By Steve Elliott
If you've ever doubted that the deck is stacked, you can safely lay those doubts to rest. A federal judge in California on Wednesday unexplainably declined to remove marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the nonsensical ruling in response to a motion by defense lawyers to dismiss charges in a case the authorities claim involves a marijuana growing operation, reports Don Thompson at the Associated Press.
Marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act means the U.S. federal government officially considers cannabis to be roughly on par with heroin (also on Schedule I) in terms of danger. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.
It was the first time in decades that a federal judge seriously considered marijuana's classification. To rule that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance means ignoring the vast body of medical evidence that has accumulated in recent decades, including hundreds of clinical studies and thousands of patient testimonials.
Mueller's move to hold a hearing last year to look at the issue is considered a significant step reflecting growing skepticism about federal marijuana laws, according to Sam Kamin, an expert on cannabis regulation at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
By Steve Elliott
The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a bill essentially gutting the state's medical marijuana program, sending to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee a bill that eliminates medicinal cannabis dispensaries now that the state's recreational market is nominally in place.
The Senate concurred with changes made to the bill in the House last week, then voted 41-8 to send it on to the Governor for his expected signature, reports Beth Nakamura at The Oregonian.
Republican Senator Ann Rivers of La Center claimed the state could "no longer wait" to "reconcile" the medical and recreational markets, effectively forcing patients to pay the much higher prices in recreational pot stores, where employees are forbidden to even mention the medicinal applications of cannabis.
"The reality is that we have a thriving illicit market," Rivers said, ignoring the fact that medical marijuana collectives have been legal in the state since 1998. "It's essential that we shut that down.
"But it was also essential that our patients had a clean supply and an adequate supply," Rivers said, in a statement that is dripping with irony given the fact that her bill does neither.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Executive Director to Address 2015 Cannabis Symposium at University of Colorado Boulder
University of Colorado-Boulder is hosting the 2015 Cannabis Symposium to educate students and raise awareness about successful marijuana legalization policies, and to set a new standard for drug and policy education around the country.
The closing plenary speaker is Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the Drug War. Maj. Franklin has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, and can attest to the failures of drug prohibition.
He will explain why legalizing marijuana has had a positive impact on reducing violence caused by the Drug War, and improving public safety overall. His speech will be live streamed to campuses throughout the country.
You can watch it here: http://www.colorado.edu/law/live .
What: 2015 Cannabis Symposium: A Teach-In on Ancient Medicinal Plant and Current Drug Policy
Who: Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Other LEAP speakers presenting at this event include former corrections officer Carrie Roberts, and former judge and practicing attorney, Leonard Frieling.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s two-year "Weed" investigation exposed the new faces and incredible potentials of medical marijuana to the American public, and also highlighted the growing frustration, and anger around gaining access to medical marijuana.
In the third installment of his award winning series, WEED: The Marijuana Revolution – Gupta reports on a watershed moment in medical marijuana research that could change everything we know about the plant and it’s effects.
At last count, nearly half of the United States has legalized medical marijuana, enabling millions of Americans to treat everything from pain to glaucoma to epilepsy to cancer with a hit of medicinal weed. Yet science has not proven conclusively whether it’s safe and effective.
With marijuana still illegal federally, the roadblocks to research have been impenetrable - until now. Scientists around the U.S. are finally breaking down the walls put up by the government. Gupta gains exclusive access to their history-making research and their patients, as they try to unravel the mystery of marijuana.
WEED: The Marijuana Revolution will air on CNN Sunday, April 19th at 9 pm ET/PT.
Immediately following WEED 3,, the CNN Original Series High Profits will premiere at 10 p.m. ET/PT. High Profits follows two business-minded visionaries with a plan to franchise marijuana. The eight-part series grants viewers exclusive access to a couple poised to be the first ever “moguls of marijuana.”
Coinciding with the release of the Apple Watch on April 20, a Seattle-based multimedia company, Higher Ground, has created a parody ad to bring attention to marijuana legalization. The ad, “WeedWatch,” features a photo of the iWatch with the simple text, “Time for a Change: Legalize It.” A variety of marijuana-related icons and apps are featured on the device’s face.
One of the most innovative features of Apple’s Watch is the ability for users to customize the face of the device, and add additional information. In Higher Ground’s parody, they have taken the liberty to do just that!
The watch face is full of humorous and advocacy-related apps including NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), SXSW, Leafly (a Yelp-like mobile app for marijuana), 7-11, Cannabis News Network, and Doritos. The time? 4:20.
“The Apple Watch is a revolutionary product, and the legalization of marijuana in states across the country is also a revolutionary movement,” notes Higher Ground Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser. “The message of our parody is as simple as the solution to the War on Drugs: Legalize It. It’s time to end Prohibition, and legalize, regulate and tax cannabis at the federal level.”
