Texas-based military veterans and their families will gather at the state capitol on Wednesday for a lobby day in support of legislation that would allow medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe pain, and other debilitating medical conditions.
The group will hold a news conference at 12 noon CT in Room 110 of the John H. Reagan State Office Building, at which it will urge House Public Health Committee Chair Myra Crownover (R-Denton) to hold a hearing on HB 3785, which would allow seriously ill Texas residents to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Advocates will also highlight a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling at the end of March that found two out of three voters in Rep. Crownover’s district (67 percent) support such legislation.
“There are about 1.67 million veterans living in Texas, and hundreds of thousands of them are believed to be suffering from service-connected disabilities,” said Tristan Tucker, a Denton-based Navy veteran. “Medical marijuana is effective in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD and severe pain, two of the most prevalent conditions afflicting veterans.
"Veterans who use medical marijuana to treat their service-related injuries should be treated like patients, not criminals,” Tucker said.
Resignation Comes as DEA at Center of Series of Scandals in its Effort to Continue Failed War on Drugs
After Decades of Mass Incarceration, Racial Disparities, and Failed Drug Policies, DEA Finally Facing Scrutiny
A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to soon resign. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.
“Leonhart’s DEA reflects an outdated, disastrous approach that President Obama claims he wants to leave behind,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “If she leaves he has an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the DEA and support drug policy reform.”
The federal DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other Drug War problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.
That changed, however, in part because of all the scandals and corruption that have occurred under DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.
Weed 3 Outperforms the Combined Delivery of Fox News and MSNBC among Adults 25-54
High Profits Posts +1367% Advantage over Fox News and +94% Lead over MSNBC among Younger Viewers 18-34
According to Nielsen Fast National Data, the premiere of CNN’s Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution, reported by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the new CNN Original Series "High Profits" both debuted as the #1 programs in cable news in their time periods last night among the demo 25-54 and 18-34 ratings.
At 9pm, Weed 3 averaged 299k in the demo 25-54 rating, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC. It easily topped Fox News’ 188k by +59% and MSNBC’s 98k by +205%.
Among younger viewers (18-34), CNN averaged 80k, MSNBC posted 63k and Fox News trailed way behind with 28k. Compared to the prior four Sundays, CNN was up the most in cable news in the hour among adults 25-54 -- increasing +32%, while Fox grew +29% and MSNBC was down -41%.
At 10 pm, the first episode of CNN’s new eight-part docu-series "High Profits," about a business-minded couple with a plan to franchise marijuana, also debuted at #1 across cable news Monday night. Among adults 25-54, "High Profits" averaged 284k, +39% more than Fox News’ 205k and +147% higher than MSNBC’s 115k.
With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform
The Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday launched Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.
Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.
While civil asset forfeiture was originally conceived as an effective way to target and drain resources away from powerful criminal organizations, Above the Law discloses how these strategies and programs have now become a relied-upon source of funding for law enforcement agencies all across the state.
A conservative Republican Utah state senator has a “420” message for America: “It’s time to legalize medical cannabis.” In an exclusive video interview released Monday morning, Utah State Senator Mark Madsen discussed his own personal use of medical cannabis and advocates for national reform.
“We need to work from the principles of freedom and compassion and let the policy grow from there,” Sen. Madsen said. “I believe we should allow individuals and their physicians to make their own decisions on whether medical cannabis is an augmentation or an alternative to other traditional medical treatments. Government has no legitimate place in that process.”
In 2007, Madsen was nearly killed by an accidental overdose of fentanyl when a patch his doctor prescribed accidentally tore and released a fatal dose of the opiate.
Madsen was the sponsor of recent legislation in the state, S.B. 259, which would have legalized the cultivation, production, sale and possession of whole-plant medical cannabis for a range of conditions. The bill was narrowly defeated by one flipped vote in the Senate in March.
Shortly before introducing S.B. 259, Madsen travelled to Colorado to try medical cannabis, which he said provided great relief for his chronic back pain. In 2007, Madsen says he was inspired by the families lobbying for legislation passed in 2014 legalizing high-CBD medical cannabis extracts for epileptic patients.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Sunday night continued his groundbreaking reporting on medical marijuana with "Weed 3," which continued to introduce Americans to new stories of patients benefiting from medical marijuana and document the challenges that continue to slow down progress in this critical area.
"Weed 3" included important moments like President Obama signaling his support for medical marijuana and documenting the political commitment of Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to reform federal policy on medical marijuana with the CARERS Act. Patient profiles like that of U.S. veteran Sean Kiernan, who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms again showed Americans that medical marijuana can have tremendous benefits in the lives of suffering patients.
“CNN’s 'Weed 3' showed how patient advocates are fighting for and winning the right to safe access to medical marijuana for themselves as well as researchers,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. “Political leaders like President Obama, Senators Booker, Gillibrand and Paul are supporting medical marijuana reform because they understand the huge difference it can make in patient’s lives.”
