By Steve Elliott
Ohio residents could get the chance next year to vote on a marijuana ballot issue unlike any other in the United States, involving 10 wealthy individuals who would invest to obtain the right to grow and sell marijuana wholesale for personal use by adults 21 or older.
A group calling itself ResponsibleOhio said it aims to "end marijuana prohibition" and "pursue a ballot initiative in 2015 to give voters the opportunity to let adults 21 and older use marijuana for medical and personal use," reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.
“Marijuana for medical and personal use should be a choice made by adults 21 and older in this state. We are going to end this failed prohibition,” said Lydia Bolander, spokeswoman for the campaign.
“Legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use means increased safety because we will regulate, tax and treat marijuana like alcohol,” Bolander said. “We will smother the black market and use the taxes generated to help local communities provide vital public services.
“We need to be compassionate and ensure patients receive the treatment they rightfully deserve. We will create jobs in the agricultural, wholesale and retail marketplace, and we will drive research at our universities and hospitals,” Bolander said.
Under the plan, cannabis would be taxed, with the proceed distributed to government, according to the group. The exact method of distribution isn't detailed.
Howard R. Baer and Papa Baer Productions on Friday announced the launch of a new, improved MarijuanaSelfies.com web site, where individuals can post marijuana related “selfie” pictures and win cash and other prizes weekly.
Marijuana Selfies originally launched on Facebook in May of 2014, and now has 16,000 “likes” on its Facebook page.
Selfies that are posted on MarijuanaSelfies.com get rated by other users and each week the three highest-rated selfies win prizes ranging from marijuana-related clothing to accessories.
Users are also able to purchase MarijuanaSelfies.com apparel and participate in nationwide events.
Cash prizes of $175 to the 3 top vote-getters are given out monthly, while prizes of Marijuana Selfies clothing, cell phone covers, etc. are given to the weekly winners.
“The marijuana community is making its way into the mainstream, and through Facebook and other accounts, I’ve found that it is a very tight knit, fun loving, and friendly community," said founder Howard R. Baer.
"I thought it would be great for the community to have its own special place to post pictures, so we created MarijuanaSelfies.com.”
Since the inception of Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry, the market has grown significantly. Apart from growers, processors, and retailers, the industry has created opportunities for all types of niche businesses.
One such business is Primal Wellness, the world’s first day spa offering cannabis-infused products and related services, located in Englewood, Colorado. The spa offers a variety of massages, manicures, pedicures, yoga classes, and other services to tourists and local residents who want to experience the physical (non-psychoactive) benefits of cannabis products.
Recently, Ganjapreneur interviewed Danielli Martel, founder of Primal Wellness, as part of a series of entrepreneur and investor profiles featuring pioneers in different sectors of the rapidly growing marijuana industry. In the interview, Martel discusses her career before she founded Primal Wellness, what she thinks the future of the cosmetics industry looks like given the likelihood of new cannabis- and hemp-based products, as well as some of the obstacles that she faced while growing the business.
Colorado Attorney General says ‘suit is without merit and [his office] will vigorously defend against it’
By Steve Elliott
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday announced that he has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Colorado’s laws that legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. He said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is also joining the lawsuit, which alleges the state constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters and the implementing legislation approved by state lawmakers is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“We agree with the Colorado Attorney General’s opinion that this suit is without merit," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado marijuana initiative campaign. "This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem."
"They are wasting Nebraska and Oklahoma taxpayers’ dollars by filing this suit, and they’re forcing Coloradans to pick up the bill for defending ourselves against it," Tvert ssaid. "Colorado's top law enforcement officials have better things to do, and you’d think their counterparts in Nebraska and Oklahoma would as well.
“These guys are on the wrong side of history," Tvert said. "They will be remembered similarly to how we think of state officials who fought to maintain alcohol prohibition years after other states ended it.
In 2015, the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition will again take place in the epicenter for business and media, New York City, June 17-19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition Fall will take place September 16-18, 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in Los Angeles.
The International Cannabis Association (ICA) has entered into a strategic partnership with H.A. Bruno, LLC, a global B2B event producer for more than 40 years, to form Leading Edge Events, LLC. Leading Edge Events will now oversee the management and business development of the ICA’s trade shows and conferences centered around the legal marijuana industry in the United States.
