By Steve Elliott
A Mormon mother's YouTube video pleading for legalization of medical marijuana in Utah went viral on the Internet on Wednesday.
In the video, Tenille Farr of Spanish Fork tells how she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last summer while she was pregnant with her fifth son, Gabe, reports Kristen Moulton at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Illegally Healed is for personal stories of people who have used medicinal cannabis, according to Angela Bacca, media and public relations director for the Drug Policy Project of Utah. That group is working with Illegally Healed to post stories about Utah residents who want to be able to use medical cannabis; Farr's was the first such video.
Farr was also one of the Utah residents who shared their stories with lawmakers debating SB 259, a medical marijuana bill, during the recent session. The bill, proposed by state Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), would have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, but the Utah Senate rejected it 14-15.
By Steve Elliott
More than 30 people have been charged after police investigating the cultivation of hydroponic cannabis raided 60 properties in South Australia.
The investigation began in May 2014, centering on four hydroponic businesses, reports
According to police, 37 grow houses were searched, resulting in 31 arrests and the seizure of 711 cannabis plants, 26 kilograms of dried cannabis, two grams of amphetamine and two grams of cocaine.
Also seized were 33 firearms, $91,805 in cash, 12 vehicles and a "large quantity" of hydroponic growing equipment.
The investigation continues, according to assistant police commissioner Paul Dickson on Wednesday.
"This operation will certainly shake up the hydroponics industry and disrupt any criminal activity being undertaken by these individuals," Dickson said.
By Steve Elliott
Jamaica's governor general has given his assent to the so-called "Ganja Law," the bill amending the Dangerous Drugs Act, making possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a ticketable offense rather than an arrestable one.
Justice Minister Mark Golding made the disclosure yesterday, just over a month after the Jamaican House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the legislation now being called the Ganja Law, reports the Jamaica Observer.
"My understanding is that the GG has now assented to the Bill and the signed Bill is now on its way back to Parliament," Golding told ganja advocates who were anxious that the amendments become law as soon as possible.
The House passed the bill on February 24, and it was expected to be signed into law about a week later. Golding didn't say what caused the apparent delay in the Bill returning to Parliament from King's House.
During the 30-day wait, there was speculation among some marijuana advocates that Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, might have been having difficulties giving his assent to the amendments.
The Act is highlighted by a provision making possession of two ounces or less of ganja a ticketable offense. Other provisions could pave the way for establishment of a legal ganja industry that advocates believe could reduce poverty in Jamaica.
By Steve Elliott
In a sadly predictable development, the mortally wounded but still dangerous War On Cannabis has produced a new book from former drug czar William Bennett. Bennett's new nonsense-filled tome is called Going To Pot, and anyone who enjoys right wing moralizing, pseudo-scientific scare-mongering, and patent nonsense can certainly have a hell of a time with this piece of trash.
Bennett served as director of national drug control policy (drug czar) under President George H.W. Bush, and he's long been known for his obnoxious pronouncements and conservative backwardness, as well as tiresomely moralizing and practically unreadable volumes such as The Book of Virtues.
In Going To Pot, Bennett and coauthor Robert White, managing partner in an international law firm and former assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, examine current efforts to legalize pot. "Marijuana, once considered worthy of condemnation, has in recent years become a 'medicine' legalized fully in four states, with others expected to follow," they write.
Here's a handy rule of thumb, folks, and so far, it's reliably worked 100 percent of the time for me. Whenever you're reading something and they put "medicine" in quotes when speaking of cannabis, you're wasting your time; read something else, preferably something where the author isn't suffering from advanced cranial-rectal inversion.
By Steve Elliott
Two natural allies -- rock and roll and cannabis -- will be together in August at a musical festival in Grand Forks, British Columbia.
CannaFest 2015 will bring together musicians and people to educate about the healing power of marijuana, according to organizer Chuck Varabioff of the B.C. Pain Society in Vancouver, reports Daybreak South at CBC News.
"I deal with sick people every single day," Varabioff said. "I wanted to give back something to them, where they're able to come forget about their pain, their problems, anything they have negative going on in their life, and come out and experience something positive."
"It's all about the movement; it's all about the people coming together and promoting a product they believe in," Varabioff said.
This is the second year that Varabioff has organized CannaFest. The first one took place in Vancouver last year.
Grand Forks Mayor Frank Conrad said he won't "delve into the marijuana issue because that is a federal issue," but said he believes the event will help stimulate the local economy.
The B.C. Pain Society is a medical marijuana dispensary that houses Canada's first cannabis vending machines.
CannaFest 2015 will take place on Aug. 7 and 8 at James Donaldson Park in Grand Forks, B.C. One-day passes are $50, and two-day passes are $75.
By Steve Elliott
One year after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana, millions of tax dollars are rolling in, just as predicted. The funds were supposed to be dedicated to school construction, along with regulating cannabis sales, but a legal complication may force the state to refund that money to the public -- and lawmakers don't want that to happen.
A strict anti-spending provision in the Colorado Constitution -- a voter-approved measure called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights -- may require the state to refund nearly $60 million in marijuana taxes, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.
Legislators are trying to figure out a way to keep the money, and they're hoping Colorado voters will let them. Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature don't agree very often when it comes to taxes, but it seems both parties agree they want to keep the cash, and legislators are working on a bill which would ask voters' permission to not give the money back.
"Despite our anti-tax feelings in the state, there's an exception being made when it comes to marijuana," said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Denver-based trade organization that isn't taking a stand on the refund issue. "The industry is making a huge economic impact."
Advocates Say Final Regulations to Leave Thousands of Patients to Suffer Needlessly
Abandoned by Cuomo Administration, Critically Ill Patients and Families Vow to Return to the Legislature to Fix New York’s Broken Medical Marijuana Program
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday night released the final regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program. The announcement followed a period of public comment in which patients, families, experts, and industry professionals submitted more than a thousand letters and emails critiquing the proposed regulations for being too restrictive and unworkable.
In response to this incredible level of input from the public and private industry, the Department of Health made absolutely no substantive changes to the regulations. Instead, they made only handful of technical fixes, such as correcting typos, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
Twenty-two other states have passed medical marijuana laws, five jurisdictions have passed laws taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use, and the federal government has made clear that they will not interfere with properly administered state marijuana programs. Despite this, the Cuomo Administration, in its response to the public comments, repeatedly uses federal laws as an excuse for inaction.
Ganjapreneur, an online business resource dedicated to the cannabis industry, has expanded its business directory to include seven new categories of industry services.
The directory focuses on companies that provide B2B services to cannabusinesses, as opposed to medical cannabis dispensaries or retail recreational shops that target actual cannabis consumers.
New categories have been added to include investment groups who support start-up marijuana businesses, political organizations who advocate on behalf of legalization and drug policy reform, and trade associations who work to educate and organize business owners. There are also now sections of the directory dedicated to cannabis testing labs who test for contaminants and potency in samples from state-licensed growers or producers — and to laboratories that offer premium hash and cannabis oil extraction services.
Providers of commercial grow lights, seeds and soil, and other equipment used for both indoor and outdoor agriculture can also create business listings. Finally, the directory has added categories for marijuana industry job boards as well as publishers who report on marijuana news and culture.
Ganjapreneur's business directory was launched in 2014 in an effort to help professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs connect with service providers who specialize in the cannabis industry. Since then, businesses have been able to add a listing for free as part of a limited-time offer.
By Steve Elliott
Iconic stoner Tommy Chong has been dropped as a spokesman by pro-marijuana lobbying group the National Cannabis Industry Association.
According to NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith, the pot lobby is tired of the Cheech & Chong stoner jokes and wants to be taken seriously in Congress, reports Burgess Everett at Politico. The cannabis industry reportedly wants to move past the stoner stereotypes represented by Chong as it tries to remake itself as a "serious suits segment" of the economy.
Smith, in a Monday email sent to Chong's representatives and allies, said that after feedback from "allied members of Congress," the group decided Chong wasn't its best representative in D.C., particularly when it comes to influencing right-wing lawmakers.
"Having Tommy out in D.C. for the NCIA Lobby Days will detract from the overall message we aim for with the event, which is that cannabis business people are regular professionals and relatable to the generally conservative members of Congress we are looking to appeal to," Smith wrote. "We are here to break 'stoner' stereotypes rather than reinforce them."
By Steve Elliott
President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.
According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."
"While today’s announcement represents important progress, there’s more work ahead," Eggleston said. "The Administration will continue to work to review thoroughly all petitions for clemency."
Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimum and harsh sentencing guidelines. The Obama Administration also promised improvements in the commutation process.
Yet, despite his Administration's declared support of substantive criminal justice reform, until now Obama has used his power to grant clemency less frequently than nearly all other U.S. Presidents.
By Steve Elliott
Turning around a new law originally intended as a tool of intolerance against gays, the First Church of Cannabis Inc. has been approved by Indiana's secretary of state after the state's "religious freedom" legislation came into effect last week.
Church founder Bill Levin said he filed the paperwork in direct response to Gov. Mike Pence's signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last Thursday, reports Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post. Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved the church as a religious corporation with the stated intent "to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all."
Cannabis is listed as a sacrament in the church's doctrine, according to Levin, who set he was setting up a church hierarchy. Levin wrote out the new "Diety Dozen," a list of suggestions for better living comparable to the 10 Commandments.
The church will grow hemp, he said, though it will not buy or sell marijuana.
"If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them," Levin said. "This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called 'Cannataerians.'"
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday vetoed SB 1445, a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to conceal police officers’ identities for months following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.
“Governor Ducey has lived up to his promise to hear the concerns of the community regarding SB 1445, and we want to both thank the Governor and praise him for his openness in directly accepting public feedback concerning this misguided and harmful piece of legislation," said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler. "We also want to thank the members of the Gov. Ducey’s staff who, last week, graciously accepted the ACLU’s letter opposing SB 1445, signed by more than three-dozen community leaders and local, statewide and national organizations, along with a petition calling for the veto of SB 1445 signed by over 2,500 concerned Arizonans and others from around the country."
“We are grateful that Gov. Ducey considered the dangerous ramifications of this bill, for both law enforcement and the public," Soler said. "This proposal would have taken Arizona in the wrong direction, by exacerbating distrust between communities and the public safety officers responsible for protecting them, while at the same time eroding the transparency that is critical to our democracy."
Algae International Group, Inc., through its operating subsidiary American Seed & Oil Company, on Friday announced an expansion of the previously announced distribution agreement of the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot in Texas and Kentucky. American Seed & Oil will now be selling the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot in Colorado, New Hampshire and Vermont.
"The response to the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot from our distribution network has been extremely positive," said Steven Rash, CEO of Algae International Group and American Seed & Oil. "We went back and asked to expand our distribution network into the additional states because we had unsolicited demand from those states.
"In addition to expanding our retail distribution network, we will soon be adding ecommerce to our website and selling the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot online with other organically certified hemp infused consumer products," Rash said.
The DuBe Hemp Energy Shot is a berry-flavored, all natural, zero calorie, sugar free, gluten free, GMO free energy shot infused with Hemp Pro 70 Protein Powder, "providing smooth energy for hours," according to the company. A DuBe CBD Energy Shot is coming soon, according to the company.
DuBe Hemp Energy Shot Products are herbicide and pesticide free, peanut-free, vegetarian approved, kosher certified, THC-free (NO THC, 100 percent Legal), and tryspin inhibitor free, the company said.
By Steve Elliott
Police in Palmerah, Indonesia, a sub-district of West Jakarta, accidentally got an entire town stoned when they burned a 3.3-ton pile of marijuana.
A number of residents and journalists in the Indonesian neighborhood reported feeling disoriented, dizzy and stoned when heavy plumes of smoke wafted through their streets, reports Dangerous Minds.
Some of the police wore masks as they first set the cannabis ablaze, but neglected to mention to onlookers and residents in the surrounding community that the smoke could affect them, too.
By Steve Elliott
A North Carolina jury took less than an hour on Thursday to find a man who openly ran a medical marijuana operation guilty of drug trafficking.
The jury of six men and six women found Todd Stimson, 44, guilty of two counts of marijuana trafficking in an emotional conclusion to the trial in Henderson County Superior Court, reports Sabian Warren at the Citizen-Times.
Judge Mark Powell sentenced a visibly shaken Stimson to a minimum of 25 months in federal prison, and a maximum of 39 months. Stimson was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
Addressing the court in a final plea, his voice shaking as his daughter cried, Stimson said, "I'm sorry that I've taken up your time ... It's not meant to be this way," reports Emily Weaver at the Hendersonville Times-News.
"What I did this time was to stand out and try to be accepted by society and ... work with the state along with the police department, along with the Department of Revenue and everybody (to show the state) that we can work together and get along," Stimson said. "And that's all I set out to do.
"Even though the situation is bad for me, I've done exactly what I wanted to do to raise awareness to ... what happens to people in this situation," Stimson said.