Political

Oregon: Moms from Oregon, Colorado and Washington Endorse Measure 91 Marijuana Legalization

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Moms from Oregon, Washington and Colorado on Friday gathered at the Yes on 91 headquarters to show their support for Measure 91, which would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older in Oregon.

“My top priority is the safety of my children,” said Leah Mauer, who founded a Facebook group called Moms for Yes on 91. “The current approach is failing to keep them safe.

"A better approach is to take marijuana away from illegal dealers and cartels and put it behind the counter at a regulated, inspected and properly zoned store,” Mauer said.

Colorado and Washington are already experiencing successful results from their approval of the regulated use of marijuana:

• Teen use and access to marijuana is down in Colorado. (Source: US News & World Report, Aug. 7
• Arrests are down for marijuana violations. (Source: The Denver Post, Jan. 14)

Delaware: New Poll Shows Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new University of Delaware poll finds that 56 percent of Delaware adults support legalization of marijuana.

The university polled 902 state residents between September 10 and 22, finding just 39 percent are opposed to legalization, reports Jonathan Starkey at The News Journal. Residents older than 60 and self-identified conservatives were the only demographic groups to strongly oppose marijuana, while young adults and liberals were heavily in support.

Support crossed racial and geographic boundaries, with respondents in all three of Delaware's counties saying they back legal weed.

"I would say the numbers suggest solid support for fully legalizing marijuana in Delaware," said Paul Brewer, political communications professor at the University of Delaware, who supervised the poll. "The results also reflect what's going on in public opinion at the national level, where the trends show a growing majority favoring legalization."

Just 36.9 percent of Delawareans 60 or older favored legalization, while 68 percent of those under 30 supported the move. Among self-identified conservatives, just 39.2 percent favored legalization; among liberals, 73 percent said they think cannabis should be legal.

Florida: Poll Shows Medical Marijuana In Trouble

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new poll shows that Amendment 2, the Florida ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to allow medical marijuana, falling short at the polls next month.

Even supporters acknowledged on Thursday that the drive for medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State is struggling in the face of well-funded conservative opposition, reports Bill Cotterell at Reuters.

After a two-week barrage of attack ads, the poll showed just 48 percent of Florida voters supporting the amendment to allow doctors to authorize cannabis for medicinal purposes. As a constitutional amendment, the measure needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The University of Florida Poll found 44 percent of voters were opposed to medical marijuana, with just 7 percent undecided.

"It's like a cliche in political races, but we're at a point when the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," said Ben Pollara, who runs United For Care, the group behind Amendment 2.

Oregon: First Lady Admits Planning Illegal Marijuana Grow

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, fiancee of Governor John Kitzhaber, has confessed to planning an illegal marijuana grow operation with her then-boyfriend back in 1997. The revelation comes less than a week after Hayes admitted she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant that same year.

Hayes said she was living on the property with her then-boyfriend in Okanogan, Washington, near the border of Canada, for the purpose of growing and selling marijuana, reports Sara Roth at KGW.

"Last Thursday, I admitted that 17 years ago I was in the middle of a very difficult and unstable period of my life," Hayes said. "I said then, and I'll say again ... I was associating with the wrong kind of people and making mistakes."

"I am not proud of that brief period of time," Hayes said. "I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized."

The man who sold the property, then repossessed it, indicated that a marijuana grow was already in progress. "There was a full-sized pool table upstairs in the house and that was the first clue," broker Patrick Siemion told KGW's Mike Benner. "There were marijuana trimmings on the table.

U.S.: Advocates Launch 'Vote Medical Marijuana' Ahead of November Elections

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New tool makes political candidates' positions, records on medical marijuana more accessible to voters

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online TV advertisement to launch its groundbreaking, election-cycle voter education campaign "Vote Medical Marijuana." The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Washington State.

The campaign features an interactive online voter's guide at VoteMedicalMarijuana.org that provides information on political candidate positions as well as voting statistics and a report card for each Member of Congress and certain state elected officials.

"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Our elected representatives in Congress and in state legislatures are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S."

U.S.: Obama To Nominate Pro-Legalization Candidate To Lead DOJ Civil Rights Division

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President Barack Obama intends to nominate Vanita Gupta, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Sari Horiwitz at The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. This news comes not long after Attorney General Eric Holder announced his imminent resignation, and indicates a continued initiative of positive federal drug policy changes.

