Political

Oregon: Eastern Residents Voted Against Legal Marijuana; Urge Tight Rein On Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon voters last November chose to legalize marijuana. But some residents in the eastern part of the state still aren't ready to let go of prohibition.

Pendleton, an eastern Oregon town where the motto is "Let 'er buck" and the main attraction is the 105-year-old Pendleton Round-Up, may ban cannabis retailers from the city, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"When it comes to a lot of our laws, they are determined by a couple of counties and Portland," whined Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk. "We are used to that, so what we have to do is buck up and figure out what we are going to do."

Among many in eastern Oregon, especially more rural areas of the state, the marijuana's reputation as a gateway to hard drugs, mental illness, family dysfunction and addiction still seems strong, The Oregonian reports.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Thursday held the first of 10 statewide public forums as part of an effort to collect input from residents. The first two, in Baker City and Pendleton, attracted more than 200 residents from a mostly rural area.

"I am trying to picture what this is going to look like in our town," said John Day coucilwoman Lisa Weigum, 30, who drove 80 miles to attend the Baker City meeting.

Hawaii: State Capitol Flies Hemp Flag On Opening Day Of Legislative Session

HawaiiStateRepCynthiaThielenWithHempFlag

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hawaii on Wednesday, the opening day of the 2015 legislative session, joined the U.S. Capitol and four other states in flying an American-grown, American-produced hemp flag.

GOP state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who has long advocated for industrial hemp use, sponsored the flag-raising and borrowed a hemp flag from Colorado advocate Michael Bowman, reports Chad Blair at the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Bowman enlisted the help of a Colorado hemp farmer to make the flag, according to a press release from Thielen's office.

The flag has "a vintage feel to it which appears to be a nod to America's hemp growing founding fathers and the many original flags that were made of hemp," according to Thielen's office.

"This durable flag will be flying high," the state representative's office adds.

The University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is allowed to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program after last year's passage of Act 56 into law.

The federal Agriculture Act of 2014 allows colleges and state departments of agriculture to conduct industrial hemp research, including cultivaiton.

The neighboring Hawaiian island of Maui "is slated to become the first island in the state with a home built using industrial hemp," reports the Maui News.

Photo: Rep. Cynthia Thielen and the hemp flag

U.S.: Obama Predicts More States Will Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to legalize marijuana.

In a YouTube interview, Obama discussed cannabis policy and the contrasts between federal and state law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. Four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) plus the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana.

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to a question from Hank Green, who with his brother runs a YouTube channel with nearly 2.5 million subscribers.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said, about 11 minutes into the video embedded below. “My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Indiana: Two Medical Marijuana Bills Filed In Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two Democratic lawmakers have filed bills that would allow the use of medical marijuana in Indiana, but neither measure is likely to make any progress in the Republican-controlled Legislature, according to observers.

Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) and Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) are sponsoring bills in the Indiana Senate and House, respectively, that would allow state residents to use cannabis for medicinal purposes with a doctor's authorization, reports the Associated Press.

Errington's House bill would allow patients with conditions including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease or Alzheimer's disease to use marijuana for treatment.

Unfortunately, the bill has been assigned to the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee, where it's unlikely to get a hearing, according to Errington.

"Bills that go there usually don't come back out," Errington told The Star Press. "I would like it to at least get a hearing, so people could come and tell their stories -- patients and physicians and others."

According to Errington, she's heard from constituents who are suffering from chronic pain and seizures, who would like to use medical marijuana to ease their suffering.

Washington: I-1372 Gathering Signatures To Protect And Strengthen Medical Marijuana

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Backers of a new initiative to strengthen Washington state's medical marijuana law are now gathering signatures.

"Initiative Measure No. 1372, filed January 6, 2015, will protect and strengthen the medical cannabis law, RCW 69.51A, by offering compassion, clarity and consistency," said Kirk Ludden of Cannabis Patient Protection Washington (CPPWA) on Wednesday.

I-1372 would make the following changes, according to Ludden:

• Bringing Washington state law into compliance with stated federal policy

• Allowing business owners to obtain licenses for producing, processing or dispensing cannabis in a commercial manner. Using the language from ESSB 5073, specifying cannabis for medical use licensing, allowing producers and processors to deliver cannabis to any cannabis for medical use licensee, and allowing the botanical herb tax exemption on cannabis for medical use.

• Creating and empowering the cannabis for medical use board, made up of the state and the community, to govern all aspects of the market. Through licensing and regulation fees, revenue is generated for the board to regulate the not-for-profit cannabis for medical use market while remaining revenue neutral.

• Maintaining small, private residential gardens and patient cooperatives that do not violate the spirit or intent of law. As well as protecting existing cannabis farmer's markets serving qualifying patients.

Kansas: Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced; Senate Hears From Supporters, Opponents

KansasStateRepGailFinney(D-Wichita)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City) and state Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita) have once again introduced medical marijuana bills in the Kansas Legislature, as they've done every year since 2009.

