By Steve Elliott
Marc Freeman disappeared inside Chicago's Homan Square police warehouse for hours last year, but you wouldn't know that from his arrest report. His time in custody wasn't logged on the books until he appeared at another police station, seven hours after his arrest -- and his case isn't unique.
Chicago Police arrested Freeman at 3:35 p.m. on October 22, 2014, for possession of about two pounds of cannabis, report Spencer Ackerman and Zach Stafford at The Guardian. The police report states that Freeman was "transported to Homan for further processing," but it specifies nothing about his time at the secretive police compound, other than an official arrival time at 4:10 p.m., then a note that he arrived at nearby District 11 lockup at 10:32 p.m.
Freeman was lost to the outside world during the intervening hours, denied any phone calls, attorney visits or records of where he was by the police who held him captive. Shackled inside Homan Square, Freeman was neither booked nor processed at the secretive facility some have compared to the domestic equivalent of a CIA "black site."
Bill with bipartisan support would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana
The New Hampshire House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill 297-67 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.
“We’re pleased to see such strong legislative support for this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We hope the Senate will agree with their colleagues in the House and the vast majority of state voters that it’s time to stop criminalizing people for simple marijuana possession.”
HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and up to $500 for third or subsequent offenses. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.
By Steve Elliott
For the first time ever, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act will be sponsored in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. The companion bills are expected to be filed in the Alabama Senate and House on Tuesday, March 17.
Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) have agreed to sponsor the bill in the 2015 legislative session, according to Ron Crumpton of the Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP).
"ASAP would like to thank both Rep. Rogers and Sen. Singleton for their willingness to lead Alabama towards a future where patients receive the best in medical care," Crumpton told Hemp News Wednesday afternoon.
Sen. Singleton, who is sponsoring the bill in the Alabama Senate, is serving his third term. He has a degree in Criminal Justice from Alabama State University and a Juris Doctor from Miles College, and works as a consultant. He is a member of Greenleaf Missionary Baptist Church in Greensboro.
DirectView Holdings, Inc., a company focused on ownership and management of video and security technology companies, on Tuesday announced that it has been selected by Evergreen Properties, LLC, a Colorado-based owner and operator of cannabis facilities, to complete a comprehensive security and surveillance installation at three facilities to be located on a 10-acre parcel of land in Pueblo, Colorado.
DirectView was selected for the project by Evergreen after recently completing a security and surveillance installation at its Marijuana Infused Products ("MIP") facility in the Denver area. Evergreen is constructing three facilities it expects to open in 2015 including a 25,000 square foot greenhouse, a 5,000 square foot processing facility, and a 5,000 square foot dispensary and office.
Upon completion of the installation, DirectView will provide ongoing services including equipment maintenance and alarm monitoring.
"We are excited to expand our business relationship with Evergreen as they open these three new cannabis facilities in Pueblo, Colorado," said Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView. "We continue to work diligently to build our presence in this rapidly evolving industry and believe we are well positioned to experience continued growth in Colorado and several other areas of the country as well.
"We look forward to working with Evergreen to complete these projects and service any additional needs they may have in the future," Ralston said.
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Tuesday announced it has formed an exclusive strategic collaboration with the University of Debrecen, Hungary, to develop novel phytocannabinoid-based therapies (plant-based cannabinoids) to treat ocular allergic symptoms.
The collaboration will leverage InMed's proprietary Intelligent Cannabinoid Drug Design Platform (IDP) and will be led by one of the world's leading cannabinoid researchers, Dr. Tamas Biro, MD, PhD, DSc. Dr. Biro has extensive research experience in studying the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the closely related transient receptor potential (TRP) channels in various human diseases.
Under the discovery and development collaboration InMed's IDP Platform will be used to identify cannabinoid- and non-cannabinoid-based phytochemicals for ocular therapies focused on reducing various pro-inflammatory cytokines in in vitro and in vivo models.
"We have accumulated significant experience and expertise in developing cannabinoids to treat ocular disease, which forms the basis of this strategic collaboration," said Dr. Sazzad Hossain, chief scientific officer of InMed. "As we prepare to initiate Phase 1 clinical trials of our lead phytocannabinoid-based drug candidate CTI-085 for glaucoma, we look forward to expanding our ophthalmic therapy pipeline by developing ocular anti-allergic drugs, where we expect Dr. Biro's 18 years of experience in this specialty field to be invaluable."
Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, Senior Pastor of the 12,000-member congregation, Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, TX and Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele To Hold Telephone Town Hall
Special RSVP-Only Telephone Town Hall Will Allow Press and Public to Pose Their Own Questions
On Thursday, March 12, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm, EST, Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of Dallas’ Friendship-West Baptist Church and co-founder and leader of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele for a discussion about the role faith communities have to play in ending the Drug War. bandele is expected to discuss marijuana legalization with Rev. Haynes, stigma and how faith communities plan to help re-acclimate tens of thousands of people who are being decarcerated annually.
The quarterly town hall-style calls are designed to ensure that the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs, is bringing before the widest audiences the most influential members in our nation and allowing for an open discussion with those who are on the ground and reforming drug war policies. In short, the calls are meant to host the discussions that the global community is having, and that policymakers in the US need to be having.
By Steve Elliott
When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in New York City, one of his leading initiatives was responding to possession of small amounts of marijuana with summonses rather than arrests. At the news conference announcing the change -- which affected possession cases involving up to 25 grams of weed -- NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton stood beside the mayor, holding up a bag of oregano measuring 25 grams, as an educational prop for how much pot is allowable.
Last week, this time without the mayor, Commissioner Bratton turned his attention once again to marijuana, report J. David Goodman and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times. Bratton announced homicides were up to 54 through March 1, compared with 45 over the same period last year, as were shootings -- and he claimed marijuana was a factor in the violence.
"The seemingly innocent drug that's being legalized around the country -- in this city, people are killing each other over marijuana," Bratton dramatically announced.
But does the commissioner's sharp turn towards reefer madness territory indicate a schism in the de Blasio administration's approach to cannabis? The mayor said he supports the new policy regarding low-level marijuana possession, voicing concerns that arrests for small amounts of pot disproportionately affect the black and Hispanic communities.
By Steve Elliott
One Oregon County is considering excluding marijuana from farm zones, leading to questions about how cannabis will be regulated under legalization and the state's land use system.
Since voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November, Linn County officials have been bombarded with questions about where citizens can grow it, according to County Commissioner Roger Nyquist, reports Mateusz Perkowski at the Capital Press.
"We're even seeing real estate ads advertising properties as turnkey ready for marijuana production," Nyquist said.
County commissioners are considering limiting commercial marijuana production to light industrial and commercial zones, according to Nyquist, who said the commissioners were "concerned" about "problems resulting from growing marijuana outdoors near homes."
"There are security issues if you have millions of dollars worth of crop sitting next to families," he said.
But marijuana proponents see the proposal as a try to circumvent Measure 91. Using zoning rules to create a "functional ban" on marijuana dispensaries would be preempted by legalization, according to attorney Leland Berger, who advises cannabis businesses.
"I am starting to see municipalities who are bigoted against cannabis utilize land use and zoning laws to avoid state preemption," Berger said.
By Steve Elliott
Both advocates and critics expect a medical marijuana bill to reach Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's desk this year.
The first hearing on medical legalization was held in February in Harrisburg, and the next one is scheduled for March 24 in Philadelphia, reports Kris B. Mamula at the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Dr. Bruce MacLeod said he was booed for the first time in his career at last month's hearing after he advocated a cautious approach to medical marijuana. "We don't know the long-term effects of these medications and we're not sure of the dose," said MacLeod, who really should inform himself about cannabis before speaking publicly on the subject again.
"We're sympathetic to the patient suffering, but hold on," said MacLeod, medical director of emergency medicine at West Penn Hospital and past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. "Let's study this."
MacLeod's wait-and-see approach was dismissed by Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Pittsburgh NORML). Nightingale said numerous studies have already shown marijuana's effectiveness and safety.
"What in the hell does the Pennsylvania Medical Society need to wait for?" Nightingale asked. "It has already been used and abused for decades. It's a treatment alternative."
Registration is now live for the 2nd Annual Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) taking place June 17-19 at the Javits Convention Center in New York, NY.
