Michigan: After Local Success, Cannabis Advocates Push For Statewide Decriminalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michigan cannabis advocates hope that their successes at the ballot box this year will help increase pressure on state legislators to legalize or decriminalize marijuana.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing last week all approved ballot measures that removed all city penalties for possession of marijuana by adults on private property, reports Jake Neher at Interlochen Public Radio.

Tim Beck, an activist who helped organize those campaigns, said their success sends a message to the Legislature that marijuana penalties need to be reduced statewide.

"Like 17 other states have done, including Ohio," Beck said. "It's the equivalent of a traffic ticket in Ohio -- a $100 fine. That should be very simple," he said during a guest appearance on "Off the Record," a show on Michigan Public Radio.

"And there's huge public support," Beck said, "as demonstrated in all of these elections that we've had." But it's still too soon for a statewide ballot initiative, he said.

"The funders that funded the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in (2008), they need to see poll numbers, OK?" Beck said. "Michigan, right now, is 'hardcore support' at 52 percent for full legalization of marijuana. That's not good enough to run a ballot initiative. We need to get those numbers up."

Michigan: Families Call For Complete Review and Reform of Child Welfare Laws


Two activist groups of medicinal cannabis advocates are calling on Michigan's Department of Human Services to conduct "a complete review of practices conducted by Child Protective Services, and enact reforms that improve public and family safety."

According to The Human Solution and Michigan Moms United, an ever-growing number and variety of communities and parents have been targeted and victimized by CPS. Parents, grandparents, foster parents and anyone impacted by the overreaching Michigan Child Protective Service agency are invited to attend to speak to media and call for reform.

"The attacks of CPS are far-reaching and affect people from every walk of life," said Maria Green of the Free Bree Foundation. "CPS has a pattern of moralizing their own beliefs to families across the nation by removing children from parents with alternative lifestyles, such as homeschooling, homosexuality and transgenderism, vaccination-free medical choices, and all-natural living, among others."

The recent Bree Green medical marijuana custody case in Ingham County generated a great deal of interest regarding actions committed by Child Protective Services, but for years advocates and victims have been calling on a national level for a complete reform of family court laws.

Netherlands: Miley Cyrus Fires Up Joint Onstage At MTV Music Awards In Amsterdam


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pop sensation Miley Cyrus fired up a joint onstage Sunday at the MTV European Music Awards in Amsterdam immediately after accepting the Best Music Video award for "Wrecking Ball," according to multiple press reports.

Cyrus pulled out a cannabis joint and had a quick smoke onstage, reports Nadeska Alexis at MTV News.

"I couldn't fit this award in my bag but I did find this, so thank you guys very much," she said as she pulled a joint out of her purse and lit it up, with fans cheering wildly, reports Randee Dawn at NBC News.

MTV censored the footage of Cyrus smoking weed when airing the EMAs in the United States, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.

"We applaud MTV for taking responsible actions to eliminate the drug use from its U.S. broadcast, and we urge them to make that a uniform policy for all of its programming, said Parents Television Council President Tim Winter. Winter had slammed MTV for Cyrus's twerking at the Video Music Awards back in August.

D.C.: Tour Comes To Nation's Capitol To Speak Out Against Failed Drug War


At Briefings with OAS and Congress, Victims to Join Latino and Human Rights Leaders in Calling for Alternatives to Drug Prohibition and Militarization

Coalition of NGOs to Present Comprehensive New Report to Congress on “Rethinking the Drug War” in Mexico and Central America

Mexican poet and peace leader Javier Sicilia on Tuesday will arrive in Washington, DC, to speak firsthand about the pain and devastation caused by the failed War On Drugs. Sicilia’s two-day visit is part of the bi-national “Voices of the Victims” Tour, traveling to a dozen cities in the U.S. and Canada to call for an end to the Drug War that has left more than 80,000 people murdered, 25,000 disappeared and 250,000 displaced in Mexico in just seven years.

Sicilia on Tuesday morning will participate in a discussion at the Organization of American States (OAS) of its groundbreaking report, “Scenarios for the Drug Problem in the Americas 2013-2025,” released in May, which lays out different options for the future of drug policy in the hemisphere -– scenarios that break sharply from the U.S.-led Drug War and include various forms of decriminalization and regulation.

The OAS is the most prominent multilateral institution to endorse an open discussion of alternatives to drug prohibition, which has caused or contributed to widespread violence, corruption and human rights abuses in Mexico and Central America.

U.S.: Been Convicted For Marijuana? Criminals Wanted For Scholarship


By Steve Elliott

A criminal record usually limits 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.

Missouri: Drug Cop Says Marijuana Legalization Advocates Are Stupid


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Missouri Drug Task Force cop who debated marijuana legalization advocates from the group Show-Me Cannabis at a town hall meeting apparently got butt-hurt during the debate because some people disagreed with his point of view.

When he got safely home at his computer and away from "those people," he posted a rant on Facebook in which he "basically call[ed] the legalization advocates a bunch of stupid potheads," reports Ray Downs at the St. Louis Riverfront Times.

