By Steve Elliott
At least 150 members of the Mount Calvary Christian Center -- who had initially welcomed the presence of a new business next door -- on Sunday held a protest shouting "shut it down" in front of a new retail marijuana store in Seattle.
The primarily black church had been happy to see once-rampant crime dwindle while new businesses open, said former associate pastor Wayne Perryman, but members realized just two weeks ago that the store involved was Uncle Ike's Pot Shop, reports Alexa Vaughn at The Seattle Times.
The store opened last Tuesday just a few feet from the south wall of the church, and conducts business during the church's services.
"We're talking to youth about how it's not OK to smoke pot, and outside, we've got this shop making a statement that opposes what we're teaching," said Perryman, who seems to have a little to learn regarding diversity and free speech.
While Washington state's marijuana laws prohibit pot shops from opening with 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, child-care centers, public parks, transit centers, libraries or arcades that allow minors, it does not prevent them from opening next to churches.
By Steve Elliott
People caught with small amounts of marijuana in Dallas may soon be able to avoid going to jail.
County criminal justice officials will pilot a cite-and-release program early next year allowing those caught with less than two ounces of marijuana, a Class B misdmeanor, avoid a trip to jail, reports Matthew Watkins at The Dallas Morning News.
If applied countywide, the change in enforcement policy could result in hundreds fewer arrests each month. The goal, according to officials, is to reduce jail crowding and free up police resources.
"This is about not toying up officers and bringing them back out onto the street," said Ron Stretcher, director of criminal justice for Dallas County.
A Texas law enacted back in 2007 makes the ticket approach possible. The measure, which received little attention when it passed, has been largely ignored since.
The the idea has gained support in recent years, and not just from marijuana advocates. Some conservatives have touted it as a way to save law enforcement money. It costs about $63 a day to house an inmate in the Dallas County Jail.
But the measure is getting some predictable resistance from law enforcement. Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston said he'd rather see the Legislature address changes in marijuana laws at the state level; police officers should enforce the laws that are on the books, he said.
For anyone considering going into business in the legal cannabis industry, a new free tool has arrived to the Google Play marketplace designed to make it easier to keep informed about industry news and developments. Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry business news and culture website, has recently launched a mobile app designed to keep aspiring "ganjapreneurs," or marijuana entrepreneurs, up to date about the latest headlines and happenings that are relevant to the growth of the industry.
The app is broken down into several sections, including a news feed with categories such as "Business" and "Politics," a job feed which aggregates employment opportunities from several online cannabis industry job boards on a daily basis, and a section that features interviews with prominent business owners and investors who are already operational with their endeavors in the marijuana industry. While cannabis enthusiasts who use Android devices may download the app in its current form, iPhone users will have a similar opportunity in the near future: Ganjapreneur has put up a notification that the app will also soon be available in the Apple App Store.
By Steve Elliott
What have those Georgia cops been smoking? They don't know the difference between okra and cannabis.
A Georgia man woke up to find a police helicopter hovering over his home, and sheriff's deputies pounding at the door to search his property for drugs. "They were strapped to the gills," Dwayne Perry said. But all he was growing was okra.
Drug agents from the Governor's Task Force had spotted what they thought was marijuana growing in Perry's yard in Cartersville, reports WSB-TV. "I was scared actually, at first, because I didn't know what was happening," Perry said.
Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep expecting to make a marijuana bust. "Instead, it's okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house," Perry said.
When Channel 2's reporter called the Georgia State Patrol, which is in charge of the drug task force, for an explanation, all he got was weak excuses. The officers sent an evidence photo of the okra.
"We've not been able to identify it as of yet," said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes, who evidently is mystified by the sight of okra. "But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant." Incredibly, this moron still has a job in law enforcement.
"Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing," Perry said. "Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain't right."
By Steve Elliott
It's been almost two years since Washington's voters legalized marijuana, albeit in a limited way, through approving I-502, and next week a Seattle-based company will begin selling cannabis infused edibles to licensed retailers.
Db3 Inc. passed the Washington State Liquor Control Board's Infused Edible Operation Inspection, reports Alex Rozier at KING 5 News, and became the first company licensed to provide infused edibles in the state. The company's warehouse is located on the 2400 block of Airport Way South in SODO.
The cannabis-infused products will be marketed under the brand name Zoots; Db3 has a two-tier license that allows them to both grow and process marijuana, manufacturing the edibles.
The company says it will offer seven different products, with more added as time goes by. Some of the initial offerings will be single shots, drink additives, chews, bites and melts.
The single shot energy drinks will contain 5, 10, and 30 milligrams of THC (one wonders why a more substantial dose isn't included, but perhaps they hope to sell several of the 30-mg size to those who have a higher tolerance). The bites will be infused with 5 or 10 milligrams of THC.
