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US: States Find You Can't Take Legal Pot Money To The Bank

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 01/07/2015 - 08:00
The Virgin Islands Daily News, 07 Jan 2015 - WASHINGTON - The nation's rapidly expanding legal marijuana industry, which operates in 23 states and the District of Columbia, enters a new year facing a multibillion-dollar question: What to do with all the millions in cash it collects each week? Nearly all of the nation's banks refuse to take money from marijuana sales or offer basic checking or credit card services to the industry for fear they'll be shut down by federal authorities, for whom marijuana remains an illegal narcotic. The banks won't do business with growers, processors, retail shops and medical dispensaries, or with their employees and contractors.
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Chronicle AM: Seattle Pot Vapor Lounges, VA Pot Poll, Here Comes California, Iran Drug Executions, More (1/6/15)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 23:28

Seattle's city attorney wants a place for marijuana users to congregate, California activists start moving toward 2016, Dr. David Nutt criticizes British Ecstasy policy, Iran starts the New Year with a bakers' dozen drug executions, and more. Let's get to it:

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

Seattle City Attorney Wants Marijuana Vapor Lounges. In a new memo on marijuana policy, City Attorney Peter Holmes is calling for the legalization of pot vapor lounges in the city. "Single family homeowners have a legal place to consume marijuana; others however, such as out-of-town visitors, the homeless, and renters and condominium owners whose buildings do not permit marijuana use, have fewer options," he noted in the memo. "You can enforce that law much better if you, at the same time, provide an outlet for that demand," Holmes said. The lounges would be open only to those 21 and over, require customers to bring their own weed, and would only allow vaping, not smoking. Such a move would require the approval of the city council and the city health department.

Virginia Poll Finds Majority Support for Decriminalization, Medical Marijuana. A Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project finds that 74% of respondents supported allowing medical marijuana and 60% supported decriminalization. The poll also had a near-majority for legalization, with 49% in favor and 44% opposed.

California Activists Set First Meeting for 2016 Initiative. The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform will kick off the effort to legalize pot in the state in 2016 with a meeting in Oakland this Friday. The meeting will be a seminar examining lessons from the successful initiative efforts in Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the roll-out of marijuana commerce in Colorado. Click on the link for meeting details.  

Medical Marijuana

Iowa Pharmacy Board Votes to Reschedule CBD, But Not Marijuana. The state Board of Pharmacy voted Monday to move cannabidiol (CBD) from Schedule I to Schedule II, but not marijuana. The board was acting on a petition from long-time activist Carl Olsen, who sought to have the whole plant rescheduled. But the board wasn't ready to do that. Olsen says while it isn't what he was asking for, it is a step in the right direction.

Sentencing

Washington State Defelonization Bill to Get Hearing. A bill that would make simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony will get a public hearing in the House Public Safety Committee on January 16. The bill is House Bill 1024, introduced by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), and is estimated to save the state millions in incarceration costs each year if passed. Fourteen other states have defelonized drug possession, with California being the most recent. Voters there approved a defelonization initiative in November.

Law Enforcement

Rolling Stone Exposé on Crooked Texas Border Drug Task Force. Rolling Stone has published an in-depth look at a South Texas drug task force, the infamous "Panama Unit" of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office and the Mission Police Department. The extent of the thievery and corruption is mind-blowing. Well worth the read.

International

"Illogical and Punitive Drug Policy" to Blame for British Ecstasy Deaths, Prominent Critic Says. Dr. David Nutt, the former head of the Advisory Commission on the Misuse of Drugs who was fired for failing to toe the government's hard line of drug policy, has blamed that hard-line policy for the drug overdose deaths of four men in the past few days. The men thought they were taking Ecstasy, but a British government crackdown on the drug has led to it being substituted by a more lethal substance, PMA. That's the "illogical and punitive drug policy," Nutt was referencing. "The emergence of the more toxic PMA following the so-called ‘success’ in reducing MDMA production is just one of many examples of how prohibition of one drug leads to greater harm from an alternative that is developed to overcome the block," he added.

