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republicans

Iowa: Some Republicans Announce Support for Medical Marijuana Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some Republican House lawmakers are supporting legislation that would create a system for manufacturing, distributing and possessing some forms of medical marijuana in Iowa, though it’s unclear what type of support the bill will get from party leaders. The bill would expand the state’s current law on medical marijuana, which […]

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Marijuana Industry News December 6, 2013

family

New Family Networks Develop in Colorado…

Families from all over the United States are migrating to Colorado in order to treat their children with marijuana.  While controversial to some, many families feel they are without any other options.  The New York Times has recently published an article that examined some of the “marijuana refugees”.  The article describes a new network being created by these families.  The network is made up of people from varying political and ethnic backgrounds as seeking relief for an ailing child is a universal instinct.  Families are sharing recipes for marijuana edibles, baby sitting for each other and doing other activities together.  This development embodies much of the compassion that has fueled the medical marijuana movement.

For the entire New York Tines article click here

Proposed Law Would Permit Dispensaries and Edibles in Michigan

Earlier this week, Michigan’s House Committee debated a new medical marijuana bill.  Activists and patients believe  Michigan courts and authorities have placed too many restrictions on the voter approved medical marijuana laws.  Many are also concerned that safe access has been compromised.  Not every resident is adept at growing marijuana and there are certain dangers including pesticides and mold that can be an issue for novice growers.  Rep. Mike Callton, (R-Nashville) sponsored House Bill 4271 and believes individual communities should dictate what they want.  “Local control will allow cities, townships and villages to regulate the level they feel most comfortable with,” Callton said in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. “And for those communities who feel it is inappropriate, it allows them to opt out all together.”

For more on this article click here

 

Need for Marijuana Lab Testing Highlighted This Week….

This week many news outlets were reporting on a University of New Haven study that showed marijuana can sometimes be contaminated with mold, mildew and insect parts.  Heather Miller Coyle, a forensic botanist and associate professor at UNH worked on the study and would like to see universal testing.  “If there’s no certification … it’s like saying we don’t check our meat for mad cow disease,” Coyle said. “That’s our goal as a private university, to develop the tools to address or mediate this issue.” We at marijuana.net have been advocating for lab testing for several years.  Medicine is not effective and even dangerous without the proper safety regulations.  Labs such as The Werc Shop have excellent track records in testing and can ensure safety.

 

For more on this story click here

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The Election is Finally Here

voting

Although early voting has been going on in certain states since September, the single day where the majority of voters will cast their ballots is here.  Enthusiasm is high as many pictures have been taken of long lines at polling sites.  Whether you are voting for President Obama, Governor Romney, Governor Johnson, or another candidate, it is simply unacceptable that voting has become a test of endurance.  Our country has previously been an example to the rest of the word for handling our elections in a fair way.  It appears, we have entered the one of the first periods  in U.S. history where voting has become more difficult.

President Obama and Mitt Romney have been frantically traveling to many swing states in the last minutes of campaigning.  Even though most people seem to have made up their minds as to who they will be voting for, we decided to highlight some of the candidates below.  For marijuana reformers, this election may not have touched on the key issues you wish to see dealt with, but we will provide any information available about the candidate’s positions.  Below check out a brief description of the candidates and a brief description of their policy positions:

 

-President Barack Obama (Democratic Party)

Our 44th president was born and raised in Hawaii.  He would eventually move to Chicago and in 2006 he was elected to the United States Senate.  His significant accomplishments as President include ending the War in Iraq, passing the Affordable Health Care Act, and giving the order to Seal Team Six to kill Osama Bin Laden.  Critics have been upset with a stagnant economic recovery and his handling of medical marijuana which includes raids on dispensaries and very little difference in the handling of The War on Drugs.  Many marijuana reform advocates are hoping a second term for Obama would be starkly different for both the War on Drugs and medical marijuana.

 

-Governor Mitt Romney (Republican Party)

The Republican nominee for president of the United States was born in Michigan.  He also spent significant time in Utah before moving to Massachusetts.  In 1994 he challenge Senator Ted Kennedy but ultimately lost the election.  In 2002, he took over the leadership role for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which was in dire financial straits.  Mr. Romney is credited with turning the situation around and ensuring that the Olympics would be a success.  He would eventually run successfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002.  As Governor, his chief accomplishment was reforming Massachusetts health care program.   After serving one term as Governor, Mr. Romney decided to run for president.  He lost out to John McCain in 2008 but finally received the nomination in 2012.  Mr. Romney has not addressed marijuana often, but did say several months ago that he would fight medical marijuana “tooth and nail”.

