By Steve Elliott
Four men have been beheaded by sword after being convicted of smuggling marijuana into Saudri Arabia, the interior ministry announced on Monday.
The government-run SPA news organization identified the Saudi men as two sets of brothers, Hadi and Awad al-Motleq, and Mufarraj and Ali al-Yami, reports Malta Today.
The four men were beheaded at Najran, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia, after they were found guilty of smuggling "a large quantity of hashish" into the country. The government didn't say when the executions took place.
The four beheadings raised to 32 the number of executions announced so far this year in Saudi Arabia, according to the AFP news agency. Amnesty International denounced what it called a "disturbing surge" in executions there.
"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions," Amnesty said, adding that the executions of the two sets of brothers occurred "reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture."
The latest executions "bring the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks to 17 -- a rate of more than one execution per day," the organization said.
Similar proposals are also likely to appear on ballots in Lewiston and York
The South Portland City Council on Monday voted unanimously to place a measure on the November ballot that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults within city limits.
Citizens for a Safer Maine collected more than 1,500 signatures to get the measure in front of the council, which had the options of adopting it or placing it on the ballot. Just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters were required. A similar measure has qualified for the ballot in Lewiston, and Citizens for a Safer Maine is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.
The South Portland initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to privately possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public. The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
“Voters will have the chance to take a bite out of marijuana prohibition in South Portland this November,” said Marijuana Policy Project Maine political director David Boyer. “This is a great opportunity to have an open and honest public dialogue about this important issue. In particular, we hope to continue the conversation about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
Oregon's leading drug addiction expert kicks off $2.3 million marijuana ad campaign
Largest ad buy so far for 2014 Oregon ballot measures
Oregon's leading drug addiction expert appears on Monday in the first TV spot in a $2.3 million advertising campaign to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.
The advertising buy made by the Yes on 91 campaign is the largest so far for a 2014 Oregon ballot measure.
The first TV advertisement features Richard Harris. As the former director of Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon, he held the highest position in the state for directing drug treatment and addiction programs. He is volunteering with the campaign.
The ad, in which Harris calls marijuana "a pretty benign drug," will run on television stations throughout Oregon. The Yes on 91 campaign also has several ads running on pre-roll online. (You can view the Harris ad, which is on YouTube, at the bottom of this article.)
"Criminalizing marijuana ruins lives and wastes resources," Harris said. "Instead of sending people to jail and turning them into hardened criminals, we should treat marijuana as a public health issue and create a system that raises money for prevention programs and mental health programs.
"Right now, there is no state appropriated money in Oregon for drug and alcohol prevention programs, including for marijuana, but Measure 91 would change that," Harris said.
First Time in New Mexico History People will Vote on Marijuana Reform
The Santa Fe City Clerk on Monday announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a vote on reducing marijuana penalties.
The Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign, headed by Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM, submitted close to 11,000 signatures in 52 days, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative now goes before the City Council where the governing body has two options, vote for the ordinance change outright or send the initiative to the people for a vote.
Not only will this be the first time in history that New Mexico's voters will cast their ballots on reforming marijuana laws, it is the first time that the people of Santa Fe brought forth an issue via the City’s citizen initiative process. The Santa Fe city charter permits voters to petition their government for changes to city ordinances, including those relating to marijuana.
The South Portland City Council will consider a citizen-initiated measure at its meeting Monday night that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults. The council can enact the proposed law or place it on the ballot.
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 1,500 signatures to place the measure in front of the council. Just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters were required.
Citizens for a Safer Maine qualified a similar measure for the ballot in Lewiston, and it is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.
The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public.
The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
“This is a common-sense proposal,” said Marijuana Policy Project Maine political director David Boyer. “Adults who are of legal age to use alcohol should not be punished simply for consuming a far less harmful substance.
"We hope the council members will agree law enforcement officials’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes,” Boyer said.
WHAT: South Portland City Council hearing on a citizen-initiated measure that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults
WHEN: Monday, August 18, 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: South Portland City Hall, 25 Cottage Rd., South Portland
Huge crowds visit Atlantic City everyday for the purpose of gambling.
Dale Sky Jones is heading there for what she sees as a sure bet.
Dale is the chancellor of Oaksterdam University, an Oakland, California institution that is presenting an educational seminar on growing marijuana to be held in Atlantic City August 23-26.
Oaksterdam was founded in 2007 to address the growing needs of the marijuana movement, from patients to regulators. Its mission is to increase cannabis awareness and to provide students with the highest quality practical education. It has provided top-grade training for cannabis and marijuana policy reform for over 18,000 students at several campuses in the United States.
Dale said Oaksterdam is coming East in response to the groundswell of interest in the legalization of marijuana that is projected to continue at a rapid pace.
Medical marijuana currently generates an estimated $2 billion in annual sales. Those sales are expected to at least quadruple in the next five years. Currently, 23 states (in addition to D.C.) allow medical marijuana, and several more have statutes in the pipeline.
