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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

(Hemp News)

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

“The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease,” according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs — particularly meth and heroin — appears to be on the rise.

House Committee Approves Law Helping Fight Asset Forfeiture

(Hemp News)

The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday unanimously approved asset forfeiture reform legislation.

Known as the DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283) and sponsored by Crime Subcommittee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) and others, the bill makes important procedural reforms that will help give property owners fighting a federal civil asset forfeiture action greater leverage to contest a government seizure and increases the federal government’s burden of proof in civil forfeiture proceedings.

The DUE PROCESS Act, however, currently does not address the “policing for profit” incentive issue.

“For decades police have used civil asset forfeiture to seize cash and other property from the public without any need to prove the person was involved in a crime,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “A major overhaul of federal civil asset forfeiture laws has been long overdue, and it is good to see House leaders on both sides of the aisle taking a critical first step toward helping innocent people get their wrongfully seized property back from the government.”

 

Toronto Police Raiding Marijuana Dispensaries For Non-Medical Sales

(Hemp News)

Toronto police officers leave S.W.E.D. Dispensary with bags of seized marijuana on Thursday after raiding the medical marijuana dispensary. [David Rider / Toronto Star]
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Toronto police officers leave S.W.E.D. Dispensary with bags of seized marijuana on Thursday after raiding the medical marijuana dispensary.
[David Rider / Toronto Star]

Toronto police on Thursday medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, charging people for trafficking non-medical cannabis.

The drug squad reportedly worked with several police divisions, along with the Toronto Licensing and Standards division in conducting the raids, reports 680 News.

Among the dispensaries which were raided were:
• 600 Church St.
• Eden Medicinal Society (Queen Street location)
• Cannabis Connoisseur
• The Green Room (Spadina and Nassau)
• Weed, Glass and Gifts
• Cannawide in Kensington Market

Toronto police claim this is a criminal investigation. The drug squad officers claim they are enforcing Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Police claim they handed out cautions on May 18, and if the dispensaries were still operating illegally, they will be fined.

 

Vancouver Grants First Marijuana Dispensary License

(Hemp News)

The still unopened Wealth Shop is the first Vancouver dispensary to be granted a business license. [David Horemans / CBC]
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The still unopened Wealth Shop is the first Vancouver dispensary to be granted a business license.
[David Horemans / CBC]

Vancouver last week became the first city in Canada to issue a marijuana dispensary license after creating a separate set of bylaws regulating the establishments.

The Wealth Shop, just outside the gates of the University of British Columbia in the Vancouver neighborhood of Point Grey, got the city’s first license to operate a cannabis business, reports Katie Shapiro at The Cannabist.

The store, which hasn’t yet opened for business, will be required to pay an annual licensing fee of $30,000 to the City of Vancouver. The majority of already existing pot shops operate as “compassion clubs,” which require a $1,000 fee to get a license. Currently, both types of shops still operate outside the Canadian federal government’s medicinal cannabis program.

A group of young local entrepreneurs quietly gained support from their prospective neighbors for the past several years, then jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops to get the license, said Malik Sayadki, who has been in charge of hiring for the store, reports Mike Hager at The Globe and Mail. “Instead of trying to become the first ones there, we just went through all the proper procedures and worked closely with everybody that wanted us to work with them,” Sayadi said.

 

New Jersey Legalization Would Boost Tax Revenues By $300 Million: Report

(Hemp News)

Legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana for adult sin New Jersey would generate at least $300 million in new tax revenues each year, according to a new report released Tuesday morning.

The report calls the $300 million estimate “conservative,” basing it on a 25 percent tax on retail marijuana sold only to adults, reports the Philly Voice. The overall economic impact would be far greater once other benefits, including job creation, additional income and business tax revenue, related accessories, and property and agricultural taxes, according to the report, by New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.

Around 365,000 adults in New Jersey use marijuana on at least a monthly basis; they use about 2.5 million ounces of marijuana a year, according to the report. That represents 4 percent of the state’s population, which sounds like a rather low estimate to us.

The report estimates that New Jerseyans spend as much as $869 million a year on cannabis in the illegal marketplace, with an estimated average price of $343 per ounce (and I thought Washington’s I-502 prices were bad). More than $850 million is poured into the black market economy, according to the report, which concluded that pot sales in a legal, regulated marketplace would amount to about $1.2 billion annually.

 

NFL Tackle Urges League To End Marijuana Ban, Reduce Opioid Use

(Hemp News)

The National Football League should reduce the use of opioids and allow injured players to use medical marijuana, Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe wrote in an essay published in The Players’ Tribune on Monday.

“The NFL relies heavily on opioids to get players back on the field as soon as possible, but studies have shown medical marijuana to be a much better solution,” Monroe wrote in an essay titled “Getting off the T Train,” reports Pat McManamon at ESPN.

“[Medical marijuana] is safer, less addictive and can even reduce opioid dependence,” Monroe wrote.

Both the NFL and the NFL Players Association officially ban any use of cannabis. Monroe said it’s time for that policy to come to an end.

 

Ohio Medical Marijuana Signature Drive Suspended

(Hemp News)

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Friday evening, “after considerable discussion,” suspended a drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.

“We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement,” said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature’s passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.

“With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters,” Lynaugh said. “But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.

“As we said following Wednesday’s vote, the legislature’s action on medical marijuana was a step forward, and thanks to the intense advocacy efforts of patients and their families, activists and our team the bill was vastly improved before passage,” Lynaugh said. “Removed from the bill was much of the red tape and onerous regulations that would have severely limited patient access, and added was a very important provision granting an affirmative defense to qualifying patients beginning this fall. Also stripped from the bill were troubling provisions raising the threshold for pain.

 

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