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U.S.: Medbox Founder Partners With ASA On 'Consume Responsibly' Campaigns For Marijuana States

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Vincent Mehdizadeh, the founder and chief operations officer of Medbox, Inc., which provides consulting services and medicine storage and dispensing systems to the medical and retail cannabis industries, on Monday announced that he has personally funded campaigns "aimed at educating the general public as to all aspects of cannabis" in medical and recreational states.

A public awareness campaign led by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research, is designed to better inform the national dialogue on medical cannabis by first letting the public know that cannabis medicines can be regulated and secondly that the therapeutic experience of the over one million legal medical cannabis patients goes beyond "feeling better."

The campaign will include production of new materials and ads, new communication outreach, and grassroots education campaigns to empower citizen-advocates to participate in the effort nationwide.

ASA has created a groundbreaking third-party industry certification program to help promote and publicize best practices in medical cannabis that will serve as the platform for this education campaign.

Florida: First Cannabis College Opens In The Sunshine State

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first cannabis college in Florida opened on Tuesday, starting classes in an old cigar factory in Tampa.

The school, named Medical Marijuana Tampa, offers a four-week course for $499 including the e-textbook, videos and articles, according to the college's website, reports Adrienne Cutway at the Orlando Sentinel.

Included on the syllabus are classes on the history of cannabis, types of marijuana, cultivation, making bubble hash and edibles, and building the grower network.

"It will cover the historical, legal, botanical aspects of medicinal marijuana, plus what's going to happen in the marketplace in Florida in 2015 based on our analysis of the ballot language," Jeremy Bufford, the proprietor, told Deirdra Funcheon at Broward Palm Beach New Times.

"We can make educated guesses and prepare our students for careers or opportunity that's going to develop in that space," Bufford said.

"We do know according to the language that we'll be able to cultivate and w'ell be able to procure that medicine on behalf of our patients," he said, reports Jason Beisel at ABC Action News. "

U.S.: Senator Ted Cruz Attacks Obama For Not Arresting Marijuana Users In Colorado

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday said he wants President Barack Obama to lock up people in Colorado who are violating federal law by smoking marijuana.

"A whole lot of folks now are talking about legalizing pot," Senator Cruz said during his keynote speech at the policy orientation session of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. "And you can make arguments on that issue. You can make reasonable arguments on that issue.

"The President earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes," Cruz said. "Didn't change the law."

Obama's Justice Department in August announced that it would not target adults for arrest when they use marijuana in compliance with state laws.

Cruz said the Obama Administration should continue arresting people for cannabis until federal law is changed.

"You can go to Congress, you can get a conversation, you could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, 'We ought to change our drug policy in some way,' and you could have a real conversation, and you could have hearings, you could look at the problem, you could discuss common sense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn't happen," Cruz said.

Oregon: Portland Mayor Wants Hempstalk Festival at Waterfront Park

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Portland City Council on Thursday told the city's Parks & Recreation Bureau, which denied Hempstalk Festival a permit for Tom McCall Waterfront Park, to negotiate with the festival's organizers in order to find a place and time for the event in the park. After more than two hours of testimony, during which the Mayor went to bat for the event, they left the door open for the pro-cannabis group to hold its 2014 gathering on the waterfront.

"It seems to me that the place it ought to take place is Waterfront Park -- if the event is manageable," said Mayor Charlie Hales, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian.

Thursday's hearing was the first time city parks officials could remember an appeal of a permit ruling going before the City Council. The Parks Bureau usually doesn't deny permits for events it has approved in previous years.

Hempstalk 2014 would be the 10th annual event, which has been held at several locations in the Portland area over the years, including at Waterfront Park in 2005 and 2006.

U.S.: Majority of Americans Want Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, according to a new poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 55 percent support the legalization of cannabis, while 44 percent are opposed, reports Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. The 55 percent support for legalization represents a rise of 12 points from just more than a year ago.

Polls from both Pew and Gallup have recently shown similar numbers, with majorities supporting cannabis legalization for the first time in American history. Gallup's poll showed support for legalization at 58 percent in October.

Most Americans don't view marijuana as being physically or mentally harmful, according to the new CNN poll. They are evenly split on whether pot is addictive, and whether it leads to other drugs. Only 19 percent describe marijuana use as a "major problem" in society today.

The rise in support for legalization comes as voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, have approved legalization measures. Colorado pot shops began selling weed last week, and Washington's are expected to join them sometime around mid-year.

Colorado: Long Lines For Smooth Rollout of Legal Marijuana Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At 8 a.m. on January 1, an ex-Marine named Sean Azzariti became the first person in Colorado to legally buy a bag of recreational marijuana under legalization measure Amendment 64, approved by state voters last year.

Azzariti, an Iraq veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had been unable to buy marijuana under Colorado's medicinal cannabis program, because PTSD isn't an authorized condition under the state's MMJ law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. He bought an eighth ounce (3.5 grams) of Bubba Kush for $40 and some cannabis-infused truffles for $9.287, comprising the very first legal sale under Amendment 64.

