Activists in 150 Cities Call for End to Drug War, Including D.C. March from State Department to White House
UN Will Review International Drug Control Policies in 2016
The United Nations 2015 World Drug Report, released Friday, details the failure of and harms caused by the war on drugs, but doesn't grapple with the fact that problems such as alarmingly high overdose rates, control of the trade by organized crime networks and illegal sales funding terrorism are caused by the very prohibition policies the international body still supports.
Also on Friday, activists in more than 150 cities around the world called attention to the failure of the war on drugs, including with a march from the U.S. State Department to the White House to demand that the Obama Administration do more to bring about an end to international prohibition policies and the human rights violations they cause.
The day of action, called "Support, Don't Punish," coincides with the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking -- which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions. U.S.-based activists are particularly concerned that the Obama administration isn't doing enough to ensure that international aid isn't used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.
U.N. Preparing to Reconsider International Drug Control Policies
Activists will march from the U.S. State Department to the White House on Friday morning, demanding that the Obama Administration do more to end the failed War On Drugs and the human rights violations it causes. The advocates especially want the U.S. to ensure that international aid it provides is not used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.
The march is part of a global day of action called "Support, Don't Punish," with events taking place in 150 cities around the world, including New York. It coincides with the annual United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions.
WHO: Organizations that oppose the War On Drugs and support human rights
WHAT: March -- part of an international day of action in 150 cities -- featuring signs with slogans like "Prohibition => Crime + Violence," "No Drug Executions With Our Dollars" and “Drug Execution Agency"
WHEN: Friday, June 26 at 9:30 AM ET
WHERE: From the State Department (2201 C St NW) to the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News
Last Thursday, June 18, the cannabis community lost a colorful and dedicated freedom fighter, photographer and Army veteran, Larry LK Kirk. Known globally simply as "LK", Larry traveled the country to bring awareness to the injustice, which is the drug war. He believed no one should go to jail for a plant.
A long-time Hemp News and High Times photojournalist, LK captured thousands of historic photos in his effort to document the path to legalization. There was no distance too far in his effort to, as he stated, "document freedom as it happened.” LK had the ability and access to get the camera angles and photographic perspective that most could only imagine.
As an avid supporter of NORML, he had many friends in the organization from founder Keith Stroup to board member Rick Steves. LK was an Oregon NORML board member for several years and through his tireless efforts helped to persuade Oregonians to regulate cannabis in 2014.
LK was a regular attendee and judge at the High Times Cannabis Cups across the United States and in the Netherlands. Over the years, due to his dedication and charm, he became close family with the entire High Times crew.
The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to humanize and change medical marijuana laws founded in 2014 in Tennessee, now reaches 40 countries around the world and has more than 17,000 members, organizers announced on Tuesday.
"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages, and raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," explained NCPW founder Dana Arvidson of Nashville, Tennesseee.
“The National Cannabis Patient's Wall not only signifies our solidarity as patients in need of a safer and effective alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals, but also the barriers we must overcome, our current State and Federal laws, which keep us from the medicine we desire and need," Arvidson said.
Arvidson said the group, which maintains a prominent social media presence including on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+, aims to help patients in every state and country reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, "and to end the needless suffering, before more people die."
"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.
According to Arvidson, one of the best parts of NCPW is letting patients know they aren't facing illness and often legal persecution all alone.
"We provide patients with a place to gather with others who feel the same way," she said. "It truly helps when a patient knows they are not along in their struggle.
The representative of FEDCAC, Gemma Lago says that wants "a public health policy, recognizing the reality and not hiding it under a rug"
By Mike Bifari
Hemp News Correspondent
Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) Green Rosa started Tuesday 120 days at its disposal to gather the 50,000 signatures needed to process in the Parliament a new law regulating associations of people who consume cannabis.
According to the representative of the two federations, the Federation of Cannabis de Catalunya (CatFAC) and the Federation of cannabis Self-Regulatory de Catalunya (FEDCAC), Gemma Lake, "many years known to prohibitionist policies do not work." "We want a public health policy, recognizing the reality and not hiding it under a rug, we do not want hypocrisy", said Lake.
Among the objectives of the ILP figure "that minors do not have access to cannabis" because they want to "say no to the black market and in retail parks", he explained Lake. The ILP "seeks to reach all people," plus the "300,000" registered partnerships in Catalonia. "In Catalonia has created a social model from civil society and the laws when they leave the civil society have much more value", said Lake.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Sunday night continued his groundbreaking reporting on medical marijuana with "Weed 3," which continued to introduce Americans to new stories of patients benefiting from medical marijuana and document the challenges that continue to slow down progress in this critical area.
