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Marijuana Industry News October 18, 2013


California Marijuana Legalization Ballot for November 2014 Filed…

Residents in California have waited for the state lawmakers to fix their vague marijuana laws for years.  Activists are trying to rectify the situation.  A ballot initiative to be possibly be voted on in November of 2014 that would legalize marijuana has been filed.  The proposed law is aimed at addressing many issues including raising new tax revenues, preventing sales to minors, to ensure growing safety, and to reduce the power of illegal dealers.  There has been a growing push for residents to come up with their own plan, as elected officials have been unable to properly create marijuana laws since 1996, 17 years after medical marijuana became legal in the state.


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Dali Lama Supports Medical Marijuana Use…

The Dali Lama is a symbol of peace for many people around the world but  we at do not recall many instances where he has commented on marijuana.  He is currently on a three week tour of Mexico where  the Tibetan spiritual leader was invited to a  forum created by former Mexican President Vicente Fox. The forum was a pro marijuana event, as legalization gains momentum in Mexico, due to the reaction of out of control cartel violence/power.  The Dali Lama doesn’t care much for the recreational use but does join a growing list of influential figures calling for reform, as he see’s the medicinal potential in marijuana.


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Washington State Approves Rules for Legal Marijuana…

There has been considerable excitement and curiosity over how exactly Washington and Colorado will oversee their legal marijuana’s industries.  Legal sales are expected to begin sometime in the middle if 2014.  The issue is complex with tax rates, security, and trying to keep marijuana from being taken out of state leading the concerns.  Production will be capped at 80 metric to a per year and 334 dispensaries will be permitted state wide.  The states liquor board has held public hearings for the past year and hopes they have agreed on the best procedures.  The state hopes to generate tens if millions in new tax revenue.

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Game Changers After Historic Election


There were many highlights from Tuesday’s election.  Obviously the headlines are focusing on President Barack Obama’s re-election which came by dominating the electoral college.  However the President won a much slimmer popular vote victory.  There were also tremendous victories for the LGBT community and anyone who supports equal protection.  Minnesota residents voted against outlawing same sex marriage Maine and Maryland passed legislation allowing the unions.  Other stories include the fact that the majorities in the House (Republican controlled) and the Senate (Democratically controlled) stayed the same, with the exception of a few seats shifting.  Another victory for the people was the apparent failure of the Super PACS(outside political groups with no limits to how much they can spend) to impact the election.  Perhaps there will be a few less advertisements in 2016 or for the 2014 midterm elections, though that is likely wishful thinking.

In the world of marijuana reform, America saw a true game changing events.  Massachusetts has now become the 18th state to pass medical marijuana legislation.  The list almost grew to 19 but the ballot initiative narrowly failed(51-49%).  However, activists should be pleased as a narrow defeat shows even the deep south is changing and is receptive to marijuana reform.  What is even more striking is that Colorado and Washington State voters have passed an initiative that will regulate, tax, and distribute recreational marijuana.

Although the legalization in Colorado and Washington State does not end the conflict with the federal government, it does provide even more legitimacy for legalized marijuana.  Now there will be tighter regulation and greater tax revenues collected from marijuana sales.  If federal agents intervene, they now will have to compromise local economies and infringe on state laws.  They will have to take marijuana from safe and regulated environments and return it to street dealers.  Additionally, we are fresh off of a major statement by the people and while the feds have not respected our will previously, the writing on the wall is becoming more and more apparent.  All over this country the people want to see a different approach toward regulating marijuana, and the old system is simply obsolete.

Thankfully the election cycle is finally over.  It may be instinctive and easy to take a cynical outlook on what occurred but we should all be encouraged by the fact that the biggest changes in this country came directly from the hard work of the people and groups such as Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and New Approach Washington .  Ballot initiatives have produced same sex marriage equality and common sense marijuana reform.  The 2012 election was historic and will set the stage for even more states to return rights back to the people.