By Steve Elliott
A new poll from Pew Research Center finds that 53 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, with 44 percent opposed. As recently as 2006, just 32 percent supported legalization, while nearly twice as many -- 60 percent -- were opposed, according to Pew.
Crucially, the poll finds that people are much more likely to change their minds from opposing legalization to supporting it than vice versa. Among the general public, 21 percent of people support legalization now, but once opposed it. In contrast, just 7 percent of people used to support legalization but now oppose it.
Millennials (currently 18-34) lead the change, with 68 percent in favor. But across all generations, with the exception of the Silent Generation (ages 70-87), support for legal weed has risen sharply over the past decade.
“The more that people learn about marijuana and look at the benefits of legalization, the more likely they are to support reform," Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority told Hemp News on Tuesday. "Our opponents sure do have a lot to say about what they see as the benefits of continuing prohibition, but voters don’t want to hear it."
The most frequently mentioned reasons for supporting marijuana legalization are its medical benefits (41 percent) and the belief that cannabis is no worse than other drugs (36 percent), with many specifically mentioning they think pot is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.
Common Sense Changes Will Make Summons System Easier to Navigate and More Transparent, and Will Allow City to Track and Address Racial Disparities
Changes Announced After Months of Negotiations with Community and Advocacy Groups
The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) on Tuesday announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio’s announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view.
Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced on Tuesday includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.
In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio’s Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasio Administration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report’s release, the de Blasio Administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summons and immediately released.
Comprehensive Educational Program Includes 40 Sessions with Top Cannabis Experts
The legal and medical marijuana industry is on track to be the next American gold rush, and organizers of the 2nd Annual Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) in New York, say it will present an in-depth educational program that covers everything from A to Z on how to succeed in this dynamic industry.
Sponsored by the International Cannabis Association (ICA), CWCBExpo, taking place June 17-19 at the Javits Center in New York, provides the latest insight and strategies for the legal, regulatory, financial, operational, retail, marketing and healthcare sectors of the industry.
“The steps to enter the cannabis business can be overwhelming with even just the different state and national mandates,” said Dan Humiston, president of ICA, “And if you are already in the business, you have to be quick and nimble to stay competitive and grow. No matter your point of entry, CWCBExpo in NY has you covered and will give you the knowledge, tools and connections to succeed.”
Sessions being presented during the conference program on Thursday, June 18th and Friday, June 19th include:
• What Physicians Need to Know to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to their Patients
• Will Cannabis be the Next Big Retail Opportunity?
• How to Legally Invest in the Cannabis Industry
• How to Obtain a State License to Sell, Grow or Produce Medical or Recreational Marijuana
• Methods and Devices Used to Extract Cannabis Oil from Plants
If you build it, who will come?
Verabis, a primary research firm that focuses on the cannabis industry, wants to help you get to the bottom of this question and more. And they’ve got some data about the industry to share.
Did you know that 70 percent of cannabis enthusiasts use cannabis product once or more a week? And four out of five of these people consume cannabis at least once per day?
Verabis has seen significant differences in product preferences when it comes to the gender split. For example, women are more drawn to mint and gum than men. Men are more likely to trust vaporizers. Moreover, one in four say their use of cannabis will increase in the coming year. Are you ready?
Verabis designs custom research programs (focus groups, online surveys, etc.) from the ground up and delivers insights focused on helping their clients know their customers and grow their businesses.
With more than 30 years in the primary research business serving Fortune 500 clients, Verabis says it is well poised to address key business challenges such as new product development, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and brand identity for dispensaries, manufacturers and ancillary businesses in the cannabis industry.
Verabis CEO Michael Hesser will be speaking at this April’s Marijuana Investor Summit in Denver. Look for them at booth 710 or contact Verabis to see how this research team can help you get the information you need to continue to grow your business in the emerging cannabis industry.
By Steve Elliott
The Maryland General Assembly has approved a bill which would repeal the state's law against marijuana paraphernalia.
The House of Delegates on Saturday voted 84-52, sending the bill, already approved by the Senate, to Governor Larry Hogan's desk, reports CBS DC.
Maryland decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana last year, making it a civil offense rather than a criminal one.
Lawmakers didn't do the same thing at that time for smoking paraphernalia like pipes and bongs, so the paraphernalia bill was introduced this session of the Assembly.
The same measure also makes smoking marijuana in public a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Photo: DEA Museum
By Steve Elliott
Three bills taking different approaches to reforming marijuana laws in Texas got a hearing before the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence last week.
Supporters packed the only committee hearing scheduled on the bills in either chamber, reports Stanton Brashier at the Dallas Observer. Other hearings this session are seen as unlikely.
