By Steve Elliott
Activists campaigning to allow marijuana to be legally used in adults-only businesses such as bars and nightclubs said on Thursday they are withdrawing a ballot measure that would have put the issue before Denver voters this November.
Sponsors said they were pulling the initiative because they hope to reach a compromise with city officials and business groups that could result in a local ordinance allowing some limited social cannabis use in Denver, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.
Colorado's recreational marijuana legalization law doesn't allow "public use." But activists said restrictions had prohibited cannabis everywhere except in private homes and a few 420-friendly bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the state.
The ballot proposal would have allowed adults to consume cannabis edibles or inhale vaporized marijuana outdoors, if blocked from public view.
Organizers said it's still too early to know what might be included in any compromise ordinance. If that effort stalls, they said, the ballot measure might be reintroduced next year.
Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
By Steve Elliott
Shona Banda, a Kansas mother who faces three felony charges and two misdemeanors for medical marijuana, will face a preliminary hearing on November 16. Banda has not entered a plea, contrary to incorrect press reports; Finney County District Attorney Susan Richmeier incorrectly stated in a Monday email that Banda had done so.
Law enforcement authorities and the Kansas Department of Children and Families started "investigating" Banda after her 11-year-old son said during an anti-drug program at his school that his mom smokes "a lot" of pot, reports Gabriella Dunn of The Wichita Eagle. The 11-year-old could name various strains of cannabis, according to Banda's arrest affidavit.
In an interview last month, Banda told of how cannabis oil has helped her cope with her Crohn's disease, when other medical remedies did not. She wrote a book, Live Free Or Die: Reclaim Your Life ... Reclaim Your Country, about her marijuana use to treat her disease.
"When I'm dying, I'm going to do whatever it takes to save my life," she said during the interview last month. "It's instinct -- it's human instinct at its very core. You should not have to choose your life over a law."
Photo of Shona Banda: SupportShona.com
“We’re taking our legislative strategy to a new level, enlisting a top-quality bipartisan team to further fight for the rights of our responsible small business owners.”
With the legal marijuana business valued at nearly $3 billion nationwide and growing, a national trade group -- the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) -- is expanding its advocacy team on Capitol Hill.
NCIA has partnered with D.C.-based public affairs firms Heather Podesta + Partners and Jochum Shore & Trossevin PC to magnify its efforts to address the industry’s top federal priorities: access to basic banking services and fair federal taxation.
“In the five years since NCIA was formed, we’ve gone from simply seeking to have our industry’s issues taken seriously to bipartisan legislation introduced in both chambers,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “We’ve seen successful appropriations amendment votes on the House floor and in Senate committee, and we’ve helped bring together a coalition of lawmakers that spans the political spectrum.
“Now we’re taking our legislative strategy to a new level, enlisting a top-quality bipartisan team to further fight for the rights of our responsible small business owners to be treated fairly under federal law,” Smith said.
A simple marijuana possession charge in a small Nashville suburb back in 2005 changed the career trajectory of a small business owner and songwriter. When he saw firsthand how the system handles those convicted of what he saw as a victimless crime, Chief Greenbud decided to share his experience.
After writing several songs on the subject and posting them online, he was asked to perform for a local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Ten years later the Chief is releasing his fourth album and has amassed over 1.7 million followers on his social networks.
Chief Greenbud's latest CD, "Chief Greenbud Volume 4" is set for physical and digital release on August 25.
The Chief said he's especially proud of the title, saying “I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. We've had multiple meetings brainstorming ideas to come up with the perfect name to represent what we're putting on the CD. I feel that we captured its essence,” he noted lightheartedly.
“There are several songs that I am excited for people to hear," Chief Greenbud said. "‘Everybody Gets High’ is an upbeat anthem that every stoner will be able to groove to and sing along with.”
Another song on the disc is 'iBake', about a regular guy who likes to smoke a little weed but is fearful of what may happen if he is caught. As the lyrics state, "I can’t wait for the day when my state says okay, and I won’t waste a single minute being afraid I bake."
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News
Earlier this month, AJ+ traveled to Oregon's first legal social cannabis celebration, "Weed the People", to produce a documentary titled "How High Is Too High?". The comedic documentary showcases the emerging cannabis industry and brings awareness to social cannabis in America. At the event, growers distributed free cannabis samples, Obama Kush, Purple Alien Dawg and, the most popular, Girl Scout Cookie. Cannabis industry vendors educated the masses on their methods of cultivation. Most attendees received approximately seven grams of cannabis. The cost of the event was $40 per person.
Using their comedic point of view, AJ+ highlights the common assumptions about people who consume cannabis and then proceeds to discount those assumptions by talking with the event attendees and getting real opinions. One of the attendees, a computer programmer, states, "Sometimes when I'm stuck on a problem I don't understand, I can smoke and see things in a different way."
Since the passage of Oregon Measure 91, individuals over 21 are allowed to possess an ounce of cannabis in public and may possess eight ounces of cannabis in their home. Oregon residents may cultivate four plants for personal use, per household, and individuals are allowed to give away an ounce to friends and family.
Over 10,000 Signatories Tell Feinstein to Stop Opposing Medical Marijuana
Petition Follows Feinstein's Recent Vote Against Protecting Californian Residents from Federal Interference in Medical Marijuana Laws
A group of California-based advocates on Tuesday will hand-deliver a medical marijuana petition to the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Feinstein has been a leading opponent of cannabis reform, and recently spoke out against an amendment that would protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.
The amendment passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 21-9, with Feinstein as the only Democrat to oppose the measure, joining eight Republicans who voted in support.
California locals are fed up with Feinstein's well-documented opposition to medical marijuana, according to Amanda Reiman, manager, Marijuana Law and Policy, with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
"California has allowed access to medical marijuana for 20 years and the vast majority of Californians support this," Reiman said. "It is disappointing that Senator Feinstein continues to be a lone voice of opposition from California when it comes to supporting medical marijuana patients."
Tuesday Marks One-Year Anniversary of Medical Marijuana Bill Signing
New Bill to Provide Faster Relief to Suffering Patients Just Passed NY Legislature with Overwhelming Bipartisan Support – But Needs Cuomo’s Signature to Become Law
On the one-year anniversary of the signing of New York’s medical marijuana law, patients and families will gather in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York City Office to urge him to sign a new bill that would create an emergency access program so that critically ill patients could access medical marijuana as soon as possible.
Since the medical marijuana law passed a year ago, not one patient in New York has been able to access medical marijuana and at least four children, who could have likely benefited from it, have tragically died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.
Compassionate Care NY will hold a press conference urging Governor Cuomo to sign the emergency access bill.
What: Press conference and rally urging Cuomo to create emergency access to medical marijuana
• Representatives of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
• Dr. Richard Carlton, physician and caregiver
• Elaine Smith, mother of a child with severe epilepsy
• Nancy Rivera, four-time cancer survivor
• Wanda Hernandez, person living with HIV/AIDS
When: Tuesday, July 7, 12:30 PM
Where: Outside Governor Cuomo’s NYC Offices; 633 Third Avenue, New York, NY
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.