Hemp News, a compilation of international news stories about hemp and cannabis, is a public service of Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation (THCF). All material included herein is provided free of charge for political and educational purposes under the US federal "Fair Use Doctrine". This material may only be used for political and educational purposes without express written consent.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Proposal To Receive House Floor Vote Wednesday


As lawmakers prepare for vote, second TV ad hitting Gov. Mark Dayton for obstructing the medical marijuana proposal will begin premiering tonight across Minnesota

The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to hold a floor vote Wednesday on a proposal that would allow people with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Specifically, the House will vote on an amendment offered Tuesday by State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) that would add the medical marijuana program to a broader health policy bill, HF 2402. Unlike the medical marijuana bill currently being considered in the legislature, HF 1818, Rep. Garofalo's proposal would prohibit smoking and home cultivation of medical marijuana.

The Republican lawmaker's proposal comes as medical marijuana advocates are working to develop a legislative compromise on HF 1818. Gov. Mark Dayton continues to refuse to support the measure, which would actually provide patients with legal access to medical marijuana, because law enforcement associations oppose it. In March, the governor proposed alternative legislation that would fund medical marijuana research, but would not provide patients with access to medical marijuana or protect them from arrest and prosecution.

D.C.: Proposal To Expand Access To Medical Marijuana Introduced In DC Council


Bill would permit physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits

A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Washington, D.C. Council on Tuesday that would expand access to medical marijuana in the nation's capital.

The measure, to be introduced by Councilwoman Yvette Alexander (who chairs the D.C. Department of Health), and by Councilman David Grosso, would permit doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits. Patients would then be allowed to apply to the Department of Health for acceptance in the District’s medical marijuana program.

"This is a sensible measure that would provide relief to countless District residents who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We have one of the most well-regulated systems in the country, but currently it is not meeting the needs of the community. The community supports improving the law, and that's what this bill would do."

Under current law, only patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or glaucoma are eligible for the program. The proposed legislation would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other debilitating conditions for which medical marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment.

Maryland: Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Set To Become 21st MMJ State


HB 881 will protect patients from arrest and prosecution, approve physicians, license growers and distributors

The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday voted 125-11 to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that greatly improves upon the unworkable law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution.

Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.

"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, policy director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."

HB 881 was sponsored by Maryland House Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) and co-sponsored by nearly half of the House. A broad coalition including ASA, industry stakeholders, and Stop the Seizures, a group of parents of children suffering from seizure disorders, worked tirelessly to pass HB 881.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee To Hold Tuesday Hearing On Medical Marijuana Access Bill


HB 1622 sponsor Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join medical marijuana patients and advocates for a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana through growing their own, while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution.

Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), who is sponsoring HB 1622, will join medical marijuana patients and advocates at a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The committee hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET in Room 103.

"My weight is down to around 60 pounds, and I have no appetite without cannabis," said Clayton Holton, a Dover-based medical marijuana advocate suffering from muscular dystrophy, who will not be attending the hearing because he is no longer able to travel. "Where is the compassion for patients like me who are literally wasting away because of these delays?"

HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and twelve immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

Maryland: Governor Will Sign Bill Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said on Monday that he will sign a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, report Fredrick Kunkle and John Wagner at The Washington Post.

The Maryland Senate gave final approval Monday afternoon (34-8) to a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. It will now be sent to Gov. O'Malley.

"As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety," Gov. O'Malley said in a statement. "I know that that is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police and the vast majority of our citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health."

The Maryland House voted 78-55 on Saturday to approve the same measure approved on Monday by the Senate. The bill narrowly survived efforts by House Judiciary Committee Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's County) and others to kill it in committee, by "appointing a task force to study the issue."

Colorado: Student Dies In Fall After Eating Pot Cookie


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A 19-year-old college student from Wyoming on spring break in Colorado fell to his death after eating a marijuana-laced cookie, the Denver coroner said on Wednesday. It was called "the state's first death linked to marijuana" since recreational legalization was implemented with the opening of cannabis stores in January.

The heavy attention the death got in the press serves to highlight just how rare and unusual "deaths linked to marijuana" really are, and also the fact that even when deaths are supposedly "linked" to cannabis, they aren't caused by the herb itself, but by human errors of judgment. Of course, that doesn't prevent it from being labeled a "marijuana death" in sensationalistic press accounts.

Leva Thamba Pongi, a student at the University of Wyoming, died after falling from a Holiday Inn balcony on March 11, reports Carlo Dallaverson at NBC News. Denver Police claim they are still investigating the death, but the autopsy lists the cause of accidental death as "multiple injuries due to a fall from height," and says "marijuana intoxication is a significant contributing factor."