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Busy ACLU Makes Time For Medical Marijuana Rights



The ACLU almost always has a lot on their plate as they regularly step up to defend those who without a voice.  They are known for shedding light on issues that often involve racial, gender, financial inequalities.  They have also been a friend to the medical marijuana movement and this month alone have really expanded their efforts.

Several weeks ago the ACLU announced it would be filing a lawsuit against the Rhode Island Department of Health.  The suit was filed because the department has stopped accepting medical marijuana applications that have signed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.  For many sick patients, getting an appointment and traveling to see the doctor can be difficult.  The move by the Department of Health may severely restrict access for vulnerable patients.  JoAnne Leppanen of The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition agreed and said ‘‘What the health department has done is put up another barrier, basically pulling the rug out from under the patients.’’

Moving over to the other side of the country, the ACLU is also trying to bring awareness to medical marijuana in Montana.  Last night they screened the documentary “The Code of the West” which highlights the political debates regarding marijuana in Montana.  The film deals with a host of issues including medical marijuana’s benefits, the division among Montana residents on the issue and the upcoming vote on IR 124.  If Montana residents vote to pass IR 124, then they would see the 2004 medical marijuana law repealed.

The ACLU is urging Montana residents to vote “no” on IR 124.  In the height of political season, the ACLU has many important issues to deal with.  The group is also busy trying to fight efforts to suppress the vote.  However, as stated on Monday, it is encouraging to see that major news outlets (60 Minutes ran a story on Colorado’s medical marijuana program on Sunday Night) and activists groups are still fighting for marijuana reform even many other issues grabbing the headlines.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News August 31, 2012

marijuana patients

Los Angeles Ban On Dispensaries Appears to be Put on Hold…

The controversial decision to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles was met with resistance from activists.  Many patients have been anxious about how exactly they were going to safely access medication and if they would have to turn to traditional illegal methods of obtaining it.  The Los Angeles City Council, especially Councilman Huizar have seemed especially determined to end dispensaries even as the legalities mount against their actions.  It appears that court decisions have invalidated the right for municipalities to ban dispensaries.  While that did little to stop the city from threatening a closure which was set to take effect in days, apparently the ballot initiative from Americans for Safe Access did succeed.  Organizers submitted slightly over 49,000 votes with only 27,425 needed.  The signatures will be examined and validated which typically takes at least a few days.  If the signatures are approved then the Los Angeles City Council will have 30 days to either overturn the ban or put it a vote by residents.  Councilman Huizar still seemed determined to wipe any perceived egg off his face.  He said the city could still close shops that were in violation of state law and operating at a profit.  Of course searched extensively and could not find where ASA, or other organizers said any different.   However, eliminating all 700+ dispensaries, many of which are not making a profit is an altogether different story and may have been an overreach on the part of the City Council.

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Marijuana Decriminalization May Come to Springfield Missouri…

Many activists in Springfield Missouri have been seeking a new approach toward marijuana laws.  The goup Show Me Cannabis Regulation was successful in collecting enough signatures to get a ballot initiative to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana to the ballots.  The group was successful in collecting the required signatures.  As the case is in most areas, lawmakers can approve a ballot initiative or reject the issue and send it for residents to vote on.  While the City Council of Springfield voted 6-3 to approve the decriminalization effort, lawmakers now have 30 days to amend the bill.  The move appears to be a shrewd move aimed at keeping the issue away from a public vote.  As stated already, if the vote failed then voters would get a chance to approve the measure.  Now it seems several of the “yes” votes by the city council were simply to keep the issue in house.  Now they have 30 days to change and basically strip away the decriminalization law.  Councilman Jeff Seifried said of that he supported passing the legislation “then gutting, the entire ordinance.”  Unless our interpretation of this comment is incorrect, it sounds as if Councilman Tommy Bieker has similar plans.  He said “I will be voting in support with the intent of turning around and working out the amendment.”  Many residents may grow resentful that the City Council would take drastic measures to avoid having the people of Springfield ultimately decide the fate of the law.


