By Steve Elliott
Recreational marijuana would be legalized in Michigan under the proposed wording of a ballot initiative submitted to the state last week.
Once authorized by the Board of State Canvassers, the initiative, from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, would need about 252,000 valid voter signatures before going to the GOP-controlled Legislature, reports the Associated Press.
If lawmakers either reject or ignore the bill, it would receive a statewide vote in November 2016.
The initiative is being sponsored by "six to eight" anonymous donors from the agricultural, real estate, insurance and education sectors, according to spokesman Matt Marsden.
Marsden said that Michigan could create jobs and add tax revenue by legalizing and regulating recreational cannabis. The state already allows marijuana for medicinal purposes.
A statewide ballot initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Arizona will be filed on Friday with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State.
Representatives of a unified coalition of organizations, activists, and marijuana businesses that are supporting the measure will hold a media availability at 1 p.m. MST in front of the Executive Tower of the Arizona State Capitol, prior to submitting the initiative to the Elections Division on the 7th floor.
“It was a long and deliberative drafting process involving a diverse group of stakeholders,” said Carlos Alfaro, Arizona political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There were some bumps in the road, but in the end everyone came together to produce the best possible law for Arizona.
"We are united in this effort to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol,” Alfaro said.
In summary, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would:
• Allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess and privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (it will remain illegal to consume marijuana in public);
• Create a system in which licensed businesses can produce and sell marijuana to adults and establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana;
• Provide local governments with the authority to regulate and prohibit marijuana businesses; and
By Steve Elliott
If you want to see a massive marijuana crackdown in the United States, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is your guy.
Christie made an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show on Tuesday and claimed he will "crack down" on states that have legalized marijuana if he becomes President in the future, reports Carimah Townes at ThinkProgress.
"Marijuana is a gateway drug," Christie claimed, ignoring scientific studies showing otherwise. "We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement.
"Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law," Christie said. "And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it."
Asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal marijuana prohibition in Washington, Colorado and other states that legalize recreational cannabis, the Governor responded, "Absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it."
Christie's hardline stance might not prove very popular with voters. According to the latest results from Pew Research Center, 53 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization.
In the Age of Legalization & Decreased Stigma, New Open-License Images Combat Stereotypes and Capture the Responsible, Modern-Day Marijuana Consumer
Recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington, D.C. and four states, a multi-million dollar legal industry is emerging, and marijuana’s mainstreaming is the topic of dozens of daily news stories, but there are very few photos that reflect this changing environment. To combat the outdated (yet still predominant) stereotypic images of people who use marijuana, and encourage news outlets to instead run photos that reflect real modern-day marijuana consumers, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released new stock photos on Thursday.
These brand new images are available open license and free of charge for non-commercial editorial purposes. http://www.drugpolicy.org/recreational-stock-photos
“Marijuana is being covered by the media in an increasingly sophisticated and nuanced way now that the laws are changing and more people are ‘out’ as marijuana users,” said Sharda Sekaran, DPA’s managing director of communications. “We all know that many marijuana smokers look more like your Aunt Bettie or your accountant than The Dude from The Big Lebowski; but most images in the public sphere still do not reflect this.”
By Steve Elliott
The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a bill essentially gutting the state's medical marijuana program, sending to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee a bill that eliminates medicinal cannabis dispensaries now that the state's recreational market is nominally in place.
The Senate concurred with changes made to the bill in the House last week, then voted 41-8 to send it on to the Governor for his expected signature, reports Beth Nakamura at The Oregonian.
Republican Senator Ann Rivers of La Center claimed the state could "no longer wait" to "reconcile" the medical and recreational markets, effectively forcing patients to pay the much higher prices in recreational pot stores, where employees are forbidden to even mention the medicinal applications of cannabis.
"The reality is that we have a thriving illicit market," Rivers said, ignoring the fact that medical marijuana collectives have been legal in the state since 1998. "It's essential that we shut that down.
"But it was also essential that our patients had a clean supply and an adequate supply," Rivers said, in a statement that is dripping with irony given the fact that her bill does neither.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Executive Director to Address 2015 Cannabis Symposium at University of Colorado Boulder
University of Colorado-Boulder is hosting the 2015 Cannabis Symposium to educate students and raise awareness about successful marijuana legalization policies, and to set a new standard for drug and policy education around the country.
The closing plenary speaker is Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the Drug War. Maj. Franklin has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, and can attest to the failures of drug prohibition.
He will explain why legalizing marijuana has had a positive impact on reducing violence caused by the Drug War, and improving public safety overall. His speech will be live streamed to campuses throughout the country.
You can watch it here: http://www.colorado.edu/law/live .
What: 2015 Cannabis Symposium: A Teach-In on Ancient Medicinal Plant and Current Drug Policy
Who: Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Other LEAP speakers presenting at this event include former corrections officer Carrie Roberts, and former judge and practicing attorney, Leonard Frieling.
