U.S.: Voters In Early 2016 Primary States Want Feds To Respect State Marijuana Laws


Supermajority Support From Democrats & Republicans in Iowa & New Hampshire

New polling data reveals that voters in early presidential primary states overwhelmingly support ending federal prosecutions of people acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.

Among respondents, 71 percent in Iowa and 73 percent in New Hampshire agree that "states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference." Just 13 percent of Iowans and 15 percent of New Hampshirites think that "the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws."

"Politicians running to become our next president should take note of just how uniformly voters in these key states want to end federal marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, which commissioned the poll. "Candidates who say they would send in the DEA to shut down legal, taxpaying marijuana businesses are effectively announcing that they're out of the mainstream and out of touch with the voters they need support from in order to get elected.

"That type of rhetoric is just not going to score any points in 2016," Angell said.

The new data shows that support for letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference is especially high among Democrats and independents in both states, although there is at least 60 percent support across all demographics, including Republicans, 2012 Mitt Romney voters, people older than 65 and those who identify as very conservative.

U.S.: Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls Despite Increased Support


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Support for a federal medical marijuana bill is building. The momentum is almost palpable from one day to the next, and the wave perhaps hasn't crested -- but the bill still isn't getting the Republican support it needs in the U.S. Senate.

Two more influential Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland (both states recently legalized medicinal cannabis) announced their support for the bill that would reschedule marijuana and let states set their own medical marijuana policies. But the bill needs more Republicans, reports Matthew Fleming at Roll Call.

The bill has just two Republican cosponsors, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an original cosponsor, and Dean Heller of Nevada. Getting any more has been difficult.

"It's a slow process and we're trying," Paul said last week, adding there are "several" other Republicans considered possibilities -- but none are officially onboard yet.

Sixteen senators support the bill, including Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey, the original sponsor, and Kirsten Gillebrand of New York an original cosponsor. Booker referred questions about Republican outreach to his office, which didn't respond to requests for comment.

Iowa: Benton Mackenzie Dies After Being Center of Medical Marijuana Debate


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Benton Mackenzie, the Scott County, Iowa man who was convicted on marijuana charges after he used it to treat his cancer, died early on Monday.

Mackenzie, his wife Loretta, and their son, Cody, were all convicted of "manufacturing marijuana" after 71 cannabis plants were confiscated from their home in May 2013, reports Shellie Nelson at WQAD 8.

Heartless cops initially had even charged Mackenzie's elderly parents, as well, but those charges were later dropped.

Benton admitted in his July 2014 testimony that he used cannabis oil from the plants to treat his angiosarcoma cancer. According to Mackenzie, some of the tumors diminished in size due to the treatments, with some eventually even vanishing after he used the oil.

He wasn't allowed to say in court that he had cancer, or that he used cannabis oil from his plants to treat it.

Both Mackenzie and his wife appealed their convictions after they were each given three years of probation. Their son was given a suspended sentence. A GoFundMe account was established to try to help the family move to oregon, where cannabis oil is legal, for treatment of his condition.

Facebook Page: Free Benton Mackenzie

'Iowa Marijuana Company' Posters Just A Prank


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Posters advertising an "Iowa Marijuana Company" which appeared on buildings this week in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are apparently just a merchandising prank, according to authorities.

Two posters appeared on Tuesday on the outside of a storefront in Cedar Rapids showing ears of corn in the shape of a cannabis leaf, reports Dave Franzman at KCRG-TV9. The posters were on an empty building currently for lease, and hate the date 10/01/15, implying the Iowa Marijuana Company would start operations then.

John Wasta, who owns the building with his brother, said they were told about the posters on Tuesday; the posters were removed from the front glass. Wasta said he kept one in his office as a souvenir.

"I've got all my employees running around looking at websites," Wasta said. "But it's just cute."

The pranksters created an Iowa Marijuana Company website complete with photos of the stores supposedly coming soon to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and even Clinton. One of the same posters appeared on an outside door at a building in Iowa City.