The first two bills, HB 325 and HB 414, would reduce possession about about nine grams of marijuana -- 0.35 ounces -- to a class C misdemeanor from its current status as a class B misdemeanor. They'd also drop possession of two ounces to a class B misdemeanor and under four ounces to a class A misdemeanor. These bills are backed by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr., and Gene Wu, respectively, both of Houston.
HB 507, from Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, would reduce penalties for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis to a $100 fine and no jail time. "As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we're spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly," Moody said. "That's what HB 507 is about."
HB 2165, from Rep. David Simpson of Tyler, would effectively legalize marijuana with little regulation, "like tomatoes or jalapenos." Shaun McAlister, director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said this one could be a stepping stone to more reform.
By Steve Elliott
The chief executive officer of a medical marijuana company fighting in court with the state of Illinois has died unexpectedly.
Andrew James, 51, on Thursday was found unresponsive at his home in Kenilworth, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times. An autopsy was inconclusive, the office said on Friday; officials are waiting for more test results.
James, an attorney, was the CEO of PM Rx, a company which had applied for a medical marijuana farming permit in the Kankakee area. When the company lost on its bid, it sued, accusing Illinois of failing to follow its own licensing guidelines when ranking applications for the coveted growing permits, which represent a potentially lucrative source of income.
The closely watched case has resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing the state and permit winner Cresco Labs from going ahead with plans to plant cannabis.
James "was firmly convinced the process was profoundly flawed," said his friend John Stephens, an attorney with Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, who first hired James as an intern in 1988.
Cannabis Company Debuts Cannabis Vape Cartridge Using Co2 Extracted Oil from Indoor Marijuana Flowers
G FarmaLabs, a producer/processor of medical and adult use marijuana-based products, on Monday announced the launch of Liquid Gold Extracts NUG RUN Tanks, which contain what the company calls "the purest form of cannabis oil currently available within the medical/adult use marketplaces."
The brand has officially timed the product’s debut in observance of 4/20 to be made available on store shelves of all participating dispensaries carrying G FarmaLabs products.
The company’s NUG RUN oil is produced using a 100 percent blend of indoor marijuana flowers, thus breaking the status quo of traditional oil extraction processes. While most oils are created using the extracted byproducts of cannabis plants, NUG RUN uses the richest part of the plant, which carries the greatest amount of trichomes and terpenes. These are released into the oil during refinement and purification, resulting in much higher potency and longer lasting effect.
“We’re super excited about the launch of NUG RUN as a brand new flagship offering for our Liquid Gold Extracts line,” said Ata Gonzalez, CEO, G FarmaLabs Limited. "When we began development on the product, we were determined to set the bar higher than any other cannabis company currently operating in the market, and we’re confident that our NUG Run extraction process, which uses the actual flowers of the cannabis plant, will provide patients with an unprecedented option in terms of medical and adult lifestyle quality products."
By Steve Elliott
Was it too good to last? MBank, a small community bank based in Gresham, Oregon, that quickly became one of the main banks serving the marijuana industry, has announced that it will close all of its accounts with cannabis companies within the next two months.
The cost and time spent on compliance with federal banking rules is just too much for the company to handle, according Jef Baker, CEO and president of MBank, reports Tony C. Dreibus at the Marijuana Business Daily.
The bank currently has between 70 and 75 accounts with marijuana businesses, according to Baker. Most of those accounts are in Oregon, with a few in Washington state.
“We just do not have the resources to manage the compliance necessary” to continue to service the cannabis industry, Baker said. “This is not what we want to do, this is what we have to do," he said. "We got into this business to serve an underserved group and I wish we could still do that.”
The banks customers will have "a couple months" before their accounts are closed, Baker said on Friday afternoon.
Graphic: Greg Stump/The Stranger
The Canna Law Group, in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Americans for Safe Access, and the Marijuana Policy Project, is co-hosting the Illinois Medical Cannabis Physicians’ Summit on Friday, June 5, 2015 at the Westin Chicago River North.
The summit will educate licensed medical professionals on current medical cannabis research, state and federal law, and the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. “Educating the medical community about medical cannabis treatment options is essential for the long-term success of the program,” said Rep. Lou Lang, prime sponsor of the current medical cannabis law.
The event will feature as its keynote speaker leading cannabis researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, who has conducted multiple FDA-approved studies on the medical benefits of cannabis. Dr. Suzanne Sisley, another clinical researcher on cannabis who studies its benefits for PTSD sufferers, will also speak at the summit.
“Many doctors need to better understand the current research behind medical cannabis,” said Dr. Abrams. “This is a chance to share my own first-hand research experiences at the University of California San Francisco and educate Illinois doctors about how I've applied those experiences in a clinical setting.”
Also speaking is Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple, chair of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, who said “This will be an important event for any medical professional who wants to understand the research, law, and administrative processes of a program that will help thousands of patients in Illinois.”