Marijuana

Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia last week that legalizing marijuana would not make the United States “a better place,” and he is “astonished” by the suggestion that cannabis could be used to combat the nation’s “heroin crisis.” Two days later, New Mexico — which has suffered from by high rates of opiate-related deaths for years — moved to do just that. On Friday, New Mexico’s legislature approved a bill that would make patients diagnosed with opiate disorders eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. The idea already has the blessing of the state’s Medical Advisory Board, and if approved by the governor, New Mexico would become the first state to specifically to put opiate disorders on its list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis products. A growing field of research suggests...

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Jeff Sessions: Legal Pot Drives Violent Crime, Statistics be Damned

by Alan Pyke – The Attorney General revives debunked pot-crime link. While the Trump administration has yet to take any formal action on marijuana policy, its words continue to signal a crackdown. On Monday, days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.” In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized. Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales...

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Most Republicans Oppose Federal Interference With Marijuana Legalization

by Jacob Sullum – A DOJ crackdown on state-licensed cannabusinesses would be contrary to public opinion, Trump’s promises, and the Constitution. Yesterday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Justice Department under newly installed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be more inclined to enforce the federal ban on marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use. A large majority of Americans, including most Republicans, think that’s a bad idea, according to poll numbers released the same day as Spicer’s comments. Answering a question from an Arkansas reporter wondering how the DOJ will respond to that state’s new medical marijuana law, Spicer said “there’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.” He reiterated President Trump’s support for laws that allow patients to use marijuana for symptom relief, which 28 states have enacted. Spicer also noted that Congress has repeatedly approved a spending rider that...

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Pot Protesters Welcome President Trump With 4,200 Joints (VIDEO)

by Todd Krainin & Joshua Swain – “We’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is “waiting in line for marijuana,” says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation’s capital. Eidinger and his colleagues spent the day handing out thousands of free joints to anyone in D.C. who wanted one. It’s a way of “welcoming Donald Trump to Washington,” he says, “and letting him know we’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” Produced by Todd Krainin and Josh Swain. Camera by Swain, Mark McDaniel, and Todd Krainin, who also edited.   Reprinted with permission from Reason.com

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Huge Scientific Study Refutes the Federal Government’s Stance on Marijuana

by Laurel Raymond – It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know.” In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors. The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research. It is particularly significant, however, that the review states...

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Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

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Thousands Of Free Joints Will Be Passed Out In DC On Inauguration Day

by Amanda Froelich – For the 58th Presidential Inauguration, 4,200 free “legally grown cannabis” joints will be passed out to activists who support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. In case you missed it, the real winner of the 2016 U.S. election was marijuana. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote and Hillary Clinton the popular vote, but more Americans supported the recreational legalization of cannabis than either main Presidential contender.  Now, approximately 20% of all Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and 28 states have approved medical marijuana. This development is expected to bring $7 billion in annual sales to the cannabis industry, which will positively benefit the country’s economy. Not only is the herb safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, as it kills 0 people per year, it is an effective anti-anxiety and pain-relieving substance. Additionally, CBD oil (which doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound)...

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“Green is Gold” is the Feel Good Marijuana Movie You’ve Been Waiting For (TRAILER)

by C.M. WATTS – Ready for the next great marijuana film? Because these clips from the recently released movie, Green is Gold, are bound to tug on your heart strings. Green is Gold is an award-winning, heartwarming movie following a 13-year-old boy as he moves in with his older brother after his father’s incarceration. But his older brother’s occupation of growing marijuana leads the two down a tangled path of brotherhood, family and learning how to get buy in this world. Writer, directed and star Ryon Baxter presents a different look at those active in the marijuana industry of the prohibition era. With each clip – including the TWB exclusive below – viewer can see each characters reactions to what most would consider seemingly “normal” life events. However, from their past and current experiences, the world or marijuana teaches them so much more. Green is Gold Learn more at...

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Licensing Medical Marijuana Stirs Up Trouble for States

by Rebecca Beitsch – The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry. The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict. States have struggled with how to give out potentially lucrative medical marijuana licenses — trying to balance public health concerns against an...

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On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

by Jacob Sullum – The president plans to do something about it “as a private citizen.” In a new interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama comes as close as he ever has to endorsing marijuana legalization, saying, “I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” Tobacco and alcohol, of course, are not prohibited by state or federal law, so the implication is that marijuana shouldn’t be either. But Obama apparently is waiting until he leaves office to say so explicitly: I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I’ve already said…that it is untenable over the long term for...

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Obama Administration Breaks 1,000 Commutations Threshold (VIDEO)

by Scott Shackford – Another 79 granted mercy over federal drug war sentences. It took almost his entire presidency to get it rolling, but President Barack Obama will have ended his term granting more than 1,000 federal prisoners mercy from incredibly long federal sentences placed on them due to severe drug war laws. The president took to Facebook to announce another 79 commutations. He used the story of Ramona Brant, who was indicted and imprisoned for life over her relationship with a man who was involved in a drug ring. She was released back in February and filmed a video talking about her experiences earlier in the year. Obama commented on Facebook: Ramona’s story should serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to reform the sentencing laws for drug crimes in this country. It makes no sense for a nonviolent drug offender to be serving decades, or...

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Victories for Eight of Nine Marijuana Initiatives Hasten the Collapse of Prohibition

by Jacob Sullum – Voters made marijuana legal in four more states and approved medical access in four others. Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton was not the only big surprise produced by Tuesday’s elections. Even those of us who were rooting for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots this year did not expect so many of them to pass. Yesterday voters made marijuana legal for recreational use in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) and approved or expanded medical access in four more (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota). The only loss was in Arizona, where voters who very narrowly approved medical use in 2010 declined to take the further step of making marijuana legal just for fun. The margins of victory were also surprising. After falling short just two years ago, a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana got 71 percent of the vote in Florida, 11 points...

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Pot, Death, and Minimum Wage: 6 Things to Pay Attention to This Election (VIDEO)

by Austin Bragg & Nick Gillespie – There’s more to this election than Trump and Clinton. There’s more on the ballot in 2016 than the giant trainwreck on national television. Let’s stop rubbernecking for a minute and take a look at 6 other important things at stake on November 8th. Pot is on the ballot in 9 states, which means some form of legalized marijuana could potentially exist in 29 different states. That could be a tipping point for reform, as public approval for marijuana is at an all time high. Maine is tired of having a governor that more people voted against than for, so they came up with Question 5, which would implement ranked choice voting in the state. It’s a system designed to remove the third party spoiler effect, with voters ranking their candidates and dropping last place finishers until someone has a majority. Minimum wage hikes are...

