U.S.: Supreme Court Lets Stand Order For AZ County Sheriff To Return Seized Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn Arizona court rulings which order the Yuma County sheriff to return cannabis seized from a woman with a California medical marijuana authorization recognized by Arizona. The justices' decision was issued without comment on Monday in the case of Valerie Okun.

Okun had marijuana in her car when a Border Patrol agent stopped her and her husband in Yuma County in 2011, reports The Associated Press. She was charged with marijuana possession, but the charges were dropped when she provided paperwork proving she was allowed to possess cannabis under California's medical marijuana law.

Arizona's medical marijuana law his reciprocity; that is, it allows people with authorizations from other states to also possess cannabis in Arizona.

But Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot refused to give Okun's medical marijuana back, even after Arizona courts ordered that the medicine be returned.

"It has to do with the courts telling me to commit a crime," the pot-hating Sheriff Wilmot said, reports the Arizona Daily Star. "As far as I'm concerned that's not how we do business."

California: Richard Branson, Lt. Gov. Newsom, and SF DA Gascon To Discuss Failed War On Drugs


Event will feature special screening of Film Breaking the Taboo

Film Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Features Interviews with Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Sweden, Victims of Drug War, Leading Experts and Advocates

Sundog Pictures will be holding a special screening of its groundbreaking documentary Breaking the Taboo, about the failed War On Drugs, in San Francisco. The screening will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25 at the New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco.

The special screening will be followed by a panel discussion from 6:15 until 7 pm about opportunities to help people convicted of drug offenses get back on the right path and reduce the burden that drug convictions place on American prison systems. The discussion will feature Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, Laura Thomas of the Drug Policy Alliance and Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

California: Networking Party in San Leandro To Celebrate A Night of Compassionate Cannabis


Activists will be gathering on Wednesday, March 19 at Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro to celebrate a night of compassionate cannabis. You're invited to come visit with old friends, meet new ones, and get to know your industry comrades better.

Along with tasty treats and beverages compliments of Zocalo Coffeehouse, this event will also serve as an introduction to Project Inform and its involvement in the AIDS Walk San Francisco, the premiere Bay Area-wide event to support HIV and AIDS service providers.

With the loss of several great cannabis activists, such as Peter McWilliams, Dr. Mike Alcalay, and Brownie Mary Rathbun, many of us forget our industry is historically tied in many ways to the AIDS epidemic. Cannabis reform, safe access, and the term medical cannabis stem in large part from the work of those affected by HIV and AIDS.

That includes the leadership of great people such as Dennis Peron and the others mentioned who are no longer with us. These respected cannabis activists created history for our overlapping communities by advocating on behalf of medical cannabis and safe access as a compassionate response to AIDS relief.

California: Democratic Party Platform Calls For Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pointing out that it could put billions of dollars into state coffers and provide much-needed jobs, California Democrats on Sunday insert a plank in their party platform calling to "support the legalization, regulation and taxation of pot in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

On the marijuana issue, California Democrats "support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol," the official party platform reads, reports Seema Mehta at the Los Angeles Times.

The change -- a monumental political shift -- comes as 3,000 state Democrats met over the weekend at a three-day convention in Los Angeles, where they heard a Saturday appeal by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on the issue, reports Carla Marinucci at SF Gate. The former San Francisco mayor told the Democrats that the state should be leading, not following, on an important issue that, according to the latest polls, is experiencing a surge of popular support among Americans.

California: Gov. Jerry Brown Opposes Marijuana Legalization, Says 'We Need To Stay Alert'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California Governor Jerry Brown said on Sunday that he isn't convinced this marijuana legalization business is such a good idea, because folks need to "stay alert."

"The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK," "Moonbeam" Brown said on NBC's "Meet The Press," reports The Huffington Post. "But there is a tendency to go to extremes.

"And all of a sudden, if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?" Brown asked. (Our answer is a hell of a lot of them, Governor.)

"The world's pretty dangerous, pretty competitive," Brown said. "I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

A recent poll showed that a majority of Californians support marijuana legalization.

The Governor noted that California already allows medical marijuana, but said he isn't sold on the idea of recreational legalization until he sees how that works out for Colorado and Washington. "I'd really like those two states to show us how it's going to work," he said.

California: San Diego City Council Passes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulations


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday passed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries limiting the stores to no more than four per council district.

On an 8-1 vote, with Council Mark Kersey casting the lone dissenting vote, the council set zoning and operating restrictions for the medical marijuana collectives, reports ABC 10 News.

The council has visited the issue numerous times since the Compassionate Use Act was approved by California voters in 1996. Zoning and operating rules passed in 2011 were repealed after medical marijuana advocates got enough signatures to force their reconsideration.