Gupta has been outspoken on a number of issues, including racial sentencing disparities, federal incentives to state police that prioritize the investigation of drug arrests over violent crime, mandatory minimum sentences and related disparities, as well as marijuana legalization. She currently leads the ACLU’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration. Gupta has also garnered bipartisan support with conservatives Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and David Keene, former president of the NRA, both speaking highly of her.

D.C.: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Receives Major Labor Endorsements

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D.C. Working Families, SEIU, and UCFW Endorse Initiative 71

Labor Groups Point to Elimination of Discriminatory Enforcement and Opportunities to Advance Worker Rights

The Service Employees International Union, United Commercial Food Workers, and D.C. Working Families on Tuesday endorsed Initiative 71, D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative. Initiative 71, which is on the November 4th ballot, would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allows individuals to grow up to six plants in their home.

D.C. laws prevent the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, however, the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill which would account for such provisions.

"These major labor endorsements show that the elimination of marijuana prohibition is an issue of significant importance to workers in the District of Columbia," said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Initiative 71 would eliminate unfairly harsh punishments for minors offenses, making it less likely that our young people get a lifelong criminal record that makes it harder to get a job, an apartment or credit card."

The possession of one ounce of marijuana is currently decriminalized in the District of Columbia, and persons found with more than this amount face a $25 civil infraction. Data from the Metropolitan Police Department reveals that 77 percent of tickets written during decriminalization have been in communities of color.

Australia: Medical Marijuana Set For National Clinical Trial

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has thrown its support behind a clinical trial of medical marijuana, with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird revealing that a deal was struck at Friday's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

NSW will lead the collaborative, national trial, with the support of the Commonwealth and other states and territories, reports Simon Thomsen at Business Insider.

The health ministers discussed medicinal cannabis at their meeting, but underlined their continued opposition to the recreational use and legalization of marijuana, claiming it is linked to mental illness.

Premier Baird last month announced that the NSW government had formed a working group to set up the clinical trial, due to report back at the end of this year. "A NSW working group is already driving this reform and we welcome the support of the Commonwealth and the states and territories for the conduct of the trial," Baird said.

“NSW is playing a leadership role but our historic agreement to work collaboratively on this significant issue means we have a far greater chance of success,” Baird said.

Maine: 3 York Selectmen Prevent Constituents From Having Say On Marijuana Policy

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Citizens for a Safer Maine on Friday announced it will not appeal a judge’s decision to allow the York Board of Selectmen to prevent a vote on a ballot measure that would make marijuana legal for adults.

“We’re confident an appeal would be successful, but at this point we cannot afford to continue playing this game with the selectmen,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the measure. “We know there is support for ending marijuana prohibition in York, and we’re going to focus our resources on giving them a chance to vote on it in 2016 with a statewide ballot initiative.

“It’s unfortunate that three out of the five selectmen have needlessly and very likely illegally prevented their constituents from voting on this measure,” Boyer said. “It’s a disservice to the voters who elected them, and they’ll have to live with that.”

Citizens for a Safer Maine initially submitted more than 200 signatures of registered York voters to place a measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen in July. The board voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot and, based on local initiative rules, provided the group with 30 days to collect an additional 641 signatures.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted nearly 1,000 signatures in August 27, but the Board of Selectmen again voted 3-2 against placing the measure on the ballot. In September, Superior Court Judge Paul Fritzche did not grant an injunction requested by the group to place the initiative on the November ballot.

U.S.: Former Race Car Driver Randy Lanier To Be Released From Life In Prison For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana prisoner Randy Lanier, 60, a former race car driver, will be released from prison after serving 26 years of a life sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida for a 1988 conviction on leading a marijuana drug ring.

U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert has granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier's life sentence and has approved his pending release, reports Jon Saraceno at Autoweek.com. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal to reduce sentencing for convicted drug dealers, while seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

"He has served his time with dignity and respect," said Stephen Ross Johnson, lead attorney for Lanier since 2002. "He has helped mentor young people in the prison system."

The brief order issued by Judge Gilbert gives no reason for the sentence reduction. In addition to his life sentence, Lanier was given an additional maximum of 40 years on a distribution charge and another five years on an IRS fraud charge.

Lanier's release comes with heavy restrictions, including drug-and-alcohol tests, no consumption of alcohol or patronizing of establishments that sell it, no firearms, and no lines of credit without approval from his probation officer.

Spain: Basque Parliament Urges Government To Legalize, Regulate Cannabis Clubs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Basque Parliament on Wednesday urged the Basque Government to legalize and regulate the activity of cannabis clubs, and give legal support to marijuana cultivation for club members' collective consumption.

