Oregon: Department of Agriculture Gives Farmers the Green Light to Grow Industrial Hemp – Seeds to be Sown in Spring 2015Submitted by restore on Sat, 01/31/2015 - 04:19
By Amy Peradotta, M.P.A. (Special to Hemp News)
In a phone interview on January 29th, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) Operations Manager, Ron Pence confirmed, "the rules were filed by the ODA with the Secretary of States Office and were requested to become effective upon filing.” This is great news for anyone interested in growing industrial hemp in Oregon this year. Although a few details still need to be worked out, if all goes as planned, this spring Oregonians will be planting the first legal hemp crop in the state since 1957.
As early as next Monday, February 2, 2015, licenses will be available for anyone who wants to grow hemp in Oregon. Licenses are valid for three years and cost $1,500. While proponents have not been happy about the prohibitive cost of the licensing fee, many are still planning to move forward. The license application form will be available online the week of Feb. 2-6, 2015 on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s website. Interested growers can download the application, complete the form, and mail it in to the Oregon Department of Agriculture along with the licensing fee of $1,500.
By Steve Elliott
You might think that criminal record of yours limits your opportunities. But now there's a $1,000 law school scholarship available where applicants must prove they've already been in trouble with the law.
The Appelman Law Firm, LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says the idea is designed to reward those who've made better choices after a conviction -- "those who have managed to turn their lives around and intend to pursue a career in criminal defense."
"There's a real need for passionate attorneys in criminal defense," said Avery Appelman, the firm's founder. "Nothing instills a great passion for justice quite like having suffered through the process yourself."
That's where the Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship comes in, and Appelman isn't alone in thinking a criminal record shouldn't be a barrier to making a better life.
"There are just too many ways to run afoul of the law for anyoen to think they are immune," Appelman said. "A mistake can easily lead to an arrest or jail."
Attempts to determine just how many criminal statutes exist have failed, because there are so many. An estimate from the government in the 1980s put it at about 3,000 in the federal system alone. Shortly afterward, another study from the American Bar Association said that was too low a figure, but couldn't come up with a better number.
Adding in state crimes only makes the situation worse. For many, avoiding a criminal record has become more a matter of luck than of being a good citizen.
By Steve Elliott
The residency requirement for legally getting a medical marijuana authorization in California doesn't really exist, according to at least two Bay Area lawyers who say the industry is misinterpreting state law.
Veteran marijuana lawyer William Panzer on Thursday confirmed the contents of a talk given by another attorney, Lauren Vazquez, to a group of entrepreneurs on January 22, reports David Downs at SF Gate.
"No, there is no residency requirement," Panzer said. "It's just misinformation."
"Why not?" Panzer said. "My wife hurt her ankle in Florida and had to go to the doctor for pain pills. They didn't say, 'Sorry, you don't live in Florida.'"
Almost all authorizing physicians and dispensaries in California enforce the residency requirement, turning away tens of millions of dollars in business each year by enforcing what looks to be a non-existent rule.
One of every 20 California adults is estimated to have used cannabis medicinally for a "serious" condition, and 92 percent of them believe it was helpful, according to recent polls.
Vazquez, speaking to about 30 marijuana investors, said that the preface to the 1996 Compassionate Use Act mentions "Californians," but the preface has no legal weight. This was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in a split ruling in 2013, allowing cities and counties to ban medical marijuana activity.
New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, on Friday introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to four ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to eight ounces.
Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over one ounce and up to eight ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to one year. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bipartisan support.
“I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders — dollars that might be better spent by hard-pressed law enforcement agencies on more pressing public safety needs,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “If ever there was a bill that advanced the smart on crime agenda, this is it.”
By Steve Elliott
With marijuana legalization gaining momentum in Jamaica, the United States federal government has indicated it is uncomfortable with the idea.
Such a move could increase the flow of ganja from Jamaica to the U.S., according to William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, reports Arlene Martin-Wilkins of the Jamaica Observer.