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Marijuana Legalization Looks Likely in Three States

by Jacob Sullum – Polling also suggests Florida will become the first Southern state to allow medical use. According to the latest American Values Survey, conducted last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, a record 63 percent of Americans favor “making the use of marijuana legal,” up from 43 percent in 2012 and 44 percent last year. That result, which was released on Tuesday, comes a week after Gallup reported that 60 percent of Americans think “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” a record for that survey, and two weeks after the Pew Research Center reported that 57 percent of respondents in its latest survey endorsed that proposition, yet another record. But as Washington Post drug policy blogger Christopher Ingraham notes, these results do not necessarily signal a clean sweep for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots a week from Tuesday, since the surveys use national samples...

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Public Support for Recreational Pot Legalization Hits Record High

by Nadia Prupis – Results come as five states consider legalization measures in November election. Public support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the U.S. is at a historic high—so to speak—of 60 percent, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday. The results come just as a growing number of states vote to legalize recreational marijuana, with another five states casting ballots on the issue this November. Local surveys indicate the efforts are likely to pass in Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. Nevada, the final state considering legalization, seems more conflicted. (Voters will also decide on medical marijuana questions in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.) A Pew Research Center poll released last week found similar results. Gallup first asked the question in 1969 and found that public support for legalization stood at 12 percent. It increased slightly to 28 percent during the mid-’70s, but fell back down during the...

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The Alcohol Industry Is Funding Anti-Marijuana Efforts

by JULIE FIDLER – Like Big Pharma, Big Booze fears competition. Earlier this month, I wrote about how Insys Therapeutics, a drug company that sells only fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly opioid, has been fighting marijuana legalization efforts in Arizona. Well, it’s not just the pharmaceutical industry that is bankrolling anti-marijuana campaigns; the alcohol industry is in on it, too. Insys donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an anti-legalization organization. As it turns out, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association also gave $10,000 to the group. However, Arizona isn’t the only state where the alcohol industry is trying to stop marijuana from becoming legalized. The Massachusetts-based Beer Distributors PAC contributed $25,000 to Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, another anti-legalization group. In fact, the PAC is one of the campaign’s top three donors, and represents 16 of the state’s beer distributors. On top of that, the...

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Marijuana Use Is Up On College Campuses, But Other Drug Use Is Down

by JULIE FIDLER – A new study shows that the number of college students who use pot continues to rise, but they’re more often rejecting other, harder drugs, including amphetamines and opioids. The Findings On Marijuana The researchers’ findings come from the annual Monitoring the Future study, in which between 1,000 and 1,500 college students are surveyed each year. In 2006, 30% of college students reported using marijuana. By 2015, that number had risen to 38%. Daily or nearly-daily pot use (2o or more times in the previous 30 days) reached nearly 6% in 2014 – the highest level of daily use in 34 years. That number dipped slightly, however, to less than 5% in 2015. Last year, 1 in every 22 college student surveyed said they used cannabis at least 20 times a month. About 2/3 of college kids said they don’t see anything wrong with toking up once in...

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Seriously ‘Sinister’ Big Pharma: Opioid Maker Bankrolls Opposition to Pro-Pot Referendum

by Lauren McCauley – “You have a company using profits from the sale of what has been called ‘the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market’ to prevent adults from using a far less harmful substance.” It has been revealed that the maker of a powerful, addictive opioid drug is bankrolling the opposition to the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use in Arizona. The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday that Insys Therapeutics, the company behind the fentanyl-based medication Subsys, made a $500,000 donation to the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), which is leading the campaign against Proposition 205. On the ballot in November, Prop. 205 would allow people 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes as well as establish a department to regulate the drug’s cultivation and sale. It...

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The American Legion Wants Marijuana Reclassified to Help Treat PTSD

by Scott Shackford – How much do politicians really care about veterans’ health? These aren’t your filthy hippies and stoners looking for an excuse to toke (not that there’s anything wrong with that!): The American Legion is calling for the federal government to reclassify marijuana to acknowledge its potential benefits as a medical treatment. As Jacob Sullum previously noted, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is stubbornly refusing to change the federal classification of marijuana as a drug that has no “accepted medical use” until science proves them wrong. Fortunately they’re easing off on the Catch-22 situation that has resulted in this classification making it extremely difficult for researchers to perform the very scientific testing that could determine marijuana’s medical value. One of the potential medical values of medical marijuana is as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And in what must certainly at this point make it abundantly clear where...

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Task Force Offers Hints of What Legal Pot Will Look Like in Canada

by Jacob Sullum – The regulations could be looser in some respects than rules adopted by U.S. states Delivering on a campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to introduce legislation next spring that will legalize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. In the meantime, a government-appointed Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is supposed to hammer out the details, addressing the questions posed by a discussion paper it published last week. Although the paper gives no firm answers, it suggests that Canada’s regulatory regime could be stricter in some ways than the rules adopted by the four U.S. states that allow recreational use of marijuana but looser in others. Here are some of the major issues the paper covers: Production. Based on Canada’s experience with licensed home cultivation and government-controlled production of medical marijuana, the task force concludes that “neither approach would be in the public interest in the...

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Republican Obstructionism Is About To Make An Elderly Disabled Couple Homeless

by Shannon Argueta – An elderly, disabled couple in New Hampshire is suffering thanks to the United States’ ridiculous classification of marijuana. Lorraine Sevigny, 61, and Brian Cardinale, 59, may be evicted from their apartment after police raided their home and found a tiny amount of marijuana — that the couple uses for medicinal purposes — in a jar. On May 10, Lebanon police carried out a search warrant on the apartment, discovered the marijuana and issued them a citation. Police say they conducted the search after some busy-body an anonymous source provided them with “drug intel.” Sevingy told officers that she uses the plant to relieve pain from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident forty years ago. Cardinale smokes pot, in addition to taking 18 other drugs, to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). His debilitating illness, which attacks the central nervous system, has forced him to walk with a cane. “Stairs are my...

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Toronto Police Crack Down On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

by Johnny Green – Thursday was a sad day in Toronto as Toronto Police cracked down on several medical marijuana dispensaries as part of ‘Project Claudia.’ While it is unknown how many dispensaries were raided, I saw many reports on social media that put the number as high as 40. Those reports are from social media, so take the number for what you will, but the fact of the matter is that a very large number of dispensaries were raided, which is a huge waste of law enforcement resources. Per the Toronto Sun: Giant bags of weed locked in police cruisers, young people in handcuffs inside dispensaries, signs that say “Closed” or “Closing.” This was the very public face Thursday of Project Claudia — an effort by Toronto Police to crack down on stores selling medical marijuana over the counter. Police wouldn’t say how many marijuana dispensaries were raided across the city...

