July 27, 2017
With a view to reduce the number of violent crimes, Trump administration is getting ready to crackdown on marijuana growers, sellers and users across the country under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to issue a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana use to violent crime, and may recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and using marijuana.
Sessions has been an outspoken opponent of marijuana use, claiming it's a gateway to illegal drugs and crime. In April, he sent a memo to update the DOJ and U.S. Attorney’s Offices on cannabis policies to be accomplished via a group of subcommittees.
“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” Sessions wrote. In said memo, he gave a July 27th deadline.
Last week, Attorney General apparently also reinstated the criminal asset seizure program in anticipation of the Task Force’s findings. He also asked Congress to rescind a Justice Department budget amendment that stops the agency from using federal funds to block states from implementing their own marijuana legalization bills, both medical and recreational.
President Trump, during his election campaign, said he wouldn't touch state's rights on marijuana. "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state," he said.
In the USA, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and another twenty-one states allow the use of medical marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. However, marijuana use is still illegal under federal law in the U.S.
July 27, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice will make it easier for local law enforcement to engage in Civil Asset Forfeiture from crime suspects, specifically in marijuana and other drug related cases.
“We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture -- especially for drug traffickers. With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime,” the Attorney General stated at a law enforcement conference in Minnesota.
Asset forfeiture is a practice in which police seize cash and property from those suspected of a crime, and then sell the confiscated property to pay for expenses.
The Justice Department sees the assets forfeiture program as a way to strip suspects of the proceeds of their activities, to deter crime and to compensate crime victims.
"Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate," Sessions emphasized in his speech, "as is sharing with our partners." He also called it as the Equitable Sharing Program, and made clear that he intends to undo a 2015 Justice Department memo authorized by then-Attorney General Eric Holder curtailing the practice.
However, the practice has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions — such as cars and money — without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.
several prominent political groups are opposing the practice on constitutional grounds. They point out under the Due Process Clauses contained within the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which states “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law …Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
According to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, the DEA alone has taken over $3 billion in cash from American people not charged with any crime in last ten years.
July 27, 2017
In an effort to legalize marijuana at the federal level, former New York Jets defensive end Marvin Washington on Monday sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration in a federal district court in New York City.
In the lawsuit, Washington alleges that the government has “wrongfully and unconstitutionally criminalized the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession” of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, which became law in 1971.
He also claims that the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which is considered as dangerous as drugs like LSD and heroin, prevents him from receiving federal grants to open a business that would allow pro football players to use medical marijuana for pain management and treat concussion-related issues in lieu of more addictive opioids.
It has long been an area of contention around the NFL with debate continuing to arise over the widespread use of opioids among players. Last year, former NFL player Eugene Monroe was opened up in the case of marijuana legalization.
Washington, , who played 11 NFL seasons for the Jets, Denver Broncos and San Francisco, is the co-founder of a company that sells hemp-based sports performance products that do not contain THC, the component of cannabis that causes a high in marijuana users.
As many as 29 states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, while 8 states and D.C. allowed it for recreational purpose.
However, Sessions has sought to crack down on states’ abilities to legalize and regulate both medical and recreational use. He also leads a DOJ task force that activists and advocates fear will soon seek harsher sentences for anyone caught selling or possessing the drug.
June 12, 2017
In a first, Colorado, the first recreational marijuana market in the United States, has started imposing marijuana taxes to curb illegal operations of marijuana. The fund will be used by the police department to curb the growing illegal business.
Governor John Hickenlooper is also expected to sign a Bill to reduce the amount of cannabis grown in homes to 12 plants, irrespective of the number of family members living in a house. As per the current law, an adult over 21 years is allowed to grow six plants each in a house.
The law signed by the Governor assigns nearly $6 million a year as tax revenue as reimbursement to the police for investigating black marketing of the pot activity. The amount, however, has increased since recreational cannabis was legalized by the State five years ago.
