AL: Honors Town Hall Focuses On Marijuana Legalization

The semester’s third Honors College Town Hall meeting opened budding dialogue on the nation’s most hotly contested plant. The Town Hall featured a panel of three – including two UA students and Patricia Todd, District 54’s House Representative for the state of Alabama – discussing marijuana legalization and how it can affect communities. Olympia Karageorgiou, […]

Adam Jacques and Team Launch Sproutly, Dispensary in Eugene, Oregon

Adam Jacques and his team officially launched the newest arm of their business last week, Sproutly, a dispensary located in Eugene, Oregon. “This is an extension of what the Grower’s Guild Gardens does and what the Microgrower’s Guild was,” says Jacques. The Grower’s Guild Gardens, Jacques’ award-winning cultivation business, is known for their high-CBD genetics […]

Hemp, Inc. (OTC Pink: HEMP) Industry Update: Pot Stocks Expected to Surge During the …

LAS VEGAS, NV — (Marketwired) — 09/06/16 — As the 2016 U.S. presidential election nears, Hemp, Inc. (OTC PINK: HEMP) has strategically positioned itself as a leader of the re-emerging industrial hemp industry. With the country’s largest industrial hemp processing facility and milling operation in Spring Hope, NC nearing completion, CEO Bruce Perlowin, says, “I […]

US: Science Gives Psychedelics As Therapy A Fresh Look

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n588/a05.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2016Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)Copyright: 2016 The Baltimore Sun CompanyContact: Website: http://www.baltimoresun.com/Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/37Author: Andrea K. McDaniels SCIENCE GIVES PSYCHEDELICS AS THERAPY A FRESH LOOK Hallucinogenics May Ease Addictions, Mental Disorders Gordon McGlothlin, who took his first puff at age 12 behind his family’s garage, tried to quit smoking for […]

US NJ: NJ Weedman To Sue Over 'False Arrest'

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n564/a09.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Thu, 18 Aug 2016Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)Copyright: 2016 The TrentonianContact: Website: http://www.trentonian.comDetails: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1006Author: Isaac Avilucea NJ WEEDMAN TO SUE OVER ‘FALSE ARREST’ TRENTON – Ed Forchion once brought new meaning to the words “high culture.” The down-with-earth marijuana activist last year opened his own restaurant, NJ Weedman’s Joint, providing Trenton with […]

US NM: Column: Scared Youths Can Pay Price In War On Drugs

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n515/a04.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jul 2016Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)Copyright: 2016 Albuquerque JournalContact: Website: http://www.abqjournal.com/Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/10Author: Diane Dimond Police Departments Are Forcing College Kids to Work As C.I.S in Exchange for Leniency in Their Own Cases SCARED YOUTHS CAN PAY PRICE IN WAR ON DRUGS This is the time of year parents start worrying […]

Maine Legislature Overrides Governor LePage’s Veto of Life-Saving Naloxone Legislation

Over two-thirds of the Maine legislature voted today to override two harm reduction bills vetoed by Governor Paul LePage — LD1552, a bill that would provide public funding for syringe exchange and expand syringe access, and LD 1547, legislation to allow access to the life-saving overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription. LePage’s veto remarks of […]

Ever Talk To The Cops About Cannabis On Facebook? I Did… Here’s What They Said

Who doesn’t love a good road trip?

I’ve been planning a special one for quite some time now, exploring the country I fought for. I want to see it in all its glory before I leave this world. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on a number of road trips and flights but I’ve never traveled from sea to shining sea, and everywhere in between on land.

What’s the hold up? My medication.

As a medical marijuana card holder in Arizona, I’m allowed to legally possess a certain amount of cannabis at any given time from month to month. In other words I’m allowed to travel freely within my state’s borders.

The problem is that like countless others, I can’t leave Arizona with my medication unless the state I’m traveling to recognizes my status as a cannabis patient. Not if I want to travel with my medication that is.

Now, I’m not going to stop traveling because the government says my medication is illegal, but I need to know what kind of risk I’ll be running in each state so I can decide if it’s worth it.

I’m still going on my road trip, I just need a lawyer on retainer now before I do. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

After contemplating various scenarios I would most likely face if the coppers got ahold of me in hostile territory, I figured the best thing to do would be to contact them directly.

Might as well ask what would happen, right?

not-funnyIt seems as though every Police Department in America is using Facebook. Some of them are even using it for more than just posting pictures of their latest drug busts, or civil asset forfeiture. And some of them, at least the ones we spoke with, were kind enough to talk openly about cannabis to me.

This confirmed what we all already know, cannabis patients who dare to take the family on a road trip this summer will be harassed and discriminated against, possibly ending up behind bars facing criminal charges.

The question below was sent to a major Police Department within each state of The United States.

Sir/Ma’am,

Quick question; lets say I have two ounces of cannabis on my person while I’m driving through your City on a road trip and I get pulled over by one of your officers.

Would they recognize my status as a legal cannabis patient from another state and let me go on my way? Or would I be arrested?

If the latter, what would I most likely be charged with?

It’s an honest question.

Thank you for your time and assistance, I’m sure you have more pressing matters to attend to than answering FB questions from someone in another state.

Figured I’d ask anyway.

Thank you for your service, stay safe.

Ricardo Pereyda (RP)

Here are the responses…

Alabama

Montgomery Police Department:“Give me a few minutes to get you an accurate response. Thank you for your inquiry.

RP: Yes Sir/Ma’am, thank you.

MPD: ALA CODE § 13A-12-231 (1) Any person who knowingly sells, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state,……..(The MPD cut-and-pasted the entire ALA CODE § 13A-12-231, I’ll save you the time; I’d be screwed!)

RP: Thank you.

MPD: You are welcome. Safe travels.

Jacksonville Police Department: “You probably be arrested.”

RP: Well, that’s unfortunate. Would you mind letting me know what the charge might be?

JPD: “Misdemeanor possession of marijuana.”

RP: “Would I be able to contest it as a medical patient?

From the state of AZ that is.”

JPD: “That could be a defense however similar court cases in Alabama have set a precedent that it is not a valid defense.

RP You think the voters in Alabama will be bringing that issue to the ballot box anytime soon?

Piedmont Police Department: “I can’t tell you how any one of our officers would react; if you would be arrested or not. All I can say is that your Arizona Medical Marijuana Card is not recognized in Alabama, and any possession of marijuana is still illegal.”

RP: Fair enough.

Alaska

Anchorage Police Department: “Hi Ricardo, thank you for reaching out to APD. We will get back to you on this. We want to make sure we give you good information. Thank you.

…..

Arkansas

Little Rock Police Department:”Possession of marijuana is illegal in the state of Arkansas regardless of the amount or standings in other states. possession of under four ounces is a misdemeanor.”

RP: Tracking. Thank you.

Fayetteville Police Department:”Arkansas currently does not recognize medical marijuana. We would have to say that your possession of marijuana would be illegal under Arkansas law. However, it would be up to the officer’s discretion as to wether they ‘locked you up’ or let you ‘go in your way.’ We hope this answers your question.”

RPThat scares me, I’m not going to lie. Thank you for your prompt response. Stay safe out there!

Colorado

Denver Police Department:“Thank you for writing. If you are trying to report criminal or suspicious activity, please know that we are unable to provide police services via social media. Additionally, this page is not monitored 24/7. To report criminal or suspicious activity at any time, please call 720-913-2000; dial 911 for emergencies.

If you are wanting a Denver Police Department patch, please send your request to DPDPIO@nulldenvergov.org. Be sure to include a good mailing address with your request.

All other messages will be addressed during normal business hours.

The best source for this type of information is actually our muni code, which can be found at denvergov.org. Colorado.gov is also a great resource for marijuana laws.

Take care, friend.

RP: Thank you very much. You take care too, friend.

Connecticut

Fairfield Police Department:“Thank you for contacting us.  We will review your message as soon as possible.

Please understand that our Facebook account is not monitored 24/7.  If you need immediate assistance, please call (203) 254-4800 or Dial 911 in an Emergency.”

Florida

City of Tallahassee Police Department:“Thank you for sending the Tallahassee Police Department a message.  This page is not monitored around the clock.  If this is an emergency please call 911 or non emergency 850-606-5800.  We will respond to your inquiry as soon as we can!  Thank you.

Georgia

Atlanta Police Department:”Possession of Marijuana in the state of Georgia is illegal, even if you are bringing it from a state where it is not.

RP: Regardless also of my status as a registered cannabis patient?

Hawaii

Honolulu Police Department:“Your question was sent to our narcotics division.

RP: Thank you.

Idaho

Boise Police Department:“Thanks for messaging us. This page is not monitored 24/7 but we try to be as responsive as possible. We’ll get back to you soon.  In case of emergency, dial 9-1-1.  You can also call the non-emergency dispatch number 208-377-6790.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge Police Department: “Simple Possession of Marijuana. It’s a misdemeanor. You would probably receive a summons and released. Unless they thought you were transporting to sell it. Then it would be possession with intent to distribute which is a felony.

RP: Thank you for your prompt response.

Maine

Augusta Police Department:“Augusta Police wants to be attentive to your requests.  If this message needs immediate action, call 626-2370 or 911.  Otherwise it may take time for someone to respond back via this message system.  It is not monitored 24/7.   Thank you.  APD staff.

Maryland

Annapolis Police Department:“This account is not monitored 24 hours a day.  We’ll get back to you soon.  If you are reporting a crime you must contact 410-268-4141 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.  We only send patches to active law enforcement officers.

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for your message.  We would not recognize your status from another state.  Possession of marijuana with a weight under 10 grams has been decriminalized in Maryland.  It is a civil citation.  I hope this answers your questions.

Thanks.

RP: Yes Sir/Ma’am. Thank you.

Mississippi

Biloxi Police Department: “It is not recognized.”

RP:So, I would be arrested then?

Nevada

Reno Police Department: “Please do not report crimes to the Reno Police Department Facebook.  Contact Dispatch at 775-334-2677 for non emergencies and 911 for emergencies.

New Mexico

Farmington Police Department:“Thank you for messaging us. This site is not monitored 24/7. We will make every attmept [sic] to reply to you as soon as possible. For immediate police assistance, please contact dispatch at 505-334-6622 for non-emergencies & 911 for emergencies.

Ohio

Perkins Township Police Department: “Thanks for messaging us…our Facebook Page is not monitored 24 hrs but we check it constantly.  We will reply back as soon as we receive it.  If you need immediate assistance call 419-627-0824 Ext 1 for our dispatch and speak to an officer. Thanks !

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Police Department: “It is against the law to possess that substance in the state of Oklahoma.  So yes, it would be an arrestable offense. More than likely possession of MJ, If it’s just simple possession, that’s a misdemeanor.

RP: Would possession of two ounces be considered “simple possession?

OKCPD: Yes.

RP: Thank you, y’all stay safe out there.

OKCPD: Appreciate it.”

RP: Well, aside from potentially being arrested in your fine City for my medicinal use of cannabis, I appreciate the work you do to keep your citizens safe.

The post Ever Talk To The Cops About Cannabis On Facebook? I Did… Here’s What They Said appeared first on #illegallyhealed.

NORML’s Legislative Round Up April 29th, 2016

A legalization initiative has officially qualified the ballot this November and separate legislative measures around the country continue to advance. Keep reading below to learn the latest legislative developments.

Alabama: Members of both chambers approved legislation this week, House Bill 61, to protect qualified patients eligible for CBD therapy under a physician’s authorization from criminal prosecution. The measure, known as ‘Leni’s Law’, seeks to allow qualified patients to possess CBD preparations containing up to three percent THC. The measure passed in the Senate by a vote of 29 to 3 and in the House in a 95 to 4 vote. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Robert Bentley. #TakeAction

California: A prominent GOP Congressman has endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which seeks to regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of cannabis. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) announced, “As a Republican who believes in individual freedom, limited government and states’ rights, I believe that it’s time for California to lead the nation and create a safe, legal system for the responsible adult use of marijuana.” He added: “I endorse the Adult Use of Marijuana Act for the November 2016 ballot. It is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.” You can learn more about the initiative here.

Florida: Another Florida municipality has given preliminary approval to a proposed ordinance permitting police to cite, rather than arrest, minor marijuana offenders. Members of St. Petersburg’s Public Safety and Infrastructure Committee voted in favor of the policy that would create a system of fines that would begin at $75 for those caught holding 20 grams or less of cannabis. Two versions of the plan, one that one that would mandate police issue a citation and another that gives the officer the option to do so, will head to the full city council for a final vote in early May. Under state law, possessing any amount of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Maine: Maine voters will decide on election day on a statewide ballot measure seeking to regulate the adult use, retail sale, and commercial production of cannabis. The Secretary of State determined this week that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, gathered a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The office had previously attempted to invalidate a significant portion of proponents’ signatures, but that effort was rejected by the courts earlier this month.

