By Steve Elliott
With marijuana legalization gaining momentum in Jamaica, the United States federal government has indicated it is uncomfortable with the idea.
Such a move could increase the flow of ganja from Jamaica to the U.S., according to William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, reports Arlene Martin-Wilkins of the Jamaica Observer.
Brownfield was responding to a question about last Friday's tabling of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2015 in the Jamaican Senate, which would decriminalize marijuana for medical, religious, and personal uses. The possession of small amounts of ganja -- two ounces or less -- would become a non-arrestable offense.
"With or without the legalization of ganja, the decriminalization of ganja, the importation of ganja into the U.S. remains against the law and the issue then is how much impact will legalization or decriminalization have on that," Brownfield told reporters on Tuesday. "And, I can assure you that, from the U.S. side, we will continue to pursue maximum efforts to prevent any import in the United States and we will request and expect complete co-operation from law enforcement authorities of the Government of Jamaica in eliminating this sort of trafficking."
By Steve Elliott
Oregon voters -- a whopping 56 percent of them -- approved Measure 91, which legalized marijuana, up to half a pound of it at home. But now Gov. John Kitzhaber has apparently decided he knows better than voters, and on Tuesday he indicated me might ask the Legislature to set lower limits.
Kitzhaber claimed he had "many concerns" about the voter-approved initiative, questioning the logic of allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis at home yet just one ounce in public, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.
"The amount you can actually grow in a home-grow operation seems to me to exceed the amount that you're supposed to have legally," Kitzhaber said. "I don't know how you enforce that."
Kitzhaber did not say what kinds of possession limits he'd like to see.
Possession limits were deliberately set higher at home to allow adults to grow their own marijuana and make concentrates and edibles, according to backers of Measure 91.
"Just like home brewing of beer and the home making of wine, you need to have reasonable rules for personal cultivators and hobbyists who want to produce their own marijuana," said Anthony Johnson, chairman of New Approach Oregon, which sponsored the 2014 initiative.
By Steve Elliott
Legalized marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States, according to a new report.
The legal cannabis industry expanded 74 percent during 2014, according to the study, from California-based research and investment firm ArcView Market Research, report Chris Oberholtz and Josh Marshall at KCTV.
The market grew from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014 in combined retail and wholesale sales, according to the data, published in the company's third edition of the "State of Legal Marijuana Markets."
Five states -- California, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and Michigan -- now have cannabis markets greater than $100 million, according to the report.
"In the last year, the rise of the cannabis industry went from an interesting cocktail conversation to being taken seriously as the fastest growing industry in America," said Troy Dayton, ArcView Group CEO. "At this point, it's hard to imagine that any serious businessperson who is paying attention hasn't spent some time thinking about the possibilities in this market."
Colorado became the "new epicenter of the industry" as the first active adult use market, according to ArcView, and recorded $805 million total combined retail and wholesale sales.
By Steve Elliott
The recent announcement from the United States federal government that it won't stop Native American tribes from growing and selling marijuana is a game-changer. In February, the subject will be the focus of a groundbreaking national conference focusing on legalization in Indian country.
Tribal leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and health and social work professionals -- along with law enforcement personnel -- will be on hand to examine the legal, political and social policy implications of the change, reports Indian Country Today Media Network.
The conference will be held Friday, February 27, at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Quil Ceda Village, Washington. Odawi Law PLLC and Harris Moure, PLLC are the co-sponsors of the event to help "leaders in Indian country fully understand the wide-ranging issues associated with embarking on the development of tribal marijuana legislation and considerations of commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacture and distribution in tribal jurisdictions,” according to a press release.
Michigan voters will decide at the polls whether or not to increase the state tax rate from six to seven percent. According to a recent Survey USA poll commissioned by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Report, Michiganders would rather legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
The poll indicates that a majority of Michigan voters are against raising the state sales tax to pay for roads and schools. A higher sales tax was approved by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder during last year's lame duck session, and will be voted on in May in a special statewide election.
Of the 500 registered Michigan voters surveyed, only 43 percent support raising the sales tax to pay for roads; 49 percent opposed the hike, and 8 percent weren't sure.
The poll shows that 64 percent of Michigan adults would likely vote in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana, as opposed to raising taxes across the board. Twenty-eight percent of respondents opposed regulating marijuana like alcohol, and 8 percent weren't sure.
"The road tax is in serious trouble," said Tim Beck, chair of the Safer Michigan Coalition. "Voters are suspicious of more taxes imposed upon the general population.