The Basque Chamber is concluding two years of work on a study of the clubs with adoption of a recommended solution towards regulating them. The recommendations approved "will place Basque Country at the head of the regulation of these places," the group said.

The political parties PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), EH BILDU (Basque Country United) and PSE-EE (Socialist Party of the Basque Country) have all advocated taking steps towards non-confrontational legal existence for the cannabis clubs, and have urged the Basque Government to devise a system which offers regulation, legal guarantees and security for the clubs.

These groups said that until there is such governmental regulation, cannabis clubs should establish their own self-regulation and standards of good practice. Also, it is expected that medicinal and therapeutic uses of cannabis will be excluded from the regulations governing the clubs.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocates Survey Candidates Ahead of November Elections

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The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online advertisement to launch its survey drive for for this year's election-cycle educational campaign. (You can view the ad at the bottom of this article.)

The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning TV cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, Sacramento, South Florida, and Washington State. As part of its groundbreaking "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, ASA has sent out more than 2,000 candidate surveys to help patients and the general public make more informed electoral decisions based on candidates' positions on medical marijuana.

More than 100 candidates in federal and state races across the country have sent in responses so far. The "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign will focus on as many as 435 U.S. House races, 36 U.S. Senate races, 36 gubernatorial races, and 31 state attorney general races, as well as more than 360 state legislative races in California, Florida, and Washington.

"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "We hope this outreach effort will show our country’s leading politicians how significant medical marijuana is to their election campaigns."

Morocco: Hash-Producing Nation Considers Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new law being considered in Morocco that would legalize marijuana cultivation for medical and industrial uses, finally bringing the North African Islamic nation's thriving hashish industry into the open.

The proposal, however, faces stiff opposition in this conservative nation, despite a centuries-old tradition of growing cannabis in the north, where the Rif Mountains have long been a center of hash production, reports Paul Schemm of the Associated Press.

Some farmers like Abdelkhalek Benabdallah openly grow marijuana, despite its illegal status. "We are regularly subject to blackmail by the gendarmes," he said as he prepared his September harvest.

The new law could alleviate widespread poverty and unrest; suspicious farmers, accustomed to an adversarial relationship with government authorities, don't believe the government will do anything to help them. The farmers fear that legalization might lower the already cheap price of $8 a kilogram they receive for their product.

"If legalization happened for all of Morocco, we could never compete with the other farmers that have lots of land and the price of cannabis wouldn't be any different from that of carrots," said Mohammed Benabdallah, an activist in the village of Oued Abdel Ghaya.

Oregon: Rick Steves Kicks Off Tour Promoting Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rick Steves, the mild-mannered travel guru who was a key supporter of Washington state's flawed but successful marijuana legalization initiative in 2012, arrived in Oregon on Tuesday to kick off a nine-city tour promoting Measure 91, a measure on November's general election ballot which would legalize cannabis in Oregon.

Steves, in a recent commentary on Measure 91, called it a "smart law" designed to address the reality of marijuana use, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"Marijuana is a drug," wrote Steves, a NORML board member who is seemingly eager to court the anti-pot crowd. "It's not good for you. It can be addictive. But marijuana is here to stay. No amount of wishing will bring us a utopian 'drug-free society.'"

Steves explains that owning his own business has given him the freedom to express his personal views about marijuana without fear of being fired.

"When it comes to America's prohibition on marijuana, I can consider lessons learned from my travels and say what I really believe when I'm back home," Steves said.

The travel writer last year was named one of the 50 most influential consumers by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls; Unlikely To Get Vote This Year

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Leaders of the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House have roadblocked a bill which would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Keystone State.

The GOP caucus does want to take a look at the medicinal cannabis bill that passed the Pennsylvania Senate last week, including holding public hearings, according to staffers for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County), reports Charles Thompson at The Patriot-News. But that means there is almost no chance the bill, which passed the Senate on an overwhelming 43-7 vote and is being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, will reach the House floor this year.

That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been watching, according to Turzai's press secretary, Steve Miskin, who noted the Senate took nearly a year to develop the bill. It would be unrealistic "and irresponsible to just rubber-stamp a bill that creates an entire new bureaucracy" in less than two weeks, he said.

Turzai doesn't like to run bills that don't have support of the majority of the GOP caucus in the House, and it's not yet clear that a majority of Republicans support the bill. Additionally, with Gov. Tom Corbett preferring a much more limited version of "medical marijuana trials," House leaders reportedly don't want to drop a controversial bill in his lap in the last month of his reelection campaign.

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