Mexican Army Kills Nine Civilians in Cartel-Plagued Michoacan. Nine civilians have been killed by Mexican soldiers in the town of Apatzigan, Michoacan, after the army tried to take control of city hall, which had been held for days by armed civilians. It's not clear who exactly was involved, but the western Mexican state has been plagued for years by violent drug trafficking organizations, and more recently, by armed vigilantes fighting the cartels.

Iran Greets New Year By Hanging 13 Drug Offenders. New Year's Day saw 13 drug offenders hanged in Iranian prisons, including four women. All had been convicted of drug trafficking. Iran hanged hundreds of drug traffickers last year, and it looks like it's off to a quick start this year, too. 

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US PA: Editorial: State Should Restrict Unjust Forfeitures

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:00
Republican & Herald, 06 Jan 2015 - Many state legislators from other parts of the commonwealth often treat Philadelphia like an exotic foreign country. But they should pay close attention to a Dec. 30 Commonwealth Court decision on a case that originated in Philadelphia, and quickly codify its findings as law. At issue was civil forfeiture, a procedure that initially was authorized by many state legislatures as a weapon against drug-dealing, but which has become a cash cow for many law enforcement agencies nationwide at the expense of innocent civilians.
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US: In the Fight Against Drugs, Cuba, U.S. Are on Same Team

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 06 Jan 2015 - As Narcotic Trade Shifts Toward Caribbean, More Coordination Is Possible The river of illegal drugs rushing north through Central America and the Caribbean tends to avoid one conspicuous hook-shaped obstacle.
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US WA: Holmes Asks State To Act On Medical Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:00
Seattle Times, 06 Jan 2015 - Urges It Be Put into Recreational System Wants City to Crack Down on Medical-Shop Offenses Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes urged the Legislature to fold medical marijuana into the state's recreational system in a wide-ranging policy memo Monday.
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US OK: Marijuana Suit Sees Opposition

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:00
Tulsa World, 06 Jan 2015 - Some Oklahoma Legislators Are Against the AG's Decision to Join a Lawsuit Against Colorado. OKLAHOMA CITY - Some Oklahoma lawmakers disagree with Attorney General Scott Pruitt's decision to file suit over Colorado's legalization of marijuana.
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US OK: Pot Lawsuit Draws Opposition

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:00
The Oklahoman, 06 Jan 2015 - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a vocal proponent of states' rights, drew criticism Monday from fellow Republicans who oppose his attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Colorado's marijuana legalization law. State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, and six other GOP lawmakers sent a letter to Pruitt criticizing his decision to join Nebraska in asking the high court to invalidate Colorado voters' 2012 determination to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
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Chronicle AM:MT MedMJ Court Victory, DC Mayor Will Fight for Legalization, Thai Drug Sentences, More (1/5/15)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 23:02

DC's mayor will fight for legalization, a Montana judge blocks most of a restrictive medical marijuana law, a New York county's misdemeanor drug bust asset forfeiture law gets vetoed, Thailand will review drug sentences, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right]Marijuana Policy

DC Mayor Says She Will "Explore Every Option" to Get Legalization Enforced. Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, new Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser stuck up for the District's voter-approved marijuana legalization law. In the face of opposition in the Republican Congress, Bowser said the city will "explore every option," up to and including a lawsuit against Congress, to ensure that the will of the voters is respected. She said the city would send the measure to Congress this month.

Washington State Bill Would Make Old Pot Convictions Go Away. People convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses in the past could have a chance to clear their records under a bill pre-filed for this year's legislative session. House Bill 1041, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Vashon Island), would allow for the vacating of past pot offenses, but only if there are no pending criminal charges or any new charges since the misdemeanor pot conviction. Neither would people with a history of DUI charges, violent or obscene offenses, or domestic violence charges be eligible.

Medical Marijuana

South Dakota Medical Marijuana Billboard Go Up. Billboards pushing for medical marijuana and paid for by the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers are going up this week in South Dakota's largest city. The move comes as advocacy groups, including South Dakota Against Prohibition, work to get a medical marijuana bill through the legislature this session. South Dakota legislators have consistently rejected medical marijuana, and so have the state's voters. Past efforts to legalize medical marijuana at the ballot box failed in 2006 and 2010.