None of the measures has ever gone beyond informational hearings, in which no action can be taken, but Sen. Haley thinks that might change this year, reports Amy Himmelberg of the Associated Press.

"I think the ice is beginning to thaw regarding the reasonableness of the issue among the leadership of the Legislature," Haley said.

Rep. Finney -- who has undergone chemotherapy for lupus -- thinks the bill will at least get a hearing after being ignored by Republican legislators for years. "Passing, I don't know about that," she added.

Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, said he's waiting to see what the Senate does with medical marijuana. "Nobody's come and really pushed it," Hawkins claimed, adding that he's heard "very little" from constituents about it. If you'd like to change that, you can click here and let Rep. Hawkins hear from the people he's supposed to be representing.

U.S.: Attorney General Eric Holder Ends Incentive For Law Enforcement To Seize Property

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Property Seizures by Local and State Police Often Conducted Under Pretext that Property Is Connected to Illegal Drugs

Advocates Applaud Holder for New Policy, Urge Congress to Make Reforms Permanent

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The U.S. Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy.

The new policy will greatly restrict the ability of state and local police forces to use fedeal law to seize goods without charging an individual with a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is a process by which authorities seize property alleged to have been involved in a crime, charge the property directly, since goods do not have the same constitutional protections as their owners, and then keep most of the proceeds for departmental use.

The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.

Vermont: New Report Outlines Options Regarding Marijuana Legalization

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Legalizing recreational marijuana production, distribution and possession in Vermont could generate significant tax revenues, but also involves costs and important decisions about how best to regulate the substance, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The report makes clear that if Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated.

The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. Researchers say the goal of the report is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.

The RAND report provides the most-detailed accounting available about the wide number of issues that face state officials -- in Vermont and elsewhere -- when considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.

“Our conversation about whether to legalize marijuana must be rooted in facts and be transparent about the uncertainties,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “This RAND report will serve as a critical foundation for our ongoing discussion about the best course for Vermont.

"I continue to support moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont but have always said that we have to proceed with rigorous research and preparation before deciding whether to act," Shumlin said. "This report will help us do that.”

Israel: Green Leaf Party Offers Marijuana (In The Future) For Campaign Donations (Now)

IsraelGreenLeaf(AlehYarok)PartyFlag

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One political party in Israel is offering marijuana for campaign donations. The only catch is, it's marijuana in the future for campaign donations now.

The gimmick, launched in a YouTube video on Saturday, helped the Green Leaf (Aleh Yarok) party get more than NIS 100,000 ($25,000 US) in donations this week, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Donors who give campaign donations are promised they will receive cannabis if and when the day comes that the plant is legalized in Israel.

The party on Monday morning opened a Headstart fundraising campaign with a range of options for donors. The page includes a sliding scale of hypothetical amounts of marijuana along with corresponding contribution levels.

A donation of NIS 50 ($12.50) entitles the donor to a savings bond redeemable for one gram of marijuana, once it's legalized. That's significantly less than the black market street value of weed in Israel, where it runs NIS 80 to 100 ($20 to $25 US) a gram. By Wednesday, all 56 available for that donation had been purchased.

Washington: Judge Rules State Can't Ban Doctors From Advertising Marijuana Authorizations

JudgeElizabethMartin-PierceCountySuperiorCourt(TheNewsTribune)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Superior Court judge in Pierce County has ruled unconstitutional a state law which forbids doctors and other medical professionals from advertising medical marijuana authorizations in their advertisements.

Judge Elizabeth Martin in a Friday ruling said the law violates both the Washington and U.S. constitutions by curbing free speech, reports Adam Lynn at The News Tribune of Tacoma. While the state might have an interest in regulating such advertising, Martin ruled, banning it completely is unacceptable.

"I find the statute impermissibly overbroad as it chills even informational speech aimed solely at public education," Judge Martin wrote in her decision.

The ruling came in a case brought by Scott Havsy, a Pierce County osteopath. He took the state to court last year after the Washington Department of Health punished him for advertising his willingness to authorize patients' use of medicinal cannabis.

The sanctions levied against Dr. Havsy have been on hold while the court case plays out. Havsy, who has practiced for more than 30 years, authorizes a number of patients for medical marijuana.

Attorney Mark G. Olson of Everett argued that the state's ban on medical marijuana advertising hindered the ability of patients to find doctors willing to authorize them for cannabis use.

Ohio: 2 Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measures Emerge

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Not one but two proposed ballot measures to legalize marijuana have emerged on Ohio in the past month.

On Thursday, Ohioans to End Prohibition announced the latest, the Cannabis Control Amendment, which would legalize cannabis sales, use and possession for adults 21 and older, reports the Associated Press. The group hopes to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.

Responsible Ohio in December had announced another proposal which calls for 10 authorized growing locations around the state.