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DOJ Drops Prosecution of Biggest Medical Marijuana Dispensary in US

by JULIE FIDLER – Providing medical marijuana to more than 100,000 people On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped a 4-year-long effort to shut down Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, the largest marijuana dispensary in the US. Employee Derek Flores, right, waits for a patient at a display case at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Calif. The center will be one of the models for Maine’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. Credit: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer Providing medical marijuana to more than 100,000 patients, Harborside opened in 2006, and the Justice Department first tried to shutter its doors and seize the buildings that house the business in 2012. The city of Oakland sided with Harborside and sued, arguing that closing the dispensary would harm those who rely on its services and force sick people to seek marijuana illegally on the streets. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but medical...

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Senator Says ‘Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana’

by Jacob Sullum – Yeah, but what if they eat it? Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the two oldest members of the U.S. Senate and two of its most enthusiastic drug warriors, held a hearing that posed the question, “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public From the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?” You can probably guess their answer, especially if you know that three of the witnesses chosen by Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Feinstein, a California Democrat, are prominent marijuana foes: a U.S. attorney from California, Nebraska’s attorney general, and an adviser to the anti-pot group SAM. The fourth witness, an analyst from the Government Accountability Office, was there to present a report concluding that the Justice Department “should document its approach to monitoring the effects of legalization.” Grassley complained that “the Department of Justice decided to all but abandon the enforcement of federal law relating to the...

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The DEA says Potential Game-Changing Ruling on Marijuana Classification Will be Coming Within Weeks

by Jen Hayden – This is potentially great news for the millions of Americans who smoke pot and use cannabis oil products and the hundreds or thousands of new marijuana dispensaries across several states. The DEA may soon be rescheduling marijuana: In a memo to lawmakers this week, the DEA announced plans to decide “in the first half of 2016” whether or not it will reschedule marijuana, according to The Washington Post. Cannabis is now listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug, a categorization it shares with other drugs, such as heroin and LSD, which the U.S. government defines as “the most dangerous drugs” that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Of course, it is nothing short of absurd that it is in the same category with heroin, which caused more than 11,000 deaths last year in the United States. Aside from potentially impacting criminal justice...

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Michigan Republicans Are Trying To Change Election Law To Stop Liberal Ballot Initiatives

by EMILY ATKIN – Grassroots groups in Michigan say they’re about to achieve something big. This year, if they get enough petition signatures, voters might get to decide at the ballot box whether to ban fracking and legalize marijuana. There’s just one problem: the state’s Republican lawmakers are now trying to change the rules in the middle of the game. The lawmakers aren’t opposing marijuana legalization or fracking bans on their merits — they’re trying to change election law to make it harder for citizen groups to get their issues on the ballot in the first place. Their bill to change citizen lawmaking in Michigan has so far been supported by the American Petroleum Institute, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It could land on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk as soon as this week. “They are trying to stop cold,” said Luanne...

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SCOTUS Turns Away Oklahoma and Nebraska’s Challenge to Legal Pot in Colorado

by Jacob Sullum – Perturbed by smuggling, the two states had demanded an end to their neighbor’s licensing and regulation of marijuana merchants Today the Supreme Court declined to hear Oklahoma and Nebraska’s challenge to marijuana legalization in neighboring Colorado, which they say harms them through interstate smuggling. They argued that legalization in Colorado had “a direct and significant detrimental impact” on them by forcing “the diversion of limited manpower and resources to arrest and process suspected and convicted felons involved in the increased illegal marijuana trafficking or transportation.” The Obama administration had urged the Court to reject Oklahoma and Nebraska’s petition, saying their beef did not amount to a bona fide interstate controversy, since it grew out of lawbreaking that was neither directed nor approved by Colorado. Oklahoma and Nebraska argued that Colorado’s licensing, regulation, and taxation of marijuana growers and distributors violates the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and therefore the Supremacy Clause, which makes...

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Leading California Anti-Pot Activist Says Marijuana Causes ‘Almost All’ Mass Murders

by Jacob Sullum – Roger Morgan, who is spearheading the campaign against legalization, says cannabis really is a “killer weed.” Harry Anslinger, who directed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1932 to 1962, famously described marijuana as a “killer weed” that inspired irrational acts of savage violence. Anslinger’s method was simple: He would identify crimes committed by marijuana users and assert that the drug must have been the cause. It was not the most scientific approach, but it was good enough for government work. Roger Morgan, the anti-pot activist who is spearheading the campaign against legalization in California, has managed to out-Anslinger Anslinger by claiming, in a recent Reason TV interview, that in “almost all of the mass murders that we’ve had in recent years,” the perpetrator “has been a heavy marijuana user, because it changes the brain.” For now let us overlook, as Anslinger did, the distinction between correlation and...

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Corporate Feeding Frenzy Begins As Canada Prepares to Legalize Marijuana

by Th0rn – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were recently elected in part on the promise to legalize marijuana — not just medical marijuana but marijuana for recreational use. As the day when they plan to introduce the relevant legislation draws near, both corporations and governments are smelling not just smoke in the air, but the sweet, sweet scent of huge amounts of money to be made: Canada’s biggest drugstore chain is exploring the possibility of getting into medical-marijuana sales in a move that would dramatically alter the landscape of the new industry, bringing one of the country’s best-known retailers into the business if the strategy went ahead. Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. has held multiple meetings and phone conversations with licensed medical-marijuana producers across Canada over the past year about carrying a variety of brands in their drugstores, according to people involved in those conversations. The chain, which has more...

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Former Attorney General Eric Holder Comes Out In Favor Of Marijuana Rescheduling

by AARON RUPAR – In a newly published PBS “Frontline” interview, former Attorney General Eric Holder comes out in support of reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I substance — a classification reserved for dangerous drugs that have no medical use — into a less restrictive category. “I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled,” Holder says. “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate.” That statement goes a bit further than Holder’s comments on marijuana when he was attorney general. In September 2014, he said rescheduling the drug is “something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.” But the current scheduling scheme as specified by the Controlled Substances Act is far from scientific. Marijuana falls under Schedule I, while highly addictive and potent drugs such as cocaine, opium poppy,...

