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Higher education: Colleges add cannabis to the curriculum

As a green gold rush in legal marijuana and its non-drug cousin hemp spreads across North America, a growing number of colleges are adding cannabis to the curriculum to prepare graduates for careers cultivating, researching, analyzing and marketing the herb.

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Connecticut’s New Medical Marijuana Program

On May 17th, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a new bill into law addressing previous concerns about minors not having access to medical marijuana should they need it. Before the bill, Connecticut was the only state with a legalized medical marijuana program that excluded patients under the age of 18. House Bill 5450 calls for […]

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Marijuana Industry News March 29, 2013

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Portugal Decriminalization Yielding Positive Results…

The idea of decriminalizing marijuana has become increasingly popular over the years.  At times, it seems only elected officials are seeking to maintain the failed approach.  The idea of decriminalization and re diverting money while keeping teens out of jail is winning the argument.  Those who support outdated drug laws never seem to take Portugal into consideration.  Twelve years ago, Portugal underwent a major overhaul of their approach to controlled substance regulation.  Even in the midst of many critics, they decided to pass decriminalization laws.  The results are not shocking to activists as Portugal has seen the new laws produce results.  Doctor João Goulão, a former family physician, has contributed a great deal to the new policies.  He recently said that decriminalized laws needed to be considered because “We figured perhaps this way we would be better able get things under control.  Criminalization certainly wasn’t working all that well.”  While the idea enjoys more acceptance today, Dr. Goulão explained that Portugal was a pioneer in their approach over a decade ago.  He said “At the point when we designed the law, we had hardly any data to draw on.  We weren’t the least bit certain this would work.”  The bill passed is referred to as “Law 30/2000” and Dr. Goulão explains that it has been successful.  Specifically he said “This is working. Drug consumption has not increased severely. There is no mass chaos. For me as an evaluator, that’s a very good outcome.”

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Bill to Legalize and Tax Marijuana In Maine receives Support From Many Lawmakers…

With Colorado and Washington’s historic laws to legalize marijuana, it is not surprising that many other states are following their lead.  We at marijuana.net have been pleased to report about all the new states considering decriminalization, legalization, and medical marijuana laws.  Maine has recently introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana.  While it is unclear if the bill will pass, it is making sizable waves in the state government.  There are already 35 co-sponsors for the bill and now it will move to a legislative committee hearing.  If passed, there would be a $50 tax per ounce, with individuals being permitted to posses 2.5 ounces.  Earlier this week, Maine’s political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, David Boyer said Maine can and should take a more sensible approach to marijuana policy and we are glad to see so many legislators agree.”  Another interesting element of the Maine legalization bill is that is was lawmaker initiated.  The legalization laws in Washington and Colorado were voter driven, as activists collected enough signatures to get the laws on the ballot and by a vote of the people.  Maine appears to highlight a turning point, where introducing a marijuana legalization bill no longer hurts and perhaps even enhances their standing with voters.


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Dispensaries May Open this Year in Massachusetts…

 

It is clear that he northeast region of the United States is becoming a hotbed for marijuana reform.  We have spoken at great length about New Jersey finally getting its medical program off the ground.  Additionally, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo has been fighting hard to reform “stop and frisk” in order for decriminalization laws function as they were intended.  Connecticut has also legalized medical marijuana and just above this story we spoke about Maine considering legalization.  Massachusetts may see the doors open to dispensaries before 2013 is over.  The Massachusetts Department of Health has now filed draft regulations on medical marijuana use and expects to have a finalized version by May.  The Department of Health is expected to start accepting applications for dispensaries over the summer.  Last November, 63% of Massachusetts voters elected to legalize medical marijuana.