Iowa: Legislative Panel Backs Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana should be grown and distributed in Iowa, a committee of state lawmakers narrowly recommended on Thursday.

The 10-member bipartisan panel of senators and representatives also backed changing state law to reclassify cannabis to make it easier to obtain as medicine, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register.

The committee was formed to examine the complications and logjams in a new law that was supposed to have helped people with severe epilepsy get marijuana extract containing only cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.

The Iowa Legislature voted in May to let patients with severe epilepsy possess CBD oil to treat their seizures, but the limited law provides no method for producing or distributing the oil in the state.

Reports from other states have suggested that many seizure patients can gain significant relief from CBD oil, which doesn't produce a high.

But the same parents who lobbied for the CBD bill have now told legislators that the law is unworkable. Several of them testified on Thursday that most states where medical marijuana is legal don't allow sales to nonresidents; besides, any Iowans buying it would have to break federal law if they brought it back home.

Iowa: Cancer Patient Who Faced 15 Years Sentenced To Probation For Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa man who had faced 15 years as a habitual offender and a mandatory three-year prison term for treating his cancer with cannabis oil has been sentenced to probation, as a district judge used his sentencing discretion.

Benton Mackenzie, 48, was charged along with his wife, Loretta, and son, Cody, reports Brian Wellner at Quad-City Times.

A jury found the Long Grove couple guilty of manufacturing marijuana, a Class C felony, at their trial this summer. District Judge Henry Latham barred Mackenzie from mentioning to jurors that he grew the marijuana to treat his cancer, or anything about his medical condition.

Mackenzie suffers from late stage angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels in which tumors appear as skin lesions. Several lesions have grown from the size a pea a year ago to larger than a grapefruit now.

His backside and right leg are covered in lesions, and Mackenzie has had severe swelling recently. He was in the hospital on Sunday and has trouble walking due to the swelling, according to his wife.

Mackenzie said he grew marijuana at home until his arrest a year ago, treating his cancer with oil derived from the plant. The treatment kept the lesions small and prevented the cancer from spreading for two years, he said.

Iowa: Dying Cancer Patient, Wife, Son Convicted of Growing Marijuana For Medicine


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The unthinkable has happened in Iowa, where a dying cancer patient -- along with his wife and son -- has been convicted for growing marijuana.

Benton Mackenzie, 48, faces a probable prison sentence after his Wednesday conviction on drug charges, which he views as a "death sentence," reports Grant Rodgers at The Des Moines Register. "I knew that's what they were going to do," Mackenzie said as his wife pushed him in a wheelchair leaving the courthouse, reports Brian Wellner at the Quad-City Times.

The unbelievable guilty verdict on four felony drug charges was delivered by Scott County jurors; Mackenzie's wife and son were also convicted alongside him.

Mackenzie said he used the plants to extract cannabis oil to treat a painful tumor on his buttock caused by angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer. The tumor has grown to the size of a grapefruit.

The case has drawn national attention to the barbarity of arresting cancer patients for treating themselves with cannabis. This year, Iowa legislators passed one of those "CBD-only" bills, narrowly crafted to allow parents with epileptic children to use cannabis oil as treatment, but that won't help the Mackenzies.

Iowa: New CBD-Only Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Iowa's new CBD-only medical marijuana law takes effect July 1, a month after being signed by Governor Terry Branstad. The governor, like many other Republicans, had previously been a firm opponent of medical marijuana, but he signed this bill to allow parents to buy cannabis-based cannabidiol (CBD) oil to reduce their children's seizures.

Two-year-old Quinn Stumpf and her parents, April and Chad, played a big role in the passage of the bill, a very narrowly defined law that marks Iowa's first venture into medical marijuana, reports Josh O'Leary at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The Stumpf family visited Des Moines several times in recent months; one one of the trips, the parent sat down with Gov. Branstad in his office, and Quinn made an appearance on the Senate floor.