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Legal Marijuana Sales Totaled $1 Billion in Colorado Last Year

by Jacob Sullum – Pot is almost as big as craft beer, but the tax revenue it generates is still a tiny share of the state budget New numbers from the Colorado Department of Revenue show that marijuana sales by government-licensed stores in that state totaled nearly $1 billion in 2015, making marijuana almost as big as craft beer by that measure. Marijuana sales raised $135 million in taxes and fees for the state last year. “These tax revenue figures are truly impressive,” says Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Just six years ago, Colorado received zero dollars in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in the state.” While $135 million is indeed a lot compared to $0, it looks less impressive compared to the state budget, which totals $26.4 billion this fiscal year. In other words, last year’s marijuana money, $109 million of which came from taxes on recreational...

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Which Presidential Candidates Would Tolerate Legal Pot?

by Jacob Sullum – Marijuana federalists lead the GOP race, while the most pugilistic prohibitionist is stuck in single digits With Rand Paul ending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the GOP race has lost its strongest supporter of drug policy reform. But the remaining Republican candidates are for the most part not as retrograde in this area as you might expect, especially on the question of how the federal government should respond to state legalization of marijuana. For years Paul has been saying that drug policy should be devolved to the states as much as possible. In a Daily Show interview last month, the Kentucky senator made explicit one implication of that approach, joining Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in calling for an end to the federal ban on marijuana. Paul also has been an eloquent and passionate advocate of sentencing reform, sponsoring legislation that would effectively abolish mandatory minimums. Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucus on Monday and seems poised to finish...

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Nosy Neighbors Tell Colorado to Stop Regulating Pot

by Jacob Sullum – On January 6, two days before Mexican authorities recaptured Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt pointed to another drug lord, this one hiding in plain sight: John Hickenlooper, a.k.a. the governor of Colorado. “The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects, and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing, and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 States in 2014,” Pruitt writes in a Supreme Court brief joined by Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.” Hickenlooper actually was a drug dealer of sorts before he got into politics, having cofounded Wynkoop Brewing Company, a Denver brewpub, in 1988. But he ended up running the drug trafficking organization described in Pruitt’s brief by accident. He was elected governor two years before Colorado voters decided, against his advice, to...

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United States Surgeon General To Review Federal Drug Policies

by Johnny Green – One of the most frustrating things about being a marijuana activists is the lack of being offered a fair chance. By that, I mean if marijuana was just given the same amount of consideration, logic, reasoning, and application of scientific research and fact as other substances, marijuana prohibition would likely already be over. In every measurable way marijuana is safer than many other substances that are perfectly legal, and in no way is as dangerous as other substances that are similarly classified at the federal level. But marijuana has never been on an ‘even playing field’ compared to other substances. Reefer madness tactics and public policy ‘tricks’ have been in place for several decades, and the system is rigged in such a way that it has been extremely difficult to get a fair assessment of marijuana at the federal level. And in the times that a fair...

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Most GOP Presidential Candidates Support Marijuana Federalism

by Jacob Sullum – At least eight of the remaining 15 candidates think the feds should not interfere with state legalization   Last week I noted that Mike Huckabee, despite his opposition to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, seems willing to let states go their own way on this issue. “Let’s let Colorado have at it for a few years, and let’s see how that works out for them,” the former Arkansas governor said in an interview with KCCI, the CBS station in Des Moines. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) points out that Huckabee explicitly invoked the 10th Amendment in the same interview, saying, “I’m willing to let states operate under the 10th Amendment, and I’m willing for the states, if they think that marijuana and the legalization of it is a great thing, you know, I’m willing for them to experiment and find out.” With that statement, which led MPP to...

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Will Ohio Legalize Pot on Tuesday?

by Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman – Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders now says he’d end it, and would vote for legalization. He joins Rand Paul. Hillary says she’s thinking about it. On Tuesday, Ohio will vote directly on whether to take pot off the state’s Drug War agenda. But the vote is not so simple. It’s actually opposed by a substantial percentage of the hard core pro-pot community here. And since Ohio is a test market, this year’s Proposition 3 seems a likely stalking horse for potential corporate-sponsored referenda to come. The Constitutional ‘Amendment would establish ten monopolies to grow pot on 300,000 square-foot grow sites. Citizens could grow up to six flowering pots at home. But the corporate stuff will be implanted with genetic markers that would make it the only spliff legal to sell. The amendment would establish more than 1100 dispensaries in the state. But they’ll all be licensed...

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Slamming War on Drugs, Sanders says Let States Make Pot Legal

by Andrea Germanos – ‘We need major changes in our criminal justice system—including changes in drug laws,’ the Vermont senator said Bernie Sanders on Wednesday evening slammed U.S. drug policy and called for the lifting of the federal prohibition on marijuana. The presidential hopeful made the remarks at a town hall meeting at George Mason University. “In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system—including changes in drug laws,” the U.S. Senator from Vermont said. He said that in 2014, there were 620,000 marijuana possession arrests. “That is one arrest every minute,” he said. Sanders also cited an ACLU report that showed that there were over 8 million marijuana arrests from 2001 to 2010, almost 9 in 10 of which were for...

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Check out What Happened When one of the Biggest Cities in the U.S. Decriminalized Marijuana

by Jen Hayden – Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana possession, doling out citations instead of arrests, and within one year of the new policy taking effect, they are seeing positive results: According to police statistics, 3,686 people were arrested for pot possession between Oct. 1, 2013, and Oct. 19, 2014.From Oct. 20, 2014, to Sept. 5, 2015 – the most recent date for which statistics are available – just 1,012 people were cited for possessing or smoking a small amount of marijuana. Of those cited over the past year, 170 received a $100 citation for smoking in public and 842 received a $25 citation for possessing under 30 grams of marijuana, according to statistics from the Police Department and the city’s Office of Administrative Review. Philadelphia mayoral candidate Jim Kenney wants to take it a step further and fully legalize, noting the positive impact it is having on the community: On top of...

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In Victory for Medical Marijuana, Court Tells DOJ to Lay Off Legal Providers

by Nadia Prupis – “Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal.” In a huge victory for the medical marijuana industry in California, a federal court ruled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) violated the law when it misused an amendment in last year’s federal spending bill to prosecute legal dispensaries in the state. Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court in northern California handed down a biting decision chastising the DOJ for its twisted interpretation of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which bars the department or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from taking legal action against suppliers in compliance with state regulations. The DOJ instead used the amendment to do exactly that—claiming it only blocks the agency from challenging state laws, but not from going after individuals or businesses—and shut down one of California’s oldest dispensaries, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), in...

