The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Monday joined in recognizing 4/20, the most iconic business day of the year for those involved in the marijuana industry.
“For the Chamber, along with the businesses, employers, and entrepreneurs we represent, 4/20 is about far more than the day’s festivities and community,” C4 President Tyler Henson said. “This year, 4/20 is really about reflecting on the end of modern day prohibition in Colorado.”
“We already learned in the 1920’s with alcohol that prohibition simply doesn’t work in America,” Henson pointed out. "Prohibition created an unsafe environment for individuals, children, and society as a whole, allowing for black market activity to thrive and bringing about violent ‘liquor wars’.
"Today, the C4 Chamber is working to end a culture of ‘Prohibition 2.0’ as it relates to marijuana," Henson said. "Colorado’s cannabis experiment is now becoming the standard for the rest of the nation to follow as legal, recreational use quickly grows increasing popular among the general public."
The latest polls in Colorado show record support for marijuana, where now 62 percent of voters say they would legalize recreational use again if given the chance. And medicinal marijuana now has a whopping 89 percent public approval rating.
“4/20 is a day for us to highlight the excitement of this new industry we share with fellow Coloradans and the great opportunity we know that lies ahead,” Henson said.
By Steve Elliott
Three Texas men arrested in recent weeks are facing the possibility of life in prison after being caught with small amounts of edible marijuana products, and that has resulted in an outcry from some residents of Amarillo who say that's just too harsh.
Potter County deputies busted Eli Manna, 30, and Andrew George, 27, after stopping them for a traffic violation on March 16, reports JC Cortez at the Amarillo Globe-News. A search of the vehicle yielded seven purple brownies weighing a total of 650 grams, which triggered the most severe punishment range for marijuana possession under Texas law.
More than 400 grams means 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Texas law nonsensically considers the weight of the infused food rather than just its marijuana content when calculating sentencing. According to the law, "adulterants and diluents" are to be considered part of the total volume of controlled substances, which makes absolutely no sense when it comes to cannabis edibles.
Just 10 days later, troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested Fernando Bejarano, 19, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, after stopping him for a traffic violation. Troopers found more than 800 grams of commercially packaged baked goods and candies containing THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
If you're an American citizen, you must be aware that federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents spend plenty of your tax money in Latin America. Recent revelations that DEA agents attended sex parties hosted by the same drug traffickers they were supposed to be fighting shed some revealing light on what they've been up to.
According to a report from the Department of Justice, several DEA agents -- some with top security clearances, mind you -- allegedly participated in multiple sex orgies with prostitutes "funded by the local drug cartels." Some of the federal agents also got cash, gifts and weapons from the traffickers, reports Daniel Robelo at AlterNet.
Incredibly, the sex parties occurred at the agents' "government-leased quarters," where laptops and other equipment were easily accessible, raising "the possibility that DEA equipment and information also may have been compromised as a result of the agents' conduct, according to the report.
Less widely reported was a much more serious allegation that U.S. soldiers and military contractors raped at least 54 women and girls between 2004 and 2007 while deployed as part of Plan Colombia -- the nearly $10 billion U.S. Drug War "military aid" package designed to prop up the deeply corrupt Colombian government.
None of those involved has faced any consequences.
By Steve Elliott
A 27-year-old Missouri man was charged with selling marijuana after confessing during a traffic stop for having the wrong license plate, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office said on Friday.
According to court documents, the original incident took place on July 24, 2014, reports Brandie Piper at KSDK. When an officer smelled marijuana, suspect James Redmond allegedly said, "I just smoked some when I left Hotshots. It's in the center console."
The officer searched as instructed and discovered a glass pipe, an e-cigarette, capsules with a dark liquid smelling like marijuana, and $1,534 in cash.
When the officer asked where the money came from, Redmond -- who evidently has a few things to learn when it comes to slinging trees -- replied, "I'm not gonna lie. I sell marijuana," reports Kevin S. Held at KTVI.
Redmond went on to tell the officer he had a book bag full of weed in the back seat.
The officer looked through the book bag and found two large bags and one small bag filled with cannabis, a digital scale, a bag of empty baggies, and a blue container containing marijuana with a label on the lid reading, "Marijuana Grown in Colorado."
