(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)
New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis law is finally expanding to include patients who suffer from chronic pain. HB 157 went into effect on Tuesday, adding “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying condition. This new law will allow many more Granite Staters to use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed opioids — a critically important reform for a state that is struggling to turn the tide against opiate addiction.
Until this week, patients could only qualify with a pain diagnosis if their pain was deemed to be “severe” and related to one of the specific medical conditions provided for in the law. As a result, it was much easier for medical providers to prescribe opioids than to certify patients for therapeutic cannabis. Patients who would like to apply now that the law has changed can access the updated application forms here.
For those who are waiting for the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that is scheduled to take effect on August 27.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)
|National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana
Posted: 07 Aug 2017 02:40 PM PDT
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.
Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.
The full resolution can be found here.
MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:
The post National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.
|South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot
Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:22 AM PDT
Two petitions are being circulated — one seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana businesses.
Signatures are tied to the number of votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election, so each petition needs at least 13,871 signatures by November 2017 to make it on the November 2018 ballot.
To read the petitions and for more information about adding your signature, check out New Approach South Dakota’s website.
The post South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.
|Burning Man and Marijuana Laws
Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:15 AM PDT
If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:
This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)
Sen. Cory Booker is introducing a longshot bill to incentive states to legalize marijuana.
Legislation unveiled Tuesday from the New Jersey Democrat, who hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2020, would remove cannabis from the federal scheduling system, which currently classifies the substance in the same regulatory class as heroin.
While this would end marijuana’s status as an illegal drug on the federal level, it could still be prohibited on a state or local level. Booker’s bill, called the Marijuana Justice Act, would cut federal money from states with disproportionate marijuana arrest rates for minorities and the poor.
“This is the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress,” Tom Angell, head of the pro-legalization Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. “More than just getting the federal government out of the way so that states can legalize without DEA harassment, this new proposal goes even further by actually punishing states that have bad marijuana laws.”
Congress is currently under control by Republicans, many of whom adamantly oppose marijuana legalization. In addition, President Trump appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has made it clear that he intends to ramp up punishment for marijuana possession and use.
But Booker’s legalization bill should be an encouraging sign for advocates. It reflects the country’s changing views on the substance. A CBS News poll in April found that 61% of Americans think marijuana should be legal, 71% think the federal government shouldn’t intervene with states that have legalized it on their own, and 88% support medical use.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an outspoken critic of recreational marijuana, and he has the power to hobble cannabis sales in states where it’s legal. But for now, business owners and advocates say they don’t think he’ll actually do it.
As the head of the Justice Department, Sessions has a few strategies he could use to go after marijuana which, while legalized for recreational use in 8 states and D.C. and legalized medicinally in 29, remains a federal crime.
In a directive issued last week, Sessions said he wants to increase asset forfeiture, which allows the government to seize money and property from people suspected of a crime without ever formally charging them with one, let alone convicting them. Historically, asset forfeiture has been used to disrupt cartels, and Sessions said he would use it “especially for drug traffickers.”
But it also means he could send agents to take cash, properties and supplies from cannabis businesses operating legitimately under state law. Even if those businesses sued for their assets back, the case would be lengthy and expensive, and their shops would be effectively closed in the meantime.
“Does it tie in specifically with our industry? I don’t know for sure,” Bruce Nassau, partner in Tru Cannabis dispensary in Colorado and Oregon, says of Sessions’ push for more asset forfeiture. “But it certainly gets one to speculate, doesn’t it?”
Outside of asset forfeiture, which bypasses the court system, Sessions could also choose to prosecute anyone involved in the industry, whether that be the owners of dispensaries or just people who do business with them, like the landlords who rent the property for the stores. Nassau’s concern about asset forfeiture gets to an approach many legal experts and cannabis industry spokespeople think Sessions could employ: target a few high-profile businesses to sow fear.
That would make strategic sense, given Sessions’ relatively limited resources to shut down an industry blooming in nearly 30 states, if you include the ones that have legal medical marijuana.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if what Sessions does is settle for enough prosecutions to terrify people and not try to shut down the system systematically,” says Mark Kleiman, head of the crime and justice program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management. “Not only can’t they protect themselves from being shut down, they can’t protect themselves from being sent to prison for what they’ve already done… These people are taking insane risks.”
