By Steve Elliott
With medical marijuana dispensaries now officially legal under Oregon state law, state lawmakers are drafting rules to regulate the retail cannabis industry. The committee in charge of writing the rules will meet on Monday (November 18) to discuss whether local governments can restrict or ban the shops in their jurisdictions; licensing fees will also be discussed.
The meeting, open to the public, begins at 9 a.m. Monday in Hearing Room F of the Oregon State Capitol, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Members of the public may call 888.251.2909 to listen in (enter code 539618#). There will also be a live video feed of the meeting at http://www.oregonlegislature.gov.
Some cities in Oregon have already effectively banned medical marijuana dispensaries. The committee will be discussing if cities like Medford and Tualatin can legally do that; the Oregon Legislative Counsel has concluded that regulating the shops is under the authority of the state government, not local municipalities.
The committee will also be taking a look at a third draft of the dispensary registry rules. Owners would pay an application fee of $4,000 under the latest plan; the annual fee to renew registration would also be $4,000.
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
After a panel of appointed experts can appease federal officials with a set of rules, Oregon farmers may sow a crop of industrial hemp next spring. The committee of agricultural experts and state officials has been selected by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and will come together in December to establish proper procedures for hemp cultivation in Oregon.
"The committee hopes to set up a program that will meet what the federal government calls a ‘robust’ standard," according to Jim Cramer, a market and certification official at the Department of Agriculture. "The goal is to do so in time for planting."
In 2009, Senate Bill 676, spearheaded by Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski, was passed by the Oregon legislature and then-Governor Theodore Kulongoski signed the historic bill into law. Since the passage, Oregon farmers have been hesitant to begin growing due to fear that they’d be prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Administration for possession of a schedule I controlled substance.
In recent months, hemp’s legal status gained momentum. The federal justice department said it won’t prosecute cases in states such as Washington and Colorado that legalize and regulate marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
The Czech Republic legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes six months ago, but illogically kept strict limits on growing, selling and importing it. But an estimated 20,000 patients eligible for cannabis treatment still have no way to get it legally.
Although the Czech Parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize medicinal cannabis, with the law becoming effective April 1, patients and medical experts say interference by the Health Ministry, which had fiercely opposed medical legalization, has kept patients from gaining safe access, reports the Associated Press.
For many Czechs, the only solution is to break the law by growing their own medical marijuana for themselves or family members. Zdenek Majzlik, 67, is one of those people; his daughter has multiple sclerosis.
"She's my child and it is my duty to take care of her," Majzlik said. "I do what I have to do and I will continue doing so. I have no other option." So far, police have mostly ignored growers such as Majzlik, who, under the law, could face prison.
"There's a very consistent effort from the Ministry of Health not to make the law really enforced," said Dr. Tomas Zabransky, a United Nations and European Union advisor on drug issues. Although the Ministry officially denies blocking access to medicinal cannabis, its policies have raised huge barriers for patients to legally access marijuana.
Saturday: “Talking Transition” Event Brings Together Treatment Providers, Drug Users, Civil Rights Activists, Academics, and Elected Officials to Map New City Drug Policy
Future Drug Policy to be Based in Equity, Health and Safety rather than Racism, Criminalization and Violence
New Yorkers on Saturday, November 16, will gather to map the future of the city’s drug policies for progressive champion Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio and a new, increasingly progressive City Council. As part of the innovative Talking Transition series, New Yorkers have a unique opportunity to envision new drug polices based in equity, health and safety, rather than drug policies rooted in racism, criminalization and violence.
Hundreds of New Yorkers -- students, cultural workers, academics, advocates, community organizers, young people, treatment providers, civil rights activists and others -- will break into small groups, to come up with solutions to a range of issues such as: racially biased marijuana arrests, lack of effective treatment, legal access to medical marijuana and overdose prevention strategies. The recommendations emerging from the Ending the New Jim Crow forum will be delivered to the new de Blasio Administration for consideration.
Ending the New Jim Crow: Mapping the Future of Drug Policy in NYC
When: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Time: 2:00 -- 3:30pm
Where: Talking Transition Tent at the corner of Canal St. and 6th Avenue, Manhattan
By Steve Elliott
The father of a two-year-old girl in Alabama with a rare neurological and epileptic disorder has started an online petition asking Governor Robert Bentley and state lawmakers to allow the use of a a form of medical marijuana that could help control the girl's frequent, violent seizures.
Dustin Chandler, a police officer in Pelham, and his wife Amy recently visited Gov. Bentley in Montgomery to ask for his support for medical marijuana, reports Martin J. Reed at al.com. Their daughter, Carly, is unable to walk, talk or feed herself.
The online petition at Change.org focuses on cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from marijuana that can treat inflammation, pain, anxiety, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It can also treat Carly's violent seizures that occur several times a day -- seizures which pharmaceutical medications cannot control.