For more information on Db3, visit www.zootology.com.
By Steve Elliott
About four months after planting, Colorado's first modern legal outdoor marijuana crop is reaching maturity.
Much of the legal marijuana sold in the state is grown indoors under lights, but the niche occupied by outdoor sun-grown marijuana seems secure; some consumers prefer organic, outdoor cannabis. Outdoor growers usually can only harvest one crop a year, compared to three or four harvests indoors under lights, but outdoor plants typically have a higher yield.
Each plant in Colorado, even outdoors, is tagged with an RFID chip, allowing growers and state regulators to track its path from seed to sale, reports Live Trading News. The plants are weighed after being cut down, again after being trimmed, and again when packaged for sale.
Ryan Griego owns one of the largest outdoor grows in the state, based on a 40-acre compound patrolled by guards and watched by wireless security cameras, reports Trevor Hughes of USA Today. Each three-foot, bushy plant is worth $4,000 to $6,000, depending on yield.
Griego's 12-man crew will be harvesting at least $4 million worth of marijuana, and he's just one of hundreds of licensed growers across the state. He owns two marijuana stores, operating under the Cannasseur name, selling both recreational and medical marijuana in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
A dedicated group of national cannabis activists, advocates and patients has announced their intent to create The National Cannabis Patients Wall -- a major mobile “wall” memorial in support of medical cannabis.
“The National Cannabis Patient's Wall not only signifies our solidarity as patients in need of a safer and effective alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals, but also the barriers we must overcome, our current State and Federal laws, which keep us from the medicine we desire and need," said project founder Dana Arvidson of Tennessee.
"We are thousands of patients that are publicly standing together in solidarity, in support of what should be our right to safe access of medical cannabis therapies," Arvidson said. "We hope this wall be a symbol of hope to cannabis patients and their supporters all over the world.”
Currently the mobile project has produced a Tennessee State "Wall", that has more than 80 patient photos, 88 panels, 1,163 type blocks and a current size of 5 1/2 feet x 82.33 feet. The goal is to produce a 100-foot Wall for each State, to be presented at a major rally in Washington D.C. creating a MILE long wall against prohibition. Then each wall will travel to its respective state to be presented at that state's capital.
You can become a Patient on The National Cannabis Patient's Wall here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1_vIKana0v306HD4UBHvcfbm1L6UWu2wStwU_3Qe...
By Steve Elliott
With licensed producers of marijuana bringing in autumn's outdoor harvest, retailers who own the recreational cannabis stores created by limited legalization measure I-502 are hoping to lower prices enough to diminish the black market -- which was one of the main justifications for the law passed by state voters two years ago.
But the most that store owners like Mary Van de Graaf, owner of Mill Creek A, one of two licensed marijuana shops in Union Gap, can hope for is making a bit of a dent. "We'll slow it down, yeah,"
Van de Graaf said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
So far, even I-502 store owners like Van de Graaf have to admit that legalizing recreational marijuana has done almost nothing to combat black market street sales, where dealers don't pay taxes or check the ages of their customers.
Washington's brand of limited "legalization" apparently hasn't yet made any dent at all in illegal grows. In fact, there's an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in back yards, according to Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's regional office in Seattle.
On Monday, law enforcement confiscated 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah, Washington; police arrested two men the same day for stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.
By Steve Elliott
A criminal defense lawyer practicing in the Denver area who opposes Colorado's marijuana DUI law has been voted the state's best DUI attorney for 2014 by Law Week Colorado, the State Bar's official journal of record.
Jay Tiftickjian was honored for the third year in a row by Law Week, and the second for being voted Best DUI Lawyer by his peers.
Tiftickjian practices with three other attorneys in Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C., which takes cases from across Colorado. He explained that the award was the result of a team effort made by the whole firm.
The Denver-based attorney said the award is particularly meaningful because the honor comes by way of peer recognition -- votes are collected from Colorado's attorneys and judges, including prosecutors.
"Every citizen is entitled to a full, fair, and aggressive defense under our system of justice," Tiftickjian said. "Our clients aren't criminals who've set out to harm others, they are regular folks who may have made a poor decision."
92% of participants reported that "medical marijuana helped alleviate symptoms or treat a serious medical condition"
A new landmark study published last week by the peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Review refutes the long-held belief that abuse of California's medical marijuana law is widespread. The study, "Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012," is the first time anyone has formally measured such data in the state according to its authors Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, Marta Induni, and Danielle Ewing of the Survey Research Group at Public Health Institute in Sacramento.
The report found that as much as 92 percent of participants reported that "medical marijuana helped alleviate symptoms or treat a serious medical condition." Researchers said that "To get that kind of agreement on anything is pretty astounding."