For more on this story and a listing of the Department of Health’s requirements to open a dispensary, click here

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Tragedy Strikes The Northeast Again as Our Hearts Go Out to the Families in Newtown Connecticut

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Fresh off of a natural tragedy, the northeast has been trying to rebuild and heal emotional wounds.  Families, homes, and massive infrastructure have been devastated.  In no way is the rebuilding in the aftermath of Sandy done, but the 12-12-12 telethon and massive money raised was starting to help everyone feel good during an otherwise sad holiday season.  The money raised will be vital to rebuilding efforts as the widely unpopular lame duck Congress is now bickering about whether or not they should help the region.  Mitt Romney was not the only loser on last month’s election day.  Apparently compassion also was running for another term, but as of now seems to be a few votes short.

We’ll hope that compassion returns because the Northeast just received another unwanted development.  By now, we are sure mostly everyone is aware of the tragic shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  There is no need to recap the events that transpired earlier today.  We at marijuana.net would like to extend our deepest condolences to those impacted by this incident.  This senseless act of violence accomplishes nothing more than ripping apart innocent lives and families.

Life will never be the same for so many people that live in this community.  Areas such as Columbine, Aurora, and Blacksburg are still trying to get over the pain of those shootings.  Connecticut has so much work to do as areas such as Norwalk were hit very hard during Sandy.  Even as they try to rebuild Coastal Connecticut, emotional rebuilding may never be complete in Newtown.  The region needs everyone’s help.  Individuals can send money if they do not live close.  They can volunteer and help those in need.  However, the most important thing we can do is pay attention.  If someone is upset or needs help, a simple conversation may be the most valuable tool.  We may not be able to prevent every tragedy (all of the facts of the Newtown shooting are not even known yet) but our only chance is to be good and caring neighbors.

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Applications Now To Be Available for Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program

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Federal pressure on state run medical marijuana programs has been increasing over the last year.  However, this has not been successful in stopping states from responding to the call from patients and regulation advocates.  Vermont is about to open medical marijuana dispensaries and Arkansas is set have its residents vote on a measure that would have them join the other 17 states with legalized cannabis.

Today, Connecticut provides another example of states taking on a new approach to marijuana law.  Lawmakers passed a bill to permit medical marijuana several months ago and Governor Dannel P. Molloy signed it into law shortly after.  The program is making even more progress today.  Starting today, it is expected that patients will be able to apply online to the state’s medical marijuana program.

Although the program seems to be progressing, residents who are concerned about unregulated marijuana availability may be able to relax.  The state is expected to have a tight grip on their program.  Governor Malloy’s Criminal Justice Adviser, Michael Lawlor recently said “From talking to a lot of people, Connecticut clearly will have the tightest,  most restrictive system in the country.”  The list of conditions that can qualify patients for the Connecticut program include HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, and MS.

Analysts may consider Connecticut’s medical marijuana patient application process overly restrictive, however, it is important no to lose sight of the progress that is being made all over the country.  Even as federal authorities demonstrate their inability to take action, residents and state lawmakers have decided not to sit idle as patients seek compassionate relief  Connecticut will soon be providing relief to patients and activists will have the opportunity to push for patients with underrepresented conditions to qualify.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News September 28, 2012

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Probation Workers Find That Chris Brown Tests Positive for Marijuana…

It has been an eventful few weeks in terms of marijuana developments in regards to celebrity.  Lady Gaga publically smoked a joint onstage in Amsterdam and Fionna Apple was arrested in Texas for marijuana and hashish possession.  Enter Chris Brown.  The controversial star is again in the news.  Because of his conviction in 2009 for assaulting then girlfriend, Rihanna, Chris Brown was placed on probation for 5 years.  Mr. Brown failed a drug test in June while performing community service in Virginia.  However, the plot thickens a bit because he is medical marijuana card holder.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Patricia Schnegg, said that mandatory drug tests were not a part of Chris Brown’s sentence.  The judge scolded him and said “You are not an ordinary person who can sit in your living room and do whatever you want to do.  More importantly, a lot of people look up to you, a lot of kids. What you do and what you say impacts a lot of people.”  It appears this may just be grandstanding by authorities as Brown has not officially done anything that is in direct violation of his probation.