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Why Wait-And-See On Legal Pot Isn’t Good Enough For The Next President

by ALAN PYKE – It’s early in the presidential campaign yet but two major strains of thought are emerging among the candidates when it comes to legal marijuana. Hillary Clinton voiced one of them Tuesday night, saying she’d rather take a wait and see approach to legalization pending the outcome of state experiments. “No,” Clinton said when asked if she was ready to take a position on federal repeal. “I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today.” Clinton’s approach is also popular among the Republican candidates, although a couple of them have also said they’d fight to override state legalization. The kind of benign neglect Clinton and others advocate would be better than a crackdown for businesses and consumers in Colorado, Washington, and elsewhere. But the status quo in legalization states suggests that such...

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3 Medical Marijuana Growers in Washington Get Federal Prison Terms

by Jacob Sullum – The remaining defendants in the Kettle Falls Five case receive sentences ranging from 12 to 33 months On Friday the three remaining defendants in the Kettle Falls Five marijuana case, which involves Washington residents who grew their own medicine in a state that allowed them to do so, were sentenced to federal prison. Rolland Gregg got 33 months—more than two and a half years—while his mother, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, and his wife, Michelle Gregg, each received a one-year sentence. Those terms are much shorter than the potential sentences they faced when their trial started in March, which included a 10-year mandatory minimum. But any prison time at all for growing 70 or so marijuana plants would be anomalous in a state where hundreds of state-licensed businesses, serving recreational consumers as well as patients, openly grow and sell much larger amounts. Federal prosecutors contended that the Greggs and Firestack-Harvey—together with...

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Jeff Mizanskey Served 21 Years for Non-Violent Drug Crimes. Watch Him Walk Free

by Anthony L. Fisher – Missouri man finally gets a second chance after “watching child molesters come and go and come again.” In 1996, Jeff Mizanskey was a dead man, sentenced to life without the possibility of parole because of three felony convictions. All were for non-violent, marijuana-related offenses. Mizanskey’s three strikes included selling a small amount of pot to a relative, possessing less than three ounces in his home, and driving a friend to a motel to buy pot from an undercover officer. That’s it. No guns, no sales to children. For those offenses, he got a life sentence. But thanks to the efforts of his lawyer, Dan Viets, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Missouri drug reform group Show-Me Cannabis, Gov. Jay Nixon commuted Mizanskey’s sentence, which allowed him to win parole. Last week, Mizanskey walked out of prison, a free man for the first...

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National Cancer Institute Finally Concedes: ‘Cannabis Kills Cancer’

By SARAH, Addicting Info – For far too long we have been told about the “dangers” of cannabis. That it is an illegal drug that can cause us harm. However, the United States government is finally owning up to the benefits of cannabis. Not only that, they now have studied, and are conceding, that it can actually kill cancer cells. Now, when you visit the NIH National Cancer Institute’s PDQ updated website summary for “Cannabis and Cannabinoids” you will see a very conflicting message — Cannabis kills cancer, but it is still illegal on a national level. Yes, something that kills cancer cells is still considered illegal in the United States. If that doesn’t make you furious, I don’t think much of anything else will. If you’re unfamiliar with the term cannabinoids, they are described as such: “Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical...

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In One Month, Colorado Sold $34 Million In Marijuana: $3.4 Million Went To Schools, And Crime Decreased By 15%

by Amanda Froelich – Since Colorado legalized weed in 2012, sales have continued to increase while crime rates have plummeted Here’s a recap: If you’re still ‘undecided’ on the cannabis debate, Joe Rogan brilliantly summarizes why hemp was made illegal in the first place. In addition, the number of people experiencing extreme benefit from including high-quality cannabis extract(s) into their regime are sky-rocketing – causing a large number to question why the recreational use of marijuana is still under prohibition. Whatever way you look at it, the benefits of using cannabis far extend those derived from ‘legal’ substances, such as alcohol. And now, three years after marijuana was made legal in Colorado, the state is continuing to report massive economic improvement and reduced crime rate. For starters, just in recreational sales of marijuana in 2014, Colorado sold over $34 million in the month of August. $3.4 million of that (10%) went straight to...

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Was Shakespeare A Stoner? According To Scientists, Likely So…

By Amanda Froelich, True Activist – We’re just reporting the truth, and in this case, some very convincing evidence points to Sir William Shakespeare being ‘under the influence’ of cannabis during his days of playwriting. According to South African scientists, 400-year-old tobacco pipes containing cannabis were excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare. This recent find suggests that the artist potentially wrote some of his most famous works while high. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper, why should this news be so shocking? Residue from the early 17th-century clay pipes, found both in the playwright’s garden and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analyzed in Pretoria using a modern, sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry. As The Huffington Post reports, of the 24 fragments of pipe loaned from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to the University of the Witwatersrand, cannabis was present in eight samples, four which were...

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Ohioans to Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

Ballot measure has been described as an ‘oligopoly‘ for growers By Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity – A controversial measure to legalize marijuana in Ohio will go before voters this fall. Ohio’s elections chief on Wednesday confirmed the measure would make the Nov. 3 ballot, approving the signatures the pro-legalization group collected in a 10-day make-up period after many of the first 695,000 signatures were found to be invalid. The initiative would change Ohio’s constitution to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana use and also give the exclusive right to grow and sell wholesale pot to 10 farms, all of which are owned by the ballot measure’s financial backers. But the measure, which critics say amounts to a “marijuana oligopoly,” won’t be alone on the ballot. Opponents in the Ohio legislature sent a competing amendment to voters that would outlaw constitutional changes that benefit limited economic interest groups,...

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Cops Cite ‘Weed’ For Rationalizing Run On Militarized Vehicles In Our Communities? Please…

by DYLAN HOCK – Rambo could never get away with that shit, today. In the para-military police state we find ourselves in the leather-gloved clutches of on a daily basis across the United States, Rambo would fare no better than Ichabod Crane versus Godzilla, and when Godzilla draws first blood, that’s it – you’re dead. Just dead. Cops don’t care, though. Who knows? Rambo might have been kicking back with some of his buddies from Nam and firing up a doob. Maybe he was about to hold it in a bit while he shakes his ass dancing away from The Big Chill soundtrack one of those assholes made him put on. Those guys… real cards, they are. There’s nothing like old friends, right? Cops can’t have that, though. Hell no. America can’t wave it’s flag so well, so long as Rambo’s getting high with a little Marvin Gaye in the...

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The Justice Department’s Embarrassing Medical Marijuana Switcheroo

by Jacob Sullum – The DOJ’s narrow reading of a law protecting medical marijuana contradicts what it said last year Last year, before the House of Representatives voted on a spending rider prohibiting the Justice Department from trying to “prevent” states from “implementing” their medical marijuana laws, the DOJ warned lawmakers that the measure also would interfere with cases involving recreational use of cannabis. After the House passed the amendment and it became part of the omnibus spending bill enacted last December, the DOJ changed its mind. The department’s current position is that the rider has no impact at all on its ability to prosecute medical marijuana suppliers who comply with state law or on its ability to seize their property. That embarrassing switcheroo is revealed in a February 2015 memo that Tom Angell posted at Marijuana.com yesterday. The memo, written by Patty Merkamp Stemler, chief of the DOJ’s Appellate Section, and addressed to...