 

-Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)

The former two term Governor of New Mexico was born in North Dakota.  While attending the University of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson paid his way through school by working as a handyman.  He would eventually start Big J Enterprises, and grow his company into one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico.  In 1994 he successfully ran for Governor of New Mexico.  He was re-elected in 1998 and still remains one of the most popular figures in New Mexico politics.  The Governor was previously a Republican but has since fallen from good graces with the party.  Many analysts believe his support for Libertarian causes such as marijuana reform and same sex marriage created a rift between Mr. Johnson and the GOP.  Mr. Johnson is now officially the Libertarian candidate for president and continues to serve as one of the most high profile advocates for marijuana decriminalization and reform.

 

-Jill Stein (Green Party)

The Green Party’s candidate for the United States Presidency was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park Illinois.  She graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1979.  Jill Stein has been on the forefront of environmental issues across the country for decades.  She has testified numerous times in front of Government panels.  Ms. Stein has advocated what she calls “ The Green Deal”.  She sees it as a modern version of FDR’s “New Deal”.  In her deal, there would be a 30% reduction in military spending, higher tax rates for the wealthy while directing the additional money toward new age green jobs that would put America back to work while simultaneously working to reduce climate change.  Jill Stein has been a marijuana supporter for a long time and less than two weeks ago said that “marijuana is not dangerous at all” in a recent third party debate.

 

Marijuana.net encourages everyone to get out there and vote.    If you see long lines, please do not be discouraged.  We hope you stay engaged and make sure elections are conducted properly in the future.  The candidates are very different from one another so we encourage you to support the candidate you feel most closely represents your interests.  Additionally check back with us as we provide updates on the many ballot initiatives that are on the books.  Three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) have their residents voting on measures that will legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.  We will be conducting extensive follow up on the election all week.

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Arizona Continues Crusade Against State Residents

arizona arresting residents

It is truly a shame when a disagreement cannot be worked out and the only discourse to solve a problem is within the confines of a stuffy courtroom.  Unfortunately, we see it every day as families are unable to come to an agreement and take their affairs before a judge.  A similar situation is going on in Arizona, as once again disputes between a lawmakers and medical marijuana patients.

Although Arizona’s medical marijuana program was voted on and approved by residents, Governor Jan Brewer and other officials have directly challenged the will of the people.  After an embarrassing court showing the Governor dropped her most recent lawsuit against the people of her state.  However, there still has been echoing voices in the background of Arizona’s government to keep up the fight against its own sick residents.

While the Governor has been staying somewhat silent on the issue recently, apparently her police officers have taken the ball and started running.  In a raid of state legal medical marijuana patient Charise Voss Arfa’s home, police seized a tincture bottle.  After taking the bottle police charged her with a felony narcotics arrest, even as marijuana and its tincture extracts are supposed to be covered in the state’s medical marijuana laws.  Now the state will have to deal with a lawsuit challenging the legality of the arrest.

Many critics are upset about the recent direction of Arizona law, especially as officers have not proved their competency.    Arizona is known some “unique” laws that range from the silly, to the absurd (click here for a list).  However, in recent years they are also known for passing laws that create tension and division within its residents, most notably the law that requires residents to “show me your papers” should they match a particular profile.  Additionally these new directives are placing officers out of their comfort zone.  They are trying to uphold the marijuana laws but are not familiar with a tincture.  The immigration laws obviously lend themselves to even more problems as officers must make a determination on the fly based only on physical observation.

While this kind of political grandstanding may help to motivate political bases, it is extremely short sighted.  The electorate has changed and this can clearly be seen in this year’s U.S. Senate race.  In a state that traditionally elects Republican candidates, Democratic challenger Richard Carmona looks to have a very realistic chance of winning the Senate seat.  While old guard tries to wring the people dry through infringing on civil rights and turning to the courts, a new generation of patients, non whites, and the compassionate will remember, like any scorned family member, that officials choose the courts over listening to the will of the people.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News October 5, 2012

city council

Los Angeles Patients and Activists Score Huge Victory as they Force City Council To Repeal Dispensary Ban…

The decision by the Los Angeles City Council to drop their current efforts in banning marijuana dispensaries is a huge lift for many concerned patients.  While we at  marijuana.net have posted the story already on our page, we thought it was important to bring more focus to the issue.  The city wanted the ban as they have proved unable to come up with an adequate system of regulation.  Instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty, they decided the work would be too difficult and tried to brush the issue under the rug.  A dispensary ban would have likely lead to a resurgence of unregulated gang related marijuana sales on the street level.  This week’s victory shows how the voice of the people still matters and how great things can be accomplished.  Americans for Safe Access was able to collect the over 27,000 signatures needed to block the ban.  After the signatures were collected the City Council had the option of repealing the ban themselves or putting the vote to the people.  Many analysts expected the issue to go to a vote.  While we have been hard on how the City Council has handled the situation, we would like to applaud them in this decision.  As it was becoming more clear that there was enough voter support to repeal the ban in the City Council decided not to drag out the inevitable.

