Come out and support what has become a staple of local Portland culture, the Global Cannabis March.
By Michael Bachara, Oregon NORML/CRRH
Portland, Oregon – Nearly three hundred cities worldwide, including Portland, will participate in the fourteenth annual Global Cannabis March on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Portland participants will gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square to march at high noon through downtown Portland, accompanied by a police escort. Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and Oregon NORML are sponsors of this event.
Musicians Justin James Bridges, Tim Pate and John Cornett have joined the roster for the rally, which runs from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Speakers for the rally include Leland Berger, Portland Attorney and advocate for the group Compassionate Oregon, Russ Belville of 420 Radio, Madeline Martinez of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and more.
“Cannabis proponents agree; the war on the cannabis plant is a farce, the drug war is taking a last gasp. No political movement in America has made it this far without eventually winning, it's just a matter of time.” according to Michael Bachara, Executive Director of Oregon National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana policy reform is advancing on multiple fronts in Oregon, with both medicinal cannabis and general legalization measures gaining traction in an increasingly friendly Legislature.
"We are seeing the best legislative session for drug policy reform -- certainly since the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed in 1998, and perhaps ever -- this go-round," Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News.
In the last week, the Oregon Senate:
• Passed SB 281 on a 19-11 vote. This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of debilitating medical conditions which qualify patients for the protections of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA).
• Passed SB 40, 24-6. This bill realigns the felony level designations of Manufacturing and Possession to be consistent with the rescheduling in Oregon of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II; and creates misdemeanor marijuana possession (more than one ounce, less than four ounces) and misdemeanor hashish possession (less than 1/4 ounce).
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would allow people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to get a medical marijuana card.
The bill passed the Senate with a 19 to 11 vote, and now goes to the Oregon House, reports The Associated Press.
People suffering from PTSD should have access to medicine that can help their condition, according to supporters of the bill. Opponents claim there isn't clear research to prove that cannabis is an effective treatment for symptoms of the disorder; however, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence from people who actually suffer from PTSD regarding the usefulness of pot in treating it.
Veterans had told lawmakers at an earlier hearing on the bill that marijuana helped them cope with the physical and psychological trauma of war.
Oregon patients with certain conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer's qualify for medical marijuana when it is authorized by their doctor.
Marijuana is still illegal for any purpose under federal law.
By Steve Elliott
A new push in Congress to end the federal War On Marijuana is being led by some of the most conservative members of the Republican conference.
The "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act," introduced in the House last week, would protect anyone acting legally under state marijuana laws from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act, reports Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone. The legislation would cover both medical marijuana laws and overall legalization in states like Colorado and Washington, where voters last fall decided to make cannabis legal for adults 21 and older.
Poll data released last week from Pew Research found that 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should allow states to decide for themselves when it comes to the marijuana laws. The same poll found that 57 percent of Republicans also favor the same approach, "which may explain why this bill is attracting arch-conservative backers in the House," according to Rolling Stone.
The three conservative GOP cosponsors of the "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act" are:
By Steve Elliott
The fears of some medical marijuana patients that state patient registries could be used against them appear, unfortunately, to have been well-founded. A federal search warrant forced the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) to hand over patient records, according to recently discovered court papers.
The warrant was executed last November against OMMP, the state agency administering the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, voted into law in 1998, reports Jake Ellison at Seattle PI.
A special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) obtained the warrant to "aid in his investigation" of growers in Oregon suspected of black market pot dealing.
"I know that in order to effectively pursue this investigation I need to investigate each of the patients, growers and caregivers associated with" names which turned up in the investigation, wrote DEA special agent Michael Gutensohn.
"I have probable cause to believe that records from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program will contain evidence and intstrumentalities of marijuana manufacturing and trafficking and conspiracy to commit marijuana manufacturing and trafficking offenses," Gutensohn claimed. (It seems odd that Gutensohn would claim to believe that evidence of black market diversion would be contained in official state records of the medical marijuana program.)
By Steve Elliott
A statewide registry of medical marijuana dispensaries would be created under a bill taken up Monday by the Oregon House.
House Bill 3460, sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), would require that dispensary owners pass criminal background checks, document the amount of cannabis coming into their businesses, and verify that the marijuana is from state-registered growers, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
The bill would also require that marijuana sold by state-registered dispensaries would be tested for impurities.
