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US MA: Editorial: False Promise On Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 08:00
Boston Herald, 12 Dec 2016 - Massachusetts voters legalized the sale and recreational use of marijuana when they passed Question 4 in November. Folks who work in the cannabis industry, who authored that legislation, want to squeeze as much as they can out of the Bay State market even if it means exploiting minority communities. Oh, they wouldn't describe it that way. The authors of the legislation instead called for regulators to encourage "full participation" in the new industry "by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities."
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US CA: Van Nuys On The Legalization Of Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec 2016 - After multiple failed attempts over the course of a century, Proposition 64, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, passed with a 56 percent vote in California on Nov. 9. Proposition 64 legalizes the recreational use of marijuana; anyone 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow a maximum of six marijuana plants at home. The proposition can also potentially reduce sentences as well as clearing criminal records of prisoners that have been convicted of felonies related to the possession and consumption of marijuana.
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Canada: Ottawa Aims To Soften Injection Site Rules

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 12 Dec 2016 - As drug-related deaths rise in B.C. and opioids continue to spread nationwide, government seeks amendments to Harper-era bill Ottawa will introduce a bill Monday that is expected to reduce barriers to opening and operating supervised drug consumption sites in Canada.
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CN ON: Judge Warns Of Pot's Impact

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 08:00
The Observer, 12 Dec 2016 - Young teen leaves victim with concussion An attack that left a girl with a concussion resulted in a year's probation for another Lambton County girl. The impact of marijuana use on developing brains was one of the issues to be examined during probation.
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Canada: Canada Mulls Giving Border Guards Broader Powers To Combat

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/12/2016 - 08:00
Globe and Mail, 12 Dec 2016 - The federal government is looking at arming Canada's border guards with broader powers to open and seize suspect packages, as a growing volume of illicit fentanyl is smuggled into the country. Caroline Xavier, a vice-president at the Canada Border Services Agency, told a House of Commons committee examining the opioid crisis that the government is reviewing the Customs Act to determine whether restrictions that prevent guards from opening small packages should be removed.
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CN AB: Naloxone Saving More And More Lives From Overdose

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/10/2016 - 08:00
Medicine Hat News, 10 Dec 2016 - A spike in fentanyl-overdose reversals thanks to naloxone kits has been documented by the local HIV Community Link, and shows the lifesaving impact the program is having. Since the local organization began training and dispersing naloxone kits, they've officially documented 16 overdose reversals - and 12 within just the last few weeks, said overdose prevention nurse Kim Dick.
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Chronicle AM: Opioid ODs Keep Rising, More Vancouver SIJs, More DC "Smoke Sessions", More... (12/9/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 21:53

Trump's anti-marijuana attorney general pick gets a surprise visit from DC activists, the CDC announces that opioid OD deaths went up again last year, British Columbia expands its safe injection site program, and more.

[image:1 align:left]Marijuana Policy

DC Activists Visit Sessions' Office, Offer Free Weed. As part of their #SmokeSessions campaign to defeat the nomination of Trump's attorney general pick, activists from the DC Cannabis Campaign, the same group that led the DC legalization campaign, visited the offices of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Thursday, carrying marijuana with them as they went. Sessions staffers listened to arguments against prohibition and stories about medical benefits and did not call Capitol Police to arrest the federal lawbreakers, leading organizer Adam Eidinger to ask: "If you're not going to arrest people in your own office who bring marijuana… why would you break down people's doors as a federal policy?"

Hemp

Missouri Hemp Bill Filed. State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has pre-filed a bill that would authorize commercial hemp farming, production, and sale, and does not require growers to get federal permission to grow their crop. The measure is SB120. The legislative session starts next month.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Opioid Deaths Surpassed 30,000 Last Year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data Thursday showing the opioid overdose deaths had surpassed 30,000 for the first time in recent history last year. That's up nearly 5,000 deaths over 2014. And for the first time since the 1990s, more people died from heroin overdoses than prescription opioid overdoses. "The epidemic of deaths involving opioids continues to worsen," said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement. "Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems."