Montana Judge Blocks Some Restrictions on Medical Marijuana. A state district court judge last Friday dealt a death blow to provisions of a restrictive state medical marijuana law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature seven years after Big Sky voters approved a more open initiative allowing for medicinal use and a wide open dispensary scene. District Judge James Reynolds in Helena permanently enjoined the implementation of certain key provisions in the law. Those provisions have never actually taken effect because Reynolds blocked them with a temporary injunction back in 2011. Click on the title link for more details.

Asset Forfeiture

Orange County, NY, County Exec Vetoes Misdemeanor Asset Forfeiture Ordinance. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus has vetoed an asset forfeiture law that would have allowed for the seizure of cash and property from people arrested for misdemeanor drug offenses. "While the legislation's concept to punish criminals who threaten public safety is something I am supportive of; still, the measure's final result leaves open the possibility of affecting innocent individuals," he said last Friday. "Moreover, the fact that revenue would largely go toward the general cost of government, rather than exclusively preventing future criminal activity is troubling to many."

Sentencing

Obama's Plan for Mass Commutations of Drug Sentences Hitting Roadblocks. President Obama's announced goal of commuting thousands of federal drug sentences is running into problems. Although some 25,000 prisoners have applied for sentence cuts, only eight were handed out last month when Obama announced Christmas pardons and commutations. The Justice Department is struggling to determine which sentences have been influenced by the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and it lacks the lawyers to make a significant dent in the backlog. Advocacy groups have formed the Clemency Project 2014 to recruit private attorneys to help, but that is creating its own sets of issues. Much, much more at the link.

Methamphetamine

Meth Pouring Across California-Mexico Border. US Customs and Border Protection reports that meth is coming across the Mexican border into California at unprecedented levels. Agents seized more than 14,000 pounds of the drug in FY 2014, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all meth seizures at the US border or points of entry. Seizures in California have increased nearly five-fold since 2009, when a US federal law made the procurement of precursor chemicals in this country more difficult.

International

Thailand to Review Drug Sentencing. The country's Narcotics Control Board is meeting this week to consider revising drug sentences. Board Secretary-General Pempong Koomchaya said the laws are too stiff in many instances. "The imprisonment term for drug smugglers across the board is between 10-20 years although many smugglers are found with only 12 pills in their possession. About 60-70% of the arrested drug offenders have in possession less than 50 pills. Jailing them causes overcrowding at prisons also," he said. Pempong said some sentences must be made more lenient and that revisions in the law should be ready by the end of the month.

Israeli Farmers Eye Expanded Medical Marijuana Opportunities. The Health Ministry is expected to announce later this month it will open bids for additional medical marijuana providers. The tender is set to be published January 31, with results expected in March. Some farmers see new opportunities for profit—and for lower prices for patients. Click on the link for more. 

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Montana Judge Blocks Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 21:21

A state district court judge last Friday dealt a hard blow to provisions of a restrictive state medical marijuana law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature seven years after Big Sky voters approved a more open initiative allowing for medicinal use and a wide open dispensary scene.

[image:1 align:left]District Judge James Reynolds in Helena permanently enjoined the implementation of certain key provisions in the law. Those provisions have never actually taken effect because Reynolds blocked them with a temporary injunction back in 2011.

Reynolds blocked provisions that ban medical marijuana advertising, forbid the commercial sale of marijuana to authorized patients, restrict caregivers from growing for more than three patients, and require the state to report the names of doctors who recommended more than 25 patients for medical marijuana in a 12-month period to the state Board of Medical Examiners. That final provision would have triggered at automatic review of the doctor's practices—at his own expense.

It wasn't a total wipe-out for the legislature. Reynolds let stand a provision that allows police and the Department of Public Health and Human Services to inspect medical marijuana providers unannounced during regular business hours, and he also left intact a provision barring prisoners, parolees, and probationers from being able to obtain medical marijuana cards.

