be sent letters ordering them to immediately shut down. Those dispensaries that violate the ban will be subject to legal action from the city. The ban, introduced by City Councilman Jose Huizar, was intended to allow the city a fresh start, after so many dispensaries had proliferated throughout the city, in compliance with California’s hazy laws regarding how to legitimately establish and run medical marijuana collectives, cooperatives, and storefronts. Under the ban, patients and their caregivers will be able to cultivate and distribute medicinal cannabis in groups of no more than three. The ban has left many angry and confused, while meanwhile, many patients do not have the time or expertise to grow their own marijuana. Still, the city may not even have the resources to shut down every dispensary within Los Angeles City limits. Nevertheless, the ban is still in effect until declared otherwise.
July 24, 2012
Belize Proposes to Decriminalize Marijuana:
The Minister of National Security has recently appointed a committee to evaluate the potential decriminalization of marijuana in Belize. Such decriminalization denotes that criminal penalties may be removed or reduced, and at times replaced by probationary measures, for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Currently, possession of under 60 grams of marijuana calls for criminal charges, including up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000. The committee proposes to decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 10 grams, which instead of criminal penalties, will be subject to fines or mandatory drug education. The intention behind the proposal is to reduce penalties for already marginalized sectors of the population who are generally disadvantaged in terms of employment and social mobility. The committee hence only wants to reduce crime via decriminalization and regulate marijuana in Belize.
July 20, 2012
Medical Cannabis Dispensary to Open in Montclair, New Jersey in August:
In spite of New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws, Governor Christie’s administration had been slow to launch a medical marijuana program. In fact, Christie had often been criticized for rendering New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws to be the strictest in the country, as he has endeavored to keep New Jersey from becoming “like Colorado or California.” He reasoned that New Jersey medical marijuana should not “become a cottage industry for unscrupulous doctors who will write prescriptions no matter what and for folks who might run these facilities who care more about profit than they care about compassionate care for individual citizens who qualify for it.” Nevertheless, two medical marijuana dispensaries will be set up in each of three regions in the state — northern, southern, and central — and patients will need to present a state-registered ID card, or else one verified by state-registered caregivers.
Funeral director Joseph Stevens is now the chief executive officer of Greenleaf Compassion Center, New Jersey’s first dispensary authorized to grow marijuana, which will open in Montclair next month. Stevens noted that people with severe terminal illnesses often turn to heavy painkillers, such as morphine, in order to treat their symptoms. Marijuana, he reasons, is a better alternative to such pharmaceuticals, as it does not leave patients in a stupor, as would Oxycodone, for example. By early August, Stevens intends to be at the store, helping patients register with the state, before even purchasing their medication.
July 20, 2012
National Cancer Institute, a Government Agency, Upholds the Medical Benefits of Marijuana:
The National Cancer Institute, found at www.cancer.gov, upholds the medicinal benefits of cannabis, hence contradicting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the approved Schedule 1 categorization of marijuana, both of which deny that cannabis has any redeeming medical value. Nevertheless, the National Cancer Institute has listed the benefits of medical cannabis to include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and reversed insomnia, thereby advocating that physicians recommend cannabis predominantly for symptom management. The resulting conclusion is the inherent contradiction regarding medical cannabis among different government agencies.
July 19, 2012
Arkansas May Be the First Southern State to Legalize Medical Marijuana:
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, supported by Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) and funded by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), will require 62,507 signatures by August 13 in order to qualify for the November ballot. So far, the Secretary of State reports that the ACC is a little more than halfway there. The ACC modeled the Arkansans Medical Marijuana Act after Maine’s initiative, and has been careful to avoid other regulatory issues present in the medical marijuana laws of other states.
July 18, 2012
Washington Initiative 502 to Legalize and Tax Marijuana:
Originally introduced during the summer of 2011, Initiative 502 was short of the required 241,153 signatures until this past April, and has hence been advanced to the November 2012 ballot. The measure would legalize possession of small amounts of regulated marijuana or cannabis products for those over twenty-one, remove state criminal penalties, and tax marijuana sales. The 25% excise tax revenues would go toward substance-abuse prevention, education, research, and healthcare. DUI laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include minimum thresholds for THC blood concentration.
July 17, 2012
Oregon Proposes Marijuana Legalization Measure for the November Ballot:
The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2012 (OCTA) has officially been approved for the November ballot, following suit with Washington and Colorado, which will include similar proposals on their November ballots. OCTA will appear on the ballot as Measure 80, and proposes to regulate marijuana for adults over 21, as well commercial sales through stores licensed by the state of Oregon. Ninety percent of tax revenue from cannabis sales would go towards the state’s general fund, seven percent toward drug treatment programs, and the rest toward Oregon’s startup “hemp food, fiber and bio-fuel industries.”
