By Steve Elliott
Oregon's historic first day of legal cannabis sales on Thursday was a success, as marijuana consumers 21 and older statewide were, for the first time ever, able to legally buy retail weed without a medical authorization.
Lines snaked out the doors of many collectives at mid-day; the Tree House Collective on NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland had line of 8 to 10 customers out the door at around 1 p.m. By 5 p.m., the line was only a couple of people, and the wait had been reduced to around five minutes.
THC owner Nathan Roszina told Hemp News that creating separate queue and retail area for recreational customers was key in keeping down waiting times. Roszina said the shop wanted to address concerns from some patients that they might be subjected to long wait times due to the influx of recreational customers.
According to Roszina, the normal number of medicinal cannabis patients showed up for medicine; add to that all the first-time recreational customers, and it was a busy day. "It's been very steady all day long," Nathan told me. Many of the recreational customers, though, were curiosity seekers, according to Roszina, and only wanted to buy a gram or two.
By Steve Elliott
Portland mayoral candidate and Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said at a roundtable this week that as mayor, he would lead on cannabis policy.
"First of all, let's acknowledge that this is a legal and regulated industry," Wheeler said. "Some of the issues I'd like to see resolved include banking.
"Right now, the cannabis industry does not have access to a legal banking framework," Wheeler said. "That means it's a high volume cash industry. That creates some public safety issues.
"It certainly makes it more difficult for the industry to be regulated the way people expect the industry to be regulated and frankly it makes it a very difficult proposition for those in the cannabis industry whether they're growers or whether they're suppliers or whether they're at the retail level," Wheeler said.
Wheler took a refreshing stand against the trend towards over-regulation of legal cannabis. Oregonians need only look north at their neighbor Washington to see the implementation of a wildly over-regulated legal marijuana industry, leading to unnecessarily high prices and over-taxation (a special 37 percent cannabis tax).
By Steve Elliott
Hempstalk 2015 is on! The Portland City Council on Thursday voted to grant Hempstalk a permit for its 2015 festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park downtown. "We will have our Hempstalk festival," said organizer Paul Stanford.
The Council, on a 3-1 vote, overturned the Portland Parks Bureau's earlier decision to deny the permit, reports Andrew Theen at The Orergonian. The Police Bureau also opposed Hempstalk, a free 11-year-old festival which celebrates and advocates the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.
The lone "no" vote came from Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Parks Bureau.
The decision means Hempstalk 2015 could occur around the same time as the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Oregon, on October 1. "If I had my preference, it would be the first weekend of October," said Hempstalk organizer Stanford of the Campaign of the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH).
Parks officials, meanwhile, claimed the event is set for September 26 and 27. Stanford said he had "no idea" where they got that date.
"It sounds like this event was imperfect," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Thursday. "It sounds like there were some people smoking marijuana there." But Mayor Hales added that most large events in Portland are imperfect.
By Steve Elliott
"We will never surrender." That is the message Paul Stanford, organizer of the annual Hempstalk festival, has for the Portland City Council.
Portland parks officials last November denied a permit to Hempstalk for its 2015 waterfront event, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian. The free cannabis and hemp festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
Stanford and his supporters will be back in three weeks for another appeal hearing before the Portland City Council. The conflict dates back at least to 2013 when parks and police officials claimed festival organizers had a "demonstrated inability" to control pot use and behavior at prior festivals.
"Any appeal of a parks permitting decision making its way to a City Council hearing is unusual, but two hearings in consecutive years is downright peculiar," wrote The Oregonian's Theen.
City officials, almost certainly not coincidentally, mailed the denial notice just one day after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana sales. It was the second denial for Stanford in two years.
The dispute, as in past years, enters on the public consumption of marijuana at the festival.
Stanford said last year that Hempstalk would be "the only place in Portland where marijuana wasn't consumed on that day."
By Steve Elliott
According to Paul Stanford, who heads up the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF Clinics, which has authorized more patients in Washington than anybody else), which owns Hemp News, if 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state contributed $1,000 apiece, a voter initiative or referendum could qualify for the ballot, potentially saving medical cannabis in the state.
According to Stanford, who has plenty of experience on the political scene, $500,000 is the minimum amount needed to gather enough signatures to qualify. Will Washington's medical marijuana community step up to the plate?
"It's a matter of survival," Stanford said. "The clock is ticking, and it's time for the leaders of Washington's medical marijuana community to step up and take action. CRRH supports the preservation of safe access for Washington state patients."
"We authorized about 35,000 patients last year in Washington State," Stanford said."History, we've helped about 100,000 patients in Washington State get their cards since 2003, when we started helping patients in Washington. We started in Oregon in 2001, and we had people coming to our clinics there saying 'We need a doctor in Washington.