The Montana medical marijuana scene exploded in 2009, when it appeared the Obama administration would not interfere in medical marijuana states, resulting in a case of severe backlash after some players pushed the envelope with open public pot smoking and loosely-regulated "cannabis caravans" crisscrossing the state and offering recommendations over the Internet. 

In 2011, the legislature moved to rein in the state's Wild West medical marijuana industry. It first voted to repeal the medical marijuana law entirely, but that was vetoed by then Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). The legislature then passed the bill tightly restricting medical marijuana; that bill became law without Schweitzer's signature.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association and some individuals sued to block the law. Now, they have succeeded in striking down key provisions—unless and until the state appeals and wins on appeal.

This is the second time Judge Reynolds has thrown out key provisions of the law. The first time, the state Supreme Court sent the case back to him, saying he should rule on it under "a rational basis" instead of the "strict scrutiny" he had applied earlier. Now he has.

"It is not the goal of this court to interfere with the Legislature’s slow and careful opening of the door to the use of medical marijuana," Reynolds wrote. "It is the goal of this court, however, to ensure that everybody who could benefit from medical marijuana, and especially those with the most serious medically debilitating conditions, are able to travel through that door equally."

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US NM: Column: Medical Pot Users Not Protected by Americans

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
The New Mexican, 05 Jan 2015 - With legalized medical marijuana in 23 states and Washington, D.C., you might think that legal use of the plant would not result in the loss of your job or other dire consequences, but you are wrong. This is because federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no approved medical uses. Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act are divided into five schedules.
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US WY: Yellowstone National Park Sees Rise in Marijuana Cases

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
Albuquerque Journal, 05 Jan 2015 - CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - An increasing number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park are being prosecuted for possessing small amounts of medical and recreational pot, which remains illegal on federal land. Park rangers attribute the trend both to ignorance of federal law and the growing prevalence of legal pot in other states, including neighboring Colorado, which has legal medical and recreational marijuana.
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US WA: Yakima County Considers Way To Curb Pot Commerce

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
Seattle Times, 05 Jan 2015 - May Create Business-License System Pot Industry Barred in Unincorporated Areas In an effort to keep marijuana businesses from cropping up in unincorporated areas of Yakima County - where they are banned despite state approval - county commissioners are discussing whether to create a business license system.
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US IL: Gov: ' We're Gonna Try' To Award Medical Pot Licenses

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
Chicago Sun-Times, 05 Jan 2015 - Gov. Pat Quinn would not commit Sunday to awarding licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois before he leaves office. Without explanation, the state blew its self-imposed deadline last week to award those licenses before the end of 2014. On Sunday, Quinn said research is still underway.
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Australia: Doctors In Clear On Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
Herald Sun, 05 Jan 2015 - Medical Drug Use Surfaces Ahead of Legal Push FIVE doctors who prescribed their patients medical marijuana can continue to practise medicine, after health authorities ruled they were not putting the community in danger by recommending the controversial medication.
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US DC: Council Prioritizes Statehood, Pot Law

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 08:00
Washington Times, 05 Jan 2015 - New Attorney General Says He Will Be Fierce, Unyielding Defender of D.C. Promises to push for D.C. statehood and to protect voters' decision to legalize marijuana were a common refrain among the city's newly elected leaders.
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CN ON: Residents Oppose Medical Marijuana Facilities

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 08:00
The Niagara Falls Review, 03 Jan 2015 - Both Applications Appealed Niagara Falls Review The owners of two properties in Niagara Falls who were hoping to eventually be allowed to grow medical marijuana on those properties might want to consider other options.
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Chronicle AM: AZ Pot Reform Bills, IL MedMJ Applications Delayed, Australia Festival Drug Busts, More (1/2/15)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 22:17

Pot dollars are starting to roll in in Washington state, marijuana reform bills filed in Arizona, Illinois delays dispensary applications without explanation, Colorado wants to grow research marijuana at colleges, and more. Let's get to it:

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

Washington State Did $64 Million in Pot Sales in Slow Roll-Out First Year. Legal marijuana commerce has been slow out of the gate in Washington, thanks to regulatory hurdles and supply shortages, but still rang up $64 million in sales by year's end. Some 99 retail outlets have been licensed (although that doesn't mean they are operating) out of the 331 envisioned by the state Liquor Control Board, which is in charge of legal marijuana. As legal pot settles in, looks for this year's numbers to be significantly greater.

