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Marijuana Industry News March 15, 2013

the UN

International Leaders Want U.S. to Go After Legal Pot in Colorado and Washington…

Even as it is clear a vast majority of Americans wish to see marijuana laws reformed, the Federal government has resisted.  One of the most complex situations for federal authorities is permitting legalized marijuana while abiding by international treaties.  In 1961, the U.S. took part in the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  Officially we are expected to uphold our part as a party of this agreement.  However, the United States has not exactly been weighed down by the past burdens of international treaty.  Raymond Yans, president of the International Narcotics Control Board, recently said that federal law (where marijuana is still illegal, despite state laws on the contrary) was “good, but insufficient.”  The momentum has clearly shifted and now fewer politicians in the United States seems inclined to come on to national airwaves and voice support for the continued and failed War on Drugs.  Whether or not it is correct on the part of the American people, we typically do not respond well to the U.N. lecturing us.  If Raymond Yans decides to come to America and give a speech on how he feels a 50 year old treaty is more important than suffering patients, or individual liberties, it should make for excellent television.


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Mass. Attorney General Dismantles Ban on Dispensaries…

Due to a successful ballot initiative by residents, Massachusetts is one of the newest states to approve the use of medical marijuana.  Of course, controversy soon followed.  Even before any dispensaries have opened, local municipalities have enacted bans.  However, outright bans have been ruled illegal by the attorney general.   A spokesperson for the Massachusetts attorney general’s office said “The act’s legislative purpose could not be served if a municipality could prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality could do so, presumably all could do so.”  However, local municipalities will have considerable power in overseeing dispensaries.  They will be able to set out guidelines as to where dispensaries can be located, such as requiring they be a certain distance from schools, parks etc.  This represents a major victory for patients as other states have adopted medical marijuana legislation, only outlaw dispensaries.  This leaves the program in limbo.  Most patients cannot be depended on to cultivate their own effective and safe medicine without the help of dispensaries.


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Governor Andrew Cuomo Includes Marijuana in NY State Budget Discussions…

Last year, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to shift his hard line view on marijuana reform.  The second generation New York governor ran his 2010 campaign with a seemingly inflexible view on marijuana.  However, clarifying New York’s decriminalization law from the 1970s has been gaining momentum, especially in New York City.  While possession of less than 25g is supposed to yield a civil citation (ticket), a loophole has allowed police to slap harsher charges.  However, if marijuana is in plain view, then the offense is escalated to a misdemeanor charge.  A tactic known as “Stop and Frisk”, easily allows police to capitalize on the loophole.  Officers will tell someone to take marijuana out of their pocket, police can then arrest the individual for having it in “plain sight”, even as they were following the instructions of the officer.  The tactic tends to disproportionately target young Hispanic and African Americans even as white teens smoke marijuana in higher numbers, and represent more of the general New York population.  Governor Andrew Cuomo was initially mocked for proposing a solution to “Stop and Frisk”.  He has argued that “plain sight” and concealed possession should both result in a civil citation charge.  The proposal has gained popularity as communities have grown weary from seeing their teens jailed, and having criminal charges following them for the rest of their lives.  Brooklyn Democrat, Karim Camara, echoed the growing sentiment and told reporters  “We’re not only punishing the individual; we’re punishing society.” Mr. Camara cited how difficult it is for teens with a criminal record to get into college.  Additionally, measures that would save the state money (especially post Sandy) are getting their time in the limelight.  As New York state enters into bitter budget negotiations, Governor Cuomo appears to be holding at least a semi hard line on reforming marijuana law.  It is not yet clear how this will play out politically and if this will force state republicans to accept the change in marijuana law.


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NY Governor Cuomo Using Spotlight to Highlight State Marijuana Reform


It has been a busy few months for New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The Obama ally maintained a high profile during the election (he seems to be poised to make his own run for the White House) and campaigned for the president.  Governor Cuomo has also been vocal in his criticism during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which includes attempting to break up LIPA’s energy monopoly and has demanded that Congress appropriates money to the region to help rebuild.  He has also gotten out in front of the gun debate and is seeking to make pass one of the country’s toughest assault weapon ban.