Quinn, who has a severe neurological disease, is on a long list of medicaitons and has endured more than 150 doctor visits and eight hospitalizations in her two years of life. "She's in pain, it seems like, all the time," April said of her daughter.

"They haven't given us the best prognosis for Quinn, but to know she's helped make a difference in so many lives and touched so many people, for her to have done that at such a young age is something we're really proud of," April said. "No matter what happens with her, we know she's made an impact on so many lives."

Iowa: Governor Will Sign Medical Marijuana CBD Oil Bill Into Law


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he will sign a bill legalizing the use of cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), a non-psychoactive concentrate derived from marijuana.

Families with kids suffering from epilepsy went to Iowa legislators this year asking for their help, reports KWWL.

At first, Gov. Branstad opposed the plan, claiming he was worried about "unintended consequences" like "drug abuse." The Governor didn't explain how legalizing a substance which doesn't get anyone high would do that.

The Governor claimed he "had empathy" for families who believe CBD helps quell seizures. But he still fretted over signing the bill.

"I think it would be a mistake to look at now expanding it to a whole bunch of other things," Branstad said, reports AP, evidently believing the suffering of epilepsy patients is somehow more deserving of relief than that of patients with other maladies. "I think we need to look at this as a very careful experiment that we and other states like Utah and Alabama are doing and see if it really does have the efficacy that the families hope it has."

Iowa: Man Claims McDonald's Burger Had Marijuana On It


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa man claims the burger he got from a local McDonald's drive-through had marijuana on it.

"I've seen a lot of stuff, but never something like this," said Lt. Jason Bell of the Ottumwa Police Department, reports Shaina Humphries of KCCI. "I really haven't had a lot of investigations where I've focused so much on cheeseburgers."

Ottumwa police said they were investigating the case; they said a man bought the burger for his pregnant fiance. "They're alleging that they received some, an order from the McDonald's that had some suspected marijuana on the hamburgers," Bell explained.

A sample was sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation for analysis, according to police. If the substance is indeed cannabis, they say it's a mystery why someone would do this.

The cops are investigating everybody from the McDonald's employees to the couple who reported the bud-burger. The restaurant remains open, reports Katherine Klingseis at The Des Moines Register.

"We are exploring all possibilities at this point, and that factor is one thing we're considering with the investigation," Bell said. "It's more of a serious allegation against a business in the community. In any business, we want to make sure we come to the best possible conclusion on where it originated from."

Iowa: 87% of Residents Support Medical Marijuana, According To New Poll


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A vast majority of Iowans support allowing doctors to authorize medical marijuana use for ailing patients, according to new poll results released on Monday.

A Quinnipiac University Poll found that a whopping 87 percent of state residents support medical marijuana, with just 17 percent opposed, according to the poll, reports James Q. Lynch at the Des Moines Bureau of the Sioux City Journal. Incredibly, every party, gender and age group measured had at least 68 percent support for medical marijuana in the poll.

What's more, that strong level of support is comparable to other states, according to Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"Iowans overwhelmingly think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes, but most voters oppose legalizing personal recreational use," Brown said. There was a big difference when it came to recreational use: "Opposition to personal marijuana is higher in Iowa than in any state we've surveyed so far on this subject," he said.

Efforts in the Iowa Legislature to legalize medical marijuana failed to gain traction in this year's session. Republican and Democratic lawmakers admit there is "more interest" about medical marijuana, but what we aren't seeing is the kind of tectonic shifts in public policy that would take place in a true representative democracy when an issue has 87 percent support.

Iowa: Medical Marijuana Bill Lasts Less Than One Day In Legislature


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A medical marijuana bill in the Iowa Legislature died on Tuesday, the same day it was introduced.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City), would have allowed patients with certain medical conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor's authorization, report Brian Wellner and Mike Wiser at the Quad-City Times. Sen. Bolkcom said he wasn't able to get any help from Republican legislators, who he said have shown "little interest" in endorsing the legislation.