"Weed 3" also highlighted the important veterans PTSD study that researchers Rick Doblin and Dr. Sue Sisley are moving forward with despite significant political obstacles that have delayed and threatened to prevent the study from being conducted.
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Monday joined in recognizing 4/20, the most iconic business day of the year for those involved in the marijuana industry.
“For the Chamber, along with the businesses, employers, and entrepreneurs we represent, 4/20 is about far more than the day’s festivities and community,” C4 President Tyler Henson said. “This year, 4/20 is really about reflecting on the end of modern day prohibition in Colorado.”
“We already learned in the 1920’s with alcohol that prohibition simply doesn’t work in America,” Henson pointed out. "Prohibition created an unsafe environment for individuals, children, and society as a whole, allowing for black market activity to thrive and bringing about violent ‘liquor wars’.
"Today, the C4 Chamber is working to end a culture of ‘Prohibition 2.0’ as it relates to marijuana," Henson said. "Colorado’s cannabis experiment is now becoming the standard for the rest of the nation to follow as legal, recreational use quickly grows increasing popular among the general public."
The latest polls in Colorado show record support for marijuana, where now 62 percent of voters say they would legalize recreational use again if given the chance. And medicinal marijuana now has a whopping 89 percent public approval rating.
“4/20 is a day for us to highlight the excitement of this new industry we share with fellow Coloradans and the great opportunity we know that lies ahead,” Henson said.
As the debate to legalize marijuana continues to ignite throughout the nation, it seems many more singles are opening their hearts to a partner who enjoys lighting up.
Dating-site WhatsYourPrice.com asked its members if they would date someone who smoked weed. Approximately 57 percent of the more than 90,000 respondents said yes.
The site then ranked the top 10 cities where singles were most open to dating a person who appreciated a bit of bud. Rankings are based on the percentage of respondents who were in favor of dating a person who smokes marijuana. Results reveal America’s top “420 Friendly Cities.”
Top 420 Friendly Cities
1 - Portland - 93%
2 - New York - 90%
3 - Las Vegas - 87%
4 - Denver - 86%
5 - San Francisco - 83%
6 - Seattle - 79%
7 - Los Angeles - 73%
8 - Miami - 68%
9 - Chicago - 64%
10 - Boston - 62%
According to results of the survey, Portlanders were quite blunt about their acceptance of a partner who smokes weed, with 93 percent of respondents from the city claiming the habit is not a dating deal breaker.
“Although the debate over marijuana legalization has been sweeping the nation, smoking is not equally accepted by everyone,” said Brandon Wade, CEO and founder of WhatsYourPrice.com. “Singles who appreciate this type of lifestyle might want to venture out to one of these cities to find a partner who is well suited for them.”
Graphic: The Nug
Verabis, a primary market research firm dedicated to the cannabis industry, debuted a new research study at the Marijuana Investor Summit on Monday. Using mobile device text-based surveys, Verabis is fielding questions to Summit attendees to gather information pertaining to both those seeking funding and investors alike.
Real-time results will be shared with attendees throughout the three-day conference. The study will explore issues such as how much money investors want to fund and how important investment is to current business owners. Other questions relating to opinions and attitudes on the cannabis market will also reveal where attendees see the industry going and growing.
The mobile device survey technology will also power Verabis’ new Dispensary Market Monitor (DM2™), which the company calls "the industry’s first customer satisfaction research program for cannabis dispensaries." The benchmark for DM2™ is projected to launch at the beginning of May, and each participating dispensary will receive a customized customer satisfaction report that provides analysis and results specific to their business.
Dispensary owners will have the opportunity to participate in this pilot study for the discounted price of $750 (price good through the week of 4/20). To learn more about DM2™ or to participate in the study, please contact Verabis President Mike Hesser, Mike@Verabis.net .
What’s Next for the Medical Marijuana Revolution?
Over the last two years Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s reporting has been truly groundbreaking in mainstreaming the benefits of medical marijuana. Dr. Gupta has brought stories of everyday Americans that obtain essential benefits from medical marijuana products into the living rooms of millions of Americans.
“Watching CNN’s 'Weed' was the first time many Americans saw everyday people benefiting from medical marijuana,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “Seeing how much good medical marijuana can do has lead to an outgrowth in activism that has helped create new laws at the state level and is laying the foundation for important federal legislation.”
On April 19, CNN will premiere the third installment of their documentary series on medical marijuana Weed 3, documenting the ongoing developments in what Dr. Gupta has declared a “medical marijuana revolution.” The following day -- on April 20, at 7 pm EST-- ASA will host a Google Hangout to discuss the documentary and the issues it examines.