"It hasn't even really sunk in fully, but it's a huge honor to say the least," Azzariti said, reports CBS News.

The implementation of Colorado's marijuana legalization law makes it the first U.S. state -- and the first political jurisdiction anywhere on Earth -- to permit recreational marijuana since the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was adopted through the United Nations back in 1961.

Colorado: 'Wake & Bake' Author Says It Is State's First Legal Cannabis Cookbook

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Corinne Tobias, an author, cook and farmer living in Durango, Colorado wants to teach cannabis users how to create simple and organic edibles from the legal marijuana that will be available starting on January 1. She says Wake & Bake: a Cookbook will be the first legal cannabis cookbook released in the state and will be available online, in dispensaries, and at independent bookstores in early 2014.

The project began in September when Tobias became surrounded by fresh marijuana prunings and an abundance of produce. She began infusing organic Coconut Oil with the trim and started incorporating the healthy and potent alternative to butter in breakfast, brunch and baking recipes. The coconut oil was dubbed the “Green Monsta Oil” for its electric green color and its strength.

The book features organic, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes, and includes an ingredient conversion chart so everyone can use the book regardless of dietary restrictions or habits.

Tobias’ childhood friend Aja Kolinski signed on as the book’s designer and in November, they launched a small Kickstarter campaign to fund the book’s first printing. In less than 8 days, the project was fully funded.

“After living in the North, the South, and the Midwest, I never thought I’d live in a state where marijuana would be legal," said Tobias. "It feels so free. Like anything is possible.

Global: Marijuana Activist/Writer Peter McWilliams' Last, Unfinished Book Released In Video Form

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Self-help author and poet Peter McWilliams never got the chance to finish his last book, A Question of Compassion, because he died after the government arrested him and took away his medical marijuana, which the author used to control the nausea associated with AIDS and cancer. But now a special reading of the unfinished book is available on YouTube, thanks to Julia (she prefers to go by her first name only), the young lady behind the website PeterMcWilliams.org and the Facebook page Peter McWilliams Remembrance.

McWilliams, a New York Times best-selling author of books including How To Survive The Loss of a Love, How To Heal Depression and the Libertarian manifesto Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, inspired millions worldwide. After he started experiencing health problems in the mid 1990s, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1996.

In 1997, the author was arrested for possession and cultivation of marijuana and was released on $250,000 bail with the condition that he not use marijuana. He died on June 14, 2000, before he was able to go to trial or complete A Question of Compassion. Some say he choked to death on his own vomit, unable to control his nausea once the medicinal cannabis was taken away.

Missouri: More Than 200 Attend Marijuana Legalization Debate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 200 people attended a debate on marijuana legalization in St. Louis suburb Richmond Heights Wednesday night.

The National Narcotics Officers Coalition's vice president, Sgt. Jason Grellner, squared off with Executive Director John Payne of pro-legalization group Show Me Cannabis at the St. Louis Ethical Society. Show Me Cannabis plans to poll voters to see if there's enough support to put marijuana legalization on the ballot next year.

Payne argued that treating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy. "Cannabis prohibition does not actually achieve goals that it has set out to achieve," he said, reports KMOX.

But Grellner claimed today's marijuana is different. "The THC levels back in the 1960s and 1970s were around 1-2 percent; now we're seeing the regular street kids with 11 percent spiking at 20 percent." The narcotics associated vice president claimed that legalization would lead to more people smoking pot.

KSDK reporter Anne Allred described the 90-minute debate as "respectful" and "professional." It included written questions from the audience.

"It's probably about half and half, both arguments on both sides, very good," said Cecil King of St. Louis City, when asked who won. "It's something both sides should get involved in and take a look at."

Colorado: State Faces Backlog In Marijuana Employee Licensing

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's legal marijuana stores are supposed to open on January 1, but there's a backlog in licensing the employees who will staff the shops, with dozens or hundreds of people showing up each morning at a small state office hoping for an appointment.

State officials said they are taking steps to speed up the licensing process, reports Eric Gorski at The Denver Post, but business owners want to know why Colorado wasn't ready for the crush. They are worried about having adequate staffing when the new shops open at the beginning of the year.

Employees are required to be fingerprinted before getting a state badge to work in the marijuana industry; they must clear criminal and financial background checks to qualify.

The state has been snowed under with applications in the past month as businesses preparing for recreational cannabis sales hire their staffs.

On a recent weekday morning at the Marijuana Enforcement Division office in Denver, the only would-be marijuana store employees guaranteed to have their license applications processed were the ones who had already come back 11 times. Those who hadn't yet made 11 visits to the office had to enter a lottery, drawing poker chips out of a Folger's coffee jar.

U.S.: Parents 4 Pot Fights The Stigma Against Marijuana Users With Families

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parents who use marijuana -- even those who use it medicinally -- face a lot of judgments, and can sometimes even lose custody of their children. Parents 4 Pot, a new group based in Northern California is fighting the stigma surrounding the subject.