If enacted by voters in November, the measure would allow adults to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana (up to six mature plants and the entire yields of said plants) for their own personal use.

North Carolina: House legislation was introduced this week to permit the limited use of medical marijuana. House Bill 983 exempts patients engaging in the physicians-recommended use of cannabis to treat a chronic or terminal illness from criminal prosecution under state law. Qualifying patients must possess a tax stamp issued by the state department of Revenue, and may possess no more than three ounces of cannabis at any one time. The proposal does not permit patients to cultivate their own cannabis, nor does it establish a state-licensed supply source. #TakeAction

Don’t forget, NORML’s 2016 National Conference and Lobby Day is being held May 23rd and 24th! We’ll hold an informational seminar where activists from around the country hear from the leaders of the movement, we’ll keep the party going at the Mansion on O St. with our annual award ceremony and finally, we’ll conclude on the Hill where attendees w
ill hear from and meet leaders in Congress who are doing their best to reform our federal marijuana laws! You can register here.

Maine Legislature Overrides Governor LePage's Veto of Life-Saving Naloxone Legislation

Over two-thirds of the Maine legislature voted today to override two harm reduction bills vetoed by Governor Paul LePage — LD1552, a bill that would provide public funding for syringe exchange and expand syringe access, and LD 1547, legislation to allow access to the life-saving overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription.

LePage’s veto remarks of LD 1547, “naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose”, resulted in dozens of op-eds and articles within the last week blasting the governor’s comments and supporting increased access to naloxone via passage of LD 1547.

At a recent town meeting in Damariscotta Wednesday night, Governor LePage defended his veto saying, “There comes a point in time where who is responsible for who. You know a shot of Narcan is $70 and the person who gets it doesn’t have to pay it back.”

“Governor LePage may think a person’s life is worth less than $70, but saving lives is priceless and we are going to continue to advocate for laws that are based in science, compassion and human rights,” said Jerónimo Saldaña, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Today, the Maine legislature sent a resounding message to Governor LePage and every other elected official in the nation that promoting failed drug war policies will not be tolerated.”

“Maine, like every other state in the nation is seeing the tragedy of the nation’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemic unfold before our eyes literally on a daily basis” wrote the President of the American Medical Association to Maine lawmakers in support of LD 1547 earlier this week. “In response, the medical community and many others joined together to support new legislation that will have a direct effect on the supply of prescription opioids in Maine. The Legislature also passed LD 1547 to address an equally important need – that is, help save lives from overdose.”

“Naloxone saves lives. In order to obtain treatment, a person must remain alive. Addiction is a treatable condition and not a moral failing.” says Chris Poulos, a native Mainer in long term recovery who overcame addiction and federal incarceration to attend law school and work on criminal justice policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

Maine pharmacists will now be able to provide naloxone to friends and family members of people suffering from heroin addiction without a prescription. Over thirty states from all around the country including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin provide access to naloxone without a prescription. Since 1996, naloxone has been instrumental in saving at least tens of thousands of lives from overdose.

###

Author:
Date Published: April 29, 2016
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

NORML’s Legislative Round Up May 6th, 2016

Legislation around the country is moving quickly and we’ve got numerous updates for you this week. Keep reading below to find out if your state is moving forward with marijuana law reform!

Alabama: Governor Robert Bentley has signed legislation, House Bill 61, to protect qualified patients eligible for CBD therapy under a physician’s authorization from criminal prosecution. The measure, known as ‘Leni’s Law’, allows qualified patients to possess CBD preparations containing up to three percent THC. The new law takes effect June 1st, 2016.

Colorado: House and Senate lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved legislation, House Bill 1373, to permit qualified patients access to the use formulations of medical cannabis while on school grounds.The measure now awaits action by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who indicated that he would sign the measure into law. “My son, if he needed medical marijuana and he needed it during the day while he was in school, I’d want him to have that opportunity,” Hickenlooper said.

Connecticut: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation expanding patients’ access to the state’s medicinal cannabis program. House Bill 5450 permits qualifying patients under the age of 18 to possess and consume medical cannabis preparations and it also expands the list of qualifying illnesses eligible for cannabis therapy. Other provisions in the bill seek to establish a statewide clinical research program, and protect nurses from criminal, civil, or disciplinary sanction if they choose to administer marijuana to a qualifying patient in a hospital setting. The measure now awaits action by Governor Dannel Malloy. #TakeAction

Hawaii: Legislation is pending before Governor David Ige to expand medical cannabis access and dispensing. The measure expands the pool of practitioners who may legally recommend cannabis therapy to include advanced nurse practitioners. Separate provisions in the bill remove the prohibition on Sunday dispensary sales and on the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia by qualified patients.It also permits the transportation of medical marijuana across islands for the purposes of laboratory testing. #TakeAction

Kansas: House and Senate lawmakers have signed off on sentencing reform legislation, House Bill 2049, that reduces criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year incarceration and a $2,500 fine) to a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by no more than six months in jail and a $1,000 fine). Second convictions will no longer be classified as a felony offense. The bill now heads to Gov. Brownback’s desk, and will become law if he does not veto it within 10 days. #TakeAction

Louisiana: Senate legislation to fix and expand the state’s dormant medical marijuana law received a boost this week after a House Committee amended and passed the measure. Senate Bill 271 seeks to change the language of existing law so that physicians may ‘recommend’ rather than prescribe cannabis therapy. Under federal law, physicians cannot legally ‘prescribe’ cannabis or any schedule I substance. It also expands the pool of patients eligible to receive marijuana therapy. The legislation is scheduled to be heard by members of the House Health and Welfare Committee next week. #TakeAction

New Hampshire: Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 12 to 7 this week to amend Senate-backed sentencing reform legislation, Senate Bill 498, to also include provisions decriminalizing minor, first-time marijuana possession offenses. The amended language would make first-time offenses a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. The civil penalty would be limited to a fine only: no arrest, prosecution, or criminal record. Subsequent offenses would continue to be classified as misdemeanors. #TakeAction

Oklahoma: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, HB 2835, to expand the pool of patients eligible to possess cannabidiol under a physician’s authorization. As amended, House Bill 2835 would include legal protections to the following patient groups: those with “spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or due to paraplegia, intractable nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation with chronic wasting diseases.” The measure also removes the age requirement limitation from existing law so that adults with various forms of epilepsy are eligible for CBD therapy. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Mary Fallin. #TakeAction

Pennsylvania: Representative Ed Gainey is seeking co-sponsors for soon-to-be introduced legislation that would amend minor marijuana possession offenses to a non-criminal offense. Despite both local and nationwide progress on the issue of cannabis prohibition, Pennsylvania continues to charge over 18,000 individuals each year with minor possessory offenses. Please urge your House member to sign on as a co-sponsor to this important legislation. #TakeAction

Rhode Island: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled to consider SB 2420, legislation to regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to those over the age of 21, on Tuesday, May 10th.  Adults would be permitted to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It also permits adults to cultivate up to two marijuana plants (no more than 1 mature) at home for non-commercial purposes. You can read the full text of this proposal here. #TakeAction

Tennessee: Two marijuana related measures became law recently in Tennessee. The first permits for the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp when “grown by an institution of higher education in this state that offers a baccalaureate or post-graduate level program of study in agricultural sciences.” The second, amends third-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, to a misdemeanor offense, punishable by no more than one year in jail. The new sentencing penalties take effect on July 1, 2016.

For a summary of all pending marijuana legislation, be sure to check out our full #TakeAction center!

And don’t forget to register to attend NORML’s 2016 Congressional Lobby Day  in Washington D.C. May 23rd and 24th! We have just recently confirmedthree members of Congress’ ability to address our group on Capitol Hill so you won’t want to miss it!

The Atlantic’s ‘Failed’ Legalization Story is a Lie. Here’s Why. 

If you’re a writer who’s been in the game long enough to enter the word “journalist” on a tax form, you have had this experience: After toiling long and hard on a piece, crafting subtle-yet-devastating arguments, marshaling evidence, paring quotes, and delivering a killer conclusion, you wake up on the morning of its publication to find the entire enterprise destroyed by a thoughtless headline. Or a silly headline. Or a stupid, nonsensical headline. Or a headline that is diametrically opposed to the very point you were trying to make.

That is what I imagine Tom James experienced on Monday morning.

James is the author of the Atlantic Monthly feature that dropped yesterday under the headline “The Failed Promise of Legal Pot.”

Nice headline. Provocative. Clickable. And false to the bone.

James’s 4,500-word piece gets at a couple of undeniable truths. In America’s three legal, regulated, commercial states, the black market for cannabis has winnowed considerably but hasn’t completely disappeared. And the racial disparities in arrests that existed during prohibition still exist after prohibition’s end. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington arrest far fewer people now than they did in 2011, but people of color still face higher rates of arrest than white people.

That’s it. That’s the “failed promise” of legal pot.

The successful promise of legal pot is this: In Washington, arrests for cannabis possession have dropped by 98 percent. In Colorado, they’ve fallen by 95 percent. Cannabis taxes in both states are generating tens of millions of dollars a year for education and public health. In Oregon, the legal cannabis industry has created 2,156 jobs and $46 million in wages.

Legalization has not increased underage access, as studies have shown again and again and again.

Many of those positive notes were taken from Tom James’s own piece in The Atlantic. In fact, James himself makes it clear that the very headline of his piece is false:

“It would be a mistake to call marijuana legalization a failure, even in the loosest sense of the word.”

Here’s the rest of that paragraph:

“After all, nationally, just fewer than one in eight marijuana arrests on average are for distribution; the other seven are for simple possession. That means that out of eight marijuana arrests that would have happened tomorrow in Colorado, seven of them won’t, because possession is legal. That means seven Coloradans who could have lost everything—from their jobs to their housing to their college financial aid—as a result of an arrest or conviction will instead simply go about another day of their ordinary lives. But the persistence of that eighth arrest—the roughly 12.5 percent of marijuana arrests that are for distribution—means that legalization isn’t a complete success, either. Those few distribution arrests cause the majority of marijuana-related incarcerations, and still disproportionately affect black men.”

So yes, there are still challenges to overcome regarding the racial disparities in the arrest rates for cannabis. But to acknowledge that and then blaze the header “Failed Promise” is not just an error. The Atlantic editors are spreading a falsehood that has real consequences for millions of Americans. Voters read headlines like that and decide to vote against legalization measures in states like California, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Nevada. Politicians glance at the Atlantic piece and decide to turn against regulated legalization in states like Vermont.

When they do, they allow good people to be destroyed by senseless arrests and outrageous prison sentences. Say their names. Bernard Noble, 49-year-old father of seven, wasting away in prison for 13 years for two joints in Louisiana. Lee Carroll Booker, 75, now serving life without parole for growing his own medical marijuana plants in Alabama. Raymond Schwab, the Gulf War veteran whose five children were taken by the state of Kansas because he wanted to move to Colorado to treat his PTSD with legal medical marijuana.

Here’s another name to say: Scott Stossel. He’s the editor of The Atlantic. I don’t know if he approved the headline, but I know he has the power to change it. He’s @SStosel on Twitter. Let him know how you feel.

Image Source: The Atlantic

State of the Leaf: Germany Could Legalize Medical Marijuana and Iceland Loves Its Cannabis

Legalization efforts are hurtling towards the November finish line and there’s no looking back at this point. California is on the up and up, winning a major lawsuit for medical cannabis and officially submitting enough signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot, putting the Golden State firmly on the path towards the end of prohibition. Connecticut could open its medical cannabis program to minors, Illinois is considering expanding its qualifying conditions (yet again), Hawaii announced the winners of its coveted dispensary licenses on the islands, and Vermont’s chance for a legalization bid is dead in the water.

Internationally, Germany is looking at a medical push, Iceland has some of the highest cannabis consumption rates in the world, and Scottish leaders are reconsidering medical cannabis. Hold on tight, this ride is just getting started!

U.S. Cannabis News Updates

Alabama

Leni’s Law, a long-embattled bill that would decriminalize the use of cannabis oils with the supervision of a physician, has officially passed through the House and Senate. The bill was amended in the Senate and in the House Judiciary Committee to include changes that some deemed controversial. If passed, Leni’s Law would allow children with a range of ailments to be treated with cannabis oil, including epilepsy and autism. It would also allow the amount of THC to be raised from one percent to three percent.