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President Obama Participates in Reddit AMA Though Some were not Pleased…

As we close in on the 2012 presidential election, the candidates will try to utilize every way to connect with the people.  We are in the middle of the convention season as Mitt Romney concluded the Republican National Convention by making his speech and officially accepting the nomination.  On Tuesday the Democratic National Convention will get under way.  In the midst of high profile coverage it may be a surprise that the President decided to pursue a very new way of connecting with voters.  On Wednesday President Obama participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where he encouraged voters to submit questions.  The president has also taken part in other online forums aimed at connecting with voters.  While we cannot say they have not been effective, he has dodged the issue of marijuana reform and the war on drugs now several times.  Yesterday many were upset that the president seemingly ignored the growing calls for marijuana reform.  However, we at would like to applaud him for taking part, even if his answers were not ideal.  The president seems to be more in tune with the growing online culture than other current and previous candidates.  While he may be avoiding the conversation to some extent, it is a unique situation that a president would directly converse with voters.  However, in the future a free pass may not be granted if he partakes in another online forum encouraging  questions on everything but simply handpicking his answers.


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Medical Marijuana Industry News August 24, 2012

case dismissed

Court Ruling Could Reverse Dispensary Bans in California…

The Los Angeles City Council has come under much scrutiny after its controversial decision to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries.  Many even wondered if they had the legal authority to even enact such a law with a decision by California’s 2nd District of Appeals stating that dispensaries could not banned.  The city decided to move forward with the ban even though it was clear they would have to spend considerable tax dollars defending their ill advised legal decision.  A lawsuit has already been filed by the “Patient Care Alliance” challenging the ban.  Additionally, Americans For Safe Access have been in the process of collecting the necessary signatures to get a ballot initiative off the ground that would present residents with a chance to overturn the ban themselves.  The lawsuit and the ballot initiative may not even be necessary in the end as we recently learned that the court case Pack V. Long Beach was thrown out by the California Supreme Court.  Previously, the decision in Pack V. Long Beach ruled that marijuana dispensaries could be banned on the basis that medical marijuana is not permitted by federal law.  As a result, municipalities such as L.A. and Long Beach used the decision to ban dispensaries.  The state supreme court ruled that since the municipalities have abandoned their federal argument in the recent bans, then everything pertaining to Pack V. Long Beach has been invalidated.  Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access applauded the decision and said “The California Supreme Court has essentially pulled out the rug from under local officials who have used the Pack decision to deny access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients across the state.”


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NAACP Backs Marijuana Legalization Effort In Colorado…

A group familiar with social struggles announced its support for Amendment 64 and Colorado’s marijuana legalization efforts.  The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was formed in 1909 setting out on a mission “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”  The oldest civil rights organization is now seeking passage of Amendment 64.  However, their support is not entirely linked to the right to smoke marijuana itself as the group is also very much concerned with the disproportionate numbers of African Americans being jailed for cannabis related convictions.  Rosemarie Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP’s Colorado branch said “Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good.  “That is why we have endorsed Amendment 64 which presents a more effective and socially responsible approach to how Colorado addresses the adult use of marijuana.”  Arrests numbers by race are discouraging across the country but Colorado seems to have an even greater racial disparity in marijuana arrests than other areas of the country.  In Colorado, African Americans make up 4% of population but make up 9% of marijuana possession arrests and 22% of sale and cultivation charges.  In Denver the numbers are even more alarming as 11% of Denver’s population is African American even as they represent 31.5% of marijuana possession arrests.


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Medical Marijuana Makes Arkansas Ballot for November Election…

Activists in Arkansas faced a major setback when they were unable to deliver enough votes to get medical marijuana to the ballot earlier this summer.  However, a renewed effort has been successful with 74,406 signatures being submitted this time.  The number is higher than the 62,507 needed.  However ballot initiatives often see a significant number of signatures disqualified.  This was not the case in Arkansas as the Arkansas Secretary of State said earlier this week that “Our office verified over 69,000 signatures for Arkansans for Compassionate Care. They will be certified to the ballot.”  If residents approve the measure Arkansas will join the 17 other states (and Washington D.C.) that permit medical marijuana.  They would, however, become the first southern state to start a medical marijuana program.


