By Steve Elliott
If you have a Phillies Blunt, fire that thing up, man. The Philadelphia City Council, with a veto-proof 13-3 majority, on Thursday voted to decriminalize marijuana. The Philadelphia Police Department could stop arresting people for possessing small amounts of cannabis under the bill, with every Democrat on the council voting in favor of it, and every Republican against it.
Democratic Michael Michael Nutter has until September to make a decision, reports WPVI-TV; even if he chose to veto it, there are enough votes to override his veto.
Mayor Nutter doesn't have to take any action at all on the bill, according to Councilman Jim Kenney's director of legislation, Jim Engler, until the Council is back in session in September. The mayor could either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing, which would result in the bill becoming law without the mayor's endorsement, reports Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Magazine.
The mayor's spokesman, Mark McDonald, wouldn't immediately say if Nutter plans to sign the bill.
Under the measure, the police would no longer be required to arrest adults 18 and older for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of such amounts would still be punishable by a $25 fine.
By Steve Elliott
Hillary Clinton supports the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes "under appropriate circumstances" and thinks medical marijuana should be researched, she said in a Tuesday interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Clinton said she's taking a "wait and see" approach to recreational use.
"At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes," Clinton said on CNN. "I don't think we've done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances."
"But I do think we need more research because we don't know how it interacts with our drugs," she said. (Actually, we know quite a bit about how cannabis reacts with other drugs, as it's one of the most studied substances in history.)
"On recreational, states are the laboratories of democracy," Clinton said. "We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is."
Clinton said she'd never personally tried marijuana, nor did she plan to. "Absolutely not," she said. "I didn't do it when I was young; I'm not going to start now."
Hope is On the Way for Thousands of Seriously Ill New Yorkers, Despite Flawed Bill
Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Providers Praise Lawmakers and Vow to Fight for Improvements
By Steve Elliott
The New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly on Friday passed a medical marijuana bill, making New York the 23rd state to create legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. After days of tense negotiations, the bill was passed in the final hours of the legislative session on Friday.
Governor Cuomo has said he will sign the bill into law. The bill will provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions – such as cancer, MS, and epilepsy, by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their physician.
Patients, caregivers and providers watched from the gallery as the Senate debated and then voted 49 to 10 in favor of the bill.
Late last week, Governor Cuomo announced a series of last-minute changes that he wanted to the bill. The bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, worked tirelessly to accommodate the Governor’s concerns so that a deal could move forward.
Conference hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, focused on cannabusiness professionals; more than 800 expected to attend
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will hold its first ever Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, June 24 – 25.
The event is expected to draw more than 800 cannabis industry leaders, entrepreneurs and service providers to discuss best practices, technological advances, evolving regulatory environments, opportunities, and responsibilities surrounding the rapidly growing legal cannabis industry.
“The Cannabis Business Summit will be one of the largest and most professional gatherings of cannabis industry leaders in the country,” said Taylor West, deputy director of NCIA. “It’s a must-attend event for anyone trying to understand the legal cannabis industry and where it’s headed.
“It’s also an incredible opportunity for cannabusiness people, investors, policy reformers, and media to all meet, talk, and learn from each other,” West said.
Those attending are expected to be new and experienced dispensary owners and operators, cultivation professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, regulators, infused product specialists, attorneys, industry consultants and cannabis-related service providers. The summit’s agenda covers:
· Cannabusiness 101
· Advanced Cannabusiness
· Ancillary Services and Products
· Cannabis Policy and Reform
· Emerging Topics and Roundtable Discussions
Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients
Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.
“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."
In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.
Senate, Assembly and Governor Announce Medical Marijuana Deal
Thousands Will Still Benefit, Although Bill Excludes Smoked Marijuana
The New York Assembly, Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a deal to move forward on a limited medical marijuana program, which makes New York the 23rd state to adopt such a program. The new law will provide relief to thousands of New Yorkers suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, as well as children struggling with seizure disorders.
Although the final bill language has not yet been released, advocates were pleased to hear that there had been a breakthrough in Albany. As recently as yesterday, it was unclear that an agreement could be reached between the Governor and legislative leaders on behalf of thousands of patients and their caregivers who have demanded passage of the Compassionate Care Act, which recently passed the Assembly.
Information currently available about the bill suggests that it has some serious limitations and restrictions. For example, the bill would prohibit smoking, restrict any access to the raw plant form of marijuana. The number of producers and dispensaries is also reportedly extremely limited, raising questions about whether the system will be able to meet the needs of patients in New York.
“New York has finally done something significant for thousands of patients who are suffering and need relief now," said gabriel sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. "They will benefit from this compromise.
The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.
The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.
The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.
“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.
By Steve Elliott
Clark County, Nevada commissioners on Tuesday approved 101 applications from medical marijuana developers who want to open cultivation, production (processing), and laboratory facilities from Laughlin to Las Vegas.
Commissioners approved the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of the applications with unanimous votes, reports Ben Botkin at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, rejecting only five applications from a pool of 106. They had started the day with 112 applications, but six applicants withdrew.
In the seven-hour hearing, the commission approved 58 permits for cultivation facilities, 38 permits for production facilities and five permits for laboratory testing. The applicants will still need approval from the state.
The five rejected applications were due to unsuitable facilities or lack of expertise in growing cannabis, reports Conor Shine at the Las Vegas Sun.
Commissioners earlier this month approved applications for 18 dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Clark County.
Among the applicants on Tuesday were Brian Greenspun, editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, and Randy Black, a longtime casino executive and businessman who retired last year from Mesquite Gaming.