The biggest challenge for this law is that it does not legalize the production of cannabis oils in the state; rather, it allows patients to bring cannabis oil back from other legal medical states, thus forcing qualified patients to break federal law and risk prosecution. The bill now goes onto the desk of Governor Robert Bentley, who has not yet made the decision as to whether he will sign it into law.

California

One of California’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries just claimed a major victory. The federal government just agreed to drop charges against Harborside Health Center, one of the oldest and largest dispensaries in the United States. Harborside Health Center services more than 100,000 patients and received a license to operate from the city of Oakland in 2006.

The U.S. Attorney’s office began the process of seizing assets from Harborside in 2012, under the reign of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. The reasoning behind the attempted closure was the obvious discrepancy between state and federal law, but Harborside has always maintained that it operates with transparency and legitimacy, within the bounds of state law. Defense attorneys also claim that the forfeiture lawsuit violates several federal laws, including the prohibited use of federal funds for lawsuits against cannabis businesses operating in legal states.

In other California news, organizers of the campaign for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act announced that they have gathered more than 600,000 signatures, which should push them over the necessary 365,880 signatures need to qualify for the general election ballot. This ought to earn them a spot on the November 8th ballot, and with the latest polls showing 55 percent of California voters in support of legalization, the act is poised to pass come November.

Connecticut

Connecticut may soon allow qualified minors to access cannabis through the medical marijuana program. The proposed bill produced a heated debate in the Senate, but eventually passed through and now heads to Governor Dannel Malloy for a signature. Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) was the chief opponent of the bill and introduced 25 amendments designed to derail the legislation, all of which were rejected on the floor. If the bill is signed into law by Governor Malloy, who has said that he supports access to medical marijuana for children with critical ailments, it will affect approximately 100 children in Connecticut.

Hawaii

The long wait is over! Hawaii’s medical marijuana program has finally selected eight companies to open medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivate cannabis as part of the long-anticipated renovation to its program, which was revamped last year to allow dispensaries on the islands. There were more than 60 applicants, including actor Woody Harrelson, but only eight companies emerged victorious:

  • Hawaiian Ethos, LLC
  • Lau Ola, LLC
  • Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.
  • Manoa Botanicals, LLC
  • TCG Retro Market 1, LLC (or Cure Oahu)
  • Green Aloha, Ltd.
  • Maui Wellness Group, LLC
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but only recently passed a law to allow dispensaries. Up to this point, qualified medical cannabis patients have had the right to home cultivation but no access to purchase cannabis. The dispensaries will alter the law and, additionally, medical cannabis patients from other states will be able to visit Hawaii’s dispensaries with a valid medical recommendation.

Illinois

Illinois’ medical cannabis advisory board is considering whether or not to expand Illinois’ qualifying medical marijuana conditions yet again. As part of the pilot program’s law, the state is required to consider whether or not to expand the qualifying conditions twice a year, but thus far, the director of the state health department, Nirav Shah, has rejected the recommended expansions from the advisory board on multiple occasions. The recommended qualifying conditions would include chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, Lyme disease, autism, osteoarthritis, depression and diabetes.

Many Illinois physicians have been discouraged by the program due to the restrictions and limitations on who is considered a qualifying patient. Initial projections for the program anticipated at least 30,000 patients registered by now, but as of April 6th, there were only 5,600 registered patients. Expanded qualifying conditions could breathe renewed vigor into the program and strengthen its chances of being renewed beyond January 1, 2018, the date when the program is set to expire unless further legislation is introduced.

Ohio

State lawmakers are in the process of revising and amending Ohio’s proposed medical marijuana bill, and the new version of House Bill 523 is expected to be a significant change. The new bill will not allow the smoking of cannabis flower or allow products that could be deemed attractive to children (such as gummy bears or candies). Another controversial stipulation is related to the THC content of cannabis products – between 3 and 35 percent for cannabis flower and no more than 70 percent for cannabis oils and extractions. The bill would also not allow home cultivation, but would create a cannabis commission tasked with oversight and regulatory measures for the program. If the House committee accepts the bill, it will move on to the full House for a floor vote.

Vermont

Alas, despite its best efforts, Vermont will not be legalizing cannabis this year. It seemed all but a sure thing, but never say never. Vermont took a different route than most states; rather than garnering support from a grassroots campaign, gathering signatures and pushing to get an referendum on the general election ballot, the tiny Green Mountain State opted to go through the legislature.

The Vermont House voted 121-28 to reject the comprehensive legalization bill, which had the support of the Governor Peter Shumlin, as well as former and current attorney generals. The bill would have legalized, taxed and regulated cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older, but with some stipulations – edibles were not allowed, nor was home cultivation. Sadly, Vermont will simply have to wait a bit longer before crossing over to greener pastures.

International Cannabis News Updates

Germany

German Health Minister Hermann Groehe will present draft legislation to the German cabinet this week that, if passed, would legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes as soon as next year. The law would allow qualified patients to access cannabis through licensed pharmacies with a prescription only. This bill would establish certain specialized plantations to grow cannabis, but until those are established, cannabis would be imported from other countries in Europe.

“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” said Groehe. “Without wishing to pre-judge the work of the Bundestag [Germany’s lower house of Parliament], it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017.”

Iceland

A new report from the World Health Organization found that Icelanders have some of the highest consumption rates of cannabis in the world. According to Þórarinn Tyrfingssonm, the director of Vogur drug and alcohol rehabilitation, the cannabis usage levels were similar to cannabis usage rates in other countries, with about 8 percent of Icelanders admitting to using cannabis. However, Arnar Jan Jónsson, a local doctor, was quick to point out that the data is a bit skewed. “We only have official documentation of cannabis users who seek help for addiction,” said Jónsson, and the numbers indicate a significant rise in the last 20-30 years.

Cannabis is illegal in Iceland, although the penalty for the possession of small amounts is relegated to a simple fine.

Scotland

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon covered a range of topics during a recent press conference and even went so far as to elaborate on her stance and opinion on cannabis. “Cannabis is not a harmless substance,” said Sturgeon, “I am not in favour of general decriminalization, but I do think there is a specific case for medicinal use.” She cited the use of Sativex, a derivative of cannabis that is licensed in the United Kingdom for use in treating multiple sclerosis. Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill spoke last year in favor of relaxing laws around low-level drug possession offenses, but no decisions were made.

Jane’s Domain: A Visit to the Future of Drug Policy Reform  

I’m often asked to speak on the future of cannabis. It’s not an easy subject to grasp. Change is so fast and relentless in the cannabis industry, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next month, let alone next year.

This coming weekend I’ll be pondering the path ahead at Further Future, a music, lifestyle, and ideas festival that blooms for just one weekend in the desert outside Las Vegas.

To prepare for the weekend, I spent a couple days earlier this month at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) annual conference in Washington, D.C. If you want to know the future of drug policy reform, there is no better place to go.

SSDP got its start 17 years ago, when Rochester Institute of Technology student Shea Gunther asked the university if he could start a student organization dedicated to fighting back against the war on drugs. RIT said no, and ultimately the school expelled Shea for his activism. Not long after, Shea and others organized themselves and chose a name that was purposefully positive. They weren’t against. They were Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Years later, SSDP has chapters on nearly 300 college campuses, more than 4,000 active members, and many alumni who lead history-changing drug policy campaigns around the world. (You can hear Shea tell the story himself in this presentation at the Women Grow Summit earlier this year.)

The students who came together in D.C. are our future drug policy reformers, and the issues they chose to address offer a clear view into the subjects that will shape their generation’s work.

The panel topics included:

  • Immigration Reform Isn’t the Only Latino Issue
  • The War on Drugs Goes Digital
  • Environmental Consequences of the Drug War
  • Ballot Initiative and Campaign Basics
  • How Advocacy Organizations Stay Accountable as the Industry Takes Shape
  • #Adulting: How to Get and Keep the Job You Want

I was honored to speak on a panel called “The War on Drugs: Women on the Frontlines” along with reform superstars Kat Murti of SSDP and the Cato Institute; Caroline Naughton, SSDP’s leader at Northwestern University; and Molly Gill, Families Against Mandatory Minimums’ director of federal legislative affairs.

Molly’s organization has spent the past 25 years fighting mandatory minimum sentencing. Like many of the SSDP conference speakers, she taught me how changing my word choice can change the dialogue. Our panel was the first time I heard someone say the phrase, “those who have lost a loved one to incarceration.” By describing the drug war’s front-line victims as casualties, Molly completely reframed the issue. She put the collateral damage to families and communities of color front and center, and in a far more emotional and powerful light.

Molly’s contributions made me reflect on how our verbal frameworks are created, and how they’ve affected my own assumptions and beliefs. I grew up in the 1980s. In high school I was taught that a single hit of marijuana would start me on a rapid downward spiral that ended in an alleyway with a heroin needle in my arm. That was a time when Americans gathered around the tube to catch the latest episode of COPS, the longest running show in the history of FOX. At the time, we thought we were witnessing justice in action.

Looking back on it now, I’m stunned to realize that we were actually watching the racist war on drugs unfold in prime time. And we were enjoying it as entertainment.

At the SSDP conference, the debates and discussions began early every morning and ran late into the night. I heard students talk about prohibition as a tool of political oppression. I heard them talk about combating sexual assault on campus by challenging the longstanding ban on sorority house parties. By shutting off the taps and replacing alcohol with a safer substance, we can make college campuses safer for women. I heard them talk about forcing change now, not ten years down the road, because drug war prisoners like Lee Carroll Brooker — the 75-year-old disabled veteran now serving life without parole for growing his own medical marijuana in Alabama — can’t wait.

When I heard that SSDP is having a hard time starting chapters in California, it left me puzzled. California? America’s laboratory of progressive change, the birthplace of legal medical marijuana? It’s true. Decriminalization and medical marijuana laws have created the illusion that the war on drugs is over in the Golden State. That leaves too many students wondering what’s left to be done.

The answer is plenty.

Frances Fu is just one of many inspiring staffers at SSDP. Working with the SSDP Peer Education program, she helps students analyze the relationship between drug policy and drug use. The program provides evidence-based drug information and teaches students to recognize and address dangerous behaviors and unhealthy attitudes, while promoting prosocial and harm reduction behaviors and attitudes. The group’s “Just Say Know” program is a series of drug education modules aimed at promoting open and honest dialogue around commonly used substances. SSDP is empowering effective peer educators who will lead the conversation around drug policy for years to come.

By the time I left the SSDP gathering, I was completely inspired. Society changes so quickly from generation to generation. The students I spent time with were so much smarter, more thoughtful, and more open-minded than my classmates.

A week later, when I sat down to prepare my Further Future presentation, I couldn’t help but smile. I found myself not just optimistic, but excited. The future is in excellent hands. I can’t wait to be there as it unfolds.

Find your local SSDP chapter here.

State of the Leaf: Maine Legalization Not Dead Yet. Quite Alive, in Fact.

Big news explodes out of Maine, with a 180-degree flip from imminent legalization to not a chance thanks to the Secretary of State to officially landing a spot on the November ballot! Alaska’s looking at the logistics of allowing cannabis consumption in retail shops, Colorado refuses to allow cannabis-infused gummy bears and raspberries and Iowa’s chances for a medical expansion are dwindling. Internationally, Canada made the official announcement as to when the legalization process will occur, and the Netherlands examines official policies for canna-cafés. Here’s the state of legalization:

U.S. Cannabis News Updates

Alabama

The state Senate on Wednesday voted 29–3 in favor of a bill that would legalize the possession of CBD oils. “Leni’s Law,” named after a young girl with severe epilepsy who moved to Oregon in order to legally obtain cannabis oil, will now return to the House for a vote. A previous version of the bill won House support earlier this month. Bill sponsor Rep. Paul Sanford says access to cannabidiol will provide a little “sunlight” to families struggling with medical conditions, but opponents say there’s not enough evidence to support using cannabis as a medical treatment.

Alaska

The state’s rules around consuming cannabis in authorized retail shops are slowly coming into focus, moving Alaska toward becoming the first state to legalize public consumption of any kind. State regulators will meet in Anchorage to discuss how to best implement plans for on-site consumption. They’re considering how to separate the consumption area from the retail side, and whether cannabis must be consumed within the premises or be allowed out the door. The Alaska Marijuana Board began accepting applications for cannabis retailers in February and expects to begin issuing licenses for cultivation and testing facilities in June, with retail licenses coming later in the year.