Ohioans to End Prohibition Vice President Jacob Wagner said the new measure was different in that it would not restrict those who want to grow marijuana at home for personal use, just commercial sales.

"Any amendment that might consolidate the prospective economic power of a legal cannabis market in the hands of a chosen few is a raw deal for the people of Ohio," Ohioans to End Prohibition President Sri Kavaru and attorney Jacob Wagner wrote in a Thursday press release.

Kavuru and Wagner said in an interview they planned to announce their plan later this year but announced early after reports surfaced that the group was planning an amendment for the November 2015 ballot, reports Jackie Borchardt of Northeast Ohio Media Group.

U.S.: Brookings Institution Lists 8 Things To Watch About Marijuana Legalization In 2015

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The Brookings Institution has released a list of eight critical marijuana legalization items to monitor during 2015.

The list, from Brookings Fellow John Hudak, follows:

1) Oregon, Alaska Plan & Prepare for Legal Marijuana: How well each of these state legislatures and alcohol regulatory bodies work together will determine the success or failure of marijuana policy in these states. As it borders Washington, Oregon’s commercial and regulatory choices will be particularly crucial in understanding to what extent states may strive for market advantages vis-à-vis bordering states.

2) Identifying the Next States to Legalize: 2015 will show which states are serious about ballot initiatives in 2016. It’s widely expected that California will advance an initiative and Florida might take another swing at approving medical marijuana, after falling just short of approval in 2014.

3) Cannabis Policy & State Legislative Action: In some states, the battleground for enacting items like the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana is not the ballot box, but the state legislature.

4) Cannabis & the Courts: Multiple high-profile lawsuits surrounding marijuana policy may play out in 2015. For instance, Coats v. Dish Network may settle the issue of employer-sponsored marijuana testing and a Supreme Court case involving Nebraska and Oklahoma’s suing of Colorado over legalizing marijuana will indicate the willingness of federal courts to engage in this policy area.

Mississippi: Town Hall Meeting On Marijuana Legalization Initiative Friday In Jackson

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group which is gathering signatures to legalize marijuana in Mississippi has scheduled a town hall meeting for 2-3 p.m. on Friday, January 9, at the Eudora Welty Library in Jackson. At the meeting, representatives of Mississippi For Cannabis will answer questions about the group's ballot initiative, and the petition will be available for signatures.

The ballot initiative would allow the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and industrial hemp for adults 21 years or older, reports Jimmie E. Gates at The Clarion-Ledger.

The group needs more than 107,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot. The deadline for the 2016 ballot is October 2, 2015, according to sponsor Kelly Jacobs. If they miss that deadline the group plans to shoot for the November 2017 ballot, for which the deadline is December 29, 2015.

"If the ballot initiative gets the necessary signatures and is approved by voters in a referendum, it would make it legal for adults to possess cannabis in unlimited quantities, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes," Jacobs said. "However, it would have to be kept from minors.

"We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it," she said. "It's an adult discussion we should be having."

Colorado Tries 'Good To Know' Education Campaign About Legal Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado is launching a major, $5.7 million campaign to educate both residents and tourists on how to responsibly use marijuana.

The "Good To Know" campaign will begin hitting the airwaves, newspapers and the Net this month, one year after recreational marijuana sales began in the Rocky Mountain State, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.

The "bright, neighborly" approach is designed to educate without alienating, and is not an aversion campaign, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado's chief medical officer and director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

The friendly tone of the ad campaign is illustrated by the spot that points out you can't legally drive a car after smoking pot -- it adds what "walking, hopping and skipping are allowed," reports the Associated Press.

The campaign appears to be the first comprehensive effort by any state to educate consumers and marijuana use and regulations after legalization. "This is still uncharted territory for us, and really for everyone in the United States," Wolk said on Monday.

Washington: I-502 Author Urges Prosecuting, Shutting Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The author of Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law I-502 is defending and even urging prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle.

Criminal defense attorney Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington, who wrote Initiative 502, wrote a December 11 email to Seattle officials about their plans to create new rules for medical marijuana in the city, reports Heidi Groover at The Stranger.

“If escalation of sanctions were deemed appropriate, the city has authority to prosecute repeat license offenses as gross misdemeanors, initiate civil asset seizure and forfeiture, or even refer cases for felony prosecution,” Holcomb wrote in the email.

Seattle is looking for ways to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries; Holcomb's words were part of a chain of emails exchanged among city council members, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's staff, and others, including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who seems just as weirdly intent on eliminating dispensaries as is Holcomb.

Holcomb, like Holmes, purportedly opposes the dispensaries because they aren't regulated -- but she also opposes regulating them. She argued against a new licensing plan the mayor's office has floated for dispensaries, hoping to leave the coup de grace -- complete elimination of the shops -- to the Legislature in the upcoming session.

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