However, Governor Cuomo has also taken on another important issue.  When Mr. Cuomo first ran for governor he maintained a traditional skepticism to marijuana reform.  He even sounded harshly against any progressive legislation in this area.  Over the course of the past two years his public comments have softened considerably.  Last spring, the governor informed the public that he was seeking to eliminate New York’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy.  This loophole, goes against the spirit New York’s marijuana decriminalization laws that were passed in the 1970s.  Possession of under 25g (concealed) is supposed to result in a civil citation ticket.  However, if marijuana is in “plain sight”, then the charges escalate to a much more severe misdemeanor.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo re-affirmed his stance.  On Wednesday, in a public speech he said “The legislature finds that arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties are inappropriate for people who possess small quantities of marihuana for personal use. Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crime.”  He also said marijuana arrests that “stigmatize and criminalize must end now.”

Advocates for marijuana reform have been pleased to see Governor Cuomo trying to fix the controversial loophole.  “Stop and Frisk” is used primarily within New York City’s jurisdiction and unevenly targets Blacks and Hispanics, many of whom are teens.  Gabriel Sayegh, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said “We cannot have the same laws applied differently to different groups of people when the dividing line is race.”  While New York City is known as a progressive haven, the rest of the state has been resistant to making any changes to marijuana laws.  However, with mounting debt and new financial priorities after Hurricane Sandy, New York can no longer afford to lock up so many people who pose no public threat.  Many residents are angry over their tax dollars being used to fill up jails with teens.  We are glad to see the Governor take initiative and if the second generation governor (his father is former NY Governor Mario Cuomo) with obvious presidential aspirations feels he can get this done without political turmoil, then it is obvious that the reform movement has turned a major corner.

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


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 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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Marijuana Decriminalization Has Immediate Impact On California Youth Crime Rates

teen crime

The unnecessary arrests of our teens is one of the most troubling byproducts of American marijuana law.   Besides the high economic cost, the social implications can ruin lives.  Marijuana possession arrests can provide an early entrance into legal system for juveniles.  Incarceration of so many young people produces a

The need to alter America’s direction in the war on drugs has been apparent almost since the inception of Nixon’s plan.  This is perhaps why even as early as the 1970s states started to take the initiative and enact decriminalization laws.  Decades later, we are still awaiting federal action, but it only takes a brief glance at the 112th Congress (who has passed the least amount of bills in history) to lose optimism.  Hopefully the 113th Congress is less bitter, partisan, and ineffective.  It is not desirable for state lawmakers to enact legislation that is in direct opposition to state law, but a lack of movement on the federal government’s part has left states with few options.

Critics and misguided fans of the war on drugs are always skeptical of decriminalization and often argue that crime and deviant behavior would increase and run rampant.  Newly published research by the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice paints an entirely different picture.  The group found that California’s new (which took effect January 1, 2011) decriminalization laws have resulted in a drastic reduction of juvenile arrests. The 20% overall drop now brings juvenile crime rates to their lowest levels since California started keeping such records in 1954.  When analyzing the numbers further, it is interesting to note that underage violent crime dropped by 16%, homicide dropped by 26%, and drug related crimes plummeted by 50%.

Marijuana reform can address many pressing issues in the United States.  Although many critics are unable to understand the complexity of modern economics, financial actions are rarely isolated.  Locking away our youth has a devastating toll on lives, but also a hefty financial price tag.  Lately, the point has been made countless times but the debate regarding the so called “fiscal cliff” and the money required to rebuild the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy, it is clear we no longer have money to waste on acting “tough” on drugs.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News

red cross

East Coast Still Recovering from Hurricane Sandy…


Sandy is perhaps the worst storm to hit the Northeast in modern history.  The region is still trying to recover from the incident as many are still without power.  Entire homes and lives have been lost and continues to extend our wishes out to those impacted.  We are donating water and food to collection centers in the New York area.  We hope everyone comes together and rebuilds the east coast better than ever.  We were pleased to see Governor Chris Christie and President Obama work together in what is becoming a rare bi-partisan moment.  Many are unable to help, but many can.  Below you can click on a link to the Red Cross with instructions on how you can help.

