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Pennsylvania: Lancaster Officials May Call For Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Lancaster may soon become the first municipality in Pennsylvania to officially support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The Lancaster City Council on Tuesday debated a resolution calling for medicinal cannabis, reports Bernard Harris at Lancaster Online. The nonbinding resolution comes in support of bills which are pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

A vote could come next week at the council's regular meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Southern Market Center, 100 S. Queen Street, Lancaster.

City Councilman Tim Roschel said he agreed to bring the resolution before the council for consideration because of the experience of a friend with cancer in Arizona. The friend's husband bought her cannabis with a doctor's authorization.

Roschel said he would not have wanted for his friend to be called a criminal.

Council member Pete Soto recalled both his parents dying of cancer. He said he wished medical marijuana had been available to relieve his mother's suffering after chemotherapy. "The remedy was worse than the disease," Soto said.

Former Mountville Mayor Connie Guy told the council that marijuana can be used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, seizures and fibromyalgia, from which she suffers. "We're not stoner potheads," Guy said. "We're mothers and fathers and children ... and we suffer."

Nevada: Medical Marijuana Patients Want Pot DUI Tests To Be Performance Based

TickSegerblom(NevadaStateSenator)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Critics of Nevada's laws on driving under the influence of marijuana want the Legislature to change the test from one which detects cannabis, to one which measures performance.

A state legislative panel on Thursday agreed with a 9-3 vote that a bill draft request be modeled after California's law and submitted for the 2015 session, reports Arnold M. Knightly at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In California, police must first determine with a field sobriety test that you might be impaired, then request a blood test if they think you are.

If marijuana is found in a person's system in California, the prosecution must prove that the person in question was too impaired on cannabis to drive safely.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), who chairs the Advisory Commission of the Administration of Justice's Subcommittee on the Medical Use of Marijuana, said if a bill draft isn't submitted by the committee, he will probably propose it himself. Segerblom authored the 2013 law formally legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada.

"If it's good enough for 40 million people, it is probably good enough for us," Segerblom said of California's marijuana DUI law.

Oregon: Congressman Blumenauer To Give Keynote Speech After Portland Marijuana March Saturday

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On Saturday, May 3, nearly 300 cities worldwide, including Portland, will participate in the 15th annual Global Cannabis March. Portland participants will gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square to march at high noon through downtown Portland, accompanied by a police escort.

Oregon NORML, KBOO Community Radio and the publishers of Hemp News, Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) are sponsors of this event.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, (District 3). He will be speaking immediately following the march.

Musicians Mack & Dub and the Smokin' Section, The Sindicate, Disenchanter and Justin James Bridges have joined the lineup for the rally, which runs from 11 am to 4 pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Speakers for the rally include CRRH Director Paul Stanford; Paul Loney, Oregon NORML Legal Counsel; Leland Berger, a Portland Attorney; Rowshan Reordan, Oregon NORML; Anna Diaz of the NORML Women's Alliance; Madeline Martinez of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP); and Oregon Attorney John Lucy IV.

"I think it’s game over in less than five years," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said, according to an article in The Huffington Post. "There's no question that we're likely to see another state or two this year legalizing [social] use. We're going to see more medical marijuana progress. The crazy prohibitions on bank services and probably the tax disparities -- these are all eroding," Rep. Blumenauer predicted.

Arizona: State Senator Blocks Funding for Long-Sought Medical Marijuana Research

ArizonaStateSenatorKimberlyYee

Clinical Trial for Veterans with PTSD Has Already Obtained Approval from U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U. Arizona Institutional Review Board, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Wednesday, April 2: Veterans, Military Family Members and Supporters to Rally at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza

After 22 years of hard-fought efforts, the nonprofit pharmaceutical company MAPS has finally obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a FDA clinical trial to examine the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana. The trial would study military veterans suffering from treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet the study’s ability to receive Arizona state funding is in jeopardy due to State Senator Kimberly Yee.

Arizona has collected millions of dollars from its medical marijuana program. Under Arizona’s medical marijuana law, that money is reserved for furthering the provisions of the law and should include research and education – but none of it has been spent.

A bill being considered by lawmakers would give the Arizona Department of Health Services discretion to use some of this surplus funding to study the medical benefits of marijuana. On March 10, the bill HB 2333, sponsored by State Representative Ethan Orr of Tucson, passed the Arizona House 52-5, with strong bi-partisan support.

Israel: Study Shows Inhaled Marijuana Relieves Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Inhaling whole-plant marijuana provides relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, according to observational trial data published in the March/April 2014 issue of the scientific journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurology looked at Parkinson's symptoms in 22 patients at baseline, and again 30 minutes after inhaling cannabis, reports NORML.