CWCBExpo is sponsored by the International Cannabis Association (ICA) and is billing itself as "the only event on the East Coast that will provide the latest information, resources and tools for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, investors, equity partners, service providers as well as those already in the business."
Led by industry experts in the medical, legal, financial and product development fields, the CWCBExpo’s conference program in New York will cover important topics and business objectives that are needed to succeed in this rapidly changing and growing industry, according to organizers.
The 40 conference sessions include:
• How to Obtain a State License to Sell, Grow or Produce Medical or Recreational Marijuana
• The Top 10 Things It Takes to Make a Successful MMJ Operator
• Attracting Wall Street to Your Cannabis Business
• How to Maximize the Valuation of Your Cannabis Business to Achieve the Highest Possible Investment and Sale Multiples
• How to Work with Unions for Your NYS Medical Marijuana Business
• What Physicians Need to Know to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to Their Patients
Taking place under one roof in New York City, the media and financial capitol of the world, CWCBExpo is an event at which to learn what it takes to succeed and remain competitive in this fast-growing and dynamic market.
Hundreds of patient advocates will gather in Washington, DC on March 31 to lobby for passage of Senate bill
By Steve Elliott
Comprehensive medical marijuana legislation was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate for the first time in the nation's history.
Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act to end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and allow states to set their own policies. The CARERS Act is endorsed by several advocacy groups including Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which helped Senate authors develop the legislation.
The CARERS Act will reclassify marijuana for medical use, overhaul the banking laws so as not to punish licensed businesses, allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, and eliminate current barriers to research.
Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws, and another twelve states have adopted laws allowing for the consumption of a specific form of cannabis known as cannabidiol or CBD commonly used to treat seizure disorders.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, one of the staunchest supporters of cannabis law reform in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday praised the historic medical marijuana bill introduced in the Senate.
“Senators Paul, Booker, and Gillibrand took an historic step today by introducing a medical marijuana bill in the United States Senate – the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act," Rep. Blumenauer said. "This bill would bring much needed relief to the patients, businesses, and physicians who participate in legal state medical marijuana systems that exist in a confusing patchwork of state and federal laws.
"Last Congress, the House voted six times in favor of reforming our outdated marijuana and hemp laws," Rep. Blumenauer said. "Over a dozen bills have been introduced, many with bipartisan support. The Senate bill builds on this momentum and incorporates many of the provisions that gained significant traction in the House.
"I am happy to see the inclusion of language similar to our bill, HR 667: The Veterans Equal Access Act, which will ensure that our veterans can access medical marijuana in states where it is legal," Rep. Blumenauer said. " I am also excited to see language to reduce barriers to medical marijuana research, which is an issue I will continue to champion. The bill will also offer much needed certainty for banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses, which often must operate as unsafe cash only enterprises.
By Steve Elliott
The historic medical marijuana bill being introduced in the United States Senate on Tuesday -- the first ever such bill ever introduced in the Senate -- would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana. Beyond that, however, it would also implement a number of critical reforms that advocates have been seeking for years, according to those familiar with the legislation.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) act grew from an amendment proposed last year by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is now being introduced by those two Senators along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. It would reclassify cannabis, allow for limited interstate transport of it, expand access for research, make it easier for doctors to authorize veterans to use it, and make it easier for banks to provide services to the marijuana industry.
"it's the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill in Congress," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The DPA and other activist organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) were consulted in drafting the bill. Advocates say they are mostly pleased with what they've seen and heard.
Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law
A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.
U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.
It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.
“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.
"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.
“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.
Coalition ratifies declaration this past week in Prague, urging the UN to reclassify cannabis plant for medical use
Medical cannabis patients from 13 countries, including those represented by U.S. advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), established the International Medical Cannabis Patients Coalition (IMCPC) this past week while at the "Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Policy, Research and Medical Practice" conference in Prague from March 4-7. IMCPC member countries include Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
The first action of the IMCPC was to ratify a declaration urging the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to either reclassify cannabis for medical use, convene a UN Special Convention on Cannabis, or simply exclude cannabis from the UN Single Convention on Narcotics. The IMCPC declaration will be delivered to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this week by Pavel Bem, the Czech representative for the Global Commission on Drug Policy.