Maine: Citizens for a Safer Maine Submit Petition Supporting Marijuana Legalization Ordinance In YorkSubmitted by steveelliott on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 15:24
Group submits more than 200 total signatures; 100 signatures of registered town voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 200 signatures to the York town clerk on Thursday in support of an ordinance making marijuana possession legal for adults. One hundred signatures of registered York voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot.
The York Board of Selectmen can now hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and place it on the ballot. If it does not act on the petition, supporters will have 30 days to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the local votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in order to trigger a general referendum.
“Adults should not be punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and our laws should reflect that,” said Sherry DaBiere, a York resident and realtor who submitted the petition. “Law enforcement has more serious crimes to deal with.”
“Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, and arresting adults for possessing it is a waste of time and resources,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens and saddling them with criminal records that can hurt them for the rest of their lives.”
Last Day of the Legislative Session Arrives as Negotiations Between Governor, Senate and Assembly Continue
Patients & Families to Deliver Thousands of Signatures to Albany Leadership, Demanding Action: “Don’t Make Us Wait Another Year for Relief -- Bring the Bill to the Senate Floor Today!”
On what is scheduled to be the last day of New York’s legislative session, dozens of patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers will gather in Albany on Thursday to deliver thousands of petition signatures urging Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders to pass the Compassionate Care Act.
Although many are sick and disabled, they will travel from all over the state — New York City, Western New York, Long Island, and Central New York — to make final pleas to the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act – A.6357-D (Gottfried) / S.4406-D (Savino) — before it’s too late. The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs and allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
On Monday, more than 100 advocates rallied in Albany chanting “Pass the Compassionate Care Act” in the hopes that state lawmakers would hear their cries for compassion. The Governor, bill sponsors, and leadership in both houses are still negotiating to try and reach agreement on the bill.
Individuals should be cautious when considering investing in medical marijuana stocks, according to the watchdog Canadian Securities Administration, which on Monday issued what is apparently its first-ever warning on the subject.
As a result of the new regulations enacted by the Canadian government in April, "a significant number" of companies have announced their intentions to begin growing and selling medical marijuana, according to the CSA.
There about 13 marijuana-related companies on the junior Canadian Securities Exchange, according to James Black, a Vancouver-based vice president of listing development for the exchange, reports Christopher Donville at Bloomberg.
Some penny stocks have seen their share prices double or even quadruple after announcing their intentions to enter the medical marijuana business, reports Sunny Freeman at The Huffington Post Canada.
Canadian patients had for years been allowed to grow their own medical marijuana until a scare campaign hyped by the conservative Harper government pushed through the new rules. Now patients will be forced to buy their medicinal cannabis through one of the government-licensed companies contracted to do that.
By Steve Elliott
If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about just how ignorant New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is when it comes to medicinal cannabis, the big guy has put those doubts to rest. Following reports that patient enrollment in the state's medical marijuana program is low (due largely to his own foot-dragging and ineffective implementation), Christie called the New Jersey program and others like it across the nation "a front for legalization."
The New Jersey Legislature passed the state's medical marijuana law back in 2009, and former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, signed it just before he left office. The Christie Administration, since then, has been notably slow in implementing the program; the first dispensary didn't open until December 2012, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger.
Only 2,342 patients have signed up for New Jersey's medical marijuana program, after initial predictions had estimated tens of thousands of patients might be helped. Last week, the president and CEO of Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc., in Egg Harbor -- one of only three operational dispensaries in the state -- announced he is quitting because, he said, he couldn't keep working for no pay.
By Steve Elliott
This weekend will mark the first month of medical marijuana dispensary inspections by officials with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program. The Oregon Legislature formally legalized dispensaries last year.
The agency hired three inspectors, according to Karynn Fish, spokeswoman for the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the medical marijuana dispensary program, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Inspectors in the field make unannounced visits to the dispensaries, according to dispensary program director Tom Burns.
Oregon had issued licenses to 90 medical marijuana dispensaries as of last month.
"The regulatory structure is in place," Burns said in an email to The Oregonian. "The applications have been processed. Now enforcement begins.
"Dispensaries should be on notice," Burns said. "We'll be visiting them soon."
"We look forward to working with marijuana dispensary operators in Oregon to help provide them with the products and consultative services they need to stay in compliance with the precise regulations the state has established," said Ben Wu, CEO of Kush Bottles, Inc. "We can help dispensaries satisfy both the state's regulations and their customer's desire for exceptional products."
The shops will be inspected within six months of being licensed, according to officials. Inspectors will visit at least once a year, after that.
Negotiations Between Senate, Assembly and Governor Continue as Deadline for Passage of Compassionate Care Act Approaches
Patients & Families Demand Action: “Don’t Make Us Wait Another Year for Relief!”
With only two days left in the legislative session, more than 100 patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers will gather in Albany for rallies urging Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders to pass the Compassionate Care Act before it's too late. They will travel from all over the state -- New York City, Western New York, Long Island, and Central New York -- to push the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act -- A.6357-D (Gottfried) / S.4406-D (Savino) – before the end of legislative session on Thursday, June 19.
The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs and allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Governor Cuomo on Monday issued a set of last minute demands related to the legislation, and lawmakers amended the bill to account for many of those concerns. But some of Cuomo’s demands were rejected as they would have made the program unworkable and leave thousands of patients to suffer needlessly.
The Governor, bill sponsors, and leadership in both houses are still negotiating to try and reach agreement on the bill. If an agreement is not reached this week, patients and families will be left to suffer another year.
Advocates will urge the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee to support a measure that would replace possible jail time with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket; the hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET in the House Minority Caucus Room
The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession.
The committee will consider an amended version of HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington), which would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and up to six months in jail.
“Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who will be at the hearing to testify in support of the bill. “A marijuana conviction can haunt individuals for the rest of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, employment, and public housing.
"Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession,” Yeung said.