The four-day event will provide up-to-the-minute insights into the current trends of the U.S. cannabis movement, according to organizers, who said there is a sudden need for qualified job applicants who are certified to provide legal, medicinal quality marijuana, so the school covers everything about cannabis production, from seed to harvest, as well as important legal and civil rights issues.
By Steve Elliott
With thousands of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders symbolizing the futility of the "War On Drugs," even some of the most ardent supporters of the punitive approach are starting to view the issue of marijuana use through a public health perspective, rather than from a criminal justice point of view.
That shift is evident at the infamous White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the dreaded ONDCP, which for decades has been the command center of the federal War On Drugs, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. The ONDCP now uses words like "balance" as key components of federal drug control strategy.
"Drug addiction is not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated," the ONDCP website reads. "Drug policy is a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue."
But unfortunately, law enforcement agencies haven't gotten the message. While the number of arrests for all offenses has declined nationwide since 1991, the share of those arrests related to simple cannabis possession has more than tripled over the same period.
By Steve Elliott
An anti-marijuana group in Florida is making new claims that legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes could lead to date rape.
The group "No On 2" recently posted an ad on Facebook asking, "Will the face of date rape look like a cookie?" In the ad, a man and a woman are portrayed hugging, with an arrow pointing to a Photoshopped cannabis cookie in the man's back pocket, reports Jeff Skrzypek at WPTV.
"I absolutely thought it was fake," said Florida state Senator Jeff Clemens, who supports medical marijuana. "I thought it was a joke."
The ad opposes Amendment 2, which will appear on the Florida ballot in November. If the amendment gets 60 percent or more of the vote, it would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
Clemens said he simply couldn't believe No On 2 would post such an outrageous ad.
"I think any woman should find that offensive to somehow suggest that if you use medical marijuana to deal with a health issue ... that somehow that's going to make you more susceptible to rape," Sen. Clemens said. "It's really beyond the pale."
Hundreds commented on the ad on the No On 2 Facebook page, with many claiming it was inappropriate and offensive.
By Steve Elliott
Canada's ban on medical marijuana edibles and body creams is unconstitutional, a B.C. Court of Appeal judge ruled on Thursday.
The judge instructed Parliament to recraft the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act to allow medicinal cannabis patients to use products made from cannabis extracts, including creams, salves, oils, brownies, cakes, cookies and chocolate bars, reports CBC News.
The court challenge came from the case of Owen Smith, who was charged with marijuana trafficking for baking cannabis cookies and producing topical cannabis creams for a Victoria medical marijuana club in 2009.
Smith was caught baking more than 200 marijuana cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, and had a supply of cannabis-infused cooking oils and some dried marijuana in his apartment when he was arrested.
He was acquitted in April; 2012 after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Canada's medical marijuana regulations were unconstitutional, because patients were denied access to edible products and other derivatives.
Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston ruled that allowing dried cannabis flowers alone was arbitrary, and did little to further any legitimate state interest.
Health Canada currently allows patients suffering from debilitating illnesses to access dried marijuana flowers for medicinal purposes. They can get the cannabis through Health Canada-approved growers, or can get permission to grow it themselves.
By D. Paul Stanford, CRRH
Oregon's Ballot Measure 91 qualified for the vote on July 22nd, almost exactly two weeks after Washington state began regulated sales of marijuana just across the mighty Columbia River from Oregon. New Approach Oregon's petition campaign turned in enough valid signatures to qualify the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act for the November 4, 2014 ballot. On the same day in November, both the state of Alaska and the federal capitol, Washington, DC, will also vote on their own initiative petitions to end marijuana prohibition.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State's website, 145,030 unverified signatures were submitted for verification on Measure 91. Of those, 88,584 signatures, or 64.41 percent of the 135,722 accepted for verification, were valid. To qualify for the ballot, 87,213 were needed, so, according to the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division, Measure 91 qualified with 1,371 more signatures than the minimum required..
The proposed Oregon ballot measure would allow for licensed and regulated cultivation and sales of marijuana. Sales would be taxed to generate money for schools, state and local police and drug treatment, prevention and mental health programs.
It is important for medical marijuana patients to note that Measure 91, when passed, will not change nor effect the current medical marijuana law in Oregon. Measure 91 taxes will not be charged for people with an Oregon medical marijuana permit.
By Steve Elliott
It was a short-lived triumph. The approval of medical marijuana that had been granted by Norfolk Island's government was overturned on Thursday by the Australian Commonwealth.
The island's administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave, vetoed the decision made by Norfolk Island authorities, reports Sam Ikin at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Hardgrave said the license issued to THC under section 7A of the Dangerous Drugs Act's 1997 provision, which was included for the purpose of establishing an industrial hemp industry on Norfolk Islasnd. "There is no reasonable prospect of a hemp industry being established on Norfolk Island in the near future and Tascann's proposal to cultivate cannabis for medical treatments is fundamentally different to, and inconsistent with, that purpose," Hardgrave said in a prepared statement.