The Governor has stated the move is set to curb the shipping of illegal cannabis out of State. The decision has been backed by the police department, which had often held legalization of marijuana by the State as a major reason for the growth of the industry.
The legal growers of pot had also blacked the Bill by stating that illegal marijuana operations had reduced the prices of legally-grown cannabis, thereby hampering the growth of the industry.
More than 22,000 pounds of cannabis had been seized following several raids conducted by the authorities last year. Most of the seized pot were intended for shipping outside the State.
Though, there is a facility in Oregon through which 20 per cent of the taxes collected through illegal pot business is set aside for local enforcement agencies and 15 per cent for the State police, but there was no facility to direct the amount to be used for cracking down illegal marijuana business.
June 12, 2017
The issue over regulation of medical marijuana will be taken up in a special session, Legislative Leaders have informed. The decision was confirmed by Senate President Joe Negron and Speaker Richard Corcoran. The subject will be added to the three-day special session.
No agreement was reached when the House and the Senate had debated the medical marijuana in a legislative session in May. Last year, the Florida people had approved use of medical cannabis through a 71 per cent mandate. The regulation proposal by the Senate was introduced by Senator Rob Bradley, who will initiate the Bill.
The Senator is hopeful that the Bill will lead to a splurge in the number of medical cannabis treatment clinics and offer opportunities for research, while also ensuring safety.
Though the House had planned to limit one grower to 100 dispensaries and planned to allow thousands of dispensaries by the time the state hit 300,000 patients, the Senate plan only allowed 283 dispensaries.
Currently, seven licensed marijuana growers exist, and the Bill will include ten new medical licensed growers. Unless the Legislature takes further action, the limit on dispensaries will expires
The Legislature would also look into the tax issue. While Senate Negron is backing charging sales tax on medical marijuana and tools used to administer it, the House proposed not charging sales tax for two years.
Governor Rick Scott had called for the lawmakers to gather in the Capitol for a three-day special session to discuss on his rejection of education budget. The Bill also proposes to establish a medical cannabis research institute in Tampa. Though the money had been included in the budget, it was vetoed by Governor Scott.
However, now the subject of medical marijuana has been added to the special session.
June 12, 2017
Marijuana patients, who don’t prefer pot medication in the form of smoke or sweets, have a rather new option. A medical cannabis dispensary based in Massachusetts has offered another aromatic option – marijuana pizza.
Ermont Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary in Quincy, introduced this new form of medication to its menu. The six-inch frozen pizza is infused with 125 milligrams of Tetrahydrocannabino (THC) concentrate, manufactured by the company. The dispensary which started the sale around four weeks back, are already getting a great response.
“We are pleased to offer a new, more appetizing way for our patients to alleviate pain and discomfort. The combination of a food as popular as pizza with the medicinal benefits of marijuana represents an important milestone in the evolution of our high-quality marijuana-infused products menu,” said Jack Hudson, CEO and founder of Ermont, in a statement.
The pizza is available for $38. The company has sold about 200 pizzas already. The option is available only for people with medical marijuana cards issued by the State.
Earlier, dispensaries had introduced an option of pot brownies for its patients. Ermont, which opened in October 2016, also offers hot fudge, peanut butter, olive oil, honey and a wide range of other options with THC to choose from.
Ermont’s Director of Operations Seth Yaffe, who was part of the team which decided on the menu said the option was introduced to offer a meal without sugar. He also added that the edibles had a longer lasting effect of THC in comparison to smoking cannabis.
The pizza has a crispy crust with cheese and tomato sauce, but is packed in a tamperproof container, in order to be distinguished from other goods. The patients also have options to choose the toppings.
June 07, 2017
Challenging the State’s decision of awarding medical marijuana licenses, the highest Court of Maryland took up the case in order to prevent the State from awarding further licenses.
The Court of Appeals ordered a stay over the proceedings in Baltimore City Circuit Court from holding a scheduled meeting over temporary stopping of cannabis program.
Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera put the stay order till ‘further notice.’ The notice was served after lawyers representing 13 put of 15 companies that are finalist in licensing process asked the Court of Appeals to intervene.
A temporary restraining order was issued last week by Judge Barry Williams which stopped the Marijuana Commission from approving any licenses until the lawsuit is addressed.
“Individuals who may or could be affected by a court decision have a due-process right to participate in that hearing to defend themselves,” Attorney Alan Rifkin said.
A suit had been filed by Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC, a company whose application was not chosen for medical marijuana license. The company had alleged the state commission responsible for awarding licenses had not considered racial diversity among applicants. Even as Alternative Medicine Maryland was not selected as the finalist, ForwardGro, a Stevensville based company is the only company which has been awarded a final license to grow marijuana.
The temporary restraining order had led to protests by several medical cannabis patients, who were joined by advocates for a demonstration outside Courthouse East. The advocates are hoping for medical cannabis rollout by the end of this year.
Though the first medical marijuana law was approved by the State in 2013, the attempt was delayed. In 2014, the law was changed to accommodate State-certified doctors to recommend medical marijuana for patients with chronic diseases. The medical cannabis program is one of the slowest in Maryland.
May 30, 2017
A recent study published by New England Journal of Medicine on pot medication, has revealed that a compound (oil) derived from marijuana can boost in reducing seizures among kids suffering from severe Epilepsy. The research ascertains the claims made by some parents for years now.
The compound ‘Cannabidol,’ is an oil derived from marijuana which can be purified and used.
The study was conducted on 120 children in the United States and Europe, aged between 2 to 18. As a part of the study, the children suffering from severe epilepsy were administered doses of liquid Cannabidol, two times a day or an inactive placebo treatment for two weeks. The report suggests around 43 per cent of kids showed a drop of 50 per cent during the course of the study.
The report published after the survey states that, “Among patients with the Dravet syndrome, cannabidiol resulted in a greater reduction in convulsive-seizure frequency than placebo and was associated with higher rates of adverse events.”
Though there have been instances of pot medication treating seizures in severe epilepsy, a survey and documentation has been done for the first time by scientists.
However, the study also noted several side-effects of using the treatment including diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite and gastrointestinal symptoms. Elevation in liver enzymes was also observed in a few patients leading to liver toxicity.
Cannabidol is not available to anyone except the manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals, who also funded the study. Since, the marijuana compound id not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the company now plans to send it for approval this year, hoping to roll it out as a prescribed medication to reduce seizures in severe epilepsy patients by next year.
May 28, 2017
The workers of a second hand store in Maplewood were in for a huge surprise, when they uncovered packets of marijuana in a Ziploc bag, among the clothing distributed as donations.
As per information, while rummaging through the clothing donations, the workers of ‘Once Upon a child,’ a second-hand store in Maplewood, found more than 100 grams of marijuana stacked in separate plastic bags.
Following the finding, the Maplewood Minnesota Police Department has posted the photograph of the finding on their Facebook page and asked the rightful owner to come and collect it from the police department in a humorous post.
“If you accidentally donated 111 grams of marijuana along with your clothing earlier to a local store please come to the PD so we can reunite you! We know you spent a lot of time dividing them into these perfectly measured baggies & must be missing them,” the Facebook of the police department post read. The photo was also tweeted from the department’s handle.
As expected, no one has turned up to stake ‘claim’ over the cannabis plant. However, the police are hopeful to catch the culprit soon through the security camera footage. The police will also review the forms filled up at the time of donation, which has name and address and contact details, though the authenticity of the particulars filled are yet to be verified.
The marijuana stacked neatly in packets, are believed to be for circulation and not personal consumption. There are more than 50 neatly arranged packets. Once caught, the person who owns the marijuana can be charged with possession and intent to distribute.
