• California Democratic Party supports Marijuana Legalization

    June 22, 2016

    The Democratic Party, the largest political party in California, is now supporting ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state.

    The decision came during the California Democratic Party’s executive board meeting in Long Beach on June 19, where the board voted to support the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

    The Democratic Party endorses California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who earlier announced his support for the AUMA initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational purpose in the state.

    At the May press conference Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “California will be asked to do something that will change the debate nationally in terms of failed drug policy. California is a game changer in this debate. It’s significant what’s happened in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, but it will pale in comparison to the decision the taxpayers, the voters of this state will be asked this November.”

    Around 60 percent of likely voters in California support the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. If AUMA qualifies for the state’s ballot in November, it would need more than 50 percent of votes to pass.

    The AUMA would control, regulate and tax adult use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in California. The Act would legalize recreational use of marijuana, allowing those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce. The measure would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug and require the state to regulate the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana for recreational purpose.

    The AUMA has already been supported by the NAACP, NORML, the California Medical Association and the California ACLU.

  • Marijuana Sales in Colorado hit record high on 4/20

    June 17, 2016

    In an unprecedented happening in terms of marijuana business on April 20 or also known as 4/20, Colorado’s monthly marijuana sales have reached a new high with a record-setting $117.4 million worth of flower, edibles and concentrates sold. The state sold $7.3 million worth of legal pot.

    According to data reported by the state Department of Revenue, the previous records for marijuana sales during a single day in Colorado occurred on September 16, 2015 during a tax holiday totaling $6.1 million, and total sales in December earlier this year at $101 million.

    The retail sales in the state spiked by more than 50 percent compared with the year before while recreational sales increased more than 80 percent from $42.4 million in April 2015.

    Colorado has now exceeded $100 million in monthly marijuana sales three times, the others being last August and December worth $100.6 million and $101.3 million respectively.

    In the United States, four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized Marijuana for recreational use, while other 24 states have legalized medical marijuana. Most recently, on June 8, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana into law.

    Colorado and Washington were the first states to pass recreational marijuana laws in November 2012.

    The support for marijuana legalization is increasing at a great speed, with nearly 90% of Americans favoring the legalization of medical marijuana and 54% for allowing any use of marijuana in the U.S., according to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.

  • NDP in Canada urges Liberals to decriminalize marijuana immediately

    June 14, 2016

    The National Development Party (NDP) has urged the Liberal government to decriminalize marijuana before they legalize it. The NDP on Monday introduced an opposition day motion, calling on the House of Commons to recognize there is a contradiction in giving people criminal records for something the government has said should not be a crime.

    The motion also calls on the government to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana for personal use immediately, since it remains a criminal offence across the country.

    NDP Justice Critic Murray Rankin says it is not fair to arrest people and give them criminal records for possessing marijuana if the practice will soon be legal."Canadians thought they were voting for a Liberal government that would act quickly to stop arresting people and giving them criminal records for marijuana possession," said Murray Rankin. "But instead we see a government that has failed to move on this issue and worse, has encouraged law enforcement to continue cracking down, further wasting resources and bringing greater confusion to the legal system."

    This year, as many as 60,000 Canadians will be arrested for simple possession of marijuana and 22,000 will end up with criminal records, according to the NDP. The majority of the convictions for marijuana possession involve young Canadians, who should not be burdened with criminal records for the rest of their lives especially when the government plans to legalize marijuana at some point in the future, said the NDP.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana in Canada, and his government plans to get started next spring. Despite Prime Minister’s clear campaign promise to immediately fix marijuana laws in the country, the government has done nothing for 8 months except continue the senseless practice of handing out criminal records for personal use, the NDP observed.

    Meanwhile, the Liberals say they plan to introduce legislation in April 2017 to remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create laws to better punish those who provide marijuana to minors.

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  • Canada soon to legalize marijuana for recreational use

    June 14, 2016

    The leaders of Canada may allow the use of recreational marijuana across the country as soon as 2017, Los Angeles Times reports. If the use of marijuana for recreational is being legalized, Canadian citizens could be buying marijuana from every pharmacy and liquor store in the country.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana, and his government plans to get started next spring.  Last April, Health Minister Jane Philpott said before a U.N. General Assembly that the country would introduce legislation in the spring to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.

    Marijuana is a $4.3-billion industry in the U.S. But in Canada, it generates no more than $150 million in medical marijuana sales. The new legislation could create an exponential amount of trade routes between Canada and the United States when compared to the current medical marijuana market.

    It is also estimated that more numbers of US citizens particularly from northern states would visit to Canada for recreational marijuana, which would help the later to generate more revenues.

