Criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be replaced with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket
Legislation adopted this year to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Maryland will go into effect on Wednesday, October 1.
Maryland joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession. In addition, Missouri passed a similar bill this year, which will make it the 19th state to do so when it goes into effect.
Senate Bill 364 makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.
“Decriminalization will free up law enforcement officials’ time and allow them to focus on more pressing issues than marijuana possession," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police.
"It will address some inequalities in our justice system, but, until we fully legalize and regulate marijuana, sales will continue to be conducted by criminals in an underground market," Franklin said. "Until that happens, we are not going to see the public safety benefits that are possible in a post-prohibition world.”
Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo For Federal Request, But Urge Additional State Action to Save Lives of Critically Ill Patients
Patients Call on Governor to Create State-Based Emergency Access Program
The Cuomo Administration on Friday sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Cole following up on an earlier letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, sent on August 13. Both letters asked the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) to extend a narrow, time-limited exception to federal law to allow the importation of certain strains of medical marijuana from other states for use by children in New York with severe forms of epilepsy.
The letters follow the deaths of several children and a sustained campaign by advocates pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the 18 months or longer that the governor has said he needs to get the full medical marijuana program up and running. New York passed a medical marijuana bill that Governor Cuomo signed into law in July, but the Administration has said the program won’t be up and running until at least January of 2016.
To establish emergency access for patients in need, medical marijuana can either be produced within New York state, or, with appropriate federal clearances, acquired from a different jurisdiction. The Cuomo Administration’s letters address one of those two options.
There’s a new name making some waves in the medical marijuana space. Publicly traded Worlds Online subsidiary MariMed Advisors has closed on the acquisition of Sigal Consulting and $2 million in working capital.
Sigal Consulting, now known as MariMed Advisors, specializes in all aspects of medical marijuana, from licensing application to cultivation and sale.
Sigal designed the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center cultivation and dispensary facility in Providence, Rhode Island -- one of the largest state sanctioned dispensaries in the country.
"Closing this capital raise and acquisition demonstrates investor interest and confidence in our team and strategy for capturing significant market share in the developing medical marijuana sector," said Thom Kidrin, CEO of WORX. "These funds will allow us to expand our team and meet the demand from our growing pipeline of potential licensees in their efforts to gain authority to build and operate cultivation and dispensary operations."
While no assurance can be given that it will be successful, MariMed Advisors is in discussion with multiple capital sources in an attempt to secure additional funds for the acquisition of real estate and operational facilities needed to provide future licensees the operational capabilities to successfully operate under their licenses. This is a critical component for many licensees, as legacy regulations prevent financial institutions from financing such transactions for organizations in the medical marijuana industry, even in states where it has been legalized.
420careers.com, a marijuana industry job listing site, on Monday reported that the swiftly developing cannabis industry is generating an extraordinary and historic amount of jobs throughout the United States and Canada.
“The marijuana industry is producing more new jobs than many other industries in the United States,” said Colby Ayres, director of marketing at 420careers.com. "Each state that passes a medical or recreational marijuana law usually generates hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs.
"Colorado currently has over 10,000 jobs associated with the marijuana industry and Washington state is quickly creating hordes of new jobs since legalizing marijuana in July," Ayres said.
Twenty-two states permit medical marijuana and two states (Colorado and Washington) permit recreational marijuana for adult use. Nearly a dozen other states have medical marijuana legislation initiatives and an estimated five states will vote to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use by 2016.
It has been predicted that over a dozen more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use by 2018, which would potentially grow upwards of a $10 billion industry in the United States.
Some of more popular marijuana jobs currently offered on 420careers.com are: budtenders (dispensary patient consultants), cultivation experts, dispensary managers, writers, sales positions, delivery drivers, security staff, inventory staff, and various administrative and business development positions.
By Steve Elliott
Alison Holcomb trusts poop more than people. The author of Washington state's recreational marijuana law has suggested that the city of Spokane test its sewage for traces of cannabis in order to more accurately measure use by residents.
Holcomb, a lawyer with the ACLU, proposed the idea at a Tuesday meeting of the Spokane City Council's marijuana policy subcommittee, reports the Associated Press.
About 50 city leaders and residents make up the subcomittee, which attempts to deal with what cannabis legalization means for Spokane, a city of about 210,000, reports Jessica Glenza at The Guardian.
"We don't have really good data on usage and perceptions of harm," said city councilman Jon Snyder. "It's funny how the sewage thing has really captured people's imagination."
