By Steve Elliott
Voters in three critical swing states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- support legalization of medical marijuana by margins of 5-1 or more and also support legalization of recreational marijuana use by smaller margins, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released on Monday.
Support for medical marijuana is 84 - 14 percent in Florida, 84 - 15 percent in Ohio and 88 - 10 percent in Pennsylvania, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960, no candidate has won the Presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.
Support for allowing adults "to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use" is 55 - 42 percent in Florida, 52 - 44 percent in Ohio and 51 - 45 percent in Pennsylvania.
But swing state voters say they don't plan to use marijuana themselves:
• 17 percent of Florida voters say they "definitely" or "probably" would use it, while 81 percent say they "probably" or "definitely" would not;
• 14 percent of Ohio voters say they "definitely" or "probably would use it, while 84 percent say "definitely" or "probably" not;
• 15 percent of Pennsylvania voters say they are likely to try, while 83 percent say no.
BioTrackTHC™, a provider of seed-to-sale software solutions for medical and retail marijuana businesses, has launched BioTrackTHC University, an intensive certification training program for the company's marijuana tracking systems.
"State regulators and the federal government are looking very closely at compliance in this rapidly growing and still controversial industry," said Dr. Moe Afaneh, chief operating officer, BioTrackTHC. "It's essential that business owners are fully trained and operate to the letter of the law."
The university said it provides rigorous and interactive training, including an in-depth review of all aspects of the commercial BioTrackTHC software; from grow house to dispensary and reporting. The in-person coursework also offers an opportunity for professionals to network with fellow industry professionals while enhancing knowledge and mastery of BioTrackTHC in a university style group setting.
The course training is designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to understand how to effectively and efficiently use BioTrackTHC software.
This week's launch of BioTrackTHC University's first training, which took place in Denver, attracted 75 attendees participating in the five-hour course. These attendees also received a sneak peek into the BioTrackTHC iKush and banking kiosk platforms, topics about which the company will announce more details in the coming weeks.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interest in running for U.S. Senate has encountered strong resistance from a traditional ally of her party: medical marijuana activists.
Because of her bad congressional votes and her ham-fisted criticisms of a Florida medical marijuana initiative last year, four political groups that advocate prescription cannabis and drug decriminalization vowed to campaign against Wasserman Schultz if she were to seek a Senate seat in 2016, reports Marc Caputo at Politico. (<-- The entire piece, at that link, is really worth reading.)
“She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that — not to mince words,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
“This issue is evolving very quickly, and hopefully she will evolve,” Piper said. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”
Wasserman Schultz’s office declined to comment.
By Steve Elliott
An informal study by has shown Florida is the worst state in the Union for marijuana smokers.
Reporter Evan Anderson became curious about cannabis citations around the United States after reading a MuckRock piece by Beryl Anderson on citation data from California marijuana arrests after decriminalization. Copying the language used by MuckRock user Dave Maass to get California's numbers, Anderson requested the same data from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Data from Washington and Colorado, both of which have legalized pot, were unavailable at the time of the requests, and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice never acknowledged his request.
The number of marijuana citations given in Florida "blows the rest of the states out or the water," Anderson reports in MuckRock.
Part of that is due to the unfortunate fact that possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida is a felony with a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Florida for Care on Monday applauded the filing of Senate Bill 528, a piece of comprehensive medical marijuana legislation drafted and filed by Senator Jeff Brandes, the Republican representing District 22.
“We are very excited to see Sen. Brandes file this important piece of legislation,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida for Care. "Sen. Brandes has taken a courageous step in service of making the voice of Floridians heard on this issue."
One such voice is that of Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre, whose mother suffered from cancer. "I'm very encouraged by Sen. Brandes' bill," Sheriff Manfre said. "As a sheriff and as the son of a cancer survivor, responsible, comprehensive, medical marijuana legislation is critically important to me."
"I hope my fellow sheriffs will see this bill in the same light and work towards consensus on this issue which is deeply personal to many Floridians, as it is to me," Manfre said.
The bill is considerably more comprehensive than previously passed Senate Bill 1030, which allowed only for a low-THC, high-CBD strain of marijuana that would primarily help those suffering with epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
“While SB 1030 was monumental in that our Legislature -- for the first time -- recognized marijuana as medicine, it simply did not help all sick and suffering Floridians in the way that Sen. Brandes’ bill would, if passed,” said Dan Rogers, director of legislative affairs for Florida for Care.
