Ohio: Fears Of Marijuana Monopoly Undercut Support For Legalization Measure


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If a ballot measure says "legalization" on it, it's always good, right? RIGHT? Maybe not.

A proposal that could this November make Ohio the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana is drawing some unusual opposition -- and it's coming from residents who support legalizing marijuana, reports Lewis Wallace at NPR.

Lots of liberals and old hippies don't like the monopoly aspect of the referendum. Samantha Van Ness, 25, said that while she's all for legalizing cannabis, she's dead set against the amendment that will be on November's ballot.

"I would rather take the minor misdemeanor fine than let someone have such a massive monopoly in my state," she said. And that's reflected statewide among many who have problems with the initiative and with the group, ResponsibleOhio, that's pushing it.

One of the biggest reasons why is that the initiative specifies just 10 locations in the state where growing marijuana would be allowed. And, guess what? Ten groups of investors already have those sites locked down, ladies and gentlemen.

Those same investors -- surprise, surprise! -- are sinking $20 million into the campaign to make sure their massively profitable monopoly comes to pass. "So in essence," reports NPR, "they are paying to try to amend the Ohio Constitution to grant themselves pot growing rights."

Massachusetts: Initiative To Legalize Marijuana Moves Closer To Ballot


A proposed initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Massachusetts moved another step closer to the 2016 ballot Wednesday when the state Attorney General’s office certified the petition in support of the measure.

The attorney general is required to review all initiative petitions to ensure they meet certain constitutional requirements and must prepare a “fair, concise summary of the proposed law” to appear on petitions and the ballot.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) will now file the petition with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which has 14 days to sign off on it, at which point the campaign will begin its signature drive.

“Massachusetts is another step closer to ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a more sensible policy,” said CRMLA campaign manager Will Luzier. “We’re already finding a lot of support and enthusiasm among voters. People are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

Initiative backers must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters over a nine-week period from September to November. The petition would then be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

In summary, the proposed initiative would:

Arizona: Marijuana Tax Revenue Would Likely Exceed Initiative Backers' Estimate of $40 Million


An independent Arizona-based research organization on Tuesday reported a proposed 2016 ballot measure to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol would likely raise more revenue for education in Arizona than initiative backers originally estimated.

According to the Grand Canyon Institute, a “centrist think-thank led by a bipartisan group of former state lawmakers, economists, community leaders, and academicians,” tax revenue from the initiative would initially generate $64 million annually, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs. It estimates that by 2019, once the new system is fully rolled out, it would raise $72 million per year, including approximately $58 million for public education.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on August 19 announced that it had conservatively estimated that the initiative would raise more than $40 million in tax revenue for public education in Arizona. The estimate was called into question by opponents, and the Arizona Republic published an editorial in which it called the estimate a “lie” and accused the campaign of exaggerating the initiative’s revenue potential.

“The Grand Canyon Institute…finds that the revenue projections were conservative as proponents claimed,” the report reads. “The revenue gains do exceed the $40 million espoused by proponents of the initiative.”

Uruguay Recommends Marijuana Legalization To Rest Of The World


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Uruguay isn't just defending its own national sovereignty regarding its legalization of marijuana. The small South American country is now recommending that the rest of the world adopt its policies as an alternative to the War On Drugs.

The Drug War creates a "diversion of focus," according to Andres Roballo, president of the National Drug Board, making it necessary to switch to a "sophisticated" way of regulating cannabis, rather than prohibiting it, reports El Diario.

Roballo made the remarks during an international seminar on "New Approaches in Drug Policy in the 21st Century." Lawmakers from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay discussed a "paradigm shift" when it comes to the prohibition and legalization of drugs.

For now, domestic growers responsible to providing the substance for registered users through the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) are the only ones who have profited from legalization. About 3,000 growers are operating nationwide, according to officials.

"We are telling the world that the market regulation of marijuana is possible," said Ernest Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations.

Chile On The Verge Of Decriminalizing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chile is on the verge of joining a growing list of Latin American countries decriminalizing marijuana. Proposed changes to Ley 20.000 (Law 20,000) which would grant Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants passed Chile's Chamber of Deputies last month on a 68-39 vote.

The bill must be adjusted by a health commission and then passed by the Chilean Senate before it officially becomes law, but strong support for marijuana legalization in Chile indicates a new norm in the Western Hemisphere and that the War On Drugs has failed, according to Olivia Marple of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

In a 2012 poll of 18- to 34-year-olds by Asuntos del Sur (Southern Affairs), 79 percent of young Chileans "voice strong approval" for legalization, with 52 percent disapproving of government campaigns attempting to reduce drug use and 54 percent did not support the government's current drug policies.

