FAIR Act Would Eliminate Department of Justice Program that Enables State and Local Police to Keep Proceeds of Property Seized from Citizens
Momentum Builds in Congress for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Days after Attorney General Holder Issues Policy Limiting Police Participation in Controversial Department of Justice Program
Bipartisan legislation was introduced on Monday in both houses of Congress that would roll back changes made in the 1980s by Congress to federal civil asset forfeiture laws largely intended to incentivize law enforcement to pursue civil asset forfeitures as part of the rapid escalation of the War On Drugs.
In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. In the House, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced an identical version of Sen. Paul’s FAIR Act.
“It’s encouraging to see strong bipartisan support in Congress for rolling back policies that have perpetuated the failed war on drugs and eroded the public’s trust in law enforcement,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Congress has an opportunity to end the perverse incentives that federal laws give police to take innocent people’s property and run.”
MJPayment on Friday launched what the company described as "an innovative and powerful cash management and logistics solution for the legal marijuana industry."
According to a prepared statement from the company, "MJPayment is taking the headache out of Cash Management with a complete financial solution that allows customers the flexibility to meet their changing demands."
The company is calling MJPayment "the first and only integrated financial solution for the marijuana industry." According to MJPayment, it "provides cash management, logistics, and payment solutions to the marijuana industry and their suppliers."
MJPayment says its partnerships allow customers to integrate everything from cash logistics and point-of-sale systems, to cashless consumer and supplier payment solutions.
The company says MJPayment provides a one-source helping hand by:
• Removing cash handling and security cost from client businesses
• Reducing administration costs
• Creating and maintaining a cashless business
• Paying bills and invoices electronically
• Providing cash management solutions for personal and business use
• Offering 24-hour customer support and rewards programs
"Our unparalleled experience is evident in our ability to deliver a wide selection of cost-effective solutions designed to fit each clients' unique needs," said Timothy Harrington, president of MJPayment. "We work to configure a solution tailored to a demanding customer base.
Michigan voters will decide at the polls whether or not to increase the state tax rate from six to seven percent. According to a recent Survey USA poll commissioned by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Report, Michiganders would rather legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
The poll indicates that a majority of Michigan voters are against raising the state sales tax to pay for roads and schools. A higher sales tax was approved by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder during last year's lame duck session, and will be voted on in May in a special statewide election.
Of the 500 registered Michigan voters surveyed, only 43 percent support raising the sales tax to pay for roads; 49 percent opposed the hike, and 8 percent weren't sure.
The poll shows that 64 percent of Michigan adults would likely vote in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana, as opposed to raising taxes across the board. Twenty-eight percent of respondents opposed regulating marijuana like alcohol, and 8 percent weren't sure.
"The road tax is in serious trouble," said Tim Beck, chair of the Safer Michigan Coalition. "Voters are suspicious of more taxes imposed upon the general population.
"There are other, more creative ways to generate revenue to fund roads and schools," Beck said. "Regulation and taxation of marijuana is an alternative voters seem to prefer."
Florida for Care on Monday applauded the filing of Senate Bill 528, a piece of comprehensive medical marijuana legislation drafted and filed by Senator Jeff Brandes, the Republican representing District 22.
“We are very excited to see Sen. Brandes file this important piece of legislation,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida for Care. "Sen. Brandes has taken a courageous step in service of making the voice of Floridians heard on this issue."
One such voice is that of Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre, whose mother suffered from cancer. "I'm very encouraged by Sen. Brandes' bill," Sheriff Manfre said. "As a sheriff and as the son of a cancer survivor, responsible, comprehensive, medical marijuana legislation is critically important to me."
"I hope my fellow sheriffs will see this bill in the same light and work towards consensus on this issue which is deeply personal to many Floridians, as it is to me," Manfre said.
The bill is considerably more comprehensive than previously passed Senate Bill 1030, which allowed only for a low-THC, high-CBD strain of marijuana that would primarily help those suffering with epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
“While SB 1030 was monumental in that our Legislature -- for the first time -- recognized marijuana as medicine, it simply did not help all sick and suffering Floridians in the way that Sen. Brandes’ bill would, if passed,” said Dan Rogers, director of legislative affairs for Florida for Care.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon voters last November chose to legalize marijuana. But some residents in the eastern part of the state still aren't ready to let go of prohibition.
Pendleton, an eastern Oregon town where the motto is "Let 'er buck" and the main attraction is the 105-year-old Pendleton Round-Up, may ban cannabis retailers from the city, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
"When it comes to a lot of our laws, they are determined by a couple of counties and Portland," whined Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk. "We are used to that, so what we have to do is buck up and figure out what we are going to do."