"The main fact that we want people to understand is we're not trying to get our two-year-old high," Chandler said. "They won't get stoned. This is a natural treatment ... that might have great benefit in helping her seizures. The life that she has, I'm trying to give the best quality to her."
By Steve Elliott
The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved the sale of marijuana through pharmacies, but with a big "if": if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a Schedule II drug. Marijuana currently resides on Schedule I with heroin and LSD, officially considered as having a high risk of abuse and no medical uses, as insane as that obviously is.
Senate Bill 660, approved 22-16, would establish a second medical marijuana system in Michigan, one that proponents claim would not interfere with a 2008 voter-approved under which patients are allowed to grow their own or get it from designated caregivers, reports CBS Detroit. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
Michigan patients, though, might want to exercise extreme caution in believing anyone who tells them a "second system" of cannabis distribution won't impact their existing channels; they could take an instructive look at what's happening in Washington state, where under purported "legalization" measure I-502's implementation, the right of patients to grow their own medicine at home is under assault from the Liquor Control Board.
By Steve Elliott
Overwhelmingly, Americans believe -- almost two-thirds of them -- that it's unacceptable for companies to fire employees for off-the-clock marijuana use in states where it is legal, according to a new poll.
According to the HuffPost/YouGov poll, that's the same percentage that said it would be unacceptable to fire employees for drinking during their off time, reports Emily Swanson at The Huffington Post.
The new poll shows that 64 percent of Americans think that if marijuana were legal in their state, it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for toking up during his or her free time. Only 22 percent said it would be acceptable to dismiss them for toking off the job.
That's identical to the percentage saying it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for drinking off the job, with 64 percent saying it would be acceptable, 22 percent saying it would be unacceptable.
How about in states where marijuana isn't yet legal? In that case, when simply asked whether it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for smoking marijuana during off-hours, not mentioning the legality of cannabis, 45 percent said it would be unacceptable, and 32 percent said it would be OK.
By Steve Elliott
A Christian pastor who's getting paid more than $100,000 a year by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has been sent home -- with pay -- after it was revealed he owns a strip mall where a medical marijuana dispensary is located.
Bishop Edward R. Turner, who has worked as a "paid field deputy" for Sheriff Lee Baca and headed the sheriff's Multi-Faith Clergy Council for 14 years, is being investigated for his connections to a medicinal cannabis access point which is housed in a mall he owns, reports Nancy Dillon at the New York Daily News.
"He was relieved of duty today and assigned to his home with pay," said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore on Wednesday. Whitmore confirmed an internal affairs investigation has started. Rev. Turner was relieved of duty by Sheriff Baca on Thursday after the department learned from KABC-TV Channel 7 about the revocation of Turner's foundation's nonprofit status, and that a medical marijuana dispensary is being operated on his property, according to Whitmore.
Whitmore said Rev. Turner owns two strip malls in L.A., and one of them has a medical marijuana dispensary as a tenant. "The City of Los Angeles has deemed dispensaries to be illegal," Whitmore sniffed.
At Historic Meeting, Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia and “New Jim Crow” Author Michelle Alexander to Discuss Human Costs of Drug War – and Urgent Need for Alternatives – On Both Sides of Border
Mexican poet and peace leader Javier Sicilia on Friday will arrive in Jackson, Mississippi, for an historic meeting with Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, to discuss how to end the failed Drug War, the primary driver of both the extreme violence plaguing Mexico and the systemic racism pervading the U.S. criminal justice system.
Sicilia’s visit concludes the bi-national “Voices of the Victims” Tour, during which he and other Drug War survivors have traveled to a dozen cities in the U.S. and Canada to call for alternatives to the War On Drugs, which has left more than 80,000 people murdered, 25,000 disappeared and 250,000 displaced in Mexico in just seven years.
“Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible, and to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war -– a war that has torn apart so many families and devoured so many young lives in Mexico, as well as the United States,” Sicilia said. “As neighbors, we must continue building a bi-national people’s movement in order to force our governments to fulfill their shared responsibility for protecting families and communities on both sides of the border.”
By Steve Elliott
A Seattle-based medical marijuana patient advocacy group, the Cannabis Action Coalition, has filed a recall petition against Governor Jay Inslee with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office.
The petition alleges corruption related to the Washington State Liquor Control Board's implementation of cannabis legalization Initiative 502.
"It's pretty clear that no matter which party prevails, the losing party will file an expedited appeal with the Washington State Supreme Court, said activist Steve Sarich, who heads up the CAC. "The best information we have is that this could happen within 10 days of the Superior Court decision."
Sarich was a guest on Tuesday's "Mike Bastinelli Show." Sarich talked about the flaws in I-502 that will affect medical marijuana patients in Washington, and the group's allegations against Gov. Inslee.
Sarich ran the No On I-502 campaign. He opposed the measure because of its per se DUI level of 5 nanograms of THC of milliliter of blood (5 ng/mg), which is not a true level of impairment; because it didn't remove any of the laws that made marijuana illegal in the first place (in fact, it added several new ways you can be arrested for cannabis); and because it will result in the over-taxation of medical marijuana, because of claims that the MMJ community is cutting into the revenue stream of proposed recreational marijuana outlets.
