By Steve Elliott
Rick Steves, the mild-mannered travel guru who was a key supporter of Washington state's flawed but successful marijuana legalization initiative in 2012, arrived in Oregon on Tuesday to kick off a nine-city tour promoting Measure 91, a measure on November's general election ballot which would legalize cannabis in Oregon.
"Marijuana is a drug," wrote Steves, a NORML board member who is seemingly eager to court the anti-pot crowd. "It's not good for you. It can be addictive. But marijuana is here to stay. No amount of wishing will bring us a utopian 'drug-free society.'"
Steves explains that owning his own business has given him the freedom to express his personal views about marijuana without fear of being fired.
"When it comes to America's prohibition on marijuana, I can consider lessons learned from my travels and say what I really believe when I'm back home," Steves said.
The travel writer last year was named one of the 50 most influential consumers by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
By Steve Elliott
Forty-eight Wisconsin medical marijuana patients this year got their Oregon medicinal cannabis authorizations at the annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest. "But wait," you may be thinking. "They live in Wisconsin, not Oregon." That's entirely true -- but according to those in the know, having an out-of-state medical marijuana authorization gives these patients some legal cover should the police come calling.
The authorizations were issued by THCF Medical Clinics at the Harvest Fest as part of something called The Ben Masel Project. Masel was a famous Yippie activist based in Madison who started the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest; he died suddenly from cancer three and a half years ago.
"The Oregon permit has saved several people in Wisconsin from arrest," THCF founder Paul Stanford told Hemp News. The fact that Oregon issues permits to out-of-state patients has been helpful to those in Wisconsin and other non-MMJ states, according to Stanford.
"This weekend, we helped 48 patients in Wisconsin get Oregon medical marijuana permits, bringing in almost $10,000 in state fees for the Oregon Health Authority," Stanford told us. "Really, the Wisconsin Legislature should act to help its sick and dying patients, and keep those funds in Wisconsin."
Stanford said speaking at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest, the 44th annual event, "is an old tradition" for him. "I first spoke here in Madison 25 years ago, in 1989, and I came back and spoke again in 1990 and many years since," he told us.
By Steve Elliott
Leaders of the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House have roadblocked a bill which would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Keystone State.
The GOP caucus does want to take a look at the medicinal cannabis bill that passed the Pennsylvania Senate last week, including holding public hearings, according to staffers for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County), reports Charles Thompson at The Patriot-News. But that means there is almost no chance the bill, which passed the Senate on an overwhelming 43-7 vote and is being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, will reach the House floor this year.
That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been watching, according to Turzai's press secretary, Steve Miskin, who noted the Senate took nearly a year to develop the bill. It would be unrealistic "and irresponsible to just rubber-stamp a bill that creates an entire new bureaucracy" in less than two weeks, he said.
Turzai doesn't like to run bills that don't have support of the majority of the GOP caucus in the House, and it's not yet clear that a majority of Republicans support the bill. Additionally, with Gov. Tom Corbett preferring a much more limited version of "medical marijuana trials," House leaders reportedly don't want to drop a controversial bill in his lap in the last month of his reelection campaign.
Dab Kits, the retailer of high-end premium wax vaporizers, on Tuesday announced that they will offer a lifetime warranty on their product. The company said its decision to extend the warranty from six months of coverage to a lifetime guarantee "is part of Dab Kits’ ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction and service."
With the growing popularity of wax vape pens, it is more important now than ever to provide people with high-quality affordable vaporizers that they can depend on, according to Matt Cheatle, cofounder of Dab Kits.
“At Dab Kits, we stand firmly behind the quality of our products and strive to ensure that our customer service is second to none,” Cheatle said.
Confident in the durability and excellence of their cannabis vaporizers, Dab Kits now offers lifetime coverage on all manufacturer defects of the housing unit and battery by either replacing or repairing the parts. Atomizers will be covered, as before, under a 30-day warranty.
Though the heating element itself is not covered under Dab Kits’ warranty, replacements are available for purchase at www.dabkits.com.
In order to repair or replace a part of Dab Kits’ wax vaporizers, customers need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a Return Material Authorization form (RMA). All exchange requests should be sent with a completed RMA form, proof of purchase, and the item to be repaired/exchanged.
By Steve Elliott
Surprise, surprise: When you summarize the results of 20 years' worth of the most anti-marijuana studies you can find, you get anti-marijuana conclusions. In what is being touted in sensationalistic press accounts as a "definitive study," an Australian is claiming that his investigation into 20 years of marijuana research shows that cannabis is addictive, causes mental health problems and is a gateway to hard drug use.
Professor Wayne Hall, a drug advisor to the World Health Organization and specialist in addiction at the University of Queensland in Australia, said that heavy, daily use of pot can also lead to car crashes and unhealthy babies. He arrived at this conclusion by hand-picking the most anti-marijuana studies from the past 20 years and passing them off as a "definitive new study."
Lewiston City Councilor Leslie Dubois and Lewiston School Committee Member Matthew Roy joined the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) at a Tuesday news conference to kick off the campaign in support of initiatives on the November ballot to make marijuana legal for adults in Lewiston and South Portland.
The event was held at 10 a.m. ET in Kennedy Park, across from Lewiston City Hall on the corner of Park Street and Pine Street.
In Lewiston, Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.
The measure also expresses support for regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol in Maine. A similar proposal will also appear on the ballot in South Portland (the city will not provide it with an identifying number or letter).
“Law enforcement resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of adults possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Councilor Dubois said. “Question 2 will make our communities safer.”
“Our laws should reflect the facts, and it’s a fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol,” Roy said. “It’s irrational to treat adults like criminals simply for possessing it. Question 2 just makes sense.”
By Steve Elliott
Law enforcement officials in the most populous county in Texas on Monday started a new program giving nonviolent first time offenders caught with small amounts of marijuana a chance to avoid a criminal conviction.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police and the Harris County District Attorney's Office is offering a new initiative called the "First Chance Intervention Program," D.A. Devon Anderson announced on Wednesday, reports KFOR-TV.
"Our goal is to keep these individuals from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system," Anderson said. "This program is not for everyone. We are targeting people we believe are self-correcting, those who will be scared straight."
"I think it, overall, will improve people's lives," Anderson said.
Under the new program, first-time marijuana offenders with no prior criminal history who are caught with up to two ounces of marijuana can avoid being charged if they successfully complete eight hours of community service or an eight-hour class.
"Better education, as to where it can lead them, is a whole lot better than putting them in the federal pen, prison systems, where they become hardened, repeat offenders," said Charlotte Farmer.
"Too often, we see young people, with the promise of an incredible future in front of them, make mistakes that then begin a spiral downwards," said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
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.