"Weed 3" included important moments like President Obama signaling his support for medical marijuana and documenting the political commitment of Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to reform federal policy on medical marijuana with the CARERS Act. Patient profiles like that of U.S. veteran Sean Kiernan, who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms again showed Americans that medical marijuana can have tremendous benefits in the lives of suffering patients.
“CNN’s 'Weed 3' showed how patient advocates are fighting for and winning the right to safe access to medical marijuana for themselves as well as researchers,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. “Political leaders like President Obama, Senators Booker, Gillibrand and Paul are supporting medical marijuana reform because they understand the huge difference it can make in patient’s lives.”
"Weed 3" also highlighted the important veterans PTSD study that researchers Rick Doblin and Dr. Sue Sisley are moving forward with despite significant political obstacles that have delayed and threatened to prevent the study from being conducted.
What’s Next for the Medical Marijuana Revolution?
Over the last two years Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s reporting has been truly groundbreaking in mainstreaming the benefits of medical marijuana. Dr. Gupta has brought stories of everyday Americans that obtain essential benefits from medical marijuana products into the living rooms of millions of Americans.
“Watching CNN’s 'Weed' was the first time many Americans saw everyday people benefiting from medical marijuana,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “Seeing how much good medical marijuana can do has lead to an outgrowth in activism that has helped create new laws at the state level and is laying the foundation for important federal legislation.”
On April 19, CNN will premiere the third installment of their documentary series on medical marijuana Weed 3, documenting the ongoing developments in what Dr. Gupta has declared a “medical marijuana revolution.” The following day -- on April 20, at 7 pm EST-- ASA will host a Google Hangout to discuss the documentary and the issues it examines.
What: Google Hangout on the medical marijuana revolution and issues raised in Sanjay Gupta's Weed 3.
Featuring: ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, PA State Senator Mike Folmer (invited), Jahan Marcu Ph.D, Matt Kahl, U.S. combat veteran and activist with Grow for Vets and Weed 3 participant Dr. Sue Sisley.
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.
Petition with more than 2,400 signatures demanding veto to be delivered to Gov. Ducey
Community groups will be rallying outside Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office Tuesday afternoon to speak out against SB 1445, a proposal that would require law enforcement agencies to conceal police officers’ identities for months following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.
During the rally, a petition with more than 2,400 signatures will be delivered to Gov. Ducey’s office demanding he veto this legislation if it reaches his desk.
This bill is unnecessary, takes discretion away from local officials, promotes mistrust of the police and threatens Arizona’s proud tradition of open government, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. Furthermore, police officers’ extraordinary powers are much more likely to be abused when their use is concealed from the public.
WHAT: Speakers will encourage Gov. Ducey to veto this dangerous legislation if it reaches his desk and address the harm this law would inflict on communities of color, people with mental illness and their families, immigrants, and LGBT people, among others. A representative of the family of Michelle Cusseaux, who was killed by a Phoenix Police officer last summer, and representatives of the community group Justice for Rumain Brisbon, who was fatally shot by a Phoenix Police officer in December, are scheduled to speak.
Community leaders in Arizona on Wednesday morning will speak out against Senate Bill 1445, a proposal being considered by the Arizona Legislature that would conceal police officers’ identities following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.
SB 1445 threatens to further erode trust between law enforcement and communities by undermining the public's ability to hold officers and agencies accountable for abusive behavior. Current law properly balances the public’s right to know with officer privacy.
The stakes are high. If this bill becomes law in Arizona, it will send a harmful message to cities and states across the country that it's appropriate to keep officers' identities secret.
That’s why community leaders are banding together to stop this bill from becoming law.
WHO: Community leaders, including Pastor Warren Stewart, Jr., Rev. Reginald Walton and Phoenix Human Relations Commission Chair Brendan Mahoney
WHAT: Speakers will address the harms of SB 1445 and announce a campaign to encourage Gov. Doug Ducey to veto this dangerous legislation if it reaches his desk.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Bolin Memorial Park, just east of the Arizona Capitol Complex (1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007).
Graphic: Albany NY a.k.a. Smalbany
Oregon: Department of Agriculture Gives Farmers the Green Light to Grow Industrial Hemp – Seeds to be Sown in Spring 2015Submitted by restore on Sat, 01/31/2015 - 04:19
By Amy Peradotta, M.P.A. (Special to Hemp News)
In a phone interview on January 29th, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) Operations Manager, Ron Pence confirmed, "the rules were filed by the ODA with the Secretary of States Office and were requested to become effective upon filing.” This is great news for anyone interested in growing industrial hemp in Oregon this year. Although a few details still need to be worked out, if all goes as planned, this spring Oregonians will be planting the first legal hemp crop in the state since 1957.