While advocates considered the 2011 rules too strict, calling them a "de facto ban," removing them had the effect of making all dispensaries in San Diego illegal. The restrictions in the new plan are even tighter than the 2011 ones were.

"We can't afford to turn our backs on this, otherwise there will be a continued proliferation of these illegal operations and, chances are, there will be further and greater abuses of the system," alarmist Councilwoman Marti Emerald claimed. "These drugs are going to wind up in the hands of kids and people who really don't need this for medicine," she said, not mentioning where she got her medical credentials.

Emerald asked for a staff report in a year, to make sure the dispensaries are abiding by the rules while still providing safe access for patients.

California: Girl Scout Quickly Sells Out Of Cookies Outside Marijuana Dispensary


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Location, location, location. Girl Scout Danielle Lei picked her location well when she set up a stand to sell Girl Scout Cookies outside the Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. Hungry patients bought all the cookies Lei had in just 45 minutes.

Lei sold 117 boxes of cookies in just two hours, reports Mashable. The profits from the cookie sales will go to charitable organizations, including several benefiting Alzheimer's research.

Danielle's mom, Carol Lei, said she believes the entrepreneurial experience is a good way to start a conversation with her daughter about different kinds of drug use. "You put it in terms that they may understand," Carol said. "I'm not condoning it; I'm not saying go out in the streets and take marijuana."

Carol said she thought this would be a good way for her daughter to learn that some people use marijuana as medicine, while others just get high, reports NPR. "They learn that they're not drugged out," Lei said. "Many have serious needs, and are just a little different."

The Green Cross had no problem with Lei's cookie stand; staff members bought boxes and kept their patients updated through the dispensary's Facebook page.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Group Certifies First Dispensaries In Effort To Institute Quality Standards


Two California dispensaries are first to complete certification program with pending certifications in six states

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday certified the first two dispensaries in the country for its new nationwide program that verifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses. The certifications issued to Berkeley Patients Group and SPARC of San Francisco are based on the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).

"The Patient Focused Certification program is long overdue," said Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob, who is also director of Peace in Medicine and SPARC, the San Francisco-based medical marijuana dispensary certified today. "Patients deserve to know that the products they receive are of the highest standard."

"As Mayor of Sebastopol, I am relieved to know that there are product safety standards established by a trusted national organization to help guide local governments," Jacob said.

California: Major Marijuana Legalization Measure Off The Table Until 2016


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

What's up with California? Despite its reputation as a weed-friendly state and polls showing a majority of residents are ready to legalize marijuana, it looks like it's going to be at least two more years before the Golden State's going to get 'er done.

The state's top legalization measure, the Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act, was deflated on Tuesday by its backers, including the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who said they will stop gathering signatures to put it on November's ballot, reports Josh Richman at the San Jose Mercury News.

"We decided it was more important to do it right than to do it fast," said Stephen Gutwillig, the DPA's deputy executive director, on Tuesday. "We ultimately came quite close but just decided we didn't have enough of the pieces in place right now."

Fifty-five percent of Californians support cannabis legalization, according to a Field Poll in December. That's the first time in 44 years that the poll found a clear majority favoring such a change.

But that kind of support didn't bring unity to California's cannabis activists. Besides the DPA measure, two other legalization initiatives started gathering signatures in recent months, but neither seems to have the money, organization or backing to successfully qualify for the ballot.

California Narcotic Officers' Association Asks Obama To Retract Marijuana Comments


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A California association of drug cops on Monday asked President Obama to retract his recent comments concerning marijuana being no more harmful than alcohol.

"The California Narcotic Officers' Association takes strong issue with your comparison of marijuana and alcohol," CNOA president Steve Riddle wrote to Obama in an open letter. The letter suggests that Obama "reevaluate" his comparison of alcohol and marijuana.

"Today's marijuana is far more potent that the marijuana that you have so honestly acknowledged using during your teens and early adulthood," Riddle writes. "Moreover, the increasingly popular Butane Hash Oil exceeds 80 percent THC, making it far more potent than the marijuana of one to three percent THC that characterized your era. Additionally, I would ask that you consider your recent comments in light of the documented material on marijuana harms that are posted on the White House Website."

"The comments of the President of the United States -- on any issue -- are taken very seriously," Riddle's letter reads. "When the President speaks, the media, teachers, children, and for that matter, the world listen. This is particularly true when the President speaks on an issue that is at the forefront of our culture such as drug use.

"It's not enough for the President to simply say that drug use is 'not something I encourage,'" Riddle wrote. "When it comes to the use of drugs, it is imperative that the President of the United States 'discourage' their use."