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Updates on Upcoming Ballot Initiatives

ballot initiative

We at are always trying to report on the newest developments for the upcoming 2012 election in November.  Ballot initiatives have been the largest contributor to a restoration of rights that we have seen dissipate over the last century.  Because of this, we would like to provide highlights on some of the ballot initiatives that could see result in more legalization and decriminalization of cannabis.

First we were happy to read about new polls that show Colorado residents seemed inclined to legalize marijuana this November.  The group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected enough signatures to get the issue to the ballots and will be voted on by the people.  However, a previous 2006 vote in Colorado was rejected by the people so there is still doubt.  Fortunately polls are showing that a majority of residents in Colorado seemed more likely to approve the measure this time around.  A survey conducted by the Public Policy Polling group showed that 47% are currently in favor of Amendment 64 and legalization while 38% oppose the measure with 15% unsure.  There appears to be a very real chance that Colorado will be legalizing and regulating marijuana after November.

Michigan has demonstrated the value of ballot initiatives for a while now.  Kalamazoo had its residents vote and approve a measure that made marijuana the lowest priority for its police department.  Additionally, Detroit will vote to drastically decriminalize marijuana this November.  Grand Rapids appears to be the next Michigan city ready to take matters into their own hands.  A group named Decriminalize GR collected enough signatures which had to amount to 5% (6,565 signatures) of the Grand Rapids population.  The signatures were approved and were considered valid by the City Commission.

A failure of governing has resulted in the people taking the initiative.  We need access to medication and a system of regulation that will tax, test, and dispense marijuana.  As politicians have begged for the issue to disappear we can thank the people for accepting that cannabis is here to stay, and needs to be regulated.


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Medical Marijuana Industry News August 10, 2012


Ten Dispensaries in Colorado Warned to Shut Down by Federal Government….

U.S. Attorney John Walsh has issued a new round of threatening letters to marijuana dispensaries.  This time the letters are targeted at 10 collectives in Colorado.  The ten dispensaries targeted by Walsh are in violation of state law with many being closer than 1,000 feet to a school.  The collectives have 45 days from when they received the letters to either close or move their business.  California dispensaries have dealt with a crackdown on their medical marijuana industry as well, however, since Colorado has more defined laws there have been far fewer closures.  In November Colorado residents will have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana due in large part to the efforts of Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

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North Dakota Residents May Get to Vote on Medical Marijuana

Much of the success of the marijuana reform movement is linked to ballot initiatives votes by the people.  North Dakota may also see its people vote on legalizing medical marijuana this November.  The group North Dakotans for Compassionate Care helped collect the required 20,000 signatures.  The signatures were recently submitted to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office.  Only 13,500 signatures were required, however the signatures will be reviewed to determine if they are valid.  If the signatures are valid voters in North Dakota will have the chance to legalize medical marijuana.  If voters pass the proposed measure then patients will be able to possess up to 2½ ounces of pot for medical reasons and grow their own supply.


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Governor of Vermont Seeks Help From NORML in Re-Election Effort

It used to be that groups such as NORML struggled to acquire funding.   Apparently the tables turned with politicians seeking help from marijuana activists.  Recently, Governor Shumlin of Vermont decided to contact NORML’s executive director Allen St. Pierre.  He pledged his support for NORML’s cause be a national spokesperson for the national marijuana reform movement.  Of course no political favor comes without a price tag and the governor asked for a contribution toward his re-election campaign.   This shows cannabis reform has reached the highest level of politics.  Governor Shumlin vowed to push for a decriminalization law if Allen St. Pierre and NORML donate the money.  Shumlin is known to support a new approach toward cannabis law and the election for Vermont’s Governorship should interesting as Shumlin’s Republican opponent, Randy Brock said he was against any decriminalization message and was worried about the message it sends to children.