The researchers reported that inhaled marijuana resulted in "significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores," the Israeli researchers noted. "No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed."

"[T]his observational study is the first to report an amelioration of both motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with PD treated with cannabis," the researchers reported. "The study opens new venues for treatment strategies in PD especially in patients refractory to current medications."

Israel has allowed the licensed production, distribution and medical use of cannabis since 2011.

Oklahoma: Medical Marijuana Rally Scheduled Wednesday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates will rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, February 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of a push to reform the state's strict cannabis laws.

Medical Marijuana Day will include lobbying, advocacy and training, according to Norma Sapp, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Tim Farley at the Oklahoma Gazette.

An advocacy training session is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Room 104 at the Capitol, according to Sapp. The meeting is designed to help advocates effectively lobby their elected representatives and how to fill a bill as it progresses through the Legislature.

NORML volunteers will be on the 4th Floor Rotunda all day to help arrange meetings between voters and their lawmakers, according to Sapp.

According to a 2013 survey from SoonerPoll.com, 71 percent of likely Oklahoma voters support medical marijuana. Other surveys show 57 percent prefer treating minor cannabis violations as noncriminal offenses, with fines only.

A bill was introduced in this legislative session by state Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Oklahoma. Two other cannabis-related bills from the 2013 legislative session are still alive, including one proposal which would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for patients.

Texas: Legislators To Try Again To Lower Marijuana Penalties

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two lawmakers in Texas have vowed to reintroduce marijuana legislation "as many times as it takes," but drug policy experts say it will be from five to 10 years before the Legislature might change the Lone Star State's cannabis laws.

"I would say within the next decade," said Nathan Jones, Ph.D., with Rice University's Baker Institute, reports Kevin Reece at KHOU 11 News. "If you're looking at the polling data it looks pretty electable. Or it looks almost inevitable."

Recent polls show about 58 percent of Texans supporting the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. An even larger majority -- 61 percent -- supports reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. said he's going to try for a fourth time to get a vote on his bill that would lessen penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less is a Class B misdemeanor and get can you up to six months in jail. "I think that's a little overkill for somebody who has an ounce or less of marijuana," Dutton said.

Is it a dangerous thing to be using (marijuana) in your house, for example?" Dutton asked. "Probably not any more so than having a drink in your house."

Massachusetts: Advocates Lay Groundwork For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates are laying the groundwork for legalization in Massachusetts in 2016, the next presidential election year.

State voters approved decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis in 2008, and legalized its use for medicinal purposes in 2012, both with more than 63 percent support, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe. advocates have launched an effort to get legalization on the 2016 ballot, and to raise enough money to ensure victory.

But some say Massachusetts' strong traditions will make legal marijuana a tough sell.

"To make it available for recreational use, that's going over a very different barrier," said state Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), explaining it was easy for her to support decrim and medical marijuana, but not legalization. "I'm not sure people in the state are ready for that and I'm certainly not sure I'm ready for that."

But the tides of public opinion are shifting on cannabis.

"Opinion is changing very quickly on marijuana," said Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group. The rapid change, he said, "mirrors, in some ways, the same-sex marriage shift that's taken place over the last few years."

Tennessee: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Democratic lawmaker has filed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

"It's just simply a matter of being rational and compassionate," said Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), who sponsors HB 1385, reports Tom Humphrey at The Knoxville News-Sentinel. "It would apply to only the most severely debilitated people ... children suffering a hundred seizures a day, people on chemotherapy, people with multiple sclerosis ... people with a plethora of diseases."

The Tennessee Legislature passed a bill allowing "marijuana by prescription" under state law in the 1980s, but that bill was unworkable as it required federal permission. Attempts since then have died in legislative committees, most recently in 2012.

But Rep. Jones, along with Doak Patton, president of Tennessee NORML, say times have changed in the state because of the rapidly developing political situation around cannabis.

"This really isn't about marijuana at all," said Patton. "It's about freedom and liberty."

"I think anybody would tell you alcohol is much worse than marijuana," Rep. Jones said. "If you think alcohol should be legal, then you would think that for sure medical marijuana should be legal."

Colorado: Price Of Legal Marijuana Soars With High Demand

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

On the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, retailers were selling top-shelf cannabis at prices up to $400 per ounce, not including taxes, according to reports.

"I think people were a little bit surprised at the price," said Rachel Gillette, executive director of Colorado NORML, reports Erik Ortiz at NBC News.

Medical marijuana patients, who have been able to buy their cannabis for medicinal use at Colorado dispensaries since 2010, are used to paying around $250 an ounce, according to Gillette.

Colorado doesn't impose any price restrictions on marijuana, leaving the market open to supply and demand. One shop was selling marijuana on Wednesday for $70 an eighth-ounce -- a markup of $25 from the previous day's price of $45, reports The Associated Press.