"There are other, more creative ways to generate revenue to fund roads and schools," Beck said. "Regulation and taxation of marijuana is an alternative voters seem to prefer."
By Steve Elliott
Oregon voters last November chose to legalize marijuana. But some residents in the eastern part of the state still aren't ready to let go of prohibition.
Pendleton, an eastern Oregon town where the motto is "Let 'er buck" and the main attraction is the 105-year-old Pendleton Round-Up, may ban cannabis retailers from the city, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
"When it comes to a lot of our laws, they are determined by a couple of counties and Portland," whined Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk. "We are used to that, so what we have to do is buck up and figure out what we are going to do."
Among many in eastern Oregon, especially more rural areas of the state, the marijuana's reputation as a gateway to hard drugs, mental illness, family dysfunction and addiction still seems strong, The Oregonian reports.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Thursday held the first of 10 statewide public forums as part of an effort to collect input from residents. The first two, in Baker City and Pendleton, attracted more than 200 residents from a mostly rural area.
"I am trying to picture what this is going to look like in our town," said John Day coucilwoman Lisa Weigum, 30, who drove 80 miles to attend the Baker City meeting.
By Steve Elliott
A letter has been sent to marijuana stores in Washington state on official Department of the Army letterhead asking marijuana stores to not sell to enlisted troops.
"This letter is to inform you that your establishment has been declarted 'Off-Limits' to members of the Armed Forces effective 21 January 2015," the letter, first revealed on Twitter by Seattle-based Canna Law Group's Hilary Bricken on Thursday.
"Forces are prohibited from entering your establishment as long as this order is in effect," readers the letter, signed by David L. Chase, Colonel, U.S. Army, and President, AFDCB (Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board).
"This restriction will remain in effect indefinitely in accordance with established Armed Forces policy unless you agree to stop selling substances similar to marijuana to military personnel," reads the curiously worded letter. I say curiously worded, because these stores don't sell "substances similar to marijuana," Col. Chase. Sir, they sell MARIJUANA.
"You have thirty (30) days to present evidence to the AFDCB that you agree to stop selling these substances to military personnel," the letter demands, taking the "guilty until proven innocent" approach that seems to be popular among Army types.
By Steve Elliott
President Barack Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to legalize marijuana.
In a YouTube interview, Obama discussed cannabis policy and the contrasts between federal and state law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. Four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) plus the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana.
“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said in response to a question from Hank Green, who with his brother runs a YouTube channel with nearly 2.5 million subscribers.
“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said, about 11 minutes into the video embedded below. “My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”
By Steve Elliott
Public perceptions of marijuana have certainly shifted. According to a recent study, more Americans now favor banning unpasteurized milk than favor banning marijuana.
About 59 percent of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47 percent support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University's Food Demand Survey, reports Sam Frizell at Time Magazine.
A patchwork of different laws regulate raw milk in the U.S., much like marijuana. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho allow it.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have, to a greater or lesser degree, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis; four (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) have legalized recreational use. According to NORML, 18 states have removed criminal penalties for marijuana, known as decriminalization, reducing simple possession roughly to the equivalent of a parking ticket.
Photo: The Weed Blog
By Steve Elliott
Talk about a super bowl, man. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a potent new marijuana strain named after him in the Emerald City... for the second year in a row.
Nate "Diggity" Johnson, co-owner of marijuana delivery service Green Umbrella, developed "Beast Mode OG," a strain named after the football star during the run-up to last year's Super Bowl, reports Stephen Cohen at the Seattle PI. Now Johnson and an unnamed grower have released "Beast Mode 2.0," also known as "Beast Mode Blue Fire," just in time for this year's big game.
According to Diggity, this Beast Mode is even crazier than last year's. "We're back in the Super Bowl and better than ever now, so it only makes sense to have a better strain," Johnson said.
Careful, though, you might get weed-tackled.
"There's no way that you're getting by smoking this without feeling it, kind of how Marshawn literally pushes the defense down instead of them pushing him down," Johnson enthused. "It's going to push you. You're going to feel it right away."
"It's a super pain reliever," Johnson told TMZ. "And it hits you like Marshawn -- hard and fast."
By Steve Elliott
A new marijuana-based spray which claims to help women have better sex is hitting the shelves in Colorado this week.
Foria, containing cannabis extract, claims the relaxing properties of weed will help women have better and more satisfying sex, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today. The spray has been available for a few months in California, but only to people with a medical marijuana authorization; the Colorado roll-out will be to the general public, since adults 21 and over are allowed to buy and use cannabis in the Rocky Mountain State.