The businesses would be allowed to set their own prices for medicinal cannabis, much as they do today. Unlike Colorado's complex system, the proposal would not generate revenue for Oregon besides the fees to cover the cost of administering the program.
Dispensaries would not be subject to routine inspection by the state under the bill.
Medical marijuana has been legal since Oregon voters approved it in 1998, but the dispensaries which distribute cannabis to patients have evolved in a legal gray area.
The state has a network of marijuana resource centers, collectives, cooperatives, clubs and cafes, but state officials don't know how much marijuana or cash moves through these businesses. Estimates of the number of dispensaries in the state run from 150 to 200.
By Steve Elliott
Measure 80, which would have legalized and taxed marijuana in Oregon, was defeated at the ballot box last November. But New Approach Oregon, a coalition of cannabis advocates, has now approached the Legislature and, in effect, asked for help in achieving the same goal.
The group has momentum and public opinion on its side, according to The Oregonian Editorial Board. While the advocates hope for a ballot initiative in 2014, their current vehicle is House Bill 3371, which got a hearing last week before the House Judiciary Committee.
It was sent from there to the House Revenue Committee, "where it'll have the substantial policy debate," according to Judiciary Chair Jeff Barker (D-Aloha). There's little hope that HB 3371 will pass, though, according to Barker, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian.
Since HB 3371 would tax marijuana as well as legalizing it, a three-fifths majority would be required in each chamber -- but securing even a simple majority would be challenging, since most lawmakers are skittish about pot legalization.
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana patients in Oregon will have a lot more to worry about than just their health, if some lawmakers have their way. They'll also have to worry about getting their medical marijuana cards renewed every 60 days.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held a public hearing on SB 281, a bill that would allow people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medicinal cannabis. But at the hearing, a number of amendments were proposed, including one by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), that would require medical marijuana patients to renew their registry identification card every two months.
Currently, patients are required to renew their MMJ cards once a year.
Under the amendment, patients would be forced to provide the Oregon Health Authority "updated documentation" from their physician that medical cannabis could help them reduce their symptoms.
The supposed intent behind the onerous requirement of renewing every 60 days was to "make sure that cardholders see their doctor regularly just as they would if they were renewing any other prescription," legislative staff claimed.
It would be difficult for patients to schedule an appointment and continually renew their cards every 60 days, according to Iraq war veteran Jared Townsend, who told lawmakers he was opposed to the amendment to SB 281.
"I think it's just a ploy to clog the system," Townsend said.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana legalization on Tuesday got its first hearing in the Oregon Legislature when the House Judiciary conducted a brief hearing on House Bill 3371, which would license producers, processors and sellers of cannabis.
Under HB 3371, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would have the authority to tax marijuana, but unlike Washington state's Initiative 502, home cultivation would still be permitted, reports Peter Wong of the Salem Statesman Journal.
"Marijuana legalization is coming to Oregon sooner rather than later," said activist Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon. "It makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol and for the Legislature to take the lead on the issue and make sure sensible regulations are in place."
A survey conducted last week by DHM Research of Portland showed that support for legalization is around the 50 percent mark in Oregon. "It sends a signal to where the voters' attitudes are heading," said John Horvick of DHM.
Predictably, the Oregon State Sheriffs Association is stuck in the past, and opposes legalization, preferring to keep the broad powers over otherwise law-abiding citizens given to law enforcement by the marijuana laws.
By Steve Elliott
Advocates of marijuana legalization are taking their message to Oregon's capitol. A legislative panel on Tuesday will look at a measure that would legalize and tax cannabis. The move comes as Washington state, next door, prepares rules about how to regulate and tax pot after voters there approved legalization in November.
"I understand this is a heavy lift for the Legislature to pass this bill this year," said Anthony Johnson, who heads New Approach Oregon, a political action committee formed to legalize the herb, reports Chris Lehman at Northwest News Network.
"Our neighbors to the north are going to start collecting taxes from Oregon residents who are purchasing marijuana," Johnson said.
