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STEVE ELLIOTT

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U.S. Senate Spending Package Includes Major Marijuana Law Reforms

(Hemp News)

A new package of spending bills from the Senate, intended to keep the federal government operational for the next year, includes several positive changes in marijuana law.

The bills were filed on Tuesday by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and they’ve just been uploaded to Congress’s website, reports Marijuana.com.

The new spending package put forth by the top Senate appropriator “includes, well, everything us marijuana law reformers could have reasonably hoped for this year,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

“We won bipartisan votes on all of these issues this year on either the House floor, in the Senate Appropriations Committee or both, so this is a rare case of Congressional leadership actually listening to their members — and to the American people,” Angell said.

 

Poll: Florida, Ohio Voters Support Marijuana Legalization; Pennsylvania Divided

(Hemp News)

Voters in Florida and Ohio back legalization of marijuana for personal recreational use, while Pennsylvania voters are divided on the subject, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released on Thursday.

Men support legalized marijuana for personal use more than women in each of the states, the poll finds. The Swing State Poll focused on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960, no Presidential candidate has won without taking at least two of these three states.

Voters in all three states, by overwhelming margins, support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. There is no gender gap on this question; men and women support medicinal cannabis equally. “Only about one in 10 voters opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

 

California Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes New Hash Crimes Bill

(Hemp News)

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed a bill which would have created new penalties for making hash oil with flammable chemicals like butane. Brown said the state already has enough laws, and a prison overcrowding problem, and doesn’t need to make the problem worse.

The Golden State has seen a rise in explosions and fires caused by the extraction of cannabis concentrates using volatile solvents like butane, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. But it’s already against the law to make butane hash oil (BHO) in Cali. Arson and criminal negligence are also already crimes there.

Assembly Bill 849, from East Bay Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, would have created a new crime carrying prison sentences of up to six years for BHO blasters who hurt others. The bill passed the California Assembly — unanimously! — on August 31.

But Gov. Brown vetoed AB 849 and eight others for good measure, blasting reationary, “get tough” laws that result in prison overcrowding but don’t do a damn thing to improve public safety.

 

Union Negotiates First Cannabis Worker Contract In Oregon

(Hemp News)

At least one labor union has begun to organize workers in Oregon’s marijuana industry.

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 recently negotiated a three-year contract for employees at a Portland dispensary, and the union hopes to broker similar deals across the state as the cannabis dispensary takes off, according to Local 55 secretary-treasurer Jeff Anderson, reports George Rede at The Oregonian.

The initial contract provides for wages starting at $15 an hour for cashiers, $20 an hour for trimmers and up to $32 an hour for master cultivators at Stoney Brothers dispensary. Paid holidays and vacation days are also guaranteed in the contract, along with pension contributions and employer-subsidized health insurance.

“Our UFCW International Union has been involved in cannabis organizing for six to eight years, much of it in northern California involving medical dispensaries,” Anderson said. The union represents about 3,000 marijuana workers in 10 legal and medical states and D.C., according to Anderson.

 

Massachusetts Doctors Use Marijuana As Opioid Substitute

(Hemp News)

Hundreds of opioid addicts in Massachusetts are being treated with medical marijuana, and advocates say the new therapy is a life-changing alternative to the deadly epidemic of painkiller addiction.

“We have a statewide epidemic of opioid deaths,” said Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, which issues medicinal cannabis authorizations in seven states, and has nine clinics in Massachusetts, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. “As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance — and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting — I think it would dramatically improve the amount of opioid deaths.”

Witman said he’s treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioid painkillers, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, using cannabis with a one-month tapering program. More than 75 percent of those patients stopped taking the harder drugs, according to Witman.

Cannabis can treat the symptoms patients had been using opioids and other drugs to manage, such as chronic pain or anxiety, and treat them far more safely, Witman said.

 

Illinois: Legal Medical Marijuana Smells Like Money And Jobs

(Hemp News)

The skunky aroma of marijuana in a rural southeastern Illinois town isn’t a source of complaints… in fact, to most residents, it smells like money and jobs.

It’s almost harvest timer in the historic town of Albion, which means a new farmland ritual is beginning amid the surrounding cornfields, reports Carla K. Johnson at the Associated Press.

Ataxia is one of a handful of cultivation centers in Illinois, and it’s the first to complete a gauntlet of state requirements. Stores in Albion can’t sell liquor, but marijuana has been welcomed as a badly needed source of employment.

A t-shirt for sale in town makes light of the odd juxtaposition: it says Albion is “High and Dry.” That’s OK; marijuana’s safer than alcohol! “It’s brought our little town to life,” said Cheryl Taylor, who sells the shirts at her shop on the square.

 

Oregon Marijuana Dispensaries Report Massive Recreational Sales

(Hemp News)

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon remained busy throughout the weekend after opening their doors to recreational customers on Thursday. The Oregon Legislature approved tax-free recreational sales through medicinal cannabis dispensaries through the end of the year.

Many of the shops opened at the stroke of midnight Thursday morning and were greeted with long lines of excited customers, reports Ted Shorack at The Bend Bulletin. Those lines continued all weekend, with thousands of customers checking out the shops.

“It was amazing,” said Ben Hebert, owner of Dr. Jolly’s in Bend. “We were totally busy all the time. I think we had a lot of happy people coming out of here.”

Sales reached $55,000 on the first day alone, according to Aviv Hadar, cofounder of Oregrown Industries, which has a dispensary in Bend. As many as 2,000 customers shopped at his dispensary on the first day, according to Hadar.

 

Former Marine Billy Dekle Is Serving Life For Pot

(Toke Signals)

Cannabis POW of the Month: Billy Dekle

By Cheri Sicard
Cannabis Cheri

After growing up on a farm and serving in the marines, north Florida native Billy Dekle found his true passion in aviation. His early career in the 70s and 80s flying planeloads of marijuana into south Florida is the stuff of Carl Hiaasen novels and Jimmy Buffett songs, with hair-raising flights and narrow escapes from unsavory characters. While he never hurt anyone, the activity earned him one federal and two state felony convictions for marijuana before his real trouble began in 1990 when Billy Dekle was arrested for the marijuana conspiracy case that would land him a life sentence.a

 

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