“All of the industry’s varied interests are coming into perfect alignment for this event," said Leading Edge Events spokesman Don Berey. "Exhibitors, buyers, legislators, and ICA trade association members have all been polled and everyone is in agreement that it’s go, go, go to New York’s Javits Center next June.”
The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition Fall in Los Angeles will include dispensary owners, growers, suppliers, investors, medical professionals, government regulators, legal counsel, and entrepreneurs, according to Berey.
Friday: One Week After Death of Eight Year Old Donella Nocero, Patients and Caregivers Rally Outside Governor Cuomo’s NYC Office to Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana
Critically Ill Patients and Their Families Ask Cuomo to Grant Their Holiday Wish -- Access to Lifesaving Medication Before More Children Die
The NY Department of Health on Thursday released the draft regulations for the medical marijuana program. While full analysis of the regulations is still underway, an initial review suggests New York will be one of the more restrictive programs in the country, which could inhibit patients from obtaining the relief they need.
For instance, the draft regulations restrict the number of brands of medical marijuana to five initially without any clear rationale. There are dozens of therapeutic strains of medical cannabis, each having benefits for particular conditions.
Had such a restriction been in place in a state like Colorado, it very well may have prevented the development of marijuana strains beneficial to some children with epilepsy. Such a provision could prove to be a deterrent to industry groups. Patients and doctors deserve the flexibility to find which medicine works best.
Absent from the draft regulations is any provision for emergency access to marijuana for those patients who cannot wait for the system to come online in January 2016. Patients, family members and activists will gather outside Governor Cuomo’s New York City Office tomorrow to urge the Governor to establish an emergency access program for medical marijuana.
President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a statement saying that the eight individuals "were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws," and "their punishments did not fit their crime."
Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment, reports NPR.
The step could lead to a vast expansion of presidential clemency during Obama's last two years in office, reports Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press.
The eight new commutations include Barbara Scrivner, who was sentenced to 30 years in 1995, when she was 27 years old, for a minor rule in her husband's methamphetamine ring. The President ordered Scrivner's sentence to expire on June 12, while the others will expire April 15.
The President commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, reports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
By Steve Elliott
The former top drug prosecutor in Maine -- who fled out of state after he was convicted of child pornography charges -- is going to federal prison for almost 16 years.
James Cameron, convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of child porn, had posted bail and was released pending an appeal, reports Catherine Pegram at WABI TV.
He took off out of state in November 2012, and was caught in New Mexico a month later.
Cameron's lawyer was pushing for a 6-1/2 year sentence.
Cameron was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Bangor to 15 years and 9 months in prison.
Photo: WABI TV
Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyperson Crystal Peoples-Stokes on Wednesday sponsored a public forum about the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Under the proposal, those over 21 would be able to purchase small amounts of marijuana from a state-regulated store. The bill would rectify the many problems associated with marijuana prohibition, including the arrests of tens of thousands of primarily young people of color.
“There is no question that New York’s marijuana policies are broken,” said Kassandra Frederique, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Each year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are swept into the maze of the criminal justice system for nothing more than possessing small amounts of marijuana.
"Enforcement of these policies is focused almost entirely focused on young people, primarily young people of color, such that our laws are now applied differently to different people based on the color of their skin and their income level – this must stop,” Frederique said.
The hearing comes amidst a wave of marijuana policy reform nationally. Four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana for adult use.
At the federal level, Congress has just passed and President Obama on Tuesday signed the omnibus bill that contained an amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with states that have passed medical marijuana laws.
By Steve Elliott
Medical cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco want illegal guns off the street, and they're willing to put their money where their mouths are.
A gun buyback in South of Market last weekend, on the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Connecticut, was underwritten by three dispensaries and a marijuana attorney, reports Chris Roberts at the SF Examiner.
South of Market dispensaries The Green Door and Barbary Coast, Tenderloin-area dispensary Grassroots, and the legal firm Hallinan & Hallinan gave $35,000 to provide the funds to buy back illegal firearms, according to attorney Brendan Hallinan.
"It's giving back a little bit to law enforcement, contributing to public safety," Hallinan said. "And pot clubs are often accused of creating crime, of causing robberies. ... We wanted to counter that a little bit."
Anyone who turned in a handgun got $100; assault weapons fetched $200. All guns were accepted, no questions asked, by law enforcement.
It's believed this is the first time marijuana businesses have funded a gun buyback.
"We want to participate in society, we want to contribute," said Mike Nolin, The Green Door's founder and CEO of medical cannabis consulting firm Boss Enterprises.