Arkansas

After month upon month of rejection, the Arkansas Cannabis Amendment got the OK from state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The amendment would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, so long as it’s out of public view. The ballot measure would permit licensed individuals to cultivate up to 36 plants and would enact a 5-percent excise tax, on top of the standard state sales tax, on retail cannabis sales. It will need 84,859 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Colorado

A House committee voted to advance a bill that would prohibit all cannabis-infused edibles in the shape of fruit, animals, or people. House Bill 1436 is aimed at reducing the likelihood that children and adolescents will accidentally ingest edibles. There are already new regulations for edibles in the pipeline that will require each edible to carry a clearly marked symbol to indicate the presence of cannabis. The bill to limit edibles quickly won initial approval by the full House of Representatives, 50–14, without so much as a debate. It now awaits a final vote in the House before moving on to the Senate for consideration.

Iowa

Time is running out for a push to expand Iowa’s limited medical cannabis program. The Iowa House of Representatives voted to reject a bill that would have allowed qualified patients to access cannabis oils and products from other states such as Minnesota and bring it back to Iowa for legal use. After the rejection, Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis held a news conference at the Capitol, during which supporters issued an emotional plea for access to medical marijuana. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) said the door will remain open for medical cannabis legislation, adding that “hope springs eternal” for future proposals.

Maine

After much turmoil and nail-biting, Maine’s cannabis legalization is on the November ballot. “An Act to Legalize Marijuana” has the potential to be enacted even before the 2016 general election. Last month, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap deemed 21,797 signatures invalid based on inconsistencies in the signature of the notary who verified them, Stavros Mendos. Mendos subsequently submitted a sworn affidavit testifying that the signatures were, indeed, his own. That led to a legal challenge from the petitioners, which led a judge to order the secretary of state to go back and take another look at the signatures. Dunlap ultimately issued an amended determination that 11,305 of the signatures may be considered valid, putting the total number of signatures at 62,848 — just barely over the 61,123 signatures required to make it on the ballot. Congrats, Maine! Onward to November.

International Cannabis News Updates

Canada

Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the country will introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize cannabis in spring of 2017, answering the question that’s been on everyone’s mind since Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister: When will Canada legalize cannabis as promised? Philpott introduced the plans on April 20 at the United Nations General Assembly’s special session on international drug policy. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” said Philpott. Next spring can’t come soon enough!

Netherlands

The Dutch Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for the owner of what was once the biggest cannabis café in the Netherlands. The Checkpoint Café in Terneuzen served up to 3,000 clients and processed 10 kilograms of cannabis per day at its height, before the city shut it down in 2007 for keeping too much product on hand. Coffeeshops in the Netherlands with more than 500 grams of cannabis on the premises aren’t protected by the government’s unofficial policy of ignoring so-called soft drugs.

The Shake: 4/20 Edition

We can’t even begin to encompass all the news that’s breaking on this, the biggest and grandest and most blow-up-iest 4/20 in the history of time and the universe. We’ll just do the best we can, then pick up a couple of Ben & Jerry’s BRRR-itos and listen to some Allman Brothers.

The U.N. works through the holiday. Yes, apparently the world’s business doesn’t stop for 4/20, even when the work at hand involves drug policy. At the United Nations special session on drugs, the day’s biggest news came from the Canadian delegation, which announced that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government would formally introduce its cannabis legalization legislation in the spring of 2017. That’s a bit slower than some would like, but at least it sets the clock ticking. For a good overview of the UN meeting, check out this one-minute video from the Washington Office on Latin America.

WOLA’s @ColettaYoungers gives an inside view of what’s happening at the UN special session on drugs & why it mattershttp://t.co/vqQ3q5jsYy

— WOLA (@WOLA_org) April 20, 2016

Rep. Earl “Bow Tie” Blumenaur is feeling the love. Veteran Congress member and longtime cannabis legalization advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portlandia) is getting some splash in the media this week, with Q&As in both your hometown news source and Rolling Stone. After many years fighting the good fight in the lonely wilderness, we’re glad to see the bow-tied battler get his due.

Go home, Dayton. The Limp Bizkit show ain’t happening. Apparently some joker started a rumor, and a fake Twitter feed, claiming that Limp Bizkit would be putting on a secret show at a Sunoco gas station in Dayton, Ohio, tonight. Except… no. As frontman Fred Durst tweeted yesterday, “NOT TRUE.” Sunoco station employees had to put up a sign on the front door: “The band Limp Bizkit will not be here on Thursday 4/20/2016. This is someones idea of a joke.” Finally the city of Dayton had to issue a statement, because the police had been getting so many calls. “DPD has confirmed with the manager of Sunoco that the event referenced in the flier and Facebook event is fraudulent.” Gawker has the story on the puckish prank.

Opioid crisis slows Vermont’s progress on legalization. Despite mounting evidence that medical marijuana and legalized cannabis can help stem America’s opioid crisis, politicians continue to stoke fears about marijuana leading to greater opioid abuse. Today’s New York Times brings news from Vermont, where that state’s legalization bill has encountered resistance from politicians who worry that “sending the wrong signal” on cannabis could worsen the opioid problem. How, exactly? They can’t say, other than circling back to the ephemeral concept of “signals sent.”

QUICK HITS:

More pet owners are turning to cannabinoids for their ailing friends, says NBC News. The ASPCA and PETA don’t endorse it, vets can’t prescribe it, but plenty of owners are turning to CBD capsules to bring relief to their hurting dogs and cats.
Cannabis industry saves Trinidad, Colo. The southern Colorado town, just 11 miles from the New Mexico border, had little tax base until the local cannabis store opened. Then a steady flow of customers from down south (did we mention 11 miles from the state border?) changed their fortunes. Fox31 Denver has the story.
Stop worrying about 4/20, folks. Seriously. There’s a micro-industry of people wringing their hands this year about the need for 4/20 now that cannabis is “practically legal everywhere.” First: it’s not. Check with a person of color in Alabama. Or Louisiana. Or Florida. Or Georgia. Or dozens of other states. Second: When did you stop liking fun? Anyway. Here are two arguments against: Emily Dreyfuss in Wired, Joel Warner at IBT. The rest of you: Carry on.

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Over Stiff Cannabis Sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal from a 76-year-old Alabama man who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for possessing less than three pounds of marijuana that he said he grew for personal use.

Lawyers for Lee Carroll Brooker argued that the stiff sentence under the state’s habitual offender law violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

But the justices let stand a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court upholding the sentence. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had written separately in the opinion last year to call the sentence “excessive and unjustified.” He said the stiff sentence for a non-violent drug offense showed “grave flaws” in Alabama’s sentencing system and urged lawmakers to revisit the system.

The office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange defended the sentence, saying in a brief to the court that it was not based solely on Brooker’s cannabis conviction but also on his history of prior felony convictions, including armed robberies and drug smuggling.

The case attracted attention from sentencing reform advocates who called it an extreme example of the flaws of mandatory sentencing. The group Families Against Mandatory Minimums said in a brief supporting Brooker that mandatory minimum sentences can punish low-level misconduct with the severest penalties regardless of what a judge considers appropriate.

Brooker is a disabled veteran who claims he was growing cannabis to help him manage serious medical problems. Police discovered the growing operation in 2011 while searching for stolen property at a house Brooker shared with his son in southeastern Alabama. They seized 37 plants growing behind his house, but found no evidence he was selling drugs.

A jury found Brooker guilty of trafficking under a state law that designates possession of more than 2.2 pounds of the drug as a felony. Violation is subject to mandatory life imprisonment without parole for someone with prior felony convictions.

At his sentencing hearing, the trial judge told Brooker he would have sentenced him to less time, but said his hands were tied because the law gives judges no discretion.

Strange argued in his brief to the high court that the case was not about the wisdom of Alabama’s laws prohibiting marijuana.

“This case is about a lifelong criminal, convicted of six felonies in three states, the last of which resulted in a mandatory life sentence under Alabama’s habitual felony offender statute,” Strange said.

The Shake: NFL Players Team Up to Study Medical Cannabis

An elderly, disabled veteran faces life in jail because cannabis laws are insane. The New York Times editorial board, in a piece about “outrageous sentences for marijuana,” takes a look at Lee Carroll Booker, 75, who faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being caught growing 30 or more cannabis plants in 2011. Booker, a disabled veteran who lives in Alabama and suffers from chronic pain, was told by the sentencing judge that if he “could sentence you to a term that is less than life without parole, I would.” State law, however, prevented it. On appeal, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court found the sentence to be “excessive and unjustified,” and the U.S. Supreme Court will be reviewing the case to determine whether it fits the bill as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Alabama is one of just a handful of states that still carry such severe penalties, even though nearly 40 now allow some form of cannabis.

Anti-prohibitionists to descend on this months’ United Nations summit on the drug war. The organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy plans to send 200 students to UNGASS 2016 this year not only to protest the global war on drugs, but also to urge world leaders to heed the valid concerns of younger generations. The activists intend to perform and stage art pieces in protest. The action complements an open letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon containing more than 1,000 signatures from world leaders, including rock stars, policy makers, members of law enforcement, and others.

Ex-NFL players in California are teaming up for medical marijuana. A group of 30 ex-NFL players have joined with the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition to test the effectiveness of cannabis as treatment for chronic pain and depression. Kyle Turley, a nine-year veteran of the NFL, founded the group after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and finding that cannabis significantly improved his condition. The Gridiron Cannabis Coalition has recruited Constance Therapeutics to provide extracts and oils for the study participants. Constance Finley, owner of Constance Therapeutics, hopes the study will bring much-needed relief. “My mission is to help people, and these NFL players so desperately need help treating the lasting ramifications from the high-impact sport,” she told the Daily Beast. “We want to embark on scientific research that will clearly show that medicinal cannabis actually can be an option for the issues that NFL players or any athlete deal with.”

We’ve all seen Bill Maher smoke cannabis, but how has it shaped his show? Maher has been vocal about supporting cannabis legalization, even going so far as to light up a joint on the air. He admitted after the fact that his heart was “pounding in my chest.” Maher claims to be a moderate user, consuming cannabis two or three times a week, in particular as a way to fuel his creative efforts. “I’m hardly the only person in this world who finds pot to be a creative aid,” he said. “My priority is work — the writing process — and that’s what I save it for.”

QUICK HITS:

  • Denver raids are through the roof today. Thirty people in the Denver area were arrested as part of a probe into illegal cultivation in residential areas. Many of the operators were growing illegal amounts of cannabis and shipping it out of state. When you’ve got so many legal options, why resort to criminality?
  • New anti-cannabis coalition rises in Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo have created the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, devoted to oppose the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.
  • And finally, expecting the munchies? Your pizza could come with a disposable pipe for post-pie nomming. The Push for Pizza app developers are now offering a foldable cardboard section that can be used as a pipe, with the plastic stand in the center of the pizza doubling as a bowl piece. Now that’s innovation!

Female Interest in Cannabis is Growing, But by How Much?

More women are getting into cannabis, a somewhat unsurprising trend given the cannabis movement’s strong momentum over the past few years. But how quickly is female interest in cannabis growing, and which states have the most cannabis-curious ladies? We dove into our data to glean some insight.

Yearly Growth of Visits to Leafly.com (2014 – 2015)

Based on our traffic stats, both women and men are getting increasingly interested in cannabis content, but year-over-year growth for females outpaced males by an impressive 27%. Quite frankly, it’s a beautiful thing to behold — over the past few years we’ve seen more female entrepreneurs enter the cannabis industry and positively influence it. With a market still in its infancy, there’s a lot of opportunity for women to cement their place as both creators and consumers.

States with the Largest Growth of Cannabis-Curious Women

Click on the image for an enlarged version

Delaware may be small, but its yearly growth in female visits to Leafly.com is anything but. The state sent 317% more traffic from female visitors to our website from 2014 to 2015.

The other top states for largest year-over-year growth were:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Montana
  • Arkansas

Recall that of those states, only Alaska has legalized the use of recreational cannabis (well, technically Washington, D.C., also legalized, but there’s no market in place thanks to a minefield of political issues surrounding implementation). Idaho, the Dakotas, and Arkansas have no legalization whatsoever, although South Dakota and Idaho have recently become more cannabis-curious, so the correlating spike of cannabis-curious females from those locations checking out our website isn’t terribly surprising. Four states, Delaware, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Montana, have legalized some form of medical marijuana but only two, Delaware and Montana, have medical marijuana dispensaries (South Carolina and Tennessee have CBD-only laws).