"We want to uphold our responsibility to the patients of Washington," Stanford said. "We're going to have petitions in our offices for patients. We've pledged $1,000 to the campaign, and we're going to be donating more."
By Steve Elliott
President Obama "may be happy" that D.C. voters legalized marijuana in the nation's capital, according to country music legend and stalwart cannabis supporter Willie Nelson.
Nelson, who performed Thursday night at the White House for veterans, says he once smoked a joint on top of the presidential mansion after an appearance there during President Jimmy Carter's administration, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.
The country music icon, a close personal friend of Paul Stanford and the Campaign to Restore and Regulate Hemp (CRRH), has given ringing endorsements to the political initiative work of CRRH.
Nelson said in an interview with CNN that he probably wouldn't bring up the topic of marijuana to Obama on Thursday night, but thinks the President is probably sympathetic to the cause.
"I think I realize how he feels about it and I've read some of his books and things about when he was a kid, how he may have delved into that matter a little bit," Nelson said. "I'm sure he's very understanding of what is going on and he may be happy to see it happening."
City of Portland Issues Permit
It's a go for the 10th annual Portland Hempstalk Festival; after months of delay, city officials have finally issued a permit for this weekend's event.
"Event coordinators for the Portland Hempstalk annual festival are proud to announce the City of Portland has issued our permit for this weekend's event (September 27-28) at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon," a press release from the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) reads.
Hempstalk advocates decriminalization of cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and recreational use. Founded in 2005 by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, the festival features live music, guest speakers, food and goods vendors and information booths.
This public event has always been free to attend, with a suggested donation of $10 per person.
Featuring three stages, the Jack Herer Main Stage, the newly added Green Goddess Stage, and the Elec-Chronic DJ Stage, the bands, music and informational guest speakers are sure to inspire and inform attendees.
Already confirmed on the musical bill for 2014 are Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, John Trudell and Bad Dog, Herbivores, Los Marijuanos, Poet and Cannabis Advocate John Sinclair, The Sindicate, J Mack and Big Dub, Bad Habitat and more. To view the complete line-up, check out http://hempstalk.org/festival/lineup
By Steve Elliott
With less than three months until Election Day in Oregon, and as many as three separate marijuana legalization initiatives vying to appear on the ballot, a new poll shows 51 percent of voters support allowing adults to use, possess and grow cannabis.
The SurveyUSA poll released on Tuesday didn't ask voters which of the three measures they would prefer; instead it simply asked them whether they would support or pose allowing adults in Oregon to use, possess and grow marijuana for their personal use, while allowing the state to regulate and tax it, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.
Just more than half, 51 percent of those polled support marijuana legalization, while just 41 percent oppose it. There are no regional differences within the state on this question, according to the poll, but there are enormous age differences: younger voters support legalization by 48 points, while senior citizens oppose it by 24 points.
Democrats were more likely to support cannabis legalization, and Republicans were more likely to oppose it, according to the poll.
None of the three initiatives has yet qualified for November's ballot, but supporters of all three said they are optimistic that they will turn in more than enough signatures to qualify before the deadline on July 3.
By Steve Elliott
Activists in Oregon have rented 20 billboards in prominent positions across the state in support of their campaign to end criminal penalties for cannabis.
The billboards, found in Portland, Eugene, Beaverton, Roseburg, and Salem, carry the messages "Help End Marijuana Prohibition," or "Prohibition is the Problem, Hemp is the Answer!"
"Of course, ending prohibition is the goal, but energizing Oregon and showing a solid outreach and grassroots effort is key," said activist Michael Bachara of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which is behind Initiatives 21 and 22.
Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21 is a constitutional amendment to end prohibition and stop imposing criminal penalties for marijuana. It needs 116,284 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures by July 3rd to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
Initiative 22 is a proposed statute to regulate and tax marijuana, and allow farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food. It needs 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
"These measures are going to be on the ballot," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford. "Prohibition doesn't work. Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste of public resources and people's future."
"We will end prohibition and criminal penalties for marijuana," Stanford said. "Our initiatives are designed to move Oregon ahead of both Washington and Colorado, so Oregon's economy can reap the benefits of these rapidly growing industries, sooner rather than later."
On Saturday, May 3, nearly 300 cities worldwide, including Portland, will participate in the 15th annual Global Cannabis March. Portland participants will gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square to march at high noon through downtown Portland, accompanied by a police escort.
Oregon NORML, KBOO Community Radio and the publishers of Hemp News, Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) are sponsors of this event.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, (District 3). He will be speaking immediately following the march.
Musicians Mack & Dub and the Smokin' Section, The Sindicate, Disenchanter and Justin James Bridges have joined the lineup for the rally, which runs from 11 am to 4 pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Speakers for the rally include CRRH Director Paul Stanford; Paul Loney, Oregon NORML Legal Counsel; Leland Berger, a Portland Attorney; Rowshan Reordan, Oregon NORML; Anna Diaz of the NORML Women's Alliance; Madeline Martinez of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP); and Oregon Attorney John Lucy IV.