Asset Forfeiture

Institute of Justice Sues Border Patrol, IRS Over Asset Forfeiture FOIA Records. The libertarian-leaning Institute of Justice filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Border Patrol and the IRS, saying the two agencies are violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The IRS demanded $750,000 to turn over asset forfeiture records, while the Border Patrol denied the FOIA request, first claiming it was "overbroad" and then saying to do so would reveal law enforcement techniques. "The lack of transparency surrounding forfeiture is deeply troubling, especially considering the vast power law enforcement has to take property from people without so much as charging them with a crime," The Institute for Justice's research director Lisa Knepper said in a press release announcing the suit. "The public ought to know how forfeiture is being used."

Ohio Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Heads to Governor's Desk. A bill that would require the filing of criminal charges before the state could institute civil asset forfeiture proceedings won final approval in the House Friday and now head to the desk of Gov. John Kasich (R). The measure, House Bill 347, was earlier approved unanimously by the state Senate.

International

New Safe Injection Sites Open in Vancouver, with More Yet to Come. Two new safe injection sites for drug users opened in the city's Downtown Eastside Thursday, and similar facilities will open in Surrey and Victoria next week. And later this month, additional sites will open in all three locations. The move was announced by the British Columbia Ministry of Health, which did not seek permission from the federal government to do so. But they did let Health Canada and the Ministry of Public Safety know it was coming. BC Health Minister Terry Lake said the actions were necessary to combat a rising toll of opioid overdose deaths. "We can't wait for federal changes in order to save people's lives," he said. "We know people are using in alleys, they are using in their rooms, and they are not where the people who can help them are. And so in the face of this crisis, we really just wanted to do more."

Germany's Dusseldorf Wants to Legalize Weed. Following the lead of Berlin, which is moving to allow cannabis coffee shops, the city of Dusseldorf is moving to enact total marijuana legalization. The city council met Wednesday with experts in crime, economics, and psychology to discuss how best to move forward.

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CN ON: Column: Reefer Madness

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
The Daily Observer, 09 Dec 2016 - When you look at the rainbow of sins that governments tax, you would have to place marijuana in a pretty unique place. Think of the vast array of ills government live off of and their alternatives:
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CN BC: Fentanyl To Blame In More Than 330 B.C. Deaths

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Langley Times, 09 Dec 2016 - Dr. Ingrid Tyler, the lead medical health officer at Fraser Health dealing with harm reduction and the fentanyl crisis, says the best way to save the life of a person who has overdosed on the deadly drug is to give them breaths, through mouth-to-mouth CPR. A fentanyl overdose causes the victim to stop breathing, so providing air is essential to saving lives, said Tyler.
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CN AB: Pot Tourism Hanging In The Balance

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Metro, 09 Dec 2016 - Would-be weed entrepreneurs await federal framework Although not clear how pot legalization will go down, Albertans are already planning to piggyback business on the marijuana economy. In Colorado, when pot was decriminalized in the state, their local tourism board didn't touch the stuff, because it's not federally legal. Yet if you plan a trip to the toking state, there are many services purporting to be 420 friendly.
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CN BC: 'We Don't Want To Go To Any More Funerals'

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Langley Times, 09 Dec 2016 - Alex Wilkinson and Preston Pearce both had infectious smiles, lots of friends and family who deeply loved them. As well, they both graduated from Walnut Grove Secondary. What the two also had in common, tragically, is that they both died at 19 from a drug overdose.
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CN BC: Editorial: Fighting A Losing Battle

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Langley Times, 09 Dec 2016 - By the end of October, more than 620 people in B.C. had died from drug overdoses in 2016. That's up markedly from the 397 deaths in the same 10 months of 2015. Of those who died this year, 332 (roughly 60 per cent) fatalities came as a result of the additive fentanyl.
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CN BC: Drug Users Playing Russian Roulette

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Langley Times, 09 Dec 2016 - As a funeral director in Aldergrove, John Romeyn organizes three to four funerals a month for families who have lost a loved one to fentanyl. "A father I sat with a while ago, between sobs of grief, said to me, 'I promised to take my daughter shopping for an outfit to wear for her graduation. . . . now I have to decide what she will wear in her casket.'
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CN BC: Gibsons Grants Business Licences To Cannabis Dispensaries

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:00
Coast Reporter, 09 Dec 2016 - Retail Marijuana Michelle and Doug Sikora are a big step closer to having a storefront location for their S&M Medicinal Sweet Shoppe, but it won't be in Sechelt as they'd hoped. The couple have been issued a business licence by the Town of Gibsons and plan to set up shop in the 700 block of Gibsons Way in early 2017.
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Seven More Drug War Deaths

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 23:29

When police in Charlotte, North Carolina, shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in September in an incident that began when they spotting him rolling a joint in his car, the city was shaken by angry protests. Part of it was that he was another black man gunned down by police; part of it was undoubtedly because video taken by Scott's wife as her husband was killed went viral.

[image:1 align:left]Most drug war-related deaths don't get so much attention, but they happen with depressing regularity. The Drug War Chronicle has been tallying them since 2011, and throughout that period, drug war deaths have remained fairly constant, averaging about one a week throughout that period.

The good news is that this year it looks like we're not going to reach that one a week threshold. The bad news is we're still going to get close. With less than a month to go, the Chronicle's tally this year has reached 45.

Here are the seven people killed by police enforcing drug laws since the Scott killing. At least three of them were killed as they attempted to flee police in their vehicles, including one where a bystander video shows police opening fire after he posed no obvious immediate danger to police.

On September 27 in Phoenix, Arizona, a Phoenix police officer shot and wounded John Ethan Carpenter, 26, who died of his wounds a week later. Police were tailing Carpenter as part of a drug investigation and had arranged a drug deal with him. He pulled up to a convenience store parking lot next to an undercover cop who was part of the investigation, and other officers then blocked his vehicle in with a marked police cruiser. When officers approached on foot, Carpenter reportedly pulled a hand gun and pointed it at them. When they retreated, he put his vehicle in reverse, ramming the police cruiser, and the undercover narc then "feared for the safety of his fellow officers" and opened fire. Drugs were found in the vehicle. Carpentier had previously done prison time for aggravated assault and drug paraphernalia (!?).

On October 19, in Willoughby, Ohio, a Willoughby police officer shot and killed Frank Sandor, 38, as he attempted to speed away from two officers questioning him in the parking lot of a Lowe's Home Improvement store. Sandor was wanted on drugs and escape warrants and first gave officers false information when they stopped him, then put his vehicle in reverse, striking a police motorcycle parked behind him before driving off. A YouTube video posted shortly after the incident shows the motorcycle officer shooting three times at Sandor's vehicle as it fled -- after the officer was no longer in any immediate danger. That video showed the officer limping after he fired the shots. Sandor's vehicle rolled to a halt a few yards away. The Ohio Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation of the shooting.

On October 25, in Elkton, Maryland, state police attempting to serve a Delaware drugs and guns arrest warrant at a local motel shot and killed Brandon Jones and Chelsea Porter, both 25, when, instead of surrendering to the dozens of police surrounding the motel, they came out of their motel room with guns pointed at police. Jones came out first, refused demands to drop the weapon, and was shot. Then Porter did the same thing. The shooting will be investigated by Maryland State Police, as is protocol when any police action results in a death.

On November 3, in Salisbury, North Carolina, a member of the Salisbury Police's SWAT-style Special Response Team shot and killed Ferguson Laurent, 23, as the team executed a "no-knock" search warrant looking for drugs, guns, and stolen property. "One subject fired at least one shot at the officers," said an official statement from the department. "Officers returned fire and struck the subject who has since passed away at the hospital." The officer who shot Laurent was identified as K. Boehm. Boehm shot and killed another suspect in 2008; that killing was found to be justified. Word of the killing spread rapidly and a "tense" crowd gathered at the scene, leading Police Chief Jerry Stokes to warn that while people had a First Amendment right to protest, "if you start becoming violent and damaging property, then that is the problem." The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.

On November 15, in Webster, Texas, members of the nearby Alvin Police Department Street Crimes Unit shot and killed Robert Daffern, 37, after locating the wanted drug felon at a motel. Police said they approached Daffern, but that he didn't comply with commands to surrender and instead brandished a pistol and aimed at one of the officers. The Alvin Police investigators then fired several rounds, leaving Daffern dead at the scene. Police found a second pistol in his pocket, and a "significant amount" of drugs and cash. The incident is being investigated by the Webster Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney's office and will be reviewed by a grand jury.

On November 28, in Hickory, North Carolina, a Catawba County sheriff's deputy with the narcotics division shot and killed Irecas Valentine, 41, during a "narcotics investigation." The sheriff's office said "an altercation occurred involving the unidentified suspect's vehicle and an undercover deputy's vehicle" and "shots were then fired by at least one deputy." Valentine died after being transported to a local hospital. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.

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Chronicle AM: Trump Names Drug Warrior for DHS, Congress Funds Opioid Treatment, More... (12/8/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 22:02

Another Trump nominee raising eyebrows and concerns among drug reformers, Congress passes a health care omnibus bill that includes $1 billion for opioid treatment, Montana dispensaries are cleared to reopen, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Anchorage Gets Its First Marijuana Shop on December 17. Alaska's largest city will have a place to buy legal marijuana in less than ten days. Alaska Fireweed in downtown Anchorage has announced that it will open at high noon on December 17.

Colorado Governor Aims to Rein In Home Pot Cultivation. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has told lawmakers he wants to reduce black market marijuana exports by imposing a 12-plant limit on grows at private homes, banning collective recreational grows, and imposing tighter restrictions on medical marijuana caregivers. It isn't going to happen without a fight, marijuana activists say.

Vermonters Can Seek Pardons for Small-Time Marijuana Possession Convictions -- This Month Only. Governor Peter Shumlin (D) will consider pardoning Vermont convictions of possession for up to an ounce of marijuana, but people have to apply before the end of this month. The state decriminalized possession of less than an ounce in 2013. Seeking a pardon doesn't necessarily mean you'll get one, though. Click on the link to see the pardon form.

Medical Marijuana

Montana Judge Clears Dispensaries to Reopen. A district court judge in Helena has ruled that a wording error in last month's successful medical marijuana initiative should not keep sick patients from having access to the plant now. The initiative undid a 2011 law that largely undid the original 2004 initiative allowing medical marijuana, but late changes to the initiative resulted in new sections being added, which in turn resulted in a change in section numbering that unintentionally pushed back the date dispensaries could open. "The folks that are maybe the most in need are the least able to provide, to grow their own," the judge said in making his ruling. "I think speed is more important than niceties."

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Congress Passes Health Bill That Includes $1 Billion for Opioid Fight. The Senate Monday gave final approval to HR 34, an omnibus health care bill that includes $1 billion for expanded opioid treatment programs. The legislation now heads for the president's desk. Obama is expected to sign it.

Law Enforcement

Trump Nominates Another Drug War Zealot to Head Department of Homeland Security. The Trump transition team has named General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly has said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug, that interdiction could be more efficient with increased funding, and that marijuana legalization sends a confusing message to Latin American leaders, among other things."This is looking really bad," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "First Sessions for Attorney General, then Price at HHS, and now yet another old-style drug war character for Homeland Security. It looks like Donald Trump is revving up to re-launch the failed drug war."

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Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 19:44

Advocates file a petition to rein in DEA misinformation about medical marijuana, Arkansas regulators are moving to implement the new law there, Minnesota adds PTSD, and more.

[image:1 align:left]National

On Monday, ASA filed a petition with the DOJ to make DEA stop lying about marijuana. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a petition under the Information Quality Act with the Justice Department "demanding that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) immediately update misinformation about cannabis." Under the Information Quality Act, federal administrative agencies are required to ensure that the information they disseminate is accurate and objective. ASA says the DEA has violated the act at least 25 times.

Arizona

Last Friday, a pair of patients sued the state over fees. Attorneys for patients Yolanda Daniels and Lisa Becker filed suit last Friday to force a reduction in the annual fee for registration cards that patients are legally required to obtain. The state health department is charging $150 a year, even though it has nearly $11.5 million in its medical marijuana account. "In a time when medication is more expensive than ever, the state should be helping to make it cheaper for Arizonans," the patients' attorney argued. "The state is deliberately squatting on the excess fund instead of refunding it to patients or using it in furtherance of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, such as to help patients."

Arkansas

Last Wednesday, regulators released draft medical marijuana rules. The state Department of Health Wednesday released proposed draft rules for the voter-approved medical marijuana program. The rules include provisions about labeling, obtaining medical marijuana registry cards, lab testing requirements, and the process for adding new qualifying conditions. The department said it hopes to present the draft rules to the Board of Health next month and then open them to public comment. The department has not completed draft rules for regulation of and applications for dispensary and cultivation licenses. The state is supposed to be ready to license growers and sellers by June 1.

Michigan

Last Friday, protestors gathered to denounce Kent County dispensary raids. A couple of dozen people gathered outside the Plainfield Township Hall last Friday to protest a series of raids last Monday that shuttered three dispensaries in Plainfield. Demonstrators said they have nowhere to go to get their medicine, but Plainfield officials countered that dispensaries had been banned there since 2011.

Minnesota

Last Thursday, Minnesota okayed medical marijuana for PTSD. The state Department of Health has decided to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for marijuana. It had been weighing requests to add PTSD, autism, arthritis, depression, and other conditions. "While the process of reviewing these potential additions was difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence, PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits," Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said. "PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition," he added. The decision means that patients certified with PTSD will be eligible for medical cannabis starting August 2017.

Texas

On Tuesday, a lawmaker filed a medical marijuana bill. State Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) Tuesday filed a bill to allow for the use of medical marijuana in the Lone Star State. The bill lists qualifying conditions and would allow for private dispensaries, but would not set amount limits. Menendez said that should be left between the doctor and the patient. The bill is not yet available on the state legislative website.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

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CN AB: Employers, Please Chill

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 08:00
Metro, 08 Dec 2016 - Patients prescribed pot afraid of getting fired, demoted Employers need to start accepting medical cannabis in the workplace, proponents say. Kait Shane, director of patient care with medical cannabis clinic Natural Health Services, said while patient numbers are quickly growing, most keep their medical cannabis use secret at work for fear they will be fired, demoted or unfairly judged.
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CN BC: Council OKs Pot Shops

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 08:00
Penticton Herald, 08 Dec 2016 - Licences issued to 2 dispensaries that have 'made every effort to work with the city' After nearly three hours of public consultation and debate, Penticton city council reached a compromise Tuesday on the contentious issue of medical marijuana dispensaries.
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CN BC: Editorial: Pot Talk By Council

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 08:00
Penticton Herald, 08 Dec 2016 - The final outcome of Tuesday's marathon session of Penticton City Council was a decent compromise. Council approved short-term licensing for two Penticton dispensaries, denying five other requests. It's a temporary six-month license as Penticton - as well as the rest of Canada - waits for direction from the federal government. In fairness to municipalities like Osoyoos and Penticton, the Liberals have left local governments and RCMP holding the bag. The majority of Canadians are in favour of legalizing marijuana and making it easier for those who require it for medical purposes to obtain it safely and conveniently.
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