Seemingly upset that these folks dared to hold an opinion different than his when it comes to cannabis, the petulant policeman, Sgt. Kevin Glaser of the SEMO Drug Task Force -- who evidently is having some real difficulty adjusting to the realities of modern America -- got home and really gave those weed-suckers a piece of his mind.

"It was held at the Cape Girardeau Library," Sgt. Glaser posted. "This was a good location because it afforded many in the group an opportunity to actually visit a library, probably for the first time in their life." But wait, he really got going, after that.

"My views and opinions were not well received and they appeared to have very closed minds towards what i had to say," Sgt. Glaser posted (you'll have to imagine him sniffling to himself indignantly as he furiously typed). "Many impressed me as having no minds at all. Or at least very slow functioning minds."

California: Voices of the Victims Tour Comes to Bay Area to Call for an End to War on Drugs


Javier Sicilia to Speak at Stanford University of Pain Caused by Failed Drug War – and Need for Alternative Drug Policies to Prevent Future Victims

Mexican poet and peace leader Javier Sicilia on Wednesday will visit the Bay Area to speak firsthand about the devastation and pain caused by the Drug War in Mexico.

Sicilia’s visit –- to Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies on Wednesday, October 30, at 4:30 pm -– is part of the bi-national, 11-city “Voices of the Victims” Tour calling for an end to the Drug War that has left more than 80,000 people murdered, 25,000 disappeared, and 250,000 displaced from their homes in Mexico.

The Voices of the Victims Tour began on October 23-26 in Denver, Colorado, at the 2013 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), during which 24 representatives from the Mexican victims’ organization, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, participated in panels and roundtable discussions to strategize with activists from around the world about how to bring the war on drugs to an end.

Missouri: After 20 Years In Prison, Man Serving Life For Marijuana Asks For Clemency


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A prisoner in Missouri who is serving a prison term of life without parole for marijuana has asked the governor for clemency after serving 20 years.

Jeff Mizanskey was arrested on December 18, 1993, when he drove a friend to a motel in Sedalia, Missouri, to meet two men, reports Ray downs at Riverfront Times. To this day, Mizanskey says he had no clue his friend, Atilano Quintana, was going there to buy a few pounds of marijuana.

What Quintana didn't know was that his two friends who were in the motel with a brick of cannabis had been busted the day before, with 13 bricks, and they had agreed to roll over and ensnare more buyers. There were cops and surveillance equipment in the adjoining room; Quintana and Mizanskey were busted.

The surveillance video shows Quintana was the one who made the purchase, and the was the one in possession of the package when he and Mizanskey were arrested. Quintana got a 10-year sentence for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a Class B felony.

But this was Mizanskey's third pot charge. He'd been busted in 1984 for selling an ounce of pot to a narc, and in 1991 for possession of more than 35 grams.

Jeff, who had never done prison time and never had a violent offense, was given life without parole under Missouri's "prior and persistent drug offender" law.

U.S.: 'Weed Not Greed' National Cannabis Education Tour Plans Kickoff For 2014


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A national cannabis education tour called "Weed Not Greed" is planning to launch next year, according to a press release from a group behind the plans.

"Weed Not Greed is on a mission to organize a national tour for cannabis visibility and education to re-legalize this long-cultivated plant of medicine, fiber, and consciousness," reads a Monday press release from the group. "To free innocent individuals incarcerated due to unconstitutional cannabis prohibitions, our group of passionate progressives will span the country visiting major metropolises.

" We are insisting on the right for anyone to grow, possess, consume, or distribute cannabis for all the gifts it has provided humanity over our thousands-year history together," the statement reads.

“We are making clear that cannabis use is a civil right, and the freedom to choose its use is as constitutional a right as freedom of religion and the pursuit of happiness,” said Weed Not Greed founder David Kowalsky.

"The mission," according to Kowalsky, "is to educate the unknowing and to raise the issue above the level of a key election topic (of which numerous polls now show a majority of Americans favoring legalization) to immediate health and economic concern. The number of neurological and muscular diseases that cannabis can treat is shown in the dozens, including many types of cancer."

Florida: Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court To Throw Out Medical Marijuana Initiative


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposal to put a ballot measure which would legalize medical marijuana before state voters in the November 2014 general election. Bondi on Thursday sent a petition to the Florida Supreme Court, along with the campaign's ballot language and petitions.

Atty. Gen. Bondi claims that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), led by Orlando attorney John Morgan, filed misleading ballot language in describing how widely medical marijuana would be allowed under the measure, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel.

Bondi also complained that the ballot language failed to note that even if Florida voters approve the measure, marijuana will still be illegal under federal law.

"Its true scope and effect remain hidden," Bondi claimed in her petition to the Supreme Court.

She charged the wording was too broad and would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for almost any condition, and additionally argued that medical marijuana could not be called "legal" as long as it's illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in federal law.