 

Fore more on this story click here

 

Momentum Building in New York State For Marijuana Reform…

Several months ago New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he was seeking to change the controversial “Stop and Frisk” tactics used primarily by NYPD officers.  Now it appears there is a growing call to institute a medical marijuana program.  New York’s closet neighbors, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont now have all either passed or started medical marijuana programs.  Additionally, at a recent forum in Syracuse, many speakers came out in support of marijuana for MS patients.  The forum received considerable media coverage and could be important to changing minds of upstate New York politicians.  New York City and Long Island residents support medical marijuana with upstate residents and lawmakers a bit more on the fence.  Even though the overall population of New York supports marijuana (61%), many upstate politicians work for residents in rural areas that are divided on the issue.  The result contributes to Albany’s epic reputation for stalemate politics.  The momentum appears to be changing and New York should be joining the growing list of states with medical marijuana within a few years.

 

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Arkansas Upholds Ruling for Medical Marijuana To Appear on Ballot…

Medical marijuana has typically been a coastal and Midwest conversation.  However, in a testament to compassion, economics, and widespread communication, Arkansas now may become the first state to legalize medical marijuana.  The ballot initiative has been successful due in large part to the efforts of Arkansas for Compassionate Care. The group contributed significantly to gathering enough signatures to get the issue to the ballots.  This seemed to have been decided months ago, however, a group named Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values filed a lawsuit to remove the issue from the ballot on the basis that it mislead voters.  The Arkansas Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that “We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring.  Therefore, the act is proper for inclusion on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, and the petition is therefore denied.”  Even if voters pass the measure, there will probably be resistance from the Governor who has previously stated his opposition to the bill.  However, as Arizona Jan Brewer has found, it may be a slippery slope to challenge the will of voters.

 

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Medical Marijuana Industry News September 14, 2012

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New Bills In Congress Would Allow States to Decide Medical Marijuana…

As detailed often on marijuana.net, one of the biggest concerns for the medical marijuana industry is that is in a state of legislative limbo.  Patients are often left to wonder if they will have access to their medication.  Additionally, dispensaries face many difficulties operating in under the current system.  For the most part they are prevented from utilizing bank accounts or credit unions.  This results in high levels of marijuana and cash on premises, and dramatically increases the likelihood of being robbed.  Additionally, these businesses cannot benefit from the tax code or deduct expenses, making their survival challenging.  Several new laws in Congress have been introduced that would actually address these concerns.  Three different bills, HB 1983, HB1984, and HB1985, would allow dispensaries to take advantage of electronic banking, tax deductions, and would allow states to decide if they wish to permit medical marijuana by re-scheduling marijuana.  While similar bills have failed previously, there seems to be more bi-partisan support than ever for re-hauling the government’s approach toward medical marijuana.  While support was previously higher from Democrats, they have now been joined by fiscally conservatives who no longer want to see funds wasted on DEA raids.  Additionally, there is a growing call for returning many rights back to the states.

 

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Two Marijuana Dispensaries to Open in Vermont…

The federal crackdown and raids on marijuana dispensaries may not be producing the intended outcomes, especially in the Northeast.  In recent months, Connecticut has approved a measure to permit medical marijuana and even under the well known Republican Governor, Chris Christie (who does not support the program) New Jersey is close to dispensing marijuana to patients.  There is momentum across the country as Detroit, the state of Washington, Colorado, and Oregon will see their residents vote to regulate and legalize even recreation marijuana use.  A successful ballot initiative has also given residents of Arkansas the opportunity to vote on enacting a medical marijuana program.  In Vermont, two marijuana dispensaries have been given the green light to open.  One of the dispensaries will be located in Burlington while another will open its doors in Waterbury.  Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004 but patients are responsible for growing and cultivating their own medicine.  Patients in Vermont can possess up to 2 ounces and own 3 plants.  Last year Vermont lawmakers passed a new law that would allow up to 4 dispensaries to open.  The two dispensaries are expected to open in 6 months with additional applications to fill the other 2 openings under review.