The new group has a Facebook page and plans to launch a website, reports Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post. Next on the agenda is forming a board of directors and then advocating specific legislation.

"What we aspire to do is change the way people understand and talk about cannabis in our community," said organizer Mickey Martin, the author of Medical Marijuana 101 and founder of a company which produces cannabis-infused medibles. Martin is the father of two boys.

Martin in 2007 faced federal charges related to his medibles company, Tainted Inc., eventually being sentenced to probation for "marijuana manufacturing" and distribution charges that could have gotten him a decade in prison.

"There are many parents who lose their freedom, or whose children lose their freedom, every day to these policies and laws, and as a society we sit by and watch," Martin said. "It is not OK anymore."

U.S.: It's Turkey and Marijuana for the Holidays on Cannabis Planet TV

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Next to ObamaCare, cannabis is the hottest, most discussed subject in the media. Twenty states and D.C. have medical marijuana, 14 states have decriminalized marijuana, two states have legalized it for everyone and several more states are poised to pass legalization laws.

Americans still have questions, and beginning on November 23, Cannabis Planet TV has announced it will be taking to the airwaves in a dozen cites with the information on all things cannabis.

Originally seen only in California, Brad Lane’s Cannabis Planet will be aired weekly beginning November 23. TV stations in Massachusetts, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and California will air a new show every week. More stations are being added daily. Cannabis Planet is entertainment with an emphasis on medical research, cannabis cooking, cultivation, cannabis celebrities and legalization advances in American and around the globe.

The first show features longtime federal marijuana recipients, stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, who gets free government pot to treat his tumors, and glaucoma patient Elvy Musikka. Interviewees also include Dr. Julie Holland, author of The Pot Book, and Mara Gordon, international medical cannabis expert. There will be holiday cannabis cooking tips from Chef Mike Delao, hemp tips and music by the Trevor Green Band.

Alabama: Father Starts Online Petition Asking Governor, Lawmakers To Allow Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The father of a two-year-old girl in Alabama with a rare neurological and epileptic disorder has started an online petition asking Governor Robert Bentley and state lawmakers to allow the use of a a form of medical marijuana that could help control the girl's frequent, violent seizures.

Dustin Chandler, a police officer in Pelham, and his wife Amy recently visited Gov. Bentley in Montgomery to ask for his support for medical marijuana, reports Martin J. Reed at al.com. Their daughter, Carly, is unable to walk, talk or feed herself.

The online petition at Change.org focuses on cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from marijuana that can treat inflammation, pain, anxiety, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It can also treat Carly's violent seizures that occur several times a day -- seizures which pharmaceutical medications cannot control.

"The main fact that we want people to understand is we're not trying to get our two-year-old high," Chandler said. "They won't get stoned. This is a natural treatment ... that might have great benefit in helping her seizures. The life that she has, I'm trying to give the best quality to her."

U.S.: Americans Say Off-The-Clock Marijuana Use Shouldn't Get You Fired

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Overwhelmingly, Americans believe -- almost two-thirds of them -- that it's unacceptable for companies to fire employees for off-the-clock marijuana use in states where it is legal, according to a new poll.

According to the HuffPost/YouGov poll, that's the same percentage that said it would be unacceptable to fire employees for drinking during their off time, reports Emily Swanson at The Huffington Post.

The new poll shows that 64 percent of Americans think that if marijuana were legal in their state, it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for toking up during his or her free time. Only 22 percent said it would be acceptable to dismiss them for toking off the job.

That's identical to the percentage saying it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for drinking off the job, with 64 percent saying it would be acceptable, 22 percent saying it would be unacceptable.

How about in states where marijuana isn't yet legal? In that case, when simply asked whether it would be unacceptable to fire an employee for smoking marijuana during off-hours, not mentioning the legality of cannabis, 45 percent said it would be unacceptable, and 32 percent said it would be OK.

California: LA Sheriff Cuts Ties With Pastor After Learning He Rents To A Pot Dispensary

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Christian pastor who's getting paid more than $100,000 a year by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has been sent home -- with pay -- after it was revealed he owns a strip mall where a medical marijuana dispensary is located.

Bishop Edward R. Turner, who has worked as a "paid field deputy" for Sheriff Lee Baca and headed the sheriff's Multi-Faith Clergy Council for 14 years, is being investigated for his connections to a medicinal cannabis access point which is housed in a mall he owns, reports Nancy Dillon at the New York Daily News.

"He was relieved of duty today and assigned to his home with pay," said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore on Wednesday. Whitmore confirmed an internal affairs investigation has started. Rev. Turner was relieved of duty by Sheriff Baca on Thursday after the department learned from KABC-TV Channel 7 about the revocation of Turner's foundation's nonprofit status, and that a medical marijuana dispensary is being operated on his property, according to Whitmore.

Whitmore said Rev. Turner owns two strip malls in L.A., and one of them has a medical marijuana dispensary as a tenant. "The City of Los Angeles has deemed dispensaries to be illegal," Whitmore sniffed.

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