    Currently, only licensed producers are allowed to distribute medical marijuana by mail to people authorized to use it by a doctor, although that’s expected to change by August following a Federal Court ruling this year that ordered Health Canada to allow patients to grow their own therapeutic pot.

    The new legislation would likely set local marijuana growers and distributors free from the risks that come with the marijuana trade, including being prohibited from partnering with big investors or opening a bank account in the country.

    Canada has already legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2001.

  • Ohio becomes 25th state to legalize medical marijuana

    June 14, 2016

    Soon after the Republican Governor John Kasich signed the House Bill 523 into law last week for legalizing the marijuana substance for patients with specific medical conditions, Ohio became the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. Half of the states in the USA and Washington, D.C will now allow their residents to use medical marijuana.

    Since the law will take effect in 90 days, patients can go to nearby states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that already allow for medical marijuana, legally obtain pot, and take it back across state lines. The law is expected to be fully operational in about two years when Ohio would set up its own state-run or licensed system to cultivate, test, and dispense medical marijuana.

    The legislation allows patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, but prohibits them from smoking marijuana or growing it at home.

    The health conditions to qualify for medical marijuana includes Cancer; Hepatitis C; Alzheimer's disease; HIV/AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); Crohn's disease; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; inflammatory bowel disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; multiple sclerosis; pain that is chronic, severe, and intractable; Parkinson's disease; post traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette's syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis. However, people can petition the state medical board to add the medical conditions.

    The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy will all play a key role in the marijuana program. The Commerce Department will oversee licensing of marijuana cultivators, processors and testing labs while the Pharmacy Board will license dispensaries and register patients and their caregivers, and set up a hotline to take questions from patients and caregivers. And, the Medical Board would issue certificates to physicians seeking to recommend treatment with medical marijuana.

  • Longtime marijuana use can disrupt brain’s reward process: Study

    June 10, 2016

    A recent study conducted at the University of Texas found that long term use of marijuana can disrupt the brain's natural processes.

    In a paper published in ‘Human Brain Mapping’, researchers showed for the first time with functional magnetic resonance imaging that long-term marijuana users had more brain activity in the mesocorticolimbic-reward system when presented with cannabis cues than with natural reward cues.

    “This study shows that marijuana disrupts the natural reward circuitry of the brain, making marijuana highly salient to those who use it heavily,” said one of the researchers Dr. Francesca Filbey from Centre for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas.

    During the survey, the researchers studied 59 adult marijuana users and 70 nonusers, accounting for potential biases such as traumatic brain injury and other drug use. Study participants rated their urge to use marijuana after looking at various visual cannabis cues, such as a pipe, bong, joint or blunt, and self-selected images of preferred fruit, such as a banana, an apple, grapes or an orange.

    They found that users had more brain activity in the mesocorticolimbic-reward system when shown the first set of images than non-users, suggesting that these brain alterations reveal when a person’s use has crossed from recreational to potentially harmful. On average, marijuana participants had used the drug for 12 years.

    Dr. Filbey and colleagues note that there is limited information on how the drug might lead to problematic use. “We found that this disruption of the reward system correlates with the number of problems, such as family issues, individuals have because of their marijuana use,” he said.

    Notably, an increasing number of states in the USA have been legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes though the cannabis is considered to be the most commonly used illicit drug.

  • Signatures for Marijuana ballot fall short in Michigan

    June 10, 2016

    The elections bureau of Michigan says a ballot drive to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the state -- ‘MI Legalize’ falls short of at least 106,000 signatures to qualify for a statewide vote, which will be occurred this November.

    The bureau rejected many of the signatures because they were gathered outside a 180-day window for collecting names of registered voters. The bureau’s recommendation will be voted on Thursday by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.

    Last week, the activist-led group submitted an estimated 354,000 signatures, more than the 252,523 required to make the ballot, but the bureau said only 146,413 were collected within 180 days of the filing. However, the new state law had treated older signatures as “stale and void.”

    Notably, Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed a new law solidifying the 180-day collection window on petition drives for initiated legislation or constitutional amendments, eliminating the option for petition groups to attempt rehabilitation of older signatures.

    The advocates of marijuana asked election officials to update the policy by allowing it to verify registration status using the state’s Qualified Voter File database, a proposition the Board of Canvassers considered but did not approve.

    Meanwhile, the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee says 137,000 of its signatures are still valid despite being older than 180 days. MI Legalize will file suit against the 180-day rule as unconstitutional, as well as pressing for modern computerized methods to validate older signatures.

    If the MI Legalize proposal fails to make the ballot, it would probably make the end of what was considered as the best-funded and best-organized effort to put a marijuana question on state ballots this year.