By Steve Elliott
The president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) on Tuesday said that America's marijuana laws are total failures. John Dixon III, police chief in Petersburg, Virginia, speaking at the NOBLE's annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said law enforcement is too concerned with busting people for minor marijuana offenses.
"We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts," Dixon said, reports Ryan Smith at MPP. "We are locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint.
"They're put in the criminal justice system which pretty much ruins the rest of their lives," Dixon said, adding that medical professionals should be in charge of dealing with drug use. "Why do I have to lock you up for that? What benefit am I giving you, then? We have to get out of the businesses. That should be the focus of the medical field."
"Sometimes, we've got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn't going to say," Dixon said.
The ACLU has released a study showing that the marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities across the United States, despite the fact the blacks and whites use cannabis at similar rates.
Kush Bottles, an American supplier of child-resistant packaging and compliant bottles for the marijuana industry, on Monday commented on a recent press release by a competitor claiming that marijuana dispensary packaging made in China was "outperforming domestic manufactured dispensary supplies."
The press release stated, "Chinese manufacturing had helped to keep packaging prices low. The fact that these lower-priced options exceed domestic quality standards in the last few years is why [they are] proud of [their] business partnerships in China."
Ben Wu, CEO of Kush Bottles strongly disagrees with that statement. "I am keenly familiar with the production quality of bottles and packaging coming from China, and I can unequivocally state that they are far inferior to the product coming from American factories, which use FDA-approved materials and have been independently tested and certified to meet and exceed the standards for child-resistance set by the specific requirements of Title 16 CFR 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act."
Moreover, the bottles and containers made in China do NOT meet the standards for child resistance in states with child resistant packaging regulations, according to John Kovacevich, vice president of Kush Bottles.
Historic Vote Falls on Heels of Votes in May to Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws
Meanwhile Conflict Over Washington, DC Decrim Law and Legalization Ballot Measure Increases
In a historic vote, the U.S. House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.
In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.
“Congress is yet again rejecting the failed war on marijuana,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “They have read the poll numbers and are doing both what is right and what is politically smart.”
Persons Caught With Up to One Ounce of Marijuana Will Be Fined $25 by D.C. Police Officers
House Republicans Want to Overturn Law While White House Defends It
By Steve Elliott
A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law on Thursday takes effect in the District of Columbia, replacing jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as the result of a year-long effort in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers.
The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” takes effect despite an ongoing Republican-led effort in Congress to block D.C. officials from implementing the law. It was approved by the D.C. Council 10-1 in April and signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray in March.
“We are hopeful that marijuana decriminalization will reduce excessive racial disparities in the enforcement of D.C.’s marijuana laws,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “While marijuana decriminalization is undeniable progress, the real solution is to join states like Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana. Thankfully, D.C. voters are going to have that opportunity in November.”
By Steve Elliott
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Monday signed legislation into law that allows the use of cannabidiol oil extracted from marijuana to treat epileptic seizures that can't be effectively treated by pharmaceuticals.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-St. Louis County), whose 9-year-old son has epilepsy, reports the Associated Press.
Patients and parents who want to use CBD oil will be required to register with the Missouri Department of Health, and also have a neurologist verify that the patient's epilepsy hasn't responded to at least three other treatments. (Why on earth would they only use the most effective and least toxic option when all the others have been exhausted?)
When asked what all the Missouri families who had moved to Colorado for legal access to CBD oil should do, Gov. Nixon replied, "Move back to Missouri."
When pressed on the question of whether such families would be prosecuted, Gov. Nixon said, "It would be better to talk to the attorney general's office about that. All I know is the measure I signed today will help us move forward to make sure Missouri can provide these therapies to families in need."
The Truth About CBD
Now that medical marijuana has come to Illinois, how can qualified patients get authorized to legally use it? That can be a problem when physicians willing to certify patients for the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program are problematically scarce, according to a new study.
In a week-long study conducted by De Paul University students, 294 physician offices were contacted from a list provided on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's physician profile search, and asked whether or not their practitioners would be certifying patients for the medical use of marijuana in Illinois.