 

For more on this story click here

 

Synthetic Marijuana Linked to Kidney Failure in Oregon Residents…

Over the course of the past year fears have grown over synthetic marijuana use.  Most state governments and the federal government have outlawed its production.  Many health complications have been linked to synthetic cannabis use with kidney failure now emerging as the newest problem.  In Oregon, 6 cases of kidney failure have been linked to use of popular products such as “Spice” and “K2”. 
State Public Health Division Director Mel Kohn, M.D., M.P.H, said “People need to know that synthetic or designer drugs like ‘spice’ or ‘synthetic amphetamines’ are chemicals that are not safe, can contain dangerous contaminants, and may cause serious harm to users – even death, If you become ill after taking a designer drug, seek medical attention immediately and bring the drug in so it can be tested.”


For more on this story click here

 

Republican Senate Candidate in Washington State Endorses Marijuana Legalization Initiative…

Bi-partisan has become a dirty word in Washington D.C. as neither party seems willing to give the other credit.  Hopefully in Washington State this can be corrected.  Many people may associate marijuana reform with Democrats, but many Republicans, especially those who favor state rights seem to moving toward supporting marijuana.  This is the case in Washington State as Republican Senate hopeful, Michael Baumgartner, has endorsed Initiative-502.  This ballot initiative will be voted on by residents of the state and would create a system of regulating, taxing, and distributing marijuana in a similar way that alcohol is handled.  In actuality, the marijuana industry will be handled by the states Liquor Control Board.  Mr. Baumgartner explained his support of Initiative 502 by saying “It’s taking a different approach to a very expensive drug war, and potentially a better approach.  They’ve checked all the boxes as far as what you would want to see happen in terms of provisions to keep it away from children and limiting access in the public space. I’ve just been impressed with the initiative and the people running it.”  While he may be a longshot to unseat U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, he may be successful in motivating the already high support for the bill.

 

Click here for more on this story

 

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Medical Marijuana Industry News September 14, 2012

congress

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.

 

For more on this click here

 

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.

 

For more on this story click here

 

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.”

 

For more on this story click here

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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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Albany Bickering Stalls Governor’s Marijuana Reform Plan

cuomo

New York City is often viewed as the center for progressive politics.  However, New York State is much more balanced politically.  When a state oversees a city on the level of New York, lawmakers often bicker as they try to represent their own constituencies.

Concerned New York City residents are finding this out the hard way.   New York has desperately needed a change in it’s “Stop and Frisk” policy.  Though possession of less than 25g of cannabis was decriminalized in New York during the 1970s it must not be used or held in public view.  “Stop and Frisk” offers a loophole for police to demand that individuals empty their pockets, leaving the cannabis in plain site.  Families are left to deal with the impact of an unnecessary arrest that could follow their child around for the rest of their lives.  As we have mentioned previously, the “Stop and Frisk” law seems to unfairly target young Black and Hispanics.  New York City residents have lobbied for years to change the controversial practice but have not succeeded.

In a move that made headlines nationally, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to change a failed policy that is costing the state money and incarcerating its youth.  While many members of the media pursued the easy story and poked fun at the governor, many were pleased to see what appears to be an evolving view for the governor.  The reform will be delayed at best and even perhaps discarded.  Some Albany Republicans lashed out against the plan in the usual silly and predictable over the top fashion.  Dean Skelos claimed he was worried about a law that allowed people to “walk around with ten joints in each ear”.  However, many who represent law enforcement welcomed a plan to get rid of the low level marijuana arrests.  NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of the plan (though he has defended “Stop and Frisk” previously).  Additionally, NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also wanted to see a change in the law.  There will not be enough time during the current legislative session to bring the issue back up.

This is not unusual for Albany lawmakers.  Albany reflects the diversity of New York State, complete with lawmakers who are from opposite sides of the aisle and are not always willing to work together.  Analysts believe that Republicans are still stinging from a defeat on same sex marriage as New York became one of the few states to recognize the unions. It appears that NY Republicans are ignoring one of their key voting blocks (law enforcement officials) and are attempting to appease a base that is upset with same sex marriage and cares little for New York’s incarcerated youth.

Of course political revenge is not going to satisfy New York City residents who are tired of witnessing dysfunction among Albany politicians .  Efforts to eliminate “Stop and Frisk” will continue and lawmakers from both parties are going to have to consider the fact that they may have pursued political posturing instead of the pleas of residents.

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World Renown Economists become newest Marijuana Advocates

economists

A generation of Americans have grown tired of watching taxpayer dollars being diverted toward fighting a plant, when Americans are sick, in debt, and can use a new approach to governing.  A generation of Latin Americans have grown tired of witnessing violence, being controlled by a growing Cartel, and policies of the United States that have only increased the problems.  No dollar value can be put on the lives of those lost or impacted during the failed 40 year war on drugs.