The Australian Government has a range of obligations under international law regarding the cultivation and trade of illicit drugs," Hardgrave said. "The licence issued to Tascann may not adequately address these obligations and it was issued without consulting the relevant federal authorities."
"This smacks of U.S. meddling and is a further instance of monopoly medical marijuana with GW being the only provider globally," Mark Heinrich of Australia told Hemp News early Thursday. "In Australia we believe Novartis has been meddling and lobbying the Feds to force this outcome."
The 2014 Portland Hempstalk Festival occurs at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, Oregon on September 27 and 28. Hempstalk provides educational awareness opportunities regarding the the medicinal, emotional and mental benefits of cannabis while advocating for its decriminalization for medicinal, industrial, and recreational use.
Founded in 2005 by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, the festival features live music, guest speakers, food and goods vendors and information booths. This public event has always been free to attend, with a suggested donation of $10 per person.
According to Paul Stanford, founder and presenting sponsor of the event, "Hempstalk is about the many uses of agricultural hemp fiber, oil, protein, fuel and medicine. We are working to end adult cannabis prohibition, allow adults to grow their own and license the legal sale of psychoactive cannabis to adults.
"We believe that hemp will save the Earth's biosphere with the adoption of hemp seed for bio-diesel fuel, which will solve the energy and world hunger problems, and stop deforestation when hemp fiber is used for paper and building materials," Stanford said. "We shall overcome!"
Event coordinators estimated that last year’s two-day Hempstalk festival, held at Kelley Point Park, was attended by 60,000 people. With recent years increases in festival attendance, growing awareness of popularity of its cause, Hempstalk organizers and city officials felt it had outgrown its previous location.
By Steve Elliott
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Wednesday announced she wants to work with lawmakers in the next session of the Legislature to legalize cannabidiol oil (CBD) on a limited, medically supervised, trial-only basis.
CBD is a component of the marijuana plant; unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it does not produce a high. The compound has shown effectiveness in quelling seizures in toddlers with epilepsy and other conditions. The CBD oil isn't smoked; it is not considered a recreational drug.
"I do not support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana," Fallin said, reports Laura Noland at KFOR-TV. "Nor do I support a broadly defined 'medicinal' marijuana use that makes it easy for healthy adults and teenagers to find and buy drugs."
"I do support allowing potentially life-saving medicine to find its way to children in need," the Republican Governor said. "I am very interested in allowing limited, heavily supervised use of non-intoxicating CBD to be delivered on a trial basis to sick children in Oklahoma."
Rep. Jon Echols is preparing to lead a legislative study of allowing medical trials for CBD in treating children affected by severe seizures. Echols said he decided to take on the issue when his niece was told CBD may help with her medical condition.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana, it seems, often leads to pizza. Now at least one company is cutting to the chase and combining the two.
Unique Pizza and Subs Corporation on Tuesday announced it will "explore the possibility" of developing a signature Unique Pizza with cannabis infused into it.
The company said it believes, with the increasing demand for marijuana in Colorado under legalization, "it would utilize Dr. Reddy's world renowned skills, laboratories and test kitchen to develop a signature line of marijuana enhanced Unique Pizzas, that could be sold at adult bars and night clubs throughout the state."
"Utilizing Dr. Reddy's superior scientific technology affords the company a Unique opportunity to explore the various possibilities in the fast growing marijuana industry," the company's prepared statement reads.
After the legalization of cannabis, Colorado began the testing of marijuana edible products on May 1, putting the state in the developmental forefront of the industry.
"Unique Pizza would like to be on the vanguard of the hot and ready edible cannabis industry and believe that bringing together Dr. Reddy's superior scientific skills with Unique Pizza's industry leading gourmet taste is the perfect blend of flavors to lead this new frontier," the press release reads.
Florida MMJ Seminars on Wednesday announced in collaboration with HighDrive Digital Group, marketers for the medical marijuana industry, a seminar in Florida on the benefits and science of medical marijuana and the importance of voting “Yes” on Amendment 2 to make it more accessible to patients in need.
Educators at the seminar have more than 150 years of combined experience, according to the group, which called it "a must attend for everyone who will be involved in the medical marijuana industry – doctors, lawyers, nurses, educators, and entrepreneurs."
"Growing medical marijuana can be very lucrative, and there are only a couple of hundred seats available for the seminars," reads a prepared statement from Florida MMJ Seminars.
Florida is experiencing a huge demand for the cannabinoid medical treatment, especially considering that it is the largest homestead for baby boomers and holistic medical centers. The Florida Veterans Affairs department is one of the largest in the country with more than 1.5 million veterans residing and many in need of the medical marijuana treatment.
The topics covered in the seminars will be aimed at potential patients, clients, business partners and medical professionals:
• The role of Endocannabinoid System in the medical treatment
• Potential use of cannabinoids and a general overview of the history, licensing, and Charlotte’s Web
• Proposed Florida law guidelines and business growth
• Economics of dispensaries, grows, security systems and holistic treatments