By Steve Elliott
Activists campaigning to allow marijuana to be legally used in adults-only businesses such as bars and nightclubs said on Thursday they are withdrawing a ballot measure that would have put the issue before Denver voters this November.
Sponsors said they were pulling the initiative because they hope to reach a compromise with city officials and business groups that could result in a local ordinance allowing some limited social cannabis use in Denver, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.
Colorado's recreational marijuana legalization law doesn't allow "public use." But activists said restrictions had prohibited cannabis everywhere except in private homes and a few 420-friendly bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the state.
The ballot proposal would have allowed adults to consume cannabis edibles or inhale vaporized marijuana outdoors, if blocked from public view.
Organizers said it's still too early to know what might be included in any compromise ordinance. If that effort stalls, they said, the ballot measure might be reintroduced next year.
Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
By Steve Elliott
Miley Cyrus doesn't mind anyone knowing she enjoys marijuana. In fact, the 22-year-old entertainer came backstage at the Video Music Awards with a lit joint and passed it around to photographers.
"I've been doing this shit for awhile," Cyrus said, reports Mesfin Fekadu of the Associated Press. "Because you're all my friends, and my song is kinda, sorta about the love of marijuana and the love of humankind, I brought a little joint if anyone would like any. Anyone?"
Cyrus, who flashed one of her breasts during the show, sang a song, "Dooo It!" which included the lyrics, "Loving what you sing, and loving smoking weed." She ate what were supposed to be marijuana brownies during one skit with Snoop Dogg, and lit up with a group of friends in another. She held up a selfie stick and told the group of people behind her, "Everyone say marijuana!"
Pot is popular among MTV's target audience, but these antics predictably came under criticism from an organization which ran anti-cigarette smoking ads during the VMAs. That organization, the Truth Initiative, has complained to MTV's parent company about the multiple references to cannabis during the show, claiming it would "send the wrong message" to young viewers.
By Steve Elliott
California Governor Jerry Brown's office is working on the framework for medical marijuana regulations in California in a session-closing move that could end nearly two decades of court battles in the Golden State.
With the Legislature scheduled to adjourn next week, the Governor's office is said to be emphasizing the details of a compromise measure on medicinal cannabis, report Christopher Cadelago and Jeremy B. White at The Sacramento Bee. The legislation could impact the push to put a recreational marijuana legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot.
Gov. Brown's office isn't commenting, but lawmakers and stakeholders have confirmed that his administration has stepped in to help develop a bill. Legislative leaders last week stripped the contents of several medical marijuana measures and linked them with boilerplate language, giving Brown's aides a chance to start all over.
"The Governor's Office has been very heavily involved," said Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who wrote one of the medical marijuana bills. "They've brought forward some different views on how to structure it, which I think people are pretty comfortable with."
"I'm feeling like we're a week out and we have wide (support for acting) ... trying to bring this thing home," Cooley said.
By Steve Elliott
If a ballot measure says "legalization" on it, it's always good, right? RIGHT? Maybe not.
A proposal that could this November make Ohio the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana is drawing some unusual opposition -- and it's coming from residents who support legalizing marijuana, reports Lewis Wallace at NPR.
Lots of liberals and old hippies don't like the monopoly aspect of the referendum. Samantha Van Ness, 25, said that while she's all for legalizing cannabis, she's dead set against the amendment that will be on November's ballot.
"I would rather take the minor misdemeanor fine than let someone have such a massive monopoly in my state," she said. And that's reflected statewide among many who have problems with the initiative and with the group, ResponsibleOhio, that's pushing it.
One of the biggest reasons why is that the initiative specifies just 10 locations in the state where growing marijuana would be allowed. And, guess what? Ten groups of investors already have those sites locked down, ladies and gentlemen.
Those same investors -- surprise, surprise! -- are sinking $20 million into the campaign to make sure their massively profitable monopoly comes to pass. "So in essence," reports NPR, "they are paying to try to amend the Ohio Constitution to grant themselves pot growing rights."
By Steve Elliott
Denver health officials on Tuesday started inspecting and quarantining hundreds of cannabis products because their labels listed pesticides not approved by the state for use on marijuana.
The city's move came about six months after officials had quarantined 100,000 plants at 11 grow facilities due to concerns about pesticide use, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.
No safety standards exist for pesticide use on marijuana. Since cannabis is illegal under federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, has never established any limits.
However, since marijuana is legal in Colorado, the state Department of Agriculture there has created a listed of allowed pesticides, as has its counterpart in Washington state, where recreational pot is also legal.
The quarantines were put on Mountain High Suckers and MMJ America after Denver's Department of Environmental Health late Monday warned businesses that products with labels reflecting the use of banned pesticides should be removed from shelves and destroyed, or returned to the manufacturers.
Colorado law requires all cannabis product labels to list pesticides, contaminants, fungicides and herbicides that were used, from germination to packaging.