By Steve Elliott
You don't have to grow or smoke cannabis anymore to smell like it. Actor Richard Grant says he's created a perfume with the fragrance of marijuana.
Set to launch in April at the luxury department store Liberty in London, the new perfume will come in red packaging inspired by the Union Jack, reports the NY Daily News It will contain lime, clove oil, and mandarin over base notes of white musk, tobacco and pepper oil -- along with the infused scent of marijuana, according to Grant.
"I always have 100 things to do," Grant said. "I've been working on [the perfume] for two years, being taught at the knee of 'a nose' in Paris," he told Shortlist.
Marijuana-scented perfumes have been marketed before. Back in 2006, the Cannabis Santal fragrance by Caroline Sabas was released by Fresh. Kush perfume was launched in 2011 by Alan Hochberg.
Independent perfumer Sanae Barber created Innocence By Misty earlier this year; it contained a small amount of medical marijuana, as well.
So far, there are no estimates on how much the new fragrance will cost, what it will be called, or where else it will be available for sale.
(Photo of Richard Grant: Daniel Deme/WENN.com)
By Steve Elliott
Some Michigan lawmakers want medical marijuana -- legalized by state voters five years ago -- to be sold through pharmacies.
Claiming it's time to bring cannabis "into the fold of the health care industry so patients can buy it at their corner pharmacy," Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw Township) and others are backing a bill approved by a state Senate committee last week which would prepare the way for "pharmaceutical grade" cannabis sales, reports David Eggert at The Associated Press.
The measure would create a second system of access to medical marijuana in Michigan, one that its backers say "would not interfere" with the existing law, under which patients can grow their own cannabis or obtain it from designated caregivers. (Of course, the patients of Washington state would be quick to warn folks in other places about a "second system" promised to "not interfere" with safe access, since that's not been the case with I-502 "legalization" there.)
Safe access to medicinal cannabis has been iffy in the state since a Michigan Supreme Court decision which effectively declared dispensaries illegal, by ruling they weren't covered in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
By Steve Elliott
The U.S. Justice Department doesn't have a viable legal basis on which to challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, Deputy Attorney General James Cole admitted on Sunday.
"It would be a very challenging lawsuit to bring," Deputy Attorney General Cole said while testifying at the first Congressional hearing on cannabis legalization in the two states, reports Jacob Sullum at Forbes.
Cole said that simply repealing state penalties for growing, possessing, and selling marijuana does not create a "positive conflict" with the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
He argued that the feds would be on firmer legal ground if they tried to preempt state licensing and regulation of cannabis businesses which are newly legal under state law. But the deputy attorney general said that approach would mean that if such litigation were successful, it would leave the industry unregulated.
That's why the Department of Justice decided on the approach summarized in the memo Cole issued on August 29, limiting federal enforcement to cases that involve eight "federal concerns," including sales to minors, drugged driving, and diversion of marijuana to other states.
"We have reserved quite explicitly the right to go in and preempt at a later date," Cole said, summarizing the DOJ's policy as "trust, but verify."
Marijuana Prohibition Discriminatorily Enforced, Wasteful, Responsible for Over-Incarceration, Says Influential Organization
Laws prohibiting marijuana have been unjustly enforced and are largely responsible for the current incarceration crisis, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), one of the nation’s foremost organizations concerned with ending race-based discrimination. The group has officially endorsed HR 1523, a bill introduced by California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher calling for the Controlled Substances Act to be amended so as not to apply to those in compliance with state marijuana laws.
The bill is necessary because a majority of Americans now live in states with marijuana laws that conflict with the federal government’s outright ban of the drug.
Communities of color have been among the most impacted by marijuana laws. A recent study revealed that despite comparable rates of use, black people are almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white people. More than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana every year.
By Steve Elliott
A Tennessee lawmaker wants to bring hemp farming back to the Volunteer State, and he's drafting a bill that would do exactly that. State Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) said the key to success is educating his colleagues about the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana -- and the economic benefits to farmers.
Hemp is used in the manufacture of plastics, insulation, and paper. Hemp seeds are used to supplement protein and omega 3-6-9 essential fatty acids, report Heidi Hall and Adam Tamburin at The Tennessean. Hemp clothes, shoes and purses sell briskly. But growing hemp is illegal in the United States, because lawmakers wrote the marijuana laws to include even low-THC varieties of industrial hemp.
"Their biggest fear is that, if they support hemp, people will think they support marijuana," Sen. Niceley said. "That's a cousin of hemp, but cornbread is a cousin of moonshine."
Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol remains unconvinced. He also bemoans the federal hoops to jump through, with marijuana considered a Schedule I controlled substance, and he claimed farmers in his district are "not clamoring" for it.