Hemp News, a compilation of international news stories about hemp and cannabis, is a public service of Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation (THCF). All material included herein is provided free of charge for political and educational purposes under the US federal "Fair Use Doctrine". This material may only be used for political and educational purposes without express written consent.

Florida: CBD-Only Cannabis Oil Bill Approved By House Judiciary Committee

CBDCannabidiol

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Florida House Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a plan to allow doctors to authorize patients to use a non-psychoactive marijuana extract which provides relief from seizures and pain.

HB 843, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar), passed on a 15-3 vote over some determined opposition, reports Health News Florida. Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong opposed the bill, and warned the committee that it is "unwise" for the Legislature to allow untested drugs to market rather than going through the lengthy process of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

"We must be wary of unintended consequences and remember that first we must do no harm," said Armstrong, who also heads the Florida Department of Health. Anecdotal reports have indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is quite effective in quelling seizures, and parents like it because it doesn't get their children high, as would THC, the other major medicinal cannabinoid in marijuana.

The bill would set up four regional organizations around Florida that could grow, test and dispense CBD oil. It wouldn't have enough THC in it to get you high, but would be rich in CBD, which appears to have anti-seizure effects.

Alabama Supreme Court Rules That Women Can Be Arrested For Using Drugs While Pregnant

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Health Professionals Call For Medical Care and Treatment Instead of Imprisonment and Punishment

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday issued a 8-1 decision in Ex Parte Hicks upholding the conviction of Sara Hicks, who gave birth to a healthy baby who tested positive for cocaine in 2008. This decision affirmed the Court's prior ruling in Ex Parte Ankrom, holding that that the plain meaning of the word "child" in the Alabama law unambiguously includes fertilized eggs and that pregnant women may be arrested for using a controlled substance while pregnant.

The chemical endangerment law was passed in 2006 to deter people from bringing children to places where controlled substances are produced or distributed, such as methamphetamine laboratories. Since 2006, more than 100 women who became pregnant and tested positive for a controlled substance have been arrested. Some have experienced pregnancy losses, but the majority – like Sara Hicks – have continued their pregnancies to term and given birth to healthy children.

Minnesota: Doctors, Nurses, Union Leaders, Clergy Express Support For Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota AIDS Project, AFL-CIO, and UFCW urge state lawmakers to adopt HF 1818/SF 1641, which would allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Minnesotans for Compassionate Care announced at a Tuesday news conference that more than 100 doctors and clergy throughout Minnesota have formally expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana. During the event, Duluth pastor Rev. Catherine Schuyler and representatives from the Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota AIDS Project, AFL-CIO, and UFCW urged state lawmakers to adopt medical marijuana legislation that is currently pending in the Minnesota Legislature.

HF 1818/SF 1641 would allow people suffering from conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, and severe, debilitating pain to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The Minnesota Department of Health would issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients and establish a tightly regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and quality control labs.

Both bills have the maximum number of sponsors allowed — five in the Senate, including two committee chairs, and 35 in the House, including 12 committee chairs. Six additional House members have signed copies of the bill in order to demonstrate their support.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee Votes To Deny Patients Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee fails to pass bill that would allow limited home cultivation until patients have state-legal access through dispensaries

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee on Tuesday morning failed to take decisive action on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution. Instead, the committee voted 3-1 to refer the bill for "interim study."

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

HB 1622 passed the House in a 227-73 vote March 6. If the Senate upholds the committee recommendation of interim study, patients will likely continue to have no legal protection until alternative treatment centers open, which could take another year and a half or more.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Wright would have added a sunset provision, repealing the home-grow option when the fourth alternative treatment center opened. Senators decided against this option in a 3-1 vote, with Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) the lone dissenting vote.

U.S.: Want Prison Reform? Start by Releasing Nonviolent Drug Offenders Serving Life Sentences

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What do a former Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, an Illinois truck mechanic, and a Southern California teacher have in common? They are all serving life sentences in federal prisons for nonviolent marijuana offenses.

Most of the public remains unaware that right here, right now, in these United States, we have prisoners serving life or de facto life sentences for nonviolent cannabis offenses. For some, like 1986 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Randy Lanier and Chicago truck mechanic Craig Cesal, these were first offenses.

Lanier, Cesal, and others like Paul Free, Larry Duke and George Martorano, are part of an aging prison population who have been incarcerated for decades for victimless crimes involving a plant states are legalizing.

A new Change.org petition, penned by Beth Curtis of LifeForPot.com, whose brother John Knock is one of these prisoners, offers an easy way the President cold remedy the situation: Grant Mass Clemency to Nonviolent Drug Offenders Serving Life Sentences. The petition models its suggestion on historical mass clemencies like those granted by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to Selective Service Act violators during the Vietnam War. Systemic clemency has been used frequently throughout the history of our country and is Presidential tool and responsibility that is usually used to restore justice when retribution has caused a rift in the social fabric. The war on drugs is our contemporary example of this excess.