The Canada Revenue Agency has officially confirmed that medical marijuana to be purchased by an individual patient from a licensed producer under Health Canada's Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) is an allowable medical expense under the Income Tax Act.
The Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA) on Tuesday announced it has received a letter from the CRA, dated August 24, confirming that registered patients under the MMPR who receive a prescription (authorization) for medical cannabis from a physician, and purchase cannabis from a licensed producer, may claim the cost of their marijuana as an allowable medical expense on their income tax.
Specifically, the letter notes that while amendments to the Income Tax Act have yet to be introduced to recognize the MMPR, "[T]he CRA will not disallow eligible medical expenses claimed for the purchase of medical marihuana allowable under these new regulations."
Allowable medical expenses under the Income Tax Act currently include prescription medicines lawfully acquired for use by an individual, when prescribed by a medical practitioner. Non-prescription or over-the-counter drugs cannot be claimed, even when recommended by a physician.
“Sports Pain Management and Cannabis” will be a high level panel presented at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) in Los Angeles. Taking place September 16-18, 2015, CWCBExpo in LA covers the entire spectrum of legalized and medical marijuana.
Many professional sports players, especially among the high impact sport of football, are citing marijuana and cannabinoids as effective medicine for pain relief and stress reduction. This important panel at CWCBExpo in LA is being presented by Coalition for Access Now 501C4 and moderated by Geoff Whaling, its founding member and board treasurer, at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The medical research community has been severely restricted in their attempts to access a natural plant product that has overwhelming anecdotal evidence supporting this therapy.
“The ‘Sports Pain Management and Cannabis’ panel will further demonstrate, using real life examples, what the true potential is to help millions of Americans, beginning with just one drop of CBD hemp oil,” said Whaling. “The advancement of industrial hemp and therapeutic hemp oils will not only provide safe access for many families, but will also serve to boost the American economy by utilizing our valuable agricultural resources and farmers.”
Sharing first-hand knowledge and medical expertise the “Sports Pain Management and Cannabis” panel features a well-rounded line-up of speakers including:
A proposed initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Massachusetts moved another step closer to the 2016 ballot Wednesday when the state Attorney General’s office certified the petition in support of the measure.
The attorney general is required to review all initiative petitions to ensure they meet certain constitutional requirements and must prepare a “fair, concise summary of the proposed law” to appear on petitions and the ballot.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) will now file the petition with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which has 14 days to sign off on it, at which point the campaign will begin its signature drive.
“Massachusetts is another step closer to ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a more sensible policy,” said CRMLA campaign manager Will Luzier. “We’re already finding a lot of support and enthusiasm among voters. People are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”
Initiative backers must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters over a nine-week period from September to November. The petition would then be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.
In summary, the proposed initiative would:
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Wednesday announced it has been selected to provide training for compliance inspectors operating under the authority of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
The auditors are charged with ensuring members of the state’s new medical cannabis industry comply with all applicable regulations, which were finalized by the Commission in August.
In addition to developing its own rigorous compliance protocols, Maryland has adopted the American Herbal Product Association’s (AHPA) Recommendations to Regulators in the areas of cultivation, distribution and manufacturing. AHPA’s guidelines offer seed-to-consumption product safety and quality control measures that will ensure rigid oversight of the state’s medical cannabis industry.
Auditor training will be offered through the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, a project of ASA with extensive experience training members of the cannabis industry to meet strict regulatory compliance guidelines. PFC has trained thousands of employees of the medical cannabis industry and is currently under contract with the District of Columbia to train all medical cannabis staff to achieve comprehensive regulatory compliance.
FilmOn Networks on Wednesday announced a new comedy series hosted by the legendary Cheech & Chong star, Tommy Chong, "Almost Legal With Tommy Chong."
The iconic actor, best-selling author, and Grammy-winning comedian will host an interview and sketch comedy show co-produced by FilmOn Networks and title sponsor WeedMaps. The series will be distributed by FilmOn.com, and air on FOTV over Dish Network.
"Almost Legal with Tommy Chong" is an irreverent take on the traditional late night talk show with celebrity interviews, sketch comedy and musical acts—he’s called it “a stoner’s version of Jon Stewart.” Chong will address, “anything that affects the pot smoker’s status in any way, negative or positive,” and that includes his own battle with cancer and salvation through medical marijuana.
Confirmed guests include Danny Trejo, Steve-O, Andy Milonakis, Garfunkel and Oates, Chef Roy Choi, Hannibal Buress and select guests provided by WeedMaps, such as major marijuana attorney Linda Held.
The show is written by veterans from "The Whitest Kids U’Kno" and "Late World with Zach Galifianakis." Chong’s production company Chongson is also co-producing. The series is directed by Tommy’s son, Paris Chong, executive produced by Eli Graham, written by Sam Brown, Joe Wagner, Kyle Williams and Eddie Ifft, and shot in Los Angeles.
