By Steve Elliott
An ordinance which would impose fines and even possible jail time for growing medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of Riverside County, California will get a public hearing on September 23 before the Board of Supervisors decides whether to enact it into law.
The 5-0 decision by the board on Tuesday came after a protest by medicinal cannabis advocates outside the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside, reports Jeff Horseman at The Press Enterprise. Supporters carried signs reading "Respect Patients' Rights!" and "Help Keep Marijuana Safe!"
Growing marijuana for any reason remains illegal in Riverside County, despite the fact that California voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana back in 1996. Riverside County also bans medical marijuana dispensaries, leaving patients with no safe access.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries is sponsoring the ordinance to crack down on marijuana grows in the county. Jeffries claimed "hundreds" of marijuana crops are growing in his district, and he fears they are connected to "drug cartels."
Jeffries claimed his goal isn't to punish legitimate medical marijuana patients. He noted his ordinance would impose $10 fines for anyone who grows six or fewer plants, indoors or outdoors. The current first-offense fine for growing any amount of marijuana is $100.
"I do not want public safety resources spent going after a handful of plants," Jeffries claimed.
By Steve Elliott
The New York Times this week, in what is widely seen as an epochal event, called for marijuana legalization in an editorial. But The Times drug tests its own employees, including for cannabis, despite its strong stance against marijuana prohibition.
The online dispensary-finding company WeedMaps has just launched a petition on Change.org which calls out the newspaper for its hypocritical policy.
"Whether we're going to continue testing for marijuana or not, I don't know," Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal said last night on MSBNC. "If they ask me, I'll stop."
Drug policy experts believe the petition stands a good chance of impacting the newspaper's drug testing policy, at least to the extent of convincing them to remove marijuana from the list of substances on the test.
"If The New York Times believes it is wrong to discriminate against people for using marijuana, then they should stop doing so. Full stop," said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "Forward-thinking companies in the emerging legal marijuana industry, such as WeedMaps, are leading the way toward a post-prohibition approach to hiring and human resources by focusing on job performance and not on the content of their employees' urine.
Colorado: Food Safety Training For Marijuana Edibles Makers, Responsible Selling For Budtenders LaunchedSubmitted by steveelliott on Tue, 07/29/2014 - 18:14
Edibles makers to learn proper hygiene, prevention of food contamination, emergency procedures, and more
“Budtenders” to learn responsible selling practices based on lessons of alcohol industry
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Tuesday announced that it will launch the first ServSafe© Food Safety Basics course specifically for cannabis industry professionals. Participants in the course, based on a curriculum developed originally by the National Restaurant Association, will learn about the significance of food-borne illness, proper personal hygiene, time and temperature control, how to prevent cross-contamination, cleaning, sanitizing and emergency procedures, and more.
“The interest in edibles and other infused products keeps growing,” said NCIA deputy director Taylor West. “We know our industry is under a microscope, and we want to make sure cannabis product-makers continue developing the highest quality and safest products possible.”
NCIA also announced a new Sell-SMaRT™ Responsible Cannabis Vendor course that will teach marijuana dispensary employees, or “budtenders,” responsible selling practices, such as how to check ID, educate customers about responsible consumption, and handle tricky situations.
These courses are developed and facilitated by Maureen McNamara, founder of Cannabis Trainers™, an NCIA member business. McNamara has been teaching the ServSafe© course to traditional food industry professionals for the last 18 years, but this will be her first course geared solely for makers of marijuana edibles.
By Steve Elliott
As Floridians get ready to vote on medical marijuana in November, months of campaigning by both sides hasn't moved the numbers at all. A new poll shows 88 percent support for medicinal cannabis, the exact same level of support shown in May.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's numbers are significant, reports Dan Sweeney at the Sun Sentinel, because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll -- "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot," a disinformation campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No On 23, a project of Drug Free Florida.
As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass in November.
An incredible 95 percent of voters age 29 and younger support the measure in the new poll.
Notorious anti-pot activist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, claims the amendment would result in an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, shady doctors authorizing it for almost any ailments, and access for minors. But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana, and that there are already state laws in place which would require parental consent before minors could be authorized.
By Steve Elliott
The Senate delegations from Colorado and Washington are seeking clarification from the Obama Administration on the regulations which will impact the legal marijuana trade in those two states.