Minnesota: More Than 100 Doctors And Clergy Express Support For Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Supporters of medical marijuana legislation pending in the Minnesota Legislature will announce at a Tuesday news conference that more than 100 doctors and clergy throughout the state have expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana. The event will be held at 10 a.m. CT in Room 125 of the Minnesota State Capitol.

Attendees will include Rev. Catherine Schuyler of the Duluth Congregational Church; a representative from the Minnesota Nurses Association; Bill Tiedemann, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS Project; representatives from the AFL-CIO, UFCW, and other organizations; and Minnesota patients and their family members.

The coalition will voice support for HF 1818/SF 1641, which would allow people with specific debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

"Doctors and clergy throughout the state and around the country support legal access to medical marijuana," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "Legislators need to adopt comprehensive medical marijuana legislation this year. Seriously ill Minnesotans should not have to wait any longer."

WHAT: News conference to announce more than 100 Minnesota doctors and clergy support legal access to medical marijuana

WHEN: Tuesday, April 22, 10 a.m. CT

WHERE: Room 125 of the Minnesota State Capitol Building, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul

U.S.: Obama Plans Clemency For 'Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands' Sentenced for Drug Law Violations

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Follows on Footsteps of White House’s Recent Call For Clemency Candidates

Drug Policy Alliance: Positive Step, But Comprehensive Sentencing Reform Is Needed to Prevent More Mass Injustice

A White House official has told Yahoo News that President Obama is prepared to use his pardon power to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people who have been jailed for nonviolent drug crimes.

The report said that the administration is making moves that will help it handle the increase in petitions that Mr. Obama is planning to sign off on before he leaves office. Last Tuesday, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said Obama has directed the Justice Department to improve its clemency recommendation process and recruit more applications from convicts.

The White House’s new moves would follow in the footsteps of a January announcement that the Obama administration would taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president might let out of prison early, as part of its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee To Vote Tuesday On Bill To Provide Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

NewHampshireLiveFreeOrDie

Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote on bill that would allow limited home cultivation until alternative treatment centers open

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote Tuesday morning on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated alternative treatment centers. The vote is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. in Room 103 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

"If this bill passes, New Hampshire will continue to have one of the most tightly controlled medical marijuana systems in the nation," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It will help desperately ill patients who cannot wait any longer for legal access to medical marijuana."

Washington: Five Medical Marijuana Patients Headed To Federal Trial; Prosecutors Seek 10 Years

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Prosecutions Contradict Obama Administration Statements, Policy Against Targeting Sick Patients

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington are expected to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama Administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients. The federal trial of the "Kettle Falls 5" is scheduled for May 12, pending several pretrial motions which will be heard on April 22 before U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane.

Because of marijuana's illegal status under federal law, patients like the "Kettle Falls 5" are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court.

Federal agents raided the property of Larry Harvey, 70, and his wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 55, at their rural family home near Kettle Falls, Washington in August 2012. In addition to seizing 44 premature marijuana plants, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscated the family's 2007 Saturn Vue, $700 in cash, medicated cookies and marijuana stored in the family freezer, along with legally owned firearms.

The five federal defendants, including Mrs. Firestack-Harvey’s son, Rolland Gregg, and daughter-in-law, were all qualified patients in compliance with Washington state law. Defense attorneys say the cannabis being cultivated on a remote corner of the family's 33-acre property was strictly for personal use.

Washington: Spokannabis Fest Announced For Aug. 30-31; Bring Your Own Weed

SpokannabisFest14

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Organizers this week announced Spokannabis Fest, which they describe as "perhaps the biggest and best a two-day music, comedy and weed-smoking event of them all," to be held August 30-31 near Spokane, Washington.

The event will be held at Chamokane Creek Pines, a rustic campground 40 minutes northwest of Spokane, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 30, and running through 11 p.m. on Sunday, August 31. Admission is $30 for one day and $50 for the weekend. Camping is also available.

Vendor packages costing between $300 and $1,750 are available for merchants who'd like to lease retail space for the weekend.

"There will be plenty of vendors selling marijuana accessories and paraphernalia, and lots of food vendors, too," said promoter Michael Antler. "You can camp out under the stars and smoke all weekend. It's a great time."

Alcohol is strictly prohibited at the event; it cannot be brought in, nor can it be purchased. Also, there will be no cannabis sales at the event. Per Washington state law, under I-502, attendees are permitted to bring in and consume marijuana at the festival.

Saturday's planned events include rock music, a wet t-shirt contest and a K-Y Jelly wrestling competition. There is a $1,000 first prize in both contests.

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Advocates Concerned About Saliva Testing For Drugged Driving

PoliceDUICheckpoint

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are fighting proposed changes to Michigan's driving laws that would allow police to check a driver's saliva for the presence of drugs during a traffic stop.