Sessions has already signaled his intent to go after pot. He convened a task force to review drug enforcement, which is expected to release its findingssoon. He has rolled back sentencing guidelines put in place under his predecessor Eric Holder which called for granting leeway to drug offenders, now saying instead that prosecutors should go after the most serious offense available. The task force is likely also reviewing the 2013 Cole memo, another Holder-era document, which said that the federal government would largely defer to states on marijuana enforcement. What the Justice Department decides to do about the Cole memo will have huge implications for whether or not Sessions cracks down on the drug.
One marijuana advocate even goes to the Department of Justice’s website to look up the memo.
“I periodically check to make sure it hasn’t disappeared,” says Tom Angell, spokesperson for Marijuana Majority.
Sessions has also asked Congress not to renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, in place since 2014, which prevents the federal government from interfering in medical marijuana at the state level. “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Congress first reported by Angell. (“Congressman Rohrabacher has a clear and strong disagreement with his old friend Jeff Sessions,” Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs told TIME.)
Sessions has numerous formidable legal tools at his disposal, has indicated that he wants to attack both recreational and medical marijuana, and has previously compared pot to heroin. So why aren’t people in the cannabis industry more concerned?
Because legal pot is hugely popular, even among Republicans.
“I don’t see a mass wave of people feeling panicked or making exit strategies or changing their plans,” says Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We are seeing a certain amount of optimism that the support for the industry is such that a move to crack down on it would create a bipartisan outcry.”
A CBS News poll from April found that support for legalizing marijuana is at an all-time high. Sixty-one percent of Americans think it should be legal, 71% think the federal government shouldn’t mess with states that have legalized it on their own and 88% support medical use. This includes majorities even among Sessions’ own party: 63% of Republicans don’t think the federal government should interfere with states on this issue.
“Cannabis right now is a helluva lot more popular than Donald Trump,” says Kleiman. And even Trump himself indicated during the campaign that he’d favor leaving it up to the states. “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump said in a 2015 interview with the Washington Post. “I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”
Along with potentially running afoul of the president, with whom he has already recently fallen out of favor, Sessions would also cross congressmen from states with legal pot.
“This is not a fight this Administration wants to take,” Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon warned in a statement to TIME. “The legalization train has left the station.”
Blumenauer has introduced multiple marijuana reform bills with the Democratic senator from his state Ron Wyden, who also told TIME in a statement, “Jeff Sessions can’t cherry-pick on a whim which states’ rights he likes and which ones he doesn’t. Voters in Oregon and a growing number of states who have chosen to legalize marijuana should not have their votes casually thrown in the trash by this administration.”
It doesn’t seem that Sessions or other members of Trump’s Administration are cowed by politics. Still, pot advocates feel protected by the swelling public support for their industry. And although Sessions’ task force on marijuana was directed to look into links between the drug and violent crime, many are hoping he will realize that regulated cannabis businesses can actually help him fight the crime rates he’s eager to lower.
“We are the wall between the black market and the cartels and our society,” says Nassau of Tru Cannabis. “The president talks about building a wall, and we are a virtual wall. You want this? We are it.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Recreational marijuana sales have exceeded the expectations of Las Vegas area store owners, who have seen long lines outside their dispensaries since Saturday, when Nevada became the fifth state with shops selling pot to the public.
That move jump started a market projected to be fueled by the tens of millions of visitors that Sin City welcomes each year.
Eager pot customers on Monday again lined up before dispensaries opened their doors. Some were looking to make their first purchase since Saturday, and others were shopping for seconds. Tourists and locals alike have taken advantage of the change in state law.
“I’m a very happy with the way sales have gone and continue to go, especially when you consider that the word didn’t really get out ahead of time.” said Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and a store owner. “The public really only had a couple of weeks’ notice, whereas Colorado had a full year to prepare.”
Nevada voters approved legalizing recreational pot in November, but regulations needed before the sales could start weren’t approved until the past two weeks. The state later this week will release a report regarding the unannounced enforcement inspections that were conducted Saturday at dispensaries across the state.
The demand for recreational marijuana has been such that dispensaries had to turn away customers in line over the weekend, and at least one extended its hours of operation. Dispensaries reported wait times of 45 minutes to an hour Saturday afternoon and up to 20 minutes Sunday.
The Euphoria Wellness dispensary had 50 people waiting to make purchases midmorning Monday. Its marketing coordinator, Jim Ferrence, said budtenders helped at least 1,000 customers during the first two days of legal recreational pot sales.
Customers on average bought a quarter of an ounce of marijuana flowers and a sampling of various edibles and concentrates, Ferrence said. “Everyone was calm, cool and collected. No unruly crowds at all,” he said.
Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. As of Friday, the state had licensed 44 dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana. Thirty-nine of those shops are in the Las Vegas area.
More than 42 million tourists flock for business and pleasure to Las Vegas every year. They along with visitors to the rest of Nevada are expected to make nearly two of every three recreational pot purchases in the state.
But people can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Strip, hotels and casinos. Violators face a misdemeanor citation and a $600 fine.
Fifteen tourists on Monday hopped on a bus for a three-hour tour of dispensaries in the Las Vegas area. The “Cannabus” took the visitors to two stores with whom they have an agreement to allow riders to skip the lines.
The recreational marijuana sales did not cause Las Vegas police a headache over the weekend. The department did not deploy additional officers and does not track misdemeanor citations, Officer Larry Hadfield on Monday said.
“It was business as usual,” he said. “Everything went smooth as far as we can tell.”
The state stands to earn millions from the sales of recreational marijuana, but the tax collection data won’t be available for several weeks.
Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in allowing adults to buy the drug that’s still banned by the federal government. The market in the Silver State is expected to outpace all others in the U.S., at least until California starts its sales.
“With all due respect to Denver, Seattle, and Portland, Las Vegas is already the party capital of the world, and this is just an extension of that,” Ferrence said. “There’s no question that the demand is ever going to relent.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)
Traffic searches by highway patrols in Colorado and Washington dropped by nearly half after the two states legalized marijuana in 2012. That also reduced the racial disparities in the stops, according to a new analysis of police data, but not by much. Blacks and Hispanics are still searched at higher rates than whites.
Highway stops have long been a tool in the war on drugs, and remain a charged issue amid a furious national debate about police treatment of minorities. Last week, protests erupted over the acquittal of a Minnesota police officer who shot to death Philando Castile after pulling him over for a broken tail light.
The overuse of traffic stops can damage the public trust in police, particularly when searches disproportionately involve black and Hispanic drivers.
“Searches where you don’t find something are really negative towards a community,” said Jack McDevitt, director of Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice in Boston. “Have a police officer search your car is really like, ‘Why are they doing this to me?’ And you get more pissed off. If you’re trying to do relationship building, it’s not a good thing to do a lot of searches.”
The analysis comes from data crunched by the Stanford Open Policing Project, a team of researchers and statisticians that collected more than 60 million records of traffic stops and searches by highway patrol officers in 22 states. By sharing the data, the group aims to promote a deeper understanding of the patterns and motivations behind the most common interaction Americans have with police.
The data compiled by the Stanford group is limited in that it is not uniform across states. Each of the country’s law enforcement agencies track traffic stops differently, and some don’t release the data publicly. In the end, the group compiled data from 20 states that was deep enough to allow a rigorous analysis. Colorado and Washington were compared against 12 of these states to arrive at the conclusion that marijuana legalization likely had an effect on search rates.
In both states, marijuana legalization eliminated one of the major justifications used by police officers to stop motorists, cutting searches by more than 40 percent after legalization. In Colorado, the change occurred gradually, with searches dropping initially by 30 percent, and then flatting out to a more than 50-percent drop within a year.
In Washington, there was a drop of more than 50 percent in searches within three months of legalization. The search rate remained low thereafter. The 12 states in the Stanford study that did not pass marijuana decriminalization legislation during the period did not experience significant drops.
The biggest finding ─ and one that mirrors the results of investigations in individual states and jurisdictions ─ is that minorities are still stopped and searched at higher rates than white drivers. The threshold before a search is performed is also lower for minority drivers than it is for whites, according to the researchers at Stanford behind the Open Policing Project.
Those differences remained in Colorado and Washington even after searchers dropped following pot legalization.
Jack Glaser, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said that although the disparities persisted, the overall drop in searches means that fewer minorities would be unfairly targeted.
“As long as police officers (like the rest of us) hold implicit or explicit stereotypes associating minorities with crime, they will perceive minorities as more suspicious,” Glaser wrote in an email.
In both states, the analysis excludes searches incident to an arrest. Those searches are not a good barometer for the searches officers conduct after making a stop at their own discretion, the researchers said.
|Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start
Posted: 16 Jun 2017 12:51 PM PDT
Nevada is moving toward well-regulated and accessible medical and recreation marijuana programs – Governor Sandoval signed marijuana-related bills into law and the state has approved early-start recreational sales!
Of the bills, the first, SB344, requires marijuana edibles be in unattractive, childproof packaging; the second, AB422, lowers medical marijuana patient fees; and the third, SB487, imposes a 10% tax on recreational marijuana sales – adding the revenue to the state’s rainy day fund and regulating limited access of the fund until 2019.
Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed AB259, a bill that would have expunged criminal records of those convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana or violating any provision of law involving marijuana that is now legal.
The approved bills will join four bills signed into law this session providing a framework for Nevada’s new recreational marijuana industry, while preserving the state’s medical marijuana program.
Additionally, Nevada’s adult-use marijuana industry could begin adult-use sales by July 1. The Department of Taxation approved temporary regulations and applications have already been accepted. However, adult-use sales could be delayed by a legal challenge from alcohol distributors. MPP is monitoring closely and will be working to avoid any delay.
The post Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start appeared first on MPP Blog.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014, according to a May letter that became public Monday.
The protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
In his letter, first obtained by Tom Angell of Massroots.com and verified independently by The Washington Post, Sessions argued that the amendment would “inhibit [the Justice Department’s] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.” He continues:
I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.
Sessions’s citing of a “historic drug epidemic” to justify a crackdown on medical marijuana is at odds with what researchers know about current drug use and abuse in the United States. The epidemic Sessions refers to involves deadly opiate drugs, not marijuana. A growing body of research (acknowledged by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) has shown that opiate deaths and overdoses actually decrease in states with medical marijuana laws on the books.
That research strongly suggests that cracking down on medical marijuana laws, as Sessions requested, could perversely make the opiate epidemic even worse.
Sen. Jeff Sessions: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’
In an email, John Hudak of the Brookings Institution characterized the letter’s arguments as a “scare tactic” that “could appeal to rank-and-file members or to committee chairs in Congress in ways that could threaten the future of this Amendment.”
Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department also sought to undermine the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. It circulated misleading talking points among Congress to influence debate over the measure, and it attempted to enforce the amendment in a way that “defies language and logic,” “tortures the plain meaning of the statute” and is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law,” in the ruling of a federal judge.
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment has significant bipartisan support in Congress. Medical marijuana is incredibly popular with voters overall. A Quinnipiac poll conducted in April found it was supported by 94 percent of the public. Nearly three-quarters of voters said they disapprove of the government enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it either medically or recreationally.
Through a spokesman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.) said that “Mr. Sessions stands athwart an overwhelming majority of Americans and even, sadly, against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana.”
Advocates have been closely watching the Trump administration for any sign of how it might tackle the politically complex issue of marijuana legalization. Candidate Trump had offered support of state-level medical marijuana regulations, including the notion that states should be free to do what they want on the policy. But Sessions’s letter, with its explicit appeal to allow the Justice Department to go after medical marijuana providers, appears to undermine that support.
The letter, along with a signing statement from President Trump indicating some skepticism of medical marijuana protections, “should make everyone openly question whether candidate Trump’s rhetoric and the White House’s words on his support for medical marijuana was actually a lie to the American public on an issue that garners broad, bipartisan support,” said Hudak of the Brookings Institution.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ESPN)
PYONGYANG, North Korea — Dennis Rodman, the former NBA bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew back to Pyongyang on Tuesday for the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency.
He said he is “just trying to open a door” on a mission that he thinks his former “Celebrity Apprentice” boss would support.
Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he talked to reporters briefly before his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.
Asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, he said, “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”
Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013, but has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its weapons programs.
His entourage included Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.
Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is “not my purpose right now.”
In Tokyo, a visiting senior U.S. official said Rodman’s trip is as a private citizen.
“We are aware of his visit. We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.
In 2014, Rodman arranged a basketball game with other former NBA players and North Koreans and regaled leader Kim Jong Un with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” On the same trip, he suggested that an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.
A foreign ministry official who spoke to The Associated Press in Pyongyang confirmed Rodman’s visit was expected but did not provide details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement.
Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield, and Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world.
Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. Thousands of U.S. troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.
A statement issued in New York by a Rodman publicist said the former NBA player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States. Rodman was a cast member on two seasons of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Rodman tweeted that his trip was being sponsored by Potcoin, one of a growing number of cybercurrencies used to buy and sell marijuana in state-regulated markets.
North Korea has been hailed by marijuana news outlets and British tabloids as a pothead paradise and maybe even the next Amsterdam of pot tourism. But the claim that marijuana is legal in North Korea is not true: The penal code lists it as a controlled substance in the same category as cocaine and heroin.
Americans have been sentenced to years in North Korean prisons for such seemingly minor offenses as stealing a political banner and likely could not expect leniency if the country’s drug laws were violated.
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