Arizona Lawmaker Files Legalization Bill. Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix) has filed a bill that would legalization the possession of up to an ounce of weed and allow for it to be sold through state-regulated retail outlets. The bill is House Bill 2007. Cardenas admits passage is unlikely, so he has a back-up plan: His House Bill 2006 would simply decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce.

Medical Marijuana

Illinois Misses Deadline on Issuing Medical Marijuana Licenses. State officials admitted Wednesday afternoon that they had missed their self-imposed deadline to begin issuing dispensary and cultivation licenses before the end of 2014. But they didn't say why or when they would be ready. Here is the statement from the Department of Health: "We are strongly committed to bringing relief to thousands of people across the state and ensuring Illinois is the national model for implementing medical cannabis. We are working hard to make sure this is done right. We are conducting a comprehensive review of every cultivation center and dispensary applicant to ensure that only the most qualified are approved for this important program. We will announce the recipients when this important review is finished."

Colorado Seeking Federal Okay for State Colleges to Grow Marijuana.In a letter sent last month, the state attorney general's office asked federal health and education officials to allow state institutions of higher learning to "obtain marijuana from non-federal government sources." The letter was sent under a law passed last year requiring state officials to ask the federal government to allow colleges and universities "to cultivate marijuana and its component parts." "Current research is riddled with bias or insufficiencies and often conflict with one another," reads the letter, written by deputy attorney general David Blake. "It is critical that we be allowed to fill the void of scientific research, and this may only be done with your assistance and cooperation." Don't hold your breath, though.

Drug Treatment and Recovery

Text Available for Federal Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The full text of the act, HR 5845, is now available online. The bill, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would authorize the awarding of grants for prevention and education, treatment alternatives to incarceration, expansion of law enforcement use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, as well as "evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions demonstrations" and "criminal justice medication-assisted treatment and intervention demonstrations." The bill currently has six cosponsors—three Republicans and three Democrats—and has been assigned to the House Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Workforce committees. Click on the link to read the bill. 

International

Australian Cops Using Drug Dogs Bust 214 People at New Year's Dance Festival. Who let the dogs out? New South Wales police did, that's who. They reported arresting 214 people at the "Fuzzy Field Day 2015" electronic music festival in Sydney yesterday after drug dogs alerted on them. Three other people were arrested on drug trafficking charges. 

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US NM: Editorial: Err On Side Of Compassion

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 08:00
The New Mexican, 02 Jan 2015 - Too much energy is being spent rewriting rules for the distribution of medical marijuana in New Mexico. The state Department of Health, rather than devising cumbersome rules that make it harder for patients to get the medicine they need, should streamline the process. While the latest version of rules is an improvement (anything would be) on the original plan, more work is needed. Compassion needs to play a role. The Medical Cannabis Program is too important to sick patients to burden it with rules that are more political than practical. Testimony from patients whose quality of life has been improved because of marijuana prescriptions is too compelling to ignore.
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US HI: Susan Chandler

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 08:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 02 Jan 2015 - Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force Facilitator Hopes Patients Will Soon Have Easier Access to the Drug Susan Chandler says she had no particular opinions about medical marijuana before she agreed to be facilitator for Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task force - and as a formal matter she still is neutral when conducting the business of the legislatively created body.
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US CO: Pot Legalization Hasn't Increased Use By Troops

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 08:00
The Oklahoman, 02 Jan 2015 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Fewer soldiers are testing positive for marijuana in two states where recreational use of the drug is legal, an Army study of the issue obtained by The Gazette has found. The change in Washington and Colorado, where legal pot is available near large Army bases, is small. But it's the reverse of what military leaders said would happen in Colorado Springs with marijuana legalization.
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