By Steve Elliott
Medical cannabis freedom fighter Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry, 58, who was incarcerated on May 2, 2011 after more than six years of litigation and three years of appeals, and sentenced to five years in federal prison for "manufacturing and distributing marijuana" in California, a medically legal state, has finally learned of her release date -- and it's Tuesday, March 31, 2015, according to the website Can-Do Justice Through Clemency.
At the time of the raid on her family home, she was growing, along with her husband, Dale Schaefer, 34 plants in a small greenhouse on her rural property just north of Sacramento, medicating from a double mastectomy and subsequent chemotherapy treatments. She was also shearing her harvest with needful patients at no charge.
"We weren't selling the medical cannabis to my patients," Dr. Fry said. "We had staff and were charging $10 for delivery only, and that's a common practice today."
According to Schafer, the couple had never grown more than 44 plants in a given year -- well below the 99 plant limit set forth by the State of California for medical use -- and never sold a leaf. But under a little known facet of federal law, more than 100 plans grown in a five-year period -- accumulatively -- is cause for a mandatory five-year sentence.
Groups convene in Washington, DC for third annual national medical cannabis conference March 27-31
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Cannabis Committee, in coordination with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), has announced the release of a joint statement advocating for implementation of best practices for the regulation of consumable, topical, and inhalant cannabis and hemp-derived products to ensure quality and consumer safety.
These best practices were developed with the input of numerous industry experts and establish common language and defined terms for the transparent and accurate labeling of these products to support responsible commerce and informed use of the cannabis plant.
AHPA, ASA and HIA will be promoting these best practices at the 3rd Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference being held March 27-31, in Washington, DC.
Recommendations for plant part identification
The AHPA Cannabis Committee has established a policy that lawfully-marketed products consisting of or including Cannabis spp. ingredients that are intended for oral ingestion, topical application, or inhalation be labeled to identify the part of the Cannabis plant from which the ingredient is derived (e.g., seed oil, flower extract, or extract of aerial parts). This policy does not apply to parts of the Cannabis plant provided to consumers in unprocessed and recognizable forms.
By Steve Elliott
Music legend Willie Nelson, now 81, plans to launch his own signature brand of marijuana called Willie's Reserve.
According to PR person Michael Bowman, a veteran hemp and cannabis lobbyist who serves as the new brand's spokesperson, Willie wants the signature cannabis strain to be a reflection of his passions, reports James Joiner at The Daily Beast.
"Ultimately, it's his," Bowman said. "But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy War On Drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we're trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition."
"Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are," Bowman said. "So from the store itself to how they'll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it's going to be very reflective of Willie's life. I think it's safe to say there will be stores that roll out in the states where marijuana has become legal," Bowman ventured.
According to Bowman, the stores will carry both signature strains grown under Willie's oversight, and other strains of cannabis as well. "There will be our own, and then there will be opportunities for other growers, who meet quality standards," he said.
"In the next calendar year there will be movement," Bowman said.
By Steve Elliott
Thousands of people gathered on Thursday for the District of Columbia's first-ever legal marijuana seed sharing event, with a second giveaway is planned for Saturday.
With D.C. police officers looking on, city residents lined up and then walked away from a bar and restaurant carrying baggies containing marijuana seeds, report Aaron C. Davbis and Perry Stein at The Washington Post.
The seed attendees were taking advantage of Initiative 71, a ballot measure approved last fall by voters which legalized marijuana possession. The line for the marijuana "seed share" snaked around the building, including people of many ages and ethnic backgrounds.
"The RSVP list when we closed it today was at 2,000," said Adam Eidinger, chair of the DC Cannabis Campaign, who welcomed those who came to share and receive seeds at Libertine, a bar on 18th Street NW, reports Michelle Basch at WTOP.
"I hope that from the seeds that we plant this week, (that) this fall ... we have a great crop, and people are really generous in sharing, and we actually bring the price of underground marijuana down," Eidinger said. "Home growth is what 70 percent of voters approved."
By Steve Elliott
The deputy police chief of Fresno, California, was arrested on Thursday and charged with multiple conspiracies to distribute heroin, oxycodone and marijuana, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Keith Foster, 51, was arrested along with three other Fresno residents, according to a statement from the FBI, reports Eric M. Johnson at Reuters.
Foster had always appeared just behind the police chief at press conferences.
"It is important that we do everything we can to maintain and enhance the trust that our citizens have in us," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said in a "he must be kidding" kind of statement at a news conference after Deputy Chief Foster's arrest. "When things of this nature happen, it does serve to erode that trust," the Chief admitted.
"This is a very sad day for the Fresno Police Department, the citizens of Fresno, and the law enforcement profession," Chief Dyer said, report Rick Montanez, Corin Hoggard and Sontaya Rose at ABC 30.
Dyer claimed he was "just made aware" of the case" after Foster was arrested n Thursday. Federal investigators were authorized to use wiretaps on telephones.
