Political

Oregon: Harmful Bill To Limit Medical Marijuana Growers Passes Senate 29-1

OutdoorMarijuana[InternationalCannagraphic]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Senate on Wednesday voted 29-1 for a harmful bill tightening regulations on medical marijuana cultivation, with the claimed intent of reining in diversions to the black market.

The measure, Senate Bill 964, has encountered spirited opposition among many medical marijuana patients and growers, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. But lawmakers -- echoing their northern neighbors in the Washington Legislature -- claimed the success of Oregon's new recreational cannabis market depends on clamping down on marijuana grown for patients.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), chair of a House-Senate joint committee on implementing the legalization initiative approved by voters last November, claimed the "large amount" of marijuana diverted to the black market makes it harder for licensed sellers to compete, and could result in federal action against the state.

Oregon now produces an estimated $1 billion a year of "largely black market medical marijuana that ends up all over the country, a problem which is far worse than I ever dreamed," Sen. Burdick dramatically claimed.

U.K.: Queen's Speech Lays Out Plans To Outlaw Legal Highs

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A United Kingdom charity dedicated to raising awareness of the risks from "legal highs" on Wednesday welcomed government plans to legislate against their sale.

The charity, Angelus, has led the call for a strong legal response to the easy availability of these legal substances and has long campaigned for fundamental measures to disrupt the supply of these legal drugs. Angelus described the need to combine the legislation with better public awareness of these harmful substances as "vital."

The legal change, announced in Wednesday's Queen's Speech, should effectively shut down the high street trade in "legal highs," according to Angelus. Angelus surveys have shown 13.6 percent of 14-18 year old school students and 19 percent of University Freshers had tried one.

Angelus advocates a greater commitment from central and local government, schools and universities, to giving the education which young people need to stay safe from these substances.

"Angelus has been campaigning long and loud for some regulation on the open sale of 'legal highs,'" said Jan King, chief executive of Angelus. "It has been like the Wild West until now, with young people able to access these dangerous products virtually without restriction.

"So, naturally, we are pleased the new Government has made this issue an early priority," King said. "Our Founder, Maryon Stewart, deserves enormous credit for being the driving force behind Angelus and in getting this issue into the national conversation.

Washington: Seattle Mayor Plans Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

EdMurraySeattleMayor[TheSeattleTimes]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Apparently not content to wait for the scheduled extinction date of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington -- set for July 1, 2016 -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday proposed legislation that could shut down dozens of dispensaries in the city.

Mayor Murray's plan would create a new business license specifically for medical marijuana dispensaries and create enforcement priorities for unlicensed shops, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times.

The plan follows the Washington Legislature's attempts to "fold" medical marijuana into the state's recreational cannabis system established under I-502 and SB 5052. The latter law, approved last month, calls for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to "assess the merit" of medical marijuana dispensaries are license those which qualify by July 2016.

The LCB still hasn't come up with the rules for grading medical marijuana dispensaries, and many observers believe the ultimate goal isn't to license the businesses anyway, but rather to shut almost all of them down. It's not yet clear how many additional licenses Seattle might get, or which businesses could get those licenses.

South Dakota: Medical Marijuana Ballot Drive To Begin

SouthDakotansForSafeAccess(USE)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A South Dakota medical marijuana activist said she hopes to begin gathering signatures within a month to put a medical marijuana proposal on the 2016 ballot.

Melissa Mentele, 38, said on Tuesday that her ballot measure language is currently under review at the South Dakota Attorney General's office, reports James Nord at the Associated Press.

People with conditions such as cancer could be helped by cannabis, according to medical marijuana proponents. Mentele herself suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Mentele said she's taking the ballot proposal route because state legislators haven't been willing to enact a medical marijuana program. Her proposal would allow patients with a doctor's authorization to buy or grow cannabis, and to possess up to three dried ounces.

"We're trying to bring compassionate access onto the ballot, because that's what we need in South Dakota," Mentele said. "If somebody doesn't fight to change the law, it's going to stay a bad law."

Two previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana have fallen short in South Dakota. A 2006 effort got 47.7 percent of the vote, but a 2010 attempt got just 36.7 percent.

Other organizers are sponsoring 2016 ballot initiatives that would prohibit the sale and transfer of alcohol and tobacco in South Dakota. It's "about consistency" in the law, according to marijuana activist Bob Newland, 67.

Michigan: Marijuana Legalization Group Withdraws Petition, Will Resubmit

MichiganMarijuanaLeaf(WheresWeed)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The organizers behind a marijuana legalization drive in Michigan on Tuesday withdrew their petition, saying they plan to submit new language later.

The Michigan Cannabis Coalition told the Michigan Board of State Canvassers of the move on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press. The group had been expected to have its petition approved by the board.

The legislation would require 252,000 valid voter signatures before going to the GOP-led Michigan Legislature. If lawmakers took no action or rejected the bill, it would go before the voters in November 2016.

Several anonymous people from the agricultural, real estate, insurance and education sectors are backing the bill through the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. The state could add jobs and tax revenue by legalizing and regulating cannabis for recreational purposes, according to the group.

Michigan already allows marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Bill To Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

LouisianaCannabis

New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Bill Now Heads to the House

Louisiana’s Senate on Monday took an important step toward reforming their state’s harsh marijuana possession law when they approved bill SB 241 by a vote of 27-12. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's. One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Michigan: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize, Tax Marijuana To Pay For Roads

BrandonDillon,MichiganStateRepresentative(D-GrandRapids)[MLive.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michigan state Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) on Wednesday said he supports legalizing and taxing marijuana, and using the proceeds for state road repairs and other funding issues.