Redmond was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a felony.
Photo of James Redmond: St. Louis County Police Department
By Steve Elliott
The Washington state Military Department has agreed to pay $110,000 to a King County marijuana activist and a Seattle attorney to settle a long-running public records lawsuit centered around the Washington National Guard's counterdrug task force.
Activist John Worthington of Renton and attorney William Crittenden sought the release of flight records and other documents, reports Adam Ashton at the Tacoma News Tribune.
Worthington, 51, had tried to get the records since 2008 under Washington's Public Records Act, which applies to state agencies. King County Sheriff's deputies seized six marijuana plants from Worthington's home in 2007.
"They went after me because I'm an activist, and I've been terrorized out of growing," Worthington told the Seattle PI at the time, reports Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. "I can't have my kids frisked like they're criminals. That was disgusting. I'm not Al Capone -- I'm a dad."
The National Guard wasn't involved in that raid, but Worthington views the Guard's involvement as a federal entity in a state counterdrug task force as a violation of federal law prohibiting military authorities from participating in domestic law enforcement.
The 'Hempster Clothing' line was introduced on Thursday by Algae International Group, Inc., through its operating subsidiary American Seed & Oil Company.
The company is introducing the first clothing items it plans to start selling through an e-commerce site by April 20. The introduction of the first clothing items will be combined with a campaign to fund efforts to legalize marijuana nationwide.
American Seed & Oil Company will introduce four t-shirts bearing various designs specific to the 'Hempster Clothing' line brand. One hundred percent of the profit from the sales of these first four t-shirts over the course of the next year will be donated to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), an organization dedicated to ending the federal prohibition of marijuana and empowering states to regulate their own marijuana policy.
American Seed & Oil's overall mission is to create a variety of market competitive, environmental conscious, consumer and commercial products utilizing various forms of cannabis. A clothing line was conceived as part of American Seed & Oil Company's original business plan.
Hemp requires half the water and half the land required by cotton to produce equal quantities of fiber for clothing production. While cotton accounts for a major portion of agricultural pesticides, hemp requires no pesticides at all.
By Steve Elliott
More than 30 people have been charged after police investigating the cultivation of hydroponic cannabis raided 60 properties in South Australia.
The investigation began in May 2014, centering on four hydroponic businesses, reports
According to police, 37 grow houses were searched, resulting in 31 arrests and the seizure of 711 cannabis plants, 26 kilograms of dried cannabis, two grams of amphetamine and two grams of cocaine.
Also seized were 33 firearms, $91,805 in cash, 12 vehicles and a "large quantity" of hydroponic growing equipment.
The investigation continues, according to assistant police commissioner Paul Dickson on Wednesday.
"This operation will certainly shake up the hydroponics industry and disrupt any criminal activity being undertaken by these individuals," Dickson said.
By Steve Elliott
President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.
According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."
"While today’s announcement represents important progress, there’s more work ahead," Eggleston said. "The Administration will continue to work to review thoroughly all petitions for clemency."
Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimum and harsh sentencing guidelines. The Obama Administration also promised improvements in the commutation process.
Yet, despite his Administration's declared support of substantive criminal justice reform, until now Obama has used his power to grant clemency less frequently than nearly all other U.S. Presidents.
By Steve Elliott
Police in Palmerah, Indonesia, a sub-district of West Jakarta, accidentally got an entire town stoned when they burned a 3.3-ton pile of marijuana.
A number of residents and journalists in the Indonesian neighborhood reported feeling disoriented, dizzy and stoned when heavy plumes of smoke wafted through their streets, reports Dangerous Minds.
Some of the police wore masks as they first set the cannabis ablaze, but neglected to mention to onlookers and residents in the surrounding community that the smoke could affect them, too.
By Steve Elliott
Kentucky Baptists may have won a major legislative victory by helping to defeat a measure in the General Assembly that would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but they managed to give themselves a public relations black eye in the process, showing themselves to both be out of touch with modern medical research, and severely lacking in compassion, as well.
Almost as distressing as the fact that they were able to stop this compassionate legislation in its tracks is the fact that these heaven-dazed idiots were proud of themselves for doing it.