States with the Best and Worst Proportion of Female Users

Click on the image for an enlarged version

When it comes to the biggest proportion of female visitors coming to Leafly.com, South Dakota takes the cake, with 40% of its overall traffic sent to our website comprised of women. Maine, Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, Arkansas, Wyoming, and New Mexico round out the top 10, with over one-third of their overall traffic to Leafly.com possessing two X chromosomes. While you may be unimpressed that close to two-thirds of traffic to Leafly.com from these top states still comes from men, keep in mind that as recently as the end of 2013, our overall traffic breakdown was 80% male / 20% female. In just two years, the gap has shrunk considerably in these locations, with a 35% increase in overall female traffic to our site.

As for the bottom 10 states, sure, there’s progress to be made with their female representation, but you can say the same for most of the markets representing the lowest percentage of female visitors:

  • Kansas and Indiana have no cannabis laws whatsoever
  • Washington, D.C., as I already noted, legalized cannabis but it’s still illegal to purchase it (there are no dispensaries in operation) or use it in public
  • Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have restrictive CBD-only laws
  • Maryland legalized medical marijuana but its system is unlikely to be operational until 2017
  • New Jersey, well, is New Jersey, meaning it legalized medical marijuana but only has a few dispensaries open and has to face the ongoing anti-cannabis wrath of Governor Chris Christie

Vermont offers a shining ray of hope for the cannabis movement in that it could become the first state to legalize recreational use via an act of the Legislature rather than through a ballot initiative. Its efforts are not without some hiccups, however, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Why This Growth Isn’t Good Enough

Some growth is great, but ladies, we can do better! Don’t be afraid to come out of the cannabis closet — learn the differences between cannabis types, familiarize yourself with consumption methods, get educated on how CBD is helping patients of all ages, especially children suffering from severe epilepsy disorders. Numerous publications posit that women could be the ones who end cannabis prohibition, with High Times and Jane West making a pointed observation:

While middle-aged women remain among the least likely demographic to support legalization, let alone use cannabis personally, they’re also, ironically, perhaps more in need of the plant’s considerable medicinal and stress-relief properties than most people.

“I no longer wake up on the weekends feeling like shit,” said cannabis-friendly event planner Jane West, after describing her former wine drinking habit as opening up a bottle when she started making dinner, followed by a second bottle when dinner hit the table. “

Women in my demographic are prescribed antidepressants at a rate higher than any other group of Americans,” West said. “And I want them to be open to learning more about the plant and all of the benefits it can provide, including understanding that marijuana is safer than alcohol and a healthier alternative to prescription medication. When that happens, we will create a whole new demographic of cannabis users.”

Indeed we will. And, as our data indicates, we’re already starting to see it happen. Women have the strength, resolve, and determination to make huge waves in the cannabis movement. The tipping point is yet upon us, and many of us, myself included, are hoping it happens very soon.

Business Takeaways

The growth of female cannabis consumers is a crucial trend that businesses should keep in mind and respond to accordingly. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

  • How female-friendly is my staff? Do you have any female employees? If so, do you perpetuate the “hot stoner chick” stereotype, or is your staff’s overall appearance and demeanor more inclusive and welcoming to both men and women?
  • How safety-conscious is my location? Safety is important for both genders, but women may especially feel more at ease with the implementation of security cameras, guards, a clean, well-lit storefront, on-site parking, and other factors that can make their trip to your establishment more comfortable. I know there are some elements outside of your control — perhaps the only location available when you set up shop was in the sketchy part of town — but if you can create as secure an experience as possible, your customers will have more peace of mind and may be more likely to make a return visit.
  • What sort of products do I carry that are appealing to women? There are more female-friendly products hitting the market, such as cannabis-infused arousal spray, vaginal suppositories for menstrual cramps, lubricants, and female-made topicals. These product inclusions may seem small, but they can make a big difference to your female clientele.
  • Do I have any female-friendly strains in stock? Yes, women are interested in different strains than men, and we have data to suggest what they are and why females may be interested in them. Stay tuned to find out what cannabis strains women want, which we’ll publish later this week.

State of the Leaf: Hawaii May Decriminalize Drugs, Newsom Has a Cali Crush on Legalization

The legislative train is never-ending and this week is no exception. Iowans speak up in support of medical cannabis, while Alabama, Florida, New Jersey and South Carolina are all considering bills to expand limited medical programs. Maryland’s legislature is trying to take a step back on decriminalization, while Hawaii makes waves by considering legislation that could decriminalize all drugs in an unprecedented move. Leafly’s on the legalization beat and we’ve got our eye on the prize of progress.

U.S. Cannabis News

ALABAMA

Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) is pushing to decriminalize the possession of cannabis oil in an effort to provide legal protection to the families hoping to access cannabidiol under Carly’s Law, which was passed in 2014 and allowed a research study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The new law, known as “Leni’s Law,” the new law should be based on the UAB study, according to Attorney General Luther Strange, but advocated the formation of a task force rather than immediate action. The measure was scheduled to receive a vote last week, but was postponed by the House Judiciary Committee.

CALIFORNIA

It may come as no surprise, but Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has officially signed on in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, arguably the foremost cannabis legalization initiative in California. Newsom disclosed his support in an op-ed piece where he outlined the many failures of the War on Drugs and the need for a smarter approach. He convened the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2013 to examine the best practices of legalization and make recommendations on the transition for the state to legalize cannabis recreationally. The endorsement bodes well for the AUMA, which has gathered more than 91,470 signatures in support. Petitioners will need to gather 365,880 valid signatures by July 5, 2016 to earn a spot on the ballot for November.

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut’s Public Health Committee voted to move forward with a proposal that would allow minors who suffer from certain medical conditions to have access to medicinal cannabis. Raised House Bill 5450 would allow minors who suffer from one of the six qualifying medical marijuana conditions to access medical cannabis, as long as they have permission from a parent or legal guardian, primary care provider and a physician that specializes in the condition. The proposal also specifies that the forms of cannabis that minors have access to must not be smoked, vaporized or inhaled, limiting forms to edibles and oil concentrates.

FLORIDA

House Bill 307 to expand Florida’s medical marijuana program was approved by the Legislature last week and is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Rick Scott, but advocates are concerned that the bill is simply a stopgap. The bill would allow the use of another form of low-THC medical marijuana, but is only available for patients suffering from terminal illnesses, and points to the repeated efforts of the Legislature to prevent the expansion of any medical cannabis program in Florida. Although the low-THC, Charlotte’s Web law was passed in 2014, patients have yet to access medicine.

In the meantime, the City of Tampa passed an ordinance to lessen penalties for the possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis to a civil fine of $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense and $300 for any additional offenses.

HAWAII

Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee is considering a House Resolution, HCR 127, that would make Hawaii the first state ever to decriminalize all drugs, from cannabis to heroin, in an unprecedented move for United States legislature. The measure would require the state’s Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct an extensive study on the possibility and “advisability” of decriminalizing the possession of illegal drugs for personal use, reducing offenses to an administrative or civil violation. The study would also examine the model set forth by Portugal, whose full decriminalization of drugs and record of treating drug abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal one has been widely hailed as a success.

IOWA

Iowa’s chances to pass legislation to expand the state’s limited medical marijuana access grow slimmer with each passing day. A rally was held this week in the Capitol by the group Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis in support for the medical marijuana legislation, who urged that time is running out for legislators to consider the bill before the session ends. Iowa’s Democratic-controlled Senate approved the medical marijuana expansion bill in 2015, but when the bill reached the Republican-controlled Iowa House, the Legislature did not act on it. Representative Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines) re-introduced similar legislation in this year’s session, but House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Tom Sands (R-Wapello) said that no decision has been made yet on whether to advance the bill.

In other Iowa news, support for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has reached an all-time high. The Des Moines Register has polled readers for several years running and the support for the use of medicinal marijuana has steadily grown from 59 percent in 2014 to 70 percent in 2015. This year, the Iowa Poll found that 78 percent of Iowan adults support the use of medical marijuana. Perhaps it’s time for members of the Iowa House to start reading the Des Moines Register.

MARYLAND

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that would instate harsh penalties for the public consumption of cannabis, essentially reversing the decision to decriminalize the use of cannabis signed by Martin O’Malley in 2014 by making it a misdemeanor and a $500 fine to consume cannabis in a public place. The legislation was sponsored by Delegate Brett Wilson, although multiple delegates spoke up against the measure, arguing that this law would have a disproportionate effect on young black people in Maryland, particularly because public consumption is already illegal under the current decriminalization law. The General Assembly approved the bill, which will now be sent to the other chamber for consideration.

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett appointed a panel of experts to determine whether or not to add post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other conditions to the state’s qualifying conditions. The medical marijuana rules adopted in 2011 allow patients the right to petition the panel to consider adding more conditions; however, the state Health Department never appointed a panel, leaving patients in the dark and unable to take action. Prospective patients who submitted requests to expand the conditions had them rejected on the basis that there was no panel to consider them.

Additionally, Governor Chris Christie is vehemently opposed to any expansion of the medical marijuana program, and the current panel of experts lack expertise in the field of medical cannabis. Only one of the five doctors on the panel, Cheryl Kennedy, is registered to recommend cannabis to patients. The eight person panel consists of:

  • Cheryl Kennedy, psychiatrist at University Hospital in Newark
  • Stewart Berkowitz, President of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners
  • Jessica Scerbo, pediatric hematology/oncology physician at Monmouth Medical Center
  • Alex Bekker, professor of anesthesiology at Rutgers NJ Medical School
  • Petros Levounis, Chair of the Psychiatry Department at Rutgers NJ Medical School

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Medical Affairs Committee of the South Carolina Senate is considering a bill that would create options for the medicinal use of cannabis, although the first hearing scheduled for the committee to consider the bill has already been canceled, an ominous sign for cannabis advocates in the Palmetto State. Although the state passed the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Treatment Research Act in 2014, known as “Julian’s Law,” the law is vastly unregulated and does not allow production or access within the state.

WASHINGTON

Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board revised the draft rules for implementing cannabis legislation after taking comments from the public into consideration during seven town hall hearings starting last fall. Some of the more impactful highlights from the revisions include:

  • Removal of the required “Mr. Yuk” stickers on all cannabis-infused edibles products
  • Allowing cannabis retailers to accept opened marijuana product returns with original packaging
  • Any products that are exposed to detectable levels of unauthorized pesticides, fertilizers and growth regulators are subject to seizure and destruction
  • All cannabusiness operators are required to possess a WSLCB-issued license or their businesses will be discontinued
  • Failure to address monetary penalties for two or more violations in a three-year period will result in a license cancelation

International Cannabis News

EUROPE

A new report from the International Narcotics Control Board found that Morocco is and continues to be one of the world’s largest producers of cannabis and the leading supplier of cannabis resin in Europe. The report found that there were 46,196 hectares (116,623 acres) devoted to the production and harvesting of cannabis within Morocco’s borders in 2013, and the board, which is affiliated with the United Nations, said that it expects to achieve its goal of reducing that number to 34,000 hectares (84,015 acres) by the year 2020. Curiously, however, even as the acreage of land used for cannabis cultivation has decreased, the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is on the rise in cannabis from Morocco.

The Shake: The New Yorker’s Licensing Fail, Feds Forget to Invite Experts to Their Cannabinoid Confab, and a Very Sad Alabama Mother

Here’s how not to issue cannabis licenses. The New Yorker ran a twee article yesterday, “How to Design a Marijuana License Lottery,” that lauded the mathematical theory behind Washington state’s 2014 cannabis license lottery. It’s a fun piece, but it entirely ignores the fact that the lottery was gamed by applicants and resulted in unprepared retailers, scant supply, and dozens of unused ghost licenses. Most states preparing their own licensing regimes now reject Washington’s model in favor of a scoring system that brings the most experienced and prepared actors into the system. Washington itself abandoned the lotto scheme in its latest round of licensing. So… more like how not to design a marijuana license lottery, really.

Feds host a medical cannabis summit, forget to invite medical cannabis experts. The National Institutes of Health opened a two-day conference on cannabinoid medicine this morning in Bethesda, Md. It’s a “historic” event in that this is the first time the NIH has hosted a cannabinoid medicine conference rather than a traditional cannabis harm conference. But NIH organizers somehow forgot to invite most of America’s leading cannabinoid experts and researchers, including UC San Francisco pioneer Donald Abrams, PTSD researcher Sue Sisley, and others doing groundbreaking work outside the NIH’s strict reefer madness mindset. Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, who recently spent a year as a clinical fellow at the NIH campus, told David Downs of the East Bay Express that “there is a strong bureaucratic taboo in discussing any of the reemerging science or art of cannabis medicine” on the Bethesda campus.

