Alaska and Oregon could make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol; Washington, D.C. and two of Maine’s largest cities could make marijuana legal for adults; Florida could become 24th state to allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana
States, cities, and the nation’s capital will vote on marijuana policy ballot measures on Tuesday.
“From Alaska to Maine, there is a whole lot of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It’s not easy to overcome 80 years of prohibition and anti-marijuana propaganda. But public attitudes are clearly shifting on this issue, and it’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide.”
In Alaska and Oregon, voters are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The initiatives — Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon — would remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
The measures would also establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults. If the initiatives are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
The Chilean government has granted permission to a nonprofit organization to grow 850 marijuana plants in a residential area of the capital city of Santiago.
The cannabis, which is being planted in La Florida, a district of the capital city, will be harvested next April and turned into oil which will be used as a painkiller for 200 cancer patients, reports Gideon Long at BBC News.
It's the first project of its kind with state backing anywhere in Latin American according to BBC. Much of the cannabis debate in the region has centered in Uruguay, which this year legalized marijuana, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.
In Chile, the authorities permit the use of cannabis only for medicinal purposes. "We don't want to get into a debate about the personal use of marijuana," said Mayor Rodolfo Carter of La Florida.
"Let's stick to the medical issue," Carter said. "This is about providing people who are suffering from cancer with a natural, healthier and cheaper treatment for their pain."
The local nonprofit Daya Foundation will oversee the project, which will be accompanied by a clinical study into the effectiveness of cannabis oil as a painkiller.
"Eventually, we want to make cannabis medicine available for everybody, even if they can't afford it," said Nicolas Dormal, cofounder of the foundation. "But for now, we will concentrate on these first 200 patients."
Hemp Public Relations, LLC ( www.hemppublicrelations.com ) is a new firm that says it will help individuals & businesses in the legal marijuana industry to achieve greater visibility in the public eye through the media.
The company is founded by Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick, accomplished public relations professionals who are also the creators of New York-based Goldman McCormick PR ( www.goldmanmccormick.com ) and Legal PR Team ( www.legalprteam.com ).
“The marijuana industry is growing rapidly and experiencing a wider public embracement on a national level," said Mark Goldman, co-founder of Hemp Public Relations. "Entrepreneurs who seize the opportunity to make a positive impression on the masses now, stand to gain generational loyalty and years of successful business.
"We created Hemp Public Relations specifically for these businesses,” Goldman said.
According to Goldman, Hemp Public Relations' services include TV, radio and newspaper placement, press conferences, and digital media placement. Hemp Public Relations also offers custom radio show creation, promotion, and production.
Photo of Mark Goldman: Hemp Public Relations
As the midterm election approaches, representatives of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are hard at work educating voters about the need for drug policy reform in states with relevant initiatives on the ballot.
A pair of police chiefs, Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and sitting Police Chief Larry Kirk, are in Alaska, where voters are about to weigh in on an initiative to legalize, regulate and control marijuana (Measure 2). The two went to seven towns between them, from Anchorage to Kodiak, to educate voters on the public safety benefits of legalization.
In the meantime, a former prosecutor and a retired lieutenant sheriff are doing a similar tour of Oregon (Measure 91) and a former police officer and former Customs agent are speaking to Florida voters about medical marijuana (Amendment 2). These tours have included meetings with civic clubs, conversations with the media and debates with opponents.
Policy Experts and Advocates Testify in Favor of Directing Proceeds from Taxation to Communities Harmed by War on Drugs
Hearing Occurs Just Days Before Voters Decide on Marijuana Legalization at Ballot Box
D.C. Councilmembers Vincent Orange (D-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 3) on Thursday are holding a joint public hearing on legislation introduced in 2013 by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that would establish a system which legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana in the nation’s capital. Councilmember Orange chairs the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Councilmember Evans chairs the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
The hearing specifically examined sections six through nine of the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” (Council Bill #20-466), and took place Thursday at 11 a.m. in Room 500 of the D.C. Council Chambers located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Advocates provided testimony in support of using the proceeds from legalization towards rebuilding the communities harmed by the war on drugs.
U.S. Sentencing Commission Reforms Take Effect on Saturday
Change is Latest Step to Reduce Mass Incarceration and Scale Back Failed Drug War
Changes to federal drug sentencing guidelines take effect on Saturday, November 1, and courts may begin considering petitions from incarcerated individuals for sentencing reductions. Thousands of people who are currently serving long, punitive drug-related sentences in federal prisons could be eligible to apply, although no one who benefits from this reform may be released for another year, or prior to November 1, 2015.