By Steve Elliott
Sometimes you just know someone really means it when you see the message on their t-shirt. A Florida man was arrested in Kmart wearing a black t-shirt that asked in large white letters: "Who Needs Drugs?" Beneath that, the shirt says in smaller lettering, "No, seriously, I have drugs."
John Balmer, an unemployed 50-year-old Pennsylvania native living in Spring Hill, Florida, entered the Kmart at 12412 U.S. 19 Monday night wearing the shirt, reports Geoff Fox at The Tampa Tribune.
Balmer was reportedly waiting in a checkout line at the store when a deputy entered. When Balmer saw the deputy, he attempted to pass a plastic bag containing marijuana and methamphetamine to the person standing behind him in line, according to a sheriff's report.
When the person refused the bag, Balmer walked to another cash register and dropped the bag on the floor, according to the report.
Balmer was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana; he's been arrested in Pasco several times since 2006, according to the sheriff's office. In 2002, he got just over a year in state prison for burglary and trafficking in stolen property, according to state corrections records.
Balmer was in the Land O'Lakes Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $2,150, according to jail records.
Photo of John Balmer: The Fix
Florida's medical marijuana initiative lost momentum in 2014 after falling just short of the 60 percent needed to pass. But most Floridians believe that it's no longer a question of it, but when, medicinal cannabis comes to the Sunshine State.
The fact of the matter is that nearly 3.5 million Florida voters supported Amendment 2 -- medical marijuana -- in 2014. United for Care has already begun the process of collecting signatures to get medical marijuana back on the ballot for 2016, and pressure is mounting on the Florida Legislature to expand the already existing CBD-only "Charlotte's Web" law to include higher-THC strains as well.
That's why Sheridan Rafer, founder of the Institute of Medical Cannabis in Boca Raton, says "2015 should actually be a big year for medical marijuana and we will continue to provide education and training."
According to Rafer, last year, the Institute of Medical Cannabis, or IMC Florida for short, signed up more than 300 members and trained more than 100 individuals. The Institute offers four courses, primarily focusing on cultivation.
At IMC, students learn about medical marijuana and the medicinal cannabis industry while attending lectures and receiving practical training in "fully operational grow rooms." However, the Institute notes, "Until changes are initiated in the state and/or federal law, all hands-on training at IMC will be conducted with vegetables and herbs which are organically similar to cannabis."
A new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found evidence that physician dispensing encouraged some physicians to unnecessarily prescribe strong opioids. The study analyzed the prescribing behavior after Florida banned physician dispensing of strong opioids.
The authors of the study, "The Impact of Physician Dispensing on Opioid Use," expected little change in the percentage of patients getting strong opioids — only a change from physician-dispensed to pharmacy-dispensed. Instead of finding an increase in pharmacy-dispensed strong opioids, the study found no material change.
Rather, there was an increase in the percentage of patients receiving physician-dispensed weaker pain medications—specifically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., ibuprofen)—from 24.1 percent to 25.8 percent, and the percentage receiving weaker (not banned) opioids increased from 9.1 percent to 10.1 percent.
The study found there was a high level of compliance with the ban by physician-dispensers. Prior to the reforms, 3.9 percent of injured workers received strong opioids dispensed by physicians during the first six months after their injuries. After the ban, only 0.5 percent of patients with new injuries received physician-dispensed strong opioids.
A three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that a 2011 Florida law mandating that all applicants for the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program submit to suspicionless drug tests violates the Constitution's protection against unreasonable government searches.
The law, championed by Florida Governor Rick Scott in his 2010 campaign for governor and before the Legislature in 2011, was challenged in September 2011 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute, on behalf of Luis Lebron, a single father, Navy veteran, and then-college student. The ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project later joined the suit.
The 11th Circuit panel's order rejects arguments made by attorneys for the State of Florida that government has the authority to require people to submit to invasive searches of their bodily fluids without suspicion of wrongdoing, stating "the warrantless, suspicionless urinalysis drug testing of every Florida TANF applicant as a mandatory requirement for receiving Temporary Cash Assistance offends the Fourth Amendment."
Plans Expansion of Line Of Hemp CBD Oils to Compete with Leading Pharmaceutical Products
Florida-based nutraceuticals company Zappy, Inc. has agreed to acquire Browns Botanicals and plans to release proprietary hemp CBD formulations for potential aid in various ailments including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, pain and other ailments.
The formulations were developed using Hemp CBD Oil derived from industrial hemp, which it says is legal in all 50 states and 40 countries. Browns Botanicals is a nutraceutical leader specializing in the highest purity legal Hemp CBD-rich botanical products.