Fifty percent of Chileans at large favor legalization while 45 percent are against, according to a 2014 poll by Cadem, a Chilean market and public opinion investigation company. The approval figure skyrockets to 86 percent in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana.

Spain Overtakes Amsterdam As Popularity of Cannabis Clubs Soars


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Spain has overtaken the Netherlands as a marijuana smoking nation, and with the soaring popularity of its cannabis clubs, it has been dubbed the new Amsterdam.

Ranking third in the world for marijuana use, behind only Iceland the the United States, according to Recovery Brands, which operates addiction rehab and recovery websites, Spain has 10 percent of its population regularly getting high, reports Emma Anderson at The Local.

Iceland is at the top weed smoking nation in the world, with between 160 and 190 people smoking pot per 1,000 adults, according to Recovery, while Americans come in second with between 130 and 160 users per 1,000 adults.

The fact that cannabis is cheaper in Spain than in many other parts of Europe adds to its popularity as a marijuana destination. The new legal members-only cannabis clubs take advantage of a provision in Spain's pot laws that forbid trafficking it or smoking in public, but allow cannabis to be grown and consumed for private use.

U.S.: 'Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers' Named By MPP


The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Wednesday released its annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States.

The list is available below and at

“About one out of every two Americans has used marijuana, including a whole lot of very successful people,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s director of communications. “There are a lot more out there that we don’t know about because it is illegal.

"Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol," Tvert said. "Adults who use it responsibly should not have to choose between keeping it a secret or admitting to a crime.”

President Barack Obama is at the top of MPP’s list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb.

Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

California: Democratic Party Grants Brownie Mary Democrats Statewide Charter


It took a year to happen, but on Sunday, August 16, history was made as the Brownie Mary Democrats of California received by unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party, their statewide organizational charter.

"BMDC now joins only four chartered statewide organizations in representing the interests of its members to the Democratic Party," said Lanny Swerdlow, RN, president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County.

"I would like to thank all of you who took a minute and sent the California Democratic Party an email of support for the BMDC application," Swerdlow said. "Although there was no opposition of any kind to the application, the 66 supporting emails were duly noted and indicated to the Party the widespread support for marijuana law reform and for the Democratic Party to take a leading role in bringing marijuana prohibition to an end.

"Not only was there no opposition, but when approval of the application for the Brownie Mary Democrats of California was announced as part of the consent calendar, hundreds of people gave it a spontaneous round of applause which they had not really done for much of anything else that was announced as part of the consent calendar," Swerdlow said. "It seems Democrats like marijuana or at least ending marijuana prohibition.

California: Legislature Takes A Look At Medical Marijuana Ahead Of Recreational Legalization Vote


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The likelihood of a 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in California is prompting lawmakers in the Golden State to take a serious go at "regulating" the state's large medical marijuana industry, which has existed for 19 years.

Two bills in the California Legislature would create the first statewide regulations for medical cannabis growers, manufacturers of infused products, dispensaries, and delivery services, reports Lisa Leff at the Associated Press.

California voters approved medical marijuana with a 1996 ballot measure allowing doctors to authorize patients to use cannabis for any ailment, deliberately leaving out specifics to allow wider latitude. With advocates now working to qualify recreational adult use initiatives for the November 2016 ballot, the state's medical marijuana industry may soon be losing some of the latitude it has enjoyed for almost two decades.

Last month the Assembly approved a licensing scheme on an overwhelming 62-8 vote. a compromise measure to create a Governor's Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation, AB 266, is endorsed by both the California Cannabis Industry Association and the California Police Chiefs Association, which, as you might imagine, don't often find themselves agreeing.

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Backers Outraged By Erroneous Op-Ed On Tax Revenue


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Backers of a plan to legalize marijuana in Arizona are outraged over an unsigned editorial in the Arizona Republic published on August 21 using inaccurate tax revenue figures to back its claim that campaign leaders are lying.

After being notified of the error by the Phoenix New Times, the Republic later issued a correction, reports Ray Stern.

The op-ed was responding to a claim made by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's message from August 19 at the state Capitol that its planned November 2016 ballot measure, if passed, could bring in $40 million or more annually to Arizona public schools.

The measure in question would create a system of retail cannabis stores where adults 21 and older would pay a 15 percent tax on marijuana sales. After taking the money needed to run a new bureaucracy to oversee that system, 80 percent of the remaining tax revenue would go to funding kindgartens and public schools.

The unsigned editorial claims the legalization campaign's figure is a "lie," suggesting that backers of the measure might be so high on weed that they'd try to deposit the fake check they used for a prop.

Wisconsin: Menominee Tribe Approves Recreational, Medical Marijuana In Advisory Vote


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposal to grow marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes on Thursday passed an advisory referendum vote by the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin.