The changes taking effect on Saturday follow a July 2014 vote by the United States Sentencing Commission to retroactively apply an amendment approved by the same government panel in April 2014 that lowers federal guidelines for sentencing people convicted of drug trafficking. Beginning on Saturday, federal judges may begin referencing the reduced guidelines in the course of sentencing people convicted of drug trafficking and individuals who were sentenced under the old drug sentencing guidelines may begin petitioning a federal judge for a hearing to evaluate whether their sentence can be shortened to match the reduced guidelines.
The underlying drug guidelines amendment that shortened the length of drug sentencing guidelines was approved by the United States Sentencing Commission and submitted to Congress for review in April. Congress has taken no action to disapprove of these reforms to the drug guidelines, setting the stage for these reforms to take effect on Saturday.
By Steve Elliott
A new report projects that legal marijuana could be an industry with revenues of $35 billion by 2020 if cannabis is legalized at the federal level. Greenwave Advisors, which authored the report, notes that this is a floor representing revenues in the first year of nationwide legalization.
That figure -- $35 billion -- represents more annual revenue than the NFL (currently $10 billion), and is roughly equal to current revenues from the newspaper publishing industry ($38 billion) and the candy/confectionary industry ($34 billion), reports Christopher Ingraham at .
Greenwave arrived at its estimates by looking at existing and likely marijuana markets, medical and recreational, in states that already have legalized them, as well as in states that appear likely to open such markets by 2020. The research and analysis company estimates 12 states plus D.C. will have legalized recreational cannabis by 2020, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post, with medical marijuana in 37 states.
Currently 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and two (Colorado and Washington) have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Even without full federal legalization, Greenwave estimates legal marijuana revenues of $21 billion by 2020.
Six days to go: Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, former Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark and former Denver Police Department Lt. Tony Ryan among the supporters of Measure 91
With only six days left before ballots are due, 30 law enforcement officials from across the western half of the United States have endorsed Oregon’s Measure 91 to regulate marijuana.
The endorsers include former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, former Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark, former Denver Police Department Lt. Tony Ryan and Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing.
The Yes on 91 campaign announced their support as part of a press conference today featuring former U.S. Attorney Kris Olson; former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs; 30-year law enforcement veteran Paul Steigleder; and Partnership for Safety and Justice director Cassandra Villanueva.
“Marijuana prohibition has a disproportionate and disparate impact on people of color and youth -- fueling their existence and penetration in the criminal and justice systems,” Villanueva said. “It is not an effective use of taxpayer dollars or reflect the value of Oregonians.”
Minnesota: Seriously Ill Residents Excluded From State's Medical Marijuana Program Question CandidatesSubmitted by steveelliott on Wed, 10/29/2014 - 23:54
Patients Call on Gubernatorial Candidates to Tell Voters Whether They Support Expanding the Law
Patients, family members, and supporters to announce which candidates have signed a statement in support of expanding the law at a new conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the State Office Building
Seriously ill Minnesotans who have been denied access to the state’s limited medical marijuana program are calling on gubernatorial candidates to publicly state whether they support expanding the state’s medical marijuana law.
A group of patients, family members, and advocates will announce which candidates have signed the statement at a news conference on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT in Room 181 of the State Office Building. They will also explain why Minnesota’s medical marijuana program must be expanded to include all of the medical conditions and methods of administering medical marijuana that were approved by a bipartisan majority of the Minnesota Senate but left out of the final legislation.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of Minnesotans suffering from truly debilitating conditions who will not be allowed to access medical marijuana under the new law,” said Patrick McClellan, a medical marijuana patient advocate. “Whoever is elected governor must be ready to work with the legislature to expand it to include all seriously ill Minnesotans who could benefit from medical marijuana.
"Voters deserve to know which candidates are committed to doing that,” McClellan said.
Historic Bipartisan Majority in Favor of Reforming U.S. Drug Laws and Letting States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies
Ideologically Diverse Representatives – From Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – Named 2013-14 “Champions of Reform”
Drug Policy Action on Wednesday released the 2014 Drug Policy Reform Congressional Voter Guide, which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014.
The guide is designed not just to educate voters on which members of the U.S. House of Representatives support drug policy reform – but also to send a firm message to elected officials that they will be held accountable for supporting draconian policies that exacerbate the worst harms of the Drug War. Clear bipartisan support now exists both among the American public and in Congress for ending the Drug War and letting states set their own marijuana policies.
The voter guide examines historic votes on a wide range of issues, such as whether to bar the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws and whether to allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses. The voter guide also summarizes decisive steps taken over the last two years by congressional lawmakers and officials in the Obama Administration toward advancing drug policy reform.