There are many areas where a dollar value on outdated marijuana laws can be assessed.  Three hundred of the world’s leading economists have signed a petition that urges President Barack Obama and Congress to consider marijuana legalization.  The petition cites Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron’s recent letter which describes the possibility of tens of billions being saved and generated if marijuana were properly regulated.  The article and the economists are also concerned with how many lives have been ruined because of incarceration linked to marijuana charges.

It is interesting to see that the conversation has changed and commenting on marijuana reform is no longer a political death sentence.  Even Nancy Pelosi was willing to address the issue last week as she expressed concern over medical marijuana raids.  Even if our elected officials are trying to run from it, marijuana is becoming a tremendous political issue.  Similar to prohibition, if politicians keep running from addressing the issue head on, it will only avalanche into an uncontrollable situation.  Now the old page of talking points will not properly satisfy a new generation where statements can be watched over and over again on youtube.  There are no issues to run from and there are no offhanded comments any longer.

This country is full of pundits who fight about which economic recovery plan will work the best.  Of course, in an election year that conversation has degenerated into inaudible arguments taking up the same talking points.  All we hear is a few arguments from Democrats on corporate tax rates and tax rates for the wealthy while Republicans respond by saying raising any of these will slow job growth.  These decades old arguments can truly use a new perspective, and marijuana legalization will not cost anything, in fact it will save billions while simultaneously generating billions.  Are we to believe the politicians talking into the camera, or the world renown economists who are experts on how to fix America’s financial problems?

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Colorado Lawmakers Appear set to Enact Marijuana DUI Law

colorado general assembly

As the discussion of medical and legalized cannabis continues, our focus is often on why the federal government has stubbornly not made any changes to marijuana law.  Surely, if they could just move marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II substance, then the debate would be over.  While many of us wish that were the situation, it may not be quite that simple.  Many legal analysts feel that authorities are unsure of how to enforce “smoking and driving” limits.

So far there has not been any uniform way to determine if drivers are fit to drive after marijuana use.  One key point is that because of tolerance and other issues, cannabis does not impact everyone in the same manor.  Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill that will set parameters for how much THC a driver can have in their system.  This bill would set the legal limit at 5 nanograms of THC in order to legally be able to operate a moving vehicle.  The vote was close and only passed by a slim 18-17 margin.  The bill will now face the state senate but is expected to pass there as well by a wider margin.   Those who passed the bill are not necessarily advocates of marijuana.  The deciding vote was cast by state Republican Sen. Nancy Spence who said “I’m just sick of the abuse that the state of Colorado has taken from the medical marijuana industry.”  However, we must question if the tides have turned when staunch opponents have accepted that medical marijuana is here to stay and would rather regulate the industry instead of eradicating it.

One major problem, as it always has been when conceiving of the “one size fits all” marijuana test, is that marijuana is fat soluble and will remain in the blood long after the effects of THC are felt.  As Colorado state Democrat Pat Steadman put it, “Some of these people wake up in the morning and roll out of bed at 5 nanograms.”  If any common sense goes into these laws (our hopes should not get too high for that considering the decades long war on drugs and information suppression on marijuana) then officers will use a series of tests to determine a drivers competency.  In DWI stops an officer typically analyzes the condition of a driver by other methods such as walking a straight line and hand/eye coordination tests before making them submit to a breathalyzer.

This law may not be ideal but the issue of “drugged driving” will always stand in the way of marijuana reform unless it is properly dealt with.  Marijuana DUI laws will hopefully evolve and perhaps even more reliable tests will be utilized in determining and individuals capacity to operate a motor vehicle.  In fact they will likely HAVE to evolve, because as the law stands (5 nanograms is considered a very low amount) anyone who uses marijuana may be prevented from driving legally.  Perhaps insurance and automaker lobbyists will be on the marijuana activist’s side.  In any case, we have accepted that politicians are not equipped with the foresight to legislate in the modern world so, for now the hope may have to be a law that can be tailored in the future.  Additionally, there are studies that show that legal medical marijuana states have experienced a decrease in fatal car accidents, likely due to less alcohol related incidents.  Of course other studies show marijuana increasing the risk for fatal car crashes even if overall accidents are down.  Because of this, a continuing conversation on marijuana and the dangers associated with driving needs to unfold.  However, without this first important step, marijuana reform will likely remain in the legal stalemate it currently suffers from.

As with many social issues that are on the political fringe, change occurs behind smoke and mirrors.  The White House has made it a point to urge states to enact drugged driving programs.  Additionally, President Barack Obama said he could only enforce the laws on the books and placed some blame on Congress in his recent Rolling Stone interview.  While none of this guarantees legalized federal marijuana laws, he may be setting the groundwork for a massive system addressing one of the biggest concerns of those in opposition to marijuana reform.

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