Top Congressional Leaders Side with States on Hemp Research and Medical Marijuana
Provisions on D.C. Marijuana Legalization Remain Unclear: Advocates Say Any Congressional Interference with Law that Passed with 70% Support is Outrageous
The final “must pass” federal spending bill that Congress will consider this week, also known as the “cromnibus,”and released by senior appropriators Tuesday night includes an amendment that prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it.
It also contains an amendment blocking marijuana law reform in Washington, D.C., although it is unclear what exactly the amendment blocks.
“For the first time, Congress is letting states set their own medical marijuana and hemp policies, a huge step forward for sensible drug policy," said Bill Piper, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs. “States will continue to reform their marijuana laws and Congress will be forced to accommodate them. It’s not a question of if, but when, federal marijuana prohibition will be repealed."
Historic measure in Omnibus Budget Bill is similar to House amendment passed earlier this year aimed at ending DOJ/DEA interference
The House and Senate Appropriations leadership has hammered out a budget bill that includes an historic amendment to curb federal Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states. The measure, which was originally passed by the House in May with an unprecedented 219-189 vote, aims to prohibit the DOJ from spending taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
"This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), one of the co-authors of the House measure. "This amendment protects patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people.
"Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution," Rep. Farr said. "And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients."
"We applaud this Congress for doing the right thing by protecting the rights of patients, and ending a years-long attack on the medical marijuana community," said Mike Liszewski, government affairs director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy organization that has been championing the measure for years. "By approving this measure, Congress is siding with the vast majority of Americans who are calling for a change in how we enforce our federal marijuana laws."
Congress May Allow D.C. Legalization Law to Stand, But Block D.C. Council From Taxing and Regulating Marijuana
Opportunity to Restore Communities Most Harmed By War on Drugs in Jeopardy
In a dramatic turn of events, media reports suggest that Congress is still negotiating whether to overturn D.C.’s historic marijuana legalization initiative. Currently, sources are reporting that Congress is considering allowing Initiative 71, approved by 70 percent of District residents, to stand while preventing future action on the District of Columbia’s ability to tax and regulate marijuana.
These reports stand in sharp contrast to a previously reported deal that would have stopped the ballot measure from taking effect.
“It’s outrageous that Congress would even consider overriding the 70 percent of D.C. voters who supported November’s marijuana legalization initiative,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While we are encouraged by reports that D.C.’s legalization law may survive, Democratic leadership can do much more.
"We are deeply troubled by reports that the final language will prevent the District from taxing and regulating marijuana,” Collins said.
Possible budget deal to block implementation of regulated system in D.C. violates overwhelming will of voters
“This is a move that would manage to be both cynical and stupid, not to mention deeply out of touch.” ~ Aaron Smith, NCIA
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Tuesday responded to reports that an upcoming Congressional budget deal may include a provision blocking the creation of regulations for Washington, D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative, which passed on Election Day with more than 2-1 support from voters.
“D.C. voters overwhelmingly chose to take a smarter and safer approach to marijuana policy by allowing for the creation of a responsible, regulated system for production and sales,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “Apparently, Congress is not interested in being smart, or safe, or democratic.
“Dictatorially blocking D.C.’s ability to create a regulatory system for already-decriminalized marijuana isn’t just a violation of the voters’ clearly stated will," Smith said. "It would rob the city of the chance to mandate responsible selling practices, monitor for safe products, and benefit from a powerful economic engine.
“This is a move that would manage to be both cynical and stupid, not to mention deeply out of touch with the majority of American voters, who want the federal government to butt out of local marijuana policy choices,” Smith said.
Nevada’s Secretary of State Ross Miller on Monday approved an official petition to add marijuana legalization to the 2016 November ballot.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol needed to file 102,000 signatures, but ultimately filed about 200,000.
If passed, the measure would establish marijuana cultivation and distribution businesses as well as legalize adult possession of up to an ounce.
“Nevada joins an ever-growing list of states with marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a law enforcement group opposed to the War On Drugs.
“Marijuana prohibition has put countless otherwise innocent people in jail and increased street violence just as alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s," Franklin said. "Nevada is ready to prioritize public safety and we look forward to seeing their state and others responsibly regulate marijuana so that law enforcement can focus on more pressing crimes.”
LEAP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit of law enforcement officers who want to end the war on drugs.