The report also found that one-in-20 California adults -- roughly 1.4 million people -- reported using medical marijuana to treat serious illness, and that such use spanned all ages, genders, races, and geographical regions.
"This study proves what patients and advocates have been saying for years, that medical marijuana is efficacious,” said Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "The study roundly rejects the argument that medical cannabis is a smoke screen or a sham."
Measure replaces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday signed a bill into law that replaces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.
After stalling for much of the summer, the mayor agreed to sign a compromise bill approved on September 18 by the Philadelphia City Council. The new ordinance will take effect on October 20.
The initial version of the bill approved by the council on June 19 makes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. Following negotiations between Mayor Nutter and members of the council, the bill was amended to include a $100 fine for public consumption.
Current Philadelphia law requires police officers to make custodial arrests when they encounter people in possession of any amount of marijuana, and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $200 fine, and compulsory participation in a drug treatment program. Under current Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Two thirds of Canadians currently using medical cannabis do so to ease arthritis pain
By Steve Elliott
In a position paper issued on Tuesday, The Arthritis Society called for more research into the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis as a therapy to alleviate symptoms of pain and fatigue caused by the chronic disease.
“More and more Canadians are accessing medical cannabis as a treatment option for severe arthritis symptoms,” explained Society president and CEO Janet Yale. “We have a duty to the people we serve to ensure that the scientific basis for the use of medical cannabis is clear and appropriate, with patient safety and improved care our foremost priorities.”
Thousands of Canadians have already received authorization from Health Canada to use medical cannabis and as many as two-thirds of those people are using the drug to help manage pain due to arthritis.
"There is much still unknown about the treatment therapy, its safety and its efficacy for coping with arthritis – leading to potential risks for patients," the Arthritis Society release claims, although if they simply asked the arthritis patients involved, they'd be talking less about risks and more about benefits.
The anecdotal evidence in support of medical cannabis for arthritis pain is very robust, and Tuesday's announcement will ensure that more clinical research will be conducted to further validate this treatment modality, according to CanniMed Ltd., the first producer to be licensed under the new Canadian Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
Oregon's Measure 91 campaign to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana officially launched its $2 million plus advertising blitz, debuting a retired law enforcement officer in the TV spot.
The new ad -- which you can see at the bottom of this story -- hit the airwaves Wednesday morning and is running on a wide range of broadcast and cable networks, including the newscasts of KGW, KATU, KOIN, KPTV, KEZI, KVAL and KMTR.
"It's About Time" features Pete Tutmark, a longtime Oregonian who has spent 33 years in law enforcement, including many years as patrol sergeant, sheriff's deputy and the supervisor of a K9 unit. The 57-year-old father of two and grandfather of three lives in Canby, Ore.
"Last year in Oregon, there were 13,000 citations and arrests for marijuana," Tutmark says in the ad. "That takes time, time better spent solving murders, rape cases, finding missing children. The system's broken. Measure 91 regulates marijuana for adults so police have time to fight serious, violent and unsolved crimes."
Tutmark joins high-profile law enforcement leaders in Oregon who have endorsed the Yes on 91 campaign, including retired chief federal prosecutor Kris Olson and retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs.
Move May Force Producers to Move to a Cash-only Payment System
Eight months after the federal Department of Justice and Treasury Department announced new guidelines allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses, some of the credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to almost half of the State’s licensed medical marijuana producers saying they will no longer accept their business and proceeded with closing their accounts.
The credit unions claim that they are unable to comply with federal guidelines for servicing the accounts. This move leaves producers in the lurch, with either having to operate on a cash-only basis or scramble to find another financial institution willing to take their business.
In February, the Obama Administration announced new guidelines that will allow banks to legally provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use; two of those states (Colorado and Washington) recently legalized marijuana like alcohol.
By Steve Elliott
Police are pursuing numerous leads in the case of three men impersonating law enforcement officers, two dressed in black SWAT team gear and one wearing a sheriff's office uniform and armed with a handgun, who robbed the medical marijuana garden of a local patient.
"We have two very good leads on the identity of two of the suspects and a possible lead on the identity of the third," said Lt. Aaron Hayden of the Maine State Police on Thursday morning, reports Nok-Noi Ricker at the Bangor Daily News.
The detail Lt. Hayden would release about the three suspects is that they are from Maine. Hayden said on Tuesday that the landowner is a legal medical marijuana patient.
The three men went to the garden in Winterport wearing clothing impersonating law enforcement personnel at about 7:30 a.m. on September 21, according to spokesman Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety.
After getting into an argument with the landowner, the men grabbed armfuls of mature, flowering marijuana plants, ready for harvest, and reportedly took off running.
The faces of two of the three men are clearly visible in surveillance camera images released on Monday afternoon by Maine State Police. Investigators said they believe the armed man was carrying a semi-automatic pistol.