New York: Marijuana Most Prominent Issue Facing Legislature, Governor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana has become the most prominent issue faced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers in the second half of the 2014 session, according to political observers, with advocates pushing to make the Empire State the 21st to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses.

Gov. Cuomo remains stubbornly opposed to a functional medical marijuana program, even as a growing number of legislators have lined up in support, reports Yancey Roy at Newsday.

Others, such as Bay Shore Republican Senator Phil Boyle, are pushing for a limited CBD-only bill which would legalize concentrated oils derived from marijuana, but would prohibit smokable cannabis flowers.

Cuomo is up for reelection and is reportedly considering a 2016 Presidential run. He slightly shifted his position this year, in the face of overwhelming support for medicinal cannabis, by proposing an extremely limited medical marijuana research program.

His plan would revive an obscure 1980 law to begin a medical marijuana research program in which 20 New York hospitals could dispense medicinal cannabis under strict conditions. The program would use marijuana seized in drug busts, according to Cuomo.

"I'm not proposing a law, so it's not the Legislature telling me what I have to do," Gov. Cuomo said. "And that gives me great comfort because if it goes bad, we can correct or improve all within our own control."

U.S.: Attorney General Holder Expected to Answer Questions About Federal Marijuana Policy at Tuesday Hearing


Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to answer questions about federal marijuana policy during a Tuesday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee regarding Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice. Holder will be providing testimony regarding various Obama administration enforcement policies.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), will be available for comment immediately following the hearing.

In an August 2013 memo, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced that federal law enforcement organizations would refrain from interfering in the implementation of state laws regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical or adult use, as long as states adopt and enforce adequate regulations that address specific federal priorities.

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, at which Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to answer questions about marijuana policy during his testimony regarding Obama administration enforcement policies

WHEN: Tuesday, April 8, 10 a.m. ET

WHERE: Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building, 45 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.

WHO: House Judiciary Committee
Attorney General Eric Holder

Maryland: House of Delegates Passes Marijuana Decrim Bill; Headed To Governor's Desk


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland's House of Delegates on Saturday night passed a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, already approved by the Maryland Senate, is now headed for Governor Martin O'Malley's desk for his signature or veto.

If the Governor signs the bill, HB 1453, getting busted for 10 grams or less of cannabis won't mean going to jail, reports Alex DeMetrick at WJZ. Under current Maryland law, any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense.

"The key is there will be civil penalties instead of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana," said Del. Kioeffer Mitchell Jr. (D-Baltimore). Possession of 10 grams or less would result in a citation and a possible fine, but no arrest and no criminal record. Seventeen other states have similar laws.

The House voted 78-55 to impose civil fines, rather than criminal penalties, for less than 10 grams of pot, reports Elizabeth LaForgia at Jurist. Those favoring the move pointed to racial disparities, with African Americans much more likely to both be arrested, and to receive a prison sentence for possession.

U.S.: Obama Administration 'Willing To Work' With Congress To Reschedule Marijuana


Drug Policy Alliance: Rescheduling Is Small Step In Right Direction, But Wouldn’t Protect People From Being Arrested or Punished for Marijuana Possession

DPA Supports De-Scheduling Marijuana and Legally Regulating It

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday that the Obama Administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research into marijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Holder’s comments come on the heels of guidance issued by the Department of Justice that indicated the Obama Administration will not undermine state marijuana legalization provided states are responsibly regulating marijuana businesses.

Maryland: Delegates Try To Revive Marijuana Decrim Bill


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Several rebellious members of the Maryland House of Delegates tried on Friday to revive a bill which would remove criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana, days after the measure got hung up in a committee, according to lawmakers.

Delegates led by members of the Legislative Black Caucus tried to amend the legislation in the full House, an unusual challenge to committee rule in the tightly scripted Legislature, report Fredrick Kunkle and John Wagner at The Washington Post. The move is also a challenge to one of the most powerful men in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr (D-Prince George's County).

"There are a number of members in the House who feel very strongly that Maryland should be moving in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana," said Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George's County), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Overcoming a committee chairman's opposition "is very difficult," she said. "But it's not impossible, and it has happened before."

The amendment will likely be introduced during Friday's House session, but debate could be pushed until Saturday, according to several lawmakers.

Last year, the Maryland Senate passed a decriminalization bill, but that one also died in Vallario's committee without a vote. This year was looking like a rerun.