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State Legislators Ask Congress to Repeal National Pot Prohibition

by Jacob Sullum – The National Conference of State Legislatures wants the feds to stop interfering with legalization This week the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution that urges Congress to amend federal laws “to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.” The resolution also urges the Obama administration “not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.” As the preamble notes, “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp—whether for medical, recreational, industrial or other uses—because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.” But under the Supreme Court’s highly elastic view of the power to regulate interstate commerce, the federal government can continue to enforce its own ban on marijuana and in the process make a lot of trouble for state-licensed cannabusinesses. So far the Justice Department has for the most part refrained from...

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UK Police Announce They Will Stop Arresting “Small-Time” Marijuana Growers

by John Vibes Life just got a bit easier and free for cannabis users in the UK, after the country’s National Police Chiefs’ Council announced that they will stop arresting small-time cannabis farmers, and will no longer be diverting their resources towards investigating marijuana grow operations. Presumably, depending on the size of the crop, if they happen to come across a marijuana farm at the scene of a crime, or if they find one during another investigation, they will still likely arrest and charge anyone that they can. However, in a recent statement, Sara Thornton of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that marijuana operations in people’s homes would likely be destroyed, and their names would be put in a database, but they would not be arrested. Thornton denied that this had anything to do with an unofficial decriminalization of the herb, and blamed the recent change in policy on dwindling police...

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Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Bill

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure Thursday (16-14) that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services. The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws. Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns. The House is unlikely to consider its own Financial Services bill, so it...

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Sandra Bland Becomes The Latest Victim Of The ‘Marijuana Smear’

by IAN MILLHISER – Sandra Bland was high on marijuana — while she was incarcerated in the Texas jail where she eventually died — according to Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. Mathis reportedly said in a text message to an attorney representing the Bland family that “ooking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail.” If true, this allegation suggests that security in this jail facility is extraordinarily lax. How does marijuana make its way to an incarcerated individual in the first place? And how does that individual manage to smoke or eat a “large quantity” of it without jail officials noticing? The allegation that Bland used pot shortly before her death, moreover, fits a pattern in high-profile cases involving the questionable death of a black man or woman who has become so common that it...

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Scott Walker Tries (and Fails) to Clarify His Position on Marijuana Legalization

by Jacob Sullum – Federalism and the urge to bash Obama pull him in opposite directions In a column last month, I noted that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, had not taken a clear position on the proper federal response to marijuana legalization in states such as Colorado and Washington. He still hasn’t, although not for lack of trying. Via BuzzFeed News, here is how Walker addressed the question in a radio interview on Wednesday: Host: In 30 second, would your Justice Department go after Colorado for legalized marijuana sales? Walker: For me I think that should be a state issue, but I also think that you can’t ignore the laws. And until the federal government changes the laws, you don’t get to pick and choose in a just society whether you enforce the laws or not. You have to change them. Host: So yes,...

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Show-Me Cannabis Sues Missouri’s NITRO Drug Task Force

By Aaron Malin, The Weed Blog– On July 14, 2015, Show-Me Cannabis announced the latest in a series of lawsuits aimed at requiring Missouri’s multi-jurisdictional drug task forces to obey state laws regarding open public records and open public meetings. The case targets the NITRO Task Force, headquartered in Grundy County and also operating in half a dozen or more counties in Northwestern Missouri, for its ongoing, unlawful refusal to properly allow Show-Me Cannabis access to open public records. We’ve encountered a lot of law-breaking among Missouri’s drug task forces, but NITRO’s behavior in this case is in a category of its own. NITRO is unique in its claims to be neither a state nor a federal entity and in its refusal to comply with either state or federal laws that require transparency to the public. They have refused to provide a single document in response to multiple open...

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Bipartisan Group Of U.S. Senators Introduce Marijuana Banking Bill

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – This week, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to provide depository and other financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses. Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. Consequently, many marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings. “One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the black market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Whether you are for...

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Colorado Pot Shops Are Saving The State In Yet One More Way

By WENDY GITTLESON, Addicting Info – While the U.S. will have spent between $4 and $6 trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and while Republicans are pushing for more war here at home, our roads, bridges, trains and all the other forms of infrastructure are crumbling – because we’re too broke to fix them, or something. Republicans don’t tend to fret much over the fact that the nation is crumbling. They simply think that citizens should pay it as a sort of sales tax for everything we buy instead of a direct tax. In other words, corporations should pay for infrastructure out of their profits, which come from us. Or, it doesn’t get fixed until there’s a disaster. No matter what, we pay and like I said, Republicans are fine with that. One business in Colorado is picking up the slack and Republicans may not be happy about it,...

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Cautious Effort to Legalize Marijuana in California in 2016

by Steven Greenhut – Regardless of one’s take on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision forbidding states from banning same-sex marriage, it’s clear the ruling didn’t come in a vacuum. Analysts said the court “created” a new civil right, but public attitudes have shifted dramatically in recent years. The court simply gave its blessing to a cultural change that already has taken place. We see another long-in-the-making social change on the issue of marijuana. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 55 percent of likely California voters in favor of legalizing weed for recreational uses. Support for such an idea was barely perceptible decades ago. But courts and legislatures usually lag far behind changing public perceptions. California legalized the use of medical marijuana with Proposition 215 in 1996. But as this column reported recently, the state still hasn’t figured out a simple way for dispensaries to pay their taxes (they are banned from having bank...

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Bobby Jindal Signs Bills Reducing Pot Penalties and Authorizing Cannabis for Patients

by Jacob Sullum – Louisiana’s marijuana laws, among the harshest in the country, become a bit less harsh This week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed bills that reduce his state’s marijuana penalties, heretofore among the harshest in the nation, and establish a system for supplying cannabis to patients suffering from certain medical conditions. The latter law, which may take a couple of years or more to fully execute, makes Louisiana the first Southern state to legalize medical marijuana (as opposed to low-THC, high-CBD extracts of the plant) and create a supply mechanism for it. The New Orleans Times-Picayune notes that “Jindal did not issue a press release explaining why he signed the bills or offer any commentary about the importance of the two bill signings.” But the fact that Jindal felt comfortable signing two marijuana reform bills while running for the Republican presidential nomination reflects how far the drug policy debate has...