Enables Companies Serving the Cannabis Community to Deliver Ads to Highly-Targeted Audiences
NugMedia, a company that operates several popular cannabis culture-themed websites including TheNug.com, on Wednesday announced that the company has introduced geo-targeting and keyword-targeting capabilities that enable advertisers to increase click-through rates (CTRs) by delivering the right ads to the right audiences at the right time.
NugMedia says it is the first publisher network serving the cannabis community to feature geo-targeted ads, keyword tracking and ad placement analytics that ensure the highest CTRs for advertisers. NugMedia said it will utilize geo-targeting, keyword tracking and ad placement analytics for all clients, both current and prospective.
Advertisers will benefit from higher follow-through traffic and greater conversions on their ads, according to NugMedia. Publishers will benefit from targeted ads that provide higher click-through rates, which in turn results in greater revenue, according to the company.
"The ability to effectively deliver ads based on audience location and behavior has eluded the cannabis marketplace for far too long," said John Oram, director at NugMedia. "We predict a substantial spike in our advertisers' click-through rates now that we are able to target the optimal audience for each product or service they offer. Each ad will be served to the right audience based on location and relevant content."
Council committees will hear testimony on provisions regarding licensing and regulations for cultivation facilities and adult retail marijuana stores, as well as a dedicated fund for marijuana business taxes and fees
The Washington, D.C. Council will hold a joint committee hearing Thursday on a bill that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
The Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hear testimony regarding sections 6, 7, 8, and 9 of B20-466, the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013, which was introduced last year by Councilman David Grosso.
Those sections would amend District code to establish the regulatory infrastructure for the production and sale of marijuana and marijuana products in D.C. They would also create a dedicated fund, which would consist of excise taxes, license fees, and all other revenues received by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration from marijuana-related activities.
By Steve Elliott
A Madison, Wisconsin couple investigated for marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia in Baraboo won't be charged for possessing the controlled substance after citing a medical exemption.
The Baraboo Police Department and City Attorney Mark Reitz decided not to prosecute the couple after they provided authorities with valid Wisconsin medical marijuana authorizations from a physician, reports Elizabeth Onheiber at the Baraboo News Republic.
While looking into a complaint of a dog left in the vehicle of Greg and Karen Kinsley on September 13 at Sauk County Fairgrounds, Baraboo Police Sgt. Mark Lee and Det. Jeremy Drexler saw a marijuana pipe through the car window. They seized it, along with a small amount of cannabis, after resolving the pet issue.
The couple provided documentation from Wisconsin doctors recommending medical marijuana, and Karen Kinsley presented a valid Oregon medical marijuana registry card. Greg and Karen said their authorizations for medicinal cannabis are intended to treat Crohn's disease and the pain of scoliosis, respectively.
A little-known 1971 law allows Wisconsin citizens to possess marijuana with a valid doctor's note, and serves as an exemption to the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Act.
Crowdsourced Videos Feature Comedians and Actors Showing How Easy it is to Vote in Oregon and End Marijuana Prohibition
A new get-out-the-vote video campaign has been launched by Drug Policy Action, a related organization of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The series of videos, entitled "In the Time It Takes,” show how easy it is to vote and to support Measure 91, a measure on the November ballot that would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
In the videos, supporters of Measure 91, including actor Tate Donovan and comedian Rob Cantrell, demonstrate something that can be done in the same amount of time it takes to vote for measure 91 and mail a ballot in Oregon. From the mundane to the ridiculous, each “In the Time It Takes” video emphasizes the fact that it only takes a minute to fill out and mail a ballot. Drug Policy Alliance and the local Yes on 91 campaign are counting on this new initiative to rally younger voters to get out and vote.
By Steve Elliott
Three medical experts on Friday, Monday and Tuesday testified in federal court that the federal government's war on marijuana defies science, and is thus unconstitutional.
Decades of medical studies prove cannabis isn't the danger the government has claimed it is, the experts told a federal judge, reports David Downs at SF Gate.
The epochal cultivation trial, U.S. v. Schweder in the Eastern District of California, in which U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is allowing a hearing on a defense motion to declare marijuana's Schedule I classification as unconstitutional, has national implications.
Defense witnesses Gregory Carter, M.D., and Carl Hart, Ph.D., testified in Sacramento on Friday, and Philip Denny, M.D., testified on Monday and Tuesday. Government witness Bertha Madras, Ph.D., a former deputy drug czar under President George W. Bush, argued in that marijuana isn't medicine.
Madras compared cannabis to heroin, saying that humans no longer smoke opium poppies for pain relief. But while more than 22,000 Americans will die from prescription drug overdoses this year, with opioid pills killing more than any other prescription, cannabis has no lethal overdose level and zero recorded deaths from overdose in history.