Marijuana

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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