Among many in eastern Oregon, especially more rural areas of the state, the marijuana's reputation as a gateway to hard drugs, mental illness, family dysfunction and addiction still seems strong, The Oregonian reports.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Thursday held the first of 10 statewide public forums as part of an effort to collect input from residents. The first two, in Baker City and Pendleton, attracted more than 200 residents from a mostly rural area.
"I am trying to picture what this is going to look like in our town," said John Day coucilwoman Lisa Weigum, 30, who drove 80 miles to attend the Baker City meeting.
U.S.: Historic Bipartisan Support to Remove Industrial Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act in both the House and SenateSubmitted by restore on Sat, 01/24/2015 - 09:14
By Amy Peradotta, Special to Hemp News
Hopefully you have heard a thing or two in the news lately about industrial hemp. If so, it is because it is finally gaining political traction again after a very insidious yet successful smear campaign lasting nearly 80 years, equating it to marijuana. If you haven’t heard about hemp in the news lately, keep your eyes and ears peeled because big changes are on the way!
As of 2015, twenty-one states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to its production (CA, CO, DE, HI, IL, IN, KY, ME, MI, MO, MT, NE, NY, ND, OR, SC, TN, UT, VT, WA, WV). These are highly regulated pilot projects that must be administered in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and an institution of higher education. Despite the legality of hemp in these states, only two states (CO and KY) successfully planted and harvested a crop in 2014. This was the first legal crop grown and harvested on American soil since WWII. If you are wondering why that might be, it has to do with our good friends at the DEA.
By Steve Elliott
A letter has been sent to marijuana stores in Washington state on official Department of the Army letterhead asking marijuana stores to not sell to enlisted troops.
"This letter is to inform you that your establishment has been declarted 'Off-Limits' to members of the Armed Forces effective 21 January 2015," the letter, first revealed on Twitter by Seattle-based Canna Law Group's Hilary Bricken on Thursday.
"Forces are prohibited from entering your establishment as long as this order is in effect," readers the letter, signed by David L. Chase, Colonel, U.S. Army, and President, AFDCB (Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board).
"This restriction will remain in effect indefinitely in accordance with established Armed Forces policy unless you agree to stop selling substances similar to marijuana to military personnel," reads the curiously worded letter. I say curiously worded, because these stores don't sell "substances similar to marijuana," Col. Chase. Sir, they sell MARIJUANA.
"You have thirty (30) days to present evidence to the AFDCB that you agree to stop selling these substances to military personnel," the letter demands, taking the "guilty until proven innocent" approach that seems to be popular among Army types.
By Steve Elliott
Hawaii on Wednesday, the opening day of the 2015 legislative session, joined the U.S. Capitol and four other states in flying an American-grown, American-produced hemp flag.
GOP state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who has long advocated for industrial hemp use, sponsored the flag-raising and borrowed a hemp flag from Colorado advocate Michael Bowman, reports Chad Blair at the Honolulu Civil Beat.
Bowman enlisted the help of a Colorado hemp farmer to make the flag, according to a press release from Thielen's office.
The flag has "a vintage feel to it which appears to be a nod to America's hemp growing founding fathers and the many original flags that were made of hemp," according to Thielen's office.
"This durable flag will be flying high," the state representative's office adds.
The University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is allowed to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program after last year's passage of Act 56 into law.
The federal Agriculture Act of 2014 allows colleges and state departments of agriculture to conduct industrial hemp research, including cultivaiton.
The neighboring Hawaiian island of Maui "is slated to become the first island in the state with a home built using industrial hemp," reports the Maui News.
Photo: Rep. Cynthia Thielen and the hemp flag
By Steve Elliott
President Barack Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to legalize marijuana.
In a YouTube interview, Obama discussed cannabis policy and the contrasts between federal and state law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. Four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) plus the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana.
“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to a question from Hank Green, who with his brother runs a YouTube channel with nearly 2.5 million subscribers.
“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said, about 11 minutes into the video embedded below. “My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”
By Steve Elliott
Does marijuana help or hinder your athletic abilities? With pro-pot legislation sweeping the United States, many are asking if cannabis can make you a better athlete.
Outside contributor Gordy Megroz put weed to the test in his workout, consulting with medical specialists to find the pros and cons of running high.
Ironically, in their quest to prove marijuana a "performance enhancing drug," sports authorities have to point out positive aspects of cannabis use.
Regulations such as the ban from the World Anti-Doping League find that cannabis decreases anxiety and increases airflow to the lungs, potentially helping athletes stay calm in the heat of competition.
Informal test experiences on THC show that athletes felt cannabis improved their skills and made them feel invincible. Formal tests actually backed this up, finding "substantial gains" under the influence of marijuana.
"Pro athletes who use marijuana are obviously reluctant to admit it, but in 2003, skateboarder Bob Burnquist told Thrasher magazine, 'I have learned a lot of tricks while stoned,' Megroz writes.