Photo: Oakland Police Department
By Steve Elliott
The soon-to-retire chairwoman of the Washington State Liquor Control Board -- which is in charge of recreational marijuana in the state, and perhaps soon medicinal cannabis as well -- has admitted she used medical marijuana this week to control pain after a knee replacement surgery.
Sharon Foster said her doctors sent her home with heavy painkillers, reports The News Tribune of Tacoma. "I have enough oxycodone to go on the black market," she said.
But Foster decided opioids weren't for her. She opted instead this week to use marijuana, which she's been in charge of regulating for two years now. She obtained some cannabis-infused brownies for that purpose.
“By the time I went to bed, which was maybe an hour and a half or two hours after I ate this brownie — piece of brownie — I didn’t feel anything,” Foster told the News Tribune’s statehouse reporter. “So all I know is, I was relaxed enough to go to sleep. So if I was high, I don’t know it,” she claimed.
Foster reportedly used the brownies Sunday night, Monday night, and again Tuesday night.
By Steve Elliott
South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), author of a bill which made it legal for parents to possess the marijuana derivative cannabidiol (CBD) oil to control their children's seizures, plans to introduce another bill on January 13, the first day of the upcoming legislative session, to allow low-THC marijuana to be grown in the state. But state law enforcement has already expressed opposition to the plan.
Davis said he first heard about CBD oil from a constituent whose granddaughter in Charleston was having 80 to 90 seizures an hour, reports Steve Jones at The State. Within two weeks of his constituent's granddaughter getting CBD oil, Davis said, the seizures were reduced by 80 percent.
After researching, Sen. Davis learned that CBD oil had helped people in other states, so he introduced a bill which passed and was signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley last summer. The new law made legal the possession of CBD oil to treat children with uncontrollable epileptic seizures, as long as it was authorized by a physician.
The bill limits the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that can be in the oil (THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). It is limited by the bill to just 0.09 percent, far below what is needed to produce a high.
By Steve Elliott
If you've ever doubted the existence of police privilege, it may be time to reassess. A police officer in California who was caught redhanded with marijuana in his home earlier this year -- more than 4 pounds of it -- "probably" won't be charged with a crime due to "lack of evidence."
K-9 Officer Joe Avila has been on paid leave since September, pending results of an internal investigation, according to the Richmond Police Department, reports Rick Hurd at the Contra Costa Times.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office has been "investigating" but "is not inclined to file charges," said Robin Lipetzky, the county's chief public defender. That decision "likely" comes from "evidence not strong enough to produce a conviction," according to Lipetzky (remember, they caught this cop with between 4 and 5 pounds of weed in his house).
A search warrant obtained by the Contra Costa Times showed that Avila picked up a box containing 4 to 5 pounds of cannabis from a UPS store on November 25, 2013. He then radioed a dispatcher to say he'd file an incident report.
But Officer Avila never filed that report. Instead, he took the marijuana to his home in Oakley instead of placing it in a department evidence locker, which would have been policy.
By Steve Elliott
Australian Police have dropped a child abuse investigation into two Melbourne parents who give marijuana to their disabled son. The Office of Public Prosecution has ruled it would not be in the public's interest to take the couple, Cassie Batten and Rhett Wallace to court.
Activists hope the ruling is another step towards the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Victoria, Australia, reports Andrea Hamblin at the Herald Sun.
Batten and Wallace also hope they'll now be allowed to keep their son, Cooper, now 4 years old, without more interference from the Department of Human Services. "We're very happy, very relieved," Batten said.
Cooper was born healthy but contracted meningitis, which left him with brain damage, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. After taking cannabis tincture with his milk, his seizures went from hundreds a day to just two or three, according to his parents.
Police wouldn't comment on the results of lab tests on the cannabis oil confiscated from the family's home in July. But both the parents and the supplier have said it was made with low levels of THC, the principle psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.
Epping Sexual Offences and Child Abuse officers raided the family's home after the parents admitted in the media that they'd been using cannabis tincture to treat their son's life-threatening illnesses.
Addiction Remains Criminalized Despite Medical, Law Enforcement Community Outcry
Concerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday, December 17, at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings. These demonstrations are in response to the 100-year anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and call for responsible drug policy reforms that put doctors back in charge of helping people overcome substance addiction.
The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for patients already suffering from substance addictions.