Massachusetts AG asks voters to “wait” on legalization. Continuing the Bay State’s full-court press against adult-use legalization, Attorney General Maura Healey asked voters to “see how it plays out in other states” before voting yes. “Not now, not at this time,” she said. “We’re in the midst of this opioid crisis.” Which is odd, because ending the opioid crisis is one of the talking points in favor of legalization. Healey’s ask begs an interesting question, though: How long should voters wait? Colorado and Washington have been legal and regulated for four years now. We’re wondering if she wants a decade to pass. Or two. Perhaps we should wait for more research, too. Because we just don’t know enough.

Alabama cops ruin mom’s anniversary. Police in Heflin, Ala. (that’s on the eastern edge of the Talladega National Forest, y’all), “stopped a vehicle for multiple violations” and claim to have discovered the smell of burning cannabis. According to reports, the officers spotted a box in the car, “sealed with a bow, which the driver claimed was an anniversary gift for his mother.” Inside the box were two pounds of cannabis in a vacuum-sealed bag. “The suspects are now in jail and off our Streets,” reported the Heflin Police Department’s Facebook page, which features a photo of Officer Turner holding said box and anniversary card. We’re not saying that transporting two pounds of cannabis across the fine state of Alabama is the smartest decision an individual can make. We are saying, however, that somewhere out there among the magnolia trees there may be a mother whose anniversary was made just a little bit sadder.

QUICK HITS: From the Department of Least Surprising Headlines comes this from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Gavin Newsom endorses legal marijuana initiative.” Good. The suspense was killing us. (We joke because we love, Gavin. Glad to have the support.) Albany, N.Y., credit union SEFCU goes public as the banking partner working with Vireo Health, one of the state’s new medical cannabis dispensaries.

The Shake: Hillary the 'Drug Warrior,' a Utah Senator's Escape Plan, and a Football Coach Fired for Growing the Wrong Crop

A Utah Republican says he’s moving to South America. Why? Because his effort to legalize medical cannabis fell short. State Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs) said he expects South America to offer more personal freedom. “I’ve long since concluded that I desire more freedom in my individual life than I’m allowed to have in this state,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. Madsen’s bill, SB 73, essentially died on Monday after a more conservative measure, SB 89, won the support of a House committee. “It is fundamentally, functionally constructed to fail,” Madsen said of the current proposal, which he worries won’t adequately meet patient needs. “It’s entirely possible they wanted it to fail all along.” South America might be a nice change of scenery, Sen. Madsen, but Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are a lot closer.

Still need evidence medical cannabis isn’t “a joke”? Mic has a persusasive piece spotlighting a 15-year-old epilepsy patient. Toni Richard, the boy’s mother, says he was experiencing 3,000 seizures a day before trying medical cannabis — at which point he promptly went 375 days with a single one. It’s anecdotal evidence, sure, but it squares with a growing body of scientific research (going back to the 1980s) that suggests cannabis has the potential to drastically reduce epileptic seizures in children, even among patients who don’t see relief from traditional pharmaceuticals. How many other Schedule I substances can you say that about? (Related: Looks like Virginia, which legalized industrial hemp this week, is also on track to legalize cannabis cultivation for epilepsy treatment.)

How bad would Hillary be for cannabis? We’ve quipped that Clinton would provide “tepid” leadership on cannabis by essentially allowing states to do their own thing. Romain Bonilla at Marijuana Politics goes further, saying that from her time as first lady to secretary of state, Clinton “has proven herself to be one of the greatest drug warriors of our generation.” It’s a bit of a hit piece, yes, but it’s worth a read if you’re looking for a president who cares about cannabis. It’s not clear Clinton does.

The Seattle Times sides with Bernie, misses chance to mention cannabis. You’d think the largest newspaper in one of the country’s first legal states would say something Sanders’ forward-thinking view on cannabis. But nope! Washington’s Democratic caucus — yes, it’s a caucus — will be held on March 26. (ICYMI, Sanders won Colorado. Probably. And Oregon’s primary isn’t until May.) On the Republican side, the Times endorsed John Kasich, but don’t try asking him about cannabis.

Washington’s cannabis-testing scene gets even more bizarre. There’s been quite the kerfuffle over the state Liquor Control Board’s reportedly lax enforcement of pesticide rules. But now a state-certified testing lab has accused its science director of falsifying results. Poulsbo-based Testing Technologies fired Dustin Newman on Feb. 10, CEO Larry Ward tells the Seattle Times. But Newman, the former science director, says the dispute is over company ownership: “Mr. Ward’s efforts to blame it on audits or questionable results is merely a cover-up and disingenuous,” he said. It’s a developing story, so expect more to come.

Cannabis regulations confuse you? One California county decided to simplify things by releasing an animated video. It’s not half bad. Take a look:

QUICK HITS: Do Canada’s mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis qualify as cruel and unusual? One B.C. Supreme Court judge thinks so. Growing more than six plants could land you upward of half a year in jail, even if you’re just giving away some extra bud. A U.S. senator says legalization is a “disturbance.” But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) was also the first sitting senator to endorse Donald Trump for president. Draw your own conclusions. How does cannabis affect pregnant women? The truth is, we don’t really know. A new University of Colorado study hopes to change that. Industrial hemp could be even bigger in Massachusetts than cannabis. We’re still a little skeptical, but that’s what the headline says. Colorado recalls more cannabis. The latest recall affects five strains grown and sold by Bailey dispensary Sunrise Solutions. A high-school football coach might’ve lost his job over legal cannabis. Hillary Butler, who played for the Seattle Seahawks, won’t be coaching the Lakes High School team next year, and he thinks it’s due to his new cultivation business. The district won’t say. Rhode Island, as we all know, is tiny. But according to Marijuana Business Daily, its recreational cannabis market could be huge. And finally, your headline of the day: “Shiva Is A God Who Likes Marijuana — And So Do Many Of His Followers.”

Grace and Grassroots Organizing: Moma Tina Glasgow's Mission

Tina Glasgow, the mother of prominent drug policy reformer, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, talks to DPA about how she became a drug policy reformer.

Approximately 16 miles north of Florida and 20 miles west of Georgia, tucked quietly into the southeastern corner of Alabama, there is a town, biblical in its name, and with 65,000 residents, tiny in its population. But it is in that town, Dothan, where, despite every tension we know to have long challenged and charged the most directly identifiable victims and survivors of Jim Crow, there is an oasis, a place where the people come for the full breath of their manna, physical, spiritual and intellectual. They come because Dothan is the birthplace of The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS), the vision of a prisoner who would become a pastor, Kenneth Glasgow. And because TOPS has in its 15 years been responsible for some of the most far-reaching drug policy and criminal justice changes in Alabama—they secured the right to vote for people who were incarcerated; ended the parole and then probation violations of people who tested positive for drug use and most recently ended the ban on collecting food stamps or living in public housing for people with drug law violations—Pastor Glasgow has long and rightfully garnered local and national news, but if you ask him, if his was the mind behind the eye that could see a place for compassionate care for people no matter what scarlet letters had been affixed upon their chests, then his mother, Moma Tina, was the heart.

“Kenny was my only child,” offers the 70-year-old woman who is also grandmother to five and great grandmother to four. “We were always close. When he did his time, I did it right along with him,” she says one hard, bright February morning as she recalls her son’s struggle with an addiction that would trigger several shorter stays and then a full dime in prison. “He had been selling drugs, mostly to get quick money,” she says, which doesn’t surprise. Even during the naughty nineties when the economy seemed to boom, unemployment rates for Black men were generally at twice the national average. And as award-winning author and Columbia University professor, Dr. Carl Hart noted in his masterful memoir / big science tome, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey to Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, all the data collected by years of his research on addiction told us: when you take away all of a person’s raison e’tre, they are far more susceptible to addiction and its worst collateral consequences (read: white folk get treatment, Black folk get jail). Another way of saying that is that Kenny became, in Moma Tina’s words, his own best customer and unlike our response to people like, say, Rush Limbaugh or Cindy McCain who have struggled with managing their drug use, Kenny did the bid.

But it was during that time and on that journey that Moma Tina took with her son, one which wound its way across decades, through jails and prisons, loss and longing for another way of living, that opened her eyes—and her great heart—to the need for drug policy reform, most specifically a pathway to reduce the harms associated not only with drug use but the way in which we respond to and treat drug users. Not only had she wanted that for her son, but she recalled her own use of medical marijuana to deal with the aftereffects and trauma she experienced as a survivor of domestic violence. “The medical marijuana helped keep me calm and wasn’t toxic like a lot of the drugs the doctors wanted to give me,” she shares.

And it is this knowing—that harm reduction works, that compassion and that a good damn dose of common sense rather than useless shaming and throwing people away, matters most of all. And she knows that the drug war is worse than any drug, drug user or local drug seller out here. “We are able to feed and support 1,500 people every week,” she says and, “none of that would have happened without my son.” Or her. The woman who has been there every day, for the whole of it, the hills and the valleys, standing as a servant-leader alongside those our society would have cast out forever. She calls them home to the best in themselves, which they in turn share with all of Dothan as they band together to bend the moral arc of their universe ever closer to justice. So as Moma Tina steps out from her support role into the role of executive director of TOPS we salute her for creating a space in the deep South where every person, ordinary and extraordinary, can find food and fellowship, a place of grace and a place for grassroots organizing. Moma Tina is Black Drug Policy History.

asha bandele is a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance.

*Editor’s note: This post is a part of the Black History Month series from the Drug Policy Alliance. See posts from the whole series, including past years, here.

View more blog posts.

Author: asha bandele
Date Published: February 19, 2016
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

What It's Like to Live in Your Own Illegal Idaho: A Special Report

Idaho is an anomaly, an island of prohibition in a sea of legal cannabis. Two of its neighbors, Montana and Nevada, allow medical cannabis. To the west two others, Washington and Oregon have embraced recreational legalization. Even famously conservative Wyoming and Utah have laws allowing high-CBD strains. Idaho is the rare holdout. It’s a long, tough road for cannabis advocates working in a strictly illegal state. We got some insight last month into exactly how difficult it could be to turn this famously red state green.

Serra Frank & New Approach Idaho

It all started with a simple public meeting. In an effort to raise awareness about cannabis, New Approach Idaho, the group behind an Idaho medical marijuana initiative, organized a town hall meeting to debate legalization’s pros and cons. There were to be three pro-cannabis speakers and three anti-cannabis speakers. The meeting would be held on the Boise State University campus. But things didn’t go quite according to plan.

Bill Esbensen from New Approach Idaho and the Boise State University chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy helped organize the town hall forum, which was attended by Idaho canna-activist Serra Frank. Frank is well known for her activism in Idaho. She has a long history of fighting for her parental rights as a medical cannabis user. And she helped organize a New Year’s Day smoke-out this year at the Idaho Capitol, which law enforcement shut down.

“They gave me two tickets,” Frank recalled. “One was for possession of marijuana — it was a joint — and then possession of paraphernalia for the doob tube.” She now faces a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for each charge. The previous week she was written up for possession. “Once you invoke your rights in Idaho, they’ll arrest you for obstruction,” she said. “So now I’m facing up to four years in jail and $4,000 in fines for two incidents of merely possessing the only medicine that works for my condition, interstitial cystitis.”

The charges haven’t deterred her.

“I hope I get to go to court. It’s time for us to go to court, honestly,” she said. “I don’t think the people of Idaho believe that I, a disabled mother of two children, should be in jail for using medicine that helps me be a mother to my children.”

Marijuana Town Hall Forum at BSU

The New Year’s Day incident became the backdrop for the Boise State forum. Frank assembled a hodgepodge group of Idaho-based speakers to represent both sides of the argument.

She contacted the state’s drug czar, Elisha Figueroa, who directs the Idaho State Office for Drug Policy. Figueroa agreed to represent the anti-legalization side along with the Idaho State Police Lt. Brad Doty and Sgt. Jason Cagle.

Finding pro-legalization speakers wasn’t so easy.

Boise State University criminal justice professor Cody Jorgenson agreed to speak, but only on an “anti-Drug War” platform. Former state Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, who had supported hemp legislation in the past, was also booked for the event. Rounding out the pro-legalization side would be Russ Bellville, a.k.a. “Radical Russ,” a radio personality. Bellville runs his show, Cannabis Radio, out of Portland, Ore., but was born and raised in Idaho. He even attended Boise State University, where the forum was to be held.