By Steve Elliott
More and more cities across Wisconsin are relaxing penalties against people caught with small amounts of marijuana, as the decriminalization movement sweeps across the state.
Nine of the state's 10 largest cities have already decriminalized simple cannabis possession, a Gannett Central Wisconsin Media review reveals, reports the Associated Press. Madison and Milwaukee were among the first cities in Wisconsin to relax their pot laws.
Stevens Point is the latest municipality in the state to adopt and then modify a new marijuana ordinance. Last month, the city reduced the fine for first-time pot possession to $100.
Under Wisconsin law, people caught with small amounts of weed can be charged with a misdemeanor crime, punishable by jail time and a permanent criminal record. With some cities in the state now enforcing lesser penalties, those "suspects" can now face anything from up to six months in jail, to no jail time or fine at all.
Some law enforcement types say they don't support decrim because they claim marijuana can lead to harder drugs, i.e., the long discredited "gateway theory." Decrim advocates say those caught with small amounts of cannabis shouldn't be treated any differently than other minor offenders.
An independent Arizona-based research organization on Tuesday reported a proposed 2016 ballot measure to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol would likely raise more revenue for education in Arizona than initiative backers originally estimated.
According to the Grand Canyon Institute, a “centrist think-thank led by a bipartisan group of former state lawmakers, economists, community leaders, and academicians,” tax revenue from the initiative would initially generate $64 million annually, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs. It estimates that by 2019, once the new system is fully rolled out, it would raise $72 million per year, including approximately $58 million for public education.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on August 19 announced that it had conservatively estimated that the initiative would raise more than $40 million in tax revenue for public education in Arizona. The estimate was called into question by opponents, and the Arizona Republic published an editorial in which it called the estimate a “lie” and accused the campaign of exaggerating the initiative’s revenue potential.
“The Grand Canyon Institute…finds that the revenue projections were conservative as proponents claimed,” the report reads. “The revenue gains do exceed the $40 million espoused by proponents of the initiative.”
By Steve Elliott
Daily marijuana use among college students in the United States is at an all-time high, with college students now more likely to smoke cannabis on a daily basis than cigarettes, according to the results of a nationwide survey released on Tuesday.
The long-term study, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, shows that the number of students who smoke marijuana daily is at its highest level since 1980, when such data was first compiled, reports Ben Kesling at The Wall Street Journal.
"There's no question marijuana use has risen considerably," said principal investigator Lloyd Johnston of the Monitoring the Future study. "In December, we released results on secondary-school students, and we're seeing a rise in daily marijuana use there as well."
Nearly 6 percent of college students in 2014 reporting smoking cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, up from 3.5 percent in 2007. Fewer students see marijuana as a health threat, with just 35 percent of high school graduates surveyed in 2014 saying regular cannabis use is dangerous, down from 55 percent in 2006.
About one of every 17 high school students uses cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, according to findings released last December by the university.
Jeff Mizanskey walked out of prison Tuesday morning a free man after spending 21 years behind bars because of a minor, nonviolent marijuana offense. Mizanskey walked into the arms of more than a dozen family, friends and supporters, including his son, who had fought for years for his dad's release from prison.
"I'm one of the lucky ones," Mizanskey said. "Now it's time to free the other victims of the war on drugs."
The 61-year-old became a symbol of the failed War On Drugs. His campaign for clemency attracted 391,254 Change.org petition signatures, a plea from the prosecutor who put him away, a bill proposed by Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan, a letter for clemency from 126 Missouri lawmakers, billboards in prominent locations, including the state capitol of Jefferson City, a documentary about his plight, a commuted sentence from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and a successful review from the parole board.
“He saw rapists, murderers and child molesters get out of prison while he was sentenced to die behind bars for something that should not be a crime to begin with,” said his lawyer, Dan Viets. "Jeff's case is an example of the extremely harsh drug laws which have failed to reduce marijuana use but have wasted vast amounts of public money in the effort to enforce marijuana prohibition, disrupting the lives of good people who do not deserve to be treated like criminals."
By Steve Elliott
Uruguay isn't just defending its own national sovereignty regarding its legalization of marijuana. The small South American country is now recommending that the rest of the world adopt its policies as an alternative to the War On Drugs.
The Drug War creates a "diversion of focus," according to Andres Roballo, president of the National Drug Board, making it necessary to switch to a "sophisticated" way of regulating cannabis, rather than prohibiting it, reports El Diario.
Roballo made the remarks during an international seminar on "New Approaches in Drug Policy in the 21st Century." Lawmakers from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay discussed a "paradigm shift" when it comes to the prohibition and legalization of drugs.
For now, domestic growers responsible to providing the substance for registered users through the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) are the only ones who have profited from legalization. About 3,000 growers are operating nationwide, according to officials.
"We are telling the world that the market regulation of marijuana is possible," said Ernest Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations.