(Humor/Poem) Roll Me One

Roll Me One

 

I was about seventeen the first time I tried it

A friend rolled me one in the parking lot of the senior high

It didn’t do anything the first three or four times I tried some

Turns out the tobacco was homegrown, a waste of my time

 

Columbia, I remember the first time I ever heard of the name

Was because of the red and the gold haired tobacco they grew

Makes a person wish they could go and live there down there to

 

Wacky tabacky now I understand why good people have to shield

Left handed cigarettes, disguised with silly names that we give it

A pure Herb God has given for all of man to be able to enjoy it

Pharmaceuticals and Alcohol lobbyist pay politicians to damn it

 

It is so evil that people are forbidden to be able to enjoy it

Folks should be able to Roll one up and remove their stress

Big Brother takes the rights of the peace-loving people away

People want freedom, Big Brother’s chooses to act like a snake

Politicians make laws so crooked the people can not freely partake

 

Roll one for me my brother but do not assume your God-given freedom

The snake is self-elected and manipulating full of venom and pure evil

Roll one in secret but be careful for there are electronic narcs all around

The Demons in D.C. and the State Houses are professional liars and thieves

A couple planted grams, they now own all you worked a lifetime to achieve

 

Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)

 

Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

 Aug 28, 2017  


The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to [email protected], or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.


2 responses to “Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés”

  1. I am a retired law enforcement officer and I can tell you from experience that laws prohibiting marijuana are a waste of time when it is such a benign substance. Smoking marijuana is not worse than drinking an alcoholic beverage and should be treated the same under the law. In fact, many people become violent when they ingest alcoholic beverages but I have never heard of anyone becoming violent by using marijuana. Officers time would be better served out on the street looking for real crime and dangerous criminals. I am a member of LEAP which is a group of officers and retired or former officers who believe these same things. Marijuana is used for medical purpose and for pleasure to relax just like alcohol is.

  2. I am a retired law enforcement officer and I can tell you from experience that laws prohibiting marijuana are a waste of time when it is such a benign substance. Smoking marijuana is not worse than drinking an alcoholic beverage and should be treated the same under the law. In fact, many people become violent when they ingest alcoholic beverages but I have never heard of anyone becoming violent by using marijuana. Officers time would be better served out on the street looking for real crime and dangerous criminals. I am a member of LEAP which is a group of officers and retired or former officers who believe these same things.

Arizona Marijuana: Everything to Know About Marijuana Law in AZ

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK.COM)

 

Arizona Marijuana: Everything to Know About Marijuana Law in AZ

 6

Brandi Atkins, an Arizona resident and former dancer, was diagnosed in late 2015 with a rare autoimmune disease that made her joints and muscles swell, causing chronic pain. She popped in and out of the hospital with a cornucopia of prescription medications handed out to alleviate her pain, ease her symptoms, and navigate around her type 1 diabetes. These medications would often clash with her disease and cause her blood sugar to soar. In desperation, she turned to medical marijuana.

Almost immediately, Adkins noticed an improvement in balance, palatable reduction in pain, and (most importantly) hope for her future. The dispensary she visited took the time to understand her specific concerns, her goals, and the particulars of her health conditions. Thanks to medical marijuana, Adkins feels like she can dance again.

This hopeful scenario plays out in dispensaries across Arizona, where more than 100,000 patients suffering everything from epilepsy to chronic pain find relief through medical marijuana.

It’s an interesting situation: legalized medical marijuana and dispensaries in one of the United States’ most conservative territories. How do these conflicting events coexist? Have you ever wondered what exactly is the state of medical marijuana affairs in Arizona? Here’s our in-depth explanation of everything you always wanted to know about Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws (but were too afraid to ask).

The road to marijuana legalization in Arizona

When the federal government originally passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the predecessor to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, all American states had criminalized cannabis in one way or another. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Arizona state legislators began listening to decades-long calls for marijuana law reform.

In 1996, Arizona passed Proposition 200, allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana (specifically, controlled substances) to treat diseases or relieve pain in seriously/terminally ill patients. In order for a patient to use medical marijuana, a doctor had to provide scientific evidence to prove marijuana’s usefulness along with a second doctor’s opinion to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This caused conflict between supporters and opponents of medical marijuana, and started a lengthy battle over the law’s lack of specificity in addition to the language “prescribe.” For a doctor to prescribe medicine, the substance must first undergo FDA trials and doctors must specify the exact dosage and consumption methods to be used. Unfortunately, this rendered Prop 200 illegal on a federal scope and a medical marijuana program never materialized. It did, however, protect first-time drug offenders from prison sentences, which was a step towards decriminalization.

Arizona tried once more to legalize medical marijuana in 2002 with Proposition 203, but the initiative failed, receiving 42.7% of the vote. A viable solution was not presented and approved until nearly a decade later.

In 2010, Arizonans voted to approve a much-revised version of Proposition 203, an initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Proposition 203 authorized doctors to recommend cannabis as a therapeutic option, as opposed to prescribing a specific dosage of cannabis with strict consumption or application methods. This law also tasked the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to regulate the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

Arizona’s current marijuana policy

The ADHS had until April 2012 to establish a registration application system for patients and nonprofit marijuana dispensaries, as well as a web-based verification platform for use by law officials and dispensaries to verify a patient’s status as such. It also specified patients’ rights, qualifying medical conditions, and allowed out-of-state medical marijuana patients to maintain their patient status (though not to purchase cannabis).

On December 6, 2012, Arizona’s first licensed medical marijuana dispensary opened in Glendale.

In 2012, Arizona legislators amended the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to include college and university campuses in their non-consumption list, even if the cardholder was over 21 years old. However, in April 2017, this ruling was overturned by the Arizona Court of Appeals, and though colleges can privately prohibit medical marijuana on campus, lawmakers cannot make campus cannabis use illegal.

The people of Arizona took advantage of the Department of Health’s qualifying condition appeal process in 2013 when they petitioned to include PTSD, migraines, and depression among the list of qualifying medical conditions. Following due process, the Director of the ADHS denied the petition.

prop 205 arizona

While it seemed like the Arizona population was becoming more tolerant of cannabis, it proved too soon to jump to recreational legalization. In 2016, Arizonans narrowly voted no on Prop 205 by a margin of 48:52, which would have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Ballotpedia attributes this loss to heavy early campaigning by opponents of recreational marijuana years before the election process. Opponents such as Insys, the creators of Fentanyl, lobbied heavily against recreational cannabis — their CBD medicine passed the first phases of FDA trials earlier in 2016. This loss resulted in a significant surge in new medical marijuana patients, many of whom were waiting to get their card only if the recreational law failed to pass.

Despite various lawmakers’ attempts to place limitations on Arizona’s medical marijuana law, the program is growing larger each year. As of late June 2017, there were 132,487 Arizona marijuana patients, 155 dispensary licenses (up from 124 at the law’s passage), and 881 patient caregivers.

The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act”

The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act,” or AMMA, empowers Arizona doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a viable treatment option for Arizona patients diagnosed with at least one qualifying medical condition. With this recommendation, a patient may apply for an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card, a card that allows patients to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana.

2.5 oz of cannabis, up to 12 plants, deliveries of marijuana, 25 miles from a dispensary

Arizona marijuana patients or caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any given time, and obtain 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period from an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary. Patients can also be authorized to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for their own use, or otherwise, find a caregiver to grow cannabis for them if they reside more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary.

Living as a medical marijuana patient

chronic pain, alzheimers, cachxia, cancer, crohn's disease, glaucoma, hepatitis c, muscle spasms, nausea, ptsd, sclerosis, seizures, two or more conditions

For Arizonans like Brandi Atkins — mentioned at the beginning of this article — who think medical marijuana might be right for them, patients must receive a recommendation to use medical marijuana from a licensed Arizona physician. The patient must have one of the below qualifying medical conditions, and their physician must determine that the patient indeed has a qualifying condition. The written certification would state the doctor believes, in their professional opinion, the patient would likely receive therapeutic benefit from medical marijuana use.

Arizona’s list of debilitating qualifying conditions

ALS, alzheimer's disease, cancer, glaucoma, hiv/aids, hepatitis c, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscle spasms, nausea, seizures, severe and chronic pain

Once a patient has received their written certification from an Arizona doctor, they may apply to the ADHS for a Registry Identification Card, a card that grants patients and caregivers the authority to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana legally.

To apply for a Registry Identification Card, patients must submit their written certification, the application fee, their personal information, and a statement declaring they won’t use their medical marijuana for nefarious purposes (i.e. sell it to kids). If a minor wants to be a medical marijuana patient, there are stricter rules to follow before they can qualify for their card. The ADHS website explains the application process in more detail.

The most “caring” of the bunch

Some patients in critical need of cannabis are unable to travel easily to purchase or even consume cannabis without some assistance. Arizona included regulations to cover the people who would take care of these patients, known as Caregivers, allowing them to assist patients (up to five) in the medical use of marijuana.

Whether taking care of a child or an elderly parent, this endeavor is a huge responsibility. Caregivers need to educate themselves on the different aspects of marijuana, like different strains, consumption methods, and their patients’ specific health needs. Arizona caregivers must follow all the same regulations as patients, including registering with the ADHS and carrying an ID card.

Don’t worry, the law protects you!

As federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (without medicinal value), Prop 203 and other medical cannabis laws were designed to protect citizens’ rights. Arizona medical marijuana patients are supposed to be treated like every other resident. The AMMA’s regulations protect the rights of patients and caregivers in certain circumstances:

  • A school or landlord may not refuse to enroll/lease to a qualifying patient unless failing to do so would incur ramifications under federal law.
  • Medical facilities cannot deny treatment to patients based on their status as a medical marijuana user.
  • Parental rights cannot be denied based on a parent’s status as an Arizona medical marijuana patient.

While these protections are essential, they do not provide for every eventuality. Employers may not discriminate against employees who are medical marijuana patients, and may not penalize them for a positive drug test. However, employees cannot use or possess marijuana during the hours of work. Employers may lawfully discipline and even terminate any employee who tests positive for marijuana if they used or possessed during work hours, even if the employee is a registered patient.

Despite nearly 20 years of progress toward decriminalization and regulation, Arizona is still one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to marijuana. Even minor possession is a felony for those who aren’t medical marijuana patients, with a max sentence of 3.75 years and a $150,000 fine.

I’m a physician, what part do I play in medical marijuana?

“I have found in my study of these patients that Cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications.” -Philip Denney, MD, Testimony to the Arkansas legislature in support of House Bill 1303, “An Act to Permit the Medical Use of Marijuana,” Nov. 17, 2005.

Doctors are the gatekeepers to medical marijuana. In all medically legal states, doctors must fully evaluate their patients and determine whether cannabis is a fit for their medical needs and whether they have a qualifying condition. This places a lot of responsibility on doctors’ shoulders, which most Arizona doctors bear with professionalism and true concern for their patients. The physician must be a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, a naturopathic physician, or a homeopathic physician who holds a valid license to practice in Arizona.

medical marijuana doctors in arizona

Physicians meet patients, either in person or via telemedicine services, to determine if the patient has a qualifying condition before signing a written certification stating that, in their professional opinion, the patient has a qualifying condition and would likely receive therapeutic benefits from medical marijuana use.

However, Arizona courts have cracked down on some physicians who have turned their practices into “certification mills” due to their being no additional requirements for marijuana recommendations other than holding a valid license to practice medicine in Arizona.

Visiting from out of state?

Arizona allows non-Arizona medical marijuana patients the same rights and protections as Arizona citizens. This caveat makes sense … sort of.

The law states a Registry Identification Card, or its equivalent, issued by another state is valid in Arizona, except in that a visiting qualifying patient may not obtain marijuana from an Arizona marijuana dispensary.

This is a bit paradoxical. How is an out-of-state patient to access medical marijuana without purchasing from a dispensary or bringing it over state lines, which is federally illegal? Here’s how:

Another registered Arizona patient or designated caregiver can offer and provide medical marijuana so long as nothing of value is given in return, and the recipient doesn’t end up possessing more than 2.5 oz. of marijuana. This works, though it may be simpler to become a resident of Arizona.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary basics, keeping patients safe, obeying laws

inside a dispensary

All Arizona marijuana dispensaries are nonprofit organizations, a philosophy similar to out-of-state patients: “nothing of value may be exchanged for the transfer of medical marijuana.” While medical marijuana isn’t free, dispensaries may charge for medical marijuana as part of the expenses incurred during business operations. Patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, either as flower or an equivalent amount in concentrate, edibles, or other cannabis product forms.

As marijuana is still federally illegal (and valuable), security remains a  top priority. Dispensaries are required to use the ADHS online verification system to confirm each Arizona marijuana patient’s status as a patient and the amount of marijuana purchased over the last 60 days. This system is password protected and will not allow any access through an unencrypted internet connection. This online system does not include patients’ addresses or other personal information.

Dispensaries are also required to have a strong security system for their facility, including a single secure entrance. Medicating on the premises is forbidden. These heavy requirements go hand-in-hand with Arizona officials’ concern that marijuana products will encourage theft, violence, or negligent/illegal use.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the future

Though Arizona’s medical marijuana laws are full of sticky, complicated red tape, the program’s existence is still a huge step forward in the crusade for national legalization. Suffering patients in Arizona can find medical relief with our favorite plant and still enjoy protection from the law. Hopefully, after reading our guide, you now understand the nuts and bolts of how medical marijuana regulations work in Arizona.

Still want more information? Check out the Arizona Department of Health Services website at www.azdhs.gov.


Sources:

https://azmarijuana.com/links/legal/

https://azmarijuana.com/news/proposition-203-arizona-medical-marijuana-act/

http://norml.org/legal/item/arizona-medical-marijuana

http://www.azdhs.gov/licensing/medical-marijuana/index.php

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881#Arizona

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2017/04/06/ruling-overturns-law-banning-medical-marijuana-arizona-college-campuses/100145648/

http://blog.norml.org/2011/05/16/alternet-the-five-worst-states-to-get-busted-with-pot/

http://www.azdhs.gov/documents/licensing/medical-marijuana/debilitating/2013-july/medical-marijuana-debilitating-medical-condition-decision-form-jan-2014.pdf

https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Marijuana_Legalization,_Proposition_205_(2016)

https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/arizona-ballot-measure-205-legalize-marijuana

http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/24/lawmakers-act-to-change-medical-marijuana-rules/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/09/a-maker-of-deadly-painkillers-is-bankrolling-the-opposition-to-legal-marijuana-in-arizona/?utm_term=.7428039f5547

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theemploymentbeat/2014/12/02/medical-marijuana-and-the-workplace-what-employers-need-to-know-now/#3ff5578b66b8

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=000593

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizonas-week-in-weed-pot-docs-cant-lie-on-forms-az-supreme-court-says-8277359

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2014/07/arizona-court-rules-that-medical-marijuana-patients-can-sell-weed-to-other-patients/

http://www.azdhs.gov/documents/licensing/medical-marijuana/reports/2016/2016-apr-monthly-report.pdf

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New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

 

New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

 Aug 10, 2017  


The New York Department of Health proposed additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program today. While the official proposed regulations will not be released until August 23, the changes appear to be very positive. Once the rules are released, the public will have 30 days to comment.
New forms of medicine would be allowed, including topicals and chewable lozenges, as well as “[c]ertain non-smokable forms of ground plant material,” which will hopefully be clarified in the full text of the regulations. Having whole plant cannabis available for vaporization could dramatically reduce prices for patients, and we will seek to make sure it’s permitted.
Other changes would reduce burdens on medical professionals, hopefully encouraging more of them to participate. For more information and the complete list of proposed changes, you can read the Department of Health’s full announcement.

Marijuana: New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

 

New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

 Aug 17, 2017  


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.

National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)

 

MPP Blog


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:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

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

New Approach South Dakota has 90 days to collect the remaining signatures needed to place marijuana initiative measures on the 2018 ballot.

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

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

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:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

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.

The post Burning Man and Marijuana Laws appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

This Long shot Bill Would Encourage States to Legalize Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

This Long shot Bill Would Encourage States to Legalize Marijuana

11:46 AM ET

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.

How Jeff Sessions Could Crack Down on Legal Marijuana (And Why He Might Not)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

How Jeff Sessions Could Crack Down on Legal Marijuana (And Why He Might Not)

12:31 PM ET

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.”

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.”

Nevada Marijuana Sales Exceeded All Expectations: Freedom For The People = High Tax Income For State

(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.”

Police Searches Drop Dramatically in States that Legalized Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

Police Searches Drop Dramatically in States that Legalized Marijuana

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.

Sam Petulla

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.”

Sam Petulla

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.

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