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Ohio Legislature Strikes Back Against Pot Legalization Effort

Lawmakers approve new ballot measure to ban proposed monopoly By Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity – A campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio took a step closer to making November’s ballot Tuesday, after its promoters turned in more than twice the required number of signatures. But the measure will face competition at the polls. Ohio legislators also approved their own ballot measure on Tuesday to undermine the pot plan, which lawmakers worried would amount to a “marijuana monopoly” because of its provision that only 10 growers would control the wholesale pot market. The lawmakers’ measure would block other measures that benefit select economic interest groups. The marijuana ballot measure campaign, dubbed Responsible Ohio, is just one of many ballot measures in recent history that are designed to benefit their backers. The companies funding the Responsible Ohio campaign  would control — and likely profit from — the marijuana growth...

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The Surprising Environmental Reason Weed Should Be Legal

by SAMANTHA PAGE – Marijuana has a strange legal status. In California, it’s been medically legal for almost two decades, but growing it and selling it for recreational purposes is in a gray area of law enforcement, with federal law prohibiting it altogether and state and local laws cobbled together in a patchwork of regulation. But according to a new study, this pseudo-legalization is bad news for the environment. The $31 billion marijuana growing business is draining local streams and allowing pesticide runoff to poison fish and wildlife, and it’s “high time” to include environmental regulations in the legalization conversation, states the report, published this week by a team of scientists from the Nature Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and University of California Berkeley. “Illegal marijuana production in California is centered in sensitive watersheds with high biodiversity,” the authors write in the report, which appeared in the...

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Reactivation of a Single Gene Turns Colorectal Cancer Cells Back into Normal Tissue

By Richard Moss, Gizmag – Future cancer treatments may target your genes rather than the cancerous cells themselves. A new study found that reactivating a single gene was enough to stop and reverse colorectal cancer (that’s cancer of the colon, or bowels) in mice, with a return to normal intestinal functions within just four days and tumors gone within two weeks. The concept, though not the specific method, could lead to new treatments of a variety of cancers. Nearly 700,000 people around the world die from colorectal cancer each year, which makes it one of the biggest cancer killers (lung cancer is the most common, at more than 1.5 million deaths, while cancers of the liver result in around 750,000 deaths a year and deaths from cancers of the stomach stand a little over 700,000). In the United States, where colorectal cancer is the third-most-common cancer in men and...

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Texas Prosecutors Take Pot Cases Into Their Own Hands

By Terri Langford, Texas Tribune – Texas lawmakers may be reluctant to ease up on punishing small-time pot smokers, but local prosecutors across the state are increasingly looking for ways to keep two-bit toking cases from clogging court dockets and wasting resources. This past session, seven bills that would have reduced criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession went up in smoke. But some county prosecutors are already choosing to pass on even filing charges when it comes to small pot possession cases, or looking for ways to divert recreational users to probation or community service programs. Some have been doing so for years. “The only people who do jail time for marijuana are the people who want to do jail time for marijuana,” said Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. A little over two years ago, for instance, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz made the call that any marijuana...

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Presidential Candidate Rand Paul To Hold Reception At Marijuana Industry Event

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – It wasn’t that long ago that expressing support for marijuana reform was considered to be political suicide. That’s not to say that there weren’t political candidates that supported marijuana reform in the past, because there certainly were. However, those candidates were considered to be so far in the minority that they were on the fringe at best. That all changed in 2012. In 2012 two states legalized marijuana, and the game changed forever. Zoom forward to 2015, and candidates are not only expressing support for reform, they are trying to push legislation that will help the industry too. At the beginning of this decade it seemed almost unfathomable to think that a major Presidential candidate would be holding a reception at a legal cannabis industry event. But that is exactly what’s going to happen later this month when Republican Presidential candidate Rand...

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New Research Debunks Medical Marijuana Opponents’ Biggest Argument

by SAM P.K. COLLINS – Opponents of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes have long argued that such laws will encourage more youngsters to partake. But that notion may have no factual grounding, according to a new study that shows cannabis use among teenagers didn’t increase in states that legalized medical marijuana. Researchers collected and analyzed 24 years’ worth of survey data from more than 1 million middle and high school students across the United States. Their findings showed marijuana use to be more common in states that had passed medical marijuana laws by 2014, with 16 percent of youth living there disclosing their usage. In states that didn’t legalize medical marijuana, 13 percent of respondents said they used cannabis within the last month. Things got more interesting when researchers examined long-term marijuana use in 21 states that had legalized medical marijuana by 2014. They found little to no change in...

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Supreme Court Of Canada – All Forms Of Medical Marijuana Are Legal

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – A big misconception out there among non-cannabis consumers is that the only way that cannabis can be ingested is in smoke form from smoking flower out of a bong or pipe or joint. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cannabis can be turned into all kinds of things these days, from an endless variety of edibles, to concentrates that can be used in pens, to tinctures and beyond. Different patients have different ailments, and different methods of ingestion are better for some ailments more than others. That’s why the Canadian medical marijuana ban on anything that wasn’t dried flower seemed so illogical. But fortunately, that ban was shot down late last week by the Supreme Court of Canada. Per CBC: Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the...

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Marijuana Church In Indiana Gets Tax-Exempt Status From IRS

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – Indiana’s law that was intended to allow people to discriminate against others in the name of religion has become a ‘public policy Frankenstein’ as one of my old college professors would put it. The law took on a life of its own, and has had at least one unintended (yet positive!) consequence. The same freedom of religion law in Indiana has resulted in the state’s first cannabis church. I am friends with the church’s founder (Bill Levin) on Facebook, and it sounds like he is still searching for the location for the church (The First Church of Cannabis,) but has quite a few leads. This week the church received tax-exempt status from the IRS. Per Marijuana Business Daily: Marijuana business owners suffering from tax issues may need to find religion: The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana has been granted tax exempt...

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Archaeologists Find 2,400-Year-Old Gold Bongs Used for Cannabis and Opium

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – Two bongs for cannabis and opium used by Scythian tribal chieftains have been discovered by archaeologists in Russia. But unlike modern bongs, these ones are made of solid gold. “It’s a once-in-a-century discovery,” says Anton Gass, an archaeologist at the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin. “These are among the finest objects we know from the region.” Drugs and Warfare A bong, a bong, my kingdom for a bong – not something that early Scythians likely said, but these bongs were indeed fit for a king. Tests have confirmed that the two objects, made from solid gold, were used for smoking cannabis and opium. Scythians were a large, nomadic group of  Iranian nomads inhabiting vast territories in central Eurasian steppes from about the 9th century BC up until the 4th century AD. They were described by numerous literate populations as a warrior race, perhaps the earliest...

