By Steve Elliott
A marijuana vending machine was unveiled in Colorado on Saturday, ushering in a new era of selling cannabis to customers from vending machines. Its creators call it "an automated, age-verifying, climate-controlled marijuana dispensing machine."
The machine, called the ZaZZZ, uses biometrics to verify a customer's age, according to its creators, reports Bill Chappell at NPR. The climate-controlled machine also keeps the cannabis fresh, according to the company.
For now, the machine will be used only in medical marijuana dispensaries, not for recreational marijuana, which is also legal in Colorado. It will serve a purpose much like that of an automated checkout line at a grocery store, according to American Green, which company which built it.
American Green spokesman Stephen Shearin acknowledged that the idea of buying marijuana from a machine will probably have a "wow factor" that could boost business. He said the machine could also cut down on employee pilferage of pot.
"We're gonna eliminate the middle man," said Herbal Elements owner Greg Honan, reports Denver's Fox 31. "It'll go straight from the budtender right into our machine. There's no room for theft by patients, employees ... there's no way to lose track of the inventory."
By Steve Elliott
Florida is the nation's largest swing-state politically, and Democrats there see the medical marijuana amendment on this year's ballot as a source of hope and high voter turnout in November's elections.
A constitutional amendment which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, making it the first state in South to do so, has widespread public support, reports Michael J. Mishak of The Associated Press. The measure is particularly popular among young voters, a critical part of the Democratic coalition.
"I wish that it didn't take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters to go and vote, because there's far too much at stake for them and their children," said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "But listen -- we'll take it any way we can get it."
The Florida Governor's mansion is up for grabs, as are a handful of competitive House seats. Florida could be a test case for whether increases in youth turnout in Washington and Colorado in 2012 -- when marijuana legalization initiatives were on the ballot -- was an anomaly, or part of a trend.
Activists plan to launch at least half-a-dozen legalization campaigns in battleground states in 2016.
"It's a smart move on Democrats' part, said Colorado-based Republican pollster David Flaherty. "It's going to help them, no doubt about it."
Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize PossessionSubmitted by steveelliott on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:43
Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”
Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.
By Steve Elliott
A bill which would allow epilepsy patients to use non-psychoactive CBD marijuana extracts to control seizures passed in the House General Laws Committee with a unanimous 11-0 vote on Tuesday.
The bill, called a "hemp bill" by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia), is intended to provide legal protection for people who find little help in conventional medicine, he said, reports Rudi Keller at the Columbia Tribune.
The bill allows adults or children with "intractable epilepsy" to get a cannabis extract which is high in non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main component responsible for the high, but which also has many medicinal benefits.
"This helps the children who need it the most and keeps out the outside influences out of the state of Missouri," said Jones, who chairs the committee and likes to say "out" a lot. "This is something that is very personal to me, and that is why I am doing it."
The cannabis oil must be 5 percent of more CBD and less than 0.3 percent THC, according to Jones' bill, which, according to many medical experts, will probably limit the effectiveness of the CBD. All of the dozens of cannabinoids found in marijuana work most effective in a synergistic fashion, potentiating each others' medical benefits in what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has called the "Entourage Effect."
By Steve Elliott
Does the fact that marijuana is legal in Colorado mean motorists from the Centennial State are subject to traffic stops merely because of their license plates? A couple who were headed for a stay on the Florida coast when they were pulled over on an Alabama highway say they were the victims of "marijuana profiling."
Sandra Lenga, 65, and her husband, 71, were driving to St. Augustine, Florida, at the end of January when their route took them through northeast Alabama, heading towards Birmingham, reports Kelsey Stein at Al.com. When they saw blue lights flashing and moved into the left lane, two law enforcement vehicles followed them and pulled them over "for changing lanes too slowly," reports Michael Roberts at Denver Westword.
But the deputies said they weren't going to write a traffic ticket. What they did do, was walk their drug-detecting dogs around the couple's car. One dog supposedly alerted on the gas cap, prompting a more aggressive search, during which deputies went through the bags and boxes in the trunk.
Lenga and her husband were separated for questioning by the deputies. She told one of them that she hadn't touched marijuana "since college in the 1960s."
As they were apparently being detained, one deputy let it slip that the Lengas "matched the profile of drug smugglers," to Sandra Lenga's chagrin.
By Steve Elliott
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday emphasized that he is against any effort to legalize marijuana in the state, weeks after a state senator introduced a bill that would make sale and possession of cannabis legal.
"I'm not going to do that on my watch," the GOP governor told a crowd of about 500 at Winston Churchill Elementary School, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger. "I'm just not. I don't think it's the right thing to do for our state."
State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) last month introduced a bill that would regulate the cultivation, possession and sale of recreational marijuana, providing new tax revenue for the state.
"It's time to update our archaic drug laws and get real about the detrimental effects they are having on the lives of residents in New Jersey," Scutari said.
A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released on Wednesday showed that nearly 60 percent of New Jersey adults believe alcohol and tobacco are more risky than marijuana. But residents are still split on whether to legalize, with 48 percent in favor of allowing adults to buy small amounts, and 47 percent opposed.
Christie, who has his eye on the White House in 2016, has long said he is against relaxing the marijuana laws because that would "the wrong message" to kids.
By Steve Elliott
The Suquamish Tribe of Washington state is exploring the idea of selling marijuana on their reservation at Port Madison.
The native American tribe proposed a deal with the Washington State Liquor Control Board earlier this year that would allow cannabis sales by the tribe and tribally-approved businesses, reports Tad Sooter at the Kitsap Sun.
The liquor board hasn't taken any formal action on the tribe's proposal, according to spokesman Brian Smith. Because the reservation is under federal rather than state jurisdiction, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the WSLCB will defer to the federal government on cannabis policies affecting the tribe, Smith said.
"I would not expect us to issue any licenses without some defining statement from the Department of Justice," Smith said on Wednesday.
Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman said the tribe hopes to discuss with the Liquor Control Board how they can become involved in legal marijuana sales. The tribe has a "responsibility to explore business opportunities that may help raise funds for its people and government," Forsman said in a statement released to the media.
"[T]he production and sale of marijuana on our tribal lands is simply something we are exploring and thought it vital to approach the Liquor Control Board as part of that process," Forsman said. The chairman noted that cannabis remains prohibited on the reservation under tribal law.
President Obama, AG Holder, NY Gov. Cuomo, NYC Mayor DeBlasio and DPA’s Art Way to Speak at National Action Network (NAN) Convention April 9-14
Convention to Address Major Civil Rights Issues, Including the Failed Drug War and Mass Incarceration
President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio will all join Reverend Al Sharpton at his National Action Network’s annual national convention being held April 9-12 in New York, NY.
The conference is being billed as the largest civil rights convening of the year bringing the nation’s top activists, political strategists and leading academia together to create an action plan for a civil rights agenda. Participants will address key policy issues such as jobs, voter ID and immigration; which will be key in this midterm election year.
The conference is also focusing on the failed drug war and mass incarceration. A panel called “Up in Smoke: Banning of Menthol, Legalization of Marijuana & Criminalization of African Americans” will address racial justice and the war on drugs.
"We are at a critical point where momentum to end the drug war and mass incarceration is gaining traction,” said Art Way, Senior Policy Manager, Colorado, of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It's not time to let up, it's time to ramp up."
By Steve Elliott
The South Carolina Democratic Party will ask voters on the June primary ballot whether they support legalizing medical marijuana, in a non-binding referendum. Party leaders made the announcement to push a medical marijuana bill currently in the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), who is sponsoring a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature, said state Democrats are putting the question on the ballot so the Republicans who control the State House can see for themselves what voters think of the issue, reports Seanna Adcox at the Associated Press.
Rutherford said patients who are authorized by a physician as suffering debilitating illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma should be able to use cannabis medicinally.
"While this may be the first year we are talking about medical marijuana in South Carolina, we are lagging behind the rest of the nation," Rutherford said during a Wednesday news conference, reports Cassie Cope at The State.
The advisory question on medical marijuana is one of five asked on South Carolina's Republican and Democratic primary ballots on June 10. Two others on the Democratic ballot have to do with gambling.
Republican voters, meanwhile, will be asked about abortion and eliminating the state income tax.
Two cannabis legalization measures in Oregon are gathering signatures around the state. Initiative Petitions 21 and 22, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment and The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, are in the race for the July 3 signature deadline. Initiative 21 would end criminal penalties for cannabis, while Initiative 22 regulates and taxes cannabis, including hemp for industrial and agricultural uses.
"The people of Oregon stand with Initiatives 21 and 22 and they demonstrate this by getting involved," said campaign director Jersey Deutsch of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). "This is because our legislation puts an end to cannabis prohibition, ensuring no one in Oregon will be criminalized for cannabis again."
Currently CRRH has more than 20 staff members, 3,000 volunteers, and 6,000 independent Oregon donors, making them second only to Oregon United for Marriage with the largest volunteer campaign in the state.
"Volunteers join our campaign because they believe we must put an end to prohibition and criminalization, while ensuring citizens of all ages are free of cannabis related felonies," Deutsch said. "CRRH will continue the fight to end cannabis prohibition by mobilizing Oregon supporters, educating community members, fighting for patients, training and empowering volunteers, growing the campaign, and pushing legislation forward."
Sign the Petitions: I-21 and I-22: http://cannabistaxact.org/sign-petition/
New Hampshire: Majority Of Granite State Adults Support Legalizing Marijuana, Regulating It Like AlcoholSubmitted by steveelliott on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:44
New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature
UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine
The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.
The survey found 55 percent percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53 percent in 2013 — and 67 percent approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.
"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."
Doctor, patients, and advocates will testify at Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing hearing on SF 1641, which would allow people with specific debilitating medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
The Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing will hold a public hearing and vote on Thursday on a bill that would provide legal access to medical marijuana for people with specific debilitating medical conditions. The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Dr. Burak Gezen, a Chicago physician who specializes in geriatric and palliative medicine, will testify in support of the measure, along with several patients and their family members. Among them will be Angela Garin of St. Paul, whose son suffers from a rare seizure disorder, and Patrick McClellan, a Bloomington man with muscular dystrophy. Both are featured in television ads that began airing across Minnesota last week in support of the bill.
"Most Minnesota voters believe people suffering from debilitating conditions should have legal access to medical marijuana," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "We hope that will be reflected in the votes of the committee members."
By Steve Elliott
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh this week moved to block the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, saying he's "dead set" against the shops at a forum in Dorchester and then sending a letter to state officials urging "swift action" if any problems are found with the companies' applications.
"I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the two registered marijuana dispensary applicants in the city of Boston," the mayor wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, and to Executive Director Karen Van Unen of the state's medical marijuana program, reports Meghan E. Irons at The Boston Globe.
Questions remain about the two companies, Mayor Walsh claimed. Green Heart Holistic Health & Pharmaceuticals Inc. wants to open a 3,000-square-foot dispensary at 70 Southampton Street, and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts Inc. plans a shop on Boylston Street.
The mayor urged "swift and uniform action" if inaccuracies are found in the applications, saying that would bolster confidence in the regulatory process.
"If any information provided in either application is confirmed to be inaccurate, I ask that the Department of Public Health immediately eliminate that application from being eligible for a final certification of registration," Mayor Walsh wrote.
By Steve Elliott
There aren't many good options when you buy a bad sack of black market marijuana. As Evelyn Hamilton of Lufkin, Texas, found out on Monday, calling the cops is one of the worst.
Lufkin Police arrested Hamilton, 37, after she called them to complain about some low-quality marijuana she had bought from a dealer, reports The Associated Press.
An officer went to Hamilton's home after she called the police objecting that her cannabis was substandard, according to Lufkin Police Sgt. David Casper.
When the officer asked if Evelyn still had the weed, she pulled it out of her bra, according to Sgt. Casper, just like she didn't have a care in the world.
Hamilton told the officer she had just spent $40 on "seeds and residue." When she got no satisfaction from the dealer or his family, she said she called the cops.
She was arrested on Friday on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Photo of Evelyn Hamilton: AP/Angelina County Jail
A record 58 percent of Americans now believe cannabis should be legal and regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco. With Washington and Colorado at the forefront of the movement to end cannabis prohibition, Seattle-based Leafly is sponsoring Snoop Dogg's Wellness Retreat concerts at the WAMU Theater in Seattle on 4/19 and at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver on 4/20.
Guests in Seattle will join Snoop (aka Snoop Lion), Wiz Khalifa and other special guests. Denver guests will join Snoop, Wiz, YG and Smoke DZA as they take over Red Rocks Theater.
In addition, online cannabis information and education resource Leafly has partnered with Snoop Dogg to launch the #MyLeaf social media contest, giving fans the chance to be Leafly's behind-the-scenes photographer at Snoop's Wellness Retreat. Participating in the #MyLeaf contest is easy: tag @Leafly and use #MyLeaf with a photo or video on Twitter, Instagram or Vine that showcases creative/artistic support for the cannabis movement.
Entries are accepted between now and Monday, April 14 at 11:59pm PDT. Full terms and conditions can be found http://bit.ly/snoopleaf.
"Snoop's Wellness Retreat represents a movement that's changing mindsets around cannabis," according to Leafly, a leading source of information on cannabis strains and where to legally access them.