What: Google Hangout on the medical marijuana revolution and issues raised in Sanjay Gupta's Weed 3.
Featuring: ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, PA State Senator Mike Folmer (invited), Jahan Marcu Ph.D, Matt Kahl, U.S. combat veteran and activist with Grow for Vets and Weed 3 participant Dr. Sue Sisley.
By Steve Elliott
Cowardly much? Idaho Governor Butch Otter this week vetoed a bill that would have legalized cannabis oil to treat children with severe forms of epilepsy.
The bill would have legalized the concentrated oil containing cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana, reports KTVB.
It was one of a wave of "CBD-only" bills which have recently been passed by timid lawmakers in conservative states who want to appear to be doing something to "help the children" by passing some sort of medical marijuana bill without taking any actual political risk.
But apparently even that was seen as too far-out by the timid Governor.
The Governor's order claims there were "too many questions and problems" with the bill, and "too few answers and solutions" for him to sign the bill into law.
A more likely answer would be the Governor's political cowardice, since bills almost exactly like this one have passed in numerous other states like Utah and Alabama, which just as backwards, I mean as conservative, as Idaho.
A group of Idaho mothers pushed for passage of the bill, pointing out the oil did not make children high, but instead has numerous medical benefits in helping children with epilepsy have fewer seizures.
The Maine Law Federalist Society will host a debate between supporters of a statewide initiative to make marijuana legal for adults and regulated like alcohol and opponents of marijuana policy reform on Monday, April 20.
The debate will feature David Boyer of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Scott Gagnon of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and will take place at noon in the Middle Room of the University of Maine School of Law.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is currently collecting signatures to place an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and possess the marijuana produced by those plants.
The measure would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, and create rules governing the production, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products, such as testing, labeling, and packaging requirements.
Municipalities would be allowed to prohibit the operation of marijuana establishments. Marijuana would be subject to a 10 percent sales tax in addition to the standard sales tax, and revenue generated by marijuana sales would be allocated public education.
WHAT: Marijuana policy reform debate hosted by Maine Law Federalist Society
WHEN: Monday, April 20, 12:00 p.m. ET
By Steve Elliott
Recreational marijuana would be legalized in Michigan under the proposed wording of a ballot initiative submitted to the state last week.
Once authorized by the Board of State Canvassers, the initiative, from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, would need about 252,000 valid voter signatures before going to the GOP-controlled Legislature, reports the Associated Press.
If lawmakers either reject or ignore the bill, it would receive a statewide vote in November 2016.
The initiative is being sponsored by "six to eight" anonymous donors from the agricultural, real estate, insurance and education sectors, according to spokesman Matt Marsden.
Marsden said that Michigan could create jobs and add tax revenue by legalizing and regulating recreational cannabis. The state already allows marijuana for medicinal purposes.
By Steve Elliott
Three Texas men arrested in recent weeks are facing the possibility of life in prison after being caught with small amounts of edible marijuana products, and that has resulted in an outcry from some residents of Amarillo who say that's just too harsh.
Potter County deputies busted Eli Manna, 30, and Andrew George, 27, after stopping them for a traffic violation on March 16, reports JC Cortez at the Amarillo Globe-News. A search of the vehicle yielded seven purple brownies weighing a total of 650 grams, which triggered the most severe punishment range for marijuana possession under Texas law.
More than 400 grams means 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Texas law nonsensically considers the weight of the infused food rather than just its marijuana content when calculating sentencing. According to the law, "adulterants and diluents" are to be considered part of the total volume of controlled substances, which makes absolutely no sense when it comes to cannabis edibles.
Just 10 days later, troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested Fernando Bejarano, 19, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, after stopping him for a traffic violation. Troopers found more than 800 grams of commercially packaged baked goods and candies containing THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.
First of its Kind City Council Bill Would Create a National Model to Harmonize Drug Strategy Between Dozens of Departments and the Community
Bill Emphasizes Research-based Approaches to Promote Public Health and Safety and Reduce Negative Impact of Past and Current Policies
Building on debates that helped shape the last mayoral election, NYC Council Members Corey Johnson, Andrew Cohen, and Vanessa Gibson on Thursday introduced legislation to create an Office of Drug Strategy. Placed in city hall, the new office would be empowered to convene city agencies, outside experts, and communities impacted by drug use to develop a city-wide, health-focused plan for a coordinated approach in addressing issues related to drug use.
“Past and present ineffective drug policy has contributed to tragic and preventable mortality, crime and inequity here in New York City,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. “The Office of Drug Strategy will combat these problems by enhancing evidence-based drug education and public health intervention efforts and the availability of medical, psychological and social services to those struggling with drug use.
"Through the coordination of the many agencies and offices that address the numerous facets of illicit and non-medical drug use, we can develop a forward-looking policy to stem overdoses and enhance rehabilitation,” Johnson said.