Dillon said legalization will not only benefit the state by bringing in more funds, but will also give law enforcement more time to concentrate their efforts on violence and property crime, reports Fox 17 News.

In states like Colorado, where cannabis is already legalized, violent crime has fallen 6.9 percent, according to Dillon. He also pointed to several cities across Michigan, including his hometown of Grand Rapids, which have recently voted to decriminalize pot.

"We know that attitudes are quickly changing," Dillon wrote in a May 19 guest editorial on MLive.com. "Recent surveys show that more than half of Michigan residents are in favor of legalizing, regulating and taxing the adult use of marijuana."

While legalization won't be a panacea for all of Michigan's challenges, "However, taking marijuana off the black market will generate much needed revenue, allow us to redeploy law enforcement resources to focus on violent and property crime, and ease the tax burden on the middle class," Dillon wrote.

"Our current marijuana laws are broken," Dillon wrote. "It is time to fix them."

Maryland: Governor Vetoes Popular Bill Intended To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

LarryHogan(GovernorMaryland)[KatherineFrey-TheWashingtonPost]

Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland calls on state lawmakers to override veto of SB 517, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced late Friday afternoon that he has vetoed a widely supported bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, including potential jail time.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. The measure would also have designated public marijuana consumption a civil offense punishable by a $500 fine.

Maryland adopted a law last year that decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia. That leaves the state in the unusual position of having decriminalized marijuana itself, but marijuana paraphernalia is still a crime.

Gov. Hogan’s letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announcing the veto and explaining his reasoning is available at http://bit.ly/1ellF1e.

Ohio: Attorney General Looking At Drafting His Own Medical Marijuana Proposal

MikeDeWineAmericanFlag[USElectionAtlas]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Things are getting crazy in Ohio. One recreational marijuana legalization proposal, which appears headed for the ballot, would hand over control of all growing in the state to just 10 companies. And now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he has staff looking into a medical marijuana proposal which they'd draft themselves.

The proposal would be "very limited" and "tightly controlled," DeWine told Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch. A Republican who opposes recreational cannabis legalization, DeWine wouldn't commit to saying he supports legalizing medical marijuana.

But the Attorney General did grant that there are people who definitely could use it; he said he's having his staff work up a proposal before consulting with state lawmakers.

Staffers are reviewing medical marijuana systems in other states to see if it's possible to set up rules that can't be exploited by recreational pot users, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said on Friday, reports Jeremy Pelzer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Specifically, Tierney said staffers are investigating methods of administration such as ointments or pills, which don't involve smoking.

Tierney said it's still "far too early" to say if or when DeWine will take such a step. The Attorney General still has "grave concerns" about full marijuana legalization, according to Tierney.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

IllinoisMarijuana[KTRS]

Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

U.S.: Senate Panel OKs Medical Marijuana For Veterans

USArmyMarijuana(PTSD)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 18-12 to approve an amendment to increase military veterans' access to medical marijuana.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the must-pass Senate version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, if signed into law, would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending money to enforce a prohibition on V.A. doctors filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal.

“This is a historic moment," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Passage of the amendment was the right thing to do for our veterans.

"We should not be preventing access to medicine that can help our wounded warriors deal with serious conditions, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries,” Blumenauer said. “Today’s passage coupled with the narrow defeat of my amendment to the MilCon-VA appropriations bill in the House signals there is real movement and bipartisan support in reforming outdated federal marijuana policies. We are now in a good position to be able to advocate for inclusion of this policy in a final appropriations bill.”

Louisiana: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Reforming Marijuana Possession Law

LouisianaMapMarijuanaLeaf

Measure Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana on Wednesday took a major step forward when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the War On Drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Leaves Door Open For Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersSmiles[420Magazine]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday hinted at support for marijuana legalization, saying police didn't focus on arresting people for pot when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, indicated an openness to legalization during an online question and answer session on Reddit.com.

"I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana [when I was mayor]," Sanders said. "Our police had more important things to do."

Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He said he supports decriminalizing cannabis in Vermont, and is watching the situation in Colorado "very closely."

"Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I'm going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," Sanders said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months."

Sanders, who announced in April that he's running for President, has acknowledged using marijuana when he was younger, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He has been an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, telling Time magazine in 2014 that he had "real concerns" about American drug policy.

Oregon: Call To Action - Protect Grants Pass Medical Marijuana Patients and Growers

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The Grants Pass City Council is considering an ordinance to ban all sun-grown and greenhouse-cultivated medical marijuana. This harmful ordinance is expected to be presented on May 20 at the city council chambers at 6 P.M.

Patients who depend upon compassionate growers will be harmed the most by this proposal, according to activist Alex Rogers. "This proposed ban not only hurts Grants Pass OMMP participants, but could lead to the slippery slope of more and more cities and counties following suit and passing their own bans," Rogers said.

PATIENTS AND CONCERNS CITIZENS NEED TO MEET AT 5 PM, WEDNESDAY MAY, 20, AT 101 N.W. A ST. GRANTS PASS (@6TH ST.)

In the meantime, call the mayor and city council members and tell them that you oppose any ban of medical marijuana gardens; this will only hurt patients and push people into the illicit, underground market:

Darin Fowler, Mayor 541-660-3696
Roy Lindsay, Ward 541-291-0346
Dan DeYoung, 541-479-8777
Rick Riker, 541-479-7333
Lily Morgan, 541-476-6168
Dennis Roler, 541-479-4272
Ken Hannum, 541-659-4579
Mark Gatlin, 541-441-7674
Jim Goodwin, 541-761-5733

Washington: Save Medical Marijuana -- You Can Now Get R76 NO Signature Sheets At Any FedEx

R76NO.orgVolunteerYourTime,Talent,andDonateToday!

Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.

The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.

According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"

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