The offices ranged from small family practices with only one physician, to large hospitals with hundreds of physicians practicing in one field. The offices were located throughout Illinois including the counties: Cook, Kane, Will, DuPage, Kankakee, Peoria, Sangamon, Winnebago, McHenry, Effingham, Marion, Kendall and Union.
Half of the physicians contacted were primary care physicians, while half were specialists in the fields of gastroenterology, ophthalmology, oncology, neurology, pain management, infectious disease and rheumatology.
Despite the broad variety of physicians contacted as part of the study, the results yielded an overwhelming answer of "NO" to patients seeking medical marijuana recommendations.
By Steve Elliott
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he will seek on Tuesday to shut down medical marijuana farmers market that launched in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles two weeks ago. Feuer said he will seek a restraining order blocking the operation of what he called the "so-called farmers market."
The city attorney claimed the market violates Proposition D, the voter-approved ordinance that restricts the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate in Los Angeles, reports KPCC. Feuer also claimed the event constitutes "a nuisance" to the residents of the neighborhood.
"It also fails, we allege, to comply with basic city land use laws," Feuer claimed. "And they couldn't get a permit if they tried. So for many reasons -- from the violation of Prop D to the impact on the community to the failure to comply with city land use law -- we allege that this isn't a use that should be allowed to continue and we're going to seek a court order to put a halt to it."
The three-day launch of the market, which only allowed medical marijuana patients with doctor's authorizations, took place over the July 4th weekend. Thousands of patients came to a warehouse, drawn by the promise of lower prices and farmer-to-consumer cannabis sales. About 25 vendors offered marijuana products and supplies; the line of attendees stretched for blocks.
Retired Superior Court Judge Jim Gray will be debating marijuana legalization with Dr. Kevin Sabet of Project SAM on Wednesday, July 16, at the Colorado School of Mines in an event that will be broadcast live.
A former federal prosecutor, judge advocate for the Navy JAG corps and superior court judge, Gray is in the Denver area this week meeting with media and civic groups and preparing for the Wednesday debate on the merits of marijuana legalization, regulation and control.
Judge Gray is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officials who believe that prohibiting illicit drugs only serves to empower the criminal networks that sell them, wastes law enforcement time and resources, contributes to racial disparities in the justice system, saddles people who would be better served by treatment with criminal records and ultimately is ineffective at reducing use.
The event will be broadcast live at http://www.fee.org/seminars/page/is-legalizing-marijuana-a-responsible-p... .
"The essential question is, would you rather have government regulators and legitimate business owners deciding how marijuana is grown, what it's laced with, and who can buy it, or would you rather leave those decisions -- and multiple billions of dollars in profits -- to drug cartels and juvenile street gangs?" Judge Gray asked.
In a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday, the White House expressed strong opposition to a Republican amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.
The statement calls marijuana reform a “states’ rights” issue, a groundbreaking policy position for the White House to take, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The D.C. Council also on Monday passed a resolution condemning congressional interference.
“It is great to see the White House accepting that a majority of Americans want marijuana law reform and defending the right of D.C. and states to set their own marijuana policy,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the DPA. “The tide has clearly shifted against the failed war on drugs and it’s only a matter of time before federal law is changed."
The White House Statement of Administration Policy reads: “Similarly, the Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally- passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States' rights and of District home rule. Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department's enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”
By Steve Elliott
Patients in Illinois who qualify under the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program could be able to start legally using marijuana early next year, according to program coordinator Bob Morgan, who is a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
"Right now, we think it's a good time for patients to be having that conversation with their physicians and their caregivers if they have any interest in participating in the program," Morgan said.
The powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules plan to meet in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss the rules to implement the state's medical marijuana program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.
If the committee agrees on the rules, the process to register patients, dispensers and growers can begin.
Patients who are approved by the state as having debilitating medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana will be able to get identification cards beginning in September, according to Morgan, but the application process will be staggered.
Applications for those who want to sell or grow marijuana will be out around the same time, Morgan said.
Citizens for a Safer Maine on Monday submitted its petition in support of an initiative to make marijuana possession legal for adults within South Portland city limits. The group submitted more than 1,500 signatures, with just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
The city clerk has 20 days to certify the petition.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows joined Citizens for a Safer Maine at a news conference inside South Portland City Hall prior to submitting the signatures to the City Clerk’s Office.