Click here if you are interested in Contributing to the Red Cross


Legalized Marijuana Likely To Pass In Washington State…


Marijuana reform has been gaining momentum for years now.  The conversation is usually centered around decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation.  However, as citizens demand more personal freedom and science highlights the benign nature of marijuana, recreation legalization has gained momentum.  Colorado, Washington, and Oregon will all  be voting on legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana.  The situation looks good for advocates in Washington State as many politicians and members of law enforcement have supported initiative 502 for quite some time. However, residents who will be voting seem to be demonstrating overwhelming support for the bill.  In a recent poll of likely voters Washington residents indicated by a margin of 55.4-37.6.  Check out for our election coverage next week as we discuss the presidency as well as the outcome of many bills that pertain to marijuana reform.  Residents also seem likely to pass a bill that will legalize same sex marriage.

For more about the situation in Washington State click here


Arkansas Sees Big Dollars Spent For and Against Medical Marijuana Bill…


Above we mentioned the bill in Washington State that seems likely to pass on Tuesday.  In Arkansas the fate of their medical marijuana initiative may be less certain.  There is considerable support for the bill but also many who oppose the idea.  Arkansas has the chance to become the first state in the deep south to have a medical marijuana program.  In the true spirit of the political season, a great deal of money has been spent on trying to get initiative passed.  Arkansans for Compassionate Care has raised $419,000 and spent $406,000 with almost all of the money going toward television ads. will report on whether or not the initiative passes next week.


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A Possible End to Stop and Frisk May Shine Light During Dark Times in New York

stop and frisk

New Yorkers may have something to look forward to as they clean up the devastating mess left by Sandy.  While by no means do we at want to sugarcoat the impact and seriousness of the situation, we thought residents of New York may want to have their spirits lifted.  Most residents of New York City will be at home or at evacuation centers as the MTA has shut down all bus and subway service and public schools are closed.  New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy may be soon coming to an end.

Last year NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a memo to police officers that instructed them not to coerce citizens into taking marijuana out of their pockets so they can be arrested on the “plain view” rule.  Concealed possession (Under 25g) of marijuana is a civil citation ticket, however, when in “plain sight” the charge is escalated to a misdemeanor.  This obviously goes against the spirit of the law.  The city has to spend much more money on processing, incarcerations, and court fees due to additional arrests.  The arrests disproportionately target non whites and teens which has drawn considerable criticism.

Many residents and lawmakers have been fighting to fix the laws for a long time.  The most high profile example comes from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is currently putting pressure on state legislators in Albany to fix the law.  Joining the effort is a Bronx DA, Jeannette Rucker, who will not allow “stop and frisk” arrests on public housing property until an interview with the arresting officer is conducted.  The move was in response to mounting complaints that officers are wrongly arresting residents.

The issue of repealing “Stop and Frisk” has taken years to gain momentum.  However, now that the train is moving it may not stop until the policy is fixed.  Besides the Governor’s efforts and the move by Jeannette Rucker, there was a hearing held last week in Brooklyn by City Council members.  The hearing included people who are on both sides of the issue such as members of the NYPD and activists against the policy.  We expect more of these hearings to occur after New York recovers from Hurricane Sandy.  New York City has so much damage to fix immediately, but ending “Stop and Frisk” will help fix problems of the future.

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Wishing Safety For Those in the Path of Hurricane Sandy

hurricane sandy

Much of the Northeast is currently dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  We at are hoping that everyone in the region finds safety until the storm passes through. High winds, power outages, and flooding are among the immediate concerns for millions.  It is also important to remember those who are working hard to fix power outages in dangerous conditions.  Police, firemen, rescue workers, and the National Guard are also at risk as they help those impacted by the storm.

Although the situation is alarming, we find that these are the times where people come together and help their fellow neighbors.  As the Northeast dries out and the floods go down we know there may be a long road to repairing the damage.  We want everyone to stay safe but if you are fortunate enough to have power and an internet connection, we encourage you to share your stories with us in the comment section of this article.


You can also click here for updated information via CNN on Hurricane Sandy

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