Democratic Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall of Colorado and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington on Monday wrote a letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for "a clear, consistent and uniform interpretation and application" of federal marijuana laws in relation to their home states, reports Jonathan Topaz at Politico. The letter warns about the current uncertainty surrounding federal cannabis laws.
"We believe the federal government should support Colorado and Washington state's effort to establish a successful regulatory framework in a way that achieves greater certainty for local officials, citizens, and business owners" in the marijuana industry, the senators wrote.
The uncertainty regarding the implementation of federal cannabis laws "may undermine our states' ability to regulate the industry adequately," the senators said.
All four Democrats said they look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to ensure lawful and successful implementation of marijuana legalization in their states.
Less than a week after qualifying for the ballot, the New Approach Oregon campaign to regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older has won three major endorsements.
The endorsing organizations are:
• The Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, the oldest grassroots senior advocacy organization in the state.
• The Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, which represents more than 1,300 criminal defense attorneys in Oregon.
• Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), whose 100,000 supporters include police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, FBI agents and DEA agents.
“This is the first time a senior organization in Oregon has endorsed a marijuana regulation measure,” said Steve Weiss, board president of the Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens. “I’ve seen how medical marijuana can transform seniors’ lives, but when you are sick and in need of effective medicine, getting a medical marijuana card can be difficult, and without legalization, almost no research is done on it, making it hard for people to estimate the proper dosage.”
By Steve Elliott
Germany's Administrative Court of Cologne on July 22 ruled that some patients suffering from chronic pain should be allowed to grow their own cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Five patients suffering from chronic pain and other conditions had brought the complaint to the court after German's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) refused them permission to grow their own medical marijuana at home, reports the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines.
The court said that BfArM had to reconsider three of the rejected requests. While the plaintiffs all had permits to buy and use marijuana from a pharmacy for therapeutic purposes, they wanted to grow their own because they couldn't afford the price of cannabis produced by the Dutch company Bedrocan, and their health insurance did not cover it.
The court rejected the other two patients' requests, the first because the judges didn't believe that the patient could keep the medical marijuana away from unauthorized people, and the second because they didn't think the plaintiff had exhausted all other treatment options, reports DW.
The court stressed that it's necessary to assess whether patients met the requirements to grow their own medicinal cannabis on a case-by-case basis.
"I Choose Cannabis and Business" workshops have been slated for five cities across the United States in September and October.
Todd Mitchem Consulting, in conjunction with Cannabrand, a full-service recreational cannabis marketing agency, will present the workshops. According to Cannabrand, Mitchem has consulted for Colorado-based businesses including O.penVAPE, as well as mainstream corporations such as Starbucks, Purina, Marriott, H&R Block, Pizza Hut, Google and Nestle.
Targeting everyone curious about the cannabis industry, from entrepreneurs to investors, Mitchem and the Cannabrand team will share information on trends, business processes and legal operations.
With expertise in industry building and accelerating brand growth, Mitchem will lead the presentation and cover topics such as creating a sustainable company structure, constructing scalable processes, requirements for building a national brand in cannabis as well as understanding the unique intricacies of public relations, government relations and personnel management.
"These hands on workshops will appeal to any person curious about the future of this industry, investors wondering what to look for in a possible investment opportunity, or anyone looking to break into the movement of mainstream cannabis business," Mitchem said. "I welcome anyone looking to break into the mainstream cannabis movement which is a big business with an anticipated $2.5 billion market value by the end of 2014."
By Steve Elliott
A three-page bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes marijuana, to exempt cannabis plants with extremely low levels of THC, the substance that makes people high, but contain higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise in fighting seizures.
If passed, it would be the first time since 1937 that federal law officially allows any medical marijuana use. A handful of patients have, for years, been allowed to use federal medical marijuana in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which began in the 1970s.
"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up the family," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."
Eleven states this year have passed laws loosening regulation of high-CBD, low-THC marijuana strains. Perry said that once Congress members and their staffs are educated, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of inevitability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress," he said.
By Steve Elliott
In yet another sign of the inevitability of cannabis law reform in the United States, The New York Times has called for marijuana legalization.
"It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol," The Times Editorial Board wrote in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.
The Times Editorial Board reached that conclusion, the op-ed piece notes, "after a great deal of discussion." One would love to have been a fly on the wall, as the tectonic plates of journalistic history worked themselves into a new configuration. The decision was, the Board wrote, "inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws."
