By Steve Elliott
Music legend Willie Nelson, now 81, plans to launch his own signature brand of marijuana called Willie's Reserve.
According to PR person Michael Bowman, a veteran hemp and cannabis lobbyist who serves as the new brand's spokesperson, Willie wants the signature cannabis strain to be a reflection of his passions, reports James Joiner at The Daily Beast.
"Ultimately, it's his," Bowman said. "But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy War On Drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we're trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition."
"Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are," Bowman said. "So from the store itself to how they'll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it's going to be very reflective of Willie's life. I think it's safe to say there will be stores that roll out in the states where marijuana has become legal," Bowman ventured.
According to Bowman, the stores will carry both signature strains grown under Willie's oversight, and other strains of cannabis as well. "There will be our own, and then there will be opportunities for other growers, who meet quality standards," he said.
"In the next calendar year there will be movement," Bowman said.
By Steve Elliott
Tom Burns, who directed marijuana programs for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, was fired on Thursday.
Burns saw implementation of the state's medical marijuana dispensary program, and had led efforts to establish a recreational cannabis market in the state after voters approved legalization last fall, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Burns confirmed his dismissal in an interview with The Oregonian Thursday afternoon.
Declining to comment any further, Burns directed questions to Steven Marks, executive director of the OLCC; Marks couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Rob Patridge, chairman of the liquor control commission, declined to comment on Burns' firing, characterizing it as a "personel matter."
The position's duties will be taken on by Will Higlin, the OLCC's director of licensing, until a permanent replacement is named.
The agency announced that Burns' firing will not affect the timeline for drafting recreational marijuana industry rules and regulations.
State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), co-chair of the House-Senate committee on implementing recreational marijuana legalization, said she was shocked and disappointed by the news of Burns' firing.
"I don't know how we're going to get through this without him," Burdick said. "He's the most knowledgeable person on marijuana policy in the state. It's a real shock. It's going to be a real loss to the legislative effort."
By Steve Elliott
Kentucky Baptists may have won a major legislative victory by helping to defeat a measure in the General Assembly that would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but they managed to give themselves a public relations black eye in the process, showing themselves to both be out of touch with modern medical research, and severely lacking in compassion, as well.
Almost as distressing as the fact that they were able to stop this compassionate legislation in its tracks is the fact that these heaven-dazed idiots were proud of themselves for doing it.
Legislators finished the 2015 session early Wednesday morning without passing a bill which would have made cannabis available for medical purposes.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood, who apparently was determined to flaunt his ignorance in front of large numbers of people, had called on lawmakers to reject the proposal, claiming Kentucky shouldn't follow the lead of other states that have done the same.
The KBC is Kentucky's largest religious organization, and as such has a powerful voice in the state, where 1 million of the state's 4.4 million residents self identify as Southern Baptists. Those demographics -- which correlate strongly with conservative political positions -- filter into the Legislature, where almost half the Senate and a third of the House identify themselves as Baptists.
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Thursday called for a marijuana testing reference library in support of amended HB 15-1283 currently underway in the Colorado Legislature.
“The mandatory testing requirements for retail marijuana were put into place before there were standards established for the labs,” C4 President Tyler Henson explained. “Unfortunately this led to a wide disparity in testing results from lab to lab.”
The C4 Chamber possesses documented surveys by members who have submitted samples from the same batches to different licensed labs in Colorado, only to receive drastically different results – upwards of 40 percent.
“Because of these issues, the standards and methodologies should be established properly within a reference library, just like any other industry that utilizes testing before we subject the industry to even more costs in an unproven system,” Henson said.
The current system also does now allow for variance in test results, as currently, even if a product is less than 1-milligram over the 10-milligram serving size, the whole batch must be destroyed.
An allowance for testing variance in products is common across many industries, particular with pharmaceutical companies. A reference library would be able to establish standards for testing variance in cannabis, in order to make both laboratories and manufactures more efficient.
By Steve Elliott
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Wednesday emphasized its commitment to advancing responsible, common sense labeling of marijuana products in order to prevent accidental ingestion and promote child safety.
“If we’re truly interested in protecting our children and encouraging responsible cannabis use, it is absolutely imperative that we operate on facts over fear,” said Tyler Henson, President of C4. “We cannot allow the ‘newness’ of edible marijuana products to cause false panic and cloud our judgment or our lawmaking.”