“Our goal is to get people talking about marijuana and the benefits of ending prohibition,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“Marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol for the consumer and for society," Boyer said. "It should be treated it that way, and that entails no longer punishing adults who choose to use it responsibly.”
D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law Slated to Take Effect on Thursday
Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Expected to Go Before D.C. Voters in November
The Council of the District of Columbia on Monday morning is expected to pass two emergency resolutions opposing a recent effort led by U.S. House Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) to use congressional oversight to block the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to enact marijuana reform.
The House Appropriations Committee on June 25 adopted an amendment by Rep. Harris that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine. If included in the 2015 federal budget, the rider would block the District from carrying out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.
Advocates warn the rider would overrule the will of D.C. voters should they pass Initiative 71 this fall and block efforts to tax and regulate adult sales of marijuana in the District. District residents have begun organizing a boycott of Ocean City, part of Rep. Harris's congressional district, as a show of their disapproval of Rep. Harris's intervention in D.C. affairs.
By Steve Elliott
The North American trade group Hemp Industries Association has published its position on what it called the misbranding of cannabidiol (CBD) products as "hemp oil." The new statement from HIA explains the difference between hemp oil and CBD extracts in terms of their respective uses and means of production, and emphasizes the need for accurate language in the marketplace so consumers aren't misled.
"Hemp oil is the common term for hempseed oil, obtained by pressing hemp seeds that contain low levels of CBD, typically less than 25 parts per million (ppm)," the position states. "In contrast, CBD extracts are produced either directly from cannabis flowers that are up to 15 percent CBD (150,000 ppm), or indirectly as a co-product of the flowers and leaves that are mixed in with the stalks during hemp stalk processing for fiber."
The Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban important and commerce of hempseed and oil food products in 2001, claiming these products were Schedule I controlled substances. However, HIA successfully sued the CDEA, unequivocally establishing hemp seed, oil, and protein as entirely legal to import, process, sell and consume in the United States.
By Steve Elliott
Legislation which changes Rhode Island's medical marijuana law, has been signed by Governor Lincoln Chafee. The law lowers the amounts of marijuana that can be grown patient cooperatives and establishes new regulatory mechanisms.
H. 7610 SubA is a substitute bill, based on a more far reaching proposal that was introduced by law enforcement, and largely concerns cooperatives where patients join together to grow medical marijuana, reports Mark Reynolds at the Providence Journal.
It limits the amount of medical marijuana grow in patient cooperatives in non-residential settings to 10 ounces, 48 mature plants, and 24 seedlings. It also requires that coops in non-residential settings comply with municipal codes, including building codes.
Cooperatives in residential settings will be allowed 24 mature plants and 12 seedlings.
The changes do not affect plant counts for individuals who are growing on their own, even if that individual is both a patient and a caregiver, according to Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC).
The law also calls for both types of cooperatives, both non-residential and residential, to report their presence to state police.
A marijuana industry job board website, 420careers.com, has reached out to Mike Boyer, the first Washington state citizen to purchase recreational marijuana and to get fired for using recreational marijuana, find a new job in the marijuana industry.
Boyer was the first person to purchase recreational marijuana in Washington’s new marijuana industry and was fired hours later after his employer recognized him on multiple TV stations that aired interviews of him and the historic moment.
Boyer said he’s “been officially terminated for violation of the drug use policy,” but that he hopes he can “spin this and get a job in the marijuana industry… It’s a new industry, they need qualified people.”
“The marijuana industry is one of the few industries creating large quantities of job opportunities in the US, and businesses are in need of qualified, law-abiding employees like Mr. Boyer," said Dan Kingston, president of 420careers.com.
"More than 10,000 marijuana industry jobs have been created in Colorado alone," Kingston said. "And hundreds, if not thousands, of more jobs will be created in Washington and other states that legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use."
Currently trending marijuana jobs offered on 420careers.com range from marijuana writers to advertising sales people, budtenders to cultivation experts, security to administrative positions, and more. Presently, marijuana jobs are in the highest demand in Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, where the marijuana industries are booming.