With more than 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, and with the negative results of those arrests falling disproportionately on young African American men, the social costs of cannabis prohibition are just too steep to continue, according to The Times.
"Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults," the editorial states.
The Times announced a series of articles in the coming days by members of the Editorial Board, along with supplementary material that will examine the questions surrounding marijuana legalization.
By Steve Elliott
Recreational marijuana sales only began two-and-a-half weeks ago in Washington state, and it didn't take the price gouging long to get started.
Ramsey Hamide, the manager of Main Street Marijuana, a recreational cannabis store in Vancouver, Washington, said that when he saw what came in a shipment of pot from a new grower this week, he said no thanks, deciding to close his business's doors until he can get a more variety, lower prices and better quality, reports Sue Vorenberg at The Columbian.
Hamide said some growers and processors are trying to charge him $6,000 per pound for marijuana, reports Stephen Mayer at KATU. He said that's about triple the normal price.
"I'm not going to let these guys hold us hostage anymore," Hamide said of the growers who he says have been selling low quality marijuana for high prices. "It's hurting the entire system, and it needs to stop. By continuing to play ball with these guys, it's just making things worse."
Hamide said Main Street Marijuana would likely remain closed through the weekend and possibly well into next week.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana advocates in Wichita, Kansas on Thursday turned in petitions with nearly twice as many signatures as they need to put decriminalization on the November ballot.
City officials in Wichita said they may have questions and concerns about the wording of the measure, but they have no immediate plans to go to court to try to block the initiative, reports Dion Lefler at The Wichita Eagle.
Organizers Esau Freeman and Janice Bradley went to Wichita City Hall at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday and presented City Clerk Karen Sublette with a thick sheaf of papers. According to the advocates, those papers contain the names and signatures of more than 5,800 people in favor of decriminalizing possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
They need 2,928 valid signatures of registered Wichita voters to put the issue on the ballot.
"We didn't verify every single one, but we're pretty confident with what we have," said Bradley, who added that an intern with the Peace and Justice Social Center had checked a large sample of the signatures.
The petition has garnered support from at least two state legislators and the Community Voice, a newspaper focused on Wichita's black community.
To End the War On Drugs by LEAP Speaker Dean Becker Features More than 100 Experts on Drug Policy
Together with the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will be hosting a press conference this Tuesday on Former Air Force Security Policeman Dean Becker’s new book To End the War on Drugs, after which they will distribute copies of the book to the White House, every Member of Congress, every Justice on the Supreme Court and governors nationwide.
“Through his interviews with so many differently situated individuals, Dean Becker captures the complete picture of the drug war, giving us a better understanding of the far-reaching nature of its effects and the depths of its failures,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. "Every politician in America should read this book."
By Steve Elliott
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Thursday filed an amendment to Senate Bill 2569, the "Bring Jobs Home Act," that would explicitly allow states to pass medical marijuana laws despite the federal Controlled Substances Act. The amendment would also bar prosecutions of patients and doctors involved in medical marijuana when they are in compliance with state laws.
Amendment 3630 allows states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without federal prosecution," reports Phillip Smith at StoptheDrugWar.org.
The amendment then lists 33 states and the District of Columbia that have medical marijuana laws at variance with the federal Controlled Substances Act, including 10 states that allow only for the use of CBD oil (cannabidiol), which, unlike THC, isn't psychoactive, reports Matt Ferner at the Huffington Post.
"What we're trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them," said Brian Darling, Sen. Paul's communications director.
By Steve Elliott
If officials at Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital get their wish, authorized medical marijuana patients could one day buy their cannabis at a hospital dispensary, just like patients buying antibiotics or pain relievers at the hospital's pharmacy.
"We have professionals who very much would like to prescribe these drugs, we have the system in place to manage it and we have the patient population that needs it," said Marcia Jimenez, director of intergovernmental affairs at Swedish Covenant Hospital, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun Times. "It just made a lot of sense."
The hospital would like to be the first in Illinois to take advantage of the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state. Illinois has agreed to issue 60 permits to sell medical marijuana, 13 of which will be in Chicago.
Swedish Covenant would really like one of those, but is hamstrung by federal law, under which marijuana is illegal for any purpose, classified as a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance with no medical uses.
"If the hospital were to become a dispensary at this point, we would be violating the federal law and jeopardizing reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, Jimenez said. Hospital administrators are also worried they could be targeted for "criminal activity" and get in tax trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.