Voters in Oregon last fall rejected Measure 80, a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana. But Johnson said New Approach Oregon's bill is more restrictive; it would allow more state control over the production and distribution of cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
Just days before one of Oregon’s largest and most celebrated beer and wine festivals, a provocative new billboard highlighting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol will be the centerpiece of a press conference to be held in downtown Portland on Thursday.
The Marijuana Policy Project will hold the news conference, Thursday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. in front of the billboard at the intersection of SW 13th Avenue and SW Alder Street.
Noting that April is Alcohol Awareness Month, the billboard features a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf below the words "Beer," "Wine," and "Safer," respectively. It encourages Oregonians who will be drinking at upcoming beer and wine festivals to think about how marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to consumers and the community.
"Our goal is to make this year's beer and wine festivals as educational as they are enjoyable," said Roy Kaufmann, Oregon representative of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We simply want attendees who are drinking to think about the fact that marijuana is objectively less harmful than the pint of beer or glass of wine they have in their hands."
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News
Beginning Spring 2013, Oregon State University will be offering its groundbreaking course on industrial hemp. The online course, WSE 266, is being spearheaded by the College of Forestry’s department of wood science and engineering. The department believes hemp is an extremely useful renewable resource which is worthy of exploration.
Described in the course material as “an introduction to the botany, biology and agronomy of the hemp plant, its origins, historical contexts and implications of contemporary legal and social issues surrounding its use for food, fiber and building products,” the course will be led by hemp consultant Anndrea Hermann, M.Sc, B.Gs, P.Ag, an instructor at the university. Hermann is the President of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), and has recruited several guest lecturers in order to bring a multi-dimensional view to the curriculum.
Hermann has a wide range of hemp knowledge, from fiber and seed agronomy to building applications. She is also a partner at Hemp-Technologies, a North Carolina based company who produces eco-friendly hemp houses in the region.
“It’s an up and coming crop in the United States and we are going to need professionals coming out of academia who are experts in multiple areas,” according to Hermann. "Oregon can become a recognized leader in the environmentally conscience fiberboard manufacturing of the twenty first century."
By Steve Elliott
Oregon lawmakers are looking at a plan to legalize and tax marijuana under House Bill 3371, scheduled for an April 2 public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill would legalize the production, processing and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to six mature marijuana plants and 24 ounces of dried cannabis, the same amounts currently allowed for patients under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of licensing marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers under HB 3371. Meanwhile, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee the taxation of cannabis.
Marijuana producers would be taxed $35 per ounce under the bill. That money would go to a "Cannabis Tax Account," 40 percent of which would go to state schools, with 20 percent each going to Oregon State Police, the general fund, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.
If passed, HB 3371 would take effect on July 1, 2014.
By Alex Dobuzinskis, Huffington Post
After a decades-long campaign to legalize marijuana hit a high mark in 2012 with victories in Washington state and Colorado, its energized and deep-pocketed backers are mapping out a strategy for the next round of ballot-box battles.
They have their sights set on possible ballot measures in 2014 or 2016 in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first in the country to allow marijuana for medical use. Although those states more recently rejected broader legalization, drug-law reform groups remain undeterred.
"Legalization is more or less repeating the history of medical marijuana," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If you want to know which states are most likely to legalize marijuana, then look at the states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana."
A political arm of the alliance spent more than $1.6 million as one of the main funders of the Washington state campaign.
The passage of the ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state in November allowed personal possession of the drug for people 21 and older. That same age group will be allowed to buy the drug at special marijuana stores under rules set to be finalized next year.
Why Oregon, California and more are likely to follow Colorado and Washington toward legalization
By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone
The Berlin Wall of pot prohibition seems to be crumbling before our eyes.
By fully legalizing marijuana through direct democracy, Colorado and Washington have fundamentally changed the national conversation about cannabis. As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. And our political establishment is catching on. Former president Jimmy Carter came out this month and endorsed taxed-and-regulated weed. "I'm in favor of it," Carter said. "I think it's OK." In a December 5th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) suggested it might be possible "to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law." Even President Obama hinted at a more flexible approach to prohibition, telling 20/20's Barbara Walters that the federal government was unlikely to crack down on recreational users in states where pot is legal, adding, "We've got bigger fish to fry."