As such, the C4 Chamber announced it strongly supports legislation that will increase the effectiveness of cannabis packaging by reducing “white noise” and drawing attention to child safety through proper storage.
Current label regulations require information that does not allow for the average-sized product packaging to have the room to provide important warnings in large enough font to be effective.
By advocating for highlighted warnings on packaging, like “Keep the Products out of Sight and Reach of Children” and to “Keep this Product in Its Original Packaging”, the C4 Chamber joins other government and health agencies in echoing this step as the most solvent reform.
Report Provides Comprehensive Data on Marijuana Arrests and Charges in Colorado After Legal Regulation for Adult Use
Marijuana Possession Charges Decrease From 30,000+ in 2010 to Less Than 2,000 in 2014
All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, while Denver has experienced a decrease in crime rates.
Now, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) brings another jolt of good news by providing comprehensive data on marijuana arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The report compiles and analyzes data from the county judicial districts, as well as various law enforcement agencies via the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
The report’s key findings include:
• Since 2010, marijuana possession charges are down by more than 90 percent, marijuana cultivation charges are down by 96 percent, and marijuana distribution charges are down by 99 percent.
• The number of marijuana possession charges in Colorado courts has decreased by more than 25,000 since 2010 – from 30,428 in 2010 to just 1,922 in 2014.
Measure backed by diverse committee of Maine citizens — including state and local officials, businesspeople, and clergy — would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older
A statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol will be filed Tuesday with the Maine Secretary of State.
The leader of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer of Falmouth, will submit the language along with the signatures of five registered Maine voters who support the measure, as required by state law. The five signers will be State Rep. Diane Russell of Portland; local farmer and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Libby of Waterboro; Androscoggin County Commissioner and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy; Rev. Deane Perkins of Belfast; and Sherry DaBiere, a York-based real estate agent and grandmother.
“I am supporting this initiative because it will make Maine a safer place for my children and my grandchildren,” DaBiere said. “Marijuana should be regulated and controlled so that we know who is selling it, what they’re selling, and where it’s being sold.
"I do not want future generations to be exposed to the same failed prohibition laws that I had to grow up with," DaBiere said. "It’s time to end the reefer madness.”
By Steve Elliott
Lab tests from Colorado indicate that while the legal cannabis on store shelves is more potent than the marijuana of 30 years ago, it is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals.
"There's a stereotype, a hippy kind of mentality, that leads people to assume that growers are using natural cultivation methods and growing organically," said Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight labs in Colorado certified to test marijuana. "That's not necessarily the case at all."
LaFrate presented his findings this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.
LaFrate said his group has tested more than 600 strains of marijuana from dozens of producers. Potency tests looked at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component responsible for the high. They found that modern cannabis contains THC levels of 18 to 30 percent, double to triple averages from the 1980s.
Breeding for more THC has led to less cannabidiol (CBD), a compound which is also medically beneficial in treating anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Huntington's, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, seizures and other conditions. Much of the commercial marijuana tested had very little CBD.
"A lot of the time it's below the detection level of our equipment, or it's there at a very low concentration that we just categorize as a trace amount," LaFrate said.
"I've heard a lot of complains from medical patients because somebody claims that a product has a high level of CBD, and it turns out that it actually doesn't."
By Steve Elliott
A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed putting marijuana legalization on the Presidential election ballot next year for a statewide vote.
Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has filed a bill, HB 117, to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis and its derivatives on the Louisiana ballot November 8, 2016, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune. Voters would be deciding not just the Presidential race, but also Congressional seats that day.
In a Louisiana State University survey last year, 79 percent of Louisianans indicated support for some form of marijuana legalization. If Honore's initiative got on the ballot and passed, people 21 and older would be able to possess and buy cannabis without criminal charges.
"If I can get it to the people, it will pass with flying colors," Honore said.
According to Honore, criminal charges for marijuana have already ruined too many lives in Louisiana. As of June 2013, 1,372 Louisianans were serving prison sentences for simple cannabis possession. The average marijuana sentence in Louisiana is 8.4 years; more than 78 percent of these offenders are African American.
By Steve Elliott
Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.
Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.
But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.
"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.
"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."
By Steve Elliott
All cannabis legalization measures aren't created equally. Some of them, in fact, are written downright sloppily; the beleaguered medical marijuana patients in Washington state, for instance, could testify to that fact, with the problem-plagued implementation of I-502 seemingly headed toward shutting down safe access in that state.