By Steve Elliott
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a medical marijuana bill into law on Friday in a ceremony on the Capitol steps.
The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle on Thursday when the Georgia House voted 160-1 to approve a Senate compromise that only slightly tweaked the original House version by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), reports Bill Hendrick at the Associated Press.
After an emotional debate which had lasted, all told, for two years, House Speaker David Ralston hugged Janea Cox, 33, mother of 5-year-old Haleigh Cox, who has intractable epilepsy and is one of the half-a-million Georgians Peake said should benefit from the new law.
"Some days make it all worthwhile," Ralston said.
Peake's bill had already passed the House by a huge margin. It originally called for people with nine medical conditions to be eligible for treatment with cannabis oil that has only minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which producers marijuana's characterisic "high."
By Steve Elliott
Tom Burns, who directed marijuana programs for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, was fired on Thursday.
Burns saw implementation of the state's medical marijuana dispensary program, and had led efforts to establish a recreational cannabis market in the state after voters approved legalization last fall, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Burns confirmed his dismissal in an interview with The Oregonian Thursday afternoon.
Declining to comment any further, Burns directed questions to Steven Marks, executive director of the OLCC; Marks couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Rob Patridge, chairman of the liquor control commission, declined to comment on Burns' firing, characterizing it as a "personel matter."
The position's duties will be taken on by Will Higlin, the OLCC's director of licensing, until a permanent replacement is named.
The agency announced that Burns' firing will not affect the timeline for drafting recreational marijuana industry rules and regulations.
State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), co-chair of the House-Senate committee on implementing recreational marijuana legalization, said she was shocked and disappointed by the news of Burns' firing.
"I don't know how we're going to get through this without him," Burdick said. "He's the most knowledgeable person on marijuana policy in the state. It's a real shock. It's going to be a real loss to the legislative effort."
As part of what it calls its "ongoing mission to provide clean, effective and accurately dosed plant-based health and wellness products," Mary's Medicinals today announced that it has enlisted Noel Palmer, Ph.D. as chief scientist. In this role, Dr. Palmer will direct and manage all research, development and testing for current and future products.
"We're thrilled to add Noel's expertise to our team," said Nicole Smith, CEO, Mary's Medicinals. "As one of the most respected researchers in the cannabis industry, his understanding of plant chemistry will allow us to continue to improve the efficacy and accuracy of our products, and his skill set will lend itself perfectly to the development of our new Mary's Nutritionals line."
Dr. Palmer brings 15 years of experience as a laboratory scientist with an emphasis on plant properties to Mary's Medicinals. A member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, his R&D and testing of product potency and efficacy is award winning.
Most recently, he was recognized as Americans for Safe Access Researcher of the Year 2014. In collaboration with ASA and the American Herbal Products Association, he was closely involved in drafting the Industry Standards for Laboratory Testing of cannabis.
"Mary's Medicinals has established itself as a leader in the creation of effective, quality cannabis medicine," Palmer said. "I look forward to applying my understanding of the powerful properties of plants to finding new ways to help patients find relief."
By Steve Elliott
Kentucky Baptists may have won a major legislative victory by helping to defeat a measure in the General Assembly that would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but they managed to give themselves a public relations black eye in the process, showing themselves to both be out of touch with modern medical research, and severely lacking in compassion, as well.
Almost as distressing as the fact that they were able to stop this compassionate legislation in its tracks is the fact that these heaven-dazed idiots were proud of themselves for doing it.
Legislators finished the 2015 session early Wednesday morning without passing a bill which would have made cannabis available for medical purposes.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood, who apparently was determined to flaunt his ignorance in front of large numbers of people, had called on lawmakers to reject the proposal, claiming Kentucky shouldn't follow the lead of other states that have done the same.
The KBC is Kentucky's largest religious organization, and as such has a powerful voice in the state, where 1 million of the state's 4.4 million residents self identify as Southern Baptists. Those demographics -- which correlate strongly with conservative political positions -- filter into the Legislature, where almost half the Senate and a third of the House identify themselves as Baptists.
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Thursday called for a marijuana testing reference library in support of amended HB 15-1283 currently underway in the Colorado Legislature.
“The mandatory testing requirements for retail marijuana were put into place before there were standards established for the labs,” C4 President Tyler Henson explained. “Unfortunately this led to a wide disparity in testing results from lab to lab.”
The C4 Chamber possesses documented surveys by members who have submitted samples from the same batches to different licensed labs in Colorado, only to receive drastically different results – upwards of 40 percent.
“Because of these issues, the standards and methodologies should be established properly within a reference library, just like any other industry that utilizes testing before we subject the industry to even more costs in an unproven system,” Henson said.
The current system also does now allow for variance in test results, as currently, even if a product is less than 1-milligram over the 10-milligram serving size, the whole batch must be destroyed.