"There's disappointment we were not able to recruit bipartisan support for a very narrow bill to help these families with children suffering from seizures as a result of epilepsy," Bolkcom said. "We're not going to be successful creating a program until we have bipartisan support for it. so we have a lot of education work to do ahead here."

Senate File 2215, Bolkcom's bill, was referred to Human Resources for assignment, but won't be assigned by the "funnel week" deadline, in which all bills have to make it through the committee process by Friday in order to be continued this session. "It's dead," Bolkcom said.

Advocates, including Tina McDermott of Davenport, were devastated by the news. Her son suffers from Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy with severe seizures. "I could cry I'm so disappointed," McDermott said.

"There's not even a chance for our kids," McDermott said. "Unbelievable. I know I"m not going to quit, but today was a big day."

Iowa: Terminal Cancer Patient, Entire Family Arrested For His Medical Marijuana Use


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and ask, "What the hell is the matter with people?" A terminal cancer patient and his entire family was arrested in Iowa -- including his parents, in their 70s -- because he uses medical marijuana.

Benton Mackenzie, 47, is expected to die from the terminal angiosarcoma cancer which he's battling; he uses medical marijuana, including cannabis oil, to manage his pain. The oil has proven effective for his cancer-related skin lesions, an experience some doctors say make him worth studying, reports Ed Krayewski at

"Instead of putting this guy in jail, somebody should be studying him," said Dr. Charles Goldman, a cancer surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. "I think Iowa is going against the current of history."

Local sheriff's deputy Dan Furlong began investigating Mackenzie's "drug activity" in 2010, reports Brian Wellner at the Quad-City Times. Furlong claimed that Mackenzie recruited a high school friend, "convicted felon" Stephen Bloomer, to help him grow marijuana.

Deputies pulled Bloomer over in May; he was driving a car registered to Mackenzie, without a license. They also spotted Bloomer walking in the same neighborhood where Mackenzie's parents live.

Iowa: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa lawmaker has said he will introduce two bills in the upcoming session of the Legislature which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) said that similar efforts have failed over the past decade, reports The Associated Press.

"I think we're a cautious state, we have some conservative views on this issue," Sen. Bolkcom said. "I think what has been missing in Iowa is the compelling stories and recently, people are courageously coming forward and are sharing stories about not getting the care they need."

Bolkcom said one of the bills he plans to introduce would reclassify cannabis as a drug with medical benefits, and the other bill would create a medical marijuana program modeled after the one currently operating in New Mexico.

According to a 2010 poll for The Des Moines Register, 64 percent of Iowans support legalizing medical marijuana, but many lawmakers have been wishy washy.

Gov. Terry Branstad does not support medical marijuana, according to spokesman Tim Albrecht.

State Rep. Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield), chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, is also a vocal opponent of medicinal cannabis. "In my opinion this movement is based on one thing and that's to legalize marijuana to get high," said former state trooper Baudler.

Iowa: Man Busted On Way To Party With 20 Bags of Weed; Tells Cops Women Like Marijuana

(Photo: The Des Moines Register)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa man who was arrested Friday night for allegedly having 20 bags of marijuana had an interesting answer for police.

Robbie Lee Sykes, 27, of Des Monies, told an officer he was going to a "twerk fest" at the Marquee. "Girls like marijuana," Sykes allegedly told the cop, adding that he was hoping to "pick up some girls" at the dance party, the police report states, according to The Des Moines Register.

Sykes was pulled over shortly before midnight for allegedly crossing the center line on Walnut Street. Sykes told the officer he had a gun on his lap and had a weapons permit, the police report states.

After allegedly smelling marijuana in the car, the officer searched Sykes and found "20 bags" (no word on how much was in each bag -- grams? eighths?) of marijuana, a rolled blunt, $100 in cash and a .40-caliber handgun, in addition to the .38-caliber revolver Sykes had in his lap, according to the police report.

(Photo: The Des Moines Register)

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