A University of Washington scientist liked the idea. "It's always good for a chuckle, but it actually does work," said Caleb Banta-Green, a researcher at the UW's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
Banta-Green, an epidemiologist, has tested sewage in Oregon and Washington for the presence of hard drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. "In some ways, I think my most surprising finding is that it works," he said.
By Steve Elliott
David Ung of Albuquerque remembered his luggage when he returned a rental car on Tuesday. He didn't forget his cell phone or plane ticket for the Albuquerque Sunport. But he did forget 139 pounds of "high grade" marijuana in several black trash bags in the trunk of the vehicle he returned to Hertz Rent a Car near the airport.
Aviation police officers told the Albuquerque Police Department that Ung, 40, dropped off the car, but returned, saying he'd left a bag inside the vehicle, reports Nicole Perez at the Albuquerque Journal.
But when employees started cleaning the car, they found several large bags filled with marijuana. Homeland Security and the Sunport Police were called to investigate.
By the time Ung got back, officers had already found several black trash bags full of cannabis, packaged in 124 heat-sealed clear bags, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court on Wednesday.
"I can't believe that would happen here at the airport where there's a lot of security," said Tanya Hernandez, reports KTRK. "It's just ironic that people could do that."
Ung was detained at the scene, and refused to talk to police with an attorney present. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and booked into the county jail on $10,000 bail.
Five more organizations on Friday endorsed Oregon’s Measure 91 to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older. These groups are:
• American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 88 (AFSCME), the largest employee union in Multnomah County with approximately 2,600 represented employees. They join AFSCME Local 328 and United Food and Commercial Workers 555, which had previous endorsed Measure 91.
• Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans, which works to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens. The Alliance joins the Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, as the second senior organization to endorse the campaign.
• Partnership for Safety and Justice, which works to reform the criminal justice system and achieve a more balanced approach to public safety. They join several other criminal justice organization like the ACLU of Oregon, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana; the bill now heads to the state House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1182 would allow patients with certain medical conditions to use medical cannabis with a doctor's recommendation, reports WPMT Fox 43.
Cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), severe fibromyalgia, cachexia (wasting syndrome), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome are on the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana.
Removed from the list since the bill's inception -- despite clear clinical evidence that cannabis helps -- were 39 diseases and conditions including muscular dystrophy, Crohn's disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, hydrocephalus, diabetes and lupus.
Prime sponsor Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and co-sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County) made the changes to "keep the bill moving" despite misgivings from some of their more timid colleagues. The bill passed on Wednesday on an overwhelming 43-7 vote.
AG Holder Made Unprecedented Efforts to Address Mass Incarceration and Failed Drug War
Drug Policy Alliance Calls On President Obama to Appoint Replacement Who Will Follow Through on Crucial Criminal Justice Reforms
By Steve Elliott
Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday announced that he will be resigning from office once a replacement is found. Drug policy and criminal justice reform advocates expressed disappointment he is leaving office, praising his leadership and calling on President Obama to nominate a replacement who will carry on Holder’s reform work.
Holder's career as AG, which spanned five and a half years, included a number of drug policy reforms to which he reconfirmed his commitment in a Thursday interview with Katie Couric. In the interview, Holder said science should be the basis for making decisions about the scheduling of marijuana, and that the sentencing of nonviolent drug offenders is a serious civil rights issue.
“Holder will go down in history as the Attorney General who began unwinding the war on drugs and steering our country away from mass incarceration,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “President Obama should replace him with someone who is going to carry on that legacy of reform.”
By Steve Elliott
Some political candidates seem to be in denial about their marijuana use, but a write-in candidate for governor of Rhode Island wants to make sure voters know she uses cannabis every day for both cooking and medicinal purposes.
"Yes, I do smoke cannabis, and yes, I do inhale," says Anne Armstrong in a campaign video posted online this month, reports Sam Levine at The Huffington Post. "It helps me. It helps me to focus, it helps to facilitate communication."
Armstrong posted on her Facebook page that she wants a state where "common sense, compassion, and cooperation can recreate Rhode Island into a place where everyone can live in abundance."
"It doesn't make people crazy, the way you've been told," Armstrong says of marijuana in the ad. "I hope that you will read and open your eyes and realize the truth that we've been lied to for a long time by our government."
Armstrong said in a speech earlier this month at Boston Hempfest that if she were elected governor, she would eliminate all penalties for growing, sharing and using cannabis in Rhode Island.
"I'm gonna site and use cannabis as I govern from my office," Armstrong said. "And I am gonna have my cannabis in the rotunda of the Statehouse and it is gonna be a people's cannabis garden."
Rhode Island permits the cultivation and use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.