The edible, coconut oil-based spray is designed to be sprayed onto the vagina about 30 minutes before sex. It's making its Colorado debut on Thursday at an Aspen marijuana boutique.
Foria originates from Aphrodite Group, a California medical marijuana collective. It's the latest in a growing line of cannabis-infused products, including lotions, candies and patches. The long history of marijuana use gives "significant credibility" to the concept, according to scientists.
"Cannabis is an aphrodisiac," said Genifer Murray, CEO of CannLabs, a leading marijuana-testing company. "And there's a lot of nerves down there."
Foria's slick marketing campaign is setting it apart from its competitors. The company is launching Foria at the X Games in Aspen, which begin January 22. A video on the Foria website features women speaking about how they use it and its effects.
Calling for Alternatives to Drug Testing for “Recreational” Drugs that Aren’t Performance Enhancers
The NCAA announced on Thursday that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for recreational drug use. The news comes just days after two University of Oregon football players were suspended for the College Football Playoff national championship game for testing positive for marijuana.
The NCAA Competitive safeguards committee made two recommendations. The first would strengthen the NCAA drug testing for performance-enhancing drugs, while the second would develop alternatives to drug testing for non-performance enhancing drugs like marijuana because “they do not provide a competitive advantage.”
“Given that testing over nearly 30 years hasn’t served as an adequate deterrent – plus the fact that student-athletes who are penalized for recreational drug use by losing eligibility are more likely to drop out of school – the committee suggested the NCAA explore whether a different approach for recreational drugs is warranted,” the NCAA release stated.
According to the statement, the NCAA Sport Science Institute staff will develop a new policy proposal based on those recommendations and will bring the committee’s proposal to the divisional governing bodies in the coming months.
By Steve Elliott
Washington has a weed headache. Implementation of the state's weak, badly written marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502, continues to be plagued with problems. When legal recreational cannabis shops opened last summer, there was a shortage of weed, and high prices. Now, six months later, there's a glut of weed, as growers are left sitting on hundreds of pounds of product -- but prices are still absurdly high at the 502 stores.
A big autumn harvest of outdoor cannabis from the eastern part of the state flooded the market, reports the Associated Press. That would normally mean plummeting prices at pot shops, but even as growers are worried about going belly up, pot shops continue to charge $23 to $25 a gram -- more than twice the going price either on the street or in medical marijuana dispensaries.
"It's an economic nightmare," said Andrew Seitz, general manager at Dutch Brothers Farms in Seattle.
Licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of marijuana as of Thursday, according to state data, but Washington's few licensed pot shops had sold less than 20 percent of that. Many marijuana users in Washington, faced with ridiculously out-of-synch prices in state marijuana stores, have opted to stick with the less expensive pot they buy on the black market, or at medical marijuana dispensaries.
Legalizing recreational marijuana production, distribution and possession in Vermont could generate significant tax revenues, but also involves costs and important decisions about how best to regulate the substance, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The report makes clear that if Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated.
The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. Researchers say the goal of the report is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.
The RAND report provides the most-detailed accounting available about the wide number of issues that face state officials -- in Vermont and elsewhere -- when considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.
“Our conversation about whether to legalize marijuana must be rooted in facts and be transparent about the uncertainties,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “This RAND report will serve as a critical foundation for our ongoing discussion about the best course for Vermont.
"I continue to support moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont but have always said that we have to proceed with rigorous research and preparation before deciding whether to act," Shumlin said. "This report will help us do that.”
By Steve Elliott
One political party in Israel is offering marijuana for campaign donations. The only catch is, it's marijuana in the future for campaign donations now.
The gimmick, launched in a YouTube video on Saturday, helped the Green Leaf (Aleh Yarok) party get more than NIS 100,000 ($25,000 US) in donations this week, reports The Jerusalem Post.
Donors who give campaign donations are promised they will receive cannabis if and when the day comes that the plant is legalized in Israel.
The party on Monday morning opened a Headstart fundraising campaign with a range of options for donors. The page includes a sliding scale of hypothetical amounts of marijuana along with corresponding contribution levels.
A donation of NIS 50 ($12.50) entitles the donor to a savings bond redeemable for one gram of marijuana, once it's legalized. That's significantly less than the black market street value of weed in Israel, where it runs NIS 80 to 100 ($20 to $25 US) a gram. By Wednesday, all 56 available for that donation had been purchased.