July 16, 2012
Obama's Promise Broken as Feds Raid Oakland's Harborside Health Center:
It appears as if the Federal Agencies are cracking down even harder on California’s flourishing medical marijuana industry. Just days ago, the feds targeted Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland. Harborside had grown to be not only the “largest pot shop” out there, but also a salient example of what a legitimate establishment, in total compliance with state laws, should look like. In spite of abiding by all of California’s regulations, such as being farther than within 1,000 feet of a school, quintessential leader in the medical marijuana industry was targeted for merely being too popular. The conflict between state and federal law is the only reason the feds have shut down an otherwise lawful institution. The consequence is that patients are denied secure, safe access to their medicine and are forced to find smaller dispensaries, which often are not as legitimate or well run as Harborside was. Yet, not only have patients’ rights been compromised and lawful institutions persecuted, but Obama has blatantly failed to keep his promise to keep medical marijuana dispensaries a low priority, given his claim that targeting law-abiding establishments that comply with state medical marijuana laws would be a waste of time and resources. With his election looming in the near future, Obama needs to reinstate his low-priority policy concerning medical marijuana, an industry that has helped rehabilitate California’s economy, and especially Oakland’s, during one of the state’s most severe financials crises.
July 13, 2012
"Truth in Trials" Act Would Allow Medical Marijuana Recognition in Federal Trials:
Congressman Sam Farr’s new bill, the “Truth in Trials” Act, would allow defendants involved in federal marijuana case to present evidence that they conformed to their state’s medical marijuana law. Currently, federal rules of evidence exclude medical marijuana recommendations in compliance with state laws. Farr seeks for the bill to prevent law enforcement and judicial officials’ time and resources from being wasted on prosecuting people who follow state laws. Hence, the bill aims to bring about fair treatment to medical marijuana patients in federal trials.
July 10, 2012
Marijuana Possession Reduced to Non-Arrestable Offense in Chicago:
Chicago City Council has voted for a measure to go into effect August 4 that reduces the number of arrests for marijuana offenders who posses 15 grams or less on their person. The policy, however, excludes cases in which offenders have been caught in parks, at schools, or smoking in public. The policy, of course, is at odds with state law, that holds marijuana possession as a misdemeanor offense, meriting 30 days to a year behind bars. Those who voted for the policy were aware of the unfair proportion of black and Hispanic youth who are arrested for marijuana. In fact, data propose that these minorities constitute 95% of marijuana arrests in Chicago.
July 9, 2012
Kentucky Senator Advocates for Medical Marijuana:
Once a major grower of marijuana during WWII, Kentucky might have another chance to rekindle its compassionate roots. Democrat Senator Perry Clark from Louisville has introduced a proposal, called the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act, to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky. The proposal will be considered at next year’s General Assembly. The proposal allows for patients to have up to five ounces of marijuana and to cultivate no more than five plants at a time. Empathetic to patients’ rights and the movement for marijuana law reform, Perry clams that prohibition of “the miracle plant” is a “liberty issue.”
July 5, 2012
Will Uruguay Be the First Country to Directly Legalize Marijuana?:
While Uruguay has already legalized marijuana possession for personal use, Congress will vote on a proposal by President Jose Mujica to legalize its production and sale. Mujica’s incentive behind the proposal is to reduce violence by taking marijuana out criminal hands in illegal trafficking, as well as to monitor consumer use. Furthermore, Mujica intends for profits from underground marijuana sales to finally surface from the black market. Mujica considers drug addiction to be a completely different issue from drug trafficking, and does not support the legalization of other drugs. Moreover, the proposal includes stipulations to increase the prison time for cocaine traffickers.
July 5, 2012
California Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:
On July 2, the California’s Second District Court of Appeal overturned Los Angeles County’s ban on marijuana dispensaries, thereby affirming their legality under state law, which municipalities have no right to override. The municipal ban was no more than a nuisance for state courts and time spent futilely for Los Angeles City Council. The decision, County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective, overturns a May 2011 injunction of the Los Angeles Superior Court in favor of the county.
July 3, 2012
The American Medical Association Suggests Change of Marijuana Scheduling in Order to Facilitate Medicinal Testing:
With the Schedule I designation of no redeeming medical value, it has come into question whether or not marijuana, legalized medically in 17 states, should be categorized as such. Marijuana’s current Schedule I status inhibits researchers from full access to cannabinols in order to assess their medicinal benefits for pain or other problems. Proven already to have at least some medicinal value, marijuana has no place among heroin and other toxic substances in Schedule I, for not only does the category do no justice to the plant’s value, but makes it so that scientists must constantly receive DEA approval along every step of their research and access cannabis only from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the nation’s one legal source. Not only does the AMA support a review of marijuana’s scheduling, but also the American College of Physicians, and many other doctors, as well.
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