May 28, 2017
The Florida Department of Health is taking steps for adopting regulations to allow the use of medical marijuana by patients after the state lawmakers failed to resolve the issue during the session early this month.
The Department of Health on Thursday published a ‘Notice of Regulation Development Procedure,’ highlighting the procedures the Department intends to implement, using Amendment 2. Amendment 2 was cleared by more than 71 per cent of votes in November last year. It permits patients with medical conditions including HIV-AIDS, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and a host of others to access medical cannabis plant.
The Florida Department of Health came into action after lawmakers failed to act in the last session that ended on May 8. The Department now faces an ambitious deadline of July 3 to note that the regulations, which is said to boost the medical marijuana industry and might also make Florida as one of the country’s largest medical cannabis markets. The officials have time till October 3 to implement the regulations.
As per the procedure, the officials of the Department of Health will need to give a 15-day notice before adopting the regulations. The draft rules will also include a public-comment period of three days.
Though, Amendment 2 which was passed last year is now a part of the Constitution of Florida, the rules for passage of regulations do not apply.
The lawmakers will likely resume the discussions on the issue during a special summer session. Sen. Rob Bradley has supported a special session to discuss the issue so that the matter is decided by the lawmakers and not the Department. However, a session is likely if the Governor Rick Scott vetoes a portion of the budget, forcing the lawmakers to discuss issues other than marijuana.
May 28, 2017
Justice William O’Neil, an Ohio Supreme Court justice has called for a move to legalize marijuana. The justice, who is the only democrat to hold an Ohio office, was quoted stating that legalizing marijuana model is working in Colarado and pursuing the same in Ohio would raise millions in sales taxes.
The Supreme Court Justice, who early this year had said he was considering to step down and run for the Governor in 2018, also stressed on releasing marijuana offenders from prison, who are non-violent.
O’Neil stated these steps would generate approximately $350 million, a sum which can be used to create a state-run mental health network and also combat drug addiction.
“The time has come for new thinking. We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass,” the Supreme Court justice said in a recent address.
The Democrat also seeks the Ohio Department of Mental Health to reopen the state hospitals which were closed long back in a bid to change the way addicted is viewed.
Stressing the Democrats need fresh ideas to beat the Republicans in 2018, he said, “Treat addiction like the disease it is in the name of compassion.”
For the run-up to the Governor’s post, many names are fiddling from both sides. While Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Representative Betty Sutton, former state Representative Connie Pillich and Joe Schiavoni are in the race from the Democrats; U.S. Representative Jim Renacci and Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine are the Republicans probables.
May 28, 2017
A textile company has discriminated against woman and violated the marijuana law, ruled a judge in a written decision.
Darlington Fabrics Corp, a westerly based textile company had denied a paid internship to a woman on the basis that she uses medical marijuana to treat migraine headaches.
The woman Christine Callaghan a graduate at the University of Rhode Island, had applied for paid internship at the textile company. Though she was initially approved for the internship, but the offer was withdrawn when she informed she was in possession of a medical marijuana card.
A case against Darlington Fabrics Corp was filed by state branch of American Civil Liberties Union and Christine was represented by Carly Beauvais Iafrate, a volunteer attorney from the Union.
While giving the ruling, the judge Richard A. Licht concluded that the textile company had violated the state’s Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act, which prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana card-holders.
“This decision sends a strong message that people with disabilities simply cannot be denied equal employment opportunities because of the medication they take. If employers were permitted to discriminate against those using medical marijuana, then the good work done by those to enact the law will be completely undone,” judge Iafrate said in a statement.
In its defense, the Westerly based company had stated that it had refused to offer paid internship to Christine, not because she was a medical marijuana card holder but denied her internship because of her inability to pass a drug screening test. because of her status as a card-holder but because of her inability to pass a drug screening test.
Thanking ACLU for taking up the case, Christine said she was forced to disclose her medical condition to professors after not being hired.