Coinciding with the release of the Apple Watch on April 20, a Seattle-based multimedia company, Higher Ground, has created a parody ad to bring attention to marijuana legalization. The ad, “WeedWatch,” features a photo of the iWatch with the simple text, “Time for a Change: Legalize It.” A variety of marijuana-related icons and apps are featured on the device’s face.
One of the most innovative features of Apple’s Watch is the ability for users to customize the face of the device, and add additional information. In Higher Ground’s parody, they have taken the liberty to do just that!
The watch face is full of humorous and advocacy-related apps including NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), SXSW, Leafly (a Yelp-like mobile app for marijuana), 7-11, Cannabis News Network, and Doritos. The time? 4:20.
“The Apple Watch is a revolutionary product, and the legalization of marijuana in states across the country is also a revolutionary movement,” notes Higher Ground Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser. “The message of our parody is as simple as the solution to the War on Drugs: Legalize It. It’s time to end Prohibition, and legalize, regulate and tax cannabis at the federal level.”
By Steve Elliott
A new poll from Pew Research Center finds that 53 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, with 44 percent opposed. As recently as 2006, just 32 percent supported legalization, while nearly twice as many -- 60 percent -- were opposed, according to Pew.
Crucially, the poll finds that people are much more likely to change their minds from opposing legalization to supporting it than vice versa. Among the general public, 21 percent of people support legalization now, but once opposed it. In contrast, just 7 percent of people used to support legalization but now oppose it.
Millennials (currently 18-34) lead the change, with 68 percent in favor. But across all generations, with the exception of the Silent Generation (ages 70-87), support for legal weed has risen sharply over the past decade.
“The more that people learn about marijuana and look at the benefits of legalization, the more likely they are to support reform," Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority told Hemp News on Tuesday. "Our opponents sure do have a lot to say about what they see as the benefits of continuing prohibition, but voters don’t want to hear it."
The most frequently mentioned reasons for supporting marijuana legalization are its medical benefits (41 percent) and the belief that cannabis is no worse than other drugs (36 percent), with many specifically mentioning they think pot is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.
Comprehensive Educational Program Includes 40 Sessions with Top Cannabis Experts
The legal and medical marijuana industry is on track to be the next American gold rush, and organizers of the 2nd Annual Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) in New York, say it will present an in-depth educational program that covers everything from A to Z on how to succeed in this dynamic industry.
Sponsored by the International Cannabis Association (ICA), CWCBExpo, taking place June 17-19 at the Javits Center in New York, provides the latest insight and strategies for the legal, regulatory, financial, operational, retail, marketing and healthcare sectors of the industry.
“The steps to enter the cannabis business can be overwhelming with even just the different state and national mandates,” said Dan Humiston, president of ICA, “And if you are already in the business, you have to be quick and nimble to stay competitive and grow. No matter your point of entry, CWCBExpo in NY has you covered and will give you the knowledge, tools and connections to succeed.”
Sessions being presented during the conference program on Thursday, June 18th and Friday, June 19th include:
• What Physicians Need to Know to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to their Patients
• Will Cannabis be the Next Big Retail Opportunity?
• How to Legally Invest in the Cannabis Industry
• How to Obtain a State License to Sell, Grow or Produce Medical or Recreational Marijuana
• Methods and Devices Used to Extract Cannabis Oil from Plants
Cannabis Company Debuts Cannabis Vape Cartridge Using Co2 Extracted Oil from Indoor Marijuana Flowers
G FarmaLabs, a producer/processor of medical and adult use marijuana-based products, on Monday announced the launch of Liquid Gold Extracts NUG RUN Tanks, which contain what the company calls "the purest form of cannabis oil currently available within the medical/adult use marketplaces."
The brand has officially timed the product’s debut in observance of 4/20 to be made available on store shelves of all participating dispensaries carrying G FarmaLabs products.
The company’s NUG RUN oil is produced using a 100 percent blend of indoor marijuana flowers, thus breaking the status quo of traditional oil extraction processes. While most oils are created using the extracted byproducts of cannabis plants, NUG RUN uses the richest part of the plant, which carries the greatest amount of trichomes and terpenes. These are released into the oil during refinement and purification, resulting in much higher potency and longer lasting effect.
“We’re super excited about the launch of NUG RUN as a brand new flagship offering for our Liquid Gold Extracts line,” said Ata Gonzalez, CEO, G FarmaLabs Limited. "When we began development on the product, we were determined to set the bar higher than any other cannabis company currently operating in the market, and we’re confident that our NUG Run extraction process, which uses the actual flowers of the cannabis plant, will provide patients with an unprecedented option in terms of medical and adult lifestyle quality products."