Bondi's arguments would come as quite a surprise to the patients of California, who have had safe access to medical marijuana for 17 years under state law, and to patients in 19 other states which also passed medical marijuana laws without asking for federal permission.

Uruguay: Aerosmith Praises President's Marijuana Legalization Efforts


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hard-rock legends Aerosmith, in Uruguay for a concert Wednesday night, praised President José Mujica during an official visit Tuesday afternoon. Singer Steven Tyler called Mujica "one of the best presidents in the Americas," adding that more presidents should be like him. Tyler expressed admiration for Mujica's work on marijuana legalization and helping the poor.

Uruguay is on track to become the first nation in the world to fully legalize cannabis since the Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics established worldwide marijuana prohibition in 1961.

"Your president is a freedom fighter and in many ways we fight for freedom ourselves with music," Tyler said, reports Edgar Zúñiga of NBC Latino.

"He gives 70 percent of his salary for people's homes," Tyler said. "Here in this small country, Uruguay, I think he's doing it the right way, grass roots and we believe in that."

A former leftist guerrilla, President Mujica is widely considered "the world's poorest president," and donates most of his pay to a program which provides free homes to the country's poor, mostly households headed by single mothers. The program also provides medical care. Mujica has already given more than $300,000 to the program, according to Joaquín Constanzo with Uruguay's presidential press office.

Michigan: Supreme Court To Eye Local Bans On Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at a historic case that will determine whether Michigan communities can ban medical marijuana and possibly whether state residents can keep using cannabis at all for medicinal reasons.

Those united against medical marijuana patients include the State Bar of Michigan and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, both of which are trying to get the entire medical marijuana law thrown out, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.

That would cancel the wishes of the 63 percent of Michigan voters who approved the medical marijuana law in 2008, according to groups opposing the medical marijuana ban, which include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the libertarian Cato Institute, based in Washington, D.C.

A few Michigan communities have passed bans on medical marijuana "that carry serious penalties, and that includes jail time," according to activist Tim Beck, 61, of Detroit. The ordinances "didn't even mention medical marijuana -- they just said that any activity that was illegal under federal law was also illegal in their community," Beck said.

The case stems from retired attorney John Ter Beek's 2010 lawsuit to overturn a medical marijuana ban in Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids. Ter Beek is a state-registered medical marijuana patient with a paintful neurological disorder and diabetes, according to the lawsuit.

Colorado: International Drug Policy Reform Conference Coming To Denver, Oct. 23-26


More Than 1,000 Experts and Advocates to Strategize About Marijuana Legalization, Criminal Justice Reform, Public Health, and Post-Prohibition Models for Drug Control

New Era: Colorado Embarks on Implementation of Historic Marijuana Legalization Law

Which state will be next to legalize marijuana? What do the Obama Administration’s recent announcements about marijuana legalization and mandatory minimums really mean? What are some solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence?

Why do blacks go to jail for drugs at 13 times the rate of whites even though they use and sell drugs at similar rates? What role can faith leaders play in organizing and mobilizing their congregations to end the drug war?

More than 1,000 people will gather to ponder these questions and many more at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, October 23-26 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

Washington: Mom of Man Who Died In Jail On Pot Charge Sues, Seeks $10 Million


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The mother of a Washington state man who died in jail after turning himself in on a minor marijuana charge has filed a notice of claim against Snohomish County, indicating she will seek $10 million in a lawsuit.

Just months after the death of Michael Saffioti, 22, Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana. It took only one day in jail for Saffioti, who suffered from severe allergies, to die once he was jailed, reports Nina Shapiro at the Seattle Weekly.

Saffioti had an extreme allergy to dairy products, as well as asthma; according to his mother, Rose, Michael felt better when he used marijuana.

He didn't have his medical marijuana authorization, though, which led to a pot possession charge for which he turned himself in.

Michael had already spent time in jail for marijuana. During a previous stay, other inmates called him "Bubble Boy" because his food was wrapped in plastic because of his allergies, reported The Everett Herald last year.

But something went wrong after Saffioti turned himself in to the Lynwood Police Department. An officer at Lynwood noted his health conditions, including the severe dairy allergy, and "determined that he could not be properly supervised at the city jail due to his medical issus." He was transferred to Snohomish County Jail.

Wyoming: Group Ready To File Initiative For Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The group "Weed Wyoming" plans to file a state ballot initiative for 2016 to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

The nonprofit group has drafted the Weed Wyoming Compassionate Use Act, a measure that focuses on medical rather than recreational uses of cannabis, reports Kelly Byer at the Casper Star-Tribune.

Members believe the medical marijuana initiative has a better chance than an all-or-nothing attempt for outright legalization, according to a Weed Wyoming press release.

The initiative would allow qualified patients to grow up to 10 marijuana plants, and possess up to 10 ounces. Marijuana could be smoked anywhere where tobacco smoking is allowed. If the cannabis is being vaporized rather than smoked, "it may be used anywhere within the State," according to the measure's language.

The Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is also trying to put an initiative on the 2016 statewide ballot to legalize hemp and cannabis.

Weed Wyoming Facebook page

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