California: Another Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Cleared To Gather Signatures


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Supporters of marijuana legalization in California now have not just one, but two initiatives cleared to collect signatures to try to qualify for the November ballot.

The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) has been given the green light to start collecting signatures, joining the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI), which received clearance back last September from the California Secretary of State to circulate petitions. CCHI's deadline for more than 500,000 signatures is just three weeks away, on February 24, while MCLR has until June 30.

If passed, the MCLR, like the CCHI, would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older. It would also strengthen existing medical marijuana laws and legalize hemp production, according to supporters, reports Ashley Bailey at KPCC.

"It stops putting 20,000 people a year in California for low level offenses and it creates a diversion program," said Silicon Valley businessman John Lee, who leads the nonprofit Americans for Policy Reform, one of the groups behind the measure. The law would also open up possibilities for medical research, as well as generating revenue from a variety of cannabis sources, according to Lee.

U.S.: Real Estate Company Releases List of America's 10 Highest Cities

The 10 Highest Cities In America By Movoto Real Estate

Colorado last week became the first state in the Union with legal sales of recreational cannabis, instantly conferring upon Denver the status of marijuana mecca.

But is Denver the highest city in the United States? That's what the Movoto Real Estate Blog set out to determine through the power of data, just as they've done with topics including which cities are the nerdiest, which are the worst dressed, or which is the best city in the whole country.

After extensive research, Movoto concluded that, yes, Denver really is the Mile-High City, but they also came up with a Top 10 list of the highest cities in America:

1. Denver
2. Colorado Springs
3. Seattle
4. San Bernardino, CA
5. Aurora, CO
6. Santa Ana, CA
7. Irvine, CA
8. San Francisco, CA
9. Sacramento, CA
10. Los Angeles, CA

Now, I'm sure San Francisco's heads are quite exercised over the indignity of being outranked by Irvine, Santa Ana, and San Ber'dino, but are there any other surprises here?

Washington state is coming up fast with its own legalization law about to be implemented, but legal pot sales won't start until this summer.

To determine a city's ranking, Movoto measure seven different criteria:

• Marijuana dispensaries per capita
• Number of residents with medical marijuana cards

California: Fresno County Bans All Medical Marijuana Cultivation


Both Cultivation and Dispensaries Now Banned

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a sobering reminder of just how backward county governments can still be, even in California, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ignored the objections of patients and banned all medical marijuana cultivation in the county's unincorporated areas with a 5-0 vote. The ban takes effect next month.

The county is also banning medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives, leaving patients with no legal access to medicine, reports California NORML. "The Fresno ordinance is in blatant conflict with the intent of the Compassionate Use Act to ensure access to medical marijuana for all patients in medical need," the group said in a statement.

Those who defy the ban will be fined $1,000 per plant, reports Marc Benjamin at the Fresno Bee. The ordinance also adds a fine of $100 per plant, per day for each day the plants remain after they are initially discovered.

Violations of the "public nuisance" ordinance would trigger misdemeanor fines.

Appeals of the ordinance and its citations will be heard by the Board of Supervisors; the ban takes effect in 30 days.

California: Attorney General Says Marijuana Legalization Could Mean 'Hundreds of Millions'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A California ballot initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana got a positive review from state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who last week released a summary saying legalization could save the state "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Harris's summary of the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) explained that it would legalize under California law the use, cultivation, possession, transportation, storage and sale of cannabis, reports Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post.

"Reduced costs in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders," the fiscal analysis reads. "Potential net additional tax revenues in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which is required to be spent on education, health care, public safety, drug abuse education and treatment, and the regulation of commercial marijuana activities."

California: Field Poll Shows Majority of Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California voters favor marijuana legalization, according to a new poll released December 10.

Field Poll results show that 55 percent of Californians now favor legalization, a first since the poll began asking about marijuana back in 1969. In that first poll in 44 years ago, 75 percent of state residents wanted cannabis laws strictly enforced, or even toughened, reports Richard K. De Atley at the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Just 31 percent of voters now support strict enforcement of current laws or passing tougher ones, according to the new poll. Another 12 percent wants to keep pot illegal, but lessen the penalties, while 2 percent claimed they "had no opinion."

When respondents were read a summary of a proposed initiative to legalize cannabis in California for recreational use, 56 percent said they would support it, and 39 percent said they would be opposed. Five percent said they were undecided.

"You have just had a whole new reevaluation" of marijuana, according to Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "What is different is that in 1969, there was a much more prevalent view that marijuana would lead to harder drugs and addiction."

Respondents have since then stopped considering marijuana with harder drugs. "That is probably the biggest single shift in attitudes toward marijuana," DiCamillo said.

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