Brownfield was responding to a question about last Friday's tabling of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2015 in the Jamaican Senate, which would decriminalize marijuana for medical, religious, and personal uses. The possession of small amounts of ganja -- two ounces or less -- would become a non-arrestable offense.
"With or without the legalization of ganja, the decriminalization of ganja, the importation of ganja into the U.S. remains against the law and the issue then is how much impact will legalization or decriminalization have on that," Brownfield told reporters on Tuesday. "And, I can assure you that, from the U.S. side, we will continue to pursue maximum efforts to prevent any import in the United States and we will request and expect complete co-operation from law enforcement authorities of the Government of Jamaica in eliminating this sort of trafficking."
By Steve Elliott
Seattle-area medical marijuana patients will soon be able to buy their cannabis from a vending machine.
It's the "first age-verifying, climate-controlled, self-service dispensary," according to American Green, the manufacuter of the ZaZZZ marijuana machine, reports KOMO.
The machine is scheduled to debut on Tuesday, February 3, at Seattle Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary. Seattle Caregivers is located on 1207 South Jackson Street, B105, in Seattle.
Marijuana flowers, edibles, "and other merchandise" will be dispensed from the machine after age and identity verification via scanner, according to the company.
Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) on Thursday introduced a bill that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket.
HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.
“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “People should not face jail time and other serious consequences of a criminal conviction just for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
"The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime,” Keeley said.
In Delaware, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession despite using marijuana at similar rates, according to a 2013 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Our current marijuana possession law is unfair, and it is being unfairly applied,” Rep. Keeley said. “The vast majority of Delaware voters think it’s time for a more sensible policy. I hope my colleagues will agree.”
Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) on Thursday sent a letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg asking for clarification on what guidance the FDIC provides to banks who offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses, and what role, if any, the FDIC played in M Bank’s decision to abruptly suspend operations in Colorado.
Last week, M Bank publically announced it would offer banking services to marijuana businesses in Colorado, only to abruptly reverse course a week later. A Denver Post article from January 26 cites industry insiders familiar with the situation claiming that the FDIC stepped in to warn M Bank executives that their actions were "too risky."
If this assertion is accurate, Rep. Blumenauer, who founded a marijuana working group in Congress, is demanding answers as to why this is the case.
Blumenauer is leading the effort in Congress to reform our outdated federal marijuana laws, which includes banking regulations.
"Having the FDIC clarify how it assesses risk and gives guidance, and how that aligns with guidance given by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Treasury, is important if we’re going to have a stable and transparent financial system that provides much needed banking services to marijuana businesses," Blumenauer said.
Bill introduced with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana
A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.
HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 in New Hampshire, which is the only state left in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.
"Criminalizing someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana causes far more harm than marijuana itself,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill. "A criminal record can prevent someone from accessing employment, an education, and even a home.”
By Steve Elliott
Oregon voters -- a whopping 56 percent of them -- approved Measure 91, which legalized marijuana, up to half a pound of it at home. But now Gov. John Kitzhaber has apparently decided he knows better than voters, and on Tuesday he indicated me might ask the Legislature to set lower limits.
Kitzhaber claimed he had "many concerns" about the voter-approved initiative, questioning the logic of allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis at home yet just one ounce in public, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.
"The amount you can actually grow in a home-grow operation seems to me to exceed the amount that you're supposed to have legally," Kitzhaber said. "I don't know how you enforce that."
Kitzhaber did not say what kinds of possession limits he'd like to see.
Possession limits were deliberately set higher at home to allow adults to grow their own marijuana and make concentrates and edibles, according to backers of Measure 91.
"Just like home brewing of beer and the home making of wine, you need to have reasonable rules for personal cultivators and hobbyists who want to produce their own marijuana," said Anthony Johnson, chairman of New Approach Oregon, which sponsored the 2014 initiative.
By Steve Elliott
Legalized marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States, according to a new report.
The legal cannabis industry expanded 74 percent during 2014, according to the study, from California-based research and investment firm ArcView Market Research, report Chris Oberholtz and Josh Marshall at KCTV.