Graphic: The Daily Chronic
Provisions in Must-Pass Spending Bill Would Overturn the Will of D.C. Voters
Civil Rights and Racial Justice Groups Send Open Letter to Democratic Leadership Encouraging Them to Stand Up for D.C. Voters
By Steve Elliott
Media sources are reporting that members of Congress are negotiating provisions to a government funding bill that would block the nation’s capital in its efforts to legalize marijuana. Initiative 71 passed in Nov. 4, with 70 percent of voters approving the measure to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Some Members of Congress, realizing their colleagues wouldn't support blocking the initiative directly, undermining home rule and the will of a majority of Americans, have instead included language blocking thye measure in the spending bill, which can limit the federal funds D.C. receives.
The language has been included in a must-pass funding bill that Congress will likely vote on later this week.
“Democratic leadership made it clear they would stand with voters on this crucial racial justice issue, and push back against Republican opposition to the D.C. law,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Democrats have always made claims of supporting D.C. home rule now is their chance to stand with 70 percent of voters in the District who voted for marijuana reform,” Collins said.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana businesses in Colorado have plenty of cash flowing in, but are having a difficult time finding a legal place to put it.
Most banks still refuse to work with marijuana businesses, because they fear enforcement of federal banking laws, reports Alizeh Siddiqui at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Cannabis, is, of course, illegal at the federal level. Now, a new credit union designed specifically for the legal marijuana industry hopes to offer a solution, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.
The Fourth Corner Credit Union plans to open within two weeks in Denver, offering to accept cash deposits and to allow members to make electronic cash transfers for payroll and rent, and to buy supplies.
"We are on the one-yard line," said attorney Mark Mason, who is advising the credit union's nine founders.
Banking regulators in Colorado granted Fourth Corner a charter on November 19, and now the union is waiting for the Federal Reserve to issue it a master account number, which would give it access to the U.S. electronic banking system. The credit union's organizers believe it will get the number without a fight, because the Federal Reserve is required give out numbers to organizations that have already been granted state charters.
CMA resolution comes as California lawmakers consider introducing a bill to address widespread problem of transplant denials
The California Medical Association (CMA) this weekend voted unanimously to urge transplant clinics in the state against removing patients from organ transplant lists based on their medical marijuana status or use. The CMA House of Delegates was in San Diego for its annual meeting, and voted Saturday on Resolution 116-14 in support of patients' ability to remain on transplant lists despite their medical marijuana use.
The refusal of transplant clinics to place or keep medical marijuana patients on organ transplant lists is a widespread problem in California and other states. Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is fighting to reform organ transplant policies in California, has received numerous reports of such actions at hospitals across the state, including Cedars-Sinai, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California San Francisco, and Stanford Medical School.
By Steve Elliott
A portable analyzer instrument called the Cannalyzer-420™ is now avaialble; the product is designed to measure marijuana potency including THC, CBD, and more, according to the makers, Seattle-based LightWave Science, Inc.
Infrared technology is used in the Cannalyzer, according to the company, similar to that used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on farm products for more than a decade.
The patent-pending instrument allows more growers, extractors, and dispensaries to quickly determine the quality their cannabis using infrared technology with repeatable accuracy within 1 percent, according to LightWave Science, Inc.
The idea is to save lots of time by not having to continuously send cannabis samples to expensive testing laboratories. "Use it when purchasing trim for your extracts or new product opportunities arriving at your back door," the company advises.
The Cannalyzer-420 measures marijuana flowers and leaves for the percentage of THC, CBD, and moisture, using non-contact, non-destructive infrared technology, according to the company. The Cannalyzer is a "grind and measure" unit which works by grinding the product into a sample dish, then placing it onto the measurement area to see instant results displayed onscreen.
The small, lightweight case is 6"x11"x14", with internal battery for 8 hours of operation in the field, according to the company. No internet connection is required.
Options are available to additionally measure extracts such as oils and dabs, according to LightWave Science, Inc.
By Steve Elliott
U.S. Senator and likely 2016 Presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) all but admitted in a Friday interview that he smoked marijuana in his youth, but called it a "mistake."
Paul said voters shouldn't confuse his push for reducing criminal penalties for drugs as an endorsement of drug use, reports the Associated Press.
"I think drugs, marijuana included, aren't good for you," Paul said in an interview with Louisville television station WHAS. "I don't want to be someone who is seen as being this person advocating for drug use. I think they're not a good idea."
"Let's just say I wasn't a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid," Paul said in the interview, broadcast Friday night.
Paul told a group of Northern Kentucky University law students last month that he wouldn't support lifting the federal ban on marijuana use, but said he didn't want the federal government to overturn state laws that legalize it.