 

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Seattle’s Children’s Alliance Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative…

Supporting marijuana reform was previously career suicide in the public arena. Over the past few years there have been surprising supporters of marijuana reform including televangelist Pat Robertson and Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter B. Lewis.  However, an even more surprising group of supporters have revealed themselves.  A Seattle based non-profit group named The Children’s Alliance has come out in support of Initiative 502, which if passed by Washington State residents, would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in a way that is similar to how alcohol is handled.  The group’s main focus is on protecting children’s futures.  Although whites and African Americans consume marijuana at similar rates, non whites are significantly more at risk for being arrested for it.  Often these arrests are of teens and having a criminal record can seriously jeopardize their ability to get a job, housing, or gain college acceptance.  Jon Gould, Deputy Director of The Children’s Alliance said “The status quo is not working for children, particularly children of color. Public policy ought to move us further toward racial equity and justice, and Initiative 502 is one step forward to that.”

 

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New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Decriminalization Efforts

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Yesterday, marijuana.net reported the developing story in New York pertaining to medical marijuana.  It appeared that New York may in fact be following the lead of its neighboring states New Jersey and Connecticut.  Now it appears, that New Jersey may be playing copycat with New York when it comes to marijuana decriminalization efforts.

We have frequently mentioned all of the momentum in the northeast for marijuana reform.  Fortunately, there have been constant and positive updates for advocates of reform.  Yesterday several news outlets reported that some New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation that would decriminalize low level marijuana possession.  Currently, 50 grams or less can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  The proposed measure would penalize marijuana possession similar to how New York does, with a civil citation ticket.  This helps to ensure that a small level marijuana possession charge would not have an impact on the rest of a person’s life.

The newly proposed law comes at a time where New Jersey, like every state, could benefit substantially from the savings decriminalization efforts provide.  Jails are filled with those incarcerated for possessing a harmless plant as tax revenues can certainly be better used elsewhere.  As the popular HBO show depicts, New Jersey knows firsthand the long term damage that prohibition can have.  Alcohol prohibition launched a crime syndicate on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  Now the potential for crime and large scale distribution of another banned substance is hurting New Jersey again.  However, it is the youth, specifically in the minority community where the ultimate price will be paid. So many futures are ripped away by a frivolous charge for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

Although the entire west coast has legalized medical marijuana, new developments in the northeast seem to be making the region emerge as a safe haven for patients.  Northeast states also seem to be considering a change of heart when it comes to jailing its youth.  Even New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” program has come under fire.  With medical marijuana on the horizon and the possibility for decriminalization efforts, New Jersey is poised to become one of the most progressives areas for marijuana reform.  However, no one is certain as to how Governor Christie will react to a decriminalization bill as he has demonstrated his opposition to the states medical marijuana program previously.  However, as residents of the garden state grow weary from watching their loved ones suffer, their children going to prison, and their hard earned tax dollars being wasted,  the Governor’s hand may be forced.  It may be time for New Jersey to utilize a new approach as they can ill afford another Boardwalk Empire.

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New Yorkers Reaffirm Support For Medical Marijuana

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Residents of the Empire State may not have legal medical marijuana in their state, but there certainly seems to be momentum to change that.  New Yorkers are known for speaking their mind and they certainly are not afraid to share their opinion in polls, especially when it comes to medical marijuana.

Northeast patients overall have received a great deal of good news recently.  With New Jersey finally making progress on opening dispensaries, Connecticut passing laws to permit medical marijuana, and Rhode Island also set to open marijuana dispensaries, the quality of life in the northeast should be improving for many.  While New York is the typically the trendsetter in fashion and night life, they may actually be copycats when it comes to compassionate relief.  The momentum from other states in the northeast seems to be spilling over into New York.  Recently, 74% of New Yorkers told Mason-Dixon Polling & Research pollsters that they want to see an end to federal raids on marijuana collectives and respect state laws.