As it initially stood, it was a strong lineup. A state official, two law enforcement representatives, a former legislator, an academic, and a radio-jock wild card.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last.

First, Trail, the former state representative, fell ill and cancelled. Organizers scrambled to find a replacement. They booked Inge Fryklund, a former Chicago prosecutor and current member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Fryklund also happened to be a former Idaho resident.

When SSDP informed Elisha Figueroa, the state drug czar, that she’d booked Fryklund and Bellville, Figueroa balked.

“There has now been the last minute addition of another radical speaker from out of state,” she wrote in an email to the organizers. “It has become clear that what was billed as a college forum for meaningful discussion has turned into a choreographed pro-marijuana rally.”

With that, Figueroa canceled her appearance. The other two legalization opponents followed suit. And like that, every speaker on the anti-cannabis side of the debate had vanished.

Leafly reached out to Figueroa and Doty for comment. Figueroa would say only that the event “changed from what it was billed as, as a forum for the balanced discussion on the issue of marijuana legalization, to more of a pro-pot rally.” She declined to comment further.

Doty responded more fully. “We believed that we could dispel the misconceptions about how the current law is enforced by [state police] and share the experiences that our troopers and detectives see every day about the effects of drug use in our communities,” he said. “When the final list of participants was distributed the day before the event, the event appeared to have become something different.”

Jorgensen, the criminal justice professor, said he was disappointed with law enforcement’s absence. “My students and I weren’t too pleased by this, because we were interested in hearing their arguments and justifications for maintaining Idaho’s policies regarding marijuana, which are some of the harshest in the nation.”

Bellville, who showed up to the forum as promised, downplayed Figueroa’s claim that organizers had hired “radical” speakers from out of state. “It’s hard to find pro-marijuana speakers who actually live in Idaho, because they’re terrified of being above ground,” he told Leafly. And while he lives out of state now, he was born in Idaho, went to high school and college there, and spent most of his adult life around Boise.

When Bellville saw the message from Figueroa denouncing the forum as a pro-marijuana rally, he scoffed.

“The only thing that makes it a pro-marijuana event is that the anti people didn’t show up,” he said. “Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Her charge of “radical,” out-of-state speakers is a swipe at me because my nickname online is Radical Russ. It was kind of shocking to me, because when Elisha Figueroa was getting her degree at Arizona State, I was skateboarding on the campus of Boise State. I have far more Idaho ties than this drug czar does.”

The organizers decided to go on with the show. “Because they canceled, it did turn into a pro-marijuana event,” Frank said. “We had three pro speakers and three empty chairs on the other side. We had the debate, but there was no rebuttal. We are planning to have another forum, and we’ll invite them again and hope they come down. We’ll just keep inviting them. It just shows that they have no weight to their argument if they won’t come down and debate with us.”

The forum was held in the BSU Student Union Building, with about 150 people in attendance. Another 8,000 or so listeners tuned in via a Cannabis Radio livestream.

With no opponents to debate, Bellville downloaded the Idaho Office of Drug Policy’s fact sheet on marijuana and went through it, point by point, arguing against the office’s supposed facts one-by-one. The event ended around 9 p.m., and the crowd dispersed.

Then things really got interesting.

A Knock At The Motel Room Door

After the event wrapped up, Bellville and New Approach organizer Bill Esbenson headed out.

When Bellville arrived at his hotel, he checked into his room with the night manager. “There’s hardly anyone in the parking lot and none of the rooms next to me are booked,” he said he remembers thinking. “It’s pretty empty for a Tuesday night in Boise.”

He changed his clothes, flipped on Jimmy Fallon, and was singing along with the TV when he was startled by a heavy knocking at the door, he said.

“Who is it?” he called through the door.

“Probation and parole,” said the voice on the other side.

“Who?” Bellville turned down the volume on the TV and looked out to see a man and a woman wearing official-looking jackets.

“Probation and parole!” The voice was more insistent this time.

Bellville cut to the chase. “What do you want?”

“Could you open up the door? We just want to talk to you.”

“No, I’m not going to open the door,” Bellville said firmly. “I’m not on probation or on parole. What do you want with me?”

“We’ve got a woman who’s on probation who’s registered for your room and we just need to check to see if she’s in there. Could you just open the door up so we could see?”

“There’s no woman in this room. I’m the only here and I just registered here today.”

They repeated their request. “Could you just open the door so we can talk about this?”

“No, I’m not going to open this door. I’m not on probation or parole. You guys can go get a warrant if you want me to open this door.”

Mention of the magic word, “warrant” was enough to change the demeanor of the officers at the door.

“Look,” Bellville recalled the male cop saying. “We know you’re smoking pot in there and that’s your own personal business and we don’t really care, but we’ve got a bunch of people on probation and parole here and we don’t want to see you fuck it up for all of them, so you just take that shit elsewhere.”

Because there was no arrest, there is no official documentation regarding the incident. Bellville didn’t record the officers’ names, so Leafly was unable to confirm the incident through official channels.

Bellville didn’t open the door. The officers eventually went away. But the encounter left him shaken. He wondered if he would wake up to a pounding at the door at a later hour, this time with warrant-bearing cops.

“You wanna know why it’s so hard to get an in-state Idaho speaker to speak up for marijuana?” Bellville told Leafly. “It’s because the cops just might follow them from the event and bust them.”

An Island of Prohibition

Why has Idaho been so adamantly prohibitive? A number of factors figure into it. First, there’s a heavily Mormon population. Idaho contains the second highest percentage of residents belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of any state in the U.S. after Utah. But even Utah has legalized low-THC cannabidiol oil for medical use.

Idaho’s lack of cannabis legalization isn’t for a lack of trying or support. A 2010 found that 74 percent of Idahoans support the use of marijuana for medical reasons. And yet time and time again, when legislators like Tom Trail would introduce medical marijuana or industrial hemp bills, or when voters would gather signatures for a marijuana initiative, inevitably the legislation would hit a roadblock or lack of action from the conservative, Republican-dominated legislature.

The most recent legislative effort, Senate Bill 1146, would have legalized CBD oil for patients and caretakers. It represents a bare minimum of assistance to patients. Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas have passed CBD-only laws. But in Idaho, even that was too much. Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the measure. When confronted with the indignation of voters, Otter agreed to allow only a limited CBD study for children with epilepsy.

We asked Serra Frank about why she thinks Idaho has been so reluctant to allow even the slightest cannabis reform.

“I’m sure it has to do with investments in things like private prisons and pharmaceutical companies,” she said. “When our CBD law came up, the governor vetoed it. After he vetoed it, one of the local newspapers did a report about who his donors are, and the majority of them were pharmaceutical companies. So that kind of tells us why we’re still stuck in the past.”

Otter’s campaign contributions indeed include a number of pharmaceutical companies as well as Monsanto, Altria and Reynolds American (major tobacco players) and Anheuser-Busch. Taken together, those contributions compose a significant portion of Otter’s overall funding.

Serra Frank’s parting words reflect the deep divide she feels between access to medicine and the state she’s called home for most of her life.

“Everyone says, ‘Welcome to Idaho, time to change your clocks back 30 years. Come to Idaho on vacation, leave on probation,’” she said.

“Our criminal justice system here is a giant machine, just an assembly line in a lot of places. I used to live in Washington and Oregon, and I lived that medical program. I’ve seen the dispensaries. I know what we could have in Idaho, and I’m on a mission to bring that home.”

Frank’s difficulties with Idaho’s powers that be have left her undeterred. She’s already planning New Approach Idaho’s next big event: the first annual Boise Hempfest celebration, on April 23 at Julia Davis Park. Frank and her fellow volunteers will be collecting signatures and educating the masses, against all odds.

Polish Rapper-Turned-Politician Introduces Medical Cannabis Bill: The Leafly Roundup

What’s up this week: On the medical front, Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas are considering expanding their limited programs, while New Hampshire’s still working to launch a medical cannabis program of its own. As far as full legalization goes, Arizona faces an uphill battle against reluctant lawmakers, Maine’s dual organizing efforts have joined forces, and a Kentucky senator is hoping legalization could help curb an epidemic of opiate-related deaths. Internationally, a Polish rapper-turned-politician has introduced a bill for medical marijuana. And based on the polling numbers, it may actually have a chance.

U.S. Cannabis News

ALABAMA

Carly’s Law, passed in 2014, created a pilot CBD-only program run by the University of Alabama, with the school distributing cannabidiol oil to patients who suffer from seizure disorders. It didn’t quite work out. The Youngs, a family that campaigned strongly for the law, discovered their daughter, Leni, didn’t qualify for the pilot program. So Amy Young packed up and took Leni to Oregon for treatment. After Leni began receiving regular doses of cannabis oil, her situation improved immensely — her seizure frequency dropped from dozens daily to fewer than one a month. Alabama Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, who was instrumental in passing Carly’s Law, has taken it upon himself to draft what is now known as Leni’s Law in order to expand access for so-called medical refugee patients who leave their home states to seek treatment where cannabis is legal.

ARIZONA

Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Fountain Hills, introduced House Concurrent Resolution 2019, which would amend Arizona’s medical marijuana regulations to make the program more restrictive. The measure would prevent naturopathic and homeopathic doctors from recommending medical cannabis and would require patients to renew their status (and pay subsequent renewal fees) every six months instead of every year, as is currently required. The resolution drew protests from patients across the state and highlighted a deep divide in Arizona: Even as campaign organizers collect signatures in favor of expanding legalization to include recreational use, Arizona lawmakers continue to take steps in the direction of prohibition.

GEORGIA

There are seven cannabis-related bills on the state Legislature’s docket this session, but one in particular stands out. House Bill 722, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would expand the Haleigh’s Hope Act that was signed into law last year. The current law allows patients who suffer from qualifying conditions to legally possess cannabis oil, but it offers no legal avenue for patients to obtain medicine. HB 722 aims to expand the law to include more qualifying conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill would set up an infrastructure similar to Minnesota’s for the manufacture and distribution of medicine. For more, check out our interview with Peake on the future of cannabis in Georgia.

IDAHO

Last week’s Boise State University town hall meeting to discuss cannabis legalization was eventful, even if it was missing a few key players. Idaho Office of Drug Policy Director Elisha Figueroa canceled her appearance the day of the event, as did representatives from the Idaho State Police, offering no explanation for their absences. The remaining speakers included Oregon anti-prohibition advocate Inge Fryklund, cannabis radio personality Russ Bellville, and BSU criminal justice professor Cody Jorgenson. Idaho voters interested in legalization efforts can find the petition for Idaho’s New Approach to Cannabis citizen’s initiative here. The campaign needs to collect 47,623 signatures by April 30 in order to qualify for the November ballot.

KANSAS

The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee last week approved a bill that would reduce penalties for cannabis possession and allow very limited use of cannabis for medical reasons. The measure now heads to the full Senate floor. It would reduce the first penalty for possession from one year in jail and a $2,500 fine to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The bill also includes a stipulation that the second possession offense would no longer be a felony. It would allow individuals with severe epilepsy or seizure disorders to possess and use CBD oil derived from hemp, and would set up a medical research program to study the clinical benefits of hemp and hemp-derived products.

KENTUCKY

Sen. Perry B. Clark, D-Louisville, introduced the Cannabis Freedom Act. The bill would completely repeal Kentucky’s longstanding prohibition of cannabis and create a regulatory framework “designed to promote public safety and responsible” adult cannabis consumption. Clark says he’s concerned about the number of opiate-related deaths in Kentucky, which have grown at an alarming rate. “I don’t personally care about using cannabis. I just know that these laws are outdated and negatively affecting our state, our citizens, and it’s ridiculous,” Clark told LEO Weekly. “What we’re doing right now to combat this problem isn’t working, but you can see in places where they implement medicinal marijuana and decriminalization laws, that there is a reduction in prescription and opiate overdose deaths, and those amazing numbers are lives being saved.” The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider the bill on Feb. 3.

MAINE

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced it’s collected 103,115 signatures, far surpassing the 61,123 signatures needed to qualify its legalization initiative for the November ballot. Although there were initially two legalization efforts, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Legalize Maine, the groups have joined forces in a push to legalize. It’s not the first time Maine has been in the spotlight for legalization: In 2013 the city of Portland voted to legalize cannabis for adult use (though the vote was later overturned by authorities). Could it be time for the entire state to follow suit?

