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Bernie Sanders Introduces First-Ever Senate Bill To End Marijuana Prohibition

(Hemp News)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so.

“Many legislators and citizens are still hesitant to move forward with marijuana legalization initiatives in their home states because of the federal ban, which may contradict state law, making both laws difficult to follow or enforce, and making banking transactions all but impossible.” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group working to legalize marijuana.


Mexico Supreme Court Opens Door To Legalizing Marijuana

(Hemp News)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door to legalizing marijuana, delivering a direct challenge to the nation’s harsh drug laws and adding to the debate in Latin America over the costs of the War On Drugs.

The vote, by the court’s criminal chamber, declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use, report Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed at The New York Times.

The ruling applies only to a single cannabis club that brought the lawsuit, and does not strike down Mexico’s current drug laws. But according to experts, it is likely the first of a wave of legal actions that ultimate could legalize marijuana.

The flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States continues, after decades of the America-backed War On Drugs has produced much destruction but few lasting victories. The drug traffic fuels political corruption in Mexico, which remains engulfed in violence.


Flawed Marijuana Legalization Bill Rejected By Ohio Voters

(Hemp News)

Ohio voters have rejected a controversial marijuana legalization initiative that would have set aside all of the state’s cultivation licenses for the drafters themselves. Issue 3 would have restricted commercial marijuana production to the 10 properties owned by the principal investors in the initiative.

Issue 3 trailed 35-65 percent with 43 percent of precincts reporting and The Columbus Dispatch called the election.

The initiative was a first in many respects: the first marijuana reform campaign funded almost entirely by “investors” who would benefit financially from the initiative, the first initiative to restrict commercial production to a limited number of sites owned by the major investors in the ballot initiative, and the first to appear simultaneously on the ballot with another initiative — Issue 2 — that seeks to nullify the legalization initiative. If it had won, it also would have made Ohio the first state to legalize marijuana without first legalizing it only for medical purposes.

“The defeat of the Ohio measure in no way slows down the revolution taking place across the country to end the failed prohibition of marijuana,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon). “Many legalization supporters were skeptical the measure under consideration was the right approach in Ohio. I look forward to seeing more states join Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana the right way.


Steps Being Taken Towards Legalizing Marijuana and Opium in Iran

(Hemp News)

Iran has an image as a hardline conservative nation, but drug policy is one of the areas in which the Islamic Republic has produced some paradoxically progressive policies. During a recent conference on addiction held in Tehran, a prominent Iranian official outlined what could become alternative to the country’s current drug policy, including the legalization of cannabis and opium.

Said Sefatian is head of the working group on drug demand reduction in the Council for the Discernment of the Expediency of the State (the Expediency Council), which plays a critical role in national drug policy, reports Mayizar Ghiabi of The Independent. All Iranian drug laws are discussed and voted upon in the Parliament — except for drug laws, which are both discussed and legislated in the Expediency Council.

Iranian lawmakers managed to get the Council’s approval in the early 2000s for a controversial, progressive set of harm reduction measures. These included the nationwide distribution of clean syringes to stop the spread of disease among intravenous drug users, and methadone substitution treatment, measures which were unthinkable to implement in other Muslim countries — as well as in many Western nations. After a decade of harm reduction policies, Iran has more than 6,000 methadone clinics, and numerous programs of support and assistance to drug users.

Sefatian said the government needs to manage all areas of drug policy, including cultivation, production, supply and consumption. He suggested the re-introduction of the cultivation of opium poppies and cannabis under specific circumstances outlined by ad hoc laws, for instance, only in private places, only for opium (not heroin), and only for adults. Cannabis and opium are both indigenous plants that have a long history of use in Iran.


California Secretary of State Clears Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016 For Signatures

(Hemp News)

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla this week announced that the organizers of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI) 2016 can begin collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the November 8, 2016 California state election.

The grassroots organization has 180 days to circulate petitions and collect 365,880 registered voters’ signatures, which must be submitted to county elections officials by April 25, 2016. The CCHI 2016 plan allows for the legalization of cannabis in the state of California by citizens 21 years or older.

To raise the funds for this effort, the CCHI 2016 is launching a pledge drive to solicit funding from businesses and individuals to help fund the Initiative that legalizes cannabis in the state of California. The campaign has set a goal of $900,000 in pledges that needs to be raised to fund professional petition gathers across the state. Every dollar raised will go to hire the professional petitioners.

“We are confident that we can qualify the CCHI 2016 with this grassroots effort with both a mass mobilization of volunteers and an infusion of financial support to hire professional petitioners,” said CCHI 2016 proponent and activist Michael Jolson. “With the re-legalization of Cannabis Hemp, we can help restore our number one renewable resource on Earth as we create a billion dollar economy through the emergence of Cannabis and Hemp industries. There are over 10,000 uses for Cannabis Hemp of which 50,000 commercial products can be made.”


New Medical Marijuana Petition Would Amend Missouri Constitution

(Hemp News)

A pro-marijuana coalition called New Approach Missouri filed an initiative petition last week to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot to legalize cannabis for medicinal use.

The new proposed initiative would replace a broader initiative proposal, already approved by the secretary of state for signature collection, that would have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes as well, reports Jo Mannies at St. Louis Public Radio.

Show-Me Cannabis is ending its broader legalization proposal because polling showed it would be challenging to to voter approval for recreational legalization, according to executive director John Payne. But Missouri voters are likely to overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, according to coalition consultant Jack Cardetti, who’s running the campaign.

“It’s what’s good for patients in the state of Missouri, to be able to access medicine that’s helpful to them without being treated like criminals,” said Payne of the New Approach Missouri coalition’s message.


Washington: Feds Spend Week On Farmer Tom’s Cannabis Farm

(Hemp News)

Federal researchers spent most of the week on a working medical marijuana farm in Vancouver, Washington, studying the working conditions and occupational hazards of cultivating and processing cannabis.

The study was the first of its kind because marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, in the same class as heroin and LSD, reports Matt Markovich at KOMO News.

A team of four researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) visited Tom Lauerman’s medical marijuana farm east of Vancouver to observe and take notes that could be used to develop federal “best practice” standards for workers in the cannabis industry. The team had never set foot on a legal marijuana operation until now; their previous cannabis experience had been limited to the federal pot farm at the University of Mississippi.

“This is novel for us,” said the lead NIOSH researcher, who preferred to remain anonymous.


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