"We are honored to have Browns Botanicals as the backbone of the hemp-derived cannabinoids and terpenes science that we are bringing to customers," said Mike "Zappy" Zapolin, CEO of Zappy Inc. "Browns is well known in the industry for having the very best CBD products, and testimonials from customers with various illnesses, including epilepsy and several different auto-immune issues, are incredible."
Browns Botanicals recently won the first ever "Best Non-Edible Medically Infused Product" at the 2014 Cannabis Cup with an Industrial Hemp-derived CBD oil product, beating out the competition with their CBDemu, which is being used by Olympic athletes and sports teams.
Oregon and D.C. – And Alaska? – Pass Marijuana Legalization, as California and New Jersey Pass Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reforms
DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016
Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider Drug War, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.
“This Election Day was an extraordinary one for the marijuana and criminal justice reform movements,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Oregon proved that Colorado and Washington were no flukes.
"Washington, D.C. voters sent a powerful message to Congress that federal marijuana prohibition has no place in the nation’s capital," Nadelmann said. "Voters in Florida and Guam demonstrated that medical marijuana could win big even in fairly conservative jurisdictions. And California and New Jersey revealed an electorate eager to reduce prison populations and the power of the prison industrial complex.”
By Steve Elliott
Florida's voters have narrowly rejected the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. A big majority of state voters voted in favor of medicinal cannabis, but state law requires a 60 percent majority to amend the Florida Constitution.
The Associated Press has projected that Amendment 2, Florida's medical marijuana constitutional amendment, which needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, has narrowly failed. With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, about 57 percent of voters voted yes.
The campaign was among the most expensive ballot measures in the country, reports the Associated Press, with millions spent on both sides. Twentieth-century Reefer Madness myths were pulled out and aired as fact as part of the misleading tactics used by the No On 2 side, funded largely by Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Florida lawmakers had passed a very limited, CBD-only "medical marijuana law" earlier this year to allow non-psychoactive strains of cannabis for epilepsy patients. But Amendment 2 supporters argued a more inclusive law was necessary to make medicinal cannabis available to a broader group of patients.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will be covering the elections to legalize marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and D.C.; Prop. 47 in California, which would defelonize minor drug possession and other nonviolent crimes; and the battle to legalize medical marijuana in Florida with up-to-the-minute updates on Twitter, press releases as soon as results are announced, and frequent blog updates as results come in.
"In addition, some of our top representatives will be standing by for comment," said LEAP spokesperson Darby Beck.
In advance of the elections, Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who has seen legalization firsthand and just spent a week touring Alaska to talk about marijuana legalization, will be hosting a Reddit IAMA on Tuesday at 4 pm PT/7 pm ET to discuss the current ballot measures and why he thinks legalization is good for public safety.
The title will be "IAMA Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and I want to legalize marijuana. AMA!"
A Crucial Election Season for Legalizing Marijuana and Ending the Drug War
Marijuana Legalization, Medical Marijuana, and Sentencing Reform Initiatives in Oregon, Alaska, D.C., Florida, California, New Mexico, New Jersey and More
Voters across the United States on November 4 will have a chance to accelerate the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider Drug War. Voter initiatives – primarily reforming or repealing marijuana laws – appear on the ballots in seven states, at least 17 municipalities, and one U.S. territory.
Here are a few of the key ones:
Oregon: Passage of Measure 91 would make Oregon the third state to legally regulate marijuana.
Alaska: Measure 2 would make Alaska the first red state to legalize marijuana for adult use.
Florida Amendment 2, the only statewide medical marijuana initiative this year, would be the first comprehensive medical marijuana law in the South.
California: Proposition 47 would take a significant step toward reducing mass incarceration by changing six low-level, nonviolent offenses (including simple drug possession) from felonies to misdemeanors.
District of Columbia: Initiative 71 would make it legal for adults to possess and cultivate small amounts of marijuana in our nation’s capital.
Alaska and Oregon could make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol; Washington, D.C. and two of Maine’s largest cities could make marijuana legal for adults; Florida could become 24th state to allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana
States, cities, and the nation’s capital will vote on marijuana policy ballot measures on Tuesday.
“From Alaska to Maine, there is a whole lot of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It’s not easy to overcome 80 years of prohibition and anti-marijuana propaganda. But public attitudes are clearly shifting on this issue, and it’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide.”
In Alaska and Oregon, voters are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The initiatives — Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon — would remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
The measures would also establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults. If the initiatives are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.