This matches previous polls which show an overwhelming amount of New York residents are in favor of medical marijuana.  The message seems to have been received by lawmakers as Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to be shifting his position on the issue.  On the campaign trail for the 2010 race for governor he took a very rigid stance against medical cannabis.  He had very harsh words for proponents of medical marijuana and said “The dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits.”  When asked about its potential to raise revenue candidate Cuomo said “A lot of things could raise revenues. Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I’m against that, too.”  Much seems to have changed since 2010 as comparing medical cannabis to prostitution may be a thing of the past.  Only months later the governor said “We’re looking at both sides of the issue if you will and we’re reviewing it, but we don’t have a final position.”  Last month his position evolved even more as Governor Cuomo stated I understand there’s more research and there’s more evidence, and it can always be re-evaluated. I don’t believe there’s going to be time this legislative session to look at that issue.

Andrew Cuomo is a seasoned second generation politician.  Perhaps he is looking ahead and unwilling to pick a fight on an issue that has the support of an overwhelming amount of some of the most outspoken voters in the country.

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Marijuana Friendly Gary Johnson Nominated as Libertarian Candidate for President while D.C. Program off to Rough Start

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It has been an eventful week for marijuana law as Connecticut is poised to enact a strict medical marijuana program, aimed at avoiding the legislative pitfalls seen in other states, especially California.  Over the weekend there was also the Global Marijuana March, which saw hundreds of thousands gather across the world with events held in over 160 cities in 29 different nations.

As always, there were many other stories that developed over the weekend.  Although presumed to be the nominee for months, two term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has officially been named the Libertarian Party’s choice for President in the upcoming 2012 election this November.  The long time supporter of marijuana reform/legalization won by capturing 70% of the party’s 632 delegates at the Libertarian Party’s convention held in Las Vegas.  Mr. Johnson told Reuters that “I am very humbled. This is just the start.”  In addition to his promise to reform marijuana laws, Gary Johnson has taken aim at big government spending and income tax laws.  Gary Johnson shares Ron Paul’s view on ending income tax and replacing it with a “Fair Tax”.  The proposal would see an end to the current income tax structure and replace it with flat rate 23% tax on new goods.  Resold goods would not face any sales tax.  Mr. Johnson is also hopeful that Ron Paul and his supporters will back the ex-Governor.

As Gary Johnson prepares for a possible journey to the White House, he may face the issue of marijuana reform before he even unpacks his bags.  Washington D.C. has finally started to move forward with a medical marijuana program that has been weighed down by legal disputes.  The program was originally voted on and approved by D.C. residents 12 years ago.  Six licenses have finally been granted to cultivation centers with hopes of patients being served within a few months.  Despite the approvals finally being issued, some applicants seeking to open dispensaries are filing lawsuits.  They feel they have easily met the criteria laid out by the Health Department in order to open and have been denied anyway.

According to the Washington Times, 3 law firms have filed a total of 5 civil complaints that contest the way in which the D.C. Department of Health scored and denied the applicants.  Dr. Duplessie is one of the plaintiffs and is seeking his application to be re-sent to Department of Health with a third party to oversee the second review.  The Washington Times article quoted Dr. Duplessie as saying “It appears that the D.C. Board of Health has either not read my application or the playing field is not level, I think the process is beyond flawed.”  Dr. Duplessie’s attorney has questioned what they believe is a lack of transparency, and said city health officials should elaborate on their decision further than simply saying “it’s just our right.”

While the D.C. story is not what patients want to hear, it is important to note how much progress has been made.  With a presidential candidate and the city of Washington D.C. supporting cannabis reform, the future for patients appears bright.  Despite whatever recycled statements are emitted from the well dressed men in landmark buildings, compassion seems to be winning out.

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