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STEVE ELLIOTT

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U.S.: NHTSA Study Concludes Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Car Crashes

(Hemp News)

A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that smoking marijuana before driving doesn’t make you more likely to get into a car crash, especially when compared to drinking before driving.

The study looked at 9,000 drivers over the past year to examine the impact of cannabis on driving, reports Carimah Townes at ThinkProgress. Although one-quarter of marijuana users were more likely to be involved in a car crash than people who did not toke, once the gender, age, and race/ethnicity of cannabis users were considered, it turned out that these differences actually contributed more to crash risk. Younger drivers crashed more than older ones, and men had more crashes than women.

Drivers who consumed alcohol, of course, were clearly more likely to crash. Those with a 0.08 percent breath alcohol level crashed four times more than sober drivers, and drivers with a level of 0.15 percent were 12 times more likely to crash.

 

U.S.: Recovering Alcoholic Confirmed As Drug Czar, Takes Top Spot At ONDCP

(Hemp News)

President Obama’s nominee for director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), acting director Michael Botticelli, was confirmed by the Senate 92-0 on Monday, granting him one of the nation’s highest drug-control offices.

A recovering alcoholic with extensive career experience in public health, the new “drug czar,” as he is informally known, has potential to take more of a public health approach than did his predecessors, including former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, the most recent officeholder, who was confirmed as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection last March.

Botticelli has recently stated that Congress shouldn’t interfere with the will of D.C. voters to legalize marijuana, despite the ONDCP’s official stance on legalization. Last week, he was quoted in a conference call saying that the ONDCP will bar federal funding from drug courts that prevent access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

“Appointing someone who personally understands addiction provides hope that the government is taking a stronger public health approach to drug policy,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Botticelli understands that it doesn’t make sense to treat drug users as criminals, because imprisonment has never proven to be effective at reducing abuse.”

 

California: Legislator Introduces Bill To End Organ Transplant Denials For Medical Marijuana Patients

(Hemp News)

California State Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) has introduced AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, a bill aimed at preventing medical marijuana patients from being unduly denied organ transplants.

The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act is sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which has long advocated for patients seeking organ transplants, including Norman B. Smith, a medical marijuana patient who died in 2012 after being denied a liver transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Specifically, AB 258 states that, “A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient’s status as a qualified patient…or based solely on a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient.” The bill simply establishes the same protections that currently exist for other transplant candidates with mental or physical disabilities.

 

Washington: Small Town Plans To Run Its Own Marijuana Store By Month’s End

(Hemp News)

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North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens:
““We wanted confidence that we would have a marijuana retail establishment in here that was run by an organization that was really interested in doing the right things for the community.”

The City of North Bonneville, Washington, a community of about a thousand residents on the Columbia River, doesn’t appear extraordinary at first glance, but it’s unique in one way: It’s about to become the first municipality in the state to run its own marijuana store.

The city is just weeks from getting a license to open the store, which local officials said could serve as a model for other cities across the state, reports Bill Conroy at The Narcosphere.

North Bonneville was founded on the timber industry, which is now in steep decline, so it counts on tourism as a major economic force. The city’s just 45 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon, another state which recently legalized recreational cannabis.

But city leaders said tourism wasn’t the driving force behind their decision to open a marijuana store. North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens said the city wanted to seize control of its own destiny in the evolution of a legal cannabis market that holds great promise, even while pockets of hard-core opposition to pot continue to exist.

 

Washington: Federal Judge To Hear Motion To Dismiss In Kettle Falls 5 Medical Marijuana Case

(Hemp News)

A motion to dismiss will be heard in federal court Thursday, February 12, in a widely watched medical marijuana case involving a family from rural northeastern Washington State. Larry Harvey, 71, and other family members of the so-called “Kettle Falls Five” have moved for dismissal of their case, arguing that a recently enacted Congressional measure forbids the Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting them.

“Prosecuting persons who may be operating in compliance with state medical marijuana laws prevents states from implementing their own laws,” reads one of the motions to dismiss written by Harvey’s attorney Robert Fischer. Harvey’s motion argues that state law is undermined by discouraging lawful patients from accessing medical marijuana because of the threat of federal prosecution.

Harvey also argues that “federal prosecutions take away Washington’s authority to determine for itself whether someone is in compliance with its laws or not.”

Harvey’s motion to dismiss comes just two months after President Obama signed the so-called “Cromnibus” spending bill, which included Section 538, an historic rider that prohibits DOJ funds from being spent to block implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Advocates argue that federal prosecutions like that of the Kettle Falls Five run contrary to the spirit and letter of the law now in effect.

 

U.S.: More Than 100 Native American Tribes Consider Growing, Selling Marijuana

(Hemp News)

More than 100 Native American tribes have reportedly contacted FoxBarry Farms, a company which says it is building the nation’s first marijuana cultivation facility on tribal land, over the past month expressing industry in the cannabis industry.

There’s been a surge of interest since the federal Department of Justice’s announcement late last year that tribes are free to grow and sell marijuana on their lands, as long as they follow specific guidelines, reports Carly Schwartz at The Huffington Post.

“I really underestimated,” said FoxBarry CEO Barry Brautman, whose company also works with tribes to build and operate casinos. “So many tribes are wanting to do this right now.”

 

Police Raid Family Over Suspected ‘Meth Lab’ — It Was Maple Syrup

(Hemp News)

Overzealous law enforcement agents continue to take the War On Drugs to what we’d call a deeply silly level — if it didn’t so easily, and so often, result in tragic consequences.

A family in Union County, Illinois found themselves in a sticky situation — staring down the business end of a SWAT team’s machine guns — after cops mistook their maple syrup for a meth lab.

The raid happened last week when heavily armed drug agents swarmed the home, armed with military-grade weapons and a warrant, based on nothing more than the speculation of bored, nosy neighbors, reports Counter Current News.

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