"I think it’s game over in less than five years," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said, according to an article in The Huffington Post. "There's no question that we're likely to see another state or two this year legalizing [social] use. We're going to see more medical marijuana progress. The crazy prohibitions on bank services and probably the tax disparities -- these are all eroding," Rep. Blumenauer predicted.
Initiative 22, also known as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, would legalize marijuana and set the limits of personal possession and cultivation at 24 ounces or 24 plants. The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, sponsor of Initiatives 21 and 22, this week addressed the reason for setting these limits.
"Twenty-four ounces is not an arbitrary number," said Jersey Deutsch, campaign director for CRRH. "If anything, the limits in place under Colorado and Washington law are unnecessarily low, and possibly detrimental for medical users who make their own medicine at home."
Michael Steinlage, development director for the campaign, added: "It is true that under OCTA the allowable limits of both possession and cultivation would be 24 ounces, but this amount is already the legal limit for OMMP cardholders. For many patients on limited budgets whose preferred method of ingestion isn't smoking, the creation of homemade extracts and edibles would greatly ease the cost of self-medication.
"It takes large amounts of the flowering plant to make relatively small supplies of edible goods or oils, and these items can be very expensive when purchased from dispensaries," Steinlage said.
For those who choose to grow their own at home, a yearly harvest of 24 ounces would provide 2 ounces per month of the cured flowering plant.
Activists Promise 'Big Announcement' Next Week
Paul Stanford: "These measures are going to be on the ballot"
In light of recent news that the Oregon Legislature has abandoned meaningful reforms, initiative activists are moving forward with a new phase in their campaign to end criminal penalties for marijuana.
"We salute the efforts of Representative Peter Buckley and other progressive-minded legislators," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford, "and we are ready to pick up where they fell and bring a pair of ballot initiatives restoring the progressive pioneer spirit that Oregon is well known for."
Oregon has lagged behind other Western states in bringing reform to marijuana law. Two initiative petitions, IP 21 and IP 22, would change that. "Prohibition doesn't work," Stanford said. "Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste of public resources and people's future. We will end prohibition and end criminal penalties for marijuana."
Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21, a constitutional amendment to end prohibition and stop imposing criminal penalties for marijuana, has 38,000 signatures collected to date. It needs 116,284 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures by July 3rd to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
Initiative 22, a proposed statute to regulate and tax marijuana, and allow farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food, has gathered 25,000 signatures. It needs 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulations up to the Legislature passed its first committee last Thursday.
Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 vote, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.
The measure was amended before passing to lower the amount of cannabis that adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess in private. The amount was lowered from eight ounces and four plants in the original bill to six ounces and three plants in the amended version.
Cannabis activists are already gathering signatures for two legalization initiatives.
Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult recreational marijuana use, possession and cultivation.
Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.
The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.
By Steve Elliott
An Oregon Congressman on Tuesday blasted the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after failing to get a straight answer to his question about the supposed dangers of marijuana.
When Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), a friend to the cannabis community for more than 40 years, asked chief deputy drug czar Michael Botticelli for the number of fatal cannabis overdoses for the past five years, Botticelli replied, "To my knowledge, I don't know if there have been instances of specific overdose-related deaths."
Rep. Blumenauer continued pressing Botticelli in the House Oversight Committee hearing, asking him whether marijuana is more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or methamphetamine, reports Travis Gettys at The Raw Story.
"I don't think that anyone would dispute the fact that there's relative toxicity related to those drugs," Botticelli said in a classical political non-answer. Understandably, Rep. Blumenauer -- who voted to make Oregon the first state to decriminalize marijuana, back in 1973, when he was a state representative in Salem -- wasn't satisfied.
Cannabis advocates on Friday morning turned in tens of thousands signatures for two marijuana initiatives in the state capitol of Salem. The initiatives are aiming for the November 2014 ballot in Oregon.
Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition, and Initiative 22 is a statute to regulate and tax marijuana, allowing farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food. Organizers behind I-21 and I-22 turned in the signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State's Elections Division offices on the 5th floor in the Public Service Building.
“Prohibition doesn't work," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). "Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste. It is time to end marijuana prohibition.”
Recent polls show that more than 60 percent of likely Oregon voters support ending marijuana prohibition now. "Our initiatives, one constitutional, the other statutory, will poise Oregon to lead this new industry, which some say is the fastest growth industry in America today," Stanford said.
Who: Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, an Oregon nonprofit PAC
What: Press Conference and Signature Turn-In for Two Marijuana Initiatives
When: 10 a.m. on Friday, December 6
Where: Lobby of the Public Service Building at 255 Capitol St. NE; Salem, Oregon