Kaya Holdings, Inc. on Thursday announced that it has commenced with its own medical marijuana grow operations for the cultivation and harvesting of legal marijuana. The grow operation places Kaya Holdings as the first U.S. publicly traded company to own a majority interest in a vertically integrated legal marijuana enterprise in the United States, according to the company.
"This grow begins our path to complete vertical integration where our Kaya Shack stores exclusively sell company produced products," said CEO Craig Frank. "The economics of the industry and our quest for excellence in quality and stability in supply made establishment of this grow an immediate operation imperative. We are proud to have reached it so quickly and with so high a degree of expertise."
"This weekend Kaya employees and contractors will harvest the final round of our first medical marijuana crop rotations which have yielded the company nearly 25 pounds of independently tested-and-certified Oregon connoisseur-grade medical marijuana since January 1, 2015," Frank said. "With planned expansion we are planning to ramp up to much higher production levels."
The grow operation will rotate varieties within the perpetual harvest room to include more than 30 strains of marijuana, according to Kaya Holdings. The company expects to expand the grow operations throughout 2015, enlarging capacity and increasing the number of varieties grown.
The American Seed & Oil Company Medical Cannabis Cooperative, an organization of independent hemp and marijuana cultivation organizations, was announced on Tuesday. The intent of the cooperative is that by working together, cultivators can more rapidly and soundly expand their respective operations.
American Seed & Oil Company is dedicating its previously announced $1.2 million in secured funding to The Medical Cannabis Cooperative.
"American Seed & Oil Company is committed to establishing a leadership position within the developing U.S. legal cannabis industry," said Steven Rash, CEO of Algae International, Inc. and its operating subsidiary, the American Seed & Oil Company. "We believe our investment of time, talent and resources in a Cooperative Cannabis Cultivation strategy will more rapidly expand our revenues and assets than solely investing in the construction of wholly owned cannabis cultivation operations."
"We are already piloting a number of cannabis consumer products; working to develop a number of cannabis commercial products; contributing to the effort to mature and advance legalization nationwide and at the same time investing in the infrastructure to grow and process cannabis," Rash said. "We continue to evaluate and evolve our overall approach toward all these ends.
Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Thursday announced plans to introduce bicameral legislation next week that would reconcile state marijuana laws and federal tax law.
The Small Business Tax Equity Act, which was introduced last Congress by Congressman Blumenauer, would create an exception to Internal Revenue Code Section 280E to allow marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law to take deductions associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.
“More than two-thirds of Americans now live in jurisdictions that have legalized either the medical or adult use of marijuana,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “It’s time for the federal government to catch up."
"Section 280E creates an unequal and unrealistic tax burden on these businesses," Blumenauer said. "I’m excited to work with Senator Wyden in introducing the Small Business Tax Equity Act, which would bring much needed fairness and level the playing field for small businesses that follow state laws and create jobs.”
“Our legislation would provide an overdue update to federal tax law, which has not caught up to the fact that it’s 2015 and Oregonians have voted both to legalize medical marijuana and to regulate marijuana for recreational use,” Senator Wyden said. “This is a question of standing up for the people of Oregon, and ensuring that the federal government respects the decision Oregonians have made at the ballot box.”
“We are going to put our political muscle behind this to make sure it gets passed.”
New Approach Oregon has hired a lobbyist to help pass bills in the Oregon Legislature that would reduce marijuana offenders’ jail sentences and clear marijuana-related offenses from criminal records.
The group behind Oregon’s law to legalize marijuana is also teaming up with the Bus Project to organize volunteers, host phone banks and win endorsements for House Bill 3372 and Senate Bill 364. Both bills await hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 364 has already passed the Senate.
“We built a powerful organization to legalize marijuana,” said Anthony Johnson, executive director of New Approach Oregon, “and we plan to use it to make sure these bills are passed. Let’s stop ruining lives by treating marijuana as a crime and start saving money by getting people out of jail and giving them a fresh start.”
By Steve Elliott
Louisiana residents have a much more relaxed and tolerant approach toward marijuana than is reflected by their state's harsh laws, according to a statewide survey conducted by Louisiana State University this winter.
The university asked about three different marijuana polices, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune.
First of all, the survey found that a majority of Louisianans oppose legal marijuana for personal use. Fifty-two percent of state residents still oppose legalizing cannabis for recreational use, but the gap between those who don't want to legalize and those who support it -- at 45 percent -- is shrinking.
In 2013, 56 percent said they opposed legalization, and 42 percent said they supported it, a gap of 14 points. Now, that gap has shrunk to just a seven-point difference.
Young adults ages 18-29 in Louisiana support legal marijuana, with 68 percent supporting and 32 percent opposed.
One state lawmaker has filed legislation to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis on the Louisiana ballot on November 8, 2016. Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) said voters should get to decide whether pot becomes legal.
Secondly, the survey found that most Louisiana residents support medical marijuana. Sixty percent support medicinal pot, but for some reason that number has shrunk since last year, when 79 percent said they supported it.