The tribe said the results aren't binding, but advisory in nature, meaning the vote doesn't change the Tribal Controlled Substance Ordinance, reports Clare Kaley at WBAY. If the proposal is taken up at the tribal legislature level, the panel would need to amend the ordinance.

The tribe said it would take input from tribal members before creating a new ordinance for the use of marijuana.

After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rejected a proposal for the tribe to build a casino in Kenosha, some members say marijuana is a way for the tribe to make some extra money.

"We want to do more for our people, but every situation we come up with gets denied or whatever," said Menominee tribe member Daylene Gladue. "If it came down to this now, then it had to be."

If the tribe approves growing marijuana it may only be available to tribal members, and will only allowed on tribal land. Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw noted it is an "open question" whether the tribe would be allowed to sell marijuana to non-Indians on the reservation.

The tribe said certain factors will be considered if it moves forward with the proposal. "Things like making sure minors do not have access to it, gangs are not involved in it, and that it does not go outside of the reservation to places where it's illegal," Besaw said.

Oregon: Odor of Marijuana Smoke From Neighbor's Apartment Not Legally Offensive, Court Rules


"We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage," the appeals court wrote. "Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing."

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to declare the smell of marijuana smoke drifting into neighbors' homes as "unpleasant."

The appeals court ruled that marijuana smoke isn't necessary offensive to all people, although rotten eggs or raw sewage are physically offensive odors to everyone, reports Aimee Green at The Oregonian.

"We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage," the appeals court wrote. "Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing."

With the appeals court ruling, recreational cannabis users in Oregon may rest assured that smoking weed at home shouldn't result in any law enforcement hassles.

The appeals court ruling came in the case of Jared William Lang, who was 34 in November 2012 when an officer with the Philomath Police Department came to his apartment after neighbors on both sides reported the smell of marijuana coming from his unit. One person claimed "that the smell was especially difficult for him because he was currently attending rehabilitation for drug use and the smell of marijuana was a 'trigger' for him," according to an appeals court summary.

Oregon: Draft Rules Issued For Recreational Marijuana Sales


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon marijuana dispensaries that plan to make recreational sales to people 21 and older must first tell the state health authority and record the birthdates of shoppers, along with the quantities of cannabis they buy, under draft rules issued Wednesday.

Marijuana dispensaries are also required to prominently post a sign at the entrance letting consumers know they are either serving both the medical and the recreational market, or that they are a medical-only shop, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The guidelines for early recreational sales are the first of several sets of rules to be crafted by the Oregon Health Authority for the marijuana program, according to program administrator Steve Wagner. The agency will also issue rules for processors, growers, testing labs, serving sizes, and labeling, according to Wagner.

Recreational sales are set to begin on October 1 in medical marijuana dispensaries which choose to become a part of the program. Wagner said the public, including dispensary owners, will have about one week to comment on the rules.

Also in the draft rules:

• Dispensary staff members must distribute with every recreational marijuana purchase a state-issued information card about cannabis.

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Could Raise $40 Million Annually For Education


Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol estimate the measure would raise more than $40 million annually for education in Arizona. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol highlighted the potential revenue Wednesday by presenting the state with a jumbo-sized check during a “back-to-school” news conference in front of the state capitol.

“Our schools are in serious need of funding, and taxing marijuana would create a significant new revenue stream,” said State Sen. Martin Quezada, a member of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board who spoke at the news conference. “Marijuana sales are going to keep taking place regardless of whether this initiative passes or fails. But only if it passes will they raise tens of millions of dollars each year for public education in Arizona.”

The proposed initiative would enact a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales from licensed retail stores to adults 21 years of age and older, which would be used to fund the implementation and enforcement of regulations. Of any additional tax revenue collected, 40 percent would be allocated to the Department of Education for school construction, maintenance, and operating costs, and 40 percent would be allocated to the Department of Education for full-day kindergarten programs.

Ohio: Buckeye State Could Become First In Midwest To Legalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Ohio could become the fifth state, and the first in the Midwest, to legalize marijuana under a measure that qualified on Wednesday for the state's November 2015 ballot. The measure itself, however, remains controversial, as it basically hands control of the state's legal cannabis industry to a handful of entrepreneurs.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted rules that ResponsibleOhio advocates and hired workers gathered enough valid signatures -- more than 320,000 -- to qualify, reports Jackie Borchardt at the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

The measure will appear as Issue 3 on the statewide ballot for the general election on November 3.

"It's time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November -- we couldn't be more excited," said ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James. "Drug dealers don't care about doing what's best for our state and its citizens.

"By reforming marijuana laws in November, we'll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities."

If the measure passes, Ohio would become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana without having legalized medicinal cannabis first.

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