As early as next Monday, February 2, 2015, licenses will be available for anyone who wants to grow hemp in Oregon. Licenses are valid for three years and cost $1,500. While proponents have not been happy about the prohibitive cost of the licensing fee, many are still planning to move forward. The license application form will be available online the week of Feb. 2-6, 2015 on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s website. Interested growers can download the application, complete the form, and mail it in to the Oregon Department of Agriculture along with the licensing fee of $1,500.
By Steve Elliott
You might think that criminal record of yours limits your opportunities. But now there's a $1,000 law school scholarship available where applicants must prove they've already been in trouble with the law.
The Appelman Law Firm, LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says the idea is designed to reward those who've made better choices after a conviction -- "those who have managed to turn their lives around and intend to pursue a career in criminal defense."
"There's a real need for passionate attorneys in criminal defense," said Avery Appelman, the firm's founder. "Nothing instills a great passion for justice quite like having suffered through the process yourself."
That's where the Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship comes in, and Appelman isn't alone in thinking a criminal record shouldn't be a barrier to making a better life.
"There are just too many ways to run afoul of the law for anyoen to think they are immune," Appelman said. "A mistake can easily lead to an arrest or jail."
Attempts to determine just how many criminal statutes exist have failed, because there are so many. An estimate from the government in the 1980s put it at about 3,000 in the federal system alone. Shortly afterward, another study from the American Bar Association said that was too low a figure, but couldn't come up with a better number.
Adding in state crimes only makes the situation worse. For many, avoiding a criminal record has become more a matter of luck than of being a good citizen.
U.S.: Historic Bipartisan Support to Remove Industrial Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act in both the House and SenateSubmitted by restore on Sat, 01/24/2015 - 09:14
By Amy Peradotta, Special to Hemp News
Hopefully you have heard a thing or two in the news lately about industrial hemp. If so, it is because it is finally gaining political traction again after a very insidious yet successful smear campaign lasting nearly 80 years, equating it to marijuana. If you haven’t heard about hemp in the news lately, keep your eyes and ears peeled because big changes are on the way!
As of 2015, twenty-one states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to its production (CA, CO, DE, HI, IL, IN, KY, ME, MI, MO, MT, NE, NY, ND, OR, SC, TN, UT, VT, WA, WV). These are highly regulated pilot projects that must be administered in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and an institution of higher education. Despite the legality of hemp in these states, only two states (CO and KY) successfully planted and harvested a crop in 2014. This was the first legal crop grown and harvested on American soil since WWII. If you are wondering why that might be, it has to do with our good friends at the DEA.
By Steve Elliott
A group which is gathering signatures to legalize marijuana in Mississippi has scheduled a town hall meeting for 2-3 p.m. on Friday, January 9, at the Eudora Welty Library in Jackson. At the meeting, representatives of Mississippi For Cannabis will answer questions about the group's ballot initiative, and the petition will be available for signatures.
The ballot initiative would allow the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and industrial hemp for adults 21 years or older, reports Jimmie E. Gates at The Clarion-Ledger.
The group needs more than 107,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot. The deadline for the 2016 ballot is October 2, 2015, according to sponsor Kelly Jacobs. If they miss that deadline the group plans to shoot for the November 2017 ballot, for which the deadline is December 29, 2015.
"If the ballot initiative gets the necessary signatures and is approved by voters in a referendum, it would make it legal for adults to possess cannabis in unlimited quantities, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes," Jacobs said. "However, it would have to be kept from minors.
"We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it," she said. "It's an adult discussion we should be having."
The National Marijuana News Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of DigiPath, Inc., has just released its sixth cannabis news show. Hosted by Todd Denkin and Jen Gentile, the program explores the ways filmmakers, activists, and entrepreneurs shape marijuana public opinion and policy.
Guests include Israeli film producer Lati Grobman, Marijuana Policy Project co-founder Rob Kampia; Seattle Hempfest founder Vivian McPeak; and "pot-trepreneur" Guy Marsala, chairman, CEO, and president of Medbox, Inc.
Russian-born film producer Lati Grobman kicks off the lineup. She describes her transformation from being an opponent of cannabis legalization to becoming an advocate while producing her documentary Legalize It, which chronicles Proposition 19 and the 2010 campaign to legalize marijuana in California.
"It's a social problem," says Grobman, a mother of five children whose film producer credits include The Iceman and Righteous Kill. "I saw the injustice that is happening. There are people in jail for smoking pot who should not be in jail."
Grobman suggests that resistance to legalizing marijuana partly stems from economic benefits that come with a high rate of incarceration.