May 20, 2017
A section of the lawmakers in the Capitol are considering legalizing of the cannabis plant.
A Bill titled, ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act,’ was introduced early this year by Representative Thomas Garrett of Virginia, which removes cannabis from Controlled Substances Act and gives states the permission to decide on regulating medical and recreational marijuana.
On Wednesday, Thomas Garret held a press conference to update the public and media on the progress of the Bill.
“I have long believed justice that isn’t blind, isn’t justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socioeconomic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce,” said Garret, who believes there are medical uses for cannabis.
Marijuana is currently out of federal law, but is still legal in over half of the nation including states like Colorado.
Garrett said deregulating punishment for marijuana would enable states “to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth.”
At a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is looking for a stronger enforcement of federal Marijuana laws, the Bill that has 11 co-sponsors has added to the chaos. There have been speculations of the cannabis industry being at risk, ever since Jeff Sessions was made in charge of US Department of Justice.
In his statement, Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a non-profit organization criticized the policy.
“Common sense – not Cheech and Chong ideology – should drive our nation’s marijuana laws. Make no mistake: Congressman Garrett’s legislation is designed to chip away at law enforcement’s ability to keep drug trafficking organizations out of our communities and support a growing for-profit industry that will target poor and young people throughout Virginia,” the statement read.
May 20, 2017
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Gainesville opened on Friday. Knox Medical, a Central-Florida based medical marijuana firm will be delivering the medical cannabis plant. This is the first medical marijuana dispensary to be set up in Gainesville and one of the firsts in Florida after the approval of medical marijuana amendment.
Knox Medical, which is located on Southwest 34th street and is close to the University of Florida, is attempting to make it appear more like a pharmacy than a stereotypical ‘pot-shop.’ The shop starts taking orders from 11am.
The dispensary has a waiting room, which has open access for all, but only people with prescriptions are allowed beyond the waiting area. There is consultation room and a section which has Knox’s products displayed.
Since, no medical dispensaries in Florida can legally sell marijuana to be smoked; Knox Medical’s product line would include vaporizers and liquid drops.
The doctors are allowed to prescribe pots for diseases including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis and related diseases. Only a patient who has been treated three times by a physician would be eligible to receive cannabis treatment.
Operating out of Winter Garden for over 50 years, Knox Medical is part of the Knox Nursery, which manufactures more than 500 varieties of plants.
Knox also plans to open up dispensaries in other locations of Florida including Jacksonville, Lake Worth, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg in the next two years. A medical marijuana dispensary is due to be set up in Orlando in a few weeks.
May 20, 2017
S.22 , the Bill to legalize marijuana, has been forwarded to Vermont Governor Phil Scott, who has time until next Wednesday to decide whether to sign the Bill or not. As per the law, once a Bill is sent, the Governor has five days (May 24) to respond. The Bill was handed over to Governor Scott on Thursday morning.
If the Governor doesn’t sign by next Wednesday and vetoes it, it becomes law without his signature. Both the chambers of the State Legislature have approved the Bill.
So far, Governor Scott has not revealed his intentions to sign the petition or not.Though, he has not opposed the legalization of the cannabis plant, he has asserted concerns about highway safety and youth access to marijuana.
Once approved, the Bill would legalize marijuana possession up to an ounce of marijuana and home-growing of cannabis plants per household from July 2018. However, the commercial production of cannabis plant is not permitted under the law. A commission to look into tax models will also come up after the passage of the Bill.
The Bill assumes significance because it is the first Bill to be passed in State legislature without the participation of citizen.
If the Bill is approved and passed, it will pave way for other states to follow suit and legalize cannabis plant without ballot initiative.
While opponents are reluctant to the introduction of marijuana in Vermont industry, fearing criminal justice system, the supporters argue the medicinal aspect of the weed.
Though, marijuana is not legalized under federal law, it is still available in most of the States. This comes at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is looking for a stronger enforcement of federal Marijuana laws.