The reason is that capitalism is beginning to eclipse activism in the race to legalize weed nationwide, as pointed out by David Downs on SF Gate.
The Ohio Ballot Board on Friday unanimously approved Responsible Ohio's amendment; Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the ballot petition's wording last week. That means the group can start collecting the 305,000 signatures it needs to quality for this November's ballot.
The amendment would legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, and set up grow sites around the state. It would allow adults 21 and over to grow up to four plants per household, give medical cannabis to patients at cost, and create 1,000 retail and manufacturing licenses available to the general public.
Unfortunately, that's not all the proposal would do. Just 10 companies who funded the initiative -- the 10 firms in question have thrown in $36 million so far -- would be allowed to cultivate and extract cannabis in Ohio.
By Steve Elliott
Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, now CEO of a marijuana company, on Sunday told an audience of cannabis industry representatives that voters, not politicians, are behind the legalization movement, and he called Washington state's troubled implementation of legalization Initiative 502 a "worst-case scenario."
Johnson, a vocal advocate of legalization and former Presidential candidate who plans to run again next year, gave the keynote speech at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. About 750 people attended the conference, according to organizers.
Johnson, CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a publicly traded company producing marijuana-infused products.
When it comes to Washington's botched implementation of flawed legalization Initiative 502, Johnson was very critical of the over-taxation of cannabis in that model.
"How are they going to regulate it and make it a legal product? They have screwed it up as bad as they possibly can," Johnson said. "They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It's the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington state."
"Pay attention to how you are taxing it," Johnson said. "You are moving the entire industry from a black market.
By Steve Elliott
A controversial amendment pushed by a state senator to ban all marijuana concentrates in 2017 will not survive, according to the head of an Alaska House committee that has spent much of the session reviewing cannabis rules under legalization.
House Judiciary Committee chairwoman Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage) said the amendment, authored by Sen. Pete Kelly, isn't what Alaskans voted for when they approved Ballot Measure 2 last November, reports Matt Buxton at News Miner.
"I would not go in that direction," LeDoux said. "To me, it is very important to adhere to the will of the people, and the people didn't say 'Let's have concentrates for two years and then two years later we'll stop being able to use them.' That was not the initiative."
The House Judiciary Committee held a few joint sessions with the Senate Judiciary Committee as the two worked through Senate Bill 30 and House Bill 79, which will regulate legal marijuana in the state.
The bill produced by the Senate Judiciary Committee was extensively rewritten by the Senate Finance Committee, and saw more than 20 amendments last week, including Sen. Kelly's controversial concentrates ban.
Grass Roots Organization Prepares for September Signature Drive While Gaining Momentum and Support
Rob Van Dam, world famous professional wrestler, is also an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He recently created a video that describes his opinion on this subject which can be found on Hashbar TV HERE.
"Marijuana should be legalized and taxed like beer and wine," Van Dam said.
The 2016 California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI 2016), a grass roots organization endorsed by the California Green Party, is seeking financial donations to pay for signature gathering and to promote the initiative. Volunteers are also needed, according to CCHI 2016.
Signatures will be gathered beginning around Sept. 10 this year. The signatures of more than 600,000 registered voters will be needed to qualify for the 2016 ballot within 150 days of signature gathering.
The California Cannabis and Hemp Initiative permits the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulates, enforces and taxes recreational marijuana sales like beer and wine.
The organization hopes to collect donations of $5, $10 and $20 as well as large donations to raise almost $1 million so that Californians to be able to vote on the initiative in 2016.
By Steve Elliott
Just a few days after it opened, the nation's only government-run marijuana shop was running low on weed. Open for just a few days, manager Robyn Legun, 36, was frantically trying to restock. "If I don't get this order in this morning, we're going to be out for the weekend," Legun fretted. Someone joked about a typical government operation, always running late.
But this government store is far from typical, reports Todd C. Frankel at The Washington Post. This store -- Cannabis Corner, in North Bonneville, Washington, deep in the Columbia River Gorge -- sells dozens of strains of marijuana, along with pot-infused cookies and coffee, glass bongs, and rolling papers.
And the store does all of this at the direction of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority, making the city government dependent on this once-illegal drug for cash flow.
Legun managed a Bed Bath & Beyond in a previous job, but now she leads a team of 10 city employees trained to sell marijuana. These days, she's placing orders for Blue Magoo, Purple Kush and Pineapple Express.
"I can't believe this is my life," she said.