New Jersey: NJ Transit Sued For Suspending Employee For Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what could be the first court test of New Jersey's medical marijuana law in the workplace, a 57-year-old Newark man is suing his employer, NJ Transit, for suspending him and sending him into drug rehab because he's a registered medicla marijuana patient with end stage renal failure.

Charlie Davis was as procurement clerk at NJ Transit. He said the nerves in his legs are badly damaged, causing severe pain and sleep difficulties, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Using medicinal cannabis relieves some of the discomfort, according to Davis's lawsuit.

Davis got "bumped" from his job in December by a more senior employee, according to his lawsuit, filed last month in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County. When he sought another available job in a field position, he was sent for a physical exam which included a drug test.

"I told them I was taking prescribed medical marijuana," Davis said, reports Karen Rouse at NorthJersey.com. "I wanted them to know that. I was not hiding anything from them. I showed them the identification and everything."

Davis even offered to apply for a "non-safety sensitive position" if that was a problem, according to the lawsuit.

Connecticut: Six Dispensary Sites Approved For Medical Marijuana Sales


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Connecticut on Thursday awarded licenses for six medical marijuana dispensaries, chosen from 27 applications, and said that the dispensaries will be up and running by summer.

The state licensed dispensaries in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, Montville and South Windsor, reports William Weir at the Hartford Courant.

Two of the dispensary owners on Thursday said that their opening dates will depend mainly upon when Connecticut's four licensed medicinal cannabis growers will have marijuana ready for sale.

The six businesses are:

• Arrow Alternative Care Inc., 92 Weston St., Hartford

• Bluepoint Apothecary LLC, 469 E. Main St., Branford

• D&B Wellness LLC, 2181 Main St., Bridgeport

• Prime Wellness of Connecticut LLC, 75 John Fitch Boulevard, South Windsor

• Thames Valley Apothecary LLC, 1100 Norwich-New London Turnpike (Route 32), Uncasville section, Montville

• The Healing Corner Inc., 159 E. Main St., Bristol

Prime Wellness in South Windsor should have products on the shelf and ready to sell by "late summer," according to CEO Thomas Nicholas, a former registered nurse who worked in Hartford Hospital operating rooms, then became a medical supplies salesman in the 1980s and went on to operate five dialysis centers.

U.S.: Two-Thirds of Doctors Favor Medical Marijuana In New Poll


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than two out of every three physicians in the United States -- 67 percent -- say that medical marijuana should be an option for patients, according to the results of a new WebMD/Medscape poll.

WebMD on Thursday released Marijuana on Main Street, a special report looking at the debate over medicinal cannabis. The site surveyed nearly 3,000 consumers and Medscape surveyed more than 1,500 doctors about their opinions on legalization, cannabis as a treatment option, and the perceived risks and benefits of its use.

"Despite more than 20 years of anecdotal evidence about the medicinal effects of marijuana, doctors and consumers remain in search of answers," said Dr. Michael Smith, chief medical editor at WebMD. "The findings of our consumer-physician survey indicate the medical community's support for the use of marijuana as a treatment option, particularly among clinical specialists that have pioneered research.

"Yet these survey data suggest additional studies will inform decision-makers' confidence in where medical marijuana can help and where it might not," Dr. Smith added. Peer-review data on marijuana's health benefits remains limited.

The survey found that overall, 56 percent of respondents are in favor of national medical marijuana legalization.

Connecticut: New Report Shows Failure of Drug Sentencing Enhancement Zones


Current 1,500-Foot Zone Blankets Almost All Urban Areas

CT Senate Bill That Would Reduce Enhancement Zones from 1,500 to 200 Feet Passes Judiciary Committee

The Prison Policy Initiative on Thursday released a report, “Reaching too far: How Connecticut’s large sentencing enhancement zones miss the mark”, that analyzes Connecticut’s failed 1,500-foot sentencing enhancement zones. Connecticut’s law, meant to protect children from drug activity, requires an additional sentence for certain drug offenses committed within 1,500 feet of schools, day care centers, and public housing projects.

The resulting sentencing enhancement zones are some of the largest in the country.

“The law’s sheer expanse means it fails to actually set apart any meaningfully protected areas and it arbitrarily increases penalties for urban residents,” explains report author Aleks Kajstura, legal director at the Prison Policy Initiative, a national, non-profit, nonpartisan research and policy organization, with a focus on how geography impacts criminal justice policy.

The report mapped eight of the zones in the state’s cities and towns and demonstrates that the law doesn’t work, and in fact cannot possibly work as written.

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