Legislators finished the 2015 session early Wednesday morning without passing a bill which would have made cannabis available for medical purposes.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood, who apparently was determined to flaunt his ignorance in front of large numbers of people, had called on lawmakers to reject the proposal, claiming Kentucky shouldn't follow the lead of other states that have done the same.
The KBC is Kentucky's largest religious organization, and as such has a powerful voice in the state, where 1 million of the state's 4.4 million residents self identify as Southern Baptists. Those demographics -- which correlate strongly with conservative political positions -- filter into the Legislature, where almost half the Senate and a third of the House identify themselves as Baptists.
By Steve Elliott
Two Texas men could be facing life in prison after a marijuana-infused brownies were discovered during a traffic stop Monday afternoon.
Potter County sheriff's deputies arrested Eli McCarthy Manna, 30, and Andrew Bruce George, 27, after pulling them over on a traffic violation on I-40 west of Amarillo, according to authorities, reports JC Cortez at Amarillo.com.
A deputy got suspicious during the stop and asked for permission to search the vehicle, which was denied, according to authorities. Deputies detained the men and asked for the help of a police dog from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The dog alerted them to the presence of "drugs" in the vehicle, the deputies claimed, giving them probable cause to search it.
The search revealed more than 650 grams of marijuana brownies in plastic bags, along with a small amount of raw marijuana, according to authorities.
Deputies booked the men into Potter County Jail, charging them with possession of a controlled substance, more than 400 grams. Under the idiotic practice of charging defendants for the weight of a carrier as well as the marijuana itself, they are being charged for the full weight of the brownies.
If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
By Steve Elliott
From time to time, a particular arrest serves to highlight the absurd nature of cannabis prohibition.
Such an arrest took place on Monday in North Carolina, where a 94-year-old man was charged with felony possession of marijuana, reports Elisabeth Arriero at The Charlotte Observer.
Douglas Floyd Ponischil, 94, was arrested at 6:36 a.m. on Monday by the Mecklenberg County Sheriff's Office, according to arrest records.
Ponischil -- a World War II veteran, according to Hempyreum -- doesn't appear to have much of a criminal history in the state; a background check revealed only minor traffic violations.
"Bay State Repeal, the ballot-initiative committee aiming to draft the least restrictive citizen initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in 2016, is pleased 15 legislators are seriously considering marijuana law reform," the organization announced in a Wednesday press release.
"We are also pleased the bill permits home cultivation in any amount as long as minors have no access to the cultivation site and there is no intent to sell," the statement reads. "For Bay State Repeal, the right to grow cannabis at home is a key provision of any meaningful reform, both as a matter of civil rights and protection from overzealous law enforcement and as a check on excessive prices.
"We are less pleased to see that the proposed law creates a 'Cannabis Commission' to regulate cultivation and commerce in marijuana for profit," the release reads. "A new bureaucracy is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a mandate for overregulation. A better solution is to assign any needed licensing authority to the Department of Revenue. In addition, the proposed tax on recreational cannabis is excessive and becomes more so over the first four years.
By Steve Elliott
When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in New York City, one of his leading initiatives was responding to possession of small amounts of marijuana with summonses rather than arrests. At the news conference announcing the change -- which affected possession cases involving up to 25 grams of weed -- NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton stood beside the mayor, holding up a bag of oregano measuring 25 grams, as an educational prop for how much pot is allowable.
Last week, this time without the mayor, Commissioner Bratton turned his attention once again to marijuana, report J. David Goodman and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times. Bratton announced homicides were up to 54 through March 1, compared with 45 over the same period last year, as were shootings -- and he claimed marijuana was a factor in the violence.
"The seemingly innocent drug that's being legalized around the country -- in this city, people are killing each other over marijuana," Bratton dramatically announced.
But does the commissioner's sharp turn towards reefer madness territory indicate a schism in the de Blasio administration's approach to cannabis? The mayor said he supports the new policy regarding low-level marijuana possession, voicing concerns that arrests for small amounts of pot disproportionately affect the black and Hispanic communities.
Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law
A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.
U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.
It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.
“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.
"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.
“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.