The market grew from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014 in combined retail and wholesale sales, according to the data, published in the company's third edition of the "State of Legal Marijuana Markets."
Five states -- California, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and Michigan -- now have cannabis markets greater than $100 million, according to the report.
"In the last year, the rise of the cannabis industry went from an interesting cocktail conversation to being taken seriously as the fastest growing industry in America," said Troy Dayton, ArcView Group CEO. "At this point, it's hard to imagine that any serious businessperson who is paying attention hasn't spent some time thinking about the possibilities in this market."
Colorado became the "new epicenter of the industry" as the first active adult use market, according to ArcView, and recorded $805 million total combined retail and wholesale sales.
By Steve Elliott
It's time for the National Football League to take a more modern approach to marijuana, according to three former Super Bowl champion players who wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post on Monday.
Marvin Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita wrote that "many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field," reports Cindy Boren at The Washington Post.
"There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries," the players wrote. They are asking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league to change policies on cannabis.
":First and foremost, the NFL should allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries," the players wrote. "In the case of trauma, a lot of inflammation occurs, which affects cognitive functioning and neural connectivity.
"A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain," the players wrote. "In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers.
By Steve Elliott
Hashish growers in Lebanon's cannabis-rich Bekaa Valley say they are ready to join the fight against Islamic militant group ISIS.
The Lebanese army and the hash growers -- who formerly trained their weapons on each other -- now have a common enemy, because ISIS has been targeting marijuana crops in Syria, reports Rebecca Collard at PRI. The group recently posted a video online of ISIS militants destroying shoulder-tall stalks of cannabis near the city of Aleppo.
With the Bekaa Valley hashish factory of Ali Nasri Shamas in Bouday, Lebanon, just 30 minutes from the Syrian border, that's a big concern. Many area residents fear the wild-eyed jihadis, known for their practice of beheading opponents in online videos, are coming to the valley.
But Shamas said he's ready if they do. "This is for ISIS and [the Al-Qaeda-affiliated] Nusra Front," he said, showing off a two-foot long machete.
That's not the extent of his arsenal, in case you're wondering. He also has mounted machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, all originally bought to defend his crops from the Lebanese army -- but now ready to be turned against ISIS.
When ISIS militants attacked a border village between Bouday and the Syrian border back in October, hash farmers joined in to defend it. "When we heard they were attacking Brital, I joined the other men going to defend the village," said one man who asked to be called Abbas.
By Steve Elliott
The recent announcement from the United States federal government that it won't stop Native American tribes from growing and selling marijuana is a game-changer. In February, the subject will be the focus of a groundbreaking national conference focusing on legalization in Indian country.
Tribal leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and health and social work professionals -- along with law enforcement personnel -- will be on hand to examine the legal, political and social policy implications of the change, reports Indian Country Today Media Network.
The conference will be held Friday, February 27, at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Quil Ceda Village, Washington. Odawi Law PLLC and Harris Moure, PLLC are the co-sponsors of the event to help "leaders in Indian country fully understand the wide-ranging issues associated with embarking on the development of tribal marijuana legislation and considerations of commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacture and distribution in tribal jurisdictions,” according to a press release.
By Steve Elliott
Big Brother is watching you. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has started a huge national license plate tracking program, and civil liberties advocates are not happy.
The DEA disclosed very few details, reports Bennett Stein at the American Civil Liberties Union, according to new documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The National License Plate Recognition program connects DEA license plate reading technology with that of other law enforcement agencies around the United States. The program, which already exists and has existed since 2008, but the DEA has provided very limited information to the public on the program's goals, capabilities and policies.
The ACLU in 2012 filed public records information requests in 38 states and Washington, D.C., seeking information about the use of automatic license plate readers. The organization's July 2013 report, "You Are Being Tracked," found that technology was being rapidly adopted, all too often with very little attention paid to the privacy risks.
In addition to filing public records requests with state agencies, the ACLU also filed FOIA requests with federal agencies, including the DEA. The new DEA records received by the ACLU this month are heavily redacted and incomplete, but they also provide the most complete picture yet of the DEA's burgeoning database.