Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) Propose Legislation to Reform Pentagon Military Transfer Program that Fuels the Drug War
Legislation is a Response to Alarming Images of Militarized Law Enforcement in Ferguson and other parts of the Country
Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) on Tuesday introduced legislation to reform the Pentagon program which transfers military equipment to law enforcement. The program has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers after images from Ferguson, Missouri, showed law enforcement dressed like combat soldiers, using military equipment to deal with protestors.
The Pentagon program has its roots in the Drug War, coming to fruition in the early 90s as the U.S. government militarized its approach to drug policy. Just last week, Senators held a hearing on the issue of militarization in our law enforcement, where they critical of the Pentagon program.
By Steve Elliott
The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Illinois NORML) on Tuesday announced they are "appalled" that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist, on Tuesday called for transparency in the awarding of the licenses, and he wants the Illinois Legislature to pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical marijuana patients have already waited for years for the original bill to pass, according to Illinois NORML, "and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent."
"My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up," Rauner said on Tuesday. "Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further. The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent."
Twenty-two licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for cultivation centers to grow medical cannabis. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, meanwhile, will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.
By Steve Elliott
Dozens of medical marijuana supporters on Monday converged on the Pennsylvania's State Capitol as lawmakers returned from their summer recess.
Parents of ailing children and patients with serious medical conditions spoke at the rally about the need for safe access to cannabis, reports the Associated Press. Many in the crowd held up signs with slogans like "Pills Kill" and "Campaign 4 Compassion."
The demonstration was in support of Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis act, whose prime sponsors Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) expect to be sent from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the floor of the state Senate next week.
"We are so close," Sen. Leach said, reports Kendra Nichols at ABC 27. "We are closer than we have ever been. If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate."
"We have counted in the House," Leach said. "There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes." However, Leach added, there is concern that the House "leadership" may block the bill from ever reaching the floor for a vote.
By Steve Elliott
A doctor who held a medical marijuana authorization clinic at a hotel and failed to adequately document examinations has been reprimanded and fined by the board that licenses physicians in Maine.
The board announced on Monday that Dr. William Ortiz accepted an agreement under which he'll pay a $2,000 fine and reimburse the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine $1,412 for its investigation, reports CBS News.
According to the board, Ortiz saw 59 patients during a "medical seminar" at a hotel in Orono, Maine, in March 2013, but there was no documentation of an exam for 44 of them. Ortiz charged the patients $200 cash to issue a three-month medical marijuana certificate, then $175 more for a one-year certificate on a follow-up visit, the reprimand said, reports David Hench at the Portland Press Herald.
The board also said Ortiz kept "odd hours," including appointments at 3 a.m.
Ortiz, who has been licensed to practice medicine in Maine since 2012, promised not to engaqe in such conduct in the future. His practice has offices in Caribou, Maine, and in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
For anyone who prides themselves on their knowledge of marijuana subcultures and slang terms, there is now an "open source" outlet to share this knowledge with others. Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to entrepreneurs and investors in the cannabis industry, has recently announced a marijuana slang dictionary that is open to the public.
The website publishes news articles and editorials intended to keep "ganjapreneurs," or anyone who is pursuing a career in the newly-legal cannabis industry, informed about the state of the industry as a whole. The site offers original content as well as curated headlines via other websites that directly relate to the business of cannabis itself.
With the launch of the Marijuana Slang Dictionary, Ganjapreneur marks its first foray into user-generated content by inviting the public to submit their favorite slang terms and phrases for inclusion. Entries to date include "420," "cheeba," "bongwater," and numerous others. Users may search the dictionary for a specific term, or browse by category.
The slang dictionary currently includes categories such as "stoner phrases," "paraphernalia," and "units of measurement" to categorize its growing collection of slang terms and cannabis-related phrases that are commonplace in the industry.
A representative for the website explained that the dictionary is intended to be both informational and entertaining. "If you read through some of the example usages for the different terms, you can see that the writers had a lot of fun with the whole thing," he said.
By Steve Elliott
With less than 60 days until the general election, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign has announced two new slogans that will be used in their effort to legalize marijuana in the nation's capital.
District voters will soon see "Vote to Refocus Police Priorities" and "Legalization Ends Discrimination" in the push to convince them to vote yes on Initiative 71, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.
The new slogans weren't tested with focus groups or polled for impact, accordindg to D.C. Cannabis Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger, but he said he's confident they will resonate with voters.
The police slogan hints at an idea that was popular with 57,000 voters whgo signed petitions to put the legalization measure on the November 4 ballot, according to Eidinger: "The one thing that really turns people is the idea that police can be doing more important things," he said. "'Refocus police priorities' is a nice way of saying 'Get the police off our back.'"