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Medical Marijuana Industry News August 3, 2012

federal raids

Federal Crackdown on Dispensaries Continues in San Francisco…

There does not appear to be any end in sight for federal raids targeting marijuana dispensaries.  Attorney General Eric Holder has reiterated that they will not use federal resources to go after law abiding collectives, however that statement no longer appears true.  Without any evidence of wrongdoing, federal authorities announced their intention to shut down the iconic and world’s largest marijuana dispensary, Harborside Health Center.  This week we learned that two prominent San Francisco collectives, Vapor Room and Hope Net would also be forced to shut their doors.  HopeNet Co-founder Catherine Smith said, “The Justice Department sent our landlord one of those nasty letters.  So this is our D-Day, we have to leave.”  Ray Chico who operates the popular jar company Doob Tubes, said the dispensary closings are hurting more than just patients and collective employees.  He noticed his business also take a turn for the worse and has been forced to let go of staff.


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Michigan Court of Appeals Rules Cities Cannot Ban Marijuana Dispensaries…

Recently California’s 2nd Circuit of Appeals ruled that cities cannot outlaw marijuana dispensaries.  The Los Angeles City Council seemed undeterred by this and went forward with what may be considered an illegal ban on dispensaries.  Michigan courts have now issued a similar ruling.  In the city of Wyoming Michigan an ordinance was passed that outlawed collectives.   John Ter Beek of Wyoming Michigan filed a suit in 2010 challenging the ban, and the ACLU also joined the suit. Michigan’s appellate court ruled that a local ordinace does not overrule a state law.  In this case since medical marijuana is protected on a state level, local municipalities cannot enact laws that conflict with state laws and outlaw dispensaries.  Dan Korobkin of the ACLU was pleased with the ruling and said “In 2008, people across the state overwhelmingly voted to protect patients who use marijuana to treat their medical conditions from punishment and penalty.”


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Arizona Asked to Expand Medical Marijuana Program…

Arizona’s medical marijuana program got off to a rocky start and was delayed by two years after being passed by a vote of the people.  There are still calls by opponents of medical marijuana for Governor Jan Brewer to end the program.  Ms. Brewer did not have her most triumphant political moment in court and was chided by a federal judge for the way they handled the situation.  However, as the Governor has received a great deal of criticism by marijuana advocates, they may be praising her today.  Thirteen county attorney’s in Arizona drafted a letter formally requesting that Governor Brewer halt the medical marijuana program.  She has rejected the request and wrote a response letter where she said “I am duty-bound to implement the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and my agency will do so unless and until I am instructed otherwise.”  Patients will be pleased to hear this as the it ultimately is the responsibility of elected officials to carry out the will of the people, even if they do not agree with a situation on a personal level.


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Activists Urging Costa Mesa Voters to Lift Medical Marijuana Ban…

Advocates of medical marijuana submitted close to 6,800 signatures in an effort to get an initiative on the ballot to legalize non-profit medical marijuana collectives.  Dispensary owner Robert Martinez said “It’s imperative to provide safe access for veterans and cancer patients.  I’m super stoked to bring these signatures.”  The number of signatures is 1,000 more than the 5,812 required signatures which represents 10% of the Costa Mesa population.  However, often many signatures are invalidated during ballot initiatives and if the effort requires more signatures activists will only have until August 10 if they wish to have the issue placed before voters this November.

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Marijuana Reform Moving Past Red vs. Blue States

electoral mapConventional Wisdom regarding “blue” and “red” states is no longer holding water.  Momentum for marijuana reform has moved south and inland with more than just the coastal states seeking change.   Medicine, relief, and happiness known no particular religion or political alliance.  Efforts in two new states give advocates and patients so much hope. Oklahoma for …continue reading

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Medical Marijuana Industry News July 27, 2012

green cross_fullActivists Vow to Fight Back Against Los Angeles Dispensary Ban… The decision by the Los Angeles City Council to ban marijuana dispensaries shocked many throughout the nation.  Safe patient access has been now become an even greater concern.  Patients are concerned that they will have to resort to illegal means of obtaining marijuana.  It appears …continue reading

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