City of Portland Issues Permit
It's a go for the 10th annual Portland Hempstalk Festival; after months of delay, city officials have finally issued a permit for this weekend's event.
"Event coordinators for the Portland Hempstalk annual festival are proud to announce the City of Portland has issued our permit for this weekend's event (September 27-28) at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon," a press release from the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) reads.
Hempstalk advocates decriminalization of cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and recreational use. Founded in 2005 by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, the festival features live music, guest speakers, food and goods vendors and information booths.
This public event has always been free to attend, with a suggested donation of $10 per person.
Featuring three stages, the Jack Herer Main Stage, the newly added Green Goddess Stage, and the Elec-Chronic DJ Stage, the bands, music and informational guest speakers are sure to inspire and inform attendees.
Already confirmed on the musical bill for 2014 are Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, John Trudell and Bad Dog, Herbivores, Los Marijuanos, Poet and Cannabis Advocate John Sinclair, The Sindicate, J Mack and Big Dub, Bad Habitat and more. To view the complete line-up, check out http://hempstalk.org/festival/lineup
San Diego couple were acquitted by a jury after enduring a questionable paramilitary-style raid on their property
A federal lawsuit was filed earlier this month on behalf of two seriously ill medical marijuana patients, Deborah Little, 61, and Dennis Little, 66, a couple from Ramona, California whose home was raided in October 2012 by the San Diego County Integrated Narcotics Task Force (NTF).
The paramilitary-style raid, including police brandishing assault rifles, found a modest garden of 29 plants, which the Littles say was entirely for personal, medicinal use. The couple was tried in March 2014 on possession of marijuana for sale and unlawful cultivation of marijuana, but the court dismissed the cultivation charge and they were acquitted of possession by a jury.
"This case is an example of a phenomenon that has gained national attention recently: military-style SWAT tactics used in everyday law enforcement," said Nathan Shaman, the attorney representing the Littles in their civil lawsuit. "More and more we are seeing law enforcement treat our citizens as enemy combatants."
"The Littles' situation provides a stark reminder that even harmless, law-abiding, seriously ill people can be and are terrorized by their own police force," Shaman said. "We hope this will send a message to law enforcement that their egregious, unconstitutional behavior will not be tolerated."
3 Points for Voters to Consider When Reviewing Proposed Marijuana Laws
Cannabis Industry Expert Looks at Pros & Cons
Voters in seven states, one U.S. territory, and at least 17 cities and counties across the nation will face a marijuana initiative when they go to the polls in November. For some, the question is easy: They’re either for some level of legalizing marijuana or against it.
But for others, the issue is not so cut and dried. Decriminalizing marijuana can be good for the country – and it can be potentially dangerous, says Wall Street commodities expert Steve Janjic, CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), an electronic marketplace exchange for the cannabis industry.
“I’m a part of the industry, but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of every measure to legalize pot,” Janjic says. “We need to proceed with care and thoughtful consideration of possible consequences, intended and unintended, of the decisions we make.
“We have the opportunity to fix some problems through decriminalization, but we don’t want to end up with even bigger problems down the road,” Janjic said.
The November initiatives range from legalizing recreational marijuana sales and use for adults in Oregon and Alaska to permitting it for medical purposes in Florida and Guam, to decriminalizing possession of small amounts in cities and counties in Maine, Michigan and New Mexico. Californians will decide whether to downgrade possession to a misdemeanor.
Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to cannabis business news and professional content, has announced the addition of a cannabis industry job listings section to its website. The job listings will be generated primarily via third-party platforms where cannabis growers, retailers, and ancillary businesses post their employment openings.
Ganjapreneur's stated goal is to provide one location for aspiring ganjapreneurs to see all of the industry job postings each day.
Ganjapreneur hopes to compile a comprehensive overview of the legal marijuana job market. With positions ranging from Budtender to Delivery Driver, the professional opportunities in the burgeoning cannabis industry are unique and can often be fiercely competitive.
By publishing in-depth content, a weekly newsletter, and extensive interviews with prominent marijuana professionals, Ganjapreneur says its primary goal is to keep its readers up to date on the latest developments and opportunities related to the cannabis industry.
Last week, Ganjapreneur announced the first segment of an interview with Matt Brown, founder of Denver-based marijuana tourism company My 420 Tours. The interview was conducted via audio, and a transcription is available for reading on the Ganjapreneur website.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is filing a committee with the California Secretary of State on Wednesday to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. According to MPP, "It will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012."
The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will immediately begin raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. MPP was the largest financial backer of the Colorado initiative campaign.
“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "It’s been ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach.
“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible," Kampia said. "Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.
“Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and that’s how it needs to be treated," Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”