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After years of effort and six previous tries, an unprecedented victory has finally happened. Congress on Thursday night approved a measure (219-189) that will prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The legislation marks the first time in history that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. A record-high 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in voting for the measure.
The vote on Amendment 25 to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), stops the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been offered seven times since 2003. It received a then-record high 165 votes in 2007, which included 15 Republicans.
Patients and caregivers in many states with legal medical marijuana have faced repeated and ongoing harassment from the DEA and U.S. Attorneys, despite the Executive branch repeatedly signaling that it would allow the programs to continue. Amendment 25 would prohibit them from obstructing state medical marijuana programs using taxpayer dollars.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday signed a bill into law officially making Minnesota the 22nd state in the nation to allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patient advocates celebrated the passage of SF 2470, which will protect some patients from arrest, prosecution, and discrimination, as well as license two cultivators of medical marijuana and eight distribution centers across the state.
However, advocates voiced concerns that the law prohibits smoking medical marijuana as well as the use and possession of the dried, whole-plant flowers, which is the method and form most widely and effectively used.
A group of patients and advocates will hold a news conference outside of Gov. Dayton’s residence at 11 a.m. CT on Friday. They will deliver 33 flowers to the governor, each of which represents 1000 seriously ill Minnesotans who will still not be able to access medical marijuana under the law.
Hemp has been legally planted in Kentucky for the first time in decades, signaling the tentative return of a crop which once was a lucrative industry for the Bluegrass State.
University of Kentucky researchers on Tuesday planted a small crop of 13 varieties of hemp seeds, finally released last week by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after pointless bureaucratic wrangling.
Although industrial hemp was an indispensable crop for Kentucky through World War II, it was the first time it had been legally planted in the state since the 1970s, reports Janet Patton at the Herald Leader.
University of Kentucky agronomists RIch Mundell and David Williams will supervise the hemp study. The plants are expected to sprout in 7 to 10 days and will be harvested in October. Each variety will be evaluated for its seed and fiber production.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday launched a signature drive in support of a 2016 ballot measure that would end marijuana prohibition in Nevada. State Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and former Nevada Republican Senate Caucus Executive Director Joe Brezny were the first to sign the cannabis legalization petition at a news conference in Sen. Segerblom’s law office.
“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition,” Segerblom said. “If we can regulate alcohol, there’s no reason why we can’t begin regulating marijuana in a similar fashion and raise more money for our schools. It just makes sense.”
The initiative would make private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, licensed cultivation facilities, licensed manufacturing facilities, licensed testing facilities, and licensed distributors.
The new policy will permit the state’s 14,000 parolees to use cannabis like any other adult in the state under I-502, the legalization measure approved by voters in 2012, reports Chris Ingalls at King 5.
Interestingly, the DOC didn’t change its policy until recreational marijuana was legalized by state voters; medical marijuana patients on parole have for years been denied their medicine in Washington state, despite their demonstrated medical need for it.
The New York State Assembly on Tuesday passed the Compassionate Care Act (A. 6357-B/Gottfried) by a bipartisan vote of 91–34. This is the fifth time that the Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill, and comes just months after the Assembly included the measure in their one-house state budget proposal. The bill remains stalled in the Senate.
The bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, would provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions -– such as cancer, MS, and epilepsy — by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. Patients, caregivers, and providers watched from the gallery as the Assembly debated and then voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill.
“Once again the Assembly has shown that it understands the needs of seriously ill patients in New York,” said Donna Romano of Syracuse. “As someone who lives with MS and seizures, I know medical marijuana can help alleviate my suffering and that of thousands of other New Yorkers.
Is it an inventive new way to clear marijuana cases off the docket, or is it simply a way of separating medical marijuana patients from their money? The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department is flush with cash due to what some are calling “the Mendocino Model,” and others are calling the Mendocino shakedown.
When District Attorney David Eyster took over in Mendocino just over three years ago, he said felony cannabis prosecutions were overwhelming his staff and his budget, reports Lee Romney at the Los Angeles Times. The cases took an average of 15 months to resolve.
Now the cases clear in about three months and the Sheriff’s Department has plenty of cash. You see, Eyster found a section of the California health and safety code — actually intended to reimburse police for the cost of cleaning up meth labs — and reworked it.
Toke Signals Must Read of the Week
Interview by Todd Brendan Fahey (Toke Signals)
An outdoor deck overhanging the Pacific blue, Santa Barbara, California, must have been September 1988, was when I first heard of an entity known as R. U. Sirius. Whatever it was, I was told by a university-era pal who I trusted, I should pay attention.
And I said, “Are you serious?”
This hep buddy slid a half-dozen thin-paper tabloids across the table of the Sea Cove — at which we were dining on calamari and strong iced tea; the LSD was just coming on — and having flipped through the indices and a couple of interviews, I knew that he was. Very.