The second slogan, "Legalization Ends Discrimination," refers to the studies showing enormous racial disparities in marijuana enforcement; those studies helped convince the D.C. Council this year to decriminalize cannabis, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts to $25.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated, and the tax revenues should fund treatment programs for harder drugs, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin, said on Wednesday.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval endorsed marijuana legalization during an interview with the State Journal about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana at about 12 times the rate for whites in the city.
Efforts to enforce the marijuana laws are an "abject failure," Chief Koval said, adding the same is true of the broader War On Drugs. "We've done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it's time to reorder and triage the necessities of what's more important now," he said.
Koval said it's time for Wisconsin to consider doing as Colorado and Washington did in legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.
The police chief said he would like to see Wisconsin "acknowledge the failure" of marijuana prohibition and focus instead on the "infinite amount of challenges" posed by harder drugs such as heroin. Taxes from marijuana sales, Koval said, would create revenue for the state which could be used to fund drug treatment programs and expand the capacity of drug courts which divert users from the criminal justice system.
In the midst of the worst drought in California's history there comes good news from the world of marijuana. Cannabis cultivator George Bianchini is set to unveil his "Wicked Wicking System" this Wednesday, September 17, at his private, ultra water-conserving garden in Marin County.
Founder of Medi-Cone and recent Hempcon winner Bianchini himself, at a private event, will guide visitors through the garden's seven stations explaining how his "Wicked Wicking System" works.
George Bianchini is an entrepreneur and Oaksterdam graduate who has innovated a gardening/watering system that provides him with a thriving garden in spite of the drought. This system for growing high quality marijuana as well as fruits, vegetables, and other herbs uses the exact amount of water that a plant needs, and not a drop more, according to the cultivator.
Using a wicking method that he said dates back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and combining it with modern day materials and processes he has created a system that decreases the amount of water lost with conventional methods to upwards of 75 percent.
Bianchini plans to give the information away for free by posting an online video showing Do-It-Yourselfers how to construct their own systems. For those less handy, kits will be made available for purchase.
George's high-CBD strain took first place, triumphing over 25 other competitors at San Francisco's Hempcon recently. High-CBD strains have been making news because of their medicinal value in reducing seizures in young children without getting them "high."
By Steve Elliott
Nobody can accuse the company behind LoudCrush of thinking small. In fact, it seems they want to become the Facebook, the Twitter, AND the Instagram of the cannabis world -- oh, and did we mention the Match.com and eHarmony of weed, for good measure?
Crown Baus Capital Corp, "a global acquisition-based conglomerate targeting five primary industries: high-tech incubation, drug development, entertainment/media, education, and financial services," has announced it's in the "final stage of acquiring niche social and dating app, LoudCrush, which the Company intends to complete with an all equity based transaction by issuing five (5) million dollars worth of its 144 restricted common shares."
The company said "The features of LoudCrush combine functionality similar to popular apps like Facebook, Tinder and Vine, which allow users to post videos and photos, to search for friends and singles in their areas, and to chat and discreetly socialize. Users can even send gifts."
Discreetly is a key word, since this is the cannabis community we're talking about. "Most cannabis consumers avoid posting about marijuana on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter because their families and coworkers are on these networks, and cannabis-inclusive profiles are often deleted by mainstream social networks," said Drue Young, co-founder of LoudCrush and vice president of business development at Crown Baus Capital Corp.
Well-known Wisconsin medical marijuana activist Gary Storck and two companions were briefly detained by law enforcement at the Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo on Saturday, but were ultimately released after one of the group showed the officers an Oregon medical marijuana card.
"Around 1:20 p.m., we decided to leave, with Karen [Kinsley] stopping at the vending barn to grab some campaign materials while Greg [Kinsley] and I headed to the car," Storck posted on Facebook Saturday. "Upon returning to the car, we were contacted by a Baraboo officer.
"Sadie's barking had made them concerned she was in an overheated vehicle," Storck posted. "But Sadie was not barking because she was hot. A delivery device and a tiny crumb of alleged medicine was spotted, the officer told us.
"Now I have had pets my entire life, and I treasure them more than most people, so I keep aware of the temperatures and conditions I subject my pets to, as many other owners will," Greg Kinsley explained. "Knowing we would only be at the event for about an hour, we walked around for about 20 minutes in a housed barn/shed where we talked to a few folks and wandered by the tables and then to the outside again."
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana should be grown and distributed in Iowa, a committee of state lawmakers narrowly recommended on Thursday.
The 10-member bipartisan panel of senators and representatives also backed changing state law to reclassify cannabis to make it easier to obtain as medicine, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register.