By Steve Elliott
BreedIT Corp., through its Israeli subsidiary, BreedIT Ltd., on Tuesday announced that its joint venture, KanaboSeed Ltd., has submitted applications for the registration of two new cannabis strains to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development Plant Breeders' Rights Council.
The new varieties of marijuana are the first to be developed by the KanaboSeed organization since the venture was formed in August of this year. Characterized by phenotypic and genotypic traits, the strains were cultivated to achieve CBD-to-THC ratios identified by the company's Scientific Advisory Board as likely to be effective in the management of particular medical conditions.
"We formed KanaboSeed to leverage the horticultural expertise of Seach Ltd., a licensed Israeli medical cannabis grower, with the technical and research capabilities of BreedIT Ltd., as well as our iBreedIT software platform," said Dr. Oded Sagee, CEO of BreedIT Ltd. ":Working together we are able develop and evaluate new strains relatively quickly, thereby reducing the timeline from research to market.
"These two registration applications are just the first for what we anticipate will be a line of new potential cannabis varieties that KanaboSeed is developing to address specific medical uses," Dr. Sagee said. "We intend to capitalize on the commercialization of new varieties, as allowed by the laws and regulations, in Israel and other countries where regulation permits the use of medical cannabis."
By Steve Elliott
An an interesting case of role reversal, marijuana grown in the United States is increasingly being smuggled into Mexico, according to the DEA.
At one time, Mexico supplied the vast majority of cannabis found in the U.S., but that has changed due to more weed being cultivated north of the border. The high quality of American weed is catching the attention of Mexico drug cartels, reports RT.com.
American marijuana, typically with potency between 10 and 25 percent THC, is, on the average, noticeably stronger than Mexican weed, which averages 3 to 8 percent. American weed, meanwhile, typically sells for three to four times as much as Mexican product.
"I believe that now, because of the changes they're having to make because of marijuana legalization in the U.S., the cartel is pushing more cocaine, meth and heroin. They're diversifying," journalist Javier Valdez told NPR.
"It makes sense," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne, reports National Public Radio. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"
By Steve Elliott
The D.C. Council on Tuesday passed temporary legislation prohibiting employers from testing potential employees for marijuana before a job offer has been made.
The "Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014," introduced by Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) in March, states that employers cannot test potential employees for marijuana use until after an offer for employment has been made, reports Matt Cohen at DCist.
That's where the good news ends, though; after employees have been hired, they "must still adhere to the workplace policies set forth by their employer."
“The citizens of the District voted for Initiative 71, to legalize marijuana, and this bill will protect citizens who legally smoke marijuana but are then subsequently penalized for it through loss of employment opportunities,” Orange said. “The bill aims to prevent the loss of a job opportunity for job seekers who have used marijuana prior to receiving a job offer but it does not remove an employer’s right to prohibit the use of drugs at work or at any time during employment.”
Photo of Vincent Orange: WAMU
By Steve Elliott
Thousands of Argentinians on Thursday gathered outside Congress in Buenos Aires to demand the legalization of marijuana.
Protesters openly smoked cannabis and urged the government to join a public debate on marijuana, citing Uruguay, which this year led the world by becoming the first modern nation to announce it will sell government-grown weed.
Meanwhile, in the United States, voters in four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska) have approved measures which legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults.
Video of the protest from RT.com: http://rt.com/in-motion/211759-argentina-marijuana-decriminalisation-rally/
By Steve Elliott
Bob Marley's former bandmate, Bunny Wailer, has publicly criticized a deal between the Marley estate and the Seattle-based international marijuana company Privateer Holdings. Wailer, who has long advocated for cannabis legalization, said the business venture isn't a good idea.
"The Marley Natural deal must be publicly opposed," Wailer said, reports Shereita Grizzle at the The Gleaner. Not only does the deal have serious implications for future efforts by Jamaica to capitalize on the benefits of marijuana legalization, but it also highlights the selfishness of the Marley estate, according to Wailer.
Wailer agreed with those who say that Bob Marley shouldn't be used as the face of the first global cannabis brand. "The people are correct," Wailer said, adding that the global cannabis brand should incorporate The Wailers as a whole.
"The ganja issue can only be dealt with as The Wailers collectively, and what the Marley estate has done since Robert Marley's death is to wipe away the collective works, catalogue, image and rights of The Wailers from public existence," Wailer said.
"The Marley Natural brand has now spotlighted their (the Marley family's) selfish behavior," Wailer said, adding that himself and the late Peter Tosh are probably more deserving that Marley himself to be the face of the cannabis brand, given their greater involvement with the issue.