"It's a new industry; it's a new market," Gillette said "I think things will work themselves out in a few years. We saw the same thing happen with the medical marijuana industry before the prices came down."

Industry observers also pointed out that while prices may be initially high in Colorado's legal marijuana market, along with that high price comes arrest protection.

A Colorado State University report released last April predicted retail prices ending up around $185 an ounce.

Florida: Billionaire Marijuana Philanthropist, Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter Lewis Dies

PeterLewisProgressive

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Peter Lewis, the billionaire chairman of Progressive Insurance and a prominent donor to marijuana legalization, died Saturday afternoon at age 80 at his home in Coconut Grove, Florida, according to his adviser Jennifer Frutchy.

Lewis was a high-profile backer of drug-law reform, reports Luisa Kroll at Forbes. He spent almost $3 million on the November 2012 election, contributing $2 million to the I-502 marijuana legalization drive in Washington state and another $1 million to the medical marijuana effort in Massachusetts; both were successful.

"We were, of course, incredibly grateful for Mr. Lewis's significant contributions that made Initiative 502 possible," I-502 author Alison Holcomb told David Holley of Bloomberg News. "We're very hopeful that others will follow in the example he set."

Cynics pointed out that Progressive Insurance is the chief source of the auto insurance policies that those convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana in Washington (cannabis DUI) under I-502 will be forced to buy; 502, in addition to legalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot, created a whole new crime in Washington state, that of driving with more than 5 ng/ml of THC in the blood (previously, law enforcement had to prove actual impairment to make a DUI stick).

Study: Marijuana Least Likely Of All Substances Studied To Increase Vehicle Crash Risk

420SafeDriver

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana is the least likely to elevate the risk of automobile crashes of all substances studied, according to research recently published in the scientific journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Scientists at Columbia University performed a study to determine the connection between drug use and fatal auto crash risk, reports Paul Armentano at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The authors reported that marijuana, at 1.83, had the lowest crash odds ratios of all substances identified.

Depressants were most likely to be associated with crash risk, with an estimated odds ratio of 4.83. Estimated odds ratios for other drug categories were 3.57 for stimulants, 3.41 for "polydrug use" (excluding alcohol), and 3.03 for narcotics.

The odds ratio for marijuana is similar to that reported in a 2012 meta-analysis of 66 separate studies which estimated that cannabis is associated with a "nominally increased" risk of accident, with an estimated odds ratio of 1.25. In that study, antihistamines (1.12) and the antibiotic penicillin (1.12) were close to cannabis in crash risk odds.

U.S.: TSA May Let You Carry Marijuana On Airplane, Depending On Flight

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly allowing passengers to bring both medical and recreational marijuana aboard commercial airliners, depending on where they are flying and what the law allows in the departing and arriving states.

Since the TSA is a federal agency, it doesn't involve itself with state laws such as the general cannabis legalization recently passed by voters in Colorado and Washington, reports Chris Weller at Medical Daily. While flying with any amount of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the current protocol for agents who find cannabis during the screening process is to defer to local law enforcement officials.

If the passenger can show sufficient proof of medical use -- or is flying between states where marijuana is legal -- officials will often let it slide.

"I hear reports from people flying from one medical use site to another or flying from one part of California to another, and they generally report that if they carry their authorization, they simply show the letter and are sent on their way and are allowed to keep their medicine," said Keith Stroup, the attorney who founded the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Aaron Kase at Lawyers.com.

Wyoming: Group Ready To File Initiative For Medical Marijuana

WeedWyoming

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

Pennsylvania: Racial Disparities Continue In Philadelphia Marijuana Arrests

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The disturbing trend of racial disparities in marijuana arrests continued in 2012 in Philadelphia, according to an annual review of cannabis arrest statistics from Philly NORML.

The Philly affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, using data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System, found that there were 6,614 marijuana-related arrests in Philadelphia during 2012. Of those, 4,272 were for simple possession only.

African-Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at five times the rate of whites in Philadelphia. All other drug arrests are more equal when compared by race, according to Philly NORML.

About 75 percent of the marijuana possession arrests were of people between the ages of 18 and 34. Ninety percent were male.

By comparison, whites and blacks were arrested in almost equal numbers for opiates and cocaine.

When looking at the state of Pennsylvania as a whole, of all adults arrested for simple marijuana possession, 85 percent were men and 71 percent were white. Of adults arrested for sales and/or manufacture of cannabis, 58 percent were white and 90 percent were male.

"Marijuana arrests in Philadelphia continue with a disturbing trend of racial disparity," said Chris Goldstein of Philly NORML. "Black and white Americans consume marijuana at nearly equal rates and the city's population is admirably diverse, yet it is residents of color who continue to be the focus of law enforcement."

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