NEW HAMPSHIRE

In 2013 Gov. Maggie Hassan signed legislation to create New Hampshire’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program, but patients have faced a long and arduous wait for the program to become operational. New Hampshire cancer patient Linda Horan sued the state in November to obtain her patient registry card, and the court ruled in her favor. The state issued her a patient card in order to visit a Maine dispensary, as New Hampshire’s first licensed dispensary, Alternative TLC, isn’t slated to open until March 2016. In the meantime, advocates are also hoping to expand the qualifying medical conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder and combat the Granite State’s ongoing battle against opioid addiction. State lawmakers are also considering a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis, reducing the penalties to a civil fine of $100.

Sadly, Ms. Horan passed away earlier this week from her battle with stage 4 lung cancer.

International Cannabis News

POLAND

Polish member of parliament Piotr Liroy-Marzec, who dominated the airwaves in the 1990s as a rapper called Liroy, has introduced a draft bill to legalize medical marijuana. In July, an independent survey from the PBS agency found 68 percent of Poles favor legalization for medicinal purposes. The same proportion, 68 percent, said that denying access to cannabis is “cruel” and violates patients’ rights to healthcare.

Image Sources (cropped, logos removed): Wojewódzki Ośrodek Animacji Kultury w Toruniu via Flickr Creative Commons

Today: Patients & Families Rally in Front of Cuomo’s Office to Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana On One Year Anniversary of Medical Marijuana Bill Signing

New York City – On the one year anniversary of the signing of New York’s medical marijuana law, patients and families gathered in front of Governor Cuomo’s New York City Office to urge him to sign a new bill to expedite access to medical marijuana for critically ill patients. Since the medical marijuana law passed a year ago, not one patient in New York has been able to access medical marijuana, and at least four children, who could have likely benefited from it, have died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.

Assembly Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of last year’s medical marijuana legislation, said: “It’s a year and a half since Governor Cuomo announced in the State of the State message that he would re-activate the 1980 Olivieri Law to make medical marijuana available to patients in need, and a year since he signed the Compassionate Care Act. In July 2014, he wrote to Health Commissioner Zucker about ‘the urgent help children with epilepsy desperately need,’ and said ‘I look forward to hearing of any progress you can make to provide relief to the children of our state living with epilepsy.’ New York has the legal tools, but seems to lack the political will of other states, like Georgia, Alabama and Utah, which have figured it out. We have seen no evidence of progress in New York. That’s unconscionable.”

Since last July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the eighteen months or longer that the Governor has said he needs to get the full medical marijuana program up and running. According the Department of Health, the earliest the program would be operational is January 2016.

“As a New York psychiatrist who has evaluated epileptic children from New Jersey, I have seen medical marijuana reduce seizures in some cases from 100 per day to just one per week,” said Dr. Richard Carlton of Long Island. “Patients in New York need access to this medicine right away. Three NY children with epilepsy have already died in the interim since the original NY State bill was signed into law. Every day we wait is a day that we put more patients at risk. It’s time for Governor Cuomo to step up and sign the new bill for emergency access into law.”

The original version of New York’s medical marijuana bill included a provision to provide emergency access to medical marijuana for those patients too ill to wait for the full program to become operational. The Governor’s Office had that provision removed during bill negotiations, leaving critically ill patients vulnerable. Just days after the bill was signed into law, two children, who would have likely benefited from medical marijuana, died from their seizure disorders. Two additional children, whose families helped lobby for the bill, have since died – one from seizures and another brain cancer.

“We worked to pass the original medical marijuana bill to help our son Antonio, who suffered from life-threatening seizures,” said Mary Tallarico of Niagara. “Tragically for us, Tony died in May, almost a full year after the medical marijuana bill was passed, and yet he never had the opportunity to try it. We are begging Governor Cuomo to sign the emergency access bill so other families don’t have to suffer the kind of loss we have.”

“When my daughter Amanda stood next to Governor Cuomo last year at the bill signing, I truly believed that the Governor wanted to help my daughter,” said Maryanne Houser of Suffern, whose daughter Amanda has Dravet’s syndrome, a severe seizure disorder. “A year later, Amanda has no access to medical marijuana nor does any other patient in New York. It’s time for the Governor to act; it’s time for him to create an emergency access program.”

“My son Oliver deals with devastating seizures every day, and he should be able to try a medicine that is helping children like him in other parts of the country,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach. “After months of begging the Governor’s office to take some kind of action and listening to excuse after excuse as to why they could not, we went to the legislature, and they passed the emergency access bill with huge bipartisan support. The truth is, this emergency access provision should never have been removed from the original bill, and my child should not still be suffering every day! Republicans and Democrats alike understand that children, like my son, Oliver, cannot keep waiting. Now we need Governor Cuomo to finally step up!! Stop delaying and sign this bill.”

In June, with overwhelming bipartisan support, both houses of the legislature passed A.7060 (Gottfried) / S.5086 (Griffo), a bill that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible. It also instructs the state to issue patient cards to critically ill patients who qualify as soon as possible making it clear that they are medical marijuana patients and affording them some protection from law enforcement and child protective services.

“I was thrilled when the legislature passed the emergency access bill, “said Beverly McClain of New York City. “As a terminal cancer patient, I don’t have much time left, but I know that medical marijuana can help people like me better tolerate life-saving treatments and improve the quality of our remaining days. I urge Governor Cuomo to provide emergency access. People need this medicine, and they need it now.”

Recently, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia swiftly signed a medical marijuana law to help children with severe epilepsy and announced the system should be up and running in 30 to 60 days. He went further and issued temporary patient cards to several families who had moved to other states as they awaited action so that they could return home without fear of being prosecuted.

“States across the country have taken action to get medical marijuana to their neediest patients,” said Elaine Smith of Phelps whose daughter Emma suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “Given that other governors have taken action, I simply cannot understand why Governor Cuomo refuses to do so. Now the legislature has handed him a solution. It’s time for him to show some mercy and compassion and sign this bill or come up with some other way to get medicine to those who so desperately need it.”

Currently, those with terminal or critical illnesses and their families are forced to break the law, move to a state where medical marijuana is legally available, or watch their loved ones suffer knowing that there is a medication that could help them.

“Families and patients have called for emergency access for over a year, and now the vast majority of our elected officials from both sides of the aisle have demanded it by passing the emergency access bill,” said Julie Netherland, deputy state director, New York of the Drug Policy Alliance. “How many children have to die before the Governor will take action? Kids keep dying while Governor Cuomo stalls. The latest tragic death was that of ten-year-old Antonio Tallarico. Governor Cuomo needs listen to New Yorkers and take action before more patients needlessly die.”

Author:
Date Published: July 7, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill

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Sen. Arthur Orr (Photo: John Godbey/Decatur Daily)

In April, SB 162, introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr, passed the Alabama Senate. It now awaits action in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. This bill would declare anyone with five nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood guilty of driving under the influence — regardless of whether the person was actually impaired!

Although intoxicated driving should not be tolerated, knee jerk ideas like per se limits for THC are unethical, unscientific, and unnecessary. Alabama already criminalizes impaired driving. This bill would unfairly target medical marijuana patients who could have higher levels of THC in their blood without being impaired.

Recent peer-reviewed studies have concluded that low levels of active THC can remain in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects of THC have worn off — sometimes for several days. THC levels can even increase in a person’s bloodstream days after consuming marijuana, but without the person being impaired. SB 162 would therefore result in individuals who are not impaired to be found guilty of DUI-D.

If you are an Alabama resident, please email your representative and ask him or her to oppose this bill.

The post Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill

Bobby Singletonjpg

Sen. Bobby Singleton

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee of the Alabama Legislature approved a bill — SB 326 — that would create a comprehensive medical marijuana program for Alabama’s seriously ill residents. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, would allow qualified patients to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana should their doctors recommend it. It would also create a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

If you are an Alabama resident, please urge your senator to support SB 326!

This is the first time that the Alabama Senate has considered a comprehensive medical marijuana bill. With SB 326, Alabama has the opportunity to be the first southern state to join 23 other states and Washington, D.C. in allowing its seriously ill residents to access the medicine their doctors recommend.

Unfortunately, Sen. Jabo Waggoner, has vowed to kill the bill.

The post Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

Federal jury acquits family on 4 of 5 pot charges in Washington state

Ryan Parker, Los Angeles Times

A marijuana-growing family in Washington state was acquitted Tuesday on most of the federal charges against them, but convicted of one count that reportedly could put them behind bars for five years.

A marijuana-growing family in Washington state was acquitted Tuesday on most of the federal charges against them, but convicted of one count that reportedly could put them behind bars for five years.

Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 56, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, and daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 36, were convicted of growing no more than 100 marijuana plants on their 33-acre property northeast of Kettle Falls, according to a news release from Americans for Safe Access.

Same-sex marriages halted in Alabama: What happens next

They face at least a five-year prison sentence under federal sentencing minimums, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The three will be sentenced June 10 but remain free until then, according to the news release. Another defendant in the group, dubbed the “Kettle Falls Five,” took a plea deal. Charges were dismissed against a fifth defendant, who has cancer.

cComments

  • @o0o0o0 Not quite Harmless… Nice try though.
    gaiapj
    at 11:37 AM March 05, 2015

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Americans for Safe Access works to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses, according to its website.

The case was an indication of whether the federal government would pursue a criminal case involving marijuana in a state where it is legal for medical and recreational purposes.

“The jury saw through the deceit of the federal government and rightly acquitted on almost all charges,” Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access said in the statement. “This should signal to the Department of Justice that prosecutions such as the Kettle Falls Five are a waste of time and money and, if anything, should be left to state courts.”

Throughout the trial, the defense was not allowed to argue that some of the defendants had medical marijuana cards. Nor could the defense raise how public opinion on marijuana has substantially changed, and how that change has led some states to legalize the drug, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided the Harvey property and seized 68 marijuana plants in August 2012. In addition to the charge on which they were convicted, the family members were charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, maintaining a drug-involved premises and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, according to the release.

The federal government agreed to dismiss charges against Larry Harvey, 71, a codefendant who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, according to the release. Codefendant and family friend Jason Zucker, 39, took a plea deal before the trial began in exchange for a felony conspiracy conviction and a recommended sentence of 16 months.

“It’s not a complete win,” said Firestack-Harvey’s attorney, Jeff Neisen, the Spokesman-Review reported. “But it’s the best we could have hoped for with a criminal conviction.”

Rapper 2 Chainz Demolishes Nancy Grace’s “Reefer Madness”

When I first saw the picture of Nancy Grace alongside Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz announcing a “Face Off” on HLN about marijuana, via Queens rapper Himanshu’s Twitter timeline, I thought it was a joke.

Cartoonish and excitable Nancy Grace versus a performer whose breakthrough hit was “Duffle Bag Boy?” It seemed too good to be true.

Amazingly, it happened.

I expected that 2 Chainz could hold his own in the debate. Yes, he is a high profile entertainer and unabashed weed enthusiast (Grace was quick to pull up a video of the rapper enjoying a massive blunt during the tête-à-tête) but 2 Chainz, née Tauheed Epps, was a scholar/athlete who graduated from Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship with a 4.0 GPA.

Nancy Grace predictably went ballistic with a laundry list of scare tactics about marijuana that could have been borrowed directly from a PSA your grandparents might have been forced to watch or “Reefer Madness.”

She pulled up footage from the internet of some awful person forcing a toddler to smoke marijuana. 2 Chainz reasonably asserted that Grace should not define marijuana users based on that one person, who probably suffered from serious mental health issues that have nothing to do with weed.

Good point, 2 Chainz. If we judged all of society from crazy and extreme internet videos, we’d all be forced to conclude that civilization was ending tomorrow.

2 Chainz went on to make completely valid observations about the wasted taxpayer resources consumed by low level marijuana arrests. He pointed to the damaging social and economic consequences faced by people with even the most petty marijuana offenses on their record – ultimately, calling into question what it’s all for, when most people who consume marijuana are reasonable, responsible and capable of being good parents and caregivers, much like 2 Chainz himself.

Even Nancy Grace had to admit that the level-headed and calm 2 Chainz seemed to have his act together, essentially discrediting all the sweeping generalizations about “crazed” marijuana smokers that she was trying to make.

Advantage, 2 Chainz.

Well played and that cardigan was simply fantastic.

Sharda Sekaran is the managing director of communications for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Author: Sharda Sekaran
Date Published: January 14, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Feds Support Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) Patients – kinda

If you haven’t already heard, the Federal Omnibus package passed. Officially named, “‘Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (xml version)” it funds the government. The good news for medical marijuana patients is that the  money used to fund the government will not be used against us. The texts related to medical marijuana and hemp are fairly clear: Sec. 538. […]