An allowance for testing variance in products is common across many industries, particular with pharmaceutical companies. A reference library would be able to establish standards for testing variance in cannabis, in order to make both laboratories and manufactures more efficient.
By Steve Elliott
The first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the state of Nevada is opening in Reno -- but it'll be awhile before medicine is available to patients. They have to grow the stuff first.
Before it can be harvested, medical marijuana grown in Nevada must be tested in an independent lab to ensure it's safe before it is officially released to cardholding patients.
"This is an important milestone for our program," said Chad Westom, bureau chief with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. "There are nearly 9,000 patient cardholders in Nevada who could benefit from medical marijuana for ailments such as cancer, glaucoma, seizures, AIDS and PTSD."
Several other medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to open in Nevada in the coming months.
Dozens of Texas mothers from all across the state with seriously ill children came together in the state capitol to call for passage of legislation that will help reduce their children’s suffering
A new statewide network of Texas moms and caregivers came together on Thursday in the Committee Hearing Room to lobby in support of legislation addressing access to medical marijuana.
Twenty-three states, one U.S. territory (Guam) and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana for qualifying patients under state law. Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) the House sponsor of Texas’ first ever comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, HB 3785, said “as a state that leads the nation in innovative medical research, Texas needs to take a scientific and reasoned approach to the known benefits of medical marijuana.”
Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) who introduced a companion bill in the Senate believes that “these mothers are doing what any parent would be doing -- advocating for safe medicine and relief for their suffering children. We have to stop criminalizing being a mother and help them gain access to effective treatment."
Two additional bills have also been filed in the Legislature this session, one specific to sufferers of epilepsy and another that would give medical marijuana patients an affirmative defense in court should they be arrested on charges of marijuana possession. The mothers will be lobbying in support of a solution to the endless suffering their children endure.
By Steve Elliott
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Wednesday emphasized its commitment to advancing responsible, common sense labeling of marijuana products in order to prevent accidental ingestion and promote child safety.
“If we’re truly interested in protecting our children and encouraging responsible cannabis use, it is absolutely imperative that we operate on facts over fear,” said Tyler Henson, President of C4. “We cannot allow the ‘newness’ of edible marijuana products to cause false panic and cloud our judgment or our lawmaking.”
As such, the C4 Chamber announced it strongly supports legislation that will increase the effectiveness of cannabis packaging by reducing “white noise” and drawing attention to child safety through proper storage.
Current label regulations require information that does not allow for the average-sized product packaging to have the room to provide important warnings in large enough font to be effective.
By advocating for highlighted warnings on packaging, like “Keep the Products out of Sight and Reach of Children” and to “Keep this Product in Its Original Packaging”, the C4 Chamber joins other government and health agencies in echoing this step as the most solvent reform.
By Steve Elliott
Two Texas men could be facing life in prison after a marijuana-infused brownies were discovered during a traffic stop Monday afternoon.
Potter County sheriff's deputies arrested Eli McCarthy Manna, 30, and Andrew Bruce George, 27, after pulling them over on a traffic violation on I-40 west of Amarillo, according to authorities, reports JC Cortez at Amarillo.com.
A deputy got suspicious during the stop and asked for permission to search the vehicle, which was denied, according to authorities. Deputies detained the men and asked for the help of a police dog from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The dog alerted them to the presence of "drugs" in the vehicle, the deputies claimed, giving them probable cause to search it.
The search revealed more than 650 grams of marijuana brownies in plastic bags, along with a small amount of raw marijuana, according to authorities.
Deputies booked the men into Potter County Jail, charging them with possession of a controlled substance, more than 400 grams. Under the idiotic practice of charging defendants for the weight of a carrier as well as the marijuana itself, they are being charged for the full weight of the brownies.
If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
To help pay for its upcoming legal battle with the City of Los Angeles, medical marijuana delivery service Nestdrop has launched a GoFundMe campaign to seek donations from medicinal cannabis patients, fellow tech companies, dispensaries and supporters across the country.
After sending a letter to the City Attorney’s office offering to work with them on sensible medical marijuana enforcement -- which went unanswered -- Nestdrop has moved forward with appealing the injunction.
The City Attorney’s injunction has done absolutely nothing to stop medical marijuana deliveries in Los Angeles; a quick search online search will bring up dozens, if not hundreds, of medical marijuana delivery services that are still operating to this day in the city. Nestdrop was targeted simply for being a technology company that received national attention.
Since they are a small tech company, Nestdrop said it doesn't have the budget for a long legal fight and are seeing donations from supporters at http://www.gofundme.com/freenestdrop. Nestdrop has a goal of $70,000 and any funds raised over its final legal bill will be donated to local L.A. causes that tax payer dollars could have gone to instead of this lawsuit.
Nestdrop, which descrinbes itself as "the technology company behind the country’s first in-App, on-demand medical marijuana service," launched the GoFundMe campaign to help raise $70,000 in funds for its legal fight.