The committee was formed to examine the complications and logjams in a new law that was supposed to have helped people with severe epilepsy get marijuana extract containing only cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
The Iowa Legislature voted in May to let patients with severe epilepsy possess CBD oil to treat their seizures, but the limited law provides no method for producing or distributing the oil in the state.
Reports from other states have suggested that many seizure patients can gain significant relief from CBD oil, which doesn't produce a high.
But the same parents who lobbied for the CBD bill have now told legislators that the law is unworkable. Several of them testified on Thursday that most states where medical marijuana is legal don't allow sales to nonresidents; besides, any Iowans buying it would have to break federal law if they brought it back home.
By Steve Elliott
Pennsylvania lawmakers will begin discussing a medical marijuana bill when the Legislature convenes next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, Pennsylvania, said on Wednesday that he plans to caucus a medical marijuana bill after lawmakers return for the fall session, reports Christina Kauffman at The Patriot-News.
Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County), passed 11-0 from the Senate Law and Justice Committee in June.
Pileggi said the medical marijuana bill has "broad support" in the Senate, and next week's discussion will decide whether to go forward with a vote of the full chamber.
Folmer on Wednesday said he believes he has the votes of 45 of the state's 50 senators, but the bill could face tougher going in the House of Representatives and with Governor Tom Corbett, who must sign it before it becomes law.
The final document is expected to be broader than a version the Governor previously said he would support, according to Pileggi.
Pharmaceutical companies are among the bill's strongest opposition, according to Folmer (no surprise there, medical marijuana threatens their profits), but Folmer said cannabis-derived treatments come without the life-threatening side-effects of many prescribed pharmaceuticals.
By Steve Elliott
A mysterious group of men has been raiding medical marijuana plots in Mendocino County, California, and local residents are mystified about the identity of the camouflage-clad group, who aren't police officers.
The men dress in combat camouflage, reports Joe Vazquez at KPIX 5, and some of them hide their faces.
Some say the men, on missions to eradicate marijuana, work for a security company called Lear Asset Management, according to Vazquez.
Lear Asset Management "works with law enforcement," according to their promotional poster, but Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said "The sheriff's department doesn't hire any private security to do our job."
Allman said all of his men -- unlike the mysterious marijuana raiders -- wear badges and clearly identify themselves. And Lear Asset Management President Paul Trouette said his company had nothing to do with the raid on Susan Schindler's garden.
Schindler said her medical marijuana garden was hit last month. "They took hand saws and just cut the trunks," she said.
The armed men in camouflage dropped into her garden from an unmarked helicopter and refused to identify themselves, according to Schindler. "There was no paperwork, no copies of any warrants, they didn't leave any inventory of what they took," she said.
WeedHire.com was the most visited career site in the legal cannabis industry during the month of August, according to SimilarWeb, which measures online behavior worldwide.
"Reaching the number one spot in just three months is an exciting sign that WeedHire.com really has become the go-to place for job opportunities in this space," said WeedHire.com CEO David Bernstein.
"The traffic to our site shows that this industry is growing rapidly and a real need exists to match employers with skilled professionals who are passionate about obtaining work in the legal marijuana industry," Bernstein said.
WeedHire.com was launched in May 2014 as a jobs site for the legal cannabis industry. In addition to the website, WeedHire.com recently launched what it says is the first-ever Android job search app for the industry.
The Android app lets employers post openings from the convenience of a mobile device and job seekers can search in a specific geographic area, upload resumes, submit them and share job posts with friends. The site is also preparing to launch a similar app for the iPhone.
Although WeedHire is the central online portal and social media source for job seekers and providers, it is not involved with the growth, sale, or distribution of marijuana.
SimilarWeb provides services in web analytics, data mining and business intelligence for international corporations using big data technologies to collect, measure, analyze and provide user engagement statistics for websites and mobile apps.
By Steve Elliott
Retail recreational marijuana sales, for the first time, passed medical marijuana sales in Colorado in July.
Recreational pot sales had lagged behind medical sales since the legal marijuana shops created by legalization measure Amendment 64 opened on January 1, reports Katy Steinmetz at Time. But according to tax figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue, recreational has pulled into the lead.
During July, Colorado got $838,711 from a 2.9 percent tax on medical marijuana, meaning patients spent about $28.9 million at dispensaries. Meanwhile, the state took in $2.97 million from a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, putting those sales at about $29.7 million, according to Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist.
The margin, though less than $1 million, represents a victory of sorts for advocates of recreational legalization, who have argued it will be profitable for the state.
"Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons they use alcohol," said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Now that it's a legal product, they are choosing to access it in a similar fashion."