The Michigan House Judiciary Committee on Thursday heard testimony on a three-bill package of legislation concerning "drugged driving" and make driving under the influence of a controlled substance subject to the same testing as drunk driving, reports Brian Smith at MLive.com.

Michigan law already allows for blood, breath and urine testing for driving impairment. House Bill 53895 would add saliva testing through a mouth swab. The Los Angeles Police Department are already using saliva tests at DUI checkpoints in a pilot program.

The changes would "put a new tool in our toolbox" for dealing with impaired driving, Sgt. Dwayne Gill, legislative liaison for the Michigan State Police, told the House panel. Sgt. Gill claimed the cops wouldn't immediately use the tests until the science behind them was proven.

"It's forward-thinking," Gill claimed. "These tests have not been proven to be reliable in Michigan yet, but we are looking to have pilot testing in the future on some of these tests."

But medical marijuana advocates told legislators they are worried about saliva testing because of questions surrounding the accuracy of the tests.

Arizona: Judge Orders Maricopa County To Pay Marijuana Dispensary's Attorney Fees

ArizonaMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Arizona Superior Court judge has ordered Maricopa County to pay $190,000 in attorney fees for a Sun City medical marijuana dispensary operator who successfully challenged the county's refusal to provide zoning clearance for the facility.

Superior Court Judge Michael D. Gordon also ordered the county to pay an additional $3,700 in other legal costs for White Mountain Health Center, plus another $5,000 penalty for trying to impose a complete prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports the Associated Press.

Judge Gordon previously ruled that White Mountain's lawsuit that Maricopa County wasn't in compliance with Arizona's medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 2010.

The county is appealing the ruling that allows dispensaries, pointing to federal laws against "marijuana trafficking."

But since the judge's initial ruling, Maricopa County in January approved a new ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial zones, and cultivation sites in industrial zones.

Graphic: Arizona Medical Marijuana Blog

Michigan Supreme Court Refuses To Review Cop's Use Of Fake Medical Marijuana Card

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Narcotics cops are committing fraud in Michigan -- masquerading as medical marijuana patients -- and they're getting away with it.

The Michigan Supreme Court last month denied Jeffery Miller's Application for Leave to Appeal, leaving undisturbed the trial court's opinion denying him of all his medical marijuana defenses at trial. The case has since been assigned to a new trial judge, and that judge will rule on the prosecutions' renewed motion on Friday, April 25.

The trial court is expected to rule that Miller (AKA "Otto Roxx" will be stripped of all medical defenses at trial, and precluded from even mentioning medical marijuana.

The "crime" of which Miller is accused is that an undercover cop entrapped him, pretending to be a suffering patient with no access to medical marijuana. The officer tricked Miller into selling him cannabis after showing him a forged patient card and matching driver's license.

"The increasingly common law enforcement practice of using falsified medical marijuana registry patient cards to entice law abiding citizens is unconscionable," said Daniel W. Grow, lawyer for Miller. "When officers entrap lawful registered caregivers into making transfers of marijuana for medical use, Michigan's citizens must not be deemed felons."

Illinois: Proposed Rule Nixed; Would Have Barred Medical Marijuana Patients From Having Guns

IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaGunOwners

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed rule that would have barred medical marijuana patients from getting Firearm Owner's Identification cards has been nixed.

State officials had posted preliminary rules for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that barred medicinal cannabis patients or their caregivers from obtaining a FOID card if they were part of the program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

That provision has now been removed from rules that will be officially filed for review later this week, according to the Sun-Times. It was not immediately known if the same provision about Concealed Carry Weapons Permits had also been removed from the rules.

"I'm happy to see that they have changed the provision," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the medical marijuana legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the official rules. "I did ask them to remove it. I'm not the only one who did."

Both patients and caregivers would have been required to certify their understanding of the conflict between gun ownership and medical marijuana use, reports Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Manager Blasts CPS Investigation Of Advocate

LegalizeMedicalMarijuanaInFlorida

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The campaign manager of Florida's medical marijuana ballot drive has expressed outrage after a woman last week was abruptly visited by Child Protective Services on an anonymous tip that she had been giving marijuana to her son, who suffers from a rare form of severe epilepsy.

Renee Petro, the advocate in question, wasn't administering any cannabis to her 12-year-old son, Branden, reports Chris Joseph at Broward Palm Beach New Times. But that didn't stop CPS agents coming into her home to interrogate Petro's 9-year-old daughter and the nurse who helps take care of Branden.

"This is exactly why Floridians need to pass Amendment 2 in November," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager with United For Care, the main organization backing the ballot initiative. "And why we need everyone's support to get word out about stories like Renee's and her family's."

Petro gives Branden his prescribed medications, as well as legal hemp oil. Since she hadn't actually broken the law, her experience could be considered even more egregious than that of Cathy Jordan, the wheelchair-bound activist with Lou Gehrig's disease who was raided by police after a tip last year when a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on the property of Jordan and her husband Robert. (Jordan's charges were dropped by the State Attorney's office in Manatee in April 2013.)

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