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Great News: New DEA Chief To Usher In More Relaxed Approach To Pot

By RYAN DENSON, Addicting Info – Now that former DEA Chief Michele Leonhart has resigned due to scandals involving prostitution and drug use (oh, the irony), the new Chief, Chuck Rosenberg, a former administrator at the FBI, plans to usher in a more relaxed approach to marijuana use. Rosenberg claims that instead of focusing on the persecution and prosecution of sellers and users, the agency will be tasked with “ the DEA’s procedures on classifying, declassifying and reclassifying drugs.” Drugs the DEA will be focusing more on are heroin, cocaine and psychedelic drugs. So what does this mean? Possible decriminalization? The head of the DEA has the power to reschedule a drug. Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug because it has a “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use.” Should a petition come forward challenging the schedule, Rosenberg would have the ability to potentially decriminalize it under the...

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Harris Poll: 81% Support For Legalizing Medical Marijuana In America

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – It seems like every week there is a poll that shows overwhelming support for marijuana reform, especially for medical marijuana reform. Marijuana is medicine, proven by the virtually endless supply of studies and personal testimonies. More and more Americans have either used, or know someone that has used, marijuana for medical purposes every day, which is taking away the stigma. A new Harris poll was released earlier this month, which found overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in America. Below are some of the highlights of the poll results: Currently, four in five adults (81%) favor legalizing marijuana for medical use, up from 2011 when three quarters of Americans (74%) indicated the same.  Meanwhile, half of Americans are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (49%), up from the two fifths (42%) who felt that way in 2011. Nearly nine in ten Democrats and...

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Can Someone Get High From, And Fail A Drug Test For, Secondhand Marijuana Smoke?

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – If you are a veteran marijuana consumer, you have heard of the term ‘contact high’ a lot I’m sure. Maybe you had a friend that was hanging out with you while you were smoking, and they were certain that they had a ‘contact high’ from being around you while you were puffing. Or maybe you knew someone who failed a drug test, and swore that they had never smoked marijuana themselves, but were around people who were. That was the case with NFL player Josh Gordon, who was suspended from the NFL for barely failing a chemical test for marijuana. For a long time marijuana consumers, and non-marijuana consumers for that matter, were left to wonder if those scenarios were even possible. I know I have hung out with people before that didn’t smoke marijuana, and although they felt like there were...

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How The First Church Of Cannabis Plans To Test Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Law

by JACK JENKINS – For thousands of years, religious people have gathered together in houses of worship to sing songs, celebrate sacred rituals, and lift up prayers to God(s) on high. And on July 1, a new religious group in Indiana intends to do just that — but with a lot more emphasis on the “high” part. A little more than a month from now, the newly-formed First Church of Cannabis is scheduled to hold its first official gathering, where worshippers plan to test the limits of new religious freedom laws by “filling up” the sanctuary with marijuana smoke while observing a sacrament. “It’s going to be a standard service,” Bill Levin, the group’s leader and self-proclaimed “Grand Poohba and Minister of Love,” told ThinkProgress. He explained the ceremony will last around 45 minutes, complete with music and teachings, but will conclude with an unusual benediction: “At the end of...

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Pot Is A Hallucinogen That Lets Satan Devour You, Says Colorado GOP Rep. (VIDEO)

By RIKA CHRISTENSEN, Addicting Info – Gordon Klingenschmitt, the supreme moron of the Colorado state legislature, is back on his radio show, now that Colorado’s latest legislative session has ended. His controversial statements have, in the past, angered even some of his fellow Republicans, but he’s one of those religious right-wingers that doesn’t seem to care. He’s upset about Colorado legalizing pot, because the hallucinations it causes are actually invitations for demons to possess users. First off, even the National Institutes of Health say that pot itself does not cause hallucinations. They do list some undesirable side effects, which can include red eyes and dry mouth, and panic and paranoia. Those last two are more common in first-time users, and people who already have a psychiatric illness. It doesn’t list hallucinations, though. What it does say is that pot is sometimes cut with other drugs that do cause hallucinations. That’s likely where the myth...

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Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances in Texas

Medical cannabis and decriminalization of possession also win committee approval by Jacob Sullum – Remember David Simpson, the self-described constitutional conservative who opposes marijuana prohibition on Christian grounds and wants to legalize the plant in Texas? Yesterday his legalization bill, which eliminates marijuana offenses (except for sales to minors) from the Texas criminal code, cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, making it theoretically possible that it will get a floor vote. The committee vote was 5 to 2, with Simpson (R-Longview) joined by one Republican, Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), and three Democrats—Abel Herrero (Robstown), Joe Moody (El Paso), and Terry Canales (Edinburg)—in supporting the bill. Jeff Leach and Matt Shaheen, both Republicans representing the Dallas suburb of Plano, voted no. Simpson’s bill, H.B. 2165, is the third marijuana reform measure to win committee approval this week. On Monday the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 4 to 2 in favor of H.B. 507, which...

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Ten Ways Marijuana Testing Can Go Wrong

By Jason Wilson, Laboratory Technologist, Kenevir Research There is a lot of skepticism in the cannabis community toward laboratories. The purpose of this article is to show how cannabis testing can go wrong, in order to help educate and empower people so they can recognize suspect results or methods and find a lab that produces results they can trust. 1) Residue Buildup in Analytical Instruments aka “ghost peaks” One way that an instrument can produce bogus results is through residue buildup in the machine. When repeated analyses are performed, residues build up in the machine, eventually leading to highly exaggerated results. This is why regular tuning and maintenance of laboratory instruments is absolutely necessary for ensuring quality control. 2) Incompetence Just because a machine produces a number and someone reports it, that does not ensure the validity of the result. The general rule of thumb is that any analytical laboratory...

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Why The Next President May Have To Support Marijuana Legalization

by CARIMAH TOWNES – If presidential candidates want the backing of three major swing states in 2016, they may have to support the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. According to Quinnipiac University’s Swing State Poll, the vast majority of voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are pro pot. In both Ohio and Florida, 84 percent of voters support medical marijuana, while 88 percent favor it in Pennsylvania. Although the majorities are much smaller, 55 percent, 52 percent, and 51 percent of voters favor the possession of “small amounts of marijuana for personal use” in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, respectively. Ironically, voters in the three states are more interested in the idea of legalization than anything else, as most don’t actually plan on using it. More than 80 percent of people polled in each state said they “definitely” or “probably” would not use it themselves. In response to the poll,...

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