Megroz learned through experimentation that using marijuana, either through smoking or edibles, seemed to facilitate his running. He also tried skiing on a 10-milligram THC gummy, and had a great experience: "I felt invincible and proceeded to attack the steepest lines without fear," he writes.
By Steve Elliott
Two Democratic lawmakers have filed bills that would allow the use of medical marijuana in Indiana, but neither measure is likely to make any progress in the Republican-controlled Legislature, according to observers.
Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) and Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) are sponsoring bills in the Indiana Senate and House, respectively, that would allow state residents to use cannabis for medicinal purposes with a doctor's authorization, reports the Associated Press.
Errington's House bill would allow patients with conditions including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease or Alzheimer's disease to use marijuana for treatment.
Unfortunately, the bill has been assigned to the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee, where it's unlikely to get a hearing, according to Errington.
"Bills that go there usually don't come back out," Errington told The Star Press. "I would like it to at least get a hearing, so people could come and tell their stories -- patients and physicians and others."
According to Errington, she's heard from constituents who are suffering from chronic pain and seizures, who would like to use medical marijuana to ease their suffering.
Stevia Corp., an international farm management company and healthcare company, has announced the filing of a second important provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for pain treatment using a combination of ibuprofen and cannabidiol (CBD).
The provisional patent application closely follows the company's previously announced first provisional patent application for pain management using acetaminophen and CBD. As in the previous application, this patent includes multiple claims including, but not limited to, combinations of cannabinoids including CBD and ibuprofen for the treatment of pain.
The provisional patent application, a legal document which establishes an early priority date for the benefit of claiming "first to file" status against other companies or individuals, "was filed with the assistance of an intellectual property attorney with extensive experience in the healthcare industry," according to a prepared statement from Stevia Corp.
CBD is a cannabinoid present in most varieties of the cannabis sativa and cannabis indica plants. Unlike THC and some of the other molecules found in cannabis, CBD is non-psychoactive.
CBD is also extremely well tolerated at high doses with little or no side effects; it is essentially non-toxic. It catapulted to national prominence after being an important part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's 2013 CNN documentary, "Weed."
3rd Annual Conference in Washington DC, March 27-31
Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) formally announced its third annual Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy," by running an ad in USA Today.
The conference, which is being held in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015, will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Tuesday, March 31st, ASA will host a press conference at 11am, followed by Congressional lobbying visits by hundreds of patient advocates.
What: National Unity Conference: "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy"
When: March 27-31, 2015, including a press conference at 11 am on March 31
Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 1177 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
The quarter-page USA Today ad, which ran all last week in the newspaper's NFL Super Bowl Preview publication, appeared on news stands across the country. This week, a digital version of the ad is running online for millions of Internet viewers.
Sponsors of the ad include the American Herbal Products Association, Cannabis Training Institute, Patient Focused Certification, and OrganiCann.
Backers of a new initiative to strengthen Washington state's medical marijuana law are now gathering signatures.
"Initiative Measure No. 1372, filed January 6, 2015, will protect and strengthen the medical cannabis law, RCW 69.51A, by offering compassion, clarity and consistency," said Kirk Ludden of Cannabis Patient Protection Washington (CPPWA) on Wednesday.
I-1372 would make the following changes, according to Ludden:
• Bringing Washington state law into compliance with stated federal policy
• Allowing business owners to obtain licenses for producing, processing or dispensing cannabis in a commercial manner. Using the language from ESSB 5073, specifying cannabis for medical use licensing, allowing producers and processors to deliver cannabis to any cannabis for medical use licensee, and allowing the botanical herb tax exemption on cannabis for medical use.
• Creating and empowering the cannabis for medical use board, made up of the state and the community, to govern all aspects of the market. Through licensing and regulation fees, revenue is generated for the board to regulate the not-for-profit cannabis for medical use market while remaining revenue neutral.
• Maintaining small, private residential gardens and patient cooperatives that do not violate the spirit or intent of law. As well as protecting existing cannabis farmer's markets serving qualifying patients.
By Steve Elliott
State Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City) and state Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita) have once again introduced medical marijuana bills in the Kansas Legislature, as they've done every year since 2009.
None of the measures has ever gone beyond informational hearings, in which no action can be taken, but Sen. Haley thinks that might change this year, reports Amy Himmelberg of the Associated Press.
"I think the ice is beginning to thaw regarding the reasonableness of the issue among the leadership of the Legislature," Haley said.
Rep. Finney -- who has undergone chemotherapy for lupus -- thinks the bill will at least get a hearing after being ignored by Republican legislators for years. "Passing, I don't know about that," she added.
Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, said he's waiting to see what the Senate does with medical marijuana. "Nobody's come and really pushed it," Hawkins claimed, adding that he's heard "very little" from